Links - News

From Bwtm




general and Climate Change

Score two for the environment. Decisions this week on oil leases and smog standards are victories for conservation and public health.,0,562474.story

A wing and a prayer as Audubon members set out on annual survey. Bird-watchers are counting species in 2,000 locales from Alaska to Antarctica, collecting data that will help scientists map migration trends and track habitat changes.,0,5325754.story

Jurupa Hills oak may be California's oldest plant. Researchers from UC Davis and UC Riverside say the 75-foot-wide Palmer's oak shrub has lived about 13,000 years despite inhospitable surroundings, regenerating itself with new shoots.,0,2005264.story

How many words is a graphic worth? WashPost temperature chart & ClimateGATE.

But some ZOONOOZ readers aren’t. They fired off angry letters and e-mails, chastising the Zoological Society for taking sides on the global warming “debate.” See those quotation marks around “debate”? They’re not rogues, like the quotation marks and free-range apostrophes that have been infesting signs and posters in recent years. They’re there to indicate that use of the word, in the context of global warming/climate change, is a crock. There is no credible debate, any more than there is a credible debate about evolution. Read more:

Toxic legacy of the Cold War. Ohio's Fernald Preserve has flowers, birds and tons of radioactive waste. Sites that once supplied the nation's nuclear arsenal now pose a staggering political, environmental and economic challenge.,0,2659447.story?page=1

How global warming is already affecting us and the tough choices we have to make.

AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling.

Swimming in a Sea of Acid. Read more at:

Bush-era EPA document on climate change released. The 2007 draft suppressed until now calls for regulation of greenhouse gases, citing global warming as a serious risk to the U.S. A finding by the Obama administration is nearly identical.,0,4010488.story

When Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species in May, the political trench warfare over global warming flared up anew. Environmental groups professed surprise that a reluctant Bush Administration acted at all. Global warming deniers said the decision was ludicrous. They cited a polar bear population — a five-fold increase since the 1970s, a doubling since the 1950s, a quadrupling since the 1960s. After wading through about thirty such references from readers of our CNN blog and hearing them from multiple radio and TV pundits, I got to thinking: Are any of these numbers true? And where do they come from? I embarked on a global quest, traveling by phone, email and Google, to find the truth. My first stop was Bjorn Lomborg's 2007 book, "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." Lomborg, the Danish economist whose work provides a torrent of talking points for Conservative pundits, says there were "probably 5,000" polar bears in the 1960's.

Pollution an enduring legacy at old missile sites.

Pacific Ocean 'dead zone' in Northwest may be irreversible. Oxygen depletion that is killing sea life off Oregon and Washington is probably caused by evolving wind conditions from climate change, rather than pollution, one oceanographer warns.,0,4615320.story

Apple Quits Chamber Of Commerce Over Climate Change. Read more at:

Arctic temperatures are now higher than at any time in the last 2,000 years, research reveals.

The Pope blames atheists for global warming. Pope Benedict is claiming atheists are responsible for the destruction of the environment. The Pope made the claims in a recent speech given at the Vatican. The claim is a puzzling attack on atheism that frankly makes little sense.

Artificial life will be created 'within months' as genome experts claim vital breakthrough Read more:

Federal study shows mercury in fish widespread.

The "water buffaloes" like to frame their fight as farmers vs. fish. It is not. It's about farmers and fishermen. A California water buffalo is someone who instinctively battles to develop water -- so named, I'm told, after the beast that reputedly can smell water from 200 miles away. The fight isn't necessarily about "versus" either because farmers and fishermen often are in the same boat, dry-docked for lack of water. Up and down the San Joaquin Valley, farm fields have been fallowed and field hands can't find work because there isn't enough water to irrigate crops. "I represent communities that are threatened to be blown away like tumbleweeds," Assemblyman Juan Arambula (I-Fresno) complained at a legislative water hearing Tuesday. Along California's central and northern coasts, salmon season has been closed for the second straight year because, in large part, water conditions have become so mucked up in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that baby fish can't survive before heading to sea. Commercial fishermen and their crews can't work. Recreational anglers can't fish, hurting charter boat owners.,0,1463418.column

Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security. The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

"Cash for clunkers" could have the same effect on global warming pollution as shutting down the entire country - every automobile, every factory, every power plant - for an hour per year. That could rise to three hours if the program is extended by Congress and remains as popular as it is now. Climate experts aren't impressed. Compared to overall carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the pollution savings from cash for clunkers do not noticeably move the fuel gauge. Environmental experts say the program - conceived primarily to stimulate the economy and jump-start the auto industry - is not an effective way to attack climate change.

Glacier melt accelerating, federal report concludes. Reviewing five decades of data on three 'benchmark glaciers,' researchers say shrinking glaciers clearly result from global warming.,0,2091418.story

Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Attracts Explorers.

Indeed, it's been pretty cool in Minneapolis for the past couple of days; the temperature hasn't hit 70 since midday Thursday. But has it been an unusually cool summer? No, not really. Since summer began on June 21st, high temperatures there have been above average 15 times and below average 13 times. The average high temperature there since summer began this year has been 82.4 degrees. The average historic high temperature over the same period is ... 82.4 degrees. It's been a completely typical summer in Minneapolis, although with one rather hot period in late June and one rather cool one now.

What Gov. Palin Forgot.

Hot Air Rising. The Senate opens its debate over climate change.

The Ug99 fungus, called stem rust, could wipe out more than 80% of the world's wheat as it spreads from Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it reaches the U.S.,0,1661589.story

A hundred years ago, zoologist Joseph Grinnell was thinking about you. Long before ENIAC or ARPANET, the visionary first director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California-Berkeley was focused on preserving data for future generations. He and other research biologists fanned out across California trapping and preserving the animals of the state. With famously rigorous attention to detail, Grinnell recorded every possible piece of information about each specimen. He was known to exhort his colleagues to “put it all down.” It’s like he could see the spreadsheets of the future forming in his head.

The seldom-seen devastation of climate change. A NASA climatologist explains why global warming is more than starving polar bears, and skeptics are simplistic.

Time-Lapse Videos of Massive Change on Earth.

I'm here in Australia, organizing people for a new campaign called We take our name from the most important number in the world, a number that scientists only identified about 18 months ago. It's the amount of carbon dioxide, measured in parts per million in the atmosphere, that scientists now say is the safe maximum for the planet -- a maximum we're well past. Currently, our atmosphere holds 387 parts per million, which is precisely why the Arctic is melting, precisely why Australia is catching on fire. Our plan is simple. We asked people around the world, through our website, to hold organized actions on Oct. 24 -- from high in the Himalayas to underwater on the Great Barrier Reef, from Easter Island to inner-city America -- in an effort to take that number and drive it into the human imagination. If we can, it will help the world understand that this is not some future problem to be set aside until conditions improve, but a capital-E emergency now overtaking the Earth that demands a powerful and urgent global response. We can reboot the conversation, make it about the peril we face but also about the promise of green jobs and clean economies.,0,123188.story

Study shows link between air pollution, contaminated seafood. A federal study released today explains for the first time the link between global mercury emissions and the contamination of tuna and other marine life in the North Pacific Ocean.

Southern California's air pollution remains high.

Air Pollution Endangers Lives of Six in 10 Americans.

When human injection of carbon into the atmosphere reaches 1 trillion tons, dangerous climate change with average global warming of more than 2 Celsius degrees will likely occur, a new analysis finds. And humans are hurrying toward that 1 trillion mark. So far, We’ve added about 520 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere. With the addition of an estimated 9 billion tons of carbon a year — a number that’s been growing since 1850 — dangerous warming is likely to occur within half a century.

“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995. The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others. In 1997, the year an international climate agreement that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, its budget totaled $1.68 million, according to tax records obtained by environmental groups.

U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water — contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation. Hundreds of active pharmaceutical ingredients are used in a variety of manufacturing, including drugmaking: For example, lithium is used to make ceramics and treat bipolar disorder; nitroglycerin is a heart drug and also used in explosives; copper shows up in everything from pipes to contraceptives.

E.P.A. Clears Way for Greenhouse Gas Rules.

The End Is Near! (Yay!)

Obama administration declares greenhouse gases a threat to public health. The ruling today by the Environmental Protection Agency paves the way for federal limits on carbon dioxide emissions.,0,885400.story

Climate change hits Australia first, and hard. Floods, fires, droughts, disease, extinctions and a dying Great Barrier Reef may be a hint of things to come globally.,0,5613275.story

Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been a world leader in climate research since the 1950s, when Charles Keeling began his pioneering measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Keeling's data unequivocally document the dramatic rise of this potent greenhouse gas over the last half century and serve as the foundation for studies of climate change. Today, Scripps scientists continue cutting-edge investigations of the causes and pace of climate change, and apply this research to understanding the consequences of global warming for California and the world.

An Ocean Warmer Than a Hot Tub. Ocean temperatures once may have reached 107°F. Could they again?

New report highlights climate change adaptation in Great Lakes Region.

Humans are increasingly having profound effects on the environment at a global scale. Global change research takes an interdisciplinary approach to environmental science, linking several disciplines involving both the social and bio-physical sciences. Topics such as climate change, tropical deforestation, and loss of biodiversity are examples of areas of study. Because the science is global, remote sensing by earth-observing satellites is an important measurement tool. Visit the rest of our site to learn more!

What will global warming look like? Scientists point to Australia. Drought, fires, killer heat waves, wildlife extinction and mosquito-borne illness -- the things that climate change models are predicting have already arrived there, they say.,0,65585.story

New data on Arctic sea ice levels further discredit a widely criticized column by George Will in which he falsely suggested that sea ice data undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Ice bridge ruptures in Antarctic. An ice bridge linking a shelf of ice the size of Jamaica to two islands in Antarctica has snapped. Scientists say the collapse could mean the Wilkins Ice Shelf is on the brink of breaking away, and provides further evidence or rapid change in the region.

Defendants charged with environmental crimes or violations of the U.S. Federal Criminal Code sometimes flee the court’s jurisdiction and/or the USA rather than face prosecution or to serve a sentence. When these circumstances occur, the defendants become fugitives from justice. The following wanted posters identify fugitives sought by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. Each one provides a brief case summary and instructions on how to report information related to their identity and/or current location. You may also report the information to your local police or if you are outside the United States, to the nearest U.S. Embassy.

Bubbles of warming, beneath the ice. As permafrost thaws in the Arctic, huge pockets of methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- could be released into the atmosphere. Experts are only beginning to understand how disastrous that could be.,0,516298.story

Remember, according to the scientists we need to cut our emissions by 80% by 2050 just to keep climate change within two degrees centigrade of current world temperatures. Clearly even the best efforts of ethical men and women on their own will not be enough to prevent global warming. So the BBC has given me a new and bigger challenge, nothing less than to save the world from climate change! I'm going on a 6,500 mile trip around the nation that brought the world the motor car, the aeroplane, the suburb, the drive-thru hamburger joint and the hot tub, in search of solutions to the biggest problem on earth. Each American is responsible for 20 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, more than twice that of the average European. But America is also the most innovative and powerful nation on earth and, what's more, has a president who says he is serious about tackling global warming.

Could green kill the desert? If we're not careful, our rush to produce green energy could do irrevocable damage to some fragile California ecosystems.,0,7619561.story

While U.S. in Big Chill, Arctic Runs Fever.

Antarctic Meltdown Would Flood Washington, D.C.;_ylt=AuSNaqoUEzdkOy_tmYaboq4PLBIF

California farms, vineyards in peril from warming, U.S. energy secretary warns. 'We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California,' Steven Chu says. He sees education as a means to combat threat. California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said Tuesday. In his first interview since taking office last month, the Nobel-prize-winning physicist offered some of the starkest comments yet on how seriously President Obama's cabinet views the threat of climate change, along with a detailed assessment of the administration's plans to combat it.,0,7454963.story

Moreover, we must face up to this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization at a time when our country must simultaneously solve two other worsening crises. Our economy is in its deepest recession since the 1930s. And our national security is endangered by a vicious terrorist network and the complex challenge of ending the war in Iraq honorably while winning the military and political struggle in Afghanistan. As we search for solutions to all three of these challenges, it is becoming clearer that they are linked by a common thread - our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels. As long as we continue to send hundreds of billions of dollars for foreign oil - year after year - to the most dangerous and unstable regions of the world, our national security will continue to be at risk.

Worldchanging is a 501(c)3 media organization that comprises a global network of independent journalists, designers and thinkers covering the world's most intelligent solutions to today's problems. We inspire readers around the world with stories of the most important and innovative new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future. Our readers are ready to change the world, and Worldchanging links them to the first steps.

Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech. The demonisation of 'climate change denial' is an affront to open and rational debate.

Why do so many people deny the human hand in the destruction of environment and global warming?

Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. Susan Solomona,1, Gian-Kasper Plattnerb, Reto Knuttic, and Pierre Friedlingsteind

Solar Evidence Points To Human Causes Of Climate Change.

"An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."

There is very strong evidence that humans are changing the climate with their actions, through emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. In the UK, 40 per cent of emissions are caused by individuals, mostly from energy used in the home, driving and air travel.

The world’s economy runs on carbon: the “fuel” in fossil fuels. Coal, oil, and natural gas contribute energy to nearly every human endeavor in industrialized nations, and carbon dioxide (CO2) is a by-product of burning these fuels. Immediately eliminating CO2 emissions would literally stop the industrial world. This graph illustrates how thoroughly fossil fuels and CO2 emissions are integrated into American life.

Scientists Rank Global Cooling Hacks.

Gore Delivers 'Inconvenient Truth' Lecture to Senate Committee. Former Vice President Asks Congress to Move Quickly to Stem Climate Change.

Emissions Cut Won’t Bring Quick Relief, Scientists Say.

Warming Trends Alter Conservation. Experts Think Old Paradigm of Fixed Boundaries Will Not Work as Sea Levels Rise.

Antarctica is not cooling after all. New findings show that although temperatures have dropped slightly in the continent's east, they have risen enough in the west to result in an overall warming trend.,0,4040354.story

Climate Change Killing America's Trees at Ever Faster Rates.

When Used Cars Are More Ecofriendly Than New Cars. The environmental impact of junking an older working car for a new one with slightly better gas mileage.

Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models.

Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close. Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards. The data is being reported by the University of Illinois's Arctic Climate Research Center, and is derived from satellite observations of the Northern and Southern hemisphere polar regions.

Will the salmon be back in 2009? Climate change may help explain the historic collapse of the species. Yet ocean experts see signs that idle fishermen can fire up their boats again.

Global Warming Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg.

The time is ripe for trash equality. Every week is like Christmas when it comes to trash pickup in the city of San Diego because it's free for homeowners, like me. Many businesses, condo owners and apartment renters aren't so lucky. A person owning a Point Loma hilltop home with an ocean view, like mine, gets free trash pickup, but a renter in North Park does not. As much as I appreciate the freebie, I don't think it's fair or smart, not when it sucks $37 million from the general fund of a city facing all sorts of budget woes. The city can't enact garbage fees, but it can ask us to. The City Council just needs the gumption to put it on the ballot for a public vote.

GREAT BARRIER’S GRIEF. Leave it to global warming to ruin both a day at the beach and an entire oceanic ecosystem. Researchers are blaming the environment’s public enemy No. 1 as well as rising seawater acidity for what has been the slowest coral growth rate at the Great Barrier Reef in more than 400 years.

Lawsuit on whales and sonar is settled. Environmental groups concerned about the effect on whales claim victory, as does the military. The Navy says the deal does not expand protections. The Supreme Court recently decided a similar case.,0,1996069.story

Tough climate goals may be easier than feared.

general and Climate Change, archived December 27, 2008

Leilani Munter

Organization for Bat Conservation.


Coal ash spill raises worries in Tennessee. Environmentalists, officials argue over possible toxin level. What may be the nation's largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways yesterday after a dam broke this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity. Federal studies have long shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. Tennessee Valley Authority officials said contaminants in water samples taken near the spill site and at the intake for the town of Kingston, six miles downstream, were within acceptable levels. Still, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property and wondering what to do. The spill took place at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a TVA generating plant about 40 miles west of Knoxville on the banks of the Emory River, which feeds into the Clinch and then the Tennessee River just downstream.

CNN global warming misinformation makes its way to The Radio Factor. Summary: On The Radio Factor, guest host Douglas Urbanski cited a December 18 segment from CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight to support the assertion, which has been widely discredited, that "man-made climate change" is "one of the biggest lies of our time" and in doing so echoed several of the debunked claims and suggestions about global warming included in that CNN segment.

The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head. Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill. But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing. "I'm used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it's something I just didn't believe," he said. "But this is not just not a good year for oaks. It's a zero year. There's zero production. I've never seen anything like this before."

Animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct could lose the protection of government experts who make sure that dams, highways and other projects don't pose a threat, under regulations the Bush administration is set to put in place before President-elect Obama can reverse them. The rules must be published Friday to take effect before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20. Otherwise, he can undo them with the stroke of a pen. The Interior Department rushed to complete the rules in three months over the objections of lawmakers and environmentalists who argued that they would weaken how a landmark conservation law is applied. A Nov. 12 version of the final rules obtained by the Associated Press has changed little from the original proposal, despite the more than 250,000 comments received since it was first proposed in August.

Bush's seven deadly environmental sins. How Bush made a mockery of the nation's environmental laws and values -- and what Obama must do to get us back on track.

Beluga Whale Protection Bolstered; Palin Objects.

Did scientists predict an impending ice age in the 1970s? The skeptic argument... The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, amidst hysteria about the dangers of a new ice age. The media had been spreading warnings of a cooling period since the 1950s, but those alarms grew louder in the 1970s... In 1975, cooling went from “one of the most important problems” to a first-place tie for “death and misery.” The claims of global catastrophe were remarkably similar to what the media deliver now about global warming (source: Fire and Ice). What the science says... 1970's ice age predictions were predominantly media based with the majority of scientific papers predicting warming. The notion that the 1970s scientific consensus was for impending global cooling is incorrect. In actuality, there were significantly more papers in the 1970s predicting warming than cooling.

Sonar sense. Message for the justices: Save the whales!,0,71255.story

AP IMPACT: Nuclear waste piles up at hospitals.

BioWillie Boys Make It Cross-Country in 38 Hours.

Brown tree snake changes habitat of Guam. One of the most infamous examples of what can happen when a nonnative species is introduced into a new environment involves the brown tree snake – a voracious, semi-venomous species that in less than 50 years all but destroyed bird life on the northern Pacific island of Guam. Introduced inadvertently from the South Pacific just after World War II, apparently on a cargo ship, the snake has killed off 10 bird species on the island and is in the process of wiping out the remaining two.

Bush officials sneak-attack nation's wildlife. A new regulation could neuter the Endangered Species Act -- and the administration knows it.

Detroit automakers finally get it; but is it too late?

Navy agrees to limit use of some sonar systems.

Boxer to EPA director: resign. They want EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson to resign.

Junk floats to isles carrying message. A sailboat built from trash is meant to call attention to the issue of plastic pollution.

The crew hopes to call attention to a problem particularly concerning Hawaii: plastic pollution. Some ends up on beaches; some snags or chokes fish and turtles; some floats aimlessly in an area north of the islands called the North Pacific gyre.

The Junk

California crusade to abolish plastic bags gaining support.

Great Lakes invaders wreak $200 million damage, study says.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., spoke out against President Bush this morning attacking his administration for its failure to counter global warming emissions. "This administration did not believe in global warming," Schwarzenegger told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that will air Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "They just didn't believe in it or they didn't believe that they should do anything about it, since China is not doing anything about it and since India is not willing to do the same thing, so why should we do the same thing?" Schwarzenegger said. "We don't wait for other countries to do the same thing. That's what makes America number one... And I think we have a good opportunity to do the same thing, also, with fighting global warming," he said.

White House puts warming threats on back burner. It rejects the EPA staff's findings on greenhouse gases and passes the issue on to the next president.,0,3201123.story

Anti-science conservatives must be stopped. Americans must not allow global warming deniers to block the policies needed to avert catastrophic climate change. Our future is at stake.

Bobbing in poison soup. Two men set sail to call attention to the 100 million tons of plastic flotsam fouling the world's oceans.,0,6289203.story

Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee falsely claimed "not one drop of oil was spilled" during Hurricane Katrina. Summary: On Fox & Friends, Mike Huckabee falsely asserted, "When Katrina, a Cat-5 hurricane, hit the Gulf Coast, not one drop of oil was spilled off of those rigs out in the Gulf of Mexico." In fact, according to a report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm, damages related to Hurricane Katrina resulted in 70 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume of approximately 11,104 barrels of oil and petroleum products.

This summer may see first ice-free North Pole. There's a 50-50 chance that the North Pole will be ice-free this summer, which would be a first in recorded history, a leading ice scientist says. The weather and ocean conditions in the next couple of weeks will determine how much of the sea ice will melt, and early signs are not good, said Mark Serreze. He's a senior researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo.

Calif. air regulators start tackling climate law. Californians will have to drive cleaner cars, use less electricity and live closer to work to achieve the reductions in greenhouse gases mandated under the state's landmark global warming law. Those are among the measures called for in a draft proposal released Thursday by state air regulators who are charged with setting climate rules to implement the law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger two years ago.

Schwarzenegger criticizes McCain's offshore drilling proposal. At a Florida conference on global warming, California's governor says drilling will not bring down oil prices, and he urges consumers to use more renewable resources. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a veiled swipe at Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Thursday when he said at a climate conference here that anyone suggesting offshore oil drilling could bring down gas prices was "blowing smoke." The remark was also a dig at his host, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who riled environmentalists, tourism promoters and the state's political leaders on both sides of the aisle last week when he voiced support for McCain's proposal to lift bans on exploring for oil off the coasts of California, Florida and the Eastern Seaboard. McCain and Crist, whom the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is rumored to be considering as his running mate, have come in for heavy criticism for backing exploration that many Floridians and Californians fear could pollute the coastal playgrounds that are vital to their states' tourism-dependent economies.,0,858804.story

Nation's Spies: Climate Change Could Spark War. The U.S. intelligence community has finished up its classified assessment of how our changing weather patterns could contribute to "political instability around the world, the collapse of governments and the creation of terrorist safe havens," Inside Defense reports. Congress was briefed on the report last week. And on Wednesday, leading spies -- including National Intelligence Council chairman Dr. Thomas Fingar and Energy Department intelligence chief Rolf Mowatt-Larsen -- will testify on the Hill about the 58-page document, "The National Security Implications of Global Climate Change Through 2030."

One big drug test: Analyzing a city's sewage can put a number on its vices.,0,3828587.story?page=1

House panel probe of Bush influence on EPA stymied. Papers withheld by executive privilege. President Bush asserted executive privilege yesterday to withhold documents from a congressional investigation into whether he pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to weaken decisions on smog and greenhouse gases. White House officials notified a House committee of the rare assertion about 15 minutes before the committee was to vote on holding the head of the EPA and a White House budget official in contempt of Congress for not providing the documents.

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic. Below is a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:

Moore or less. Commentary: GM, other automakers get their due as gas slams profits.

L.A.'s commuters can't even go nowhere fast.,0,5983525.story

Army: Sun, Not Man, Is Causing Climate Change.

Renewable-energy push puts all eyes on desert. Speculators have filed applications to develop more than 1 million acres of desert in Southern California with solar, wind and geothermal power plants, setting up a classic clash over land use with environmentalists and off-road enthusiasts.

There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal. The Coal industry is spending $35 million to convince us otherwise.

Governor's climate goals face hostile environment.

Lawmaker alleges White House role in stopping California emissions law. Rep. Henry Waxman says the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator had favored giving the state a waiver but later changed his mind.,0,7056121.story

Destination: beach. Shark attack isn't keeping tourists or locals away from the water.

Man who walked to both poles exhorts San Diegans to recycle.

Ojai has a love-hate relationship with 'Pastie Lady'.,1,1306187.story

Sal Casamassima has a story that makes Rep. Duncan Hunter look like one smart cookie. In fact, Casamassima could be a poster boy for the Alpine congressman's latest complaint that environmental regulations make it hard – that is, expensive or a regulatory nightmare – for some San Diegans to keep fire-prone brush cleared from around their homes. It would be easy to dismiss Hunter's complaint as just another conservative rant, or to buy some Democrat's argument that he wants an excuse to bad-mouth laws that stifle the moneymaking plans of earth-scorching, construction-happy lobbyists. But apparently there really are people out there, such as Casamassima, who can put a face to Hunter's gripe. Casamassima is active in the Palo Verde Fire Safe Council, which encompasses about 350 homes in the communities of Rancho Palo Verde and Palo Verde Ranch. These two ranches comprise more than 1,000 acres and lie along the eastern flank of Alpine. The Cleveland National Forest borders much of this land to the east and south. For the most part, the homes are custom-built and valued in the $1 million range.

Owl recovery plan 'deeply flawed,' review panel says. White House draft said to undervalue forest protection.

Is it environmentally better to keep my 1986 Mercedes-Benz W126 or buy a new hybrid?

Toppling the heap. More and more individuals, businesses and organizations are adopting practical ways to reduce paper consumption.

18 states commit to take action on climate change.

LOS ANGELES Why oh why is this city not the solar energy capital of the world? Why?

Ed Begley Jr.: I have been a quote-unquote environmentalist for 38 years, and I couldn't be happier about the green bandwagon that's rolling through Hollywood and the rest of the country these days. It hasn't always been so easy being green. Back in the 1990s, when environmentalism was looked upon as a holdover from the days of hippies and the Whole Earth Catalog, my lifestyle was considered so strange and extreme that I suspect it may even have cost me acting work. But now, like miniskirts and skinny neckties, "green" is back in style -- and I'm convinced that it's not just a fad, but a fundamental shift in our culture. My environmentally friendly life began not in Hollywood, but in the more conservative San Fernando Valley. My father, a staunch Republican of Irish descent, didn't allow anything in our home to go to waste. He was a child of the Great Depression and taught me to be frugal -- to reduce, reuse and make do.

Bush offers broad goals for climate change. General plan falls short, critics say.

The Next President's First Task [A Manifesto]. Last November, Lord (David) Puttnam debated before Parliament an important bill to tackle global warming. Addressing industry and government warnings that we must proceed slowly to avoid economic ruin, Lord Puttnam recalled that precisely 200 years ago Parliament heard identical caveats during the debate over abolition of the slave trade. At that time slave commerce represented one-fourth of Britain's G.D.P. and provided its primary source of cheap, abundant energy. Vested interests warned that financial apocalypse would succeed its prohibition. That debate lasted roughly a year, and Parliament, in the end, made the moral choice, abolishing the trade outright. Instead of collapsing, as slavery's proponents had predicted, Britain's economy accelerated. Slavery's abolition exposed the debilitating inefficiencies associated with zero-cost labor; slavery had been a ball and chain not only for the slaves but also for the British economy, hobbling productivity and stifling growth. Now creativity and productivity surged. Entrepreneurs seeking new sources of energy launched the Industrial Revolution and inaugurated the greatest era of wealth production in human history. Today, we don't need to abolish carbon as an energy source in order to see its inefficiencies starkly, or to understand that this addiction is the principal drag on American capitalism. The evidence is before our eyes. The practice of borrowing a billion dollars each day to buy foreign oil has caused the American dollar to implode. More than a trillion dollars in annual subsidies to coal and oil producers have beggared a nation that four decades ago owned half the globe's wealth. Carbon dependence has eroded our economic power, destroyed our moral authority, diminished our international influence and prestige, endangered our national security, and damaged our health and landscapes. It is subverting everything we value.

How the Army Corps Is Swindling Americans. With the help of Congress, they've been ripping off Americans long before the Katrina debacle, and no one's willing to stop them.

Growing Pains for a Deep-Sea Home Built of Subway Cars.

U.S. Abusing Law to Get Species Off Protected List?


Full stream ahead for Lower Owens. Man-made flood should flush a century's worth of debris from rejuvenated river.,0,4670302.story

Court upholds limits on Navy sonar training. The Navy must abide by limits on its sonar training off the Southern California because the exercises could harm dozens of species of whales and dolphins, a federal appeals court ruled. High-powered sonar is banned within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Southern California. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday night rejected the Navy's appeal of restrictions that banned high-powered sonar within 12 nautical miles of the coast and set other limits that could affect Navy training exercises to begin this month. Also on Friday, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a similar ban for that state's coastline.

Studies show scope of damage to reefs. Local researchers assess range of coral ecosystems. The few pristine coral reefs remaining in the world are teeming with biological diversity – a stark contrast to the damaged reefs where microbes, algae and small fish have replaced sharks, snappers and other large predators. That's the conclusion of a landmark pair of studies to be published online tomorrow by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, including some from UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography and San Diego State University.

Colorado residents brace for disaster. An underground tunnel bulging with water threatens to rupture near the old mining town of Leadville. A plan to drain it is months away.,0,1646144.story

Nature's false sense of wildfire recovery. Greenery emerges after October blazes, but it's likely non-native plants.

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us. · Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war · Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years · Threat to the world is greater than terrorism.

L.A. mayor tours restored Lower Owens River.,1,6520219.story

Whale wars: The battle over marine mammals and the Navy's use of sonar. National security must trump environmental restrictions.

The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan. A "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said.

Judge: Bush cannot exempt Navy on sonar limits.

Climate change would be added to the list of topics included in future California science textbooks, under a bill approved Wednesday by the state Senate.

Mini-nuke plants eyed for Air Force bases.

Join the Navy, Kill Some Whales.

State wants sonar-use exemptions nullified. The state attorney general yesterday filed a fresh legal challenge against Navy sonar training that could harm whales and dolphins off the San Diego County coast and other parts of Southern California. “This legal action has been taken because the Coastal Commission feels strongly that the Navy can conduct its sonar exercises and at the same time protect whales from injury or even death,” said Peter Douglas, the agency's executive director.

Judge lifts parts of Navy sonar restrictions

EPA Gets Fs for Math, Attendance, and Behavior. The Bush administration can't pretend it wasn't warned about the consequences of the latest salvo in its epic battle against the environment.

Infection Hits a California Prison Hard

Surge in Off-Roading Stirs Dust and Debate in West

With the U.N. climate conference in its final hours, Nobel laureate Al Gore said the United States was “principally responsible” for blocking progress here toward an agreement on launching negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

'Arctic is screaming,' say scientists seeing new data; worry over 'tipping point'

Mysterious Clouds More Common Due to Climate Change?

Dioxin report details deception. EPA found state failed to stand up to chemical giant

Scientists pushing for rapid action on warming. More than 200 sign petition directed at diplomats' meeting

Sunset paintings may offer insight into climate change

7 federal wildlife decisions to be revised. A political appointee had overruled recommendations by staff scientists on endangered species. She quit under a cloud.,1,78556.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

KUSI's Coleman a climate lightning rod

Solar panels at Nellis could be win-win

Key Findings of UN Scientific Report

U.N. Report Describes Risks of Inaction on Climate Change

In “A Contract With the Earth,” Mr. Gingrich, with his co-author Terry L. Maple (a professor of psychology at Georgia Tech and president of the Palm Beach Zoo), has written a manifesto challenging conservatives not just to grudgingly accept, but to embrace, the idea that a healthy environment is necessary for a healthy democracy and economy.

Gingrich Touts Conservative Take on Conservation

Give Newt a chance, All he is saying is that conservatives can be green, and with some good ol' know-how, America can lead the world out of its environmental troubles.

An attorney for the U.S. Navy urged federal appeals judges Thursday to allow the Navy to continue to use high-powered sonar during training exercises in Southern California waters, saying it would cause only "temporary and minor problems" for whales and dolphins.,1,20698.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Young scientists say Fox sold them out to bash global warming

Feds want to survey, possibly clean up vast garbage pit in Pacific

Navy defends sonar use, environmental record

Natural decline 'hurting lives'

Military steps up its role in battling southern California fires

Bush team directed lobby against Calif. fuel rules

Michigan lawmakers criticize HHS for touting foreign cars,0,5716675.story?coll=la-home-headlines


L.A.'s Standard Hotel owner charged with chemical dumping. Pool workers poured large amounts of chlorine and acid down a rooftop drain, prosecutors say, causing a gas cloud in a nearby Metro station. Officials initially suspected terrorism.,0,1192274.story

Colorado seeks protections amid energy boom. New regulations aim to protect medical workers, the environment and wildlife. Critics call them potentially crippling to an industry crucial to the state economy.,0,2799677.story

Feds scramble to make toxins harder to police. Obama questions 11th-hour efforts by Bush administration.


And what are we going to need to fulfill the U.S. Department of Energy's bold initiative to produce 20% of our electricity from wind by 2030? We'll need "233,330 more wind turbines, 610,000 blades, 99 million bolts, 1 million miles of rebar and 1,829,997 delivery trucks," Huskey says. "All of which will create 500,000 more jobs, save consumers $128 billion through lower natural gas costs and cut greenhouse emissions as much as taking 140 million automobiles off the road."

Blowing away King Coal. Can a scrawny young wind-power activist topple the biggest, dirtiest industry in West Virginia?

Steam generators en route to San Onofre nuclear power plant. Two of four devices needed to keep the San Clemente facility functioning are expected to arrive next month.,0,7059451.story?track=rss

Flat-screen TVs to face energy-efficiency rules in California. Starting in 2011, state regulators want retailers to sell only the most energy-efficient models of power hungry LCD and plasma sets. The industry opposes the new rules and warns of higher prices. Sales of television sets are growing by 4 million a year, the vast majority of them flat-panels. LCD -- liquid crystal display -- sets use 43% more electricity, on average, than conventional tube TVs; larger models use proportionately more. Plasma TVs, which command a relatively small share of the market, need more than three times as much power as bulky, old-style sets. The regulations would be phased in over two years, with a first tier taking effect on Jan. 1, 2011, and a more stringent, second tier on Jan. 1, 2013. Purchasers of Tier 1-compliant TVs would shave an average of $18.48 off their residential electric bill in the first year of ownership, the Energy Commission estimates. Tier 2 sets would save an additional $11.76 a year. Over the years, California has pioneered similar tough standards for appliances, home insulation and food service equipment that eventually were adopted by the federal government and promoted to consumers with utility rebate programs.,0,2869589.story

Don’t Count On Magic. The world's most prominent environmentalist on carbon taxes, clean coal and the dangers of illusion.

Saudi king says oil should be $75 per barrel.

'Dirty fuels' profit by bailout bill's tax breaks for renewable energy. Incentives mean billions for coal and oil projects that increase emissions.,0,4447153.story

Van Jones: We Can't Drill Our Way Out of Our Energy Problems. In an electrifying speech, Van Jones explains that we have to invent and invest our way out of the economic and environmental crises.

drill baby drill bakken formation.

Making America Stupid. Imagine for a minute that attending the Republican convention in St. Paul, sitting in a skybox overlooking the convention floor, were observers from Russia, Iran and Venezuela. And imagine for a minute what these observers would have been doing when Rudy Giuliani led the delegates in a chant of “drill, baby, drill!” I’ll tell you what they would have been doing: the Russian, Iranian and Venezuelan observers would have been up out of their seats, exchanging high-fives and joining in the chant louder than anyone in the hall — “Yes! Yes! Drill, America, drill!” — because an America that is focused first and foremost on drilling for oil is an America more focused on feeding its oil habit than kicking it. Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”

The Eco-Friendliest Product You Can Buy. HOW MY NEW POOL COVER IS SAVING THE PLANET. The cover itself was pretty cheap. But you need a reel to operate it. The total cost of my solar installation came to about $450 and required a few hours of assembly time. Over the last several months, I took pains to keep the pool at temperatures equal to or higher than last year and kept careful track of usage. Now that the swimming season in the Northeast has ended, we can tally the results. Compared with last summer, we cut deliveries of propane in half, or by about 600 gallons. Because the price of propane was up sharply since last year, this year's propane bill fell by 37 percent. The investment of $450 yielded a savings of about $1,100, compared with the amount used in the past year. In other words, my upfront investment was paid back in several weeks, returned 144 percent over three months, and should pay similar dividends for many years. In one summer this guy wastes more energy than I used in the last ten years.

Shock Jock Encourages Listeners to Waste Energy to Wipe Out DNC's Green Efforts. Now, how many, how many extra miles can you pledge? Can you drive five extra miles a day? Can you take the long way home, the long way to work? Can you just warm up your car? I know it’s August. Can you cool down your car? Can you get up like you do in the winter and just start your car?

Last month, former Vice President Al Gore highlighted the triple threat embedded in our reliance on fossil fuels – the growing strains to our economy, our environment and our national security. He issued a ringing challenge to America's leaders to generate 100 percent of our electricity from energy sources with zero carbon emissions within 10 years. In the wake of that challenge, a chorus of voices sprang up to insist that the goal is unachievable, undesirable, even unfathomable. Surely, Gore's was the kind of challenge that invites controversy: succinct, dramatic and bold. Fortunately for America, the facts stand firmly on the side of action. We face an unprecedented challenge to our way of life, but we also stand on the brink of tremendous opportunity. Today the situation is different, and political winds should no longer determine our course of action. The technologies available 30 years ago were primitive compared with the wind turbines, solar cells and energy-saving systems we have today. These dramatic advances have been roundly endorsed by the world's investors, who are committing billions to clean technologies. At the same time, the scientific case for acting immediately and with maximum effort to deal with climate change is crystal clear. Climate change doubters had a seat at the table in the past, but in serious circles today the climate debate is conclusively at an end. The seriousness of the economic and national security issues related to our reliance on fossil fuels is also obvious.

To drill or not to drill? Jerry Taylor says the federal government needs to remove restrictions on offshore drilling. V. John White says the focus ought to be on renewable energy, not oil.,0,3603521.story

Planting the seed. San Diego's ethanol entrepreneur not letting previous venture's demise stop his quest to create alternative-fuel stations statewide.

Boon to nation or just Pickens?

Shale-oil technology discovery shows vast promise and pitfalls. If the technology is a success, one small area – the Piceance Basin between Rifle and Meeker, Colo. – could contain one of the biggest resource-extraction projects the nation has ever seen, with potentially huge impacts on air, water and the environment. Full commercial production probably would mean several new electricity plants in western Colorado to heat the underground oil, as well as new refineries. Those would cause pollution. Critics also say that extracting oil shale might use as much energy as it produces. The amount of water required by the process would shift regional supplies from supporting agriculture to supporting industry, according to a 2007 analysis by the federal Bureau of Land Management. In addition, thousands of new workers would reshape communities.

What's the Deal With Offshore Drilling? WILL IT DO ANY GOOD AT ALL?

A boon for Pickens, not for America. T. Boone Pickens' proposals to wean the country off foreign oil could provide more benefit to Iran than to the U.S.,0,3336586.story

McCain touts commitment to expand nuclear power in Michigan visit.

Bush hammers Democrats on energy. In their weekly address, Democrats touted the passage of consumer safety legislation and a bill that would stop tobacco companies from targeting children. “Government at its best can work. It was a very good week for the American public,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (Calif.). “And best of all, it was a very good week for our kids.” EXXON announced record profits.

Wind power: A reality check. Plans are afoot to prod the nation into using much more renewable energy. Can it be done, and what's the cost?

San Diego station is in the fast lane with alternative fuels.,0,6567268.story

What about conservation? Democrats say they are for drilling, but argue that oil companies aren't going after the oil where they already have leases. So why open new, protected areas? they ask. Democrats say there are 68 million acres of federal land and waters where oil and gas companies hold leases, but aren't producing oil. "Americans are fed up every time they go to fill up and they're right to demand action. But instead of a serious response, President Bush and his allies simply repeat the same old line more drilling," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said in the Democrats' radio address. "Democrats support more drilling," he said. "In fact, what the president hasn't told you is that the oil companies are already sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands with the potential to nearly double U.S. oil production. That is why in the coming days congressional Democrats will vote on 'Use It or Lose It' legislation requiring the big oil companies to develop these resources or lose their leases to someone else who will." "But we know that drilling by itself will not solve the problem of high gas prices," Van Hollen said. "We cannot drill our way to energy independence."

Stop the Energy Insanity. No combination of solar, wind, ethanol, biodiesel, or anything else will allow us independence in the foreseeable future.

National speed limit pushed as gas saver. An influential Republican senator suggested Thursday that Congress might want to consider reimposing a national speed limit to save gasoline and possibly ease fuel prices. Sen. John Warner has asked the Energy Department at what speeds vehicles would be most fuel efficient. Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. He said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit. Congress in 1974 set a national 55 mph speed limit because of energy shortages caused by the Arab oil embargo. The speed limit was repealed in 1995 when crude oil dipped to $17 a barrel and gasoline cost $1.10 a gallon. As motorists headed on trips for this Fourth of July weekend, gasoline averaged $4.10 a gallon nationwide, with oil hovering around $145 a barrel. Warner cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country's highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year.

Gas prices make fewer Americans think green. High gasoline prices have dramatically changed Americans' views on energy and the environment. More people now view oil drilling and new power plants as greater priorities over energy conservation compared to five months ago, according to a new survey. The poll released yesterday by the Pew Research Center shows nearly half of those surveyed – 47 percent – now rate energy exploration, drilling and building new power plants as the top priority, compared with 35 percent who believed that five months ago.

Oceans and Cleanups

Mediterranean Is Scary Laboratory of Ocean Futures.

Though ocean-borne plastic trash has a reputation as an indestructible, immortal environmental villain, scientists announced yesterday that some plastics actually decompose rapidly in the ocean. And, the researchers say, that's not a good thing. The team's new study is the first to show that degrading plastics are leaching potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas, possibly threatening ocean animals, and us. "The plastic soup we've made of the ocean is pretty universal—it's just a matter of degree," he said. "All these effects we're worried about are happening throughout the ocean as a unity."

Divers cut away at net that has been killing marine life. Scuba divers working with the Ocean Defenders Alliance have been trying to release a net that has been catching and killing ocean dwellers since the trawler Infidel sank off Catalina Island.,0,3092633.story

Decaying warships in limbo. Towing to Texas for scrap on hold.

Standing up to a flood of trash. When it rains, Lennie Arkinstall scrambles to stanch the outflow of urban debris churning along the Long Beach area's swollen rivers and channels. It's a routine task for Arkinstall, who last week was out in blustery weather resetting yellow trash-catching booms used to corral tons of lawn clippings, toys, plastic bottles, sofas and tens of thousands of cigarette butts.,0,332305.story

No booze, less trash at beaches. It was a sight that stunned early-morning surfers and left environmentalists in disbelief. For the first time in memory, San Diego-area beaches didn't look like a dump the morning after Independence Day. With alcohol banned at most county beaches this year, Fourth of July festivities were milder, family-friendly affairs up and down the coast. And for the most part, these sober partyers cleaned up after themselves. More than 1,000 volunteers flocked to the shore to help in the annual July 5 beach cleanup Saturday. But many of them were left virtually empty-handed. The typical bounty of booze bottles and beer cans was missing. But so were many other party leftovers. Absent from the beaches was the usual plethora of abandoned furniture, carpets and ice chests.


Lessons from Aldo Leopold's historic wolf hunt. The nation's legendary conservationist saw the value of preserving wildness. Perhaps someday politicians will too.,0,5854680.story

Hundreds are enraptured by raptors. Hawk Watch educates public about wild birds.

Parks and Beaches

Two ways of life collide in Wonder Valley. Solitude reigns in the desert community until the off-road vehicles roar in. Then the tension escalates and tempers flare.,0,4658814.story

California beaches face a rising tide of pollution, study finds.,0,6684628.story

Public advised to avoid Coronado Beach. April 5, 2009. Officials have asked people to avoid Coronado Beach on Saturday and Sunday because balls of tar have been washing up on the shore. At about 3 p.m. Saturday, lifeguards asked everyone to get out of the water when the tar balls began to appear. They varied from the size of a quarter to about six inches. The health threat appears to be minor, according to the Coast Guard. A Coast Guard pollution investigator currently is taking samples, and the agency is working with the county to test the air. The Coast Guard, Coronado Fire Department and Coronado lifeguards are working to clean up the area. The source of the tar balls is under investigation.

The snowmobiles of Yellowstone. Why does the Bush administration insist on wreaking environmental havoc on the park?,0,3731176.story

Bush may seek protection for island chains. Bush's proposal would conserve parts of the Northern Mariana islands, the Line Islands in the central Pacific and American Samoa, environmentalists said Friday. Making them off-limits to fishing and energy development is the most stringent of the possible measures outlined. The proposal is expected to be made public as soon as Monday, when the White House plans to send a memo to Cabinet members, including the Defense, Interior and Commerce secretaries, and the Council on Environmental Quality. They will evaluate various levels of protection for the three areas and the impacts of establishing marine reserves. The review is expected to take one to two months, the participants said.

Trash Soils Bush Pledge To Save Most Environmentally Protected Area Of Ocean In The World.

Pollution-related closings and health advisories at U.S. beaches remained high in 2007, according to NRDC's annual report on beachwater quality. The reported number of closings and advisories made 2007 the second-worst for beaches since NRDC began tracking these events 18 years ago. (Only the previous year was worse.) Across the United States, ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches reported more than 22,500 days of closings and advisories in 2007. As in 2006, heavy rainfall that washes sewage, debris and other pollutants from cities and towns into coastal waters continued to be a major cause, and NRDC expects the trend to persist. In addition, sewage spills and overflows were a growing problem in 2007, the report shows, with the number of closings and advisories blamed on sewage more than tripling from the previous year.

Abandoned mines pose 'ominous' threat, report finds. Bureau of Land Management workers were warned by supervisors to ignore any problems at the sites, the Interior Department inspector general says. It also says that several adults and children have fallen to their deaths in abandoned mines that often remain uncovered. "The potential for more deaths or injuries is ominous," the report states. The office said a "limited search" of accident records showed that 12 people were killed at abandoned mines from 2004 to 2007. "Growth of the population and use of off-road vehicles in the West will increase the likelihood of additional deaths or injuries," the report says. It states that Bureau of Land Management supervisors, apparently worried about liability and cost, told staff members to ignore these problems and that employees "were criticized or received threats of retaliation" for identifying contaminated sites. The bureau declined an interview but released a statement Friday in response to a question from The Times. "Threats or intimidation of employees will not be condoned or tolerated," the statement said. "In any specific case where the BLM management is made aware of such allegations, we will act to investigate and address the matter." It added: "The BLM accepts the recommendations and will work diligently to implement them." The National Park Service, which also is responsible for managing abandoned mine sites, declined to comment Friday afternoon, stating that officials had just begun to look at the report, which was released late Thursday.,0,7817324.story

Forestland could be razed for housing. Closed-door deal made with former logging company. The Bush administration is preparing to ease the way for the nation's largest private landowner to convert hundreds of thousands of acres of mountain forestland to residential subdivisions. The deal was struck behind closed doors between Mark Rey, a former timber lobbyist who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, and Plum Creek Timber Co., a former logging company turned real estate investment trust that is building homes. Plum Creek owns more than 8 million acres nationwide, including 1.2 million acres in western Montana, where local officials were stunned and outraged at the deal.

Opposition mounts to clean air change affecting parks. Critics fear the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will adopt a rule in the waning days of the Bush administration that will make it easier to build coal-fired power plants near national parks. The proposed change, pending since last June, comes as the utility industry moves into its biggest building boom in coal-fueled power plants in decades. To meet growing electricity needs, more than 20 plants are under construction in 14 states and more than 100 are in various stages of planning. Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, vowed in an interview with The Associated Press to push Congress to overrule the EPA if it enacts the rule, perhaps as early as this summer.

Drugs, prostitution threaten wildlife refuges.

BUSH PLAN: WORLD'S LARGEST OCEAN RESERVE. A Montana-sized chunk of ocean would be off limits to fishing boats and tourists in a bid to protect fragile reefs.

Bush Eyes Unprecedented Conservation Program.


A Day Without a Bag seeks to reduce 6 billion plastic bags used in L.A. each year.

The Christmas tree rental. Living Christmas Co. in Torrance offers potted trees that are delivered and later picked up via biodiesel truck.,0,1600614.story

Graywater: UCLA gives Southern California a mixed grade,

NORTH COUNTY: Salvage yards gain many cashed-in 'clunkers' LUXURY VEHICLES AMONG UNWANTED AUTOS

A study on recycling suggests Britons are the worst in Europe when it comes to recycling electrical equipment.

Clean Jar, Clean Conscience? The environmental pros and cons of washing out your recyclables.

As the economy slumps, so does trash. Landfills receive less because people are buying less. Sometimes that's good news, but not always.,0,5995857.story

these are things I made from used PET bottles. all of them are useful or usable. bowls are for fruit or nuts; jewelry I (plan to) wear; lamp with jellyfish hangs over my table. photographs are taken by me unless no credit is given. and yes I pierce the holes one by one, there is no tool to make them all at once.

Scrap yard business turns to junk. Economic downturn hits metal dealers and scavengers where it hurts.,0,5080784.story?track=rss


It's heaven for autos, owners. “We recycle 85 percent of the car,” Kellejian said. “We're developing a way to sort through the other 15 percent to find anything else we can use and we're working on a method to get biodiesel fuel out of the fluff – the liners and upholstery.” The shredder is the only one in San Diego County, Kellejian said. He estimates that about 10,000 cars a month get crushed at the Chula Vista plant, then sent to China and Japan, where the recycled metal is put to use.

Program calls for recycling plastic bags. Contract between city, company may be unique.

What's Behind A Patchwork Of Recycling Rules?

Debris recycling mandated. San Diego law goes into effect Tuesday.

Tijuana Woman Invents Recycling Machine to Improve Scavengers' Lives.;id=11968


Immigration and Mexican border

Raids and Laws Against Illegal Immigrants

Undercover sting used to cite, deport Carlsbad day laborers. POLICE SAY THE WORKERS CREATE TRAFFIC HAZARDS ALONG EL CAMINO REAL

Verification of illegal immigrants is scrutinized amid healthcare debate. L.A. County officials question cost-effectiveness of rules aimed at screening those trying to get public health services. Since July 2008, when Los Angeles County began implementing tougher federal verification rules, Rincon and his colleagues have gone back to check the documents of more than 100,000 recipients of Medi-Cal, the public healthcare program for low-income residents. The county has received nearly $28 million in state and federal funds to cover the cost of the program and posted 81 people in 27 social service department offices to check documents, Walker said. So far, they have not found one illegal immigrant who posed as a legal resident to get benefits, according to Deborah Walker, the county's Medi-Cal program director. Fewer than 1% of applicants between July 2008 and February 2009 lacked the proper documents, and many of those applicants eventually produced them, she said.,0,560019.story

E-mails on illegal immigration are eye-opening.,0,2585698.column?page=1

Parents of three high school students who say their children were deported to Mexico by immigration officials after they were detained at the Old Town Transit Station spoke out against authorities' tactics Friday. The parents spoke at a news conference at the American Friends Service Committee office in the Stockton neighborhood. Along with Pedro Rios, director of the group's border program, they questioned whether authorities had followed proper procedure when they made the detentions Wednesday morning. Rios said agents with the Transportation Security Administration and the Border Patrol questioned a 16-year-old girl and two boys, ages 15 and 17, about their residency status at the trolley station before taking them into custody and sending them to Mexico later that day.

Immigration agents casting their nets beyond fugitive list. Wearing vests and jackets labeled “police,” the agents knock on the screen door. A couple of minutes go by before a short, stocky man in a red tank top appears, his dark hair in disarray as if he had been roused from bed. “Somos policía,” one of the agents begins in Spanish. “We're police. Do you mind if we come inside to talk to you?” It is a scene that has become increasingly common in immigrant communities. Since 2003, a growing staff of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents has been charged with removing hundreds of thousands of people nationwide who have not complied with deportation orders. ICE officials credit the policy with significantly reducing the nation's list of noncompliant deportees, whom the agency refers to as fugitives. But it has a particularly controversial component: Once inside a home, it's common for agents check the immigration status of others, sometimes even when the person they are seeking isn't there. Out of the 80,025 arrests made by ICE fugitive teams in fiscal years 2006 through 2008, nearly one-third were people not on the list.

Factory had tension between union, immigrants. Union bosses in this region of rural Mississippi have long grumbled that the largest factories here hire illegal immigrants, and that the immigrants were starting to get more overtime and supervisory positions. Friction between the union and immigrant workers, along with a tipoff at an electrical manufacturing plant, boiled over this week into the biggest workplace immigration raid in the nation's history. When the first of the 595 suspected illegal immigrants was taken into custody Monday, some fellow workers broke into applause. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the investigation started three years ago after agents received a tip from a union member.

Politically vetted judges more apt to deny asylum. Conservative litmus test found to be illegal. Immigrants seeking asylum in the United States have been disproportionately rejected by judges whom the Bush administration chose using a conservative political litmus test, according to an analysis of Justice Department data. The analysis suggests that the effects of a patronage-style selection process for immigration judges – used for three years before it was abandoned as illegal – continue to be felt by scores of immigrants whose fates are determined by the judges installed in that period.

Escondido tries to rid itself of undocumented immigrants. Immigration sweeps, driver's license checkpoints, city codes and proposed policies add up to an intentionally hostile environment. Escondido city officials refuse to give up. Two years ago, the city passed an ordinance to punish landlords for renting to illegal immigrants. But it rescinded the rental restriction after a legal challenge was filed and bills began to mount. Now Escondido is trying a new approach to what it calls the "public nuisances" of illegal immigration, citing residents for code violations such as garage conversions, graffiti and junk cars. The city is also debating a new ordinance that would restrict overnight street parking without a permit. In addition, it is drafting a policy that would prohibit drivers from picking up day laborers along some streets. "We learned from the rental ordinance," Councilman Sam Abed said. "We changed our focus to quality of life issues.",0,4631238.story

Businesses offer plans on hiring of workers. Proposals reopening rift over immigration. “The problem for business is that despite their complete compliance with the law, it is inevitable for employers with large numbers of immigrant workers that a certain percentage will be unauthorized workers using false documents,” said Peter Schey, a lawyer who represents two California companies facing scrutiny by federal immigration agents. “The system is just as broken for employers as it is for immigrants.”

Over the line. The anti-immigration furor is pushing us toward irrational policies.,0,7150358.story

REGION: California bucks immigration enforcement trend. Other states seeking to curb higher education benefits.

REGION: ICE operation nets 137 in San Diego County. Crackdown targets criminal records, deportation orders. A local immigrant rights activist decried the raids, saying they break up families and create fear in immigrant communities because they involve so many "collateral" arrests. "We have received a number of calls of complaints over the past few weeks," said Pedro Rios, director of the San Diego American Friends Service Committee. "The more people experience these raids, the more they realize how nefarious they are and how they disintegrate communities." Baker said the Fugitive Operations Teams pick their targets based on the threat they pose to the community. More than 40 percent of the people arrested in San Diego County had criminal histories in addition to being in the U.S illegally, Baker said. Their crimes included assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking, domestic violence and sexual assault. About half the people arrested in the statewide operation were removed from the country immediately, Baker said. The remaining people are in ICE custody and waiting for a hearing before an immigration judge. Rios, of the American Friends Service Committee, said that the so-called "targeted" operations in fact cast a wide net that can catch any illegal immigrant an agent meets. Instead of narrowly punishing criminals, the raids can have a painful effect on families, including the American-born children of parents here illegally, he said.

Immigration Officials Arrest 905 in California Sweep. The arrests were the result of collaboration among teams in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco that began on May 5. “The focal point of this operation were people who had exhausted all of their due process in the courts,” said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego. “They have a final order of removal issued by a U.S. immigration judge, and they’ve failed to depart.” In the process of seeking each person on the list, Ms. Mack said, agents often encountered friends, family members and others who had violated immigration laws. “Agents may come to a house looking for a target, and someone answers the door, or there are other people in the house who have also violated immigration laws,” she said.

61 illegal immigrants detained in South L.A., officials say. Immigration agents find 'a scene of squalor' while investigating a smuggling ring. More than 60 illegal immigrants, including three toddlers, were discovered at a house in South Los Angeles early this morning by federal immigration agents serving a search warrant as part of an investigation into a human smuggling ring, authorities said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents entered the single-family, two-story home in the 10000 block of South Normandie Avenue about 6:30 a.m.. and found 61 Central and South American immigrants crowded into the house, with trash and rotting food piled 2 to 3 feet high in each room, agency spokeswoman Virginia Kice said. The immigrants told agents that they had been staying in the home since Friday.,0,102214.story

Sheriff in Arizona criticized for raids on illegal immigrants. Sweeps are called a re-election stunt.

Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants



Smugglers and gangs preying on migrants. Unable to easily cross the border, they rob or assault captives; U.S. patrols increased.

FBI offers reward for missing gun of slain Border Patrol agent.

Man possibly linked in border agent's killing had been deported.

Killing of Border Patrol agent prompts multi-agency manhunt. U.S. and Mexican officials are searching for those responsible for the death of Robert Rosas. Tecate police say they arrested a man walking near the crime scene with a Border Patrol-issued weapon.,0,4007020.story

With tougher enforcement and new barriers rising on land along the U.S.-Mexico border, many immigrants like the ones crowded aboard the Tiburon are taking to the sea. More than 310 people have been arrested on suspected smuggling boats since October 2007, more than triple the number from the previous 18-month time period. Marijuana seizures have also surged, with more than 29 tons seized in the same time frame, a more than tenfold rise from the previous period. The increase in maritime smuggling has raised concerns with U.S. officials that Mexican trafficking groups are moving to exploit a perceived weakness in border defenses. Though sea journeys are risky, smugglers appear increasingly willing to take their chances on evading the handful of U.S. boats that patrol an area roughly twice the size of Los Angeles.,0,6958482.story

Immigration and border fence

ICE Agents' Ruse Operations.

America's Secret ICE Castles. "If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear." Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. Also present was Amnesty International's Sarnata Reynolds, who wrote about the incident in the 2009 report "Jailed Without Justice" and said in an interview, "It was almost surreal being there, particularly being someone from an organization that has worked on disappearances for decades in other countries. I couldn't believe he would say it so boldly, as though it weren't anything wrong."

Transborder Immigrant Tool helps Mexicans cross over safely.

Death in the desert. It's time the U.S. take steps to keep thousands of migrants from dying attempting to cross into this country.,0,5467269.story

Migration benefits the people who move, their host communities and those that stay behind, the United Nations’ latest Human Development Report says, calling today for wide-ranging reforms to maximize those gains and to protect the rights of migrants – now estimated to be one out of every seven humans. The annual report, written by independent experts and commissioned by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), proposes reforms to migration policies in source and destination countries that it says are politically feasible and will increase people’s freedom and strengthen human development. “Migration, both within and across borders, brings significant gains across the board, which could be further enhanced by better policies at home and abroad,” said Jeni Klugman, the lead author of the report, which is focused on the theme of migration and released worldwide today.

Underground Threat: Tunnels Pose Trouble from Mexico to Middle East.,8599,1895430,00.html?cnn=yes

Mexico's drug war violence prompts BLM warning for Imperial Sand Dunes visitors

Illegal immigrants are a factor in the budget gap math. http://:,0,418500.column

Australian family caged, detained, starved and deported by US customs.

U.S. smooths away an illegal border crossing wrinkle. A massive earth-moving project is transforming Smuggler's Gulch near San Diego from a narrow canyon used by cattle thieves, bandits and illegal immigrants into a plugged breach.,0,7116858.story

Both sides see less violence. A charred hole near one man's front door and several lingering coughs are about all that's left to remind residents of Tijuana's Colonia Libertad of a time late last year when las bombas were coming across the border fence. This is how locals refer to the tear gas canisters and pepper spray launched against smugglers by the Border Patrol, which operates just on the other side of the fence from this working-class neighborhood. For decades, the area has been considered a hub for human and drug smuggling traffic.

On opposite sides of fence. Estuary advocate, once a collaborator, now at odds with Hunter. In the fall of 1990, an environmental activist from Imperial Beach received a presidential award at the behest of his congressman. Mike McCoy was being honored with a Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award, at the time presented by Republicans for stewardship of the environment. The congressman who nominated him was Duncan Hunter. The Democratic veterinarian and the Republican congressman, who at the time represented Imperial Beach, didn't see eye to eye on everything, but they agreed on a surprising number of issues. There was sewage entering the Tijuana River estuary, and McCoy was working with Hunter's staff to clean it up.

Construction begins on $57M San Diego border fence.

The border counterinsurgency. Soldiers patrolled in teams of four with weapons at the ready, wearing masks over their faces to conceal their identities from enemy surveillance. More than 40 checkpoints had been placed around the city; military forces took over for police, screening traffic and maintaining security. Occasionally, firefights broke out between various armed factions. The locals were stuck in the middle, and often played both sides. Iraq? Afghanistan? The Balkans? I recently observed this scene unfold in Ciudad JuÁrez, Mexico, less than 50 yards from the United States. Since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006, more than 4,100 Mexicans have died amid the violence – almost exactly the same number of Americans killed in five years of war in Iraq. From Tijuana to Matamoros, police officers have been bribed, intimidated and assassinated. Throughout Mexico, 40,000 troops struggle valiantly, but often unsuccessfully, to impose order. “It is a war,” Calderón openly declared this past May to reporters.

Guard is better used elsewhere. Our multiple walls will never deter a terrorist who has the means to come into the country legally. By Andrea Guerrero. Since construction of the first wall nearly 15 years ago, most border-crossers have changed their strategy and attempted to cross under much more dangerous circumstances. As a result, more than 5,000 people have died trying to cross the southern border. This is a human tragedy that should not be tolerated, but it is, in the name of security. Our border enforcement strategy is failing. Every day in San Diego, a migrant crosses the border in search of a job, safety and family. And every day another migrant dies. In the same period that the Guard has strengthened our walls in the San Diego sector, crossing deaths have more than doubled. Have the newer, stronger walls made us any safer from the threat of terrorists and those who seek to do us harm? Given that none of the 9/11 terrorists attempted to cross the border illegally and all entered with valid visas issued by the U.S. government, the answer is probably no. Politicians tell us almost daily how “tough” they are on terrorism and illegal immigration. But are they smart on these issues? Not very. Our multiple walls will never deter a terrorist who has the means to come in to the country legally. The walls might deter poor migrants from crossing at specific locations, but they will never deter them altogether.

National Guard enhanced security. San Diego County has become one of the most responsibly enforced regions along the border. By Duncan Hunter. beginning in 1996 I wrote the law mandating construction of the San Diego border fence, which the National Guard started to build soon after. It is no surprise that once Operation Jump Start began in 2006, the 6,000-plus National Guard troops deployed to the border began having an immediate impact. Their mission was not to perform traditional law enforcement duties but rather to provide logistical support, conduct surveillance and, as the National Guard has done in San Diego County for so many years, build and repair infrastructure. As a result, 581 agents were released from other tasks and reassigned to border enforcement duties, leading to a 39 percent decrease in arrests – a definite indication of improved security. Additionally, 1,116 smuggling vehicles were seized and nearly 322,000 pounds of illegal drugs were confiscated. The National Guard also built 38 miles of pedestrian fencing, 96 miles of vehicle barriers, 20 miles of all-weather roads and repaired 717 miles of existing roadways.

High-tech border fence lacks capacity to show 'mercy to people'. Hoover says his maps show that during the years "most of the deaths occur in areas outside cellphone coverage." He also says as many as half the rescues by the Border Patrol are the result of migrants using cellphones to call for help. Immigration hard-liner Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., also supports the idea. He wrote Chertoff a letter dated July 9 to "recommend that we install 911 emergency-response systems to observation towers presently under construction or those planned for construction as part of the Secure Border Initiative." Duncan Hunter earned a national reputation as a staunch supporter of border enforcement, but he values human life. His brother, John Hunter, runs about 140 water stations along the California border with Mexico to help save the lives of migrants. "Even though you are big and strong," John Hunter says, "you can show mercy to people."

Breaks in border fence have residents suspicious of DHS's plans. When the border fence is constructed along the Rio Grande, Fermin Leal will watch as the barrier slices through the backyards of his neighbors, bypassing his 500-acre farm in San Pedro. The fence's trajectory, incontiguous and largely unexplained, has left many border residents suspicious of the federal government's plans. "I'm still not sure how my land is different than theirs," Leal said. "They still haven't given us any answers." The fence will run nearly unabated through Brownsville before stopping at River Bend Resort and golf course. It will break again for nearly seven miles in San Pedro, where the federal government and several developers own large swaths of land. On the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's preliminary map, breaks in the fence - some more than 10 miles wide - also appear near the rural communities of Santa Maria and Los Indios. The exemptions have fed suspicions that money and political connections dictated DHS' construction plans. But those who own land between segments of fencing might soon face problems of their own.

In December 2007, Artemio and two of his friends were traveling by bus through Syracuse, New York on their way to their homes in Mexico. Rather than celebrating Christmas with their families, however, the three men were arrested by immigration agents at a bus station. They were then detained at a county jail before being transferred to the ICE facility in Batavia, New York, and eventually deported to Mexico. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also known as the Border Patrol, confirms that its agents in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo check the citizenship status of travelers passing through by bus and train every day. These three cities are within 100 miles of the US-Canadian border. But more important than the border zone is the location of these cities on a major transportation corridor linking the Northeast (New York City and Boston) with the Midwest (Cleveland and Chicago). Border Patrol agents use Syracuse's location as the functional equivalent of the border to police people traveling within the interior of the country. Agents check for citizenship in the bus and train station -- often waiting at the Greyhound ticket counter, or watching people as they disembark for food -- and onboard buses and trains already filled with passengers. People who have witnessed or been subject to Border Patrol agents questioning describe two practices: agents explicitly target a group of people or ask everyone on board about their citizenship status.

Court rejects case on fast track for border fence. The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a plea by environmental groups to rein in the Bush administration's power to waive laws and regulations to speed construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has used authority given to him by Congress in 2005 to ignore environmental and other laws and regulations to move forward with hundreds of miles of fencing in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

Border contractors jailed in illegal-immigrant case. SAN DIEGO: Two Border Patrol contract workers were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to shuttle illegal immigrants from San Diego to Los Angeles for $2,500 apiece instead of returning them to Mexico. Christopher Saint Lucero and Manley Lamont Smith work for Wackenhut Corp., which holds a Border Patrol contract to escort illegal immigrants to Mexico after they are captured by agents in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. According to court documents, Saint Lucero told a colleague that he had been involved in about 10 smuggling attempts. The men were arrested Sunday after Saint Lucero allegedly escorted a group of illegal immigrants from the Border Patrol's Chula Vista station to the border in Tijuana. According to a statement of probable cause, Mexican authorities refused to admit two who identified themselves as Salvadorans. One was an undercover agent. Authorities say Saint Lucero then brokered the deal to get the two men to Los Angeles. Smith allegedly met them at the Border Patrol station in his Wackenhut jeep and offered to hide them. Saint Lucero and Smith were expected to make an initial court appearance today, said Debra Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego. The charge against them, conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants, is a felony.

Border fence gets razor wire. Critics assail move U.S. says will protect its agents from attack. The U.S. Border Patrol is installing razor-sharp concertina wire atop border fencing between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, marking a major shift in approach along a frequently violent stretch of the border. The triple-strand wire, which is meant to keep smugglers from attacking agents, will stretch five miles when completed this summer - the longest expanse of this kind of wire ever used on the Southwest border. Federal authorities have avoided using fortifications with such negative symbolism. Hundreds of miles of new barriers going up in other areas have had to meet "aesthetically pleasing" federal design standards. Critics say the new approach is inhumane and could leave immigrants bloodied. Border officials in San Diego say it was necessary and already is proving effective. They opted to augment the existing fencing with razor wire amid escalating violence from Colonia Libertad, one of Tijuana's most notorious smuggling enclaves.

Homeland Security Stands by Its Fence. As the Department of Homeland Security pushes to complete 670 miles of fencing along the Mexican border by the end of this year, it is confronting the sharpest resistance yet while conceding that physical barriers alone do not stop illegal crossings.

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Feinstein and Craig Emergency Legislation to Relieve Labor Shortage in Agriculture. a 5-year amnesty for 1.5 million agricultural workers

LAPD practices for May Day protest. Hoping to learn from past mistakes, police meet with organizers and train officers in crowd control. Under normal circumstances, such questions -- and the elaborate exercise -- might be considered overkill. But on the heels of last year's disastrous May Day, when police injured marchers and journalists during a botched effort to clear MacArthur Park, LAPD leaders are not in the mood to leave things to chance.,0,4648420.story

U.S. wrong to bypass laws for border fence. The politics of immigration reform is full of simple ideas, the execution of which is not so simple. Near the top of that list you'll find something that we have long opposed as expensive, ineffective and problematic: the construction of a fence stretching hundreds of miles along the U.S.-Mexico border. History shows us that walls and fences don't stop illegal immigrants, who will find a way to go around, over or under any barrier. Ending the jobs magnet and taking pressure off the border by creating legal avenues for people to migrate is a much better way to deal with this problem. Besides, as those experts who have studied the border will tell you, too often walls and fences create the effect of caging in illegal immigrants and preventing them from going home. And we thought that was what immigration restrictionists wanted?

Border Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause, Appeals Court Rules.

Government Authority Is Crossing a Line. Last week, Eloisa Tamez, 73, lost the latest round in her ongoing fight with the U.S. government. A judge ordered her to let Washington survey her land near Brownsville, Texas. It lies in the path of a proposed border fence. Now, Tamez, heir to an original Spanish land grant dating to the 1700s, fears that her property will be seized with good reason. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently waived more than 30 laws in order to expedite construction of the border fence. He did so with little regard for the concerns of residents, local officials and environmentalists. And though the proposed path would cut through the properties of many citizens, it would bypass land owned by the wealthy and politically connected. The Texas Observer reported that the fence would detour around the River Bend Resort and golf course, as well as developments owned by the Hunt family, whose members are major supporters of President Bush. The fence would also cause irreparable damage to wildlife; two Texas nature preserves would wind up in Mexico. They'd likely have to close.

A 670-mile-long shrine to American insecurity. Building a border wall to keep migrants out is an odd act for a nation so proud of its power. Last February, I found myself in the difficult position of explaining American insecurity to a group of Mexican undergraduates at a college in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of the border at Brownsville, Texas. I was taking questions after delivering a lecture on the long-term prospects of Mexican immigrants being accepted into U.S. society. A neatly dressed young man in the back stood up to ask a pointed question. "How," he said politely in Spanish, "could such a rich and powerful country be so self-centered as to build a wall on its border to keep people out?",0,4367182.column

Trouble ahead? Push to beef up border security leaves agents poorly trained, critics say. Moran worries that the agents receiving the brunt of the attacks are the country’s youngest and most under-prepared. A presidential mandate to recruit 6,000 new agents by 2009 is pushing them through hasty training and directly into dangerous mountains and deserts frequented by potentially dangerous smugglers.

Simple solutions. U.S. wrong to bypass laws for border fence. The politics of immigration reform is full of simple ideas, the execution of which is not so simple. Near the top of that list you'll find something that we have long opposed as expensive, ineffective and problematic: the construction of a fence stretching hundreds of miles along the U.S.-Mexico border. History shows us that walls and fences don't stop illegal immigrants, who will find a way to go around, over or under any barrier. Ending the jobs magnet and taking pressure off the border by creating legal avenues for people to migrate is a much better way to deal with this problem. Besides, as those experts who have studied the border will tell you, too often walls and fences create the effect of caging in illegal immigrants and preventing them from going home. And we thought that was what immigration restrictionists wanted? Still, border fencing remains popular with much of the public and with many members of Congress. To give you an idea of just how crazy this debate can get, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, at one point went so far as to propose building a 2,000-mile barrier. The most Congress was willing to approve was 670 miles of border fencing, of which about 260 miles still remain to be built.

Border fence will skirt environmental laws. Homeland Security announces that it will waive regulations in order to complete the fence along the southern U.S. border by the end of this year.,0,5819252.story

Easy to blame. Illegal immigrants not cause of budget crisis. Last week, Schwarzenegger was in San Luis Obispo to talk about the budget mess and some of his solutions to it when Diane Blakeslee, who happens to be the mother of GOP Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, asked the governor a simple question that we're sure many Californians have: How should the state handle the financial burden of illegal immigration? Schwarzenegger could have played along, as many Republican politicians do when asked such questions. Remember when former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson was asked how illegal immigrants brought about the mortgage crisis, and he went on about how it was absolutely true because many of the people who signed up for bad loans were illegal immigrants who couldn't understand English? Thankfully, the actor-turned-politician washed out and headed back to Hollywood where he can do less damage. Not Schwarzenegger. He put it right on the table. “There is always a time like this where you start pointing the finger at various different elements of what creates the budget mess, and some may point the finger at illegal immigrants,” the governor said. “I can guarantee you, I have been now four years in office in Sacramento, I don't think that illegal immigration has created the mess that we are in.”

Hate groups, crimes on rise, watchdog says. Anti-immigrant attitudes linked to attacks on Latinos.

The dirt bikes and dune buggies swarm the sandy slopes by the thousands, turning these giant dunes at California's southeast border into anthills of frenetic activity. Smugglers in nearby Mexico can't resist trying to blend into the crowd. They shoot across the border in souped-up vehicles loaded with illegal immigrants and drugs and elude U.S. Border Patrol agents by playing the part of dune enthusiasts: wearing helmets and decorating their bikes and all terrain vehicles with decals and flags. The cat-and-mouse game turned deadly recently when a suspected smuggler driving a Hummer ran over an agent and fled back across the border over the dunes. The agent's death focused attention on the federal government's enforcement strategy in this remote corner of the border.,0,4925540.story

For the Record: Single vs Double-layered Border Fencing. Debate over the construction of a Southwest border fence continues to divide Congress. But the disagreement isn't over whether to build the fence; nearly all of Congress, including all Presidential candidates, favors its construction. The bone of contention is over what type of fence and how much to build. The fiercest disagreement is between two members of congress on the same side of the political isle: Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) and California Representative Duncan Hunter (R).

Holes in the Wall. Homeland Security won’t say why the border wall is bypassing the wealthy and politically connected. As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security marches down the Texas border serving condemnation lawsuits to frightened landowners, Brownsville resident Eloisa Tamez, 72, has one simple question. She would like to know why her land is being targeted for destruction by a border wall, while a nearby golf course and resort remain untouched.

Border Patrol kills suspected smuggler. The shooting takes place outside an Indian casino in San Diego County after the man tries to run down agents, authorities say.,1,874959.story

Smugglers busted 800 miles from Mexico. Operation Uniforce detains more than 300 illegal immigrants.

Fleeing vehicle strikes, kills border agent

Border Patrol agent dies, struck by fleeing vehicle in Calif.

Hutchison on defensive over border fence amendment

In a quiet act of defiance, the Senate approved a $555 billion omnibus spending bill that removed legal requirements mandating the federal government fund 854 miles of a double layer border fence spanning America's southwestern border. The Hutchison amendment reads, "Nothing in this paragraph shall require the secretary of homeland security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location." Thus, critics argue the amendment results in a de facto repeal of the SFA.

Scientists fleeing border, smugglers

Mexican authorities are asking for a U.S. investigation into what appears to be a series of cases in which pepper spray or tear gas used by Border Patrol agents to fend off rock-throwing smugglers has affected Tijuana residents who live near the border fence.

Border issue moves into landowners' yards. Chertoff warns that properties will be seized if owners are uncooperative with federal plans to build a fence in the Southwest.,0,3722089.story?coll=la-home-center

Border Fence Work Raises Environmental Concerns

Canadian firetruck responding to U.S. call held up at border

Cash offer unpopular with border landowners

70 Miles of Border Fence Goes Up in Fiscal 2007

Border Fence Efficiency Spurs Debate

"If you get over my fence, we sign you up for the Olympics immediately."

In the case of two rogue Border Patrol agents, the truth has been sacrificed to unprincipled lies

Eleven-foot ladders

Leave Texas border agents in jail, for now

Border fence? What border fence?

Immigration operation nets two arrests in Escondido

A watcher sees across the divide,0,3757301.story?coll=la-home-center

smugglers using ramps to drive over border fence

latest efforts to control

San Diego checkpoint and more

ESCONDIDO ---- Two drivers were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence at a sobriety and driver's license checkpoint Friday night, according to Econdido police. They also arrested one person for possession of methamphetamine, and one person for possession of marijuana. The checkpoint was held at 700 West Grand Ave., right after West Grand splits from Valley Parkway. Approximately 2,600 vehicles passed through the parkway between 6 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday. Ninety-one drivers were flagged as a possible drug or license violation. Thirty-four drivers were cited for not having a driver's license, 10 for not having auto insurance, and six for having a suspended license. The checkpoint was a joint effort between the Escondido Police Department, San Diego County DUI Probation Team, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, North County Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Council, California Office of Traffic Safety, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Escondido Police set up drivers license checkpoint in Escondido on Monday.

Boat carrying 17 suspected illegal immigrants stopped offshore. A boat carrying 17 suspected illegal immigrants who authorities said were being smuggled into the country was seized by U.S. officials early Monday morning. The 26-foot vessel was found about 10 miles off the coast of Point Loma at 1 a.m. by agents using night vision cameras, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Vince Bond. The boat did not have any navigation lights nor any registration markings, Bond said. The 13 men and 4 women were taken into custody. One of them will be charged with alien smuggling, Bond said. All were wearing life jackets and none was injured, Bond said.

No clear solution to border pollution. Agency picks neither of 2 sewage projects.

The artist behind the iconic 'running immigrants' image.,1,3812874,full.story

Escondido sweep pushes enforcement edge. "Fundamentally, we need to be targeting people who have committed crimes, whether they are here legally or illegally," she said. "Even if you are here illegally, I would think you would not want to be living next to somebody who is a criminal."

Detainees say they were mistreated. A privately run immigration jail in Otay Mesa that is already the subject of two lawsuits is under fire again for allegedly mistreating female detainees, then retaliating when they complained to lawyers. One of the women has filed a formal complaint with the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, saying she suffered verbal and physical abuse and poor medical care during her three-week detention this month. The allegations come about one year after a federal lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego alleging severe overcrowding and unsafe conditions at the jail, known as the San Diego Correctional Facility.

Police target deportees. Illegal immigrants who are also criminals are detained in sweep. ESCONDIDO – The car thief had been released from jail and formally deported to Mexico six days earlier, and yet Wednesday, police found him back on the streets of Escondido. Officers say they've become frustrated with the growing numbers of illegal immigrants in the city who commit crimes and are deported, only to return.

Caltrans set to relocate Minutemen's highway area.

Checkpoint Charlie. Escondido intercepts are dubious practice. anyone whose car is towed is forced to pay $1,120 to one of four towing companies. Two, about 20 Escondido police officers are tied up for the duration. Three, the violator need not get a driver's license, only pay the fees and have someone with a valid license pick up his car for him.

Police say it's an effort to make streets safer. Others say checkpoints, impounding cars to stop unlicensed drivers is discrimination

Raids nab foreigners with ties to gangs

In Videos, Minutemen Shown Damaging Migrant Camp

dui checkpoint





Animals and Pets

Documentary about crazy cat ladies.

A lot of humans could learn a thing or two about loyalty from a Rottweiler named Ella. Ella's human family, the Kelleys, were in a horrific car accident in Hickman County, Tenn., on July 1. Ella escaped the wreck in good shape physically, but the Kelleys weren't so lucky -- paramedics rushed all five family members (parents Joe and Michelle and their three children) to a nearby hospital. Ella was left behind. She remained near the site of the accident for about two weeks, when she was found by a kind rescuer, Kathy Wilkes-Myers. "That's the last spot she saw her family and she was going to stay there," Wilkes-Myers told Nashville's News Channel 5. "She was starved and covered with ticks." Wilkes-Myers knew something terrible must have happened to Ella for her to be found without her family. She searched the nearby area and returned home with Ella and a plastic bag full of items the dog had hoarded in a little nest -- the family's toothbrushes, a hairbrush and other personal items. Among the personal effects Wilkes-Myers found was contact information for the Kelleys' insurance agent. Wilkes-Myers got in touch with the agent, April Bowers, who immediately knew the lost Rottweiler was the Kelleys' missing Ella. The dog and her family were reunited at last, and -- we confess -- the happy reunion was enough to bring a tear to even our hardened eye. Bonus good news: The Kelleys are all expected to fully recover from their injuries.

traffic and commuting

We’re No. 48! At least that’s where California ranked among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in GMAC Insurance’s fifth annual National Drivers Test.

Hummer Drivers Get More Tickets. A Lot More.

Weakening economy puts brakes on traffic. Lower prices at pump failing to entice drivers. Several major pinch points in the region continue to post significant declines in the volume of weekday and weekend traffic, state highway data show. The number of cars and trucks on the road dropped an average 6.6 percent in September at eight key points on the freeway system compared with the same month last year, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune analysis. “Even a 5 percent drop is huge,” said Caltrans spokesman Edward Cartagena, who has noticed less congestion on his commute. “The volumes aren't there that used to be.” Economist Kelly Cunningham said he believes public worries over the state of the economy, along with job losses in the region, are contributing to the trend. “It's really a symptom of the slowness of the economy,” said Cunningham, with the San Diego Institute for Policy Research, a for-profit, business-oriented research group. “I think consumers are clearly cutting back on spending, so they are not going out, not going to movies, not going out to eat . . . “I think there's a lot of anxiety out there.”

Study Says Closing Roads Might Cut Congestion. Huh?

CHP: Shooting on I-8 a road-rage incident.

For good neighbours, live in a quiet, car-free street. · People in busy roads more likely to be ill, says study . · Lack of traffic promotes sense of community.

Tom Vanderbilt's Why We Drive the Way We Do Unlocks How to Unclog Traffic.


We May Be Born With an Urge to Help.

9/11: Unable to just watch, some civilians acted

Day of Service:

"The Heart of Steel":

in a disaster

Blackwater Preps for Hurricane Gustav. But perhaps the most startling call for forces comes from Blackwater, the controversial prviate security contractor. The firm -- which famously patrolled New Orleans after Katrina -- is "compiling a list of qualified security personnel for possible deployment into areas affected by Hurricane Gustav," according to an e-mail obtained by R.J. Hillhouse. They're looking for current sworn law enforcement officers, with "arrest powers" and "armed status (must indicate Armed and/or Semi Auto. Revolver only not accepted)." The firm is also looking for "current/active/licensed/registered armed security officer[s]," but "only from the following states: OR, WA, CA, NV, NM, AZ, TX, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, IL, OK." Applicants "must be US citizens," the e-mail notes. "Contract length is TBD."

Question Authorities. Why it's smart to disobey officials in emergencies. We know that US borders are porous, that major targets are largely undefended, and that the multicolor threat alert scheme known affectionately as "the rainbow of doom" is a national joke. Anybody who has been paying attention probably suspects that if we rely on orders from above to protect us, we'll be in terrible shape. But in a networked era, we have increasing opportunities to help ourselves. This is the real source of homeland security: not authoritarian schemes of surveillance and punishment, but multichannel networks of advice, information, and mutual aid.

Hate Radio, neo-cons, knee jerk Conservative Republicans

Oath Keepers organizer sees need to sound an alarm. Rand Cardwell drums up support for an antigovernment group whose views illustrate the disconnect that has come to define popular political discourse in President Obama's first tumultuous year.,0,4937225.story?page=1

Racist Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security. After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article. Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up a tea party at Austin City Hall with his stance against the federal government, as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"

Brave New Films, the Web video production company run by liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald ("Outfoxed," Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price"), is suing conservative talk-show host Michael Savage in a copyright dispute that hinges on the takedown of a one-minute-long YouTube video. The video called "Michael Savage Hates Muslims" (and still available here) features a photo of Savage, along with a short audio excerpt from the "Savage Nation" program, in which Savage makes clear his disdain for Muslims and Islam. "You can take your religion and shove it up your behind," he yells at one point. "I'm sick of you."

Boycotted Radio Host Remains Unbowed. Mr. Savage, whose program reaches an estimated eight million listeners a week on nearly 400 stations, suggested over the summer that a group of college students on a hunger strike in support of easing immigration restrictions should “fast until they starve to death.” In October the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, the city from which Mr. Savage often broadcasts, took the unusual step of passing a resolution condemning him for the remarks. Then, a few weeks ago, Mr. Savage uncorked a cascade of invective about Islam. Among his on-air comments: the Koran is “a book of hate”; some Muslims, at least, “need deportation”; and adherents of Islam would do well to “take your religion and shove it up your behind” because “I’m sick of you.” In response the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose stated mission includes correcting mischaracterizations of Islam, tore a page from the playbook of Mr. Imus’s critics. It made Mr. Savage’s comments widely available on the Internet and called on advertisers to boycott his program, which is behind only Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s in number of listeners, according to Talkers magazine, an industry publication.

Conservatives Have Stronger Startle Reflexes? Voters with heightened physical reactions to perceived threats—blinking or sweating when exposed to "threatening" images—may be less likely to vote for change, a new study says. The researchers caution, however, that no cause-and-effect between reflexes and voting patterns has been established.

Conservatives Scare More Easily Than Liberals, Say Scientists. Deep-seated political differences aren't simply moral and intellectual: They're also biological. In reflex tests of 46 political partisans, psychologists found that conservatives were more likely than liberals to be shocked by sudden threats. Accompanying the physiological differences were deep differences on hot-button political issues: military expansion, the Iraq war, gun control, capital punishment, the Patriot act, warrantless searches, foreign aid, abortion rights, gay marriage, premarital sex and pornography. "People are experiencing the world, experiencing threat, differently," said University of Nebraska political scientist John Hibbing. "We have very different physiological orientations." The study, published today in Science, has not yet been duplicated, but adds a potentially troubling piece to the puzzle of biology, behavior and politics.

A consequence of liberal bashing. Broken people, after all, can always find some equally broken rationale for the carnage they cause. And the brokenness of 58-year-old Jim Adkisson can hardly be doubted after he walked into a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday and, according to police, shot eight people, killing two. He might as well have said he did it because he didn't like the color of the building, a black cat crossed his path, or the voices in his head thought it a good idea. Except, he didn't. Police say that, according to the four-page note he left, he went on the rampage because he couldn't find a job, and because he hates gay people and liberals. Even through the brokenness of the man, that reasoning resonates. From the days the first President Bush branded it "the L word" -- i.e., the ideology that dare not speak its name -- conservative politicians and media figures have been relentlessly effective in selling the idea that "liberal" is the brand name for every wrong thing they see, every opinion they disagree with, every change they fear. They have not been hampered by excessive devotion to nuance.
Knoxville, Tenn., police officers lead Jim Adkisson to a squad car on Sunday. He is accused of shooting eight people, killing two of them, inside a church during a children's play. According to a note, he went on the rampage because he couldn't find a job and because he hates gay people and liberals.

What Rush Limbaugh wrought. For the last 20 years, the right-wing radio host has distilled the essence of redneck prejudice.

Talk Radio and the Conspiracy to Kill. Would Jim Adkisson have killed without prompting from extreme right-wing talkers?

Shooting raises question: It is safe to be a liberal. Ian Williams, writing in The Guardian in London, said "Jim Adkisson, a Tennessee aficionado of conservative talkshows, took their hosts' invective all too literally and shot up a 'liberal' Unitarian Universalist congregation, killing two and wounding six congregants watching a children's musical. Caught up in a world of conservative talk radio, he reportedly expected to be able to carry on shooting unimpeded by the spineless, gay-loving pacifists, and was surprised when they tackled him and brought him down."


St. John's wort helps with depression -- especially if you're German. Here, for example, is what the National Institutes of Health says: "There is some scientific evidence that St. John's wort is useful for treating mild to moderate depression. However, two large studies, one sponsored by NCCAM [the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine], showed that the herb was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity." The University of Maryland Medical Center says that, "In numerous studies, St. John's wort has been effective in reducing depressive symptoms in those with mild to moderate but not severe (called major) depression." So one site says the herb's effective in treating moderately severe major depression and the other says it's not effective for major depression but is effective for moderate and mild depression that would not be defined as major.

Redefining Depression as Mere Sadness.

Animal cruelty

Animal cruelty crackdown in Los Angeles has results. People involved in dog-fighting, cockfighting and other abuse are targeted by groups from the LAPD and district attorney. The number of criminal cases filed has jumped.,0,7249180.story

work and school, bullying, trolls

'Ginger attacks' at Calabasas school linked to cyber-bullying.

Bullies may not just be mean. Brain scans of teens with a history of aggressive bullying suggest that they may actually get pleasure out of seeing someone else in pain, U.S. researchers said on Friday. While this may come as little surprise to those who have been victimized by bullies, it is not what the researchers expected, Benjamin Lahey of the University of Chicago, who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview. "The reason we were surprised is the prevailing view is these kids are cold and unemotional in their aggression," said Dr. Lahey, whose study appears in the journal Biological Psychology. "This is looking like maybe they care very much," said Dr. Lahey, who worked on the study with Jean Decety, also of the University of Chicago.

Witnesses: Girls appeared to be bullying stabbing suspect.

Jack Abramoff the bully.

The Trolls Among Us.

Scared straight? Or just plain scared? Earlier this month, officials at El Camino High School in Oceanside felt the unwanted glare of the media spotlight when the story of their bizarre scared-straight hoax hit the national news wire. A uniformed police officer had informed 20 classrooms that several students had been killed in car crashes over the weekend. According to school officials, the ruse was intended to teach a lesson about the consequences of drunken driving. Did the administration think students would take the news lightly? After hours of students' hysteria and uncontrollable weeping in the hallways, chaos broke out after officials revealed that the deaths were all staged. “They were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized,” a guidance counselor who organized the exercise told The Associated Press. “That's how they get the message.” This story illustrates something that has become a core principle of modern prevention techniques: Scare tactics do not work and are likely to backfire. While most anti-drug messaging has moved past the over-simplified “this is your brain on drugs,” all too often well-intended lies and half-truths get in the way of reaching young people. This incident is an extreme example of our knee-jerk urges to protect teenagers by terrifying them.

Asperger syndrome

Asperger's: My life as an Earthbound alien.

Cyberbullying popping up in Pacific schools. The schoolyard bully is going electronic. Up to 30 percent of students at military bases worldwide face chronic bullying, according to the Department of Defense Education Activity. That harassment is now following victims beyond school grounds and across the Internet in cell phone text messages and social networking sites, some school officials say.

Boy Scouts required to show they can confront bullies

Anti-bullying program aims to teach students empathy

Symptoms, Types and Treatment

PTSD Treatment Guides

Death in the workplace and public events

Problems nearly sidelined monster truck prior to fatal accident.

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death.

Slain chairman's shooter had quit job at Target. Timothy Dale Johnson, 50, had scrawled profane graffiti on the stores walls hours before entering Arkansas Democratic Party headquarters and shooting Bill Gwatney.,0,730296.story

Worker killed in shipyard accident

Shipyard explosion blamed on gas buildup

Guns and School/Church shootings

Some saw trouble ahead for Fort Hood suspect.

An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death.

10 years later, the real story behind Columbine.

Long before Dearborn police say Anthony Powell used a shotgun to kill 20-year-old Asia McGowan and himself at Henry Ford Community College on Friday, he apparently sparked a following of haters online who dubbed him "a special brand of idiot." Powell, 28, best known as Tony48219 through one of his YouTube accounts, ranted about atheists, racism, the role of women in relationships and his desire to kill himself and reached a level of menacing vitriol that apparently helped lead to the suspension of at least two of his accounts in the past year.

State prosecutor to monitor transit shooting probe. State lawyer to monitor transit shooting probe.,0,7753849.story

Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Report Links State Gun Laws To Rates of Slayings, Trafficking.

A chilling YouTube video with a young man firing a pistol and warning "You will die next" caught the eye of police, who questioned him but then let him go, saying they didn't have enough evidence to take away his weapon. On Tuesday, he walked into a vocational college, the School of Hospitality, and opened fire, killing 10 people and burning their bodies with firebombs before shooting himself fatally in the head. At least two other people were wounded.

Adkisson is being held on $1 million bond on one count of first-degree murder — a crime that could carry the death penalty in Tennessee. He faces a preliminary hearing Aug. 5 and more charges are expected. The gunman entered the back of the sanctuary, where 200 people were watching a musical staged by 25 children, including Barnhart's 16-year-old granddaughter. The Barnharts and Kraeger were seated near the door when "this man came in and there was this horrendous explosion. You knew it wasn't fireworks, but you didn't know what it was." With the first of three shotgun blasts, Kraeger fell to the floor. Barnhart said he moved to help her and was wounded with the second or third blast. Daughter Linda Chavez received extensive wounds to her hands when she tried to block the shooter's view of her 6-year-old daughter sitting in her lap. Brother Jack Barnhart suffered wounds to his bladder, colon and back. His sister-in-law, Betty, had minor injuries. The next thing Barnhart remembered was being carried out of the church and worked on by doctors in the hospital. "I was one of the lucky ones," he said. Also killed was Greg McKendry, 60, an usher who died blocking a shotgun blast. Police found a four-page letter written by Adkisson suggesting he targeted his ex-wife's former congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, including its acceptance of gays.

Did Right-Wing Shock Jocks Motivate the Knoxville Killer? When Free Republic forum posters learned that the gunman was from their own demographic, out came the conservative madness.

Packing in public: Gun owners tired of hiding their weapons embrace 'open carry'. Those who wear their guns in full sight are part of a fledgling movement to make a firearm a common accessory.,0,849912.story?page=1

The Killer in the Lecture Hall. When I complained about Rick to the dean of students, I was told there was nothing to be done — after all, “students have rights, too.” Only after appealing to that dean’s boss and calling a raft of fellow professors who had also come to fear Rick’s strange behavior was I able to convince the administration to take grudging action; they restricted his ability to loiter in certain areas and began nudging him toward the classes he needed to graduate. In a strange way, I could see the administration’s point. Rick looked fairly ordinary, at least when away from his sleeping bag and pet cockroaches. It must have seemed far more likely that Rick could sue for being thrown out of school, than that I — or anyone else — could ever be hurt. The easiest path, from their perspective, was to simply get me to shut up. Many professors have run across more than their share of Ricks. At least one Virginia Tech professor noticed that Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people on campus on Monday, was potentially dangerous and did her best to warn the administration and the police. (So did at least two female students.) But there is only so much a teacher can do — “students have rights, too.”


A Crushing Issue: How to Destroy Brand-New Cars.



When scary Jesus makes the news. Will it be drugs? Will it be gays? Will it be an unwieldy sex scandal featuring seedy hotels, bad cologne and grossly detailed text messages you never want to read? How about another "family values"' congressman busted for cruising gay chat rooms or hitting on young male pages in the congressional bathroom? That's always heartwarming. Or maybe it will be another enchanting case of sexual abuse and pedophilia in the Catholic Church! What, too 2001? Fine, how about six decades of child rape and beatings at the hands of countless nuns and priests in Irish Catholic orphanages? Oh right, that was last year. The pope slamming birth control in Africa? Megachurch pastors shamelessly fleecing their gullible flock for still more millions? Some spectacular combination of the above? So many choices! What's your pleasure, good reader?

Faith and Belief: Richard Dawkins evolves his arguments. After taking acceptance of evolution for granted, the author addresses Darwin doubters in 'The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.',0,4602534.story

Excerpts from Kennedy's letter to Pope Benedict XVI.

"Here in Rome, Ted Kennedy is nobody. He's a legend with his own constituency," says the Vatican official. "If he had influence in the past, it was only with the Archdiocese of Boston, and that eventually disappeared too.",8599,1919064,00.html?imw=Y

A sure way to fight the threat of religious fundamentalism? Healthy doubts. Authors Peter L. Berger and Anton C. Zijderveld argue that balancing conviction and uncertainty thwarts absolutism. That makes our democratic freedoms an effective weapon.,0,4545087.column

Must science declare a holy war on religion? The so-called New Atheists are attacking the mantra of science and faith being compatible. Others in the science community question the value of confrontation.,0,6581208.story

Pastor Urges His Flock to Bring Guns to Church.

Obama addresses abortion-rights furor at Notre Dame. The Catholic university's choice to honor a pro-abortion-rights president sparked anger and protests. Today, during his commencement speech, Obama called for greater understanding from both sides.,0,3023892.story?page=1

Why the Faithful Approve of Torture. The more often you go to church, the more you approve of torture. This is a troubling finding of a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Shouldn't it be the opposite? After all, who would Jesus torture? Since Jesus wouldn't even let Peter use a sword and defend him from arrest, it would seem that those who follow Jesus would strenuously oppose the violence of torture. But, not so in America today. Instead, more than half of people who attend worship at least once a week, or 54%, said that using torture on suspected terrorists was "often" or "sometimes" justified. White evangelical Protestants were the church-going group most likely to approve of torture. By contrast, those who are unaffiliated with a religious organization and didn't attend worship were most opposed to torture -- only 42% of those people approved of using torture.

Secular Coalition for America

More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops. Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout. The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

Religious Belief Linked to Desire for Aggressive Treatment in Terminal Patients. Terminally ill cancer patients who drew comfort from religion were far more likely to seek aggressive, life-prolonging care in the week before they died than were less religious patients and far more likely to want doctors to do everything possible to keep them alive, a study has found. The patients who were devout were three times more likely than less religious ones to be put on a mechanical ventilator to maintain breathing during the last week of life, and they were less likely do any advance care planning, like signing a do-not-resuscitate order, preparing a living will or appointing a health care proxy, the analysis found.

The Culture Warriors Get Laid Off. What has happened between 2001 and 2009 to so radically change the cultural climate? Here, at last, is one piece of good news in our global economic meltdown: Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years. Culture wars are a luxury the country — the G.O.P. included — can no longer afford.

All God's children. The Quiverfull movement saddles women with a life of submission and near-constant pregnancies. One mother explains how she embraced the extreme Christian lifestyle -- and why she left.

There is a minority group in America that is a bigger percentage of the country than blacks or Hispanics. But they are often ignored or derided in public. Almost no politician would ever admit to being one. And they are given no voice in the public arena. They are the non-religious. A new comprehensive study by The Program on Public Values at Trinity College shows that this group is now a whopping 15% of the country. Mormons by comparison are a puny 1.4% of the population, and people can't shut up about the Mormons. The Senate Majority Leader is a Mormon, one of the top Republican presidential candidates was Mormon and even HBO has a whole show devoted to them. Even though the non-religious are more than ten times larger, other than Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), not one member of Congress would even admit to being in the dreaded minority of non-believers. They are almost never accounted for in any political discussion of religion in the country. The devout view them as amoral at best and destined for eternal damnation at worst. Yet, this kind of abuse and scorn is widely accepted and expected.

More Americans Say They Have No Religion.

Audio: The Prayers at President Barack Obama's Public Events.

Linked by a Bible. Barack Obama's use of Abraham Lincoln's Bible serves to connect the presidents by religion.,0,4807263.story

Man refuses to drive 'No God' bus. A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming "There's probably no God". Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with "shock" and "horror" at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest. First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Mr Heather does not have to drive the buses. Buses across Britain started displaying atheist messages in an advertising campaign launched earlier this month.

Richard Dawkins on board with a pro-atheist message. 'The God Delusion's' author, a backer of a British Humanist Assn. bus ad campaign, talks about the collision of science and religion.,0,3974830.story

The atheist bus journey. Thanks to you we raised enough money to put ads on 800 buses across the UK, and the campaign has gone global.

Sexing Up the Christian Conservative Religious Right. Open a recent evangelical advice book and you will read comments like this one: “Some people have the mistaken notion that God is anti-sex . . . in fact, he’s outspokenly pro-sex! He invented it. What an incredible thought! Passionate sex was God’s idea.” Or: “Orgasm is an integral part of God’s design for sex.” We’ve always known that sex sells. Now it’s being used to sell both God and the Republicans, dressing up the old repressive values in fishnet stockings and flouncy lingerie. The religious right is enthusiastically asserting that, in contrast to general belief, it is far from sexually uptight. On the contrary, these conservatives are wildly pro-sex, provided it’s marital sex. Evangelical writers even coined a catchy new term, soulgasm, to describe the joys that await the evangelical wife: incredible orgasms plus intimate emotional connection with the husband plus the presence of God. They detail how the husband can become a “Superman-lover” and make his wife come repeatedly and how breasts and penises can be most sensually caressed. Websites such as My Beloved’s Garden even offer Christian sex toys (Christian vibrators, Christian clit-ticklers, Christian jelly rings) and pride themselves on marketing these items without any offensive pornographic images.


Surviving hard times. Insisting on justice and fairness while looking out for one another is the way to get through today's difficult times.,0,6552612.column

Bogus Trend of the Week: Booming Evangelical Attendance. A Gallup editor punctures a religion bubble at the New York Times.

Pope puts stress on 'gay threat'.


Imagine ... no free speech. With all the irritating billboards out there -- the garish illuminated ones, the ones for cholesterol-dealing fast food and CDs with lyrics guaranteed to offend someone, the wallpaper billboards of dubious legality plastered over the entire side of a building -- this is the one that ticked off Rancho Cucamonga so much that it got not only taken down, but destroyed? The billboard was up for one week alongside Route 66, the Mother Road. It bore these words: 'Imagine No Religion. Okay, certainly a conversation-starter, but surely no more so than it was 37 years ago when John Lennon put it on his Imagine album.

Stephen King's God trip. On the 30th anniversary of "The Stand," the novelist confesses what haunts him about religion and today's politics.

Evangelist compound raided in child pornography investigation. Federal authorities conducting a child-porn investigation raided the headquarters Saturday of a ministry run by a convicted tax evader once labeled by prosecutors as a polygamist who preys on girls and women. Social workers interviewed children who live at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries complex, which critics call a cult, to find out whether they were abused. The two-year investigation involves a law that prohibits the transportation of children across state lines for criminal activity, said Tom Browne, who runs the FBI office in Little Rock. "Children living at the facility may have been sexually and physically abused," Browne said. The raid, conducted by state and federal authorities, started an hour before sunset at the complex in tiny Fouke, in southwestern Arkansas. Armed guards regularly patrol the headquarters, but there was no resistance as agents moved in, state police said. No one was arrested, but U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe said before the raid that he expected an arrest warrant for Alamo to be issued later. The federal investigation centered on the production of child pornography, while state police were looking into allegations of other child abuse, he said.,0,7181466.story

The Magnes is a museum of art and history focused on the Jewish experience. The Museum demonstrates a commitment to both tradition and experimentation through a wide-ranging collection, original exhibitions, provocative programs, and research facilities, including the largest history center relating to the Jews in the American West. The Magnes is a place of discovery for Jews and the community at large, and contributes to international scholarship and culture.

Are you ready?

Building permitted for bar, not religious services, county says. For 22 years, they've been singing hymns at a stone-sided building off East County's Old Highway 80, not country and western songs. They've been drinking grape juice for communion, not wine and beer. County officials say that has to stop. A county attorney told the Guatay Christian Fellowship it's OK to sell beer and wine and host live events at the building in a trailer park, but it doesn't have a permit to allow religious services.

Atheist soldier sues Pentagon. A 23-year-old U.S. soldier says he's suing the Department of Defense for allegedly discriminating against him because he's an atheist. Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, now serving in Iraq, says he lost his Christian faith while serving two tours of duty in Iraq, causing him to be ostracized, denied promotions and almost getting him killed, CNN reported Wednesday. Hall contends there is a pattern of discrimination against non-Christians in the military, saying, "I think it's utterly and totally wrong. Unconstitutional." He told CNN that other troops threatened his life and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him, fearing for his safety.

Survey Shows U.S. Religious Tolerance Although a majority of Americans say religion is very important to them, nearly three-quarters of them say they believe that many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The report, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, reveals a broad trend toward tolerance and an ability among many Americans to hold beliefs that might contradict the doctrines of their professed faiths. For example, 70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that “many religions can lead to eternal life,” including majorities among Protestants and Catholics. Among evangelical Christians, 57 percent agreed with the statement, and among Catholics, 79 percent did.

Young Evangelicals Seek Broader Political Agenda “The easy thing is to fight, but the hard thing is to put your gloves down and work together towards a common cause,” said the Rev. Scott Thomas, director of the Acts 29 Network, which helps pastors start churches. “Our generation would like to put our gloves down. We don’t want to be out there picketing. We want to be out there serving.”

Einstein letter shows disdain for religion. Albert Einstein regarded religions as "childish" and "primitive legends", a private letter he wrote a year before his death has revealed.'childish'.html

Holy sex! Welcome to the Christian sex advice movement, where brave souls tackle the stereotype that evangelicals are prudes (masturbation is still iffy). The canard that conservative Christians believe sex is only for procreation is explicitly refuted by several writers. Citing scripture, they identify numerous reasons God created sex. Procreation is one, but the Bible also encourages sex as a way to strengthen marital bonds, as a defense against indiscriminate lust, and as a means for dispensing comfort. And judging by the allocation of space, the main reason God invented sex is pleasure. Sexual pleasure gets an entire book of the Bible: the Song of Solomon.

The Seven Aphorisms of Summum.

Muslim true/false. What you think you know about them is likely wrong -- and that's dangerous. If most Muslims truly reject terrorism, why does it continue to flourish in Muslim lands? What these results indicate is that terrorism is much like other violent crime. Violent crimes occur throughout U.S. cities, but that is no indication of Americans' general acceptance of murder or assault. Likewise, continued terrorist violence is not proof that Muslims tolerate it. Indeed, they are its primary victims. Still, the typical American cannot be blamed for these misperceptions. Media-content analyses show that the majority of U.S. TV news coverage of Islam is sharply negative. Americans are bombarded every day with news stories about Muslims and majority-Muslim countries in which vocal extremists, not evidence, drive perceptions. Rather than allow extremists on either side to dictate how we discuss Islam and the West, we need to listen carefully to the voices of ordinary people. Our victory in the war on terrorism depends on it.,0,6118014.story

Am I raising 'atheist children'? I don’t believe in God, but I do believe that a key component of good parenting is teaching a child to think for herself.

Arthur C. Clarke, Famed Science Fiction Writer and Agnostic Dies. Clarke told a reporter that he remained "an aggressive agnostic." He once wrote, "It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him." He also once told Popular Science, that "religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses. We should get rid of it as quick as we can."

Going beyond God. Historian and former nun Karen Armstrong says the afterlife is a "red herring," hating religion is a pathology and that many Westerners cling to infantile ideas of God.

Theocracy Rejected: Former Christian Right Leaders 'Fess up.

Articles of Faith: Maybe it's time for religion to join the competitive marketplace. The head of the Pew project, Luis Lugo, notes that in the world of religion, "It's a very competitive marketplace. If you rest on your laurels, you're going to be history." There was a time, in religion, as in other areas of human life, when the market and competition did not loom so large, but no longer. Churchshopping and religion-switching are facts of life. What are the consequences for congregations?

A San Diego clergyman reported missing early last week was found dead of a possible drug overdose in a Tijuana apartment yesterday morning, authorities said. The Rev. Charles Lanier, pastor of Unity Fellowship Church in City Heights, was reported missing by his family Feb. 18. His black 2007 Cadillac CTS was found in a San Ysidro parking lot near the Mexican border Feb. 22.

Two authors, a rabbi and an atheist, debate religion and science. Religion and science take center stage in a forum analyzing the role of faith in public and private life.,1,4929023.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Brad Stine's 'GodMen': Promise Keepers on steroids. Christian men need to embrace their 'table-tipping' side, says Christian comedian and 'GodMen' founder Stine

Bible bashing dying out in Kansas

Help your volunteers obtain additional training. Make them part of an unpublicized security team that discusses likely threats and ways to respond. This would provide real security, not just feel-good fakery, with little or no expense. Do this quietly, since those who don't believe in armed defense will respond with their usual strawman arguments. They'll say you want to give guns to everyone, even minors and incompetents. They'll say that fighting back makes things worse. But most of all they fear that people will be empowered to stand up in their own defense.

Armed guards now the norm for some U.S. megachurches

Gunman defied guard's order. The New Life Church attacker refused a guard's order to drop his weapon and fired before he was shot to death.

Atheists are evolving, too

The biggest threat to the West lies within itself, not with Islam

Saudi Religious Police Attacked by Girls

Welcome to the Rational Response Squad!

Pope 'refused audience for Rice'

Kill for Your God? There is No God

Albright: Ignore religion 'at our own peril'

Firefighters may sue over pride parade participation

The Battle for the Toy Box!

He hoped to include issues such as easing poverty and saving the environment.


Christian right driving wedge into U.S.

The Religious Right Goes to Washington

Christian fascists

Freedom From Religion Foundation sues Rancho Cucamonga over removed billboard. The group says Rancho Cucamonga's officials violated its freedom of speech by notifying a billboard company of complaints about a sign that read 'Imagine No Religion.',0,4177096.story

Pre-election prayer day set. Evangelical group says event is not a political rally. Tens of thousands of churchgoers are expected at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday for a 12-hour session of praying and fasting in support of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that would ban gay and lesbian marriage in California if approved. Organizers say the event, known as TheCall, is no political rally, despite the proximity to Election Day. “We're not there to make a political statement,” said Lou Engle, who co-founded TheCall, the group that organized the event and has arranged similar gatherings in several U.S. cities since 2000. “We're praying for a spiritual awakening.” Engle said prayers will go out to God “to influence the outcome of the election,” but that's just one aspect of the TheCall's mission. People also pray for personal forgiveness, he said.

Prayer in the service of politics. Young members of a communal home are praying and fasting at a San Diego megachurch, part of a statewide vigil in support of Prop. 8. Homophobes.,0,4851897.story

Christian campus is disturbed by hazing. PLNU apologizes, fires dorm director. Freshmen in Young Hall were awakened in the middle of the night by upperclassmen, then told to march down the bluffs and swim in the ocean naked. Officials still are trying to determine whether students were slapped and whether one was urinated on during the trek to the water.

"Can you imagine how this moves the heart of heaven?" Lou Engle, organizer of the rally, asked the crowd midway through the gathering. "Set your face toward this," he said by way of encouragement to the sweltering thousands sitting in the blazing sun. "I know it's hot, but thank God He's given us a breeze. We are not here for our convenience, but to move heaven. I did not come here to have a nice meeting while America is going to hell." Organizers estimated 50,000 people were at the rally, a gathering point for corporate prayer for America, the coming elections, the reformation of American Christianity and an end to abortion. Worship music began at about 8:30 a.m., and the prayers and speeches were slated to last past 10 p.m. Various speakers, including one-time Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, prayed for the country and its leaders. Others prayed against "addictions to sexual immorality," and at around noon, ushers passed out "purity covenants" that pledged the signee to confess to a trusted friend any time he or she viewed pornography or had extramarital sexual contact.

Engle, a 49-year-old pastor in Pasadena, Calif., holds the view that America is a battleground between God and Satan. “I believe that there are spiritual powers contending for the soul of our nation and that all the false ideologies that affect our nation spring from the powers of darkness,” he told Charisma magazine in 2001. Engle claims prayers by his young followers led the Supreme Court to put George W. Bush in office. “We have entered a season of time in a massive [spiritual] war,” he says. “It’s Pearl Harbor. It’s Nazirites or Nazism. We are in a war, and if we don’t win, we lose everything.” Eleven days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Engle organized a march of 50,000 people in Boston that attacked “witchcraft” and the ideas of the 18th century European Enlightenment. More recently, Engle told The Hill newspaper in Washington that his goal is to “drive the issue of abortion like a wedge into the soul of the nation.”

Religious Right-Wing Group Infiltrates the Pentagon. "When the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call labels your latest novel "a Christian Jihad," angry emails are sure to follow."

Worse Than Fascists: Christian Political Group 'The Family' Openly Reveres Hitler.

Iraqis say Marines handed out Christian coins. Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, a spokesman for U.S. forces in western Iraq, said it didn't appear to be a widespread problem, stressing that the military forbids "proselytizing any religion, faith or practices." "Indications are this was an isolated incident — an individual Marine acting on his own accord passing out coins," Hughes said in an e-mailed statement. Col. James L. Welsh, chief of staff for American forces in western Iraq, also said the matter has their "full attention."

Going Behind Closed Doors in Christian Right Households. To really understand the politics of the Christian Right, we need to look not only to public activity, but to private matters. Tennessee Pastor Michael Pearl. "If you want a child who will integrate into the New World Order and wait his turn in line for condoms, a government funded abortion, sexually transmitted disease treatment, psychological evaluation, and a mark on the forehead," Pearl writes in his 1994 book To Train Up a Child, "then follow the popular guidelines in education, entertainment, and discipline, but if you want a son or daughter of God, you will have to do it God's way." Pearl's interpretation of "God's way" entails hitting disobedient children with quarter-inch plumbing supply line or PVC pipe -- "chastisement instruments" he endorses as excellent expressions of the Lord's will. Christian Right ideologues argue that hitting a child with PVC pipe must be motivated by love, but their parenting advice is chillingly consistent with Christian Right voices in favor of using torture in the "war on terrorism." When evangelical Christian and Barnard College professor of religious history Randall Balmer asked eight Religious Right organizations to provide their positions on the Bush Administration's use of torture, two responded, the Family Research Council (founded by Dobson) and the Institute on Religion and Democracy. "Both were eager to defend administration policies," Balmer reported in a 2006 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I don't believe in atheists. Foreign correspondent and intellectual provocateur Chris Hedges explains why New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens are as dangerous as Christian fundamentalists.

Citing Faith, Bush Defends War Actions.

"The values we share—God, family and country—are under attack today from liberals in the United States Congress. I will stand up for these values every day, because they are not only the values that made our country great, but they are the values which will allow our country to overcome its enemies and provide prosperity to the good people of East County and all Americans."

Americans United Deplores California Pastor's Renewed 'Death Prayer' Campaign. IRS Target Wiley Drake Asks Followers To Engage In Imprecatory Prayers Against Americans United Staff Members. Controversial Southern Baptist Pastor Wiley Drake has again urged his followers to pray for the deaths of staff members at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Last August, Americans United filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service about Drake’s use of church letterhead and a church-based radio program to endorse presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Federal tax law forbids tax-exempt groups from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.

Christian Right's Emerging Deadly Worldview: Kill Muslims to Purify the Earth.

'Betrayed' Christian Right threaten to derail McCain presidential campaign. CORNERSTONE Church in Texas is one of America's so-called megachurches, the size and shape of an aircraft hangar. The 5,000-strong congregation drives from miles around to hear the Good News. Afterwards they tuck into sizzling meat and listen to a young Christian rock group as they belt out tunes praising the Lord. Flipping a burger, one grey-haired teacher in a polo shirt and shorts says that when you have God in your life, election choices become simple: "I let the pastor do it." The congregation tends to follow the pastor's instructions, and at the moment those are likely to recommend voting against Republican front runner John McCain as part of a conservative rebellion threatening to derail his campaign.

Woman whose son stomped on flag attacks law She is a member of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka and the daughter of the church’s founder, the Rev. Fred Phelps.

Stephen Mansfield waxes eloquent about the religious character of our first president

'End Times' Theology Is Cause of Their Push for War with Iran

an efficient and frightening political juggernaut:

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart,”

Less Visible But More Powerful Than Ever

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Separation of Church and State

The divisive Mojave cross. Even as a war memorial, the Mojave cross only serves to undermine the sacrifices of soldiers of other faiths.,0,4784320.story

Lodi defends its public prayers. City Council, one of several threatened with suits, votes after hours of debate to continue the practice.,0,327624.story

Lawmaker in Kentucky Mixes Piety and Politics. Tom Riner looks for God everywhere, and in places he does not find him, he tries to put him there. For more than 30 years, Mr. Riner’s singular devotion has been to inject God into the public arena. It has guided him as he preached the Bible in the countryside of Nicaragua and Jamaica. And it steers him as he proselytizes the formerly homeless and drug-addicted people who live with him at his ramshackle church in one of the poorest sections of this city. But this unrelenting mission has also frequently taken Mr. Riner and the Kentucky legislature, where he has been a Democratic representative for 26 years, across the constitutional barrier between church and state. In December, an atheist organization and a group of state residents sued Kentucky over Mr. Riner’s most recent incursion: a 2006 law he sponsored requiring that the state’s homeland security office post a plaque recognizing God’s role in keeping the country safe. “The church-state divide is not a line I see,” Mr. Riner, a Baptist minister, said of the lawsuit. “What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”

Shame on You, Rick Warren. Still more reasons to boot the huckster of Saddleback from the inauguration.

From Tiny Sect, Weighty Issue for Justices.

  1. SUMMUM is MIND, thought; the universe is a mental creation.
  2. As above, so below; as below, so above.
  3. Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.
  4. Everything is dual; everything has an opposing point; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes bond; all truths are but partial truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.
  5. Everything flows out and in; everything has its season; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing expresses itself in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.
  6. Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is just a name for Law not recognized; there are many fields of causation, but nothing escapes the Law of Destiny.
  7. Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; Gender manifests on all levels.

Bush Aides Say Religious Hiring Doesn’t Bar Aid. In a newly disclosed legal memorandum, the Bush administration says it can bypass laws that forbid giving taxpayer money to religious groups that hire only staff members who share their faith. The administration, which has sought to lower barriers between church and state through its religion-based initiative offices, made the claim in a 2007 Justice Department memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel. It was quietly posted on the department’s Web site this week. The statutes for some grant programs do not impose antidiscrimination conditions on their financing, and the administration had previously allowed such programs to give taxpayer money to groups that hire only people of a particular religion.

Tax laws and religious speech: what the Constitution says. Erik Stanley says that conditioning a church's tax exemption on what a pastor says violates the 1st Amendment. Barry W. Lynn says that concerns over ministers' constitutional rights being violated by tax laws are overblown.,0,2620493.story

County violated its rights, church alleges in lawsuit. EAST COUNTY: An East County church is suing the county, alleging the congregation's rights were violated when the county closed the church because its building permit allows for a bar but not religious services. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Peter Lepiscopo on behalf of the Guatay Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational church in the backcountry community of Guatay. The church's 50 or so members have been worshipping in a building at the Pine Valley Trailer Park since 1986. On May 30, county officials notified church pastor Stan Peterson that the building – originally intended as a country and western bar – was permitted for live entertainment and beer and wine sales, but not a church. The church came to the county's attention following complaints that the trailer park was permitted only for temporary stays, not permanent residents. The lawsuit alleges that the county's actions violate constitutional rights to freedom of religion and speech. Senior Deputy County Counsel Eliot Alazraki said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he had not seen it. –A.K.

Church-paid trips by aides raise questions on religion-politics mix. In February 2007, records show, Goeglein accepted a trip to speak at the Council for National Policy on Amelia Island, Fla. The Council is a forum of Christian and other conservative leaders who are heavily involved in Republican politics. Goeglein did not return messages left for him. He resigned earlier this year after reports surfaced that he had plagiarized several columns for his hometown newspaper in Fort Wayne, Ind. Bush hears the voice of God in his head.

Compassionate Con Game: Bush And Towey Are Still Selling ‘Faith-Based’ Snake Oil. The faith-based initiative was a fraud that was shamelessly abused for partisan ends.

Atheist wants Frankenmuth to remove religious symbols.

Christian groups criticize senator's probe. 6 televangelists' spending habits focus of inquiry.

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats.

Rep. Monique Davis to atheist Rob Sherman: `It’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!'

Flying Spaghetti Monster Lands Outside Tennessee Courthouse.

Instructor fired over loyalty oath reinstated. "A lot of people are saying it's not a big deal, but I just couldn't do it," Kearney-Brown said. "Is the country safer because people sign it without thinking about it?" The firing of Kearney-Brown, who also is a graduate student at the campus, brought widespread criticism from faculty members, students, Quakers and civil-liberties advocates. Some faculty members began circulating a petition objecting to it. The United Auto Workers, which represents teaching assistants, pursued a grievance on Kearney-Brown's behalf. "People were outraged," said Henry Reichman, a Cal State East Bay history professor and chairman of the Academic Senate. "I was very vocal on the campus that this was an outrageous thing." Reichman said that he did not fault campus administrators for the firing and that they were put in an awkward position because of the constitutional requirement that every employee sign the oath. "It's an anachronism," he said. "It's left over from the McCarthy era. I would like to see the Legislature repeal this -- although on the priority list of civil liberties issues in the country, there are a lot of things that are a lot higher.",0,6976917.story

Quaker teacher fired for changing loyalty oath.

Huckabee Endorses Fire-And-Brimstone YouTube Competitor 'GodTube'

When most Americans think about religious freedom, the First Amendment springs to mind – and rightly so. After all, religious liberty and church-state separation are embedded in those 16 eloquent words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” But another important provision in our Constitution ensures religious freedom and shouldn’t be overlooked. Article VI states in part, “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Disquiet over schools' moment of silence. A family of Illinois atheists is fighting to overturn a law requiring time for students' quiet reflection. The father and daughter say it mandates prayer.,0,7471383.story?coll=la-home-center

Some will see the dispute between the Farnan family of Mission Viejo and high school history teacher James Corbett in stark terms. The forces of light against the forces of darkness. The problem is, not everyone agrees which side is which.,1,3141181.column?coll=la-headlines-california

Lawsuit targets history teacher's comments. A Capistrano Valley High School student claims James Corbett violated his constitutional rights with 'highly inappropriate' and offensive statements regarding Christianity.,0,7647013.story?coll=la-home-center

Atheist brings pledge case back to appeals court. 2nd claim involves 'In God We Trust'

At the beginning of our first phone conversation, Mikey Weinstein asks me if I'm Jewish. At the end of our first e-mail exchange, Angie Tracey tells me to have a blessed evening. Weinstein has spent the past four years fighting what he calls a war against Christian proselytizing through the chain of command in the military; Tracey founded the first officially recognized Christian federal employee association in the nation.

The Cancer From Within. The famous Air Force Academy cadet chapel, once a place of nondenominational worship and reflection, seems to have become a focal point of evangelical indoctrination and conversion.


voters in this Oakland County suburb turned down by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin a proposed charter amendment that called for requiring the city to display the nativity at city hall.

Board puts faith in 'In God We Trust', After months of debate, a Bakersfield school district votes to display posters explaining the motto in 2,300 classrooms and offices.,1,273667.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Stripes, America Supports You affiliation ending

Efforts to recruit Catholic priests pay off

Building God's (Christian) Army Are U.S. troops being force-fed Christianity? A watchdog group thinks so.

Councilman takes 'moment' for Christianity at meetings

Soldier sues military for blocking meeting of atheists, non-Christians

Court bans Christian cross on private land in public park

Jesus gets company on Slidell courthouse wall

A Strange Way to Woo Religious Voters

Not so fast, Christian soldiers,0,4674900.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

Activist to sue Defense Department claiming religious bias

EPA, VA clear officials who appeared in religious video

Kill Or Convert, Brought To You By the Pentagon

Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton did not secure approval to promote the evangelical group Christian Embassy while he was in uniform, according to the inspector general.
Maj. Gen. Jack Catton Jr. did not secure approval to promote the evangelical group Christian Embassy while he was in uniform, according to the inspector general.

IG faults generals who appeared in video

Report Details Evangelism at Highest Levels of US Military

holiday event held by evangelical group

Task Force Patriot Salute to the Troops


Military Support For Evangelical Rally Raises Constitutional Issues

Gingrich: Challenge 'radical secularism'

Navy vet: Chaplains tried converting me

imagine no religion

Pete Stark,0,6065304.story?track=mostviewed-homepage

War on Science

What do scientists think about religion? Members of the scientific community are often seen as doubting Thomases, but the reality is more complex. Even Charles Darwin may have made room for God.,0,7022683.story

Texas school board decides to change evolution studies. Moderates on the Texas Board of Education have prevailed over conservatives when, in a battle over the teaching of evolution, the board voted to drop a 20-year-old mandate that science teachers explore with their students the “strengths and weaknesses” of all theories. Still, the conservative faction, led by the board's chairman, Don McLeroy, managed to pass several amendments to the state's science curriculum that opponents said would open the door to teaching objections to evolution and might encourage students to reject it. The vote was taken Friday.

Why We Believe. Belief in the paranormal reflects normal brain activity carried to an extreme.

Teacher shows that science, religion don't have to clash. Fla. educator takes gingerly approach.

10 Questions, and Answers, About Evolution.

Darpa Brain Drain Costs Agency $32 Million. The U.S. military is shifting $32 million away from its premiere research agency -- because that agency, Darpa, can't find enough qualified people to run its cutting-edge projects. Guess what, even we Geeks can understand that whatever we build, Bush or McCain are going to use to kill civilians in Iraq, Iran or some other country that didn't do anything to us. If the U.S. is going to run such misguided wars, we won't help them. This will be another of Bush's legacies. McCain wants another 100 years in Iraq and we won't help him.

Opponents of Evolution Are Adopting New Strategy Now a battle looms in Texas over science textbooks that teach evolution, and the wrestle for control seizes on three words. None of them are “creationism” or “intelligent design” or even “creator.” The words are “strengths and weaknesses.” Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.

“Evolutionary knowledge has practical implications. It affects how you treat specific diseases. You hear some physicians say they don't need to know where a machine came from to fix it, just the blueprint. But it's useful to know how that machine came to be built that way.” Such knowledge isn't only for doctors, either, Varki said. It should be shared among scientists of all stripes, from geographers and nutritionists to biochemists and psychiatrists. To that end, Varki and colleagues have launched a novel institute that will emphasize the study of human origins. Dubbed the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, or CARTA, the institute will have offices at both UCSD and the nearby Salk Institute. Mostly, however, CARTA will be virtual, its members connected via the Internet and a common curiosity about how man began.

What Do Creationists Really Believe?

Creationist Diorama-Rama. Every diorama in the Home School Science Fair, which took place inside a shopping mall in Roseville, Minnesota, had a biblical quote attached to it. A young woman whose project involved teaching her dog how to run circles between her legs decorated the words: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) in pink lace fabric. This quote got to the crux of the science fair, in my opinion: parental commandment. These parents pulled their children out of school, away from their peers, and said, “Now prove that Darwin was wrong.”

Wright-Pat calls ‘Ghost Hunters’ Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has had reports of supernatural activity for years, so they called in The Atlantic Paranormal Society, host of the SciFi Channel show “Ghost Hunters.” The team starts today on a week of investigations into three possibly haunted buildings on base, which will air as an episode during the season starting in March.

Atheist looks at science, decides there is a God.

“Where the difference is, we provide both sides of the story,” Mr. Morris said. On its Web site, the institute declares, “All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week” and says it “equips believers with evidences of the Bible’s accuracy and authority through scientific research, educational programs, and media presentations, all conducted within a thoroughly biblical framework.” It also says “the harmful consequences of evolutionary thinking on families and society (abortion, promiscuity, drug abuse, homosexuality and many others) are evident all around us.”

Scientists Fault Climate Exhibit Changes. Smithsonian Head Denies Politics Altered Arctic Show Message

Why evolution matters. By Steve Kay, Steve Briggs, Steve Hedrick and Steve Wasserman

fox news hates Al Gore

White House edited testimony, CDC official says,1,5482319.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

Patrick Henry College

Lawmakers back ousted hurricane center chief

Lawmakers probe claims of improper influence over science

not a longtime concern

Not Sure That Global Warming Is A Problem

Debate evolves into religious discussion

A rather unusual species of museum,1,693688.story?page=1&coll=la-headlines-nation





“You cannot convince a kid they came from a fish,” he said. “Kids know better and people know better.”

hate crimes

San Diegan Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California before she became embroiled in controversy with state pageant officials, has dropped her lawsuit against Miss California USA after a sex tape involving her surfaced. According to TMZ, the tape shows Prejean “engaging” in a solo sexual act, As a result, she will seek no further action in the case involving her and pageant officials. Prejean had sued pageant officials after they stripped her of her title for what they called, her failing to attend contractually-obligated appearances. Prejean, however, and many of her supporters who have backed her from day one, felt she was stripped of her title because of her view on gay marriage. After being removed as Miss California, Prejean sued for $1 million. While she will not be getting money from this lawsuit, it is safe to say we have not heard the last of Carrie Prejean. Whether she makes money in front of the camera or behind the scenes, it is also safe to say she will be just fine. One cannot help but wonder, however, just who provided TMZ with the reported tape? Is someone involved with the pageant doing some overtime work these days?

Many religious institutions get serious about security. Protesters to picket several sites in S.D.

The Pope blames atheists for global warming. Pope Benedict is claiming atheists are responsible for the destruction of the environment. The Pope made the claims in a recent speech given at the Vatican. The claim is a puzzling attack on atheism that frankly makes little sense.

GAY rights groups and Christian organisations condemned the Pope yesterday for his claim that "saving" humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was of equal importance to saving the world's rainforests. The Pontiff stood accused of stoking homophobia with his remarks, which were denounced as "totally irresponsible and unacceptable in any shape or form."

Hate crimes on rise in county, nationwide

MTU Pastafarians harassed

The fog of work: What happened to Fremont mechanic Hamid Sayadi after 9/11?

The Gospel and hate crimes,0,925573.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail


GI’s death in Iraq unites faithful at home in prayer. What were these people praying for?


Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;,,1828098,00.html


ATS PNR data

cat killer,0,4893654.story?coll=la-home-nation

vote hack

got osama?

doublespeak and propoganda

CIA’s Lost Magic Manual Resurfaces.

the Obama administration intends to deal with the network as a political enemy. “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” she subsequently told The New York Times. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

Limbaugh, Hannity, and the GOP: an iron triangle of stimulus misinformation.

Pentagon boosts spending on PR. An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006.

CBS anchor Harry Smith tangles with mentally ill Ann Coulter on "The Early Show"

Republicanism is a mental disease. poor Ann Coulter is mentally ill.

Word of the Year. Some overused phrases and words win our recognition as 2008's most hackneyed rhetoric.,0,1272932.story

Secrets of Talk Radio. The former news director of WTMJ reveals how talk show hosts like Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner work to get us angry.

The Bush administration announced plans yesterday to implement a disputed regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who object to abortion from being forced to provide services that violate their personal beliefs. Women's health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research. “It's breathtaking,” said Robyn Shapiro, a bioethicist and lawyer at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “The impact could be enormous.” The regulation drops the most contentious language in a draft version that would have explicitly defined an abortion for the first time in a federal law or regulation as anything that interfered with a fertilized egg after conception.

NASWA WWW Shortwave Listening Guide

Shortwave Stations on the WWW

Sexpot Virgins: The Media's Sexualization of Young Girls. In 2006, the retail chain Tesco launched the Peekaboo Pole Dancing Kit, a play set designed to help young girls "unleash the sex kitten inside." Perturbed parents, voicing concern that their 5-year-olds might be too young to engage in sex work, lobbied to have the product pulled. Tesco removed the play set from the toy section but kept it on the market.

Conservatives Retreat into Fox's Media Bubble. A new study shows just how polarized our news consumption has become.

NASA and Science

All 13 astronauts enjoy first day off in 11 days.

'Toilet row' lowers space morale. The International Space Station, once a place where astronauts would share food and facilities, is said to be embroiled in a Cold War-like stand-off. A Russian cosmonaut has complained he is no longer allowed to use a US toilet as well as a US exercise bike. Gennady Padalka, 50, told Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper the lack of sharing was lowering the crew's morale. The veteran cosmonaut said the problem was due to the ISS becoming a more commercial operation.

Ex-Official at NASA Is Indicted. A former top NASA official has been indicted on charges of steering $9.6 million in agency money to a consulting client. The United States attorney’s office announced a three-count indictment on Friday against the former official, Courtney Stadd of Bethesda, Md., who had served as NASA’s chief of staff and White House liaison. The indictment accuses Mr. Stadd of steering money from an earth science appropriation to Mississippi State University, which was paying him as a consultant. Mr. Stadd is also accused of lying to NASA ethics officials investigating the matter. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all three charges.

Mars rovers roll on to five years. The US space agency's (Nasa) Mars rovers are celebrating a remarkable five years on the Red Planet. The first robot, named Spirit, landed on 3 January, 2004, followed by its twin, Opportunity, 21 days later. It was hoped the robots would work for at least three months; but their longevity in the freezing Martian conditions has surprised everyone.

The Year in Bad Science.

Shhh! Gadget racket threatens pulsar research.

Report on Columbia Details How Astronauts Died.

How NASA Became Massively Dysfunctional. "At the highest levels of the agency, there seems to be a belief that you can mandate reality ..."

NASA rocket contract launches SpaceX into the big time. The start-up beats out Lockheed Martin and Boeing for a $3.1-billion deal to resupply the International Space Station.,0,5568136.story

NASA's Spirit Mars rover imperiled by dust storms. The craft is dangerously low on power because of dust covering its solar arrays. News of the problem comes a day after NASA declared an end to the Phoenix polar mission.,0,7657381.story,0,5914518.photogallery?1

Physics the Next President Needs to Know. But Muller wants to change that with his non-partisan take on issues like global warming, energy, nuclear weapons, and space. He demurred on who he wants to see elected, or thinks will be. All that matters to him is that whoever wins brings the right approach to their policy decisions. "What you have to do is give the president a knowledge base, so they can make knowledge-based decisions." Muller said. "I say those things that I hope will be heard."


60 years since Yeager broke sound barrier

Rocket Gap Could Keep U.S. Earthbound

Veteran NBC space reporter's new book details 50 years of spaceflight

Are reports of astronaut drinking for real?

NASA report rebuts astronaut drinking allegations

inebriated astronauts climbing aboard spaceships

Bigelow Aerospace

NASA inspector general rejects allegations

Judgement Day

Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man. A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously. Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone. Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences. As examples, the scientists pointed to a number of technologies as diverse as experimental medical systems that interact with patients to simulate empathy, and computer worms and viruses that defy extermination and could thus be said to have reached a “cockroach” stage of machine intelligence. While the computer scientists agreed that we are a long way from Hal, the computer that took over the spaceship in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” they said there was legitimate concern that technological progress would transform the work force by destroying a widening range of jobs, as well as force humans to learn to live with machines that increasingly copy human behaviors.


Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers. For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different. The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation's growth. It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism -- there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable. There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well. Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 -- and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s. And the net worth of American households -- the value of their houses, retirement funds and other assets minus debts -- has also declined when adjusted for inflation, compared with sharp gains in every previous decade since data were initially collected in the 1950s. "This was the first business cycle where a working-age household ended up worse at the end of it than the beginning, and this in spite of substantial growth in productivity, which should have been able to improve everyone's well-being," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.

Professor advises underwater homeowners to walk away from mortgages. Brent T. White, a University of Arizona law school professor, says that it's in the homeowners' best financial interest to stiff their lenders and that it's not immoral to do so.,0,3801270.story

Billions for state, but where are jobs? Majority of stimulus awards have brought little help.

California’s state finances are awful, but Michigan is among nine other states that aren’t far behind the Golden State in economic trauma, according to a new study.

10 States Face Looming Budget Disasters: Pew Report.

GMAC in talks for 3rd loan from bailout fund. Some wonder when auto aid will end. Meanwhile, GM is expected to announce this week that it is drawing on $2.5 billion of government money set aside in escrow to pay for buying part of Delphi Corp.'s business as part of the parts supplier's bankruptcy plan, according to people familiar with the situation.

INSIDE STORY: Nic Cage Blames Advisor for Financial Ruin.,,20316292,00.html

Mike's Blog #1: 'Pilots on Food Stamps'.

California’s revenue collections trailed its forecasts by $1.1 billion during the first three months of the fiscal year, showing new deficits are emerging in the budget Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed July 28. Revenue was 5.3 percent less than was assumed in the $85 billion annual budget during the three months ended Sept. 30. Income tax receipts led the shortfall, as unemploymentreached as high as 12.2 percent in August. “Revenues more than $1 billion under estimates and recent adverse court rulings are dealing a major blow to a budget that is barely 10-weeks old,” Controller John Chiang said in a statement. “While there are encouraging signs that California’s economy is preparing for a comeback, the recession continues to drag state revenues down.”

The Forbes 400 Shows Why Our Nation Is Falling Apart, Read more at:

County hit with sharp rise in level of poverty. Jump in unemployment to blame, analysts say.

In Wisconsin, Hopeful Signs for Factories. At the Rockwell Automation factory here, something encouraging happened recently that might be a portent of national economic recovery: managers reinstated a shift, hiring a dozen workers.

Combat vets having tough time in job market. The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is 21 percent higher than the rate for all Americans, a sign of trouble for newly separated or retired service members looking for work in a tight job market. A Labor Department report shows an unemployment rate of 11.3 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in July, up from 5.9 percent one year ago and well above the 9.7 percent overall U.S. unemployment rate — itself the highest in 26 years. To put that in another perspective, the number of out-of-work but job-seeking Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is at 185,000 — just 9,000 fewer than the number of troops deployed to those two combat operations, said Justin Brown of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Last Year’s Poverty Rate Was Highest in 12 Years.

L.A.'s warehouse workers: invisible and exploited. Toiling in obscurity, L.A.-area warehouse workers endure harsh conditions and unfair wages.,0,2245587.story

Sacramento's kick-the-can budget. The pact doesn't deal with California's fiscal problems; it just shifts them to local governments.,0,6074291.story

Wall Street’s Toxic Message. When the current crisis is over, the reputation of American-style capitalism will have taken a beating—not least because of the gap between what Washington practices and what it preaches. Disillusioned developing nations may well turn their backs on the free market, warns Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, posing new threats to global stability and U.S. security.

Photos: Recession-Proof Jobs.

The Most Misunderstood Man in America. Joseph Stiglitz predicted the global financial meltdown. So why can't he get any respect here at home?

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, is threatening to eliminate the Healthy Family Program, the state’s health insurance program that covers over 900,000 children and is financed with state and federal money, as well as the state’s main welfare program, known as Cal-Works, which provides temporary financial assistance to poor families and a caregiver for the severely disabled. The $1 billion in cuts to programs for the poor would be met with $680 million in new cuts to education and a 5 percent salary reduction for state employees, many of whom are already enduring furloughs. These proposals, as well as those that would make cuts to state parks, the prison system and other state agencies, are winding their way through Sacramento now, where they will be voted on by committees and eventually the full Legislature.

Activist Financier 'Terrorizes' Bankers in Foreclosure Fight.

U.S. economy is fitful, latest data suggest. Reports show higher-than-expected initial claims for unemployment benefits and an increase in wholesale prices.,0,5603849.story

A serious Navy cash crunch is threatening to leave sailors in San Diego and across the fleet stranded ashore, unable to change duty stations and without the bonuses that have long encouraged them to stay in uniform.

Bailouts elude small firms on the brink. The owner of the Flavour of Britain store keeps a stiff upper lip but can't hide her dismay as bailouts flow to AIG and the like while struggling small businesses are left to sink or swim.,0,2010988.column?page=1

A Second 9/11 in Slow Motion. Economic Dirty Bomb Goes Off in New York. With a Whimper, Not a Bang… the Old Neighborhood Empties.

Is There an Antidote to the Republican Amnesia?

Thorstein Veblen, Prescient on Today's Media.,M1

As travel declines, aircraft 'boneyard' in Victorville fills up.,0,4626780.story,0,3840353.photogallery

Weathering the storm in Morningside Circle. The lives of my South L.A. neighbors taught me valuable lessons about dealing with tough times -- and appreciating what I have.,0,7386242.story

Detroit may be the archetypal down-and-out rust-belt city, but to call it “dying” masks a more complex reality. Greater Detroit still has three to four million residents, a world-class university next door in Ann Arbor and the bone structure of a great city, as a car-industry consultant with the ear of a poet put it over lunch one day. Why, then, the relentless focus on its failings? Nearly everyone you meet is either weary or angry at seeing their home town made the butt of jokes on late-night television and the subject of anguished political commentary. But no one denies that the region’s property market is abysmal, its finances a mess and its industrial base shrinking at an alarming rate. Instead, Michiganders, despite being self-deprecating to a fault, make a point their countrymen won’t want to hear: Detroit is no longer the nation’s worst-case scenario, but on its leading edge, the proverbial canary in the coal mine. “It’s like the rest of the country is getting to where Detroit has been,” said Peter De Lorenzo, who writes the acerbic and very funny blog. That means that smug mock-horror is no longer the appropriate reaction to the frozen corpse. Instead, get ready for a shock of recognition.

California's Inland Empire. Hard times hit, and we slowly disappear.,0,480698.story

Where Were The Media As Wall Street Imploded?

What sparked this sudden concern about "class warfare"? President Obama indicated that in order to fund things like health care, the very wealthiest Americans (individuals who make more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000) might have to pay slightly more in taxes, via the expiration of President Bush's tax cuts for those earners. Under this plan, the wealthiest Americans (again, those making more than $200,000) would be subject to the same income tax rate they paid in the 1990s -- when, it should be remembered, the rich got richer and the economy did quite well.

J. Crew announces layoffs, other cost-cutting moves. The retailer -- whose fashions were showcased by Michelle Obama and her daughters at the inauguration -- says it is eliminating 95 positions and taking other steps to cut expenses.,0,2967356.story

Obama begins getting daily CIA report on economic crisis. The new briefing reflects the concern that global financial turmoil could destabilize foreign governments.,0,6012124.story

We're on the brink of disaster. Violent protests and riots are breaking out everywhere as economies collapse and governments fail. War is bound to follow.

Schwarzenegger defends taxes, applauds stimulus. And if there's any GOP governor who plans to refuse federal aid, he said he'd be happy to take it on behalf of California. The governor expects the state economy to start improving in early 2010.,0,6241919.story

"All of us are committed to working with President Obama to pull our nation's economy out of the ditch that George W. Bush ran it into," O'Malley said. "If some of the fringe governors don't want to do that, they need to step aside and not stand in the way of the nation's interests."

Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down.

To Ted Costa, an anti-tax advocate and leader of the drive to recall Davis, the historic ouster of a California governor has proved to be a waste. "There's a village back there in Austria right now that could sure have their idiot back any time they want," he said.,0,3998908.story

‘Buy America’ in Stimulus (but Good Luck With That)


Dow ends at lowest close in more than 6 years. The blue-chip index sinks 89 points to 7,465 -- falling to its lowest point since October 2002. The drop raises worries that share prices overall are poised for another steep fall.,0,4101085.story

GOP governors consider turning down stimulus money. Republicans want America to fail. Republicanism is a mental disease.

President Obama has dropped the idea of appointing a single, powerful “car czar” to oversee the revamping of General Motors and Chrysler and will instead keep the politically delicate task in the hands of his most senior economic advisers, a top administration official said Sunday night.

Opinion: 'Stimulus' bill will empty taxpayers' wallets.

Economic stimulus package must limit deficit spending. When Bill Clinton left the White House, the U.S. budget surplus — yes, a surplus — was estimated at $127 billion. Under George Bush's 8-year watch, that surplus turned into a 2008 deficit of $455 billion.

598,000 Jobs Shed In Brutal January. Unemployment Hits 7.6% as Downturn Picks Up Steam.

Market Creek Plaza pays off for neighborhood. Residents, business owners and employees pooled funds to build community.

Great achievements in American socialism. A slide show of two dozen excellent things the federal government bought with your money.

Tough choices for America's hungry. With the national economy in meltdown, more Americans than ever are relying on the federal aid program to keep from going hungry. In October, more than one in 10 people -- about 31 million -- were using the food stamp program to get by, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Banks collecting billions of dollars in federal bailout money sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers to the U.S. for high-paying jobs, according to an Associated Press review of visa applications. The dozen banks receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions that included senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households. The figures are significant because they show that the bailed-out banks, being kept afloat with U.S. taxpayer money, actively sought to hire foreign workers instead of American workers. As the economic collapse worsened last year — with huge numbers of bank employees laid off — the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP's analysis increased by nearly one-third, from 3,258 in fiscal 2007 to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.

Economic stimulus provisions reach far and wide. The $800-billion bill that cleared the House last week brings back big government: to school buildings, worker paychecks, electric lines and more. Here's a look at where the money would go.,0,3984149.story

GDP slides 3.8%, worst since 1982. An inventory buildup promises another poor showing in the current quarter. Obama launches a task force to aid the middle class.,0,4565464.story

Exxon Mobil sets record with $45.2 billion profit.

Exxon Posts Record 2008 Profit Despite Slip in 4th Quarter.

Massive layoffs as gloom deepens. Workers around the world face losing their jobs as several big corporations announced more than 70,000 layoffs in one single day. The biggest cuts came in the US where construction equipment maker Caterpillar said it would cut around 20,000 jobs. In Europe, electronics group Philips, financial firm ING and UK steelmaker Corus announced cuts.

Twenty-five people at the heart of the meltdown ... The worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression is not a natural phenomenon but a man-made disaster in which we all played a part. In the second part of a week-long series looking behind the slump, Guardian City editor Julia Finch picks out the individuals who have led us into the current crisis.

Rail group seeks track to stimulus funds.

As Congress Stalls, Air Traffic Creeps Toward Gridlock.

Detroit Museum Calls Off 3 Planned Exhibits. Money problems have forced the Detroit Institute of Arts to cancel three scheduled exhibitions. A major show, "Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence," organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, had been booked for the Detroit museum this fall. But the DIA said it couldn't shoulder the added financial burden after the exhibit's only other North American venue dropped out. According to reports, the DIA's shaky finances and Michigan's struggling economy also prompted the cancellations of a print show devoted to Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jim Dine and a show of prints and drawings related to books.

Finding tenants tough after slump in the economy. When the San Diego Housing Commission embarked on a bold, albeit costly, move two years ago to a brand-new, gleaming mid-rise on the edge of downtown, the agency was immediately thrust into an unfamiliar role: that of commercial landlord. On the hook for a yearly mortgage of $1.7 million, the commission was expected to lease out its ground floor to retailers and the second floor of its five-story building to nonprofit and government office tenants to help defray monthly costs. The commission put aside a reserve of $2 million to help carry it through a potentially lean start-up. But what it could never have anticipated was a cratering economy that has left the commission with 22,000 square feet of still-unoccupied office space and empty storefronts in the Smart Corner project. At full lease-up, the $26 million office building was expected to generate at least $1.1 million annually in the early years, a figure that includes parking fees from the commission's underground garage. Instead, the commission has collected during a two-year period a little more than $1 million. That includes a few years' extra rent from Starbucks, which vacated its ground floor space a couple months ago, despite signing a 10-year lease with the commission. The only remaining street-level retailer is a 7-Eleven store, leaving the agency with more than 13,000 square feet of retail space still to fill.

San Diego teacher sells ad space on test papers. Commercialism enters the classroom as a way to pay for photocopying expenses. The ingenuity of public school teachers has long been tested. The bake sale, the wrapping-paper drive, the silent auction -- all have been called on over the years to underwrite school supplies. For many, the sacrifice is more personal. Education groups say the typical teacher spends between $400 and $500 of his or her own money to make ends meet in the classroom. To that tradition now comes a new entry: paid advertising. Tom Farber, a calculus teacher in suburban San Diego, raised money for photocopying expenses by selling ads at the bottom of his tests. Most were inspirational quotes underwritten by parents ("Do your best. That's what matters.") and several were from local businesses.,0,2345599.story

Audacity itself as economic experiment. President-elect Obama proposes an unparalleled test of Keynes' decades-old idea: that deficit spending on a grand-enough scale can inspire the confidence to right a sinking economy.,0,2730452.story

The typical policy recommendation of supply-side economics is to achieve the proper level of marginal tax rates, which, by virtue of the high rate of taxes in general, equates with cutting of taxes.[2] Maximum benefits are achieved by optimizing the marginal tax rates of those with high incomes and capital investments who are deemed most likely to increase supply and thus spur growth.[3] Keynesian macroeconomics, by contrast, contends that tax cuts should be used to increase demand, not supply, and thus should be targeted at cash-strapped, lower-income earners, who are more likely to spend additional income.

Business Is Booming for Industry Catering to Survivalists.

Why Obama's green jobs plan might work. Some states -- including Michigan -- already see renewable energy as their future: It's the only sector that appears to be making room for more employees despite the recession.,0,2503191.story

Out in Nevada desert, gambling runs dry. First, a casino boom in Mesquite, now a bust. It's bad for the city and hard for its residents.,0,7215989.story

Manufacturing Falls to 28-Year Low. U.S. manufacturing fell sharply in December and reports from abroad showed the same for plants in Europe and Asia, as businesses cut production and slashed product orders in response to the global recession. The Institute for Supply Management's index of industrial production slipped by 3.8 percentage points in December compared to the month before, to the lowest level since 1980.

Motorists' habits spur call for tax increases. Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren't raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs. A federal commission created by Congress to find a way to make up the growing revenue shortfall in the program that funds highway repairs and construction is talking about increasing federal gas and diesel taxes.

U-T Editorial: A little honesty. It's a fact, illegal immigrants aid U.S. economy.

Mood amongst US consumers worsens. US consumer confidence has unexpectedly dropped to a record low in December, in the face of the US economic slowdown and continuing job cuts.

Schwarzenegger's budget proposes tax hikes, steep cuts. A sales-tax increase, hike in vehicle registration fees and reduction of state workforce and cuts to state and community colleges are part of the governor's plan to close a $41.6-billion deficit.,0,2967427.story

How '08 went bust. It began with a general feeling that the economy, though struggling, would be fine. Then the mortgage crisis hit. Then the bottom fell out. Now, market players are in shock.

Economic bust creates recruiting boom. DoD: Poor civilian job prospects help services reach goals.

By Saying Yes, WaMu Built Empire on Shaky Loans. As a supervisor at a Washington Mutual mortgage processing center, John D. Parsons was accustomed to seeing baby sitters claiming salaries worthy of college presidents, and schoolteachers with incomes rivaling stockbrokers’. He rarely questioned them. A real estate frenzy was under way and WaMu, as his bank was known, was all about saying yes. Yet even by WaMu’s relaxed standards, one mortgage four years ago raised eyebrows. The borrower was claiming a six-figure income and an unusual profession: mariachi singer. Mr. Parsons could not verify the singer’s income, so he had him photographed in front of his home dressed in his mariachi outfit. The photo went into a WaMu file. Approved. “I’d lie if I said every piece of documentation was properly signed and dated,” said Mr. Parsons, speaking through wire-reinforced glass at a California prison near here, where he is serving 16 months for theft after his fourth arrest — all involving drugs.

Financial crisis of '08 among the worst ever. SDSU economist: Breadth of it may be unprecedented.

The Frugal Life. The best Web sites to help you scrimp through the recession.

Reeling South Carolina City Is a Snapshot of Economic Woes.

AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs. Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals. The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages. Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found. The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

The U.S. will be just fine, thank you. By Brian Hamilton.

Hey, you senators: Thanks for nothing. A few parting words for the senators who squashed the auto rescue.

White House 'agrees' car bail-out. The White House and leading congressional Democrats have reached agreement on a $15bn (£10bn) bail-out for the "Big Three" US car firms.

Financial-Industry Scapegoat Reinvents Himself as Financial Reporter.

Detroit's automakers raised the cost of saving the industry Tuesday to $34 billion, with General Motors and Chrysler LLC warning of their collapse by the end of the year without aid, pressing Congress and the Bush administration to resolve a standoff threatening thousands of jobs.

Schwarzenegger declares fiscal emergency. Governor orders the new Legislature in to work on its first day of the session to deal with California's dire finances. The state could run out of cash by February or March.,0,280439.story

It's a depression.

Detroit isn't dead yet. As Washington clashes over a Big Three bailout, it's ignoring the best cure to the automakers' ills: Universal healthcare.

The Money Squeeze: As yule cheer turns to fear, traditions change. 'We are shifting from a 'me' to a 'we' economy'.

economy, archived November 28, 2008

Of all the arguments for rescuing the industry, saving the failing economy is the strongest. The Center For Automotive Research, which is affiliated with the auto and oil industries, estimated that almost 3 million jobs would be lost in the first year if the three companies could not quickly reorganize under bankruptcy laws. Other estimates are slightly lower, but they also forecast huge job losses. Letting the auto industry collapse or slide into bankruptcy would wreck the national recovery effort. It would put men and women out of work in the car factories, small metalworking plants, auto dealerships, plastics companies, tire makers and many other enterprises all over the country. They would join the 10 million-plus Americans already unemployed. It would be a devastating blow to the country—and to the Obama administration.

Here's a video interview with The Black Swan author Nasim Nicholas Taleb and his mentor, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who say the current economic situation could be worse than the great depression. "The banking system, the way we have it, is a monstrous giant built on feet of clay. And if that topples, we're gone." Maybe that's why the US Gov't has pledged $7.7 Trillion (half of America's annual GDP to fix this). I wonder if it'll work?

This video sequence offers a compendium of appearances (covering the 2006-2007 period) by Euro Pacific Capital president Peter Schiff, who is a frequent -- and frequently disrespected -- talking head on cable news shows. What astonishes is not just the accuracy of his dour predictions about the economy but the sheer arrogance of every other person appearing on these programs. I don't know who comes off as worse -- the supremely snotty Ben Stein, or the well-named Arthur Laffer. I just wonder how Ben Stein feels about the financial markets as an investment now. This is an astonishing compilation of clips. It just keeps getting more outrageous as it goes along. Every time Schiff says something sensible, the pundits surrounding him snort and howl. They treat him with undisguised contempt and hatred, as though he had just called for ending the laws against homicide or reducing the age of consent to three.

Founded in 1980 and headquartered in Darien, Connecticut, Euro Pacific is a full service, FINRA-registered broker/dealer that has historically been recognized for its expertise in foreign markets and securities. Through its direct relationships with countless foreign trading desks, the firm's clients are able to avoid the large spreads often imposed by domestic market makers of foreign securities, thereby substantially reducing overall transaction costs.

Economic Tough Times Hit Nevada Brothel. More Women Seek Work Amid Spending Slowdown by Clients.

Sex for Hire: Real Stories of Prostitution in America. ABC News' Two-Year Examination of Women Working in the Commercial Sex Industry.

Nevada Brothels Hit Hard by Gas Prices. Owners Fight Back: Free $50 Gas Cards for High-Spending Customers.

Which makes me wonder why you're so against our kind of business? The kind we do in Detroit. The kind that gets your fingernails dirty. The kind where people use hammers and drills, not keystrokes. The kind where you get paid for making something, not moving money around a board and skimming a percentage. You've already given hundreds of billions to banking and finance companies -- and hardly demanded anything. Yet you balk at the very idea of giving $25 billion to the Detroit Three. Heck, you shoveled that exact amount to Citigroup -- $25 billion -- just weeks ago, and that place is about to crumble anyhow. Does the word "hypocrisy" ring a bell? what a moron

GM: Bankruptcy Is Not A Viable Option.

"They've never listened to the consumers," Moore said. "They've just gone about it their own wrong way. I'll tell you, you know, I'm of mixed mind about this bailout, Larry, because I don't think these companies, with these management people, should be given a dime, because that's just going to be money going up in smoke or off to other countries."

How Detroit Drove Into a Ditch. The financial crisis has brought the U.S. auto industry to a breaking point, but the trouble began long ago. Paul Ingrassia on disastrous decisions, flawed leadership and what the Motor City needs to do to survive.

In this economy, even sex doesn't sell. At Donna's Ranch, a brothel in Wells, Nev., most of the customers are long-haul truckers. High fuel and food prices have drained them of 'play money.' So the 'working girls' sit and wait.,0,7844981.story?page=1

Acute economic crisis may cure the nation's chronic materialism. It's a stat we hear time and again: Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy. It was the reason President Bush famously (or infamously) urged Americans shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to keep shopping and "get down to Disney World in Florida." Take that, Osama! "Our whole economy is designed to convince people that they want more," said David Colander, an economics professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. "Nobody is asking the big question: How much of a consumer society do we really want to be?" Since the end of World War II, consumer spending has consistently represented more than 60% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the Commerce Department. The percentage reached 70% in 2002 and is now almost 71%. U.S. retail sales fell in September for the third straight month -- the first time this has happened since the government started tracking such data in 1992. The holiday shopping season is expected to be the worst in years. But some forecasters are predicting that spending will pick up by the middle of next year as consumers shake off the recession blues.,0,1269281.column

Spending Stalls and Businesses Slash U.S. Jobs. When October’s job losses are announced on Nov. 7, three days after the presidential election, many economists expect the number to exceed 200,000. The current unemployment rate of 6.1 percent is likely to rise, perhaps significantly. “My view is that it will be near 8 or 8.5 percent by the end of next year,” said Nigel Gault, chief domestic economist at Global Insight, offering a forecast others share. That would be the highest unemployment rate since the deep recession of the early 1980s. Companies are laying off workers to cut production as consumers, struggling with their own finances, scale back spending. Employers had tried for months to cut expenses through hiring freezes and by cutting back hours. That has turned out not to be enough, and with earnings down sharply in the third quarter, corporate America has turned to layoffs. “People have grown very nervous,” said Harry Holzer, a labor economist at Georgetown University and the Urban Institute, tracing cause and effect. “They have seen a lot of their wealth wiped out and as they cut back their spending, companies are responding with layoffs, which hurts consumption even more.”

Subprime meltdown culprits. Low-income borrowers and affordable-housing advocates didn't cause the credit crisis. The real villains are greedy mortgage brokers, lenders and investors.,0,394443.story

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is struggling to find enough agents and resources to investigate criminal wrongdoing tied to the country’s economic crisis, according to current and former bureau officials.

The End of Libertarianism. THE FINANCIAL COLLAPSE PROVES THAT ITS IDEOLOGY MAKES NO SENSE. A source of mild entertainment amid the financial carnage has been watching libertarians scurrying to explain how the global financial crisis is the result of too much government intervention rather than too little. One line of argument casts as villain the Community Reinvestment Act, which prevents banks from "redlining" minority neighborhoods as not creditworthy. Another theory blames Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for causing the trouble by subsidizing and securitizing mortgages with an implicit government guarantee. An alternative thesis is that past bailouts encouraged investors to behave recklessly in anticipation of a taxpayer rescue. There are rebuttals to these claims and rejoinders to the rebuttals. But to summarize, the libertarian apologetics fall wildly short of providing any convincing explanation for what went wrong. The argument as a whole is reminiscent of wearying dorm-room debates that took place circa 1989 about whether the fall of the Soviet bloc demonstrated the failure of communism. Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history. Like all true ideologues, they find a way to interpret mounting evidence of error as proof that they were right all along.

Market Free Fall: 10 Depressing Facts.

Nature loss 'dwarfs bank crisis' The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.

No rescue in sight for what ails economy, Even if the financial bailout works, the economy faces troubles too pervasive and entrenched to be solved any time soon, analysts say.,0,3369735.story

Schwarzenegger to U.S.: State may need $7-billion loan. In a letter obtained by The Times, the governor warns that tight credit has dried up funds California routinely relies on and it may have to seek emergency aid within weeks.,0,5726760.story

Harley-Davidson thrown by bumps in the road. Tight credit and costly gas are driving sales down for the big-bike maker. Hogs now share space with scooters.,0,1968533.story

The American economy lost 159,000 jobs in September, the worst month of retrenchment in five years, the government reported on Friday, amplifying fears that an already painful downturn had entered a more severe stage that could persist well into next year.

Reversal of fortune: House approves $700-billion bailout bill.,0,5676279.story

The bailout implodes. The historic $700 billion bill aimed at rescuing the ailing financial sector went down in a stinging defeat in the House on Monday, leaving Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers as worldwide markets plunged. The 205-228 vote left Democratic leaders visibly stunned over what they said was the failure of House Republicans to shore up enough votes for the measure. Republicans blamed what they said was a partisan speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for turning away at least a dozen GOP votes; GOP standard-bearer John McCain charged the floor speech with torpedoing the bill. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) chastised Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) for issuing “angry and hyper-partisan” comments. Sixty-five Republicans voted in favor of the legislation to give the Treasury Department unprecedented powers to purchase bad debt from banks, while 133 Republicans voted no. Democrats won 140 votes in favor of the bill, despite what Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) described as the “grave reservations” of a majority of his caucus. The Democrats lost 95 votes, including many from Congressional Black, Hispanic and Progressive caucus members. The vote was a failure for leaders on both sides of the aisle and a harsh repudiation of President Bush, who on Monday was calling members to urge them to support the proposal crafted and negotiated by his Treasury secretary. Before the bill was defeated, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) issued a statement that said the package signaled the “final collapse” of Bush’s administration. He also called for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to resign. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was down about 250 points when the vote started, witnessed the steepest drop in its history. When it appeared that the bailout would fail, the Dow plunged another 400 points. After a brief recovery, the index closed down 777 points for the day.

Kucinich says not enough votes for bailout. “I will tell you right now I don’t know if they have votes,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). “If the votes were there, this would be on the floor. The votes aren’t there.”

Wall St. Moral Rot: Spreading To Politics, Main St.? There is a basic and indelicate question about the unfolding financial crisis that, to my mind, has not been asked loudly enough: Is the ethical and prudential rot so clearly on display in this historic episode confined to Wall Street and the world of high finance, or are other institutions, vocations, professions and commercial cultures similarly infected? How worried should we be that there is, right now, similar corruption, ruthless selfishness and incompetence percolating unseen in medical care, the pharmaceutical industry, Pentagon planning, government management of Social Security, environmental regulation and planning, or air safety? How likely is it that politics and journalism are less susceptible to greed and shortsightedness than finance? Is Wall Street an aberration or a mirror? Are people only so cavalier when their salaries have six or seven zeroes instead of two or maybe three? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST 16 YEARS???????

The White House is engaged in multiple skirmishes -- trying to fight the notion that the president has been AWOL in what it certainly hopes to be the final crisis of his tenure, while also seeking to win over a skeptical Congress and populace on a key point: that the extensive authority the legislation would grant the president's representatives and their successors is necessary. When the White House began pressing to get action, "the critical thing was unleashing Paulson," Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution, said of the high-profile role taken by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. Once Paulson, at the urging of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, came to believe that major action -- rather than a step-by-step response -- was needed, "he took the lead, and has been running with it and telling Bush what he was doing," Mann said.,0,1793737.story

Where are free-marketeers now? Hopefully, the government's unprecedented intervention in the financial markets will help stabilize the American and – in this global world – the international economy. But it is certainly ironic that after decades of admonitions that the government is not the solution, but the problem; that the best government is that which governs the least; that the economy should be freed from the stranglehold of regulations and be allowed to bloom unrestricted, etc., etc., etc., that a Republican administration becomes the rescuer of a market gone bad. What happened? The bare-bone facts are well known. First, a lax regulatory structure allowed a greedy mortgage industry to aggressively push subprime mortgages on home buyers who couldn't afford them. Second, a nonexistent regulatory system permitted these mortgages to be bundled and repackaged as derivatives in ways that detached them from recognizable and identifiable assets and sold as absolutely safe to investment banks and investors in the United States and all over the world. There was so much money to be made so quickly by all those money changers that market fundamentals were thrown to the wind. And that is why we need government oversight and regulation. The idea of a self-regulating market is illusory, we have discovered now, a tad late. What's the cost of this lesson? Hundreds of billions of dollars that we, the taxpayers, will ultimately have to pay in taxes, or in many other ways such as high inflation, a recession – if not a depression – with all its attendant sufferings and lost opportunities.

Takeovers of AIG, Fannie and Freddie raise business and political questions. The federal government is entering uncharted territory. Lawmakers and experts wonder whether it is up to the job of running large corporations. "The government does not have a core competency to run an insurance company of the magnitude of an AIG," said David M. Walker, former head of the Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog agency. "It's clearly not going to be able to effectively manage AIG and do what needs to be done.",0,1355734.story

Bush defends US debt rescue plan.

Economic Meltdown: Don’t Say We Weren’t Forewarned.

Continue to pray for the nation's economy. The Bush administration is working with Congress on a long-term solution after instituting four new measures Friday to help financial markets, including the creation of a separate entity to buy up bad mortgage-related debts. It's the largest government-led financial rescue since the Great Depression... I know Americans are concerned about the adjustments that are taking place in our financial markets. At the White House and throughout my administration, we're focused on them, and we're working to reduce disruptions and minimize the impact of these financial market developments on the broader economy. As policymakers, we're focused on the health of the financial system as a whole. In the short run, adjustments in the financial markets can be painful both for the people concerned about their investments, and for the employees of the affected firms. In the long run, I’m confident that our capital markets are flexible and resilient, and can deal with these adjustments. —George W. Bush, September 15, 2008

Hey U.S., welcome to the Third World! It's been a quick slide from economic superpower to economic basket case.,0,7282720.column


America's broken infrastructure. U.S. highways and bridges are crumbling, and it will take billions of dollars to fix them. How do we raise the money? When the World Trade Center went down in 2001, it led to two wars, hundreds of billions in expenditures and the creation of a Homeland Security bureaucracy. When the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis went down last year, it led to a $1-billion House bill to mandate repair of federal bridges, which will probably be vetoed by President Bush if it gets past the Senate. Obviously, neither the scale nor the causes of these two American tragedies are comparable, but the vastly different responses do say something about political will. The 9/11 attacks struck an emotional chord that infrastructure failures such as the I-35W bridge collapse or the ruined levees of New Orleans do not. Yet the consequences of our apathy about public infrastructure could be just as dire and deadly as our pre-9/11 apathy about Islamic extremism. More than a quarter of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and it would take $65 billion to fix them all. In 2006, almost 43,000 people died on U.S. roads and nearly 2.6 million were injured -- casualties that could have been reduced if more had been invested in safety improvements. Traffic congestion in big cities such as Los Angeles is choking off economic growth, and under-investment in public transit contributes to high gasoline prices and air pollution. And the federal fund that is devoted to solving many of these problems has run out of money.,0,3620745.story


Unemployment tops 6% for first time in five years. August's jobless rate jumps to 6.1% from 5.7% in July, the Labor Department reports. The manufacturing sector is among the hardest hit.,0,492909.story

Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class' In the last 25 years, what is good for America and what is good for much of corporate America have gotten way out of sync. However, over the last 25 years -- especially over the last decade -- what is good for America and what is good for much of corporate America have gotten way out of sync. Our current business culture too often emphasizes only short-term corporate profits and shareholder returns -- however and wherever they are generated -- and in the process, what is good for America is being pushed aside. This disconnect between the national interest and corporate responsibility and interests has helped shatter the "contract with the middle class." And in the most painful measure of just how broken this contract is, based on data from 2005-2006, the top 1% of Americans -- 300,000 -- earn as much as the bottom 150 million combined. Income inequality is the greatest it has been since 1928, and for every three-year period since 1981, the top 1% of taxpayers have gained, on average, $100 billion in total earnings, while the bottom 80% have lost $100 billion.,0,4727848.story

Tax, spend and create more jobs. The facts are clear enough: When the presidency was under Republican control during the past 40 years, 1.4 million net additional jobs have come into being per year on average. Under Democratic control, 2.5 million net jobs have come into being in an average year – 78 percent more. Jimmy Carter actually surpassed Bill Clinton's highly praised job-creation performance. Similarly, real wage gains for all non-managerial workers, who constitute nearly 80 percent of the labor force, have suffered more, on average, during Republican than Democratic administrations. Even the stock market has not done as well on the whole under Republicans as under Democrats. There are many reasons for all this. Among them is this simple truth: While minimalist government may be necessary for a free market, that doesn't necessarily mean minimalist government is good for the growth of the economy, or for job creation, or even for generating private wealth. Consider the kinds of industries usually associated with the modern economy: jet aviation, semiconductors, computers, the Internet, global positioning systems, laser technology, MRI technologies, high-strength steel alloys, fiber-reinforced plastics, nanotechnologies. Tens of millions of new jobs – well-paying jobs with good benefits – were created through these innovative industries. Each of them arose out of government-funded research, initial development by government, requirements established by regulation, large-scale governmental demand and purchasing to provide initial markets, or some combination of these. Every one of them.

Retailers face frugal shoppers through 2009.

Most firms pay no income taxes - Congress. Study finds that the majority of domestic and foreign corporations in the United States avoid paying federal income taxes.

Demand rising at food banks. Churches, charities step up distribution.

US oil firms seek drilling access, but exports soar. While the U.S. oil industry wants access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries. A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department. The surge in exports appears to contradict the pleas from the U.S. oil industry and the Bush administration for Congress to open more offshore waters and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. "We can help alleviate shortages by drilling for oil and gas in our own country," President Bush told reporters this week. "We have got the opportunity to find more crude oil here at home." "As a nation, we can have more control over our energy destiny by supplying more of the oil and natural gas we'll be consuming from resources here at home," Red Cavaney, president of the American Petroleum (otcbb: AMPE.OB - news - people ) Institute, said in a letter last week to U.S. lawmakers.

It all adds up. 10 simple things that can make a difference.

Gas for less than $4 a gallon returns to Southern California. Prices have been falling for five consecutive weeks and could be headed even lower. Gas Depot at Madison and 2nd was $3.99 Friday evening, cash price.,0,2278581.story

Boom and bust: It's the American way. IndyMac's crisis is hardly unique. Bank panics have been with us from the beginning.,0,6231760.story

The Death of Reaganomics. The biggest political story of 2008 is getting little coverage. It involves the collapse of assumptions that have dominated our economic debate for three decades. Since the Reagan years, free-market clichés have passed for sophisticated economic analysis. But in the current crisis, these ideas are falling, one by one, as even conservatives recognize that capitalism is ailing. You know the talking points: Regulation is the problem and deregulation is the solution. The distribution of income and wealth doesn’t matter. Providing incentives for the investors of capital to “grow the pie” is the only policy that counts. Free trade produces well-distributed economic growth, and any dissent from this orthodoxy is “protectionism.” The old script is in rewrite. “We are in a worldwide crisis now because of excessive deregulation,” Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview.

California's fiscal woes largely of its own making. The state faces a crisis, but many others are doing well. Much of the fault lies with . . . well, us.,0,4142503.story

Americans' unhappy birthday: 'Too much wrong right now'. The nation's psyche is battered and bruised, the sense of pessimism palpable. Young or old, Republican or Democrat, economically stable or struggling, Americans are questioning where they are and where they are going. And they wonder who or what might ride to their rescue.

Terminated. Desperately Seeking Plan B.

Bush says rebates going out Monday will boost economy.

Some people foolishly think that Washington's recent high-profile effort to steer, subsidize and protect the American financial sector is the beginning of something new -- a revolutionary development. It isn't. Consider that the President's Working Group on Financial Markets – nicknamed “the Plunge Protection Team” by The Washington Post in 1997 & ndash; quietly observed its 20th birthday on Mar. 18. “Quietly,” in fact, is an understatement. “Semi-secretly” would be more like it. The Working Group, or PPT, is much-pondered but reclusive group that has declined to submit to the federal Freedom of Information Act or to testify in detail before Congress about its activities. This is true even though its current chief, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. – Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke is another prominent member -- made no secret of revving up its operations after he took took over at Treasury in 2006. The curious reader will wonder: Just what does the PPT do?

Dems ask FTC to investigate high gas prices.

Wings show at Gillespie is canceled. Directors blame fuel costs; smaller tour show next week.

The Roots of the Mortgage Crisis. Bubbles cannot be safely defused by monetary policy before the speculative fever breaks on its own. BY ALAN GREENSPAN

BUSH regime incompetence

The superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park, John A. Latschar, said Thursday that he is being reassigned to an unspecified desk job in the National Parks Service after public disclosure that he viewed more than 3,400 "sexually-explicit" images on his federal computer over two years. The misconduct, which Latschar acknowledged in a sworn statement, was found during a year-long investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general and was documented in an internal Aug. 7 report obtained by The Washington Post. Latschar's reassignment comes after a Post report Monday about the results of the investigator's forensic analysis of his computer hard drive, which showed "significant inappropriate user activity" and numbered the "most sexually-explicit" images at 3,456.

San Diego's Carol Lam. Former San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was among the nine prosecutors named in the report. Seven U.S. attorneys, including Lam, were fired Dec. 7, 2006. Her dismissal was made public the following month and she left the office in February 2007. Lam, who appeared before House and Senate committees investigating the firings, testified that she was never told that senior officials had problems with her performance and she was stunned by her firing. Justice Department officials later told lawmakers they were bothered by the low number of prosecutions of gun crimes and immigration law violations during the 4 1/2 years Lam led the office. Lam said her superiors never talked to her about the issues. “It does concern me that lack of pursuit of one of 20 or 30 priorities would be used as a reason to remove a U.S. attorney, particularly where the dialogue had not risen to that pitch,” Lam testified. “There had been no conversation or ultimatum.” The former U.S. attorney eventually landed at Qualcomm as a vice president. She was replaced by Karen P. Hewitt, a career prosecutor who previously specialized in constitutional law and civil rights cases at the Justice Department.

Budget-crunched Peace Corps cuts volunteer positions. Volunteers who thought their assignment was a sure thing learn otherwise. The Peace Corps boasts that it's "the toughest job you'll ever love," but this year, just getting hired may be the toughest part. At a time when both presidential candidates have pledged to promote and expand national service, the popular humanitarian assistance program that sends thousands of Americans abroad annually is now planning to cut 400 volunteer positions in the face of an unexpected multimillion-dollar budget shortfall. With fewer spots, an increasing number of Peace Corps nominees who were expecting to begin service this fall have seen their deployments delayed at least until next year -- and in some cases indefinitely. "There are more people waiting this time than in years past," said Rosie Mauk, the Peace Corps' associate director of volunteer recruitment and selection. "The recruiters don't like to tell people that there isn't a spot for them. To have to tell people that they have gotten to know -- and they know are passionate about the Peace Corps -- that there is just not room for them now is the most difficult part.",0,3857618.story

A City's Faulty Armor. During an inspection of the levee system with National Geographic magazine, engineering professor Bob Bea of the University of California, Berkeley found multiple weak spots. The most serious flaws turned up in the rebuilt levees along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) ship channel, which broke in more than 20 places when Katrina's storm surge pounded it, leading to devastating flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. Bea found several areas where rainstorms have already eroded the newly rebuilt levees, particularly where they consist of a core of sandy and muddy soils topped with a cap of Mississippi clay. "It's like icing on the top of angel food cake," Bea says. "These levees will not be here if you put a Katrina surge against them." Bea, who is serving as an expert witness in a multi-billion-dollar class-action lawsuit against the corps, is not alone in his concerns. J. David Rogers, a geological engineer from the University of Missouri-Rolla who investigated the levee failures with Bea, concurs with his assessment of the system's weak spots, particularly the eroded levees that are the primary hurricane protection for St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward. Both engineers say a more detailed study of the levee soils is necessary to determine just how weak the MRGO levees are, but Rogers says the image of the eroded structure "certainly doesn't give me any confidence that it would survive eight hours of overtopping—what you would need for a Category 3 storm. It might survive an hour. They've obviously got a problem there. The veneer is not thick enough, and the core of the levee is cohesiveless material—organic muck and silt."

Battle stated that Voris told him that the candidate was head and shoulders above the other candidates who had applied for the counterterrorism detail. Battle agreed with that assessment, stating that the candidate was the best applicant for the detail. John Kelly, the EOUSA Deputy Director and Chief of Staff, stated that he and Battle wanted to hire the candidate because he was one of the leading terrorism prosecutors in the country and a very talented attorney. The candidate’s wife was a prominent local Democrat elected official and vice-chairman of a local Democratic Party. She also ran several Democratic congressional campaigns. The candidate was at times a registered Independent and at other times a registered Democrat. Notwithstanding the candidate’s outstanding qualifications and EOUSA senior management’s desire to hire him, Goodling refused to approve the detail. Battle, Kelly, and EOUSA Deputy Director Nowacki all told us that Goodling refused to allow the candidate to be detailed to EOUSA solely on the basis of his wife’s political party affiliation. Battle said he was very upset that Goodling opposed the detail because of political reasons. Nowacki told us that Goodling informed him that the candidate’s wife was a Democrat, and Nowacki believed that Goodling refused to allow the detail because of this fact. Similarly, Kelly told us that Goodling refused to allow EOUSA to hire the candidate because his wife was active in Democratic politics. Battle said that he and Voris went to Goodling several times to argue that EOUSA should be allowed to hire the candidate, but they were not successful. Battle told us he did not appeal Goodling’s refusal to allow the candidate to be detailed to EOUSA because he did not think it would be successful given that Goodling worked in the OAG. The candidate was never informed that he did not get the counterterrorism detail. Because EOUSA had been unable to fill the counterterrorism detail after Goodling vetoed this candidate, a current EOUSA detailee was asked to assume EOUSA’s counterterrorism portfolio. This replacement detailee had been an AUSA since September 2004, after having served as an assistant district attorney for 3 years. He had been detailed to EOUSA in 2006. He had no counterterrorism experience and had less than the minimum of 5 years of federal criminal prosecution experience required by the EOUSA job announcement. Battle, Nowacki, Kelly, and Voris all said they thought that he was not qualified for the position, since he had no counterterrorism experience. The replacement candidate was a registered Republican who Goodling had interviewed and approved before he was selected for his EOUSA detail. In sum, we concluded that Goodling prevented EOUSA from selecting an experienced career AUSA to handle counterterrorism issues because of his and his wife’s political affiliation. As a result, a much less experienced, but politically acceptable, attorney was assigned this important responsibility.

page 49-50

US aid 'failing to reach target'. The US Congress provides billions of dollars for aid in Pakistan and Afghanistan but much of the money never gets there, US lawmakers have learnt. Former ambassadors Richard Holbrooke and Thomas Pickering said large sums went on consulting fees and overhead costs and never left US soil. Congress wants to know how much of these funds is "skimmed" in the US before reaching its target. A USAid official said overheads were currently not more than 30%. The official added that there was now a serious effort to cut costs by hiring locally and by local contracting of projects. 'Expertise' "It's strange that it's taken us all this time and billions of dollars to figure out that the money to be spent on the ground should be spent on the ground," said Gary Ackerman, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Accidents at Disease Lab Acknowledged

The talk of the Reagan library, The buzz among visitors is about what's not on display: thousands of items unaccounted for.,1,3037673.story?coll=la-headlines-california

DHS delays plans for land-sea passport requirement


Jessica Yellin’s Confession about Media Censorship in the Iraq War.

2007's Top 10 Rights & Liberties Stories

Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008

Senator Feinstein's Iraq Conflict


That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.


A San Diego area congressman and Iraq war veteran is asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates to look into charges levied against three Navy SEALs in connection with the alleged abuse of a detainee in Iraq in early September, calling the charges an “overreaction.” “It’s just so absurd. I mean, they split his lip. In a boxing situation, that’s legal,” Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif., told Navy Times during a telephone interview Thursday. “They punched a terrorist in the face and, boom, we’re going to launch these guys out of the Navy.”

in September, Special Warfare Operators 2nd Class Matthew McCabe and Jonathan Keefe, and Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Julio Huertas, undertook a mission that resulted in Abed’s capture. Soon after his capture, an investigation was conducted based on reports that Abed had been struck in the stomach by one of the SEALs.

Lawmakers are seeking a reprieve for three Navy SEALs facing court-martial because one allegedly punched a suspect after arresting him for an ambush killing of U.S. contractors in Iraq. Rather than accept a reprimand, the sailors chose to fight the charges in a military court. Their appeal greatly raises the stakes because a guilty finding could bring stiff punishment. According to Special Operations Command Central, McCabe is charged with assault, dereliction of duty and making a false official statement; Keefe is charged with dereliction of duty and making a false official statement; and Huertas is charged with dereliction of duty, making a false official statement and impeding an official investigation. The command said in a press release Friday night the alleged assault happened after “the prisoner had been apprehended and while he was in their custody at the base.” The command stressed that the charges were merely accusations and the sailors were presumed innocent unless proven guilty at court martial.

Hersh: Military waging war with White House. The journalist criticized the president for "letting the military do that," and suggested the only way out was for Obama to stand up to them. "He's either going to let the Pentagon run him or he has to run the Pentagon," Hersh said. If he doesn't, "this stuff is going to be the ruin of his presidency."

One of the unintended consequences of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan is that the U.S. may not be prepared to fight another one. According to retired Army Major General Mike Davidson, history teaches that there will be another one — and he's got a plan to prepare for it. Host Liane Hansen speaks with Davidson about his book Victory at Risk: Restoring America's Military Power: A New War Plan for the Pentagon. Davidson talks about the state of today's U.S. military establishment and suggests a new war plan for the Pentagon.

New café a refuge for dissent.

The president-elect needs to start asking hard questions. Now. Here are some he might want to select for his next briefing:

US forces want man-hunting robot wolfpacks. Droid doorkickers to sniff out 'non-compliant humans' A software and sensor package to enable a team of robots to search for and detect human presence in an indoor environment... Operator control units are available that allow semi-autonomous map-based control of a team of robots ... There has also been significant research in the game theory community involving pursuit/evasion scenarios. This topic seeks to merge these research areas and develop a software/hardware suite that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject. It will be necessary to determine an appropriate sensor suite that can reliably detect human presence and is suitable for implementation on small robotic platforms. Typical robots for this type of activity are expected to weigh less than 100 Kg and the team would have three to five robots.

How To: Visit a Secret Nuclear Bunker.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) says some congresspeople were told in private briefings that if they did not pass the bailout bill, circumstances would soon force the federal government to "impose martial law."

House passes bill that CG, Bush oppose. The House of Representatives on Thursday ramped up the possibility of a confrontation with the White House and the Coast Guard by passing a Coast Guard authorization act for the fiscal year that began last October — over the objections of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen and President Bush, who threatened to veto the bill if it reached him as originally written. The bill would authorize $8.7 billion in spending for the Coast Guard and grow the service to about 47,000 people, but the Coast Guard and the White House cited several objections, most notably its requirement that Coast Guardsmen provide security for ships and terminals that handle liquefied natural gas, known as LNG. Today, the Coast Guard shares responsibility for guarding LNG ships and equipment with state and local law enforcement agencies, but it doesn’t have enough people or gear to always secure each one, top service officials said. A statement from the White House Office of Management and Budget called the LNG guarding provision “an unwarranted and unnecessary subsidy to the owners of private infrastructure” that would siphon away finite Coast Guard’s resources from other important missions. A statement from Allen said he was “deeply concerned” that the bill’s passage “would have a detrimental effect on the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out our many vital maritime safety, security and environmental protection missions.”

4th Fleet returns, gunning for drug smugglers. Almost 60 years after closing shop, the Navy’s 4th Fleet, which oversaw the hunt for German subs in the South Atlantic, is coming back. Only this time, the prey is drug runners in the Caribbean. The Navy announced April 24 the re-establishment of 4th Fleet, to be based at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. The command will operate as the naval component of U.S. Southern Command and will have a SEAL at the helm. Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, head of Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif., has been chosen to command the new fleet. Kernan will take control of 4th Fleet and the current Naval Forces Southern Command. Effective July 1, the command will oversee maritime operations in Central and South American waters, similar to the command structure of 5th Fleet, which is also dual-hatted as Naval Forces Central Command, the naval component of U.S. Central Command. With the fleet’s creation, sailors can expect to spend more time in that part of the world, not only taking part in counternarcotics operations, but also humanitarian relief and goodwill tours. But it’s the Navy’s riverine warfare commands that could see an even greater role in the coming years in SouthCom. “There’s tremendous river systems in South America where our partner nations are responsible for security,” Stevenson said. “As you know, our riverine forces are being ramped up, and in the future, I could see them operating down there in cooperative training missions where our sailors may learn as much from their river forces as they do from us.”

Blackwater Security Firm Embroiled In New Controversy

Northrop, SAIC to end joint venture


Healthcare rule found to burden California counties. A study finds that implementing a federal requirement that Medi-Cal applicants prove citizenship has been labor-intensive and that fraud is rare.,0,539302.story

The Browning of Grassroots. How astroturfing is taking over local activism.

Barney Frank pwns crazy lady at "town hall" meeting, effectively invoking Godwin's law.

The Funniest Signs From Town Hall Protests.

Final day at free clinic. Organizers said coming to Southern California was a challenge, in part because the local medical community had never heard of the Tennessee-based Remote Area Medical Foundation. The foundation primarily serves rural areas such as Appalachia, where access to healthcare can be limited. But as the clinic gained momentum -- and media coverage -- more volunteers turned out. Over the weekend, Manelli said there were more volunteer dentists than the 80 dental chairs set up on the floor of the Forum.

Don't buy Gingrich's doomsday healthcare prophecies. The former House speaker's arguments against reform shouldn't distract Americans from the basic truth that our healthcare system is sick.,0,6235286.story

REPORT: The media have debunked the death panels -- more than 40 times over.

At free clinic, scenes from the Third World. He pulled out a chart showing that at his last medical jamboree, in Virginia, volunteer dentists performed 4,304 tooth extractions in two days, among various other medical procedures. Diabetes and hypertension require regular maintenance, Taw said, rather than occasional urgent trips to an emergency room after the patient deteriorates and the treatment is more expensive. By some estimates, Taw said, 85% of the estimated 47 million uninsured Americans are members of working families. So why not divide the cost of their health insurance evenly among employer, employee and the government?,0,3959652.column

Medicare Says It Won’t Cover Hospital Errors.

How American Health Care Killed My Father.

Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States. Although America leads the world in spending on health care, it is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage. To help policy-makers, elected officials, and others judge and compare proposals to extend coverage to the nation's 43 million uninsured, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies offers a set of guiding principles and a checklist in a new report, Insuring America's Health: Principles and Recommendations.

'SiCKO' Factual Backup.

The "death panels" are already here. Sorry, Sarah Palin -- rationing of care? Private companies are already doing it, with sometimes fatal results.

Dr. Frank I. Luntz – The Language of Healthcare 2009.

High-ranking insurance PR flack defects, explains dirty tricks used to fight universal healthcare.

Debunking Canadian health care myths.

How Kaiser Permanente and Nixon changed healthcare in the US...

A significant majority of Americans, polls repeatedly tell us, list terrorism as one of their greatest fears. Like most of our media-inspired interests and worries, however, this one has little basis in reality. In actual fact, unless you’re serving in a war zone, the most dangerous person you’re ever likely to encounter – by several orders of magnitude – is the one you see in the mirror every morning.

Why are Republicans scared of competition? The GOP can't stomach the prospect of American consumers having free choice over their healthcare programs.

The State of the STD. The CDC's updated stats on sexually transmitted diseases.

Teen Pregnancy Rate Is On the Rise. The number of teens having babies, as well as the rate in which they are having babies, is on the rise, with the highest teen birth rates being seen in the South and Southeast portions of the country. The decline in teen pregnancy that the U.S. has experienced for fourteen years seems to be over, and there are several factors that may be playing key roles. A new report, “Births: Final Data for 2006,” issued by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, provides a state-by-state view of teen births, based on all birth certificates issued in 2006 by the U.S. The report also offers some interesting data on a range of topics such as unmarried mothers, multiple births, smoking while pregnant, Caesarean delivery, preterm births, and low birth weights. Of the 4.3 million births reported in 2006, around 435,000 of the births were to mothers from 15 to 19 years old, an increase of approximately 21,000 more teens having babies than in 2005. Hispanic girls are giving birth at twice the overall rate and Asian and Pacific Islander girls reported teen pregnancies at half of the national average. While Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas reported the highest teen pregnancy rates, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts reported the lowest rates. Over half of the fifty states reported increases in teen birth rates.

Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds. Teenagers Who Make Such Promises Are Just as Likely to Have Sex, and Less Likely to Use Protection, the Data Indicate.

Congress should cut out sex/Abstinence-only programs are costly failures. The best method for preventing teen pregnancy is no mystery; Western Europe figured it out long ago. Comprehensive sex education and access to contraception has resulted in significantly lower teen pregnancy rates, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases there. The nonprofit organization Advocates for Youth says that if the United States could bring down its teen birth rate to that of the Netherlands, for example, it would mean 617,000 fewer pregnancies here, and a first-year saving of $542 million.

U.S. 'Not Getting What We Pay For'. Many Experts Say Health-Care System Inefficient, Wasteful.


U-T Editorial: Hubbs' promising project. Local effort to counter depletion of ocean fish deserves support.

Nut allergies -- a Yuppie invention. Some kids really do have food allergies. But most just have bad reactions to their parents' mass hysteria.,0,6887202.column

Honey Laundering: A sticky trail of intrigue and crime. Country of origin no guarantee on cheap imports.


National and prisons

Web post by Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal Malik Hasan could shed light on motives.

Analysis: US Muslims fear reprisals in wake of Fort Hood attack.

Details on Fort Hood suspect emerge. Major had attracted federal authorities’ attention because of Web postings.

Soldiers say carnage could have been worse. Fort Hood.

Victim in assault, Krazy Glue case charged with child abuse.

Police: Asheville Firefighter Shot Bicyclist. Officers Say Pair Argued Over Child Safety.

Joseph Henry Burgess died last week in a fatal New Mexico shootout that also killed a deputy. He has been linked to at least two double slayings, one in California in 2004.,0,5292495.story

The events that led to the shooting deaths of two Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies Saturday began in a small top-floor apartment in Fort Walton Beach - with an argument over a tube of Clearasil. On Sunday, lawmen still were investigating why Joshua Cartwright, a 28-year-old U.S. Army Reserve soldier with a history of violence, killed Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York at a gun range in Crestview. A few minutes after he killed the deputies, Cartwright was himself killed in a shootout with lawmen in DeFuniak Springs.

They're coming to take our guns away. Cop killer Richard Poplawski is an extremist. But amid the deafening din of the right wing's anti-government rhetoric, how extreme is he?

In last month alone, mass shootings have claimed 53 lives.,0,6734526.story

Homemade heroes offer low-level law enforcement. Worldwide network boasts at least two local members.

Crime and economy don't tell whole story. If you think a down economy causes crime to rise, think again. The reasons that drive crime rates are unclear.,0,1034978.story

O.J. Simpson sentenced to lengthy prison term. In Las Vegas, Judge Jackie Glass orders Simpson, 61, to spend at least nine years in prison. Simpson makes a tearful plea for leniency, but Glass calls him arrogant and ignorant.,0,3919620.story

U.S. war on drugs has failed, report says. Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, who helped supervise the Brookings Institution study, says Washington needs to focus on consumption in addition to targeting traffickers. The former president, Ernesto Zedillo, in an interview, called for a major rethinking of U.S. policy, which he said has been "asymmetrical" in demanding that countries such as Mexico stanch the flow of drugs northward, without successful efforts to stop the flow of guns south. In addition to disrupting drug-smuggling routes, eradicating crops and prosecuting dealers, the U.S. must confront the public health issue that large-scale consumption poses, he said.,0,7441414.story

Intelligent Policing Comes to New Jersey. A state revolution in tracing guns, mapping crimes, and sharing information.

Is Killing Liberals a Hate Crime? ONLY IN A FEW STATES. Jim David Adkisson, who confessed to opening fire in a Knoxville church last weekend, told police that he was motivated by a hatred for gays and liberals and, in particular, that "liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country." Authorities are now investigating the shooting as a hate crime. Do liberals get special protections under the law?

Justice Department audit says politics affected hirings. Internal investigation concludes that former attorney general aides Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson broke department policies and federal civil-service laws.,0,4435935.story

is this the face of evil? this is the face of evil.

FBI Headline Archives

This is the U.S. on drugs. Only cops and crooks have benefited from $2.5 trillion spent fighting trafficking. The United States has been spending $69 billion a year worldwide for the last 40 years, for a total of $2.5 trillion, on drug prohibition -- with little to show for it. Is anyone actually benefiting from this war? Six groups come to mind. The first group are the drug lords in nations such as Colombia, Afghanistan and Mexico, as well as those in the United States. They are making billions of dollars every year -- tax free. The second group are the street gangs that infest many of our cities and neighborhoods, whose main source of income is the sale of illegal drugs. Third are those people in government who are paid well to fight the first two groups. Their powers and bureaucratic fiefdoms grow larger with each tax dollar spent to fund this massive program that has been proved not to work. Fourth are the politicians who get elected and reelected by talking tough -- not smart, just tough -- about drugs and crime. But the tougher we get in prosecuting nonviolent drug crimes, the softer we get in the prosecution of everything else because of the limited resources to fund the criminal justice system. The fifth group are people who make money from increased crime. They include those who build prisons and those who staff them. The prison guards union is one of the strongest lobbying groups in California today, and its ranks continue to grow. And last are the terrorist groups worldwide that are principally financed by the sale of illegal drugs. Who are the losers in this war? Literally everyone else, especially our children.,0,2831899.story

Federal prison guard stabbed to death. The 22-year-old guard, who had been on the job for less than a year, was killed by two inmates using homemade weapons at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atwater, near Merced, prison officials say.,0,4254204.story

The United States is home to less than five percent of the world's population — and almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. Adam Liptak, national legal correspondent for The New York Times, says that's one of the ways America's legal system differs from those of other countries.

Second Teen Arrested in Va. Shooting Spree. Two Virginia Teens Arrested in Connection With I-64 Shootings. Police linked Woodson to the Waynesboro shootings after a vehicle very similar in appearance to his orange 1974 AMC Gremlin was seen on surveillance footage captured by a security camera at the DuPont Community Credit Union the same night of the I-64 shootings. Woodson's Gremlin was easily recognizable because, according to court documents, the front wheels are chrome and the rear wheels are black. The vehicle also has a nonstandard grill and a chrome rear spoiler.

In my eight years working at an independent bookstore, I lost count of how many shoplifters I chased through the streets of Seattle while shouting "Drop the book!" I chased them down crowded pedestrian plazas in the afternoon, I chased them through alleys at night, I even chased one into a train tunnel. I chased a book thief to the waterfront, where he shouted, "Here are your fucking books!" and threw a half-dozen paperbacks, including Bomb the Suburbs and A People's History of the United States, into Puget Sound, preferring to watch them slowly sink into the muck rather than hand them back to the bookseller they were stolen from. He had that ferocious, orgasmic gleam in his eye of somebody who was living in the climax of his own movie: I suppose he felt like he was liberating them somehow.

Inside the Twisted Mind of the Security Professional.

Lawmaker: U.S. security agency faltering.

FBI investigates sub-prime crisis. The FBI is concerned about mortgage fraud. The FBI is investigating 14 companies embroiled in the sub-prime mortgage crisis as part of a crackdown on improper lending.

When police are accused of lying. P-I review finds 2 dozen cases where officers weren't fired.


Consider how many violent crimes are thwarted around the country by guns. That's a statistic one rarely hears. The number officially reported to the police is roughly 64,615 yearly; the estimate can jump as high as 2.45 million if one factors in unreported cases. Compare those numbers to 30,000 gun-related deaths yearly and one can see the difference is, at the very least, 34,000 people saved by guns. Yet, since those people are not in a morgue, they apparently don't count.

On the same day that a smiling mayor and police chief stood side by side at a news conference hailing a citywide drop in crime, grim-faced teachers at a South Los Angeles elementary school painted over obscenities on classroom walls, swept up broken Christmas ornaments and tried to salvage students' art projects. Crime may be dropping on the streets outside, but inside Los Angeles Unified campuses, holiday breaks are criminals' party time.,1,7903368.column?coll=la-headlines-california

Creator defends 'illegal' Ron Paul 'Liberty Dollar'

Woman dies as car rams crowd, The incident caps a brawl in South L.A. involving about 30 women in a parking lot. At least one other woman is injured.,1,4182914.story?coll=la-headlines-california

The FBI continues to have major weaknesses in its critical computer network.

Crime soars in smaller East Coast cities, and some experts blame lack of new immigrants

War on Drugs

In Heartland Death, Traces of Heroin’s Spread.

The pungent aroma of cannabis fills a dank, cool vault just north of the Mexican border. Shelves are piled with bales of marijuana totaling 27,000 pounds. One rack features boxes of methamphetamine, cocaine and other hard narcotics. Another is stacked with guns taken from smugglers. A file cabinet in the corner contains $500,000 cash.

A no-win 'war on drugs'. The current strategy isn't working. We need an open discussion about what's next.,0,5157918.story

Taking on the drug cartels. The U.S. must take tough action against drug-money laundering and the market for Mexican drug organizations.,0,3498845.story

Wall Street

On Wall Street, his name is legendary. With money he had made as a lifeguard on the beaches of Long Island, he built a trading powerhouse that had prospered for more than four decades. At age 70, he had become an influential spokesman for the traders who are the hidden gears of the marketplace. But on Thursday morning, this consummate trader, Bernard L. Madoff, was arrested at his Manhattan home by federal agents who accused him of running a multibillion-dollar fraud scheme — perhaps the largest in Wall Street's history.

Don't Tase me Bro'

Court to Cops: Stop Tasing People into Compliance.

Federal court restricts Taser use by police. Ninth Circuit ruling -- allowing an officer to be held liable for injuries a man suffered after being Tasered -- sets a precedent that may force agencies to revisit their policies.,0,3444530.story

L.A. County prosecutors won't pursue charges against officers who were caught on TV kicking, hitting suspect. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office noted in its decision that Officers George Fierro, 41, and James Singleterry, 40, were confronting a “highly dangerous and unpredictable” gang member who had evaded parole supervision and demonstrated no regard for human life during the 34-minute pursuit May 13. Prosecutors said Fierro had reason to fear that the suspect, Richard Rodriguez, was positioning himself to attack or attempt to escape when he turned his head to face the officer while lying on the ground with his arms outstretched. Under such circumstances, they said, El Monte officers are trained to deliver a “distraction blow” – in this case, a kick to the head – to give them time to apply some form of physical restraint. Prosecutors said Singleterry struck Rodriguez’ right arm four times with the flashlight because the suspect was refusing to pull his hand out from under his body, so the officers could cuff him. Use-of-force experts have criticized the officers' actions as unprovoked and unnecessary.

According to an eyewitness, a D.C. Police detective (pictured above w/ gun) went nuts after kids pelted his Hummer with snowballs at 14th and U Streets NW this afternoon. The veteran detective got out of his car and eventually grabbed for his gun, displaying it to the crowd. He did not immediately identify himself as a police officer. He calmed down once his fellow uniformed cop arrived. Apparently, someone called 911 to report a man with gun. The snowball fight had been well hyped on Twitter. The news of the incident first broke there. We caught up with an eyewitness moments ago.

Trial of transit officer in BART shooting to be moved [Updated].

Georgia pastor shot and killed in apparent drug bust mistake. Residents of Lavonia, GA are reporting that Shoal Creek Baptist Church pastor, Jonathan Ayers, was the victim of a shooting fatality at a Shell gas station in the northeast Georgia town of Toccoa. At the hospital where Ayers was taken, his family was told he had been shot by a drug dealer, but it was later revealed that he was shot by Stephens County drug agents in plainclothes. Stephens County Sheriff, Randy Shirley, told WYFF News (Greenville, SC) that a woman dropped off from Ayers car was the target of an undercover sting operation. The story that the officers have told is that when the pastor was leaving the gas station, he struck one of the officers with his car and was driving toward a second officer when shots were fired through the door, one of which struck Ayers. Wounded, he drove away, crashing about a half mile from the station. He died a short while later. No drugs were found in his car, though the woman reportedly in his vehicle was arrested on cocaine charges.

Dumanis straddles net in hostess-deputy row. The ball is in the air, and it's possible, if not likely, that Shari Barman, the hostess of the Francine Busby fundraiser from hell, will serve up a civil rights lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department. If it's game on, the former professional tennis player's civil complaint will argue that Deputy Marshall Abbott violated Barman's right to privacy when, while answering a noise complaint, he walked uninvited through an open door into her spacious Cardiff home and forcibly arrested her after she questioned why he needed to know her birth date. Many readers have wondered why Barman, who's 60, didn't just offer her age after she had identified herself. In an interview at her home, Barman said: “It didn't make any sense to me. If he had asked me for my driver's license to verify that I was the person who lived at this address, that would have made sense to me. He would have had his date of birth.” As the violent events unfolded, Barman remembers wondering if she lived in a police state like Iran.

Audra Harmon, Mother Tasered During Traffic Stop, Files Notice To Sue.

Henry Louis Gates: Déjà Vu All Over Again.

As Officers Face Heated Words, Their Tactics Vary.

Gates Says He Is Outraged by Arrest at Cambridge Home. Prominent Black Professor Says He Will Use Experience to Further Academic Work.

Taser Releases Safety Tests for Shocking New Shotgun (Updated)

How Perverse Incentives Drive Bad Security Decisions.

More video: Before, after deputy's alleged assault of girl. The King County Sheriff's Office released a series of videos to the media in the case against Deputy Paul Schene, who is accused of assaulting a 15-year-old girl at a SeaTac holding cell.

A New York police officer shown in a YouTube clip knocking a bicyclist to the ground during a mass bike ride in Times Square has left the force. Patrick Pogan resigned as of February 10, according to a spokesman for the New York Police Department and Pogan's attorney, Stuart London. Pogan was indicted in December on two felony charges, two misdemeanor charges and one violation after the video clip surfaced, showing him body-checking cyclist Christopher Long from his bike during a ride by the group Critical Mass on July 25. Pogan pleaded not guilty. He is free on bail, with his next court date set for April 1. London said part of his client's defense will consist of questioning the police department's training procedures, and he said events that preceded what is seen on the video should be taken into account. "The video tells a small portion of what happened," he said. Pogan arrested Long on disorderly conduct and other charges and filed paperwork saying Long intentionally rode his bike into the officer. But District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said the video "showed Pogan singling out Long and purposely body-checking Long off the bike." If convicted on the felony charges of falsifying business records and offering a "false instrument" for filing, Pogan could be sentenced to four years in prison. The other charges carry a penalty of up to a year in jail. The Critical Mass event was "a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists' right to the road," the group's Web site says.

According to an Amnesty International report in December, 334 people shocked with Tasers by law enforcement died in the U.S. between June 2001 and August 2008. Most of the deaths were attributed to factors such as drug intoxication, however, medical examiners and coroners concluded that Taser shocks caused or contributed to at least 50 of the 334 deaths. California and Florida were the states with the highest numbers of law-enforcement-related Taser deaths during the seven-year period under study -- 55 and 52, respectively.

Ex-BART cop Mehserle out on bail in murder case.

Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home. These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects. This paper presents a history and overview of the issue of paramilitary drug raids, provides an extensive catalogue of abuses and mistaken raids, and offers recommendations for reform.

Deadly Force. What a SWAT team did to Cheye Calvo's family may seem extreme. But decades into America's war on drugs, it's business as usual.

Local Police Want Right to Jam Wireless Signals.

Second officer in BART shooting under investigation.

The late Johnnie Cochran used to say that "the most powerful single person in the entire criminal justice system is the cop on the street." Why? "Because," he would explain, "he's the only person in the whole process that can summarily execute you. The chief of police doesn't have that power. The district attorney doesn't have it. The chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States doesn't have that power -- and neither does the president. But any cop out on the street can stop you at any time and, if he chooses, deprive you of your life.",0,1108535.column

Ex-BART officer arrested on murder warrant [UPDATED] A former transit police officer, allegedly seen on a videotape killing an unarmed man at a Bay Area subway station, was arrested in Nevada on a homicide warrant.

Calm urged after Oakland protests. The family of a man shot dead by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Jan. 1 decries this week's violent demonstration.,0,7674813.story

Official: Cop commits suicide after stun gun death.

Joe Arpaio, a cherished figure in the movement against illegal immigration, is running for a fifth term as the Maricopa County sheriff. But a referendum on his contentious approach to law enforcement — and the growing challenges to it — is already under way in the public arena.

Bad, Bad Idea: The Anti-Hijacking Safety Bracelet.

Park rangers oppose bid to ease ban on guns in national parks.

Teaching tolerance without a class. Creating a culture of consideration for others is the best way to keep our kids safe in school.,0,4724374.story

U.S. considers easing ban on guns in national parks. Advocates of change say it will improve safety. Opponents are convinced it would do the opposite.,1,2283740.story?page=1&cset=true&ctrack=1

Prison probes strip-search video claim. Inmate's husband says guards watched.

Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson has asked the Ohio attorney general to investigate the 2006 arrest, jailing and subsequent strip search of a 47-year-old Salem woman. The arrest of Hope Steffey on Oct. 20-21, 2006, was featured in Channel 3 news reports last week. Steffey has filed a federal lawsuit against Swanson's office, saying she was assaulted by deputies, denied medical help, strip-searched and left naked for six hours in a jail cell.

CHP buys Tasers for 'option short of lethal force'

Witnesses question Tasering. Shelby Township cops say man was wanted on warrant. "It looked like the guy was just jaywalking, it was a little excessive," said Marty Bick, who was on his way to lunch at the nearby Denny's when he saw the incident. "There were a lot of witnesses; we were stunned."

January Body Count: Five Men Die After Being Tasered.

The Strong Arm of the Law: Violent force by police gets a pass. Seattle officers are rarely disciplined in cases against civilians, P-I finds.

Videos show use of force at O.C. Jail. Deputies are seen striking and using a Taser on a handcuffed prisoner. They say he was resisting a search.,0,5444017.story?coll=la-home-center

How Bush Took Us to the Dark Side. There are dire consequences that Americans will have to face now that torture and imprisonment of innocent people is everyday government practice.

All who knew him puzzled by 90-year-old's fatal standoff

U.S. Eyes 'Pain Beam' for Home Security, Law Enforcement

Canadian man dies 4 days after being Tasered

Utah Cop's Itchy Taser Finger Probed. Jared Massey Posted Video of Highway Patrol Officer's Tasering Him on YouTube

UHP investigating trooper's Tasering of driver who refused to sign ticket

Sex Crime (Larry Craig)

Pittsburgh gym shooter wrote of rejection. The random, stunning violence Tuesday evening in Collier, Pa., was incomprehensible to everyone - but one. Over in seconds, the terror had been contemplated by the perpetrator for at least nine months. In the end, police said, George Sodini fulfilled his self-described "exit plan" of carnage and suicide in an LA Fitness center, firing as many as 30 rounds from two handguns to kill three women and wound nine others, strangers all. He then used a third gun to fire a bullet into his head, killing himself. A fourth handgun was found in his pocket.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, married with a child, declined to say Monday whether he had carried on an affair with a former aide and paid to keep her quiet, then called for an investigation by the House ethics committee into his own conduct. Mahoney issued his statement hours after ABC News reported on its Web site that he had agreed to pay $121,000 in March to a former mistress and staff member after being threatened with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Mahoney said he would be vindicated.

Woman to be sentenced in case involving senator's husband. Alycia Martin, 21, appeared before 52-4 District Judge William Bolle. At her sentencing Aug. 12, Martin could face up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, said Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm. Martin also asked to be sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which means if she completes the terms of her sentence, she won’t have a criminal record. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s husband Tom Athans said in a police statement that he paid Martin for sex at a Troy hotel on Feb. 26. In exchange for his cooperation in the case, Athans was not charged. He could have been called as a witness in Martin’s trial.

Strip club raids put dancers in a bind. With wary customers staying away, women worry over how to pay rent. For now, the customers are gone. At Sugar's late Wednesday afternoon, the club was empty except for employees. "We have families. Everybody's rent is due," said one of the Rick's dancers. "Everybody has bills to pay. And now there's no customers." Another young woman who had been dancing at Rick's for just three weeks also was worried. "I have a 2-year-old to support. We have things to take care of," she said. "A lot of girls are paying their way through school."

Navy officer testifies in D.C. Madam case. A Navy supply officer and former Naval Academy instructor testified Thursday that she moonlighted as a prostitute for the D.C. Madam, a California woman accused of running an escort service that prosecutors say netted her several million dollars over a 13-year period. Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Dickinson told federal prosecutors at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that she had sex with nearly every client she met while working for Deborah Jeane Palfrey from October 2005 until April 2006. Several other women who testified said they were paid between $250 and $300 for 90-minute appointments at Washington-area homes, hotel rooms and offices, and were required to forward as much as half of that by postal money orders to a Northern California post office box rented by Palfrey.

Sex scandal forces Finnish official out. Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva was forced to quit his job yesterday after he admitted bombarding a stripper with mobile phone text messages of a sexual nature. Mr. Kanerva, 60, had made headlines for several weeks after he sent about 200 text messages to 29-year-old erotic dancer Johanna Tukiainen after meeting her in January.

Sen. Stabenow's husband tells police he had sex with a prostitute. Officers said they saw Athans enter the room Feb. 26 and leave 15 minutes later, and they stopped him and informed him of the investigation. He told the officers he had used the Internet to make a date with a prostitute and paid her $150 for oral sex at the motel, the report said. Police said they arrested Alycia Martin, 20, of Westland in the hotel room on a charge of prostitution. She was arraigned March 12 and freed on $100 bail pending a hearing on April 22. There is no telephone listing for her in Westland and she did not have an attorney of record to speak for her Wednesday.,0,4586383.story

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is hanging on for his political life after the revelation that, among 14,000 text messages between him and his chief of staff Christine Beatty, there was evidence of an extramarital affair between the pair -- evidence that contradicts his sworn statements in a whistleblower case brought by former police officers that ended in $9 million in damages against the city.

Washington diary: Spitzer's scandal. There may well be outrage amongst the prostitutes of the District of Columbia this week. Why did the governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, allegedly feel the need to bring in a prostitute from the Empire State when there were plenty to choose from in the nation's capital itself? One can imagine the District's red light district heaving with indignation. "You see! Those snooty New Yorkers. We're not good enough for them."


Federal prosecutor accused of sex crime commits suicide in Milan

Town Is Shaken After Prosecutor’s Arrest in a Child-Sex Sting

Craig has said he panicked and pleaded guilty without consulting a lawyer

Prosecutor in sex sting arrest attempts suicide

Federal prosecutor accused of seeking sex with 5-year-old girl faces new charges

Fake ID and idenity theft

GAO: Fake passports easy to get. A congressional investigation has exposed gaping holes in security eight years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, a government report says. An investigator used a false identification to obtain a U.S. passport and then used the passport to get an airline boarding pass and go through an airport security checkpoint, according to the Government Accountability Office. The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, said its undercover investigator conducted four tests of the passport issuance system and "easily" obtained passports every time.

terrorists and TSA

shoe bomb detection: why don't they have a floor level explosive detector so we don't have to remove our shoes?

Anticipating that the TSA might have instituted some new rules overnight, we arrived at Queen Beatrix Airport 4 1/2 hours early. Some airlines weren't allowing carry-ons; Delta just made us put a red sticker on them (not sure how that was supposed to help, but we did as we were told). We went through two Aruban X-ray stations and passed one bomb-sniffing dog handled by U.S. TSA agents. Then came an announcement that boarding would start an hour before our scheduled departure, and that all passengers would be frisked and have their carry-ons searched. Most people were OK with the idea of the frisk and search. But it turned out that One Happy Island didn't have enough security personnel to carry out the searches, so we were frisked by baggage handlers who still wore their fluorescent orange vests. Our frisker seemed a little dazed. I guess you pick up the basics from watching "Cops" and the like, but he did look embarrassed when he frisked my 4-year-old son. My 2-year-old daughter didn't know how to "assume the position," so our baggage handler just patted her on the head and sent her on her way. With all the searching and frisking, boarding took 2 1/2 hours. Onboard, we learned of more new TSA rules (for flights to the U.S. originating abroad). All electronic devices would have to be turned off an hour before landing instead of just on descent. And no one could have a pillow or blanket on their person during the last hour of the flight. Seriously. Cut to my daughter screaming bloody murder as the flight attendant yanks the pillow from under her head. Seriously. I get that the threat of terrorism is real. But if these hastily thrown-together rules are how we respond to new threats, then something is seriously wrong with us (or at least the TSA). If two X-rays, a bomb-sniffing dog, a frisk and a bag search can't detect the next terror attack, then how is turning off the DVD player an hour early and grabbing pillows from sleeping children going to help? Keep in mind that the new rules only apply to the last hour of the flight (presumably because Friday's particular lunatic decided to set off his bomb only on descent). Won't the no-pillow policy just cause Al Qaeda to issue orders to detonate at T minus 1:01?,0,2810097.story

Hamza probe leads to bomb manual. So the search began for a copy of the manual, which I am not naming because it can be easy to find on the internet. It has a comic appearance. There is a cartoon bomb on the first page, but the contents are much less amusing. Professionally produced and written in English, it is based on a course that used to be led in Afghanistan in the 1990s by Abu Khabaab, an al-Qaeda explosives trainer. Sidney Alford, an explosives expert who examined the document for the BBC, told me it is full of scientific inaccuracies and mistakes. But he said that some of the formulae would definitely work, of which more later. Reda Hassaine, a one-time agent for British intelligence, said this kind of online training is now very common among men who want to be terrorists. "If you do not have a member of your group who went to Afghanistan or Pakistan, or maybe now Iraq, to do the training, you have to rely on the book. If you have got the desire to do some carnage, some killings, the book is very, very useful for you," he said.

This video shows the damage caused by a liquid bomb to a commercial airliner. The BBC used a qualified explosives engineer, Sidney Alford, to construct the devices to demonstrate their likely effect on an aircraft fuselage.

explosives engineer, Sidney Alford

The failed attack on Northwest Airlines flight 253 demonstrates how easy it is for a terrorist to smuggle a bomb on to a plane. Sidney Alford, an explosives technician, created a bomb that blew a 6ft hole in an aircraft fuselage for a television documentary. The explosive was made by mixing two easily obtainable chemicals that can be carried through security in permitted 100ml containers. He said Friday’s attack failed only because of technical incompetence and added that passengers should be banned from taking any liquid on board flights as airport security is so poor. “What is scary,” said Alford, “is that it demonstrates that it is possible to take onto an aeroplane a device that can be triggered without electronic circuitry or detonator and is not detected by x-ray.

Douglas Laird, former security director for Northwest Airlines, said he has been advocating for years that airports switch from X-rays and metal detectors to full-body scans -- a move that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars more, but one that he insists would help prevent terrorist attempts like the one reported Friday. "If you don't use a body scan, you don't know what the person has under his clothing," said Laird, who helmed Northwest security from 1989 to 1995. He is now president of Nevada-based Laird & Associates and advises airlines and governments about airport security issues. "We've talked about this for 20 years," he said. "I hate to say it, but you get what you pay for." X-ray equipment isn't detailed enough for screeners to get a good look at items hidden in luggage, Laird said, and metal detectors fail to pick up liquid or plastic explosives. The hindrance, he said, is financial: An X-ray machine can cost less than $50,000, he estimated, while body-scanning equipment would be more than $1 million. "The American public has been adamant that they do not want body scans," he said. "I think that is crazy because if you want to keep dangerous items off of airplanes, you'll have to have body scans." The flight was en route to Detroit from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and the suspect allegedly carried with him a device that he later tried to use to start a fire or explosion. It is unclear what the suspect's device was, with descriptions ranging from a firecracker to a mixture of powder and liquid. Laird said he knows Schiphol security "like the back of my hand" and that he's surprised someone apparently chose that airport to board with what federal officials described as explosive materials. The security in Schiphol is top-notch, he said, and meets all international standards. He doesn't know why Detroit was the selected destination, but he doesn't think the location -- or the date of Christmas Day -- was chosen at random.

Jet passengers overpower would-be bomber. A Nigerian man on an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight allegedly tried to blow up the airliner, which landed safely. The suspect is badly hurt. Authorities consider it a terrorism attempt.,0,7667849.story?page=1&track=rss

Passengers may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights. As always we encourage the traveling public to be observant and aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials.

Plane incident called an act of terrorism. Federal authorities say a Nigerian passenger on an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight tried to blow up the airliner, which landed safely. The would-be bomber is injured.,0,7667849.story

Russian Train Wreck Tied to Terrorist Bomb. For Russians, the attack on Friday night may be reminiscent of terrorist acts that stirred unease across the country earlier in the decade, when Muslim separatists from Chechnya made passenger trains, subways and other public places targets. A 2003 suicide bombing attack on a commuter train near Chechnya killed 44. At least 12 people were wounded in 2005 when a bomb derailed a train headed from Chechnya to Moscow. And in 2002, more than 100 hostages died in a rescue attempt after Chechen terrorists seized a theater in the heart of Moscow.

Senate Report Explores 2001 Escape by bin Laden From Afghan Mountains.

terrorists and TSA, archived Nov 28, 2009

Art Keller, a blond, blue-eyed CIA agent, sits inside a decrepit building deep inside al-Qaeda territory, staring at his computer screen. He is forbidden by his Pakistani minders from venturing out into the badlands of Waziristan to help to find and kill the world’s most wanted man. He is sick and exhausted, and suffering from food poisoning. Back home in the US his father is dying of cancer. The plumbing is basic, the heat intense — the generator has failed again. He pores over cables looking for any scrap of information — an intercepted phone call, an aerial photograph — that might finally end the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The fruitless search has essentially been outsourced by the US to a network of Pashtun spies run by the Pakistani intelligence services. Mr Keller was one of an estimated 50 to 100 CIA agents and special operations officers whose mission for the past eight years has been to find and kill bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders in the hostile and forbidding Pakistani border region, where he is believed to be hiding.
There has not been one credible lead on bin Laden in years. His nickname among some CIA hunters is Elvis because of all the bogus and fanciful sightings. The CIA has been successful in killing many of the senior al-Qaeda over the years but bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are different cases. Mr Keller believes bin Laden moves from village to village in Waziristan. He communicates perhaps just once a month, and by courier. He never uses a telephone. Mr Keller believes that bin Laden arrives in each village with a small group of bodyguards, when he will sit and talk to the local tribal leader. A large bribe is paid. Bin Laden is then the guest of the village, where under Pashtun custom, he must be protected. The main obstacle in finding him, Mr Keller says, is that even if someone wanted to betray him — and collect the $25 million (£15 million) reward — there is no one to turn to. The local police know bin Laden is there. “If you report bin Laden’s location there is a good chance you will get killed,” Mr Keller says. “People in a position to give information can’t get it to anyone.” Morale is still good among the hunters, he says, because many top al-Qaeda officials have been killed. So will bin Laden be caught? Mr Keller lets out a deep breath. “I don’t know.” ed: this sounds like bullshit!

If you ask me, every last dime currently being spent looking for pointy objects, triple-checking people's IDs, and confiscating harmless liquids needs to be redirected. Every piece of luggage needs to be scrutinized for explosives, and every passenger run through one of those explosives-sniffing "puffer" machines, now in all-too-sporadic deployment. It'd be expensive and technologically challenging, yes, but made more affordable by cutting out much of what's currently in place. And we should put more emphasis on airports outside the United States. The likeliest point of entry for a bomb is not Omaha, Neb., or Tucson, Ariz. If I were running things, I'd reallocate at least 30 percent of resources to airports overseas. TSA does, very much, have influence over the way foreign stations handle security. The agency recently denied Delta Air Lines' attempts to begin service to Nairobi, Kenya, and Monrovia, Liberia, for example, over airport security concerns. It will not reveal what exactly these concerns are, which is fair enough, but we should hope against hope it had something to do with explosives-screening protocols.

On the eve of the eight year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an FBI informant who infiltrated alleged terrorist cells in the U.S. tells ABC News the FBI missed a chance to stop the al Qaeda plot because they focused more on undercover stings than on the man who would later become known as 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta. Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, said the case is "yet another example of the way the system broke down prior to 9/11." "If the system had worked," Clarke said, "we might have been able to identify these people before the attacks."

When the American-born al-Qaida recruit Bryant Neal Vinas was captured in Pakistan late last year, he wasn't whisked off to a military prison or a secret CIA facility in another country to be interrogated. Instead, the itinerant terrorist landed in the hands of the FBI and was flown back to New York to face justice. Months before President Barack Obama took office with a pledge to change U.S. counterterrorism policies, the Bush administration gave Vinas all the rights of American criminal suspects. And he talked. While an American citizen captured in Pakistan certainly presents a unique case, the circumstances of Vinas' treatment may point to a new emphasis in the fight against terror, one that relies more on FBI crimefighters and the civilian justice system than on CIA interrogators and military detention. Vinas provided "an intelligence gold mine" to U.S. officials, including possible information about a suspected militant who was killed in a Predator drone strike last November, says a senior law enforcement official, one of several authorities who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Sting nabs sticky-fingered JFK airport workers going through luggage.

Child porn on museum suspect's computer, FBI says.

The Lone Wolves Among Us. James W. von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist who allegedly took a rifle into the museum and killed security guard Stephen Johns, is more than a bitter, demented old man. He is a known figure in the domestic hate industry.

Yet Another Bogus 'Terror' Plot.

In Bronx Bomb Case, Missteps Caught on Tape.

4 Arrested in New York Terror Plot.

White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11 .

The economic downturn and the election of the nation's first black president are contributing to a resurgence of right-wing extremist groups, which had been on the wane since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment distributed to state and local authorities last week. The report, produced by the Department of Homeland Security, has triggered a backlash among conservatives because it also raised the specter that disgruntled veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might "boost the capabilities of extremists . . . to carry out violence.",0,2546819.story

The agency's intelligence assessment, sent to law enforcement officials last week, warns that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy and the election of the country's first black president to recruit members. The assessment also said that returning military veterans who have difficulties assimilating back into their home communities could be susceptible to extremist recruiters or might engage in lone acts of violence.

Domestic terror threat growing, Senate committee warns.

Why No More 9/11s? An interactive inquiry about why America hasn't been attacked again.

Christopher Dickey: Intelligence The NYPD Way.

Just How Much Does That Cost, Anyway? An Analysis of the Financial Costs and Benefits of the “No-Fly” List.

In-flight confrontations can lead to charges defined as terrorism.,0,5468299.story

Portrait Emerges of Anthrax Suspect’s Troubled Life.

Attacks on Americans: Man who drove at protesters gets probation. A Ramona man who drove his pickup toward a group of anti-war protesters in June was sentenced to probation Friday, ordered to take anger management classes and to perform 20 days of public service. “Just as they were protesting on the side of the street, you will be picking up trash on the side of the street,” said El Cajon Superior Court Judge Roderick Shelton. Keith Davis, 55, pleaded guilty in July to one count of reckless driving in connection with a June 27 incident along state Route 67 near Dye Road in Ramona, where about a dozen anti-war protesters, many of them elderly, were standing and holding signs. Shortly after the incident, Davis said in an interview that he was only expressing his First Amendment right of self-expression when he drove slowly onto the shoulder of the highway and displayed his middle finger to each person protesting. He said he thought the protesters were “un-American.” Several protester said they had to jump out of the way as the pickup ran over their signs at about 20 mph. Friday, Davis was contrite and apologetic in court. “All my life I've tried to do good deeds,” he said. “I'm ashamed and embarrassed I've done this. I can't believe I'm here. I've always tried to be someone to be looked up to.” Davis apologized to two protesters who attended the sentencing hearing. One, Evelyn Perez, said she thought Davis should have been facing a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge. Deputy District Attorney Heather Trocha said more serious charges were not pursued because it would have been difficult to prove Davis intended to hurt anyone. About a half-dozen other protesters wrote letters to the judge. “I understand Mr. Davis' anger and frustration because I have those same feelings, which is why I protest,” wrote Catherine Sellers. “It is the proper and legal way to voice your views. Mr. Davis tried to illegally take that right away from me on Friday, June 27th.” Shelton noted before sentencing that Davis has never been in trouble with the law and he does not believe he will be again. But he also said some protesters are now afraid to stand by the road. “I hope this does not have a chilling effect on people to use their constitutional rights to protest,” he said.

9 Muslim passengers kicked off flight after remark. "The FBI agents actually cleared our names," Inayet Sahin, one of the family members kicked off the flight, told CNN. "They went on our behalf and spoke to the airlines and said, 'There is no suspicious activity here. They are clear. Please let them get on a flight so they can go on their vacation,' and they still refused." Hutcheson said the passengers were given a full refund and are welcome to fly on AirTran now that the investigation is complete.,0,6780248.story

Behind Analyst’s Cool Demeanor, Deep Anxiety Over American Policy. Mr. Riedel is one of a chorus of terrorism experts who see the terrorist network’s base in the mountains of Pakistan as America’s greatest threat, and perhaps the biggest problem facing Mr. Obama’s new team. He speaks angrily about what he calls a savvy campaign by Pakistan’s government under President Pervez Musharraf to fleece Washington for billions of dollars even as it allowed Al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan’s tribal lands. “We had a partner that was double-dealing us,” he said during an interview in his house in a Washington suburb. “Anyone can be snookered and double-dealt. But after six years you have to start to figure it out.”

'War on terror' -- an exercise in folly. Mumbai serves as a reminder that fanatics committed to violence have been with us for millenniums.,0,6204083.column

The DMV woman in New York told me I could clear the whole thing up for a $30 charge, which she could take care of with a credit card over the phone. Note that she had absolutely no way of identifying me, to know that I wasn't a terrorist just paying her $30 so I could get a dreaded Pennsylvania drivers license to use as an ID for whatever nefarious purposes I might have in mind. She just took down the credit card number and bingo, I'm cleared to go. The New York DMV, happy with its little act of extortion, is now notifying the National Driver Register computer that I'm clear, and next week, Pennsylvania's DMV will find my record on the National Driver Register clean and will be ready to renew my license. This is the DMV and Homeland Security automotive equivalent of the TSA rules that have now every flier taking off her or his shoes (even baby's' booties!), and surrendering tubes of toothpaste and mouthwash at airport security checkpoints.

We hereby petition the incoming Obama administration for a modest change, an immediate change that would signal a new direction for air travelers, a new freedom for frequent fliers. Here it is: recognize the need of Americans in the friendly skies to bear tools that fit in their pocket, by which we mean the ever-so useful pocket knife, also known by its brand names, the Swiss Army Knife and the Leatherman Multi-tool.

An inside look at Islamic militants.,0,7107979.story

Exposed: Federal Air Marshals Too Busy Smuggling Coke and Molesting Kids to Protect You. Since 9/11, air marshals have logged an impressive number of hours committing felony-level crimes. Shawn Nguyen bragged that he could sneak anything past airport security using his top-secret clearance as a federal air marshal. And for months, he smuggled cocaine and drug money onto flights across the country, boasting to an FBI informant that he was "the man with the golden badge." Michael McGowan used his position as an air marshal to lure a young boy to his hotel room, where he showed him child porn, took pictures of him naked and sexually abused him. And when Brian "Cooter" Phelps wanted his ex-wife to disappear, he called a fellow air marshal and tried to hire a hit man nicknamed "the Crucifixer." Since 9/11, more than three dozen federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct, an investigation by ProPublica has found. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan.

Report: Terrorists use cash, avoid financial ties. Donors from Saudi Arabia are the chief sources of support for al-Qaeda extremist groups, while the Iranian government keeps finance Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups, according to the report. The research is intended as a road map for the incoming Obama administration to tighten the system and crack down on evolving terrorist financing schemes.

Follow the Money. How John Kerry busted the terrorists' favorite bank.

Me Helping Evade Airport Security.

LAPD Chief Bratton believes Bin Laden pre-election attack possible. He writes in a newspaper opinion piece that the Al Qaeda leader might seek to sway voters through an act of terrorism. Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton said Wednesday he believes that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden might try to influence next month's U.S. presidential election through a terrorist attack or some less dramatic tactic. "With so much at stake in these elections, Bin Laden will probably attempt to make his opinion count," wrote Bratton in an article published on the opinion page of the New York Daily News. Bratton co-wrote the article with R.P. Eddy, former director of counter-terrorism at the National Security Council.,0,1938459.story

'Ft. Dix Six' informants in hot seat too. One is a bankrupt convicted felon who spewed venomous hatred about the United States, hooked up an alleged terrorist cell with semiautomatic weapons and drove the surveillance car as they cased military bases. The other boasted of killing someone back home in Albania and vowed to kill others or blow himself up in a crowd of people now that he was in the United States. But Mahmoud Omar and Besnik Bakalli aren't members of the so-called "Ft. Dix Six," five of whom go on trial Monday for allegedly conspiring to gun down military personnel at the sprawling South Jersey base in a jihad-inspired attack last year. They're the FBI informants who are instrumental to the government's case against the group.,0,5615585.story

More foreigners being taken hostage. 1,500 kidnapped in 2007, says U.S. intelligence agency. The number of foreigners kidnapped around the world by terrorists, militant groups and pirates has increased dramatically this decade as many hostage-takers adopted the methods of some of the most violent figures in the Iraq insurgency.

TSA screener ripped off hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of electronics from passengers, TSA itself didn't notice.

Data-Mining for Terrorists Not 'Feasible,' DHS-Funded Study Finds. The government should not be building predictive data-mining programs systems that attempt to figure out who among millions is a terrorist, a privacy and terrorism commission funded by Homeland Security reported Tuesday. The commission found that the technology would not work and the inevitable mistakes would be un-American. The committee, created by the National Research Council in 2005, also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of technology designed to decide from afar whether a person had terrorist intents, saying false positives could quickly lead to privacy invasions. "Automated identification of terrorists through data mining (or any other known methodology) is neither feasible as an objective nor desirable as a goal of technology development efforts," the report found. "Even in well-managed programs, such tools are likely to return significant rates of false positives, especially if the tools are highly automated."

Bombing suspect can't cite a motive. A woman accused of bombing the San Diego federal courthouse in May couldn't explain to investigators what was behind the explosion. “I think it was put there to send a message,” Rachelle Carlock told investigators two weeks after the bombing, according to recently unsealed court documents. She then blamed another woman, Ella Louise “Weezy” Sanders, who also has been charged in the case. Pressed further as to why, Carlock gave up. “I don't know why I did it,” she said, according to the documents. “I really don't.”

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorists. Terrorists, he writes, (1) attack civilians, a policy that has a lousy track record of convincing those civilians to give the terrorists what they want; (2) treat terrorism as a first resort, not a last resort, failing to embrace nonviolent alternatives like elections; (3) don't compromise with their target country, even when those compromises are in their best interest politically; (4) have protean political platforms, which regularly, and sometimes radically, change; (5) often engage in anonymous attacks, which precludes the target countries making political concessions to them; (6) regularly attack other terrorist groups with the same political platform; and (7) resist disbanding, even when they consistently fail to achieve their political objectives or when their stated political objectives have been achieved. Abrahms has an alternative model to explain all this: People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States.

Feds say Fort Dix suspects sought other targets. One of the five men awaiting trial on charges alleging they plotted an armed attack on soldiers training at Fort Dix discussed other targets including the White House and Capitol, prosecutors claim in court filings. The allegations, contained in a motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court, stem from wiretapped conversations between defendant Mohamad Shnewer and Mahmoud Omar, an FBI informant. According to prosecutors, Shnewer spoke on Aug. 11, 2006, of targeting FBI and CIA headquarters as well as the Army training base. They also said another defendant attempted to buy an AK-47 automatic weapon in 2005.

Japan police probe blasts near U.S. base. Japanese authorities are investigating two small explosions heard Friday night near Yokosuka Naval Base. No one has claimed responsibility, a Yokosuka police spokesman said Saturday. Police said their investigation includes the possibility the explosions — which were reported near a train station several blocks from the U.S. base — were from projectiles aimed at the base. Police reported no injuries, but a 4-inch-diameter hole was found on the balcony of a nearby home. It’s unknown whether it was damaged by a projectile or a stone thrown from the blast. Yokosuka police received four calls just past 10:30 p.m. Friday from residents in Shioiri-cho claiming they heard two explosions, the spokesman said. He said police searching the area found two 39-inch-long metal pipes, burnt lead wire and batteries in a hilly, wooded area southwest of the base. One pipe was buried in the ground with 8 inches of it showing above the surface.

Delhi shopping areas hit by bombs. Five bombs have ripped through busy shopping areas of India's capital, Delhi, within minutes of each other, killing at least 20 people, police say. The explosions, which also injured about 90 people, are not thought to have been very powerful but happened in crowded areas. Four unexploded bombs were also found and defused, police said. More than 400 people have died since October 2005 in bomb attacks on Indian cities such as Ahmedabad and Bangalore. India has blamed Islamist militant groups for these previous bombings.

The TSA's useless photo ID rules. No-fly lists and photo IDs are supposed to help protect the flying public from terrorists. Except that they don't work.,0,3099808.story

Documents: US strike aided bin Laden-Taliban ties. The U.S. cruise missile strike on an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan in 1998 was meant to kill Osama bin Laden. But he apparently left shortly before the missiles struck, and newly declassified U.S. documents suggest the attack cemented an alliance with his Taliban protectors. The State Department documents released Wednesday provide details of the evolving relationship between Taliban leader Mullah Omar and al-Qaida chief bin Laden over four month in 1998. The period begins Aug. 21, 1998, one day after the missile attack - retaliation for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7 of that year. Omar said publicly on Aug. 21 he would continue to protect bin Laden. But the next day, he told a State Department employee in private that he would be open to negotiating bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan, giving U.S. officials faint but ultimately false hope the Taliban might hand him over to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden had been in Afghanistan since he was expelled from Sudan in May 1996. Those talks took place sporadically over the next few months in 1998, according to documents obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University through a Freedom of Information Act request. In the interim, however, bin Laden had traveled south in Afghanistan to Kandahar. There, he would be close to Omar, who wanted to "keep a watch on him," said a secret cable sent from Islamabad, the capital of neighboring Pakistan, to U.S. diplomatic and military posts on Sept. 9, 1998. By the end of that October, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad was concerned the tables had turned and Omar was falling under bin Laden's political and philosophical sway. The U.S. once had believed the Taliban's ambitions were confined to turning Afghanistan into a Sunni Muslim theocracy. Now, however, there were signs that Omar's association with bin Laden was driving him toward a greater goal - pan-Islamism, the unification of all Muslims under a single Islamic state. "I believe that bin Laden has been able to get into the good graces of Omar - who is very poorly educated and unsure of foreign affairs - and to influence him in his way of thinking," according to a cable from Oct. 22. "The potential ramifications of a Mullah Omar who is drifting toward pan-Islamism are grim. First and foremost, it could mean that the Taliban would under no condition expel bin Laden because they see his cause as theirs." The rest of the documents detail months of unsuccessful U.S. attempts to persuade the Taliban to expel bin Laden.

Have military commissions been worth it? Regular courts could have convicted and sent to prison more truly dangerous terrorists. On Wednesday, after 6 1/2 years of controversy and delay, the administration finally scored a "victory" in a military commission trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gaining the conviction of one terrorist mastermind. Osama bin Laden, you ask? Ah, no. He's still living it up somewhere in Pakistan, enjoying a good chuckle at our expense.,0,4561105.column

Pressure tactics reported in FBI anthrax inquiry. Agents stalked family, friends say. Before killing himself last week, Army scientist Bruce Ivins told friends that government agents had stalked him and his family for months, offered his son $2.5 million to rat him out and tried to turn his hospitalized daughter against him with photographs of dead anthrax victims.

Not the FBI's proudest moment. The anthrax case may be the latest botched investigation by the bureau.,0,3360861.story

FBI says evidence points uniquely to Bruce Ivins in anthrax case. The deceased government researcher was the only scientist who had regular access to the unique anthrax spores linked to deadly mailings in 2001, according to FBI documents released today.,0,7582827.story

Welcome to the Age of Air Rage.

Therapist: anthrax suspect tried to poison people. Bruce E. Ivins, the late microbiologist suspected in the 2001 anthrax attacks, told his psychotherapist after learning he was about to be indicted that "he was going to go out in a blaze of glory, that he was going to take everybody out with him," she said. Social worker Jean C. Duley also said Ivins left her a telephone message in mid-July, after she had alerted police to his threats, telling her that that her actions had made it possible for the FBI "to now be able to prosecute him for the murders." Duley testified at a Frederick County District Court hearing July 24 in a successful bid for a protective order from Ivins. The New York Times obtained a recording of the hearing and posted on its Web site Saturday. Duley testified that Ivins had tried to poison people even before the 2001 attacks. "As far back as the year 2000, the respondent has actually attempted to murder several other people, either through poisoning ... He is a revenge killer. When he feels that he's been slighted or has had - especially toward women - he plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killings," Duley said. She added that Ivins "has been forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopathic, homicidal killer. I have that in evidence. And through my working with him, I also believe that to be very true." Duley told the judge she was "scared to death" of Ivins.

Sole searching: questions about airport security. QUESTION: How come no one was asked to remove their shoes when we went through airport security for our flight from Milan, Italy, yet, we still need to remove our shoes for security lines each time we fly commercially in the United States?

Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News. The FBI's lead suspect in the September, 2001 anthrax attacks -- Bruce E. Ivins -- died Tuesday night, apparently by suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to charge him with responsibility for the attacks. For the last 18 years, Ivins was a top anthrax researcher at the U.S. Government's biological weapons research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, where he was one of the most elite government anthrax scientists on the research team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID).

A new Rand Corporation report comprehensively surveys the ways that terrorist groups have been disbanded in the past: "Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended." Instead, historic wars on terror have been won with policing and settlements. Rand's conclusion? To defeat Al Qaeda, we need to end the war on terror.

terrorists and TSA, archived July 2008

Propped up by a culture of fear, TSA has become a bureaucracy with too much power and little accountability. Where will the lunacy stop? But we should hardly be surprised, perhaps, at the Frankenstein monster now before us. Propped up by a culture of fear, TSA has become a bureaucracy with too much power and little accountability. It almost makes you wonder if the Department of Homeland Security made a conscious decision to present bureaucratic incompetence and arrogance as the public face of TSA, hoping that people would then raise enough of a fuss that it could be turned over to the likes of Halliburton. (Funny, how despite this administration's eagerness to outsource anything and everything, it's kept its governmental talons wrapped snugly around TSA.) Except there is no fuss. Serious protest has been all but nil. The airlines, biggest losers in all of this, remain strangely quiet. More and more people are choosing not to fly, and checkpoint hassles are one of the reasons. Yet the industry appears to have little concern while an out-of-control agency delays and aggravates its customers. And it's going to get worse, not better. As I'm sure you've heard, TSA is deploying body scanners that can see through clothing. It is also implementing gate-side luggage checks similar to those that were common in the days following Sept. 11. After proceeding through the main screening checkpoint, selected passengers will be enjoying a second one just before boarding.

Understanding how terrorists finance their operations is key to predicting and thwarting attacks. Three days before he boarded American Airlines Flight 11 at Boston's Logan International Airport on Sept. 11, 2001, Mohamed Atta drove to two grocery stores in Laurel, Md., from which he wired $2,860 and $5,000 to an account in the United Arab Emirates. The conspirator, who would hijack the first of four aircraft on that day's suicide mission, was a stickler for detail. Recently declassified documents captured in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in 2001 show that al Qaeda members were under pressure to not waste the organization's money. One document written by Mohammed Atef, a senior leader close to Osama bin Laden, angrily chastises an operative for purchasing an air conditioner: "Furniture used by brothers in al Qaeda is not considered private property . . . I learned that you did not submit the voucher to the accountant."Marty Ficke, former special agent in charge at the New York field division for Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, says, "My experience is you learn a lot about how an organization works by how they deal with money." Ficke, who ran the El Dorado Task Force, the government's largest multiagency money laundering investigation team, before retiring in January 2007, says the documents show a disciplined organization obsessed with paperwork and the flow of money.

Terror Watch Uses Locals To Spot Suspicious Activity - 181 Trained In Colorado. Hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as “Terrorism Liaison Officers” in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for “suspicious activity” — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases. It’s a tactic intended to feed better data into terrorism early-warning systems and uncover intelligence that could help fight anti-U.S. forces. But the vague nature of the TLOs’ mission, and their focus on reporting both legal and illegal activity, has generated objections from privacy advocates and civil libertarians. “Suspicious activity” is broadly defined in TLO training as behavior that could lead to terrorism: taking photos of no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements or notes, espousing extremist beliefs or conversing in code, according to a draft Department of Justice/Major Cities Chiefs Association document.

Transportation Security Administration's checkpoint screening measures are pointless and absurd. As for security, I fail to see how the industry can remain comfortable with things the way they are. Granted, airlines tread a fine line -- there are liability issues, and carriers caught an awful lot of flack, most of it undeserved, in the aftermath of Sept. 11 -- but at some point they need to stand up and express outrage over what most of us already know: that the bulk of the Transportation Security Administration's checkpoint screening measures are pointless and absurd. They do not make people safer; they make people angry, all the while wasting billions of dollars and immeasurable amounts of our time. (This is above and beyond various other Department of Homeland Security protocols that burden both the airline industry and its passengers -- particularly those arriving from overseas -- such as the tedious gathering of passenger data and a new fingerprint collection requirement. According to the Air Transport Association, DHS proposes to stick the industry with more than $3 billion in additional expenses over the next decade.)

Internal documents:Capitol ill-prepared for bomb attack. A future terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol is highly probable, and Congress’s specialized bomb squad is unlikely to be able to deal with it, according to internal U.S. Capitol Police documents obtained by The Hill. The unclassified internal letters and memos, written by Capitol Police captains, lieutenants, and sergeants between 2005 and 2007, detail more than three years of complaints to their superiors about the Hazardous Devices Unit’s lack of vehicles, its desire for more frequent training and the inadequate level of experience of bomb technicians within the specialty unit. A suicide bombing or a car bomb are “the two major threats to the United States Capitol complex and the Congressional community,” according to a memo from mid-2006. While Washington, D.C., has not experienced the effects of such attacks, “the possibility that one of these two techniques may be used remains quite high and could become a reality.”

Understanding how terrorists finance their operations is key to predicting and thwarting attacks.

Bush is a terrorist. Negotiating isn't appeasement. Bush, McCain and other conservatives are on the wrong side of history when they dismiss Obama's foreign policy. In a speech to the Israeli parliament Thursday, President Bush took a swipe at Barack Obama for his willingness to negotiate with evil regimes. "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history." But if there is anything that has been discredited by history, it is the argument that every enemy is Hitler, that negotiations constitute appeasement, and that talking will automatically lead to a slaughter of Holocaust-like proportions. It is an argument that conservatives made throughout the Cold War, and, if the charge seemed overblown at the time, it seems positively ludicrous with the clarity of hindsight.,0,985504.story?track=mostviewed-storylevel

Biased suspicion isn't just for ferries. The two Middle Eastern-looking men sought for questioning after taking photos on a state ferry last summer weren't terrorists. Oops! Turns out they are business consultants -- from Europe. Their appearance caused the FBI to seek public help in ratting them out -- a global manhunt, I said at the time, akin to the Salem witch-hunts.

Boaters asked to watch for terrorists. Small craft could be used as weapon. As boating season approaches, the Bush administration wants to enlist the country's 80 million recreational boaters to help reduce the chances that a small boat could deliver a nuclear or radiological bomb somewhere along the country's 95,000 miles of coastline and inland waterways. According to an April 23 intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press, “The use of a small boat as a weapon is likely to remain al-Qaeda's weapon of choice in the maritime environment, given its ease in arming and deploying, low cost, and record of success.” While the United States has been spared this type of strike in its waters, terrorists have used small boats to attack in other countries.

GAO: Terrorists operating freely on Pakistan border. Terrorists are still operating freely in Pakistan along the country's Afghanistan border, despite the U.S. giving Pakistan more than $10.5 billion in military and economic aid, according to a government watchdog agency. The Government Accountability Office says in a report released Thursday that the U.S. lacks a comprehensive plan to deal with the terrorist threat.

How Iraq spawned wider terrorist chaos. As experts long warned, Islamic militants steeped in urban warfare against U.S. troops in Iraq have expanded their violent campaign beyond Iraq's borders.

British anti-terror officials are monitoring some 2,000 people and are following hundreds of networks in an effort to keep the country safe, Britain's Home Secretary warned in an article to be published Sunday. Jacqui Smith's estimate came as she argued for an extension of the time authorities are allowed to hold terror suspects without charge. "We now face a threat level that is severe. It's not getting any less, it's actually growing," Smith wrote in the editorial to be printed in The News of The World tabloid. "There are 2,000 individuals (police and security agencies) are monitoring. There are 200 networks. There are 30 active plots."

TSA deploys airport behavior screeners Michigan State University professor Timothy Levine, who studies deception detection, said scientists are split over whether it is possible to train people to recognize terrorist operatives or nervous criminals by observing their demeanor. "I'm a skeptic," Levine said. "There are a lot of reasons for people to be emotional or aroused, other than deception. Especially at airports." He said his own research has suggested that people do commonly offer up behavioral clues when they are trying to hide something. "But they aren't big. They are subtle and they vary tremendously, by situation, people and context," he said.

U.S. Alarmed as Some Exports Veer Off Course.

Sources: Air marshals missing from almost all flights.

Terrorism money is still flowing. The United States vowed to smother funding, but a lack of cooperation -- global and domestic -- along with other problems have hobbled the effort. The U.S.-led effort to choke off financing for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups is foundering because setbacks at home and abroad have undermined the Bush administration's highly touted counter-terrorism weapon, according to current and former officials and independent experts. In some cases, extremist groups have blunted financial anti-terrorism tools by finding new ways to raise, transfer and spend their money. In other cases, the administration has stumbled over legal difficulties and interagency fighting, officials and experts say. But the most serious problems are fractures and mistrust within the coalition of nations that the United States admits it needs to target financiers of terrorism and to stanch the flow of funding from wealthy donors to extremist causes.,0,194699.story

World of Warcraft Shines Light on Terror Tactics. Virtual bioterrorist Allen and his guild, domus fulminata, used a similar teleportation technique to spread an epidemic throughout in-game cities. Using a contagious curse called Corrupted Blood that could kill most players in seconds, Allen and his guild purposely infected other players and created a semi-permanent well of disease in cities' non-player characters. Allen and his group found the chaos caused by their actions humorous. "It's just funny to watch people run away screaming," he said.

After a Decade at War With West, Al-Qaeda Still Impervious to Spies.

Reports: Watch list on terrorists lacking uniform standards. Agencies use inconsistent methods.

U.S. Adapts Cold-War Idea to Fight Terrorists.

Grappling with global terror conundrum. The conference honoured those killed in the Madrid train bombing. The world's anti-terrorism experts met for a conference in Stockholm this week and, as Roger Hardy, the BBC's Islamic Affairs Analyst, found, optimism was in short supply.

Domestic terror groups in disarray after Sept. 11. After the violent mayhem of the '90s, right-wing extremist groups are less active. Some believe the 2001 attacks diverted rage away from the U.S. government and toward foreigners.,0,6228604.story?page=1

FBI Calls “Progressive’s” InfraGard Story “Patently False,” Author Responds.

Preventing attacks by terrorists. The FBI has compiled this list of suspicious activities that might indicate terrorists' plans are in the works. If you witness any of these, contact your closest law enforcement or counterterrorism agency. Surveillance: Are you aware of anyone video recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps or binoculars near key facilities or events? Suspicious questioning: Are you aware of anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail or e-mail about a key facility or the people who work there? Tests of security: Are you aware of any attempts to penetrate or test physical security or procedures at such a facility or event? Acquiring supplies: Have you seen anyone trying to acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, flight manuals, uniforms or identification for key facilities or events? Suspicious persons: Have you seen anyone who does not appear to belong in the workplace or business establishment or near a key facility or event? “Dry runs”: Have you observed behavior that appears to be preparation for a terrorist act, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios, monitoring facilities or events or timing traffic flow? Deploying assets: Have you observed abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials, or persons being deployed near a key facilitiy or event? SOURCE: FBI.GOV

Pentagon: Cyberattacks appear to come from China. "In the past year," the report concluded, "numerous computer networks around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, were subject to intrusions that appear to have originated within the [People's Republic of China]. These intrusions require many of the skills and capabilities that would also be required for computer network attack. Although it is unclear if these intrusions were conducted by, or with the endorsement of, the [People's Liberation Army] or other elements of the PRC government, developing capabilities for cyber warfare is consistent with authoritative PLA writings on this subject."The report said that in 2007, networks operated by Defense, other federal agencies, defense-related think tanks and contractors experienced "multiple computer network intrusions, many of which appeared to have originated in the PRC."

Millions of miles, a hard landing. Mohamed Fikry loved his frequent-flier status. But after he was yanked from a flight as a terror suspect, his loyalty to the airline was tested.,0,4476086.story

TSA: Missing Luggage Totals $31 Million Over Three Years.

Newly-released records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request contradict the 9/11 Commission’s report on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and raise fresh questions about the role of Saudi government officials in connection to the hijackers.

Politicians who talk about the terrorism threat – and it's already clear that this will be a polarizing issue in the 2008 campaign – should be required to read a new book by a former CIA officer named Marc Sageman. It stands what you think you know about terrorism on its head, and helps you see the topic in a different light. Sageman has a resume that would suit a postmodern John le Carre. He was a case officer running spies in Pakistan, and then became a forensic psychiatrist. What distinguishes his new book, “Leaderless Jihad,” is that it peels away the emotional, reflexive responses to terrorism that have grown up since Sept. 11, 2001, and looks instead at scientific data Sageman has collected on more than 500 Islamic terrorists – to understand who they are, why they attack and how to stop them. The heart of Sageman's message is that we have been scaring ourselves into overexaggerating the terrorism threat – and then by our unwise actions in Iraq making the problem worse. He attacks head-on the central thesis of the Bush administration, echoed increasingly by Republican presidential candidate John McCain, that, as McCain's Web site puts it, the United States is facing “a dangerous, relentless enemy in the War against Islamic Extremists” spawned by al-Qaeda.

Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 32, of Phoenix, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges alleging he provided material support to terrorists and disclosed classified national defense information. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison. Abu-Jihaad, an American-born Muslim convert formerly known as Paul R. Hall, is accused of leaking information that could have doomed his own ship. He was a Navy signalman and received an honorable discharge in 2002.

Lawmaker in terrorist case may need public defender. In January, Siljander was charged with money laundering charges linked to the Islamic American Relief Agency, which allegedly had been financing terrorists abroad. In addition, the ex-lawmaker was indicted on obstruction of justice for lying to federal authorities about payments he received from the group. Siljander was hired by IARA in 2004 to try to remove the charity from a list of nonprofits suspected of funding terrorism drawn up by the Senate Finance Committee, according to the indictment. For that lobbying effort, he allegedly received $50,000 from IARA stolen from U.S. Agency for International Development grants. Federal prosecutors allege Siljander lied about the funds by saying they were to help finance a book instead. In October 2004, IARA was identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a global terrorist organization. Federal authorities accuse the charity of helping to funnel $130,000 to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has supported terrorist acts by al Qaeda and the Taliban.

FBI Deputizes Private Contractors With Extraordinary Powers, Including 'Shoot to Kill'. "There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations -- some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers -- into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI," the ACLU warned in its August 2004 report The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government Is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society. InfraGard is not readily accessible to the general public. Its communications with the FBI and Homeland Security are beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act under the "trade secrets" exemption, its website says. And any conversation with the public or the media is supposed to be carefully rehearsed.

HOORAY BLOGGERS! A Win for the Blogesphere. Posters on this blog have had their first official impact on our operations. That’s right, less than one week since we began the blog and already you’re affecting security in a very positive way.

Clarity Sought on Electronics Searches. U.S. Agents Seize Travelers' Devices. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco, plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices. They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts. The lawsuit was inspired by two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics. Almost all involved travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian background, many of whom, including Mango and the tech engineer, said they are concerned they were singled out because of racial or religious profiling.

Al Qaeda said to focus on WMDs. A key operative and chemical engineer who was reported to have been slain is alive and leading the effort, officials say.,0,5365070.story

Spent nuclear fuel storage raises concerns. Aboveground sites like Diablo Canyon stir terrorism fears.

FBI: Students' 'Bombs' Were Fireworks

Air your security gripes on TSA blog.

The FBI now has more than 100 task forces devoted exclusively to fighting terrorism. But is the government manufacturing ghosts?

Truth or Terrorism? The Real Story Behind Five Years of High Alerts. A history of the Bush administration's most dubious terror scares — and the headlines they buried.

Moussaoui tipster gets $5 million. The Bush administration paid a $5 million reward to a former Minnesota flight instructor who provided authorities with information that led to the arrest and conviction of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Two colleagues questioned why he got the money.

Al-Qaeda plotter gets life in US. Jabarah secretly pleaded guilty to the plots in South East Asia in 2002. A Canadian al-Qaeda operative has been sentenced to life in jail by a US court for plotting to bomb the US embassies in Singapore and Manila in 2002.

Ex-lawmaker charged in terror conspiracy. A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday as part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan. Mark Deli Siljander, a Michigan Republican when he was in the House, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

Playing Tricks with the Fort Dix Six? the case is built almost entirely on the work of a paid informant with a criminal record. More and more terrorism cases are being constructed this way, and the problematic role of informants doesn't stop after the arrests are made, as this latest plot twist reveals.,8599,1703471,00.html?cnn=yes

I am a retired airline pilot, former military officer and I served as a federal flight deck officer -- armed pilot -- while on flight status. With all these credentials I hold as a verifiable and accountable American citizen, I still have to contend with the TSA placing my son on the watch list five years ago when he was 12.

Search the Internet for the name John Lynn and you may find a roofing contractor from New Mexico, an artist from England, a film professor from Florida and dozens of other people who share the name. You may also find a retired airline pilot and former military officer from Carlsbad, who said he recently found out his name somehow ended up on an airline-passenger watch-list run by the Department of Homeland Security.

Dakar Rally is al-Qaeda victim as killings force race's cancellation

Terror Suspects Hone Anti-Detection Skills. Simple Codes, Remote Sites, Internet Phone Calls Among Means Used to Foil High-Tech Surveillance "Many times I ask myself, how is it still possible to obtain important information if the suspects know we can do this?" said Spataro, the deputy chief public prosecutor in Milan. The answer, he said, is that "as members of a criminal association, they have to speak, they have to communicate with each other, they have to make plans."

The Airport Security Follies

Britain Drops 'War on Terror' Label,13319,159067,00.html

It is important to immediately report any or all of the below suspect activities. • Physical Surveillance (note taking, binocular use, cameras, video, maps)

Iceland complains about treatment of tourist. Woman arrested at JFK for overstaying U.S. visa more than a decade earlier

U.S., British officials target Chinese as source of cyberattacks

Intel centers losing anti-terror focus. Administration officials defended the centers and said encompassing all sorts of crimes in the intelligence dragnet is the best way to catch terrorists.

Firefighters take on new role as anti-terrorism eyes of the government

Report details TSA information technology management problems

Suitcase nukes said unlikely to exist

What if we fought terrorism using hard data instead of gut feelings and partisan politics?

L.A. terrorist threat discounted, The FBI and police say a warning that Al Qaeda may attack shopping malls is based on an unsubstantiated report.,0,6622656.story?coll=la-home-center

FBI Hoped to Follow Falafel Trail to Iranian Terrorists Here

12 arrested in counter-terrorism and drug-trafficking investigation,1,7911591.story?coll=la-headlines-california

'Thousands' pose UK terror threat

We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested

FBI's ferry investigation produces false-alarm scare in the air

patriotism motivated him to smuggle secret files to law enforcement officers for anti-terrorism work in Southern California.

TSA to Scrutinize Remote-Controlled Toys

Autopsy set in handcuffed mother's death

Shock and Horror by Charley Reese

"We're safer but we're not safe,"

Moment of TSA surrealist zen @ LAX: Xeni

In War on Terror, Md. Farmer One of Many Skeptical Recruits

FBI seeks help identifying 2 men seen aboard ferries

FBI seek men behaving suspiciously on Washington State Ferries

CIA missed chances to thwart al-Qaida

Why Do They Hate Us?

2 charged in pipe bomb case near S.C. base

Detroit area

Cash Strapped PDs Tap New Source of Revenue: Stealing!

Police property seizures ensnare even the innocent. Money raised by Metro Detroit agencies increases 50% in five years.

Peek inside Manoogian Mansion gives glimpse into Kilpatrick's once-lush life.

Living Down to Expectations. The swift rise and predicted fall of America's hip-hop mayor. During his first term, his nicknames in the local media ran the gamut: "Big Diamond," "thug," "pimp," "player," "Kwame Soprano," "Swami," "his thugness," "ghetto," "gangsta," "inept club crawler," "hustler," "Puffy Kilpatrick." Often it was just plain ole Kwame—the reverent title of "Mayor," "Mr. Mayor" or "Mr. Kilpatrick" chucked aside.

FBI probes payments to Kilpatrick's father. Sources say mayor told contractors to work with consulting firm headed by Bernard Kilpatrick.

Obscenities force WWJ to cut short coverage of mayor case.

Fox 2 anchor Fanchon Stinger suspended. She was at a Synagro-related meeting, report says.

Bribe probe ensnarls Conyers. Feds: Surveillance evidence suggests councilwoman took money tied to waste pact. Federal investigators have electronic surveillance evidence that allegedly links Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers with receiving a payment or payments in connection with a city-approved sludge contract, two people familiar with the investigation said. Conyers -- who changed her position from speaking in opposition to the sludge contract to voting in favor of it -- and at least one other council member are under FBI investigation in connection with possible bribes related to the $47 million contract with Synagro Technologies Inc. of Houston, one of the people familiar with the investigation said Friday. Bribes allegedly paid to people connected with the city but not members of the City Council also are under investigation, one person said. Steve Fishman, a prominent Detroit criminal attorney representing Conyers, said any allegations against Conyers should be viewed with skepticism.

Report: Michigan prisons to top 56K inmates by 2012. An already crowded Michigan prison system is expected to swell by another 5,600 prison inmates over the next four years and add further strains to an already tight state budget. That's one finding in a report released this afternoon by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The respected research outfit said the prison population will grow to more than 56,000 inmates by the end of 2012. And the annual cost to taxpayers will increase to $2.6 billion. The prison system already gobbles up $2 billion annually -- about one-fifth of the state's general fund. "Michigan's corrections program is out of line, substantially in some cases, in regional and national comparisons," is one conclusion drawn in the 37-page report. "The combination of prison population increases and economic factors will cause corrections spending pressures to grow at a faster rate than they have over the last 34 years," it says. Since 1990, Michigan has kept its inmates locked up at least one year longer than the national or Great Lakes average. Had it been in line with the average over that time period, Michigan would have spent $403 million less on corrections in 2005 and housed 14,000 fewer inmates, the report says.

Thousands of fugitives get vouchers. Though Wayne County judges sometimes worked until the early morning hours, they couldn't handle the thousands of fugitives who showed up last week for a 4-day program to resolve outstanding misdemeanor and felony warrants. About 2,000 vouchers were given to people Saturday who showed up but couldn't be helped, said Peggy Goodwin, spokeswoman for Fugitive Safe Surrender, the largest fugitive roundup in Wayne County history. The vouchers have to be taken to 36th District Court in Detroit by July 7 to be honored as part of the program.

Woman finds missing Jesus statue in alley.

8-foot statue of Jesus stolen off Detroit crucifix. Police were investigating, but department spokesman James Tate said it was doubtful thieves had mistaken the plaster statue for copper. "People who steal copper know what copper is and what it feels like," Tate said. "There is no way they would think a plaster statue is some type of metal."

Federal jury acquits Fieger, partner on all charges. Fieger, 57, and Johnson, 46, were indicted last year on conspiracy and illegal campaign contribution charges, accused of illegally reimbursing more than $100,000 in political donations made by employees, employee relatives and law firm vendors to the 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards. Fieger was also charged with obstruction of justice, a 10-year felony. After more than 18 hours of deliberation spanning four days, jury foreman Scott Duquette, a Macomb County auto technician, stood in a packed courtroom and pronounced "not guilty" verdicts on all 10 counts. "I hope this will put an end to political prosecutions in the age of Mr. Bush," Fieger said, referring to the U.S. President whose administration he accused of targeting him.

Feds rest case against Fieger.

The FBI agent in charge of the investigation of attorney Geoffrey Fieger testified Friday that between 80 and 100 federal agents held a meeting the day before raiding Fieger's Southfield office. Special Agent Jeffrey Rees testified during a four-hour cross-examination in federal court that he has never been involved in such a large-scale discussion prior to a campaign contribution fraud case. Federal agents raided Fieger's office Nov. 30, 2005, and seized about 87,000 documents. Fieger, 57, and partner Ven Johnson, 46, were indicted in 2007 on charges of conspiracy and illegal campaign contributions. The attorneys are accused of making $127,000 in illegal donations to John Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign by reimbursing donations from employees, employee relatives and vendors of the firm. Fieger is also charged with obstruction of justice.

Former Tiger Denny McLain arrested. In the early 1990s, McLain purchased the Peet Packing Company in Chesaning and was convicted on charges of embezzlement, mail fraud, and conspiracy in connection with the theft of $2.5 million from the Peet employees' pension fund. McLain spent six years in prison. In 1970, he was suspended by Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for involvement in bookmaking. Sports Illustrated alleged connections with the mob, he threw a bucket of water over the heads of two sportswriters, and was suspended by Tigers General Manager Jim Campbell for carrying a gun on a Tiger road trip.

Two decomposing, slain bodies found along I-75. One had gunshot wound; cord around other's neck.

Worthy says she's made decision on whether to charge Kilpatrick.

Troy couple killed 'execution style'. Two held in slayings of yoga teacher, disabled wife in quiet neighborhood.

4 cops indicted in Highwaymen probe. Metro officers, attorney face charges from FBI drug investigation of motorcycle gang.

An old killing and new rumors roil Detroit. A stripper's shooting death nearly five years ago is emerging as a key story line in the ongoing civic soap opera.,0,7136963.story

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick shamed by text messages. They raise questions about trial testimony.

Grandmother robber

Oakland area

Pursuing God and sex. The warring obsessions of Phillip Garrido's life.,0,3336769.story?page=1

E-mails show kidnap victim worked at suspect's business.

Kidnapping Victim Was Not Always Locked Away.

Man Accused in Abduction Seemed to Have Been More Unhinged Recently.

Phillip Garrido snatched an 11 year old girl named Jaycee Dugard off the street. He kept her captive for 18 years, repeatedly raped her, and fathered two children from those rapes.,ca&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=48.15347,79.013672&ie=UTF8&t=h&layer=c&cbll=38.00865,-121.770545&panoid=9puRgUC6nCMR5Xzneuujjg&cbp=12,275.6,,0,5.98&ll=37.990548,-121.801386&spn=0.034499,0.052786&z=14&iwloc=A

Slaying of four Oakland officers raises concerns about parole system.

Fourth Oakland officer shot in parolee's rampage is brain-dead. John Hege had been in critical condition since Saturday's shootout between Oakland police and gunman Lovelle Mixon. Three of Hege's fellow officers died Saturday.,0,1576430.story?page=1

California and LA area

California ushers in new laws limiting trans fats, the paparazzi and more. In 2010, hundreds of new rules will be enforced. Among them, a ban on shortening cows' tails; a $20,000 fine for human trafficking; and tougher penalties for mortgage fraud and watching dogfights.,0,5818862.story?page=1&utm_medium=feed&track=rss&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20latimes%2Fnews%2Flocal%20%28L.A.%20Times%20-%20California%20%7C%20Local%20News%29&utm_source=feedburner

Suspect in Lily Burk's slaying had 10 prior convictions, DA says.

Lily Burk's neck was slashed, coroner says. It's not yet clear whether the wound was the main cause of the 17-year-old's death. A 50-year-old transient has been arrested in the slaying. Charlie Samuel has a history of violence and drugs.,0,123041.story

Makeover advised for gang member kicked by El Monte officer
The attorney of Richard Rodriguez, who has filed a $5-million legal claim against the city, wants his client to grow hair and wear a suit to cover his tattoos at trial.,0,431133.story
A mixed reaction to a use of force. The decision by an El Monte police officer to kick the head of a suspect at the end of a televised pursuit is criticized by experts. But on the streets, there was little sympathy for the gang member.,0,2090294.story

The decision by an El Monte police officer to kick a suspect in the face following a 40-minute pursuit was roundly criticized by policing experts today as inexcusable and unnecessary. Video shot by at least two local television news stations shows the unidentified El Monte officer kicking 23-year-old Richard Rodriguez in the face after Rodriguez had put his hands up and fell to the ground in a prone position with his arms above his head.

Graffiti defaces Fairfax store.,0,5268082.story

A case so tragic, Covina police will never forget. Covina's small, tight-knit police department put its heart and soul into the Christmas Eve shooting investigation, trying to unravel a case that shocked the nation and devastated the community.,0,7159429.story

Hilton jewelry burglar was probably familiar with home. Police look into several potential suspects in the $2-million heist as the socialite cooperates with investigators.,0,7807916.story

Five shot dead in L.A. County on New Year's Day. Three are killed at holiday parties in Coldwater Canyon and Long Beach, a man is fatally shot by police in Panorama City and a Pomona woman confesses to shooting her husband, officials say.,0,3317014.story

Covina's 'Santa Claus' gunman was described by acquaintances as smart and generous but 'quirky'. Bruce Pardo had expressed distress over his divorce proceedings.,0,7512367.story?page=1

Gunman's careful plans went awry.,0,7291873.story?page=1

Man in Santa suit kills at least eight at Covina party, police say. Authorities say Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, dressed in a Santa suit, opened fire at a Christmas Eve party and then set the house ablaze. He is later found dead of a gunshot wound. By 9 a.m., a pair of Covina detectives had arrived at Pardo's tan stucco house in Montrose and cordoned it off with tape. A wreath was hung on the front door and candy canes adorned the fence. An SUV and a military-style Hummer were parked in the driveway. In midafternoon, authorities approached the house with guns drawn, shouting, "We're police! We have a search warrant!" When no one responded, they used a battering ram to get in. More than two hours later, officers carried away four shotguns, a handgun, wrapping paper and a fuel tank like the one Pardo used in the attack. A label on the red tank read, "," the website of a company that specializes in fueling devices for all-terrain vehicles. Buchanan, a 30-year police veteran, said the tank Pardo used in the attack was "nothing that we or the arson team had ever seen.",0,6505439.story?page=1

3 dead after man in Santa suit opens fire at party. A man dressed as Santa Claus opened fire at a Christmas Eve party in a suburban Los Angeles home that subsequently caught fire, leaving three people dead, police said today. The man arrived at the party in Covina late Wednesday and immediately opened fire with a handgun, police Lt. Pat Buchanan said. Buchanan said three bodies were found after the fire was put out. He could not say how the fire started or how the three people died. Buchanan had no information on the identities of the dead.,0,6892924.story

No motive found yet for slayings near 405 in Long Beach. Relatives of one of five people found shot to death Sunday gather to pray at the crime scene. Although the site was considered a homeless campsite, authorities say not all the victims were homeless.,0,5585535.story

Crusaders in the underworld: The LAPD takes on organized crime.,0,488692.story

LAPD officer under investigation for allegedly soliciting sex acts. Patrol officer Russell Mecano, who was arrested earlier this week, reportedly tried to force women to have sex with him while he was on duty. He is free on $127,000 bail. A Los Angeles police officer is under investigation for allegedly forcing women he met while on duty to have sex with him, law enforcement sources said Friday. Police officials confirmed that Officer Russell Mecano, an 8-year-veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of soliciting a sex act, but declined to release further details in the case, saying a judge had ordered that court records in the ongoing probe remain secret. Specifically, the judge has ordered that a criminal indictment against Mecano be sealed. Mecano, 40, was taken into custody at the West Los Angeles police station where he worked as a patrol officer. He was released a short time later in lieu of $127,000 bail, LAPD spokesman Lt. John Romero said. Mecano is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 6. Two law enforcement sources familiar with the case said the alleged victims were young women who Mecano had met while on duty last summer. The sources said Mecano allegedly attempted to coerce women to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for not pursuing some sort of law enforcement action against them.,0,5245125.story

Sticky fingers target cactuses in Palm Desert to resell for barrels of money. The city has been re-landscaping with plants that use little water, only to have $20,000 worth stolen -- sometimes in broad daylight. Some can fetch $800 each.,0,5521037.story

More charges filed after Hells Angels bar fight. The bikers brawled last month in Newport Beach with members of Set Free Soldiers, which calls itself a Christian ministry but which police say is a motorcycle gang involved in criminal activity.,0,4144778.story

Christian biker gang members face attempted murder charges. Police say the charges against six Set Free Soldiers stem from a fight last week with members of the Hells Angels at a Newport Beach bar. Three Hells Angels are charged with assault.,0,2962846.story

Man shot in chest while confronting taggers in Hollywood. The victim, the owner of an auto body shop, was shot Wednesday after telling two gang-affiliated young men to stop painting the side of his building. He is in stable condition.,0,3870193.story

No human remains found at Manson ranch. Searches of two areas of the Death Valley site where bodies were suspected of being buried yield only a shell casing, ash and small animal bones.,0,5249712.story

Scientists gear up 'Big Dig,' seeking bodies on Charles Manson ranch.,0,3676844.story

Five arrested after Secret Service probe into Southern California counterfeit ring.,0,6295012.story?track=mostviewed-storylevel

Actor Blake loses US court appeal. Mr Blake has declared bankruptcy. A Los Angeles court has upheld a verdict finding actor Robert Blake liable for his wife's death - but halved his $30m (£15m) damages.

More L.A. police commit suicide than die in line of duty, study finds.,1,1048622.story

Autopsy inconclusive in siblings' deaths. Though the bodies showed no signs of trauma, the Tustin-area deaths are being treated as suspicious.,1,5943176.story

5 dead after 12-hour standoff in the San Fernando Valley. In a tense overnight standoff, a man shot and killed a Los Angeles SWAT officer and seriously wounded another after calling 911 to report that he had killed three family members at a San Fernando Valley home, authorities said.,1,1690223.story

Air Force to destroy abandoned bunker.

4 Southland museums raided in looting probe.,0,101198.story

2 teens held in slayings at desert bunker,1,5853413.story

Death in a desert bunker,1,5394659.story

San Diego area

A woman apparently in her mid-30s, with a cellphone to her ear and wearing oversized sunglasses, walked into a bank in a San Diego suburb Tuesday and robbed it of an undisclosed amount of money, the FBI said. The woman presented a demand note to a teller at the U.S. Bank branch in Poway. A weapon was alluded to but not seen. Only 6% of bank robbers are women, the FBI says.

Senior citizen is sought in string of bank holdups. 2:00 a.m. October 11, 2009 SAN DIEGO: Authorities are asking for the public's help to identify an elderly man in connection with a string of bank robberies in Santee and San Diego beginning in August. The man is believed to be between 70 and 80 years old. Authorities described him as white, about 6 feet 4 inches tall with a medium build, with white hair and liver spots. The most recent robbery occurred about 2 p.m. Friday at a US Bank inside a Vons grocery store on Carmel Mountain Road. In a demand note, the robber said he had a gun. He walked out after getting cash. He wore prescription glasses, a white baseball cap and a blue nylon jacket, authorities said. The same man is wanted in connection with robberies Aug. 29 at the US Bank on Mission Gorge Road in Santee and Sept. 12 at San Diego National Bank on Ivanhoe Avenue in La Jolla. He was carrying a pack with an oxygen tank during the La Jolla robbery. Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI at (858) 565-1255 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477 or

Four shot by border agents' gunfire at port of entry. Federal agents fired shots Tuesday as three vans apparently filled with illegal immigrants tried to run the border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, and four people were injured, authorities said. The port was closed shortly after the incident about 3:30 p.m., creating a massive rush-hour traffic jam on the Tijuana side as drivers were turned back into Mexico. Preliminary reports indicate that an agent for the U.S. Border Patrol and a U.S. Immigrations and Customs agent fired their guns, said Angelica De Cima, a customs spokeswoman. De Cima said more than 70 people from the three vans were taken into custody. Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for ICE, said the incident was related to human smuggling.

Friends erect memorial where man killed by security guard at transit station.

Suspected bank robber slips away, captured nearby. The man entered the Bank of America on El Cajon Boulevard at Marlborough Avenue in the City Heights neighborhood about 11:30 a.m. and asked to talk to the bank manager, Collins said. He handed the manager a note saying he had an explosive device and wanted a large amount of cash. The bank manager left the man to get some money. While doing so, he was able to notify an employee of the threat. That employee was able to alert other employees and customers to evacuate. Employees then thought they had locked the man in the bank, Collins said. When corporate security officials for Bank of America looked at video of activity in the bank, they could not find the suspect. A citizen later reported to police that they believed the suspect was hiding on the porch of a house on Marlborough Avenue. Following his arrest, the suspect told police that he did not have an explosive device, but a bomb squad checked the bank before employees returned to work. Police now say the suspect is in his 70s.

Man shot near El Cajon apartment building. A man was shot this afternoon in front of an apartment building near the intersection of Broadway and North 3rd Street in El Cajon, police said. The shooting occurred about 5:25 p.m. and the unidentified man was taken to the hospital for treatment, police said. His condition was not immediately available and police are still investigating the circumstances of the shooting. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

A tall, sportily-dressed man in his 70s, with an oxygen bottle over his shoulder and a tube leading to a nose-piece, robbed the San Diego National Bank of an unspecified amount of money this morning, the FBI said. The man, described as 6-foot-4 and wearing a golf cap and checkered blazer, presented the cashier a note and walked out of the bank with the cash. He was last seen walking briskly away. No weapon was displayed during the incident. Tellers described the white-haired bandit as wearing glasses, with liver spots on his hands. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI, (858) 565-1255.

The medical examiner's office said Saturday that a 21-year-old Oceanside man was fatally shot by a security guard near the Vista Transit Center. Anthony G. Wacker was pronounced dead an hour after an argument and fight with the unidentified security guard that was reported about 8:40 p.m. Friday at 101 Olive Ave., according to a Medical Examiner's investigator. The security guard, who was on duty for the North County Transit District, fired two rounds from his handgun, hitting Wacker and wounding himself, said San Diego sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos. The 100 block of Olive Avenue is on the other side of the tracks from the transit center at 240 N. Santa Fe Ave., but sheriff's deputies couldn't say whether the shooting site was part of the guard's typical patrol area. The guard was taken to a hospital and was expected to survive, Brugos said. An autopsy was expected to be performed on Wacker Sunday, the Medical Examiner's investigator said. Detectives asked anyone with information to call the sheriff's Homicide Detail at (858) 974-2321; after hours at (858) 565-5200; or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

Company Responds To Trolley Officer Training Questions. Heritage Security Provides Officers For MTS.

San Diego area, archived September 12, 2009

Marine accused of firing at CHP officers arrested. EL CAJON — A Marine accused of shooting at California Highway Patrol officers in El Cajon early Sunday was arrested last night on suspicion of attempted murder, police said. Edward Michael Forney, 19, is stationed at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. El Cajon police detectives identified him as one of the occupants of a Honda SUV that officers tried to stop on Interstate 8 about 3 a.m. El Cajon police detectives yesterday searched Forney's home on Benson Avenue, near Welling Way, and said they found evidence linking him to the crime. They did not describe the nature of the evidence. Forney had a minor injury to his left thigh that appeared to be caused when a bullet grazed his leg, detectives said. A hole on the driver's seat of the Honda SUV involved in the chase could have been caused by the bullet that injured Forney, detectives said. The CHP officers, who returned fire, were not hurt during the shooting. Police have obtained an arrest warrant for Charles Henderson Neal, 23, on suspicion of reckless evading. Neal is believed to have been with Forney at the time of the shooting, police said. Forney was booked into jail.

Forney and Neal are known gang members, El Cajon police said.

D.A. investigating attack that injured SDSU safety

The county medical examiner's office said Thursday a 52-year-old woman fatally shot her 41-year-old on-again, off-again boyfriend in Paradise Hills, then killed herself with the same gun. The bodies of Bernadette Bobsay Abellera Agustin and Eustacio Torres were discovered around 12:20 a.m. Monday at a home Torres shared with his nephew in the 2200 block of Reo Drive, according to San Diego police and the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office. Agustin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her chest, while Torres died from a gunshot wound to his torso, the Medical Examiner's Office reported. This man was a contractor and did the framing on an addition my coworker made to his home.

Arrest after trolley guard threat. A man who made threats to a trolley security guard at the Encanto/62nd Street trolley station was arrested tonight, San Diego police said. Police responded to a call between 4:30 and 5 p.m. from trolley security that a man in his 20s, riding a bicycle, made criminal threats to a security guard and mentioned the police code for murder. A suspect was seen a few minutes later nearby on Fergus Street, where he dumped his bike and ran. He jumped a fence and went inside a house. Police arrested the man on charges of making criminal threats and evading police.

Slaughter at McDonald's changed how police operate.

Man suspected in trolley shooting arrested. MTS security director Bill Burke told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the agency believed the staff was targeted and there were no threats directed at riders. “We're pretty confident right now this suspect is the one who did the crimes,” Bond said. The 53-mile light-rail line has 53 stations and is monitored by 130 security guards, including 80 who are armed, trolley officials said. Gang detectives were also involved in the investigation leading to Loftis' arrest, but police have declined to say if the crimes were gang related.

July 19, 2009. Trolley officer shooter still at large; officer stable. A Metropolitan Transit System security officer is in stable condition at a local hospital after being shot twice at the Grossmont trolley station late Saturday night, La Mesa police said. The man shot the officer with a semi-automatic pistol and then took his weapon and two spare magazines from the officer's gun belt, police said. He is still at large. At 10:12 p.m. a man described as a thin black male in his 20s, just under 6 feet tall, wearing black clothing and a small blue duffle bag strapped across his chest, approached the officer and immediately shot him once, then fired again with the officer on the ground, police said. The man ran away and officers from several agencies, aided by police dogs and a helicopter, could not find him. La Mesa police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call (619) 667-1439 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at (888) 580-TIPS or send a message through its Web site.

Man robs trolley security guard of gun, ammo. July 16, 2009. SAN DIEGO — A man wielding a long-barreled handgun stole a gun from a trolley security guard Wednesday night. Two uniformed security officers were patrolling at the 62nd Street trolley station on Akins Drive about 6:30 p.m. when they were approached by the man, San Diego police said. The robber pointed his weapon at them and took a gun, a magazine and ammunition from one of the guards, police said. The thief was described as black, 20 to 30 years old and slim. He was wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and black pants and had a black bandana covering his face.

Cleaning up the complex. Crime drops at apartments after October raid. April 4, 2009. SPRING VALLEY — Sylvia Huggins and her two young nieces had the shock of their lives one Tuesday morning last October when authorities raided a crime-infested apartment complex in Spring Valley. “I was just combing their hair, getting them ready for school, when I heard all this ruckus outside,” Huggins said. “Twelve officers barged into my apartment with their guns drawn. They handcuffed me at the door and began searching my room. “I told the girls: 'I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on.' ” The hectic scene Oct. 7 was part of a “maximum enforcement sweep” by 105 peace officers from nearly 20 agencies at the 60-unit Villas at Casa de Oro complex on Helix Street near Bancroft Drive.

Woman held in El Cajon bar stabbing. A woman was arrested on suspicion of stabbing a man Wednesday night at a bar in an unincorporated area of El Cajon. Deputies were called to the Flinn Springs Inn on Olde Highway 80 at Carta Lane just before 11 p.m., sheriff's officials said. When they got there they found patrons and staff holding a 29-year-old woman on the floor and a man with a three-inch cut on his left arm. Witnesses told deputies that the woman had been told to leave the bar due to unruly behavior but that she immediately returned with the knife and stabbed the victim, officials said. They said the man and woman did not know each other. He was treated by paramedics. The woman, who is from Serra Mesa, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. She was booked into the Las Colinas jail and is being held on $30,000 bail. Deputies recovered a folding knife with a locking four-inch blade.

A man accused in the bombing of the federal courthouse in San Diego earlier this year pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Imperial County. Eric Reginald Robinson, 43, of San Diego, admitted knowingly and intentionally using and carrying a destructive device – a pipe bomb.

Officers shoot and kill man brandishing gun in San Carlos. Officers surrounded Giordano's home and, unable to talk to him by telephone, used a bullhorn to order him to come out of the dwelling. When Giordano emerged 30 minutes later, he was holding a gun, Collins said. Officers told him to drop the weapon, but he pointed it at them and fired. “Fearing for their lives or the lives of others, multiple police officers returned fire on the suspect,” said San Diego homicide Lt. Terry McManus. Giordano was struck several times and died at the scene. An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday. Authorities did not release the name of the sheriff's sergeant or the six officers who fired their weapons. Collins said Giordano and the sergeant had an altercation in recent days. Giordano and his wife had gone to the sergeant's house, and Giordano seemed to have been drinking, Collins said. The sergeant detained Giordano until San Diego police arrived and escorted him and his wife back to their home. Collins didn't know why the couple went to the sergeant's house. Giordano's wife was home at the time of the shooting Friday night.

Animal park, SeaWorld hit by vehicle break-ins. Levy said she had heard rumors about there being an issue involving GM security codes, but police could not confirm that.

Study of arrestees finds meth, cocaine more difficult to buy.

SAN DIEGO: Two sailors were arrested early yesterday at the San Diego Naval Base at 32nd Street in connection with a shooting in Lincoln Acres over the weekend that killed one man and injured another. The sailors, Harvey Herat Jordan III and Cloris Jerome Cannon, were booked on suspicion of murder and assault. The shooting was reported shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday on Cypress Street near 32nd Street, said Sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos. Dennis Eugene Trollinger, 31, was killed and Aaron Wilkerson, 36, was wounded. Witnesses said the four men had been arguing moments before the shooting and may have come from a local sports lounge shortly before the argument. After the shooting, the assailants left in a red Ford Mustang.

SDSU drug cases ending with little fanfare. The buzz started with early-morning raids on apartments and fraternities around San Diego State University on May 6, then built as students were corralled into Cox Arena for questioning. A news conference quickly followed where federal, county and campus officials announced that dozens of SDSU students had been snared in a massive drug sting dubbed Operation Sudden Fall. Guns and bags of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy were laid out for the cameras. In a flash, the news went national. Three months later, the court cases stemming from the yearlong undercover operation are wrapping up with much less fanfare. Almost all of the defendants sentenced after pleading guilty to felony charges have been placed on probation or ordered into drug diversion programs. Some defendants have misdemeanor cases pending. Others received citations or their cases were dismissed. Some were not charged at all.

Courthouse bombing suspect ordered held without bail .

Pipe bomb case using terror law in question.

3 charged in courthouse bombing; one pleads not guilty . Rachelle Lynette Carlock, 31; Ella Louise Sanders, 56; and Eric Reginald Robinson, 43; were named in the 17 count indictment that includes charges of using a weapon of mass destruction, U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt said at a morning news conference. The indictment alleges all three defendants from San Diego conspired to construct, test and detonate a series of bombs, including the ones used at the courthouse and the FedEx building. It also accused the trio of stealing material from a Home Depot and obtaining explosive materials from an El Cajon gun shop.

The Deputy Sheriffs' Association will decide Thursday whether to provide an attorney for a sheriff's detective accused of sexually assaulting a prostitute while on duty. The case will be discussed at a regular meeting of the group's legal affairs committee, said Ponzio Oliverio, vice president of the Deputy Sheriffs' Association. The detective, Thomas J. Sadler, 47, tried to commit suicide Friday. San Diego police arrested him Thursday at his home in Santee on charges of sexual battery by restraint, assault and battery by an officer and false imprisonment. He was released on $250,000 bail.

Detective is accused of fondling woman. Collins said part of the reason the investigation took so long was because Sadler was a peace officer. “Obviously, when a law enforcement officer is involved, we make sure we have pretty good information to make the charges,” he said. “How do I report a cop to a cop and expect anything other than what I got out of it? They thumbed their nose at me,” Bowman said.

Burglary spree frustrates shopkeepers in Bird Rock .

Stolen drug money at center of Marine killing in OC. Two Marines apparently killed one of their Camp Pendleton comrades in a dispute over stolen drug money, prosecutors said Thursday. Lance Cpl. Christian William Carney and Pfc. Alvin Reed Lovely are scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Orange County Superior Court on charges related to the killing of Pfc. Stephen Serrano.

Man rescued, then killed by Harbor Police after fight. Harbor Police responded to a call from a boat chartered for a gay pride cruise about a man overboard about 11:50 p.m., said Harbor Police Sgt. David Fouser. A police boat found the man in the water about 500 feet south of the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station on Harbor Drive across from Lindbergh Field. The man was identified by the Medical Examiner's Office as 37-year-old Steven Paul Hirschfield. He boarded the boat and began fighting with two officers, Harbor Police said. He knocked one officer to the deck, took the officer's Taser stun gun and began beating him in the face with it. Hirschfield then tried to get the injured officer's gun. As he struggled to “get control” of the gun, the second officer shot the man once in the chest, Harbor Police said.

Drum circle at beach ends in brawl; man gets stabbed.

Man charged in anti-war protest case. He drove pickup toward crowd. A Ramona man who drove his pickup toward a group of anti-war protesters last month has been charged with misdemeanor reckless driving. Keith Alan Davis, 55, was sent a letter yesterday ordering him to appear in court July 31. Davis could face up to six months in jail if convicted. Such cases, however, usually don't result in jail time. Davis said he was only expressing his First Amendment right of self-expression when he drove slowly onto the shoulder of state Route 67 near the intersection of Dye Road in Ramona June 29 and displayed his middle finger to each person protesting. He said he felt the protesters were “un-American.” The protesters, however, said they had to jump out of the way, and that Davis ran over several of their signs with messages such as “End the War in Iraq,” and “Support Our Troops, Send Them Home Now.” “We reviewed the case carefully, read all the reports, and this was our conclusion about what charges he should face,” said Deputy District Attorney Dan Lamborn, chief of the El Cajon branch of the District Attorney's Office. The protesters have been gathering at the intersection from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Friday for the past several months. Route 67 is usually bumper-to-bumper with commuters at those hours. A Sheriff's Department report said Davis “wanted to look each one of the protesters in the face and tell them what he thought of them.” Davis said he was not trying to hurt anyone and doesn't remember hitting any signs. “Regardless of the charges, the driver must be punished because he threatened law-abiding citizens exercising their guaranteed constitutional rights,” David Patterson, a leader of the protest group, said in a statement yesterday. “However, we should all be saddened because the driver is yet another victim created by the pro-war propaganda machine. The driver has been indoctrinated by the Bush administration and conservative talk radio to believe that anyone standing publicly against the war is somehow un-American.” Robert Dobson, who was counter-protesting across the highway with a “Victory for Our Troops” sign, said in an interview that Davis was traveling about 25 mph and protesters had to scatter to avoid being hit. Dobson was critical of what he said Davis did.

Man sentenced in e-mail threat case. A La Jolla man who e-mailed a threat against an activist at the La Jolla Children's Pool was ordered Monday morning to undergo a year of anger-management counseling and to stay away from the beach where harbor seals gather. Kent Trego, 54, pleaded guilty in April to threatening the Animal Protection and Rescue League activist who videotaped two divers entering the water at the pool in September, scattering about 18 of 50 seals. Federal Judge Roger Benitez sentenced Trego to five years probation, including six months of house arrest with a GPS system. After the activists told federal agents about the incident, the divers were ticketed for violating the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Trego didn't enter the water the day of the videotaping, but in January, he wrote an e-mail to the league saying "revenge will be taken out" on the activist, who would be "dealt with very harshly." Trego's lawyer, Mark Adams, said his client apologized Monday and would stay away not only from the Children's Pool, but from the controversy surrounding it. Trained in marine biology, Trego has spoken out against the rookery at the Children's Pool. Since the 1980s, harbor seals have taken over the protected beach, delighting tourists and animal lovers. But people who want the beach restored for human use have gone to the courts, and a judge has ordered city officials to clean it up. Trego spent four and a half months in jail awaiting sentencing.

Protesters claim man nearly ran them over. Driver says anti-war group un-American. According to a Sheriff's Department report, Keith Alan Davis, 55, of Ramona told deputies June 27 that he was upset because the protesters were at the busy intersection again. He said that as he approached, he pulled his Chevrolet 1500 pickup onto the shoulder and slowly drove by the protesters, who were holding signs with such messages as “End the War in Iraq” and “Support Our Troops, Send Them Home Now.” “As he drove by the individuals protesting, he flipped each one of them off using his right middle finger,” the report says. “He wanted to look each one of the protesters in the face and tell them what he thought of them. He does not remember hitting any of their signs. He was not trying to run over any of the protesters.” That account is disputed by the protesters, several of whom are in their 70s. They said they had to move back to avoid being hit by the truck, and that they are sure several of them would have been injured had they not stepped out of the way. One witness, Robert Dobson, who was counter-protesting across the highway by holding a “Victory for Our Troops” sign, told deputies that after Davis gestured at the protesters, he then gave a thumbs-up sign to him and smiled widely. Dobson said it appeared to him that Davis intentionally ran over several signs. “I can't say for sure he was trying to hit them (the protesters),” Dobson said. “I can say he deliberately left the road and was deliberately trying to hit their signs, and the people were standing next to the signs. I saw them scatter.” He estimated the truck's speed to be between 25 and 30 mph. Dobson said he disagrees with the anti-war protesters, but that the driver of the pickup was the un-American one. Davis said Thursday that he never intended to hurt the protesters and told deputies he was traveling 3 to 5 mph. “I was just trying to let them know America doesn't feel the way they do,” he said. “I'm tired of sticking my head in the sand and ignoring them. “Apparently they've decided to blow this up and try to make something out of it. Maybe that's the way they operate. “If those people really hate America as much as their signs indicate, they should probably just pack and go. I might even help them pack and go – that is, if they're not too afraid and go run away. I can't believe they said that. That is completely inaccurate.” Davis added that he thinks it's ironic that the protesters talk about their First Amendment rights but don't want him to express his beliefs.

Emergency service can cost those responsible. Police reimbursement by the numbers. A San Diego couple were angered by a $350 bill sent by the La Mesa Police Department for seven hours of extra duty by officers who responded to their daughter's drunken-driving accident in September. A state law enacted in 1985 authorized public agencies to charge anyone whose negligent operation of a car, boat or plane while under the influence causes “any incident resulting in an appropriate emergency response.” A review of 17 similar invoices that La Mesa sent to motorists for drunken-driving accidents in the past year shows that the billed amount ranged from $97 for a man who hit a pole near Grossmont Hospital in June 2007 to $900 for another man who crashed onto transit property March 8. A poll of 17 other cities countywide shows that most of them charge such fees for drunken-driving accidents. At least one – San Diego – also charges for some actions not linked to drunken driving, such as police pursuits and hit-and-run-driving incidents, said Bill Harris, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders.

REGION: No trouble from biker gang, officials say. Mongols arrive for chapter meeting.

TEMECULA: Task force targets outlaw biker gang on Interstate 15. Authorities say Mongols motorcycle gang is gathering this weekend at La Jolla Indian Reservation.

Joint agency operation nets 160 felons. Dozens of fugitives wanted on felony charges were arrested last week in an operation led by the U.S. Marshal's Service, officials said. Officers from 27 law enforcement agencies participated in Operation Falcon, which targeted the capture of fugitives in San Diego and Imperial counties who were wanted for armed robbery and other violent crimes. During the five-day operation, authorities captured 160 people and seized nine firearms. Officers also tracked down 276 felony warrants that had been issued, said Omar Castillo, a U.S. Marshal's spokesman.

Close call for boy, 9, leads to fence near ballfields at park. Parents of children who played at Cactus Park had long worried about the transients who live in the brush and weeds along the San Diego River by the Lakeside ballfields. Their concerns were realized May 4, when a 9-year-old boy was lured to the riverbank by a transient. Adults at a softball game nearby intervened and called sheriff's deputies. When the man was arrested, they discovered he was a registered sex offender. “I hate to think what would have happened if we weren't watching him and the boy had actually gone down there,” said Sam Smith, president of the Lakeside Girls Fastpitch Softball league. Because of the incident, the county has given a higher priority to protecting children from transients at the 60-acre park on Ashwood Street, near El Capitan High School. Last week, county supervisors approved $7,000 to install a fence along the south side of the river. County employees were directed to work with property owners along the river to clear out encampments and the overgrown brush. County work crews did a previously scheduled cleanup of the brush along the river.

Father of woman in bomb case speaks out. The father of a San Diego woman arrested in connection with the May 4 bombing of the downtown federal courthouse said yesterday he was shocked to learn about the accusations against his daughter. “I can't even comprehend it,” Gaynor Carlock said in an interview. “I can't believe it.” Gaynor Carlock said his sister called him early yesterday to tell him that his daughter, Rachelle Lynette Carlock, 31, is accused of buying 4 pounds of gunpowder with a fake driver's license.

Woman tied to bombing arraigned on 8 counts.

Feds penetrated drug culture easily at San Diego State. Students who had gotten caught for fighting, drinking, minor drug offenses or other crimes quickly turned informants and used text messages to introduce their drug dealers to undercover agents. Dealers made handoffs in front of dorms, in parking lots or behind frat houses, sometimes in broad daylight in full view of surveillance cameras. They apparently made little effort to launder their spoils. One fraternity brother arrested Tuesday drove his Lexus directly from a $400 cocaine sale on campus to a nearby bank, where he deposited the cash, according to court papers. That came as a surprise to agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, who were used to being thoroughly screened by dealers scared of being arrested. "They never gave any thought that we could be doing an operation there," said Eileen Zeidler, a spokeswoman for the DEA office in San Diego.

Smuggling boat hits rocks; drugs still aboard.

Motorists have windows smashed in ambush. SOLANA BEACH – Three motorists were ambushed by group of people who smashed out their windows with baseball bats and fired gunshots into the air late Friday, authorities said. No one was injured in the attack, which is believed to be gang-related. The incident began at 11:45 p.m. Friday, when a man and two women in a Chevrolet Tahoe noticed two cars blocking the street on Ida Avenue, sheriff's officials said. When the trio stopped, they were greeted by six to eight men and women who began smashing out their windows while yelling a gang name. One of the suspects then pulled out a .22 rifle and fired three rounds into the air, the Sheriff's Department said. “You are lucky you are females, or we would have killed you,” the gunman told the victims before the group jumped back in their cars and sped off.

Booze ban changes look of beaches. Alcoholic transients are leaving the area.

Mayor's treatment is raising questions. Policies on handling drunkenness vary.

Tijuana tourism plunges amid drug violence. empty bars and shuttered businesses now outnumber people mingling near the broken fountain. Rojas, who earns tips by making a show of slamming tequila shots on the table and pouring them down customers' throats, says it's been a week since he performed one of his signature tricks, twirling a tourist on his shoulders. "Look around, it's dead," he said. In the sleepy plaza, down the lonely pedestrian promenade leading to the heart of the tourist district on Avenida Revolucion, bored waiters and strip club hawkers compete for the trickle of customers, while old-time merchants wax nostalgic about the days when a downtown dotted with attractions drew millions of visitors, including the occasional Hollywood star. Tijuana's recent wave of violence appears to have driven another nail into the coffin of a tourism industry already hobbled by its reputation for tacky tourist traps and rowdy bars and by long waits at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing. Visits are down 90% since 2005, when an estimated 4.5 million came to the area, according to the downtown merchants association. On an average day now, only about 150 tourists show up, the association says. Some encounter the latest Tijuana spectacle: convoys full of heavily armed soldiers rumbling down Avenida Revolucion.,0,508172.story

La Mesa police arrested two people allegedly involved in a series of catalytic converter thefts from cars and trucks, police said today.

Man accused of robbing day laborers faces trial

Monday, Jan. 21, 2008 | The number of hate crime offenses reported in San Diego County increased by 23 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to figures from the California Attorney General's Office, which tallies hate crime statistics in the state.

Authorities worry about increased hate crimes three brutal attacks occurred at a roadside bar called Don's Cocktail Lounge off the Highway 8 business route

The meth connection -- Drug, sensational crimes have long association in region

Marine, sailor arrested on suspicion of Oceanside robbery spree

Tijuana and Mexico

As family, friends and elected officials in El Monte gathered today to mourn one of their community’s rising civic stars, many said the killing this week of school board member Agustin “Bobby” Salcedo in the Mexican city of Gomez Palacios underscored Mexico’s drug violence coming home to California in a new and chilling way. "I hope this focuses people’s attention on the senseless killings taking place in Mexico right now," said El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero, who was a close friend of Salcedo. “Bobby was an absolute bright, shining star...They didn’t just take his life. They robbed him from our community. ... We have to get justice.” Congresswoman Judy Chu called the incident “a terrible reminder of the drug war that is raging just south of our border, and most importantly, it shows that this conflict does not respect borders.” Salcedo, who was also assistant principal at El Monte High School, was born and raised in Southern California, but his wife Betzy is from Gomez Palacios, where she trained as a doctor. The couple were visiting her family for the holidays. They were dining with some of Betzy’s former classmates at a pool hall Wednesday evening when armed men burst in and kidnapped Salcedo and five other men. All six were found dead Thursday, El Monte officials said. Friends and family said there was no reason for the couple to be targeted. “From all accounts right now, it sounds random,” said Salcedo’s brother, Carlos.

Tijuana gunfight kills police officer, suspected drug trafficker.

4 Southern California residents slain in Tijuana. The bodies of two men and two women, bearing 'signs of violence,' were found over the weekend in a car. The circumstances are being investigated.,0,459831.story

Heads, bodies of 9 decapitated men dumped in Mexico. The remains were found at separate places in the state of Guerrero, a hot spot in the country's drug war. Local media are saying the victims may be Mexican soldiers.,0,6725030.story

The decapitated bodies of three police officers were found alongside six other beheaded corpses yesterday in a weekend of violence in which 34 people were slain in different sections of Tijuana. The victims included a 4-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy, killed by gunmen Saturday night together with two adults by a grocery store in eastern Tijuana. Several hours later, the 18-year-old nephew of Baja California's tourism secretary was found shot to death inside a vehicle a few miles east of downtown. The deaths bring to more than 360 the number killed since late September, when the violence between rival drug gangs first began to soar in a turf battle targeting each other and law enforcement officials. The total dead so far this year is more than 740, compared with 337 for all of 2007.

Cops ask for better weapons, more help. Violence continues unabated in Baja.

The bodies of two men were found in a field in Valle Bonito at the entrance to Boulevard 2000 in the eastern part of Tijuana.

Slayings in Baja get more brazen. Bodies found in streets; backup troops readied. The bloodshed continued yesterday as authorities reported that at least nine men were killed in a 24-hour period. The deaths in Tijuana are being blamed on the ongoing battle between feuding drug gangs in the region. The bodies, all of which had gunshot wounds, were found in the streets between late Wednesday night and yesterday afternoon.

Border bloodshed likely to worsen, experts warn. Unease about potential for spillover rises in U.S. After a particularly violent week in Tijuana that has left 54 dead in a fierce cartel power struggle, experts on both sides of the border fear the worst is yet to come. Since early last year, Mexican President Felipe Calderón has deployed thousands of soldiers and federal police to drug-route battlegrounds such as Baja California, Chihuahua and Michoacan. Experts say it's clear that the recent bloodbath along the border, felt especially hard in Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo and now increasingly in Tijuana, is the backlash. In the United States, there's a growing unease about the potential for spillover. Some sectors of the border-region economy have already suffered severe losses as a result of the violence, and others may follow.

Drug turf war results in eight more deaths. 44 bodies have been found since Sunday, officials say.

Sixteen found slain in Tijuana.

6 Mexico police officers killed in ambush. Armed men surround their vehicle in the marijuana-rich state of Sinaloa.,0,2106502.story

Gang shootout in Tijuana leaves 13 dead. Rival bands suspected of drug trafficking open fire with rifles and automatic weapons on a major thoroughfare. Several others are injured in the border city's latest episode of violence.,1,4522041.story

Other states

Four uniformed police officers were shot and killed in a Pierce County coffee shop Sunday morning as they worked on their laptop computers, authorities said. aurice Clemmons - a man with an extensive criminal history in Washington and Arkansas - was named as a person of interest. Investigators believe the shooter targeted the officers; witnesses and coffee shop staff were not injured. Clemmons - who was still at large as hundreds of people watched a procession taking the slain officers from the scene - was a person of interest because of "past run-ins with law enforcement," Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer. Troyer said Clemmons has an extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas, including aggravated robbery and theft. Nine years ago he was serving a 35-year prison term in Arkansas for armed robbery but his sentence was commuted by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee.

additional court documents were released in the case of Christopher J. Monfort, the man charged with killing Seattle Police Officer Tim Brenton, wounding of his partner, Britt Sweeney, and attempting to kill detectives who confronted him six days after the shooting. It also detailed the full text of the threatening note left at the Oct. 22 arson scene of three police vehicles. Monfort also has been charged in that case. Here are more specifics on weapons found in Monfort's apartment, according to police:

A Kel-Tec SU-16 rifle with magazine and ammunition
A Mossberg shotgun M59O series
Auto-Ordnance Corporation .45 caliber pistol and ammunition
Winchester model 70 7mm rifle with scope and ammunition
Fabrique Nationale D'Armes de Guerre Herstal BelgiQue rifle
Interordnance of America M-59/66 7.62 x 39 caliber rifle

New Hope ga mobile home park.,-81.448646&spn=0,359.973607&t=h&z=15&layer=c&cbll=31.302236,-81.448652&panoid=ko2iwWFoNvaI4Dml7NBU2g&cbp=12,237.75,,0,5

A southern Tennessee woman and her husband, who is accused of killing her and five other people in two states, had been having marital troubles and were not living together, a man who says he knew the couple told The Associated Press on Sunday. Jacob Shaffer, 30, faces six counts of homicide. His wife, 38-year-old Traci Shaffer, her son, Devin Brooks, and neighbor, Robert Berber, both 16, were found dead Saturday in her home in rural Fayetteville, said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm. The bodies of Traci Shaffer's brother, Chris Hall, 34, and father Billy Hall, 57, were found in a home across the road. Jacob Shaffer is also accused in a killing at a business in Huntsville, Ala., about 30 miles south.


Scouting rife with cozy ties. As roles blur, perceptions of impropriety rise.

Kerik pleads not guilty in new corruption indictment.

Insider’s Projects Drained Missile-Defense Millions. They huddled in a quiet corner at the US Airways lounge at Ronald Reagan National Airport, sipping bottomless cups of coffee as they plotted to turn America’s missile defense program into a personal cash machine. Duncan Hunter. Michael Cantrell, an engineer at the Army Space and Missile Defense Command headquarters in Huntsville, Ala., along with his deputy, Doug Ennis, had lined up millions of dollars from Congress for defense companies. Now, Mr. Cantrell decided, it was time to take a cut. “The contractors are making a killing,” Mr. Cantrell recalled thinking at the meeting, in 2000. “The lobbyists are getting their fees, and the contractors and lobbyists are writing out campaign checks to the politicians. Everybody is making money here — except us.” Within months, Mr. Cantrell began getting personal checks from contractors and later returned to the airport with Mr. Ennis to pick up a briefcase stuffed with $75,000. The two men eventually collected more than $1.6 million in kickbacks, through 2007, prompting them to plead guilty this year to corruption charges. Mr. Cantrell readily acknowledges concocting the crime. But what has drawn little scrutiny are his activities leading up to it. Thanks to important allies in Congress, he extracted nearly $350 million for projects the Pentagon did not want, wasting taxpayer money on what would become dead-end ventures. Recent scandals involving former Representative Randy Cunningham, Republican of California, and the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, both now in prison, provided a glimpse into how special interests manipulate the federal government.

CHP investigating whether ticket was 'fixed' for sex. On July 1, Carabajal and Zarrindej were sworn under oath in court. Carabajal told the judge pro tem, “I did not receive a subpoena. I request in the interest of justice this be dismissed.” Zarrindej agreed with the motion, and the case was dismissed. After Carabajal testified in two more traffic cases, Zarrindej was observed following him to the GuestHouse Inn & Suites. They entered the lobby at 11:37 a.m. Zarrindej paid with her credit card, and they walked arm-in-arm to the room. Carabajal drove away at 12:56 p.m. Five officers arrived at the hotel room at 1:42 p.m. Zarrindej told them she wanted to have sex with Carabajal and didn't care that he was married and had children. She told investigators that “Carabajal was her boyfriend and that she was in love with him.”

Mexico drug plane used for US 'rendition' flights: report. A private jet that crash-landed almost one year ago in eastern Mexico carrying 3.3 tons of cocaine had previously been used for CIA "rendition" flights, a newspaper report said here Thursday, citing documents from the United States and the European Parliament. The plane was carrying Colombian drugs for the fugitive leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, when it crash-landed in the Yucatan peninsula on September 24, El Universal reported. The daily said it had obtained documents from the United States and the European Parliament which "show that that plane flew several times to Guantanamo, Cuba, presumably to transfer terrorism suspects."

Thomas Frank on the Bush administration: Sabotage by design. The author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?" discusses the corrosive relationship between conservatives and business, liberal bias and his new book about Republican misrule.

How conservative greed and corruption destroyed American politics. Abramoff, DeLay, Norquist, oh my! The spectacular misrule of the GOP was not an accident.

FBI taped lawmaker calls. FBI wiretaps picked up the voices of several members of Congress in their conversations with Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.). The House General Counsel’s office recently notified those members after the Department of Justice (DOJ) told the House lawyers that the lawmakers’ voices had been intercepted during the FBI’s investigation of Renzi’s land deal, according to three GOP sources. It is unclear which members were taped and whether Renzi’s home, office, and/or cell phones were tapped. And there is no indication of alleged wrongdoing by any member other than Renzi; the Renzi indictment does not mention or allude to other legislators and the use of wiretaps is not mentioned in it.

White House says Bush aide resigns because of alleged improprieties involving grant money. An aide to President Bush has resigned because of an alleged misuse of grant money from U.S. Agency for International Development and his former employer, a Cuban democracy organization. Felipe Sixto was promoted on March 1 as a special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and stepped forward on March 20 to reveal his alleged wrongdoing and to resign, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said today.,0,4063536.story

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Wednesday called on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to explain the decision to eliminate the public corruption unit in Los Angeles that has been investigating Rep. Jerry Lewis's (R-Calif.) ties to a lobbying firm.

Governor's mistake. Outsider would have been far better at CHP. More recently, we have seen new scandals involving bid-rigging of contracts and rampant personal misbehavior by top officials. Last month, the CHP's reputation hit a new low when the California State Personnel Board upheld the complaint of Hubert Acevedo, the police chief of Austin, Texas, who said he had been singled out for retaliation by a cabal of five top CHP officials while he was a senior CHP official in 2004. The retaliation allegedly included the composition of fake letters making sordid charges against Acevedo.

Twenty Things You Should Know About Corporate Crime

voter fraud vs vote fraud

psychic crime-fighting

Shrine of the Mall Ninja.

‘Psychics’ Fail to Foresee Their Own Fortunes


Operation Iraqi Liberation

U.K. official: U.S. determined to invade Iraq. The United States was “hell bent” on a 2003 military invasion of Iraq and actively undermined efforts by Britain to win international authorization for the war, a former British diplomat told an inquiry Friday. Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, said that President George W. Bush had no real interest in attempts to agree on a U.N. resolution to provide explicit backing for the conflict.

Mission Accomplished? As U.S. combat troops finished their withdrawal from Iraqi cities last June, the U.S. war in Iraq began its endgame, reminding us of the endgame in Vietnam, which ended the war for us, not for the Vietnamese. This much is certain: Six years after George W. Bush announced “mission accomplished,” it is anything but accomplished. This war, launched in illegal and dishonest circumstances known now by heart, has had debilitating consequences for America and the world. For America, the war’s tremendous draining of resources –somewhere between $2 trillion and $3 trillion when all is added up, accompanied by Bush’s unconscionable wartime tax cut – played the primary role in turning a $500 billion federal surplus into a $1.8 trillion deficit.

Both Central Command head Gen. David Petraeus and Multi-National Force—Iraq commander Gen. Ray Odierno have filed statements in the ongoing court battle saying that release of the images would increase risk to American troops and damage regional security. "Militant and extremist groups would use these images to foment anti-U.S. sentiment and to incite demonstrators to conduct deliberate attacks against U.S. targets, as well as western Non-Governmental Organization facilities and personnel," Petreaus wrote in a 13-page filing. In addition, the release of new photos would "negatively affect the ongoing efforts by Pakistan to counter its internal extremist threat." Odierno, who is the top U.S. commander in Iraq, was also pointed in his comments, raising the specter of more attacks on American troops by their Iraqi allies. "Incidents of spontaneous violence against U.S. forces, possibly including attacks from outraged Iraqi police or army members, are likely. This could weaken our partnership with the Iraqi security forces, decrease security and lead to more violence," Odierno wrote.

A U.N. human rights expert said Thursday that the United States is failing to properly investigate alleged war crimes committed by its soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although some cases are investigated and lead to prosecutions, others aren’t or result in lenient sentences, said Philip Alston, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s independent investigator on extrajudicial killings. “There have been chronic and deplorable accountability failures with respect to policies, practices and conduct that resulted in alleged unlawful killings — including possible war crimes — in the United States’ international operations,” Alston said in a report dated May 26 and published on a U.N. Web site.

A Navy Reserve officer serving in Iraq as an individual augmentee died Monday after his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb outside Fallujah, the Defense Department announced Wednesday. Cmdr. Duane G. Wolfe was 54. According to a spokeswoman at Naval Base Ventura County, Wolfe worked in civilian life at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as the civilian deputy commander at the 30th Space Wing Mission Support Group. In Iraq, he was attached to the Army Corps of Engineers.

US military: Iraq attacks down nearly 60 percent.

Operation Iraqi Liberation, archived May 24, 2009

2 Americans die separately in Green Zone.

Iraq car bombs kill 17. Most of the deaths occur at a Baghdad produce market used mostly by Shiite Muslim farmers.,0,5046472.story

Three Americans were killed Thursday in combat in Anbar Province, west of Baghdad, the military said Friday, adding to the high death toll for American forces in Iraq last month. The deaths brought the total number of American military personnel members killed in April to 18 — double the number in March and the highest since September 2008, when 25 were killed.

At Least 60 More Are Killed in Attacks in Baghdad.

Iraq suicide bombings kill 79. One attack targets Iranian pilgrims en route to holy Shiite sites; the other is aimed at people lined up for food in a Shiite area of Baghdad. Iraq says it has captured an Al Qaeda in Iraq leader.,0,939518.story

A suicide bomber attacked members of an American military unit visiting city officials on Monday in Baquba, a volatile city northeast of Baghdad. At least three Iraqis were killed, and eight American soldiers were wounded, witnesses, security officials and the American military said. The bomber, wearing an Iraqi special forces uniform and a hidden explosive vest, blew himself up around 10 a.m. outside the city’s administrative office on Tabu Street, north of Baquba’s center, shortly after the American troops arrived in armored vehicles, the witnesses and officials said. “It seems he was waiting for them to arrive,” said the chairman of Baquba’s city council, Raad al-Dehleky.

Across Baghdad, sin back in as boozing, prostitution proliferate.

A US soldier was killed in central Iraq on Monday when a sophisticated roadside bomb tore through his convoy, the US military said. "A coalition forces soldier died of injuries sustained during an explosively formed projectile (EFP) attack on a convoy" south of the Shiite holy city of Karbala, the military said in a statement. An EFP is a sophisticated type of roadside bomb that the US military has long accused neighbouring Iran of supplying to armed groups in Iraq. The latest death brings the total number of US casualties since the March 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein to 4,273, according to an AFP count based on the independent website On Friday five US soldiers were killed by a suicide truck bomb in the northern city of Mosul in the deadliest attack on troops in more than a year. A sixth soldier was killed in a roadside bomb Sunday north of Baghdad.

Iraq truck bombing kills 5 U.S. soldiers. The attack outside national police headquarters in the northern city of Mosul also kills two Iraqi policemen and injures two U.S. soldiers and 20 Iraqi troops.,0,6238744.story

Iraqi Militants Show a New Boldness in Cities. As the American military prepares to withdraw from Iraqi cities, Iraqi and American security officials say that jihadi and Baath militants are rejoining the fight in areas that are largely quiet now, regrouping as a smaller but still lethal insurgency.

At Least 32 Die in a Wave of Violence Across Iraq.

While deep difficulties remain, the advances are remarkable. Eighty-four percent of Iraqis now rate security in their own area positively, nearly double its August 2007 level. Seventy-eight percent say their protection from crime is good, more than double its low. Three-quarters say they can go where they want safely — triple what it's been. Few credit the United States, still widely unpopular given the post-invasion violence, and eight in 10 favor its withdrawal on schedule by 2011 — or sooner. But at the same time a new high, 64 percent of Iraqis, now call democracy their preferred form of government.

U.S. says 12,000 troops will leave Iraq.

President Barack Obama consigned the Iraq war to history Friday, declaring he will end combat operations within 18 months and open a new era of diplomacy in the Middle East. "Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," Obama told Marines who are about to deploy by the thousands to the other war front, Afghanistan.

Sunni lawmaker linked to 2007 parliament bombing, Iraq officials say. Hard-liner Mohammed Dayni remains free due to his immunity as a parliamentarian, officials say. Two of his bodyguards reportedly detail activities he masterminded, including burying victims alive.,0,3356280.story

A 'fraud' bigger than Madoff. Senior US soldiers investigated over missing Iraq reconstruction billions.

Four US soldiers killed in Iraq.

Iraqis Say U.S. Patrol Killed Girl, 8, in Crowd.

Report shows wasted Iraq spending. US reconstruction efforts in Iraq were "grossly overburdened" by wasteful spending, according to a report by the special inspector general for Iraq. Stuart Bowen blames a lack of security and "dramatic" course changes for the waste, but says fraud was a "relatively small" problem. His report comes as a congressional commission set up to monitor spending has been holding its first hearings. The US has spent nearly $51bn (£36bn) on rebuilding Iraq and its army. Officials initially estimated that the reconstruction programme would cost $2.4bn.

They may have been peaceful, but Saturday's all-important provincial elections across Iraq appear to have suffered from a combination of apathy and confusion, resulting in a turnout of only 51 percent, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission announced today. The numbers are likely to be a disappointment to election officials and U.N. and U.S. officials, who have portrayed the event as a barometer of Iraq's capacity for moving beyond bloodshed and embracing democratic change. With turnouts as limited as an estimated 40 percent in some provinces, losers could charge that the election results are illegitimate. Reasons for the low turnout vary, but one problem that emerged Saturday was with voters who showed up at polling stations only to be turned away because their names were not on voter lists. In some cases, people had gone to the wrong polling stations. But some people alleged they were at their assigned stations and were the victims of either a political conspiracy or disorganization by election officials.

U.S. troops in Iraq kill couple, wound daughter in raid on home. Denying the military's claim that the man was a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq, an official vows to seek prosecution of soldiers.,0,3044639.story

Nothing to go back to, no place of their own. For many Iraqis displaced by war, home is wherever they can find it.

Slowly but surely, life in Baghdad is improving.

Pentagon officials said Thursday they will be ready on Inauguration Day with plans for a quick pullout of U.S. combat troops from Iraq if Barack Obama orders one, as he pledged to do during his White House campaign. A 16-month timeline for withdrawal of battle forces from Iraq is among options being prepared, with an eye to Obama's pledge to call the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the White House on his first day in office with instructions to close down a war he opposed. "Our military planners do not live in a vacuum," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. "They are well aware that the president-elect campaigned on withdrawing (combat) troops from Iraq on a 16-month timeline, so it would be only prudent of them to draw up plans that reflected that option."

Iraqis 'capture leading militant'. Iraqi security forces say they have captured leading Sunni militant Tha'ir Kadhim Sraiwi. Mr Sraiwi is thought to be the leader of militant group Ansar al Sunna, believed to be behind a Baghdad market bombing in 2008 which killed 40 people. Mr Sraiwi is also wanted for the killing of 17 off-duty policemen in 2006, authorities said. There has been no independent verification of his arrest, says the BBC's Jonny Dymond, in Baghdad.

Suicide bomber kills 38 at Iraq checkpoint. The attack targets Shiite pilgrims en route to a shrine honoring Khadim, considered the Seventh Imam. It's the same neighborhood where a bombing killed 24 on Dec. 27. As Shiite Muslim pilgrims made their way to a holy shrine in Baghdad to mark one of the sect's most important religious holidays, a female suicide bomber detonated herself at a crowded checkpoint Sunday morning, killing as many as 38 people and wounding 72 in one of the capital city's worst attacks in months, authorities said. It is the second major bombing in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Khadimiya since Dec. 27, when a minibus exploded, killing 24.,0,976282.story

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki visits Iran. He hopes to use the two-day visit, including a meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, to allay Tehran's concerns about U.S. influence over Iraq.,0,4680846.story

Targeted by violence, peace in sight. In Mushada, council focus is on elections.

Attacks Occur as Iraq Takes Control of Key Sites. Three Iraqi police officers and two others were killed in violence across Iraq on Thursday as the Iraqi government took formal control of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

Iraq police: 30 die in Iraq suicide bombing. A suicide bomber sneaked into a luncheon gathering called by the leader of a local tribe, killing 30 people and wounding 110 on Friday, police said. The blast in Youssifiyah was the deadliest attack in Iraq since a suicide bomber killed 55 people at a cafe in Kirkuk on Dec. 11. Youssifiyah is in the Sunni-dominated region south of Baghdad once known as the Triangle of Death because of its extreme violence. The bloodshed declined markedly in 2008, but violent rivalries persist throughout Iraq. The bombing was at a meeting hall adjacent to the residence of Sheik Mohammed Abdullah Salih, head of the Sunni al-Garaqul tribe.

Two US soldiers killed in Iraq.

Car Bomb Near Baghdad Shrine Kills 24, as Iraqi Shiites’ Holiest Month Approaches.

Car bomb in affluent Baghdad neighborhood kills at least 22.,0,1930519.story

13 Killed as Iraqi Prisoners Try Escape.

The Road Out of Iraq Begins in Vietnam.

Top US general in Iraq prepares for troop decision.

Panel: Congress was misled on Iraq uranium issue. Former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales misled Congress when he claimed the CIA in 2002 approved information that ended up in the 2003 State of the Union speech about Iraq's alleged effort to buy uranium for its nuclear weapons program, a House committee said Thursday. The committee also expressed skepticism about claims by then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that she was unaware of the CIA's doubts about the claim before President George W. Bush's speech. Iraq's alleged attempt to buy uranium was one of the justifications for the Bush administration's decision to go to war. The claim has since been repudiated.

Official History Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders. An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

A suicide bomber has killed at least 50 people at a restaurant near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a regional official has told the BBC.

Iraq: The beginning of the end. As the war enters its final phase, Bush claims we won. But how can we ever repay Iraqis what we owe them?

Bush: War in Iraq on its way to being won.

6 Are Killed Amid Violence Across Iraq. Violence on Saturday, primarily aimed at Iraqi civilians, police recruits and members of Awakening Councils, left at least six people dead in parts of Iraq. In Kirkuk, a suicide bomber attacked a police academy, killing one person and wounding 15, the authorities said. Saman Ghafour, a police captain who witnessed the attack, said that the bomber appeared to be 12 to 16 years old. In Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, two people were killed and 17 were wounded when a bomb exploded in a cafe, the authorities said. Also in Diyala, gunmen fired at an Awakening Council security checkpoint, killing two council members and wounding three, according to an Iraqi official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Another gunman in the province was killed when a roadside bomb he was planting exploded, a police security expert said.

Deadly bombings strike Iraqi city. Two suspected suicide car bombs have exploded in the Iraqi city of Falluja killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens more, police have said. The attacks targeted two police positions, both of which were badly damaged in the blasts, officials said.

Two Bombings Kill at Least 30 Iraqis.

UN contractors killed in Iraq. Two foreign contractors working for the UN have been killed and 15 wounded in a rocket attack on Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, the UN says.

A Loosely Drawn American Victory.

Baghdad bombs kill 20, 1 hits Green Zone entry.

Premier of Iraq Is Quietly Firing Fraud Monitors. The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is systematically dismissing Iraqi oversight officials, who were installed to fight corruption in Iraqi ministries by order of the American occupation administration, which had hoped to bring Western standards of accountability to the notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy here. The dismissals, which were confirmed by senior Iraqi and American government officials on Sunday and Monday, have come as estimates of official Iraqi corruption have soared. One Iraqi former chief investigator recently testified before Congress that $13 billion in reconstruction funds from the United States had been lost to fraud, embezzlement, theft and waste by Iraqi government officials.

Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout. Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a proposed security agreement that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces from the country by the end of 2011. The cabinet’s decision brings a final date for the departure of American troops a significant step closer after more than five and a half years of war.

Al-Maliki stressing U.S. departure. Iraq’s prime minister is pushing the idea that the U.S. departure is in sight in a bid to sell the security deal with Washington to Iran. To reinforce the message, the Iraqis are asking for changes to the deal that would effectively rule out extending the U.S. military presence beyond 2011. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allies are also describing the agreement not as a formula for long-term U.S.-Iraqi security cooperation — the original goal when the talks began earlier this year — but as a way to manage the U.S. withdrawal.

yellow cake

At least 310 private security companies from around the world have received contracts from United States agencies to protect American and Iraqi officials, installations, convoys and other entities in Iraq since 2003, according to the most comprehensive accounting yet of the secretive and weakly regulated role that private firms have played in the conflict.

US special forces launch rare attack inside Syria. US special forces launch rare attack inside Syria. U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as "serious aggression." A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach. "We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids. The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

Pentagon rebukes KBR over shoddy electrical work in Iraq.

Sadr City protesters largely peaceful despite tensions. Sadr City marchers peppered American vehicles with rocks Saturday but the flag-waving demonstrators in Baghdad’s longtime hot spot remained largely peaceful as they the protested the United States’ presence in Iraq. Tens of thousands of marchers from across Iraq converged on the Shiite slum of Sadr City on Saturday in response to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s call for a rally to protest the U.S. presence. Sheik Assad al-Nasseri, an al-Sadr aide, said during a sermon Friday in Najaf that the march was to demand that"the occupier leave unconditionally.

Iraqis stage mass anti-US rally. Supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr have staged a mass demonstration in Baghdad in protest against plans to extend the US mandate in Iraq. An estimated 50,000 protesters chanted slogans such as "Get out occupier!".

more than 80 pages of newly declassified intelligence documents for the first time describe in detail an elaborate network used by Iraqis to gain entry into Iran and train under Iranian supervision. They offer the most comprehensive account to date to support American claims about Iranian efforts to build a proxy force in Iraq. Those claims have become highly politicized, with Bush administration critics charging that accounts of Iranian involvement have been exaggerated. The prisoners’ accounts cannot be independently verified. Yet the detainees gave strikingly similar details about training compounds in Iran, a clandestine network of safe houses in Iran and Iraq they used to reach the camps and intra-Shiite tensions at the camps between the Arab Iraqis and their Persian Iranian trainers. Although attacks on Americans by Shiite militias have greatly decreased this year, military and intelligence officials said there was evidence that the militias, sometimes referred to as “special groups,” were now returning to Iraq to disrupt coming elections and intimidate residents. Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond, the commander of American forces in Baghdad, said recently that he believed that some militia fighters had returned to the capital in recent weeks.

Giving Up On Going Home. Anwar J. Ali is an Iraqi employee of The New York Times in Baghdad. She has been displaced from her home in the Iraqi capital. After making two or three visits to her neighborhood, she has begun to give up on the idea of going home.

Childhood cut short in Baghdad. Many children in Sadr City shoulder responsibilities beyond their age; some not in their teens yet, but earning a living to support their families. School, and a better life, are just a wistful dream.,0,2221488.story

Security pact sets U.S. pullout date. American troops off base subject to Iraqi law, draft says.

Baghdad wild ones turn into uneasy riders with motorbike ban. Staring glumly at his shiny green Yamaha R6, Ali Samir sighs in frustration as he misses another day roaring through Baghdad on one wheel, racing fellow bikers. After a surge of killings in the city by gunmen on motorcycles, the authorities have cracked down on bikers and begun confiscating their only means of transport. Last month the Ministry of Defence ordered soldiers to stop riders after a series of motorbike murders rocked the Iraqi capital. “After the crimes at the end of Ramadan, we received orders to stop and arrest the driver of motorcycles, the big ones, because we believe criminals are starting to use them to kill officials from the Defence and Interior ministries,” Lieutenant Ali, an army officer, said.

‘Collateral Damage’ Not Much Different From Targeted Killing.

Schools Open, and First Test Is Iraqi Safety.

3,000 Christians Flee "Killing Campaign" In Mosul, Iraq.

The Stunning Costs of Keeping a Soldier's "Boots on the Ground" in Iraq. It takes half a million dollars per year to maintain each sergeant in combat in Iraq. Thanks to a Senate committee inquiry, an authoritative government study finally details the costs of keeping boots on the ground. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in its report Contractors' Support of U.S. Operations in Iraq, compared the costs of maintaining a Blackwater professional armed guard versus the U.S. military providing such services itself. Both came in at about $500,000 per person per year. News reports of the study have largely focused on the total cost of U.S. contractors. The 190,000 contractors in Iraq and neighboring countries, from cooks to truck drivers, have cost U.S. taxpayers $100 billion from the start of the war through the end of 2008. Overlooked in this media coverage has been the sheer cost per soldier of keeping the army in Iraq. This per-soldier cost is more comprehensible and alarming than the rather abstract aggregate figure. Whether in maintaining U.S. soldiers or private-sector contractors, the costs of occupation are enormous. With no end in sight, unending foreign wars do have one clear consequence: the eventual bankruptcy of the United States.

I tried hard to be proud of my service, but all I could feel was shame. Racism could no longer mask the reality of the occupation. These are human beings. I've since been plagued by guilt. I feel guilt any time I see an elderly man, like the one who couldn't walk who we rolled onto a stretcher and told the Iraqi police to take him away. I feel guilt any time I see a mother with her children, like the one who cried hysterically and screamed that we were worse than Saddam as we forced her from her home. I feel guilt any time I see a young girl, like the one I grabbed by the arm and dragged into the street. We were told we were fighting terrorists; the real terrorist was me, and the real terrorism is this occupation. Racism within the military has long been an important tool to justify the destruction and occupation of another country. Without racism, soldiers would realize that they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war. I threw families onto the street in Iraq, only to come home and find families thrown onto the street in this country, in this tragic and unnecessary foreclosure crisis. Our enemies are not five thousand miles away, they are right here at home, and if we organize and fight, we can stop this war, we can stop this government, and we can create a better world.

As Fears Ease, Baghdad Sees Walls Tumble.

Standard Warfare May Be Eclipsed By Nation-Building. The Army on Monday will unveil an unprecedented doctrine that declares nation-building missions will probably become more important than conventional warfare and defines "fragile states" that breed crime, terrorism and religious and ethnic strife as the greatest threat to U.S. national security. The doctrine, which has generated intense debate in the U.S. military establishment and government, holds that in coming years, American troops are not likely to engage in major ground combat against hostile states as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead will frequently be called upon to operate in lawless areas to safeguard populations and rebuild countries. Such "stability operations" will last longer and ultimately contribute more to the military's success than "traditional combat operations," according to the Army's new Stability Operations Field Manual, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

Defying a Spate of Bombings, Baghdad Has a Party. This year Iraqis, especially those in Baghdad, seem to be determined not tobe left out of the festivities despite all the dangers and difficulties. Since Sunday, bombings in busy markets and mosques in Baghdad have killed more than 50 people and badly wounded scores more. On top of that the country’s religious establishment could not even agree on a unified date for the start of Id, which hinges on the sighting of a new crescent but is subject to certain theological interpretations. Sunnis and some Shiite clergy declared Tuesday as the start of Id, other Shiite clerics said it was Wednesday, while the most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said it was Thursday. The government, anticipating the problem, had decreed that the holiday would run from Tuesday to Sunday, and everyone was out in full force Thursday evening and Friday. But theological debates were the last thing on the minds of holiday revelers as they streamed into the riverside park of Abu Nuwas and the adjacent main street in the central Karada district.

US military: Mastermind of Baghdad bombings killed. The U.S. military said Saturday it has killed an al-Qaida in Iraq leader suspected of masterminding one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad as well as recent bombings and the 2006 videotaped execution of a Russian official. American troops also killed the man's wife after a firefight as they tried to capture him Friday in the northern neighborhood of Azamiyah in Baghdad, the military said. Mahir Ahmad Mahmud al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Assad or Abu Rami, allegedly directed the insurgent cell believed to be responsible for nearly simultaneous car bomb and suicide attacks Thursday, according to the statement. Iraqi police and hospital officials have said some two dozen people were killed in Thursday's attacks targeting two Shiite mosques in Baghdad.

Operation Iraqi Liberation, archived October 04, 2008

Robert Fisk: ‘The Middle East Is Not a Complex Place’ The acclaimed journalist stopped by our offices this week, where he told Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer that the Middle East is a lot less puzzling than it’s made out to be: “It’s we who are there, not the other way round. ... It’s not our land. It’s not our religion. Our soldiers are in the Muslim world and they should not be there.”

Patience is gone, my Iraqi friends. September 25, 2008 From: President George W. Bush To: President Jalal Talabani of Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashadani. Dear Sirs, I am writing you on a matter of grave importance. It's hard for me to express to you how deep the economic crisis in America is today. We are discussing a $1 trillion bailout for our troubled banking system. This is a financial Sept. 11. As Americans lose their homes and sink into debt, they no longer understand why we are spending $1 billion a day to make Iraqis feel more secure in their homes.

Satellite Photos Show Sectarian Cleansing, Not Surge, Led to Drop in Iraq Violence.

Satellite images show ethnic cleanout in Iraq.

Iraqis Protest Deadly Raid by U.S. on Village. Iraqis protested the deaths of at least seven people during an American raid and airstrike on Friday in the northern town where Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003. Americans say the raid succeeded in killing its target, a senior operative of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, also known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, who had been suspected of involvement in bombing attacks along the Tigris River Valley. But Iraqi officials said the strike had used excessive force in killing eight members of one family, who the officials said were innocent. They accused the Americans of shooting down men and women from the air as they fled. The Americans said seven people had been killed.

Will Iraq squander the gains of the surge? The U.S. troop surge did what it aimed: Calm Iraq down. But now, an increasing number of U.S. officials are worried that the hard-won drop in violence may be only temporary. The fear: that Iraq may squander this period of relative calm, failing to reach the difficult political deals the surge was designed to allow — and thus setting the stage for another round of violence someday. That worry is behind U.S. military leaders’ constant warnings that Iraq’s current calm may not endure. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was the latest, saying this week that U.S. military commanders do not yet believe “our gains are necessarily enduring.” Their fears are sound.

It was on this day in 1812 that Napoleon's army invaded the city of Moscow. Napoleon had hoped to conquer all of Europe, and he had almost succeeded. He had invaded Russia in June of 1812, but the Russian forces kept retreating, leading his army farther and farther into the country. The Russians practiced a scorched-earth policy of retreat, burning all the farmland so that the French army wouldn't have any food to draw on. The troops were exhausted and hungry by the time they reached Moscow on this day, in 1812. As they approached, they found the gates standing open and the streets deserted. Then they noticed that all over the city, small fires had started. The Russians had set fire to their own city. By that night, the fires were out of control. Napoleon watched the burning of the city from inside the Kremlin. He finally fled when a fire broke out inside the Kremlin itself, and he barely escaped the city alive. He began his retreat across the snow-covered plains on October 19. It was one of the great disasters of military history. Thousands died of starvation and hypothermia. Of the nearly 500,000 men who had set out in June, fewer than 20,000 ragged, freezing, and starving men staggered back across the Russian frontier in December.

Bombs kill as many as 34 in Iraq. A blast in Sinjar, near the border with Syria, and another in Dujayl target Shiites on the Muslim sabbath.,0,4551975.story

Bush keeping Iraq troop levels mostly steady.

some great pictures

Doubt, Distrust, Delay. The Inside Story of How Bush's Team Dealt With Its Failing Iraq Strategy.

"It's bullshit," he says with a shrug. "We got no business there. We get played by all the locals. Guys are dying for nothing. Everyone's losing their minds. It's a disaster." Two discussions about the war in Iraq suddenly take place. The first discussion is among a group of young Republicans standing in front of the Hyatt smoking cigars -- party favors from the Giuliani party. The men are all similarly clad in J. Press; some in houndstooth, some in navy blue blazers. The girlfriends, however, wear designer cocktail dresses. "I'm sick of this chickenshit," says one guy, a sturdy Stanford 2L. "I hear too much apologizing for the war. We should all get behind McCain and stand up proudly and use the 'W' word. We have to tell the voters, 'No, we're not just making gains, we are winning this war.'" The second conversation takes place between me and Scott, a baby-faced Marine who has served two tours in Iraq (and is expecting to be called up again any day). We're standing 2 feet away from the Republicans. As Scott tells it, his platoon spent almost two years roving around western Iraq doing the bidding of various local tribal bosses, fighting fierce and undefined battles against enemies who had been allies a week earlier. His take on the war? "It's bullshit," he says with a shrug. "We got no business there. We get played by all the locals. Guys are dying for nothing. Everyone's losing their minds. It's a disaster."

Report: Obama gave Petraeus Afghanistan advice. Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama reportedly told the top military commander in Iraq that some U.S. forces should be pulled out of Iraq and deployed to Afghanistan when the two met in July in Baghdad. At the July meeting, Petraeus did not disclose his opinion on moving troops from one war to the other, according to an article in the Sept. 8 edition of The New Yorker magazine. The Taliban-led insurgency has dramatically increased attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces in recent months.

In Iraq, Troops Down, Contractors Up. The U.S. military continues its long, steady draw down of troops from Iraq -- just yesterday, Marine Corps Commandant announced he's handing over responsibility for Anbar province to Iraqi forces. Meanwhile, "the United States is spending more money than ever on private security contractors in Iraq," USA Today reports. "This year, spending on contractors, who protect diplomats, civilian facilities and supply convoys, is projected to exceed $1.2 billion... Most of that bill — about $1 billion — is State Department spending, which is up 13 percent over 2007."

Calm has market back in business. Just one year ago, U.S. troops faced gunfire and roadside bombs all along the main stretch of the Dora market. Now, the biggest problem for them is squeezing through the streets during the busiest hours of the day.

Iraqi police want equipment to stop bombers. Iraqi police in this provincial backwater got a tip earlier this month that a suicide bomber was on the loose. They were even given his name, age and a description of his car. With all that, they still couldn't stop him. Four days after the initial warning, 19-year-old Ashraf al-Yas talked his way through a police checkpoint, drove his vehicle into a crowded farmers market and detonated his explosives. He killed 28 people and injured 72. The attack raised questions about whether Iraqi forces are yet capable of protecting civilians from determined extremists as across the country, the Americans hand over primary responsibility for security to Iraqi soldiers and police.

In this photo released by the U.S. Army on Friday, Aug. 29, 2008, Sgt. Joshua Robbins, from Dickson, Tenn., serving with the 66th Engineers Company, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, torches an area with a flame thrower in an effort to reduce insurgents' opportunities for concealment and give coalition forces a clear line of sight, on a road between Mushada and Tarmiyah, in Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008. Bush said: "We need to destroy the country in order to save the country."

Source: Petraeus submitted preliminary Iraq report.

Baghdad's misguided crackdown on the Sons of Iraq. Prime Minister Maliki's Shiite-dominated government risks security gains by taking on U.S.-backed Sunni forces.,0,4646204.story

Mission Creep: US Military Presence Worldwide.

Iraq suicide attack kills 25. A bomber strikes at house in a Sunni suburb of Baghdad were people were celebrating the release of a man from detention. At least 14 people die in other attacks.,0,3568930.story

Iraq suicide bomber kills five in car showroom. A suicide bomber blew himself up at a car dealership in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Saturday, killing at least five people and wounding nine, police said. The attack targeted a leader of a group fighting Al-Qaeda in the town of Khalis in the central province of Diyala, said Brigadier General Torhan Yusuf Abdul Rahman, deputy chief of Kirkuk police. The leader of the group, Abdel Karim Ahmed Mindil, was inside the showroom and was killed in the blast along with four others, he said.;_ylt=AoSoj_rAwp9MIQmnebmGOnNX6GMA

Fear Keeps Iraqis Out of Their Baghdad Homes. It is not an unusual decision. Out of the more than 151,000 families who had fled their houses in Baghdad, just 7,112 had returned to them by mid-July, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Migration. Many of the displaced remain in Baghdad, just in different areas. In one neighborhood alone, Amiriya, in western Baghdad, there are 8,350 displaced families, more than the total number of families who have returned to their houses in all of Baghdad. The reasons for the hesitation are complex, based on dangers both real and imagined. In most cases, Iraqis say they feel safe with their neighbors but are not sure about other residents. Some are afraid of the new guards on their blocks. In rarer cases, they cannot face neighbors who they suspect helped in killings.

Seizure of AK-47s a point of contention in Diyala. Confiscated weapons leave Iraqis vulnerable.

Money as a Weapon. A modest program to put cash in Iraqis' hands stretches its mandate with big projects.

Marines inch closer to a formal transfer of security control to Iraqis in Anbar. U.S. Marines hoped that Iraqi police would be ready by now to take over security in the once-restive province. They're not. But that milestone is no longer so far off.,0,5925951.story

Suicide blast kills at least 18 pilgrims. Woman targeted Shiites on way to religious festival. the U.S. military announced that six Navy guards face trial for allegedly assaulting prisoners and releasing pepper spray into a cellblock after a disturbance at the main U.S. prison in Iraq.

Is this any way to rebuild Iraq? The country has a huge budget surplus. Why isn't it paying for its own reconstruction?,0,4432303.story

IRAQ: Students Fail, Like So Much Else. Living from one crisis to another, without electricity or freedom to move under a collapse of security, massive numbers of Iraqi students are failing their exams. "It is a natural result of what is going on in Iraq under this U.S. occupation that so many Iraqi students failed the high school exams," Mahmood Jassim, a teacher in Baghdad told IPS. "How can a student pass such difficult exams feeling terrified, exhausted in the heat, in darkness without electricity, having to work in the absence of a dead or detained father, and all the problems of the world over his head." Jassim says about 75 percent of his students are failing their exams.

Troops blast through a bomb-strewn route in Diyala province.

Roadside bombs getting harder to find. While the number of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, found and troops injured or killed have plummeted in Iraq, they spiked recently in Afghanistan, reflecting the escalating combat there. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, who heads the military's counter-IED organization, said that in late spring, the number of IED incidents peaked at about 200 a month in Afghanistan. Those incidents, he said, resulted in some of the highest monthly coalition casualties due to roadside bombs in the past four years. The number of IED incidents dipped in July. Metz, who was the No. 2 commander of U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004-05, said the enemy was more likely to use explosives triggered by cell phones or other similar radio waves. But now militants on both warfronts have moved to less sophisticated triggering mechanisms, such as command wires or pressure plates.

U.S. soldier, 17 Iraqis killed in suicide blast. The attack in Tarmiya is the most deadly of several incidents across Iraq. U.S., Iraqi negotiators continue working on pact laying out the future for U.S. troops in the nation.,0,7505681.story

Army refining policy on media coverage of Arlington burials.

Iraqis: Deal close on plan for US troops to leave.

New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right. What was an Iraqi politician doing at CIA headquarters just days before he distributed a fake memo incriminating Saddam Hussein in 9/11?

Report: Sadr to disarm Mahdi Army. Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr intends to disarm his once-dominant Mahdi Army militia and remake it as a social-services organization, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The transformation would represent a significant turnaround for a group that has been one of the most destabilizing anti-American forces in Iraq. A new brochure, obtained by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by al-Sadr’s chief spokesman, Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, states that the Mahdi Army will now be guided by Shiite spirituality instead of anti-American militancy. The group will focus on education, religion and social justice, according to the brochure, which is aimed at al-Sadr’s followers. The brochure also states that it "is not allowed to use arms at all," The Journal noted.

2 U.S. troops killed by Iraq roadside bomb. Other developments.

"We were basically hiring terrorists" The U.S. signed up legions of sketchy Iraqi fighters to help stop sectarian violence. Now, most may lose their security jobs -- but remain armed and angry.

"Things seem to be calming down already, anyway," I say. "Yes, but that's because of the money. First al-Qaida came around and said: 'Here's $200 if you plant a bomb.' Then the Americans came and said: 'Here's $300; all you have to do for it is not plant that bomb.' That's effective. "A suicide bomber's family used to receive up to $100,000. Do you know where that money came from? Saudi Arabia. In reality, what was going on here was a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And I'm not convinced that that wasn't the plan from the start."

Unveiling Iraq's teenage prostitutes. Fleeing their war-torn homes, Iraqi girls are selling their bodies in Syria to support their families.

"If they find out I told you, they will kill me" In a Baghdad neighborhood pacified by the surge, the locals fear the day the U.S. military departs, because they don't trust their own government to keep them safe.

Part II: Welcome to Iraq, and a long separation.

Baghdad truck bombing kills 12. A truck bomb has killed at least 12 people and injured 14 near a passport office in a busy Sunni area of Baghdad. The parked vehicle exploded near al-Maghreb street in the northern district of Adhamiya, reports said. The explosion came days after dozens of people died as female suicide bombers struck a major Shia pilgrimage. But correspondents say major car bombings are now infrequent events in Baghdad, where violence has fallen to levels not seen since 2004.

Camp Pendleton's Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Friday that the military is on the verge on victory in Iraq's once rebellious Anbar province. "We have all but won this thing when they once said that was impossible," Kelly said during a telephone interview with the North County Times from his headquarters in the city of Fallujah, once a flash point in the battle against the insurgency. "The rest of the country is now following Anbar's lead."

The monthly U.S. toll in Iraq fell to its lowest point since the war began, with 11 American deaths as July drew to a close Thursday after the departure of the last surge brigade.

President Bush’s surge strategy intends to use the might of the U.S. military to establish secure conditions in Iraq under which the promise of political progress will be realized. The U.S. military used this approach in the past when the U.S. Fallujah Offensive of late 2004 established security for the Iraqi Election Cycle in 2005. But the promise of political progress for insurgents was not fulfilled and they resorted to extreme levels of violence in response, killing 1,079 U.S. troops from September 2006 through September 2007, more than in any other comparable 12 month period. During the second half of Year 5, from September 2007 through the fifth anniversary of the war on March 19, 2008, U.S. forces in cooperation with Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias helped improve security conditions once again. But unless the surge’s promise of political progress is fulfilled, the patience of the insurgents and militias will dissipate and violence will increase once again in Year 6. After five years in Iraq, the U.S. military has suffered over 33,000 casualties, more than 29,000 wounded and 4,000 dead,1 and it remains engulfed by three converging currents that constitute the Iraq War – the underlying military conflict, the battle for political control, and grinding civil strife. Throughout the war, these currents have ebbed and flowed relentlessly, flooding at times through phases of intense violence, at others slowing to a comparative trickle, and Year 5, which ended March 19, 2008, was no exception. The first half of the year, through September 2007, was the most violent such period of the entire war for Americans as 565 U.S. troops died. By contrast, the second half of the year was the least violent, with less than half that number, 204, dead, resulting in the lowest number of casualties annually since the first year of the war (see Table 1). Success in the Iraq War will be measured first by the level of violence, and second whether the ebb during the last six months of Year 5 will be sustained and create the conditions for making substantive political progress.

In big shift, U.S. is seen as winning war in Iraq. front page of bird cage floor.

Analysis: US now winning Iraq war that seemed lost. The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost. Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace - a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago. Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government. That does not mean the war has ended or that U.S. troops have no role in Iraq. It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had. The new phase focuses on training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.

US military: Iraq inmates imposed Islamic justice. For years, extremist Iraqi detainees in U.S. custody held self-styled Islamic courts and tortured or killed inmates who refused to join them, military officials said, disclosing new details about the use of American prisons to recruit for the insurgency. The problem became the main catalyst for a decision to separate moderate detainees from the extremists, part of a broader reform package aimed at correcting widespread U.S. prison abuses that sparked international criticism. "We were having people who weren't insurgents who were being forced to be insurgents because of the power of these courts, the power of al-Qaida and other extremist groups," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Plowman, a spokesman for Task Force 134, which operates coalition detention facilities in Iraq. He told The Associated Press Friday that the jailhouse Sharia courts were formed, despite the presence of U.S guards, to enforce an extreme interpretation of Islamic law. They were then used to convict moderate inmates, who were then tortured or killed, he said.

When it comes to Iraq, the surge is a great success, right? Well, according to Ayad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, that depends on what you mean by "success". In a briefing before members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday, Allawi answered questions from members of the subcommittee on international organizations, human rights, and oversight. When asked by Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., the subcommittee's ranking member, for Allawi's "assessment of of what's come of the surge," Allawi all but said, not much. Reminding Rohrabacher that the original objective of the surge was to create a safe environment for a process of national reconciliation, Allawi said, "Now, militarily, the surge has achieved some of its goals. Politically, I don't think so." Allawi rattled off a laundry list of perils that still confront the Iraqi people: internal displacement of large numbers of people, millions of refugees outside Iraq, security forces he described as sectarian militias dressed in national uniforms and no regime for enforcement of the national constitution, which he described as a "divisive" document.

Self-styled technocrats keep the wealth flowing. Heads of two of Iraq’s energy companies say the way to get things done is to avoid politics.

Hertling: Mosul still a key site for insurgents.

MRAPs running strong in north. Reports of malfunctions not affecting Kirkuk-based unit.

The Army has learned from Iraq. The U.S. Army has done something remarkable in its new history of the disastrous first 18 months of the American occupation of Iraq: It has conducted a rigorous self-critique of how bad decisions were made, so that the Army won't make them again. Civilian leaders are still mostly engaged in a blame game about Iraq, pointing fingers to explain what went wrong and to justify their own actions. That's certainly the tone of recent memoirs by Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense, and L. Paul Bremer, the one-time head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. These were the people making policy, yet they treat the key mistakes as other people's fault. Feith criticizes Bremer and the CIA, while Bremer chides former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the military for ignoring his advice that the United States didn't have enough troops. The Army can't afford this sort of retroactive self-justification. Its commanders and soldiers are the ones who got stuck with the situation in Iraq and had to make it work as best they could. And this internal history, published last month under the title “On Point II,” testifies to the Army's strength as a learning organization. (This study covers May 2003 to January 2005. An earlier volume, “On Point,” chronicled the initial assault on Baghdad.) The study is blunt about how unprepared the Army was for the postwar challenges: “The DOD and the Army lacked a coherent plan to translate the rapid, narrow-front attack (on Baghdad) . . . into strategic success. Soldiers and commanders at nearly every level did not know what was expected of them once Saddam Hussein was deposed and his military forces destroyed.” The situation in spring 2003 “evoked the aphorism, 'if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.' ” Why was the Army so unready for the insurgency and chaos that followed the toppling of Saddam? The study rejects the easy (if largely correct) answer that it was the fault of poor civilian leadership, and focuses instead on the Army's own shortcomings. The overall commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, “did not see postwar Iraq as his long-term responsibility,” the study says. “Franks' message to the DOD and the Joint Chiefs was, 'You pay attention to the day after, and I'll pay attention to the day of.' ”

Secret operation moves uranium from nuclear program out of Iraq. The Iraqi government sold the yellowcake to a Canadian uranium producer, Cameco Corp., in a transaction the official described as worth “tens of millions of dollars.” A Cameco spokesman, Lyle Krahn, declined to discuss the price but said the yellowcake will be processed at facilities in Ontario for use in energy-producing reactors. The deal culminated more than a year of intense diplomatic and military initiatives – kept hushed in fear of ambushes or attacks once the convoys were under way: first carrying 3,500 barrels by road to Baghdad, then on 37 military flights to the Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia and finally aboard a U.S.-flagged ship for a 8,500-mile trip to Montreal. In a symbolic way, the mission linked the attempts to stabilize Iraq with the high-profile claims about Hussein's weapons capabilities in the buildup to the 2003 invasion. Tuwaitha and an adjacent research facility were well-known for decades as the centerpiece of Hussein's nuclear efforts.

Gains in Iraq may lead to pullouts. The State Department said in a recent report that Iraq has met 15 of 18 congressional benchmarks designed to measure progress in Iraq. The improved effectiveness of Iraq's security forces will make it easier to withdraw U.S. troops, said California Rep. Duncan Hunter, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. "I think it might surprise some people how fast we can come out of Iraq as the Iraqi army matures," Hunter said. "I think we passed the tipping point as far as the Iraqi army maturing."

Iraqi Shiites Reclaim a Village Razed by Sunnis.

Bodies of 2 missing U.S. soldiers are found in Iraq. Confirming the families' accounts, the Defense Department said Friday that the remains were discovered Wednesday and identified a day later. The Pentagon generally waits 24 hours after notifying the next of kin before making a release public. The two bodies were found in the Iraqi village of Jurf as Sakhr. The body of a third captured soldier, Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif., had been found in the Euphrates River 11 days after the attack.

Operation Iraqi Liberation, archived July 11, 2008

Marine's graphic interview describes killing of prisoners in Iraq. Sgt. Jermaine Nelson, in a tape-recorded interview, says he and a fellow sergeant were ordered to kill the prisoners during a sweep through a Fallouja neighborhood in 2004. A graphic, vulgarity-laced interview in which a Marine described how he and two other Marines killed four unarmed prisoners in Iraq was played today during a preliminary hearing in the case. Sgt. Jermaine Nelson, in a tape-recorded interview with a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, said he and Sgt. Ryan Weemer were ordered by Sgt. Jose Nazario to kill the prisoners as the Marines swept through a neighborhood in Fallouja in late 2004. Several minutes of the tape were played at the hearing for Weemer, who faces murder and dereliction of duty charges. Nelson faces similar charges, and Nazario faces manslaughter charges in federal court in Riverside.,0,1253374.story

Nelson told the investigator that Nazario told him, "I'm not doing all this [expletive] by myself. You're doing one and Weemer is doing one."

Beltway myth: "The left-wing base" vs. "the American people" on Iraq.

Valley’s complexities a challenge for GIs. U.S. soldiers follow tribal politics as they work to eliminate insurgents near Kirkuk.

Marine defends actions in civilian killings in Anbar province. The shootings occurred June 17, 2007, near Lake Tharthar in the Anbar province. Winnick is giving his account of the incident through an unsworn statement, which means he cannot be cross-examined. The proceedings are taking place in a courtroom at Camp Pendleton. Winnick, 24, is accused of firing before identifying the civilians as insurgents or confirming that they posed a threat to him or members of his sniper team. He is charged with voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and failure to obey orders or regulations. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for 40 years and receive a dishonorable discharge.

Bidding opens for Iraqi oil, gas fields. Western firms could be near consulting deals.

Army's study on Iraq cites blunders. Report covers 18 months after ouster of Hussein.

Truck bomb kills 7 north of Baghdad. A truck bomb detonated by remote control north of Baghdad killed six policemen and a member of a local group of Sunni volunteers who have turned against the insurgents, police said. The truck was parked along a road in Duluiyah, some 45 miles north of Baghdad, and exploded as police entered the vehicle to search it, said police Col. Mohammed Khalid. In other violence, gunmen killed the head of Basra's intelligence department Saturday night in a drive-by shooting in eastern Baghdad, local police said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. But the ongoing crackdown against Shiite extremists may have backfired when a relative of the prime minister was killed early Friday in a raid on Hindiyah, about 12 miles east of Karbala, local officials said. Ali Abdul-Hussein, said to be a cousin of al-Maliki, was shot dead in a raid conducted by 60 U.S. soldiers supported by four helicopters and a fighter jet, said provincial police chief Raed Shakir. Officials close to the prime minister said the killing enraged Maliki, who has been locked in negotiations in recent months over a long-term security agreement with the United States. Maliki demanded an explanation from the Americans, who promised an investigation into the incident, said the officials Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Karbala Gov. Aqil Khuzaie said in a statement Saturday that the raid was a violation of an agreement signed with the U.S. last year that transferred Karbala to the control of Iraqi security forces. "We are shocked to hear about the operation that has led to the killing of an innocent person," said Khuzaie.,0,4879658.story

Al-Qaida in Iraq says it was behind Anbar attack. n al-Qaida front group claimed responsibility Saturday for a suicide attack that killed three U.S. Marines and about 20 other people in Anbar province. The Islamic State of Iraq posted the claim on a Web site, saying the bomber blew himself up among a gathering of the "heads of apostasy" - a reference to U.S.-backed Sunni tribal leaders who were attending a meeting Thursday in Karmah, 20 miles west of Baghdad. "They sold their souls to the American devil for a cheap price," the statement said. "Therefore, the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq have launched an open war against them."

Attacks targeting Iraqis working with Americans. A spate of attacks this week in Iraq appears to be an intensified effort by insurgents — both Sunni and Shiite — to target Iraqi government and civilian leaders who are working with Americans. The most recent attack struck a meeting of "Awakening" council officials and American Marines in Anbar province on Thursday. Some 50 officials were meeting in Karmah when an explosion killed at least three Marines, two interpreters and 12 Iraqis. Several Iraqi officials quoted in news reports blamed the attack on a suicide bomber from the town and a former Awakening member. The U.S. military said Friday that a member of an extremist cell believed to be behind the attack has been arrested. Senior tribal leaders in the movement — which turned against al-Qaida and led to a steep decline in attacks in Anbar — were reportedly killed in the attack.

Walls turning Baghdad into 'prison'. Security better, but barriers are burden. Baghdad hasn't been this quiet in years. But the respite from bloodshed comes at a high price. Up to 20 feet high in some sections. Rows after rows of barrier walls divide the city into smaller and smaller areas that protect people from bombings, sniper fire and kidnappings. They also lead to gridlock, rising prices for food and homes, and complaints about living in what feels like a prison. Baghdad's walls are everywhere. They have turned a riverside capital of leafy neighborhoods and palm-lined boulevards into a city of shadows that separate Sunnis from Shiites. The walls block access to schools, mosques, churches, hotels, homes, markets and even entire neighborhoods -- almost anything that could be attacked. For many Iraqis, they have become the iconic symbol of the war. "Maybe one day they will remove it," said Kareem Mustapha, a 26-year-old Sadr City resident who lives a five-minute walk from a wall built this spring in the large Shiite district. "I don't know when, but it is not soon."

Fighting forces get no break on fuel costs. On July 1, the cost for refined fuel used by troops will jump from $127.68 a barrel to $170.94 – an astounding 34 percent increase in just six months and more than double what the Pentagon was paying three years ago. While prices charged to warfighting units have fluctuated in recent years, they have not faced such a steep spike in so few months. The cost of jet fuel, for example, jumped from $2.31 a gallon in October, the start of the 2008 budget year, to $3.04 in December. As of next month, units will start paying $4.07 a gallon. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Brian Maka said Friday that the latest price hike is needed to cover an anticipated $1.2 billion rise in fuel costs in the next three months. While a $400,000 a month increase in fuel costs won't affect ongoing military operations, it will require a “reprioritization of daily support activities,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Three Marines Among Dead in Bombings in Iraq. wo insurgent bomb blasts struck Thursday at pro-American Iraqi targets in Anbar Province just west of Baghdad and in the northern city of Mosul. The police said more than 30 Iraqis were killed and 80 wounded. An American military spokesman and Iraqi police officials said that three American marines were killed in the Anbar attack and that two interpreters were also among the dead. The American military command was preparing to hand control of the province, once considered the hotbed of the insurgency, to Iraqi forces.

3 soldiers die in bomb attacks. At least 9 Americans killed in Iraq since Monday.

Retired General: "The Current Administration Has Committed War Crimes" As Congress pieces together the White House torture program, former Army General Antonio Taguba condemns Bush's "systematic regime of torture."

A bomb exploded inside Sadr City's district council building Tuesday, killing 10 people, including four Americans working to restore local government and services in the former Shiite militia stronghold. Iraqi officials said it appeared to be an inside job, and suspicion fell on the headquarters' Shiite guard force. The blast was the second deadly attack to strike Americans promoting municipal governments in as many days.

Insurgents hiding out in northern Iraq.

‘He Should Never Have Gone to Iraq’. More borderline troops are being sent to the front, sometimes with tragic results. Pvt. David Dietrich had a history of cognitive problems. He struggled in boot camp at Fort Knox, Ky., striking at least one of his superiors as unfit for the military. Dietrich was so slow at processing new things, some fellow soldiers called him Forrest Gump. His squad leader, Pfc. Matthew Berg, says Dietrich couldn't hit targets on the rifle range and had trouble retaining information. "He was very strong physically, but mentally he wasn't really all there," Berg says. Recruited as a cavalry scout, one of the toughest specialties in the Army, Dietrich seemed to lack the essential skills for the job: concentration, decisiveness and the ability to move around without being noticed. He was sent for psychological evaluations at least twice, yet somehow Dietrich advanced—from Fort Knox to Germany and on to Iraq in November 2006. Eight weeks later, at 21, Dietrich was killed by a sniper while conducting reconnaissance from an abandoned building in Ramadi. What was a guy like Dietrich doing in the military? At a time when an overstretched Army is sending into combat thousands of soldiers who once would have been considered mentally or physically unfit for duty, his story illuminates the complexities and human cost of the war—and shows how hard it is to find the line between tragic circumstances and military misconduct.

Gunman in Iraq kills 2 American soldiers, wounds 4. A disgruntled local official opened fire Monday on U.S. soldiers attending a municipal council meeting southeast of Baghdad, killing two of them and wounding four other Americans, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

Leaving Home Behind to Escape a Nightmare. Mr. Aldeen is one of just 4,742 refugees from Iraq that the Bush administration has allowed into the United States since October 2007 — eligible because he worked for an American organization and his life was considered to be in danger. Several of the company’s employees were kidnapped. The administration has reserved 12,000 slots for Iraqi refugees for this year. But it has been slow to fill them. Critics call the program miserly, particularly since the United States ignited the chaos that pushed an estimated 1.5 million Iraqis to flee, mostly to Syria or Jordan, where they often struggle to make ends meet. The United States government has a reputation for being tight-fisted with refugees compared with, say, Sweden, which grants newcomers benefits for life. By contrast, Mr. Aldeen is entitled to about $400 a month for four months, plus $100 in food stamps. He turns over $375 a month to his aunt and uncle for room and board. Moving out is not affordable, he said.

Police: Female suicide bomber kills 15 in Iraq.

Bush signs new military tax breaks into law. A military tax bill containing a combination of new tax benefits and the extension of existing benefits was signed into law Tuesday by President Bush. The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008, or HEART Act, includes a provision allowing military families to receive the $600-per-person economic stimulus rebate even if a spouse does not have a Social Security number.

Calm in Basra May Offer A Guide for Iraqi Security. Rebuilt Army Controls City Militias Once Held.

Big Gains for Iraq Security, but Questions Linger. Violence in all of Iraq is the lowest since March 2004. The two largest cities, Baghdad and Basra, are calmer than they have been for years. The third largest, Mosul, is in the midst of a major security operation. On Thursday, Iraqi forces swept unopposed through the southern city of Amara, which has been controlled by Shiite militias. There is a sense that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government has more political traction than any of its predecessors.

Iraq crackdown in Amarah continues; harassment alleged. At least 45 are arrested. Muqtada Sadr's followers accuse security forces of random shootings and beatings.,0,4748586.story

U.S.: Shiite responsible for bombing. Militant’s goal was to incite sectarian violence. A Shiite militant seeking to reignite sectarian violence was responsible for Tuesday’s bombing in Baghdad, which was the worst attack there in several months, American officials said Wednesday. U.S. military officials blamed the attack — which killed nearly 70 people, according to Iraqi officials — on a man named Haydar Mehdi Khadum Al Fawadi, the alleged leader of a "Special Groups" cell. The military uses the term to describe what it says are splinter factions of Shiite militias armed and trained by Iran.

'Curveball' speaks, and a reputation as disinformation agent remains intact. Now, in his first public comments, the 41-year-old engineer from Baghdad complains that the CIA and other spy agencies are blaming him for their mistakes. "I'm not guilty," Alwan said, insisting that he made no false claims. "Believe me, I'm not guilty.",0,5268366.story

Heroes 2008

American advisers training Iraqi police units face series of challenges.

Online Christian soldiers.

U.S. strikes kill 4 suspected insurgents north of Baghdad.

New group working with coalition forces to help secure Sadr City. Ihmad Abed Alkrem, a 23-year-old without steady work, said he wants to help take his city back. Instead of relying on coalition forces to secure his neighborhood, the time has come to do it themselves, says Alkrem, who lives in the Jamilla section of Sadr City. "Yeah, we want them to go," Alkrem said, referring to the U.S. Army presence in his city. This past weekend, Alkrem and about 50 other residents of Jamilla were to take to the streets for their first day on the job as members of the newly formed "Neighborhood Guard." After three days of training at the U.S. Army’s Forward Operating Base War Eagle, the young men are now being paid by coalition forces to work as members of the first neighborhood watch-style group in Sadr City.

Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say. The new cases, and the number of deaths among children, have risen after "special weaponry" was used in the two massive bombing campaigns in Fallujah in 2004. After denying it at first, the Pentagon admitted in November 2005 that white phosphorous, a restricted incendiary weapon, was used a year earlier in Fallujah. In addition, depleted uranium (DU) munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste, were used heavily in Fallujah. The Pentagon admits to having used 1,200 tonnes of DU in Iraq thus far. Many doctors believe DU to be the cause of a severe increase in the incidence of cancer in Iraq, as well as among U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War and through the current occupation.

Two American troop deaths reported in Iraq. Baghdad officials cool to security pact.

Report: Antidepressants being used more among U.S. troops on front lines.

With help, Sadr City market is regrouping.

Suicide car bomb kills US soldier, wounds 18. A suicide truck bomber who concealed his explosives under tanned animal hides struck a U.S. patrol base Sunday in northern Iraq, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding 18 other Americans, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Two Iraqi contractors working at the base in Tamim province also were wounded, according to a brief statement from the military.

Abu Ghraib reformer Stone hands over command of detainee system in Iraq. aj. Gen. Stone to be replaced by his deputy.

Gates ousts Air Force leaders in historic shake-up.

The real consequences when America is at war. We may not want to admit it, but the war in Iraq is now primarily about murder.

Iraqi forces adapt to hold Mosul.

Report: Letter slams Marines for camera system in Iraq.

US in Iraq suffers worst loss in a month, truck bomb rocks Baghdad.;_ylt=AsLxME64AQtjaWAG6xPT_NdX6GMA

Veterans share their stories, urge an end to the war in Iraq.

The Unsung Victims of the Emerald City. For weeks to come after the Easter Sunday attacks, the media chatters about the ugly semiotics of the rocket blasts: Did they definitively take the “green” out of the Green Zone? Televised pundits dispute what the bursting of America’s would-be bubble in Baghdad portends for the U.S. presidential elections, and U.S. presidential contenders debate what the possible Iranian origins of the rockets mean for the future of American foreign policy. But no one bothers to mention the dead and wounded TCNs. No one prints their names in the papers or digs up their family photographs. Their conspicuous absence functions as my introduction to a sour truth of combat reporting: “If it bleeds, it leads” may be the tacit motto of the genre, but, apparently, most war reporters are checking passports at the gates.

CONTROVERSIAL COIN: MARINES ACCUSED OF PROSELYTIZING FOR CHRISTIANITY IN IRAQ. On one side, the coin asks, “Where will you spend eternity?” On the other side, it says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.” The overwhelmingly Islamic population is predictably outraged. According to McClatchy, a Sunni religious leader in Fallujah is demanding that the Marines discontinue the practice. “We say to the occupiers to stop this,” said Sheikh Mohammed Amin Abdel Hadi. “This can cause strife between the Iraqis and especially between Muslim and Christians . … Please stop these things and leave our homes because we are Muslims and we live in our homes in peace with other religions.” The newspaper chain says American military leaders are looking into the allegations. “Multi-National Force-Iraq is investigating a report that U.S. military personnel in Fallujah handed out material that is religious and evangelical in nature,” Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said. “Local commanders are investigating since the military prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or practices.” Military officials should move quickly. The War in Iraq has been a disaster on many levels. If it comes to be seen as a resumption of the Christian Crusades, things can only get worse.

Basra's Wary Rebirth. Before, Religious Hard-Liners Enforced a Harsh Rule; Now, Freedoms Have Returned -- but for How Long?

Iraqi Military Extends Control in Northern City. The recent successes in quieting violence in Basra and Sadr City appear to be stretching to the long-rebellious Sunni Arab district here in Mosul, raising hopes that the Iraqi Army may soon have tenuous control over all three of Iraq’s major cities.

Death toll for troops down in May. 21 killed is fewest in one month since '04.

Iraqis say Marines handed out Christian coins. Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, a spokesman for U.S. forces in western Iraq, said it didn't appear to be a widespread problem, stressing that the military forbids "proselytizing any religion, faith or practices." "Indications are this was an isolated incident — an individual Marine acting on his own accord passing out coins," Hughes said in an e-mailed statement. Col. James L. Welsh, chief of staff for American forces in western Iraq, also said the matter has their "full attention."

Finding vehicle doors at a Baghdad metal dealer’s shop a bad sign to GIs.

War’s Stresses Take Toll on Military’s Chaplains.

Al-Qaida fighters and other Sunni insurgents have largely scattered from the northern city of Mosul in the face of a U.S.-Iraqi sweep, fleeing to desert areas further south, an Iraqi commander said Sunday. He vowed the forces will not allow them to regroup. The U.S. military said al-Qaida in Iraq was "off-balance and on the run" but remains a very lethal threat, tempering remarks by the U.S. ambassador a day earlier that the terror network was closer than ever to being defeated. The comments came amid a flurry of attacks in Baghdad and other areas, most likely attributable to Sunni insurgents. A roadside bomb targeted a patrol of U.S.-allied Sunni Arab fighters near a mosque in northern Baghdad, killing one of the so-called Awakening Council members and wounding three others, a police official said. Bombings and shootings killed three people in and around the city of Baqouba, north of Baghdad, where U.S. forces waged a fierce offensive last year to break al-Qaida domination of the city, police said. Police officials in both cities spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

As soldiers fill Sadr City, militia fighters wait. Iraqi Col. Qassim Abdul-Wahab appeared relaxed as he cruised down rutted streets in an unarmored pickup truck, Arabic pop tunes pouring from the speakers and the air conditioner cranked up as high as it would go. For the first time since U.S.-led forces invaded the country in March 2003, Iraqi soldiers blanket Sadr City, the heavily populated Baghdad district that is the bastion of firebrand Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia. Tanks painted with the Iraqi flag are positioned at major intersections, and soldiers scan vehicles for weapons and fighters at newly erected checkpoints. "You see, the Iraqi army is everywhere. Nobody is targeting them," Abdul-Wahab said with obvious pride. "The Iraqi army is in control of Sadr City." But the posters plastered across bullet-sprayed walls tell a different story. Sadr's face and that of his revered father, the slain Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq Sadr -- for whom the district is named -- are everywhere. Menacing black graffiti proclaims: "The state of Sadr: It is forbidden to be entered by the Americans and the forces of [Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki." "This agreement is only temporary," he eventually said. "Most of the Mahdi Army isn't happy with it. They need chaos so they can take money from people." Although Sadr's movement has won loyalty by providing food, shelter and other services that the district lacks, some of his fighters have funded themselves by extorting from local businesses, smuggling fuel and kidnapping for ransom. Eventually, Abdul-Wahab predicted, they will fight back. "The only way we will fix this," he said, "is through power and force.",0,2863068.story

Sistani Switching Sides in Iraq? The religious leader is issuing fatwas against American troops.

In Iraq, a Surge in U.S. Airstrikes. Military Says Attacks Save Troops' Lives, but Civilian Casualties Elicit Criticism.

Escape from Baghdad. Unlike many who would also like to leave, today I board a cargo plane and fly away. Each year no one sweeps the streets adds a layer of decomposing trash. Each year no one repairs the leaky sewage pipes, the putrid pools that sit in Baghdad's lowlands grow deeper and wider. Each sectarian flare-up adds a new level of deep-seated mistrust that will be "very difficult to get rid of," predicts Eddie Bello, an Iraqi-born American who works as a cultural advisor to American troops. Like me, Bello is leaving Iraq on board a C17 military cargo plane headed for Amman, Jordan.

Detainees overcrowded in Iraqi holding facilities. The holding cells in the Al Kindi Iraq Army base appeared comfortable enough Tuesday while the detainees sat in the sunlight outside during their limited time in the fresh air. The floors were clean, and the room had little odor. Red-tinted Plexiglas on the windows kept the sun out. But the situation began to change when the detention center lieutenant started the roll call for the detainees to go back inside. With each name the lieutenant called, the cells began to fill up. When he was finished, more than 100 detainees squeezed into a building the size of a small house.

Report: Iraq to spend $3B on U.S. military gear.

U.S. Airstrike Kills 8 Civilians in Iraq.

Has life in Iraq improved? With pools of open sewage in the streets and little electricity, life for most Iraqis remains bleak.

Iraq Vets Testify to War Atrocities, Vow to Fight and Resist Bush Policy. Angry vets testify to horrors of killing innocent people, and the way they came to dehumanize those they were supposedly sent to "liberate."

OCEANSIDE: Troops treated to Operation Appreciation. 3,000 expected to attend 7th annual effort. Troops: please support us!

MILITARY: Anbar insurgency still active, colonel says. Cash, cunning and force at play in expansive province.

U.S. military says soldier shot at Koran. An officer apologizes and reads a letter of regret by the shooter, who has been removed from Iraq.,0,25401.story

House Speaker Pelosi pays surprise visit to Baghdad. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a top Democratic critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, expressed confidence during a visit to Iraq today that expected provincial elections will promote national reconciliation. Pelosi, who led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Baghdad, spoke after the group met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq. She welcomed Iraq's progress in passing a budget as well as oil legislation and a bill paving the way for provincial elections in the fall that are expected to more equitably redistribute power among local officials. She said the visit was to "pay our respects to our troops and at the same time learn more about what the situation is on the ground here." Pelosi was hopeful about the upcoming elections after meeting with Iraq's Sunni parliamentary speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. "We're assured sure the elections will happen here, they will be transparent, they will be inclusive and they will take Iraq closer to the reconcilation we all want it to have," she said. Pelosi's visit comes a day after she led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding.,0,5108566.story

Another day in paradise. On patrol with U.S. soldiers in Risala, sewage seeps through the dirt and pools underfoot.

Operation Iraqi Liberation, archived May 17, 2008

Security gains in Iraq give boost to new projects. The Shiite sheik told the Shiite general that a new Shiite extremist just slipped into town. A U.S. Army commander, listening to the conversation from a distance, arched an eyebrow and nodded in approval. "That’s pretty significant," observed Lt. Col. John Kolasheski, whose unit of soldiers with the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment spent the past year working toward such a breakthrough. Just a few months ago, this sort of revelation would be hard to coax from one of Jisr Diyala’s tribal leaders. Particularly in mixed company. But during weekly roundtable Jisr Diyala Security Council meetings with the Iraqi National Police and Army leaders, Shiite and Sunni sheiks have begun to put tribal considerations aside for the sake of security. In an effort to capitalize on the recent security gains and ethnic reconciliation — achieved in part by the security council meetings, which commenced in January and other similar efforts in the Mada’in Qada — U.S. forces here are poised to launch a major public works initiative. Dubbed "Marne Dauntless," it aims to fire a jolt of energy into the local economy in the coming weeks.

Military adds armor to vehicles as roadside bombs surge.;_ylt=Au19C5vA6PVN8ZY0Fe.3ur6s0NUE

Rumsfeld Blames the Generals for Poor Pre-War Planning.

Water supply is drying out in what was once the agriculturally rich Diyala province north of Baghdad. Baquba, the capital city of Diyala, is now running out of water both for drinking and for irrigation.

Killing by the numbers. In 2007 elite U.S. snipers executed an unarmed Iraqi prisoner in cold blood. Have the insidious tactics that led to atrocities in Vietnam reemerged in Iraq? Mustafa had just gotten back to the family home, 15 minutes later, when he heard two gunshots. Three snipers with exemplary military records from the 1st Battalion of the 25th Infantry Division's 501st Regiment were charged in Khudair's killing. They were tried by the military judicial system in Iraq beginning in 2007. But the most important question raised by his death remains unanswered. Why would these elite American soldiers kill an unarmed prisoner in cold blood? The answer: pressure from their commanding officers to pump up a statistic straight out of America's last long war against an intractable insurgency.

Bradley tanks used to be considered impregnable. "You know," al-Taee finally says to Lt. Mason, "every day I fix curb in front of my house, and the Bradleys break it." Everyone laughs, uncomfortably. Then we get back into the Bradleys and drive back to the base, running over curbs and medians, breaking off palm fronds and frightening kids.

Guns and water coolers in Iraq. U.S. soldiers drink water, lots of it, in scorching hot Baghdad. Plus, patrolling the streets with a less than disciplined Iraqi army squad.

Back to Baghdad. A reporter flies over the Iraqi capital on her 10th reporting trip, and sees empty swimming pools, kids playing on a grassless field, entire houses buried in trash.

Post-War Suicides May Exceed Combat Deaths, U.S. Says. The number of suicides among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care, the U.S. government's top psychiatric researcher said. Community mental health centers, hobbled by financial limits, haven't provided enough scientifically sound care, especially in rural areas, said Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He briefed reporters today at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in Washington.

Hotels, shops, condos planned for Green Zone. BAGHDAD — Forget the rocket attacks, concrete blast walls and lack of a sewer system. Now try to imagine luxury hotels, a shopping center and even condos in the heart of Baghdad. That’s all part of a five-year development “dream list” — or what some dub an improbable fantasy — to transform the U.S.-protected Green Zone from a walled fortress into a centerpiece for Baghdad’s future. But the $5 billion plan has the backing of the Pentagon and apparently the interest of some deep pockets in the world of international hotels and development, the lead military liaison for the project told The Associated Press.

US strike takes out suspected militant hideout in Sadr City. The U.S. military fired guided missiles into the heart of Baghdad's teeming Sadr City slum on Saturday, leveling a building 55 yards away from a hospital and wounding nearly two dozen people. Separately, the U.S. military said late Saturday that four Marines were killed on Thursday by a roadside bomb in Anbar province. The military also said that a U.S. soldier died of wounds suffered in a roadside bomb that struck the soldier's vehicle during a combat patrol in eastern Baghdad Friday. At least 4,071 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Military's patience wears thin at Baghdad checkpoint.,0,4837194.story

Iraqis see red as U.S. opens world's biggest embassy.

Iraq militia leader: 'open war' threat only against US. Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for an end to Iraqi bloodshed on Friday and said his threat of an "open war" applies only to U.S.-led foreign troops - stepping back from a full-blown confrontation with the government over a crackdown against his followers.

"It's been very difficult to get a read of what his motivations are and what his intentions are," Rice said during a surprise visit to Baghdad on Sunday. "I know he's living in Iran. I guess it's all-out war for everybody but him. His followers can go to their deaths and he will still be living in Iran. I don't know how seriously to take him or not." Sadr, meanwhile, denounced Rice's visit to Iraq. "We demand that such visits of terrorist occupiers to our holy land be stopped," he said in a statement late on Sunday.;_ylt=AklAANbbP_1xs5_NVezPif1X6GMA

Iraqi Army Takes Last Basra Areas From Sadr Force.

Rice in Iraq After Heavy Fighting in Sadr City. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday threw her weight behind the Iraqi government's efforts to isolate Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has threatened an "open war" on security forces. Arriving on an unannounced visit to Baghdad, Rice said she wanted to support what she called a new political "centre" in Iraq that has backed Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's crackdown on Sadr's Mehdi Army militia. Underscoring the threat of widening violence, the U.S. military said it killed 20 militiamen overnight in clashes with security forces in Sadr's Baghdad stronghold. A military spokesman called it the capital's "hottest night" in weeks.

US military: 12 militants die as Baghdad violence increases. U.S. troops killed 12 militants during an "uptick" in fighting Sunday, the military said, as fierce clashes broke out in Baghdad's Sadr City district after radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned he will declare war if a crackdown against his followers persists. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for a trip she said was intended to promote fresh political gains she sees to be flowing from the government-led assaults on radical militias. A loud explosion was heard in central Baghdad as a rocket or mortar shell was fired toward the U.S.-protected Green Zone as Rice was meeting with top Iraqi officials there. The area has faced regular shelling since the current tensions erupted last month.

As the cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army fighters squatted in the Sadr City district’s main highways on Friday, planting homemade bombs less than a mile from Iraqi and American troops, his political bloc offered on Friday to negotiate with the Iraqi government to end fighting in the area. Posing as municipal workers in fluorescent orange and yellow vests, three militia members — one masked with a checkered head scarf — dug holes in one main thoroughfare while wary drivers skirted around them and loose wires trailed across the street every few yards. Nearby, some of the heaviest fighting in weeks broke out late Friday night.

Troops construct wall to section off Sadr City. American troops have begun construction of a massive concrete blast wall that will section off parts of the Shiite slum of Sadr City, U.S. military officials and news reports said. Sadr City is the stronghold of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, and U.S. officials have said the indirect-fire attacks peppering the Green Zone during the past month have been launched from that part of Baghdad. Using huge concrete blast walls to cordon off large sections of Baghdad has become one of the U.S. and Iraqi militaries’ favored tactics in the city. The purpose, military officials have said, is to prevent insurgents or criminals from entering and leaving neighborhoods at will. The walls are generally accompanied by checkpoints, manned by anyone from U.S. military to U.S.-funded, armed civilian groups (called “Sons of Iraq” by the military).

It was on this day in 1943 that an uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto began. It was the largest ghetto uprising of World War II.

A Navy lieutenant no more. She ended career to protest assigning of sailors ashore. Speaking publicly for the first time about it, Weiner says she was not against the war but the so-called "individual augmentee" program. In the past several years, that program has sent nearly 60,000 sailors from ships and bases to augment Army and Marine ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It is not an against-the-war argument but a people-accountability argument," Weiner says. "I was proud to say I was a Navy officer. My problem is the way they are using us as IAs. It minimizes the job and training we do for the Navy." It cannibalizes the Navy -- and Air Force -- to cover up a shortage of Army and Marine troops to fight the wars, she argues. "The Navy did the best it could. I have no hard feelings. We are there to serve -- we serve the constitution."

Nearly 1 in 5 troops has mental problems after war service.

Against U.S. pleas, Iraqi soldiers flee posts. Sadr City retreat led to tense exchanges.

Iraqi National Police show determined loyalty. One word separates the Iraqi National Police from other Iraqi security forces. That word is “national.” It’s a crucial difference, and not just in name. The recent fighting in Basra and Baghdad exposed the divided loyalties within the Iraqi police and Iraqi army. The Iraqi government announced Sunday that it had fired more than 1,300 policemen and soldiers who refused to fight Shiite militias in the south, and in some cases, even switched sides. By contrast, the Iraqi National Police had just 50 out of their brigade of more than 1,000 leave, despite suffering the highest percentage of casualties among the Iraqi security forces, according to Col. David Boslego, an adviser in the headquarters of the National Police Transition Team. The overwhelming reason they left was because their families had been threatened, he said.

Iraqi master trainers graduate. An Iraqi and an American general had already spoken to the audience Sunday when Iraqi Army Sgt. Yousef Yacob took the stage during the graduation of the first master trainer’s course for Iraqi troops. Yacob was the top graduate in the course, but his speech followed some eloquent words by his superiors. When he got up there, though, he thundered out a moving poem on patriotism and the beauty of the Iraqi capital that won the loudest applause of the day. “My brothers, today is a special day,” he began.

Marines to cut forces in stable Anbar province. The security situation in Iraq’s Western Anbar province is now so stable that the U.S. Marines regiment in charge of the area is reducing from five battalions to three, its leader said Monday.

1,300 Iraqi troops, police dismissed. The Iraqi government has dismissed about 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted or refused to fight during last month's offensive against Shiite militias and criminal gangs in Basra, officials said Sunday.

Secret Iraqi Deal Shows Problems in Arms Orders. The deal drew enough criticism that Iraqi officials later limited the purchase to $236 million. And much of that equipment, American commanders said, turned out to be either shoddy or inappropriate for the military’s mission. An anatomy of the purchase highlights how the Iraqi Army’s administrative abilities — already hampered by sectarian rifts and corruption — are woefully underdeveloped, hindering it in procuring weapons and other essentials in a systematic way. It also shows how an American procurement process set up to help foreign countries navigate the complexity of buying weapons was too slow and unwieldy for wartime needs like Iraq’s, prompting the Iraqis to strike out on their own. Such weaknesses mean that five years after the American invasion, the 170,000-strong Iraqi military remains under-equipped, spottily supplied and largely reliant on the United States for such basics as communications equipment, weapons and ammunition, raising fresh questions about the Iraqi military’s ability to stand on its own.

Gunmen Kill Sadrist Official in Iraq. A senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was assassinated Friday in the holy city of Najaf, officials said. Authorities immediately announced a citywide curfew and security forces were seen deploying on the streets. The killing threatened to raise tensions amid a violent standoff between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. Riyadh al-Nouri, the director of al-Sadr's office in Najaf, was gunned down as he drove home after attending Friday prayers in the adjacent city of Kufa, a police officer and a local Sadrist official said. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Army under stress from long wars. U.S. soldiers are committing suicide at record levels, young officers are abandoning their military careers, and the heavy use of forces in Iraq has made it harder for the military to fight conflicts that could arise elsewhere. Unprecedented strains on the nation's all-volunteer military are threatening the health and readiness of the troops.;_ylt=AjajzlUfSLDPgjRTZ6rnAFis0NUE

Wednesday: 7 US Soldiers, 40 Iraqis Killed; 107 Iraqis Wounded.

No clear winner in Iraq’s ‘March Madness’. Observers see al-Sadr holding considerable sway in country.

Petraeus: New troop buildup unlikely.

Gen. David H. Petraeus’ remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Here is the text of Gen. David H. Petraeus’ remarks Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker's statement on the situation and progress in Iraq. Here is the text of U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker’s statement Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the situation and progress in Iraq:

Charts to accompany the testimony of GEN David H. Petraeus.

Violence kills 16 in Iraq's Sadr City.

Democrat: Iraq makes US more vulnerable.

Read A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq available here as a PDF

Report: Conduct waiver use in Army doubled since 2004. The percentage of recruits requiring a waiver to join the Army because of a criminal record or other misconduct has more than doubled since 2004 to one for every eight new soldiers, USA Today reported Monday. The percentage of active and Reserve Army recruits granted “conduct” waivers for misdemeanor or felony charges increased to 11 percent last fiscal year from 4.6 percent in fiscal 2004, the paper reported, citing Army Recruiting Command statistics, which also showed that so far this fiscal year, which began last October, 13 percent of recruits have entered the Army with conduct waivers. A recruit needs a waiver if he or she has one felony or serious misdemeanor or more than three minor misdemeanors, the paper reported. A single charge of possessing marijuana or driving under the influence requires a waiver; minor infractions include disorderly conduct, trespassing or vandalism.

Behind the Scenes: Surge helping, but Iraq still on knife's edge. Without doubt, the surge has benefited Iraq. It's massively reduced the killing of both Iraqis and Americans, and it's been a welcome relief to witness the change. I first saw it last year on the streets of Ramadi, former insurgent and al Qaeda stronghold. On my previous visit in 2006, the Sunni-dominated city was one of the most dangerous places for U.S. forces in Iraq. Foot patrols were unthinkable. In May 2007, I walked the back alleys and markets with U.S. Marines, and could feel the change. But to credit the change to the surge in troops would be to miss other important factors. Months before the surge began, tribal leaders who had long worked as local arbiters of justice found their tactic of supporting insurgents was failing. Al Qaeda was sucking power away from tribally influenced insurgent groups who were fighting on nationalist and religionist agendas. When the tribal leaders realized this, they saw the United States as a potential ally to fight off al Qaeda and get back their traditional power broker role.

Winter Soldier Testimony

U.S. and Iraqis Battle Militias to End Attacks. Sharp fighting broke out in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Sunday as American and Iraqi troops sought to control neighborhoods used by Shiite militias to fire rockets and mortars into the nearby Green Zone. But the operation failed to stop the attacks on the heavily fortified zone, headquarters for Iraq’s central government and the American Embassy here. By day’s end, at least two American soldiers had been killed and 17 wounded in the zone, one of the worst daily tolls for the American military in the most heavily protected part of Baghdad. Altogether, at least three American soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, and at least 20 Iraqis were killed, mostly in Sadr City.

Senators: No progress to report on Iraq. In a sign of the potential fireworks to come next week when Bush administration officials unveil their plans for the next steps in Iraq, two Senate committee chairman said they believe the so-called surge of U.S. combat forces has failed. And they acknowledge that there isn’t much they can do about it. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, said he expects U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Army Gen. David Petraeus, senior U.S> military commander in Iraq, to recommend maintaining current troop levels in Iraq instead of pushing ahead with a planned reduction this summer. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had talked about a brief pause in troop reductions, but Levin said he expects Crocker and Petraeus to recommend maintaining an open-ended commitment. Levin and Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said they disagree that current troops levels should be maintained. But their hands are tied because they cannot muster the 60 votes needed in the Senate to block the certain filibuster that Republicans would launch to prevent any efforts to reduce U.S. troop levels further.

According to a news release issued Thursday, the missions included transportation, evacuation of wounded, logistical resupply and surveillance. Five fixed wing aircraft and six helicopters were used, including Mi-17 and Huey helicopters, along with two C-130 planes and a CH2000 surveillance plane. “This is a historic milestone in the growth of the Iraqi Air Force to be able to effectively support ongoing operations in Basra with critical air mobility and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Brooks Bash, air force training team commander with the Multi-National Security Transition Command—Iraq. The C-130 crews moved 175 tons of cargo, including 127 tons of ammunition, 18 tons of food, and 8 tons of medical supplies from New al Muthana Air Base in Baghdad to Basra, officials said. They also helped in the deployment of more than 800 military and civilian security personnel and medically evacuated 69 soldiers from Basra to Baghdad. Since February 2007, the number of Iraqi air force personnel has increased from 915 to 1,344, officials said. There are currently 59 aircraft in the fleet.

Baghdad market seeing a return to normalcy. The peace in this neighborhood comes after Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his fighters off the streets, effectively ending a battle between Sadr’s Mahdi Army and official Iraqi forces that began early last week. While traffic in the Shurta area still isn’t quite at its peak levels, both American and Iraqi commanders agree that life here is returning to normal.

U.S., Iraqi troops rebuilding in Mosul.

Eight paid allies die while delivering bomb for destruction.

Civilian used as human shield by insurgent dies. American troops in Baghdad shot and killed a civilian woman after a suspected insurgent allegedly used her as a human shield in a bomb incident.

U.S. must leave Iraq, retired generals say. Setting a withdrawal timetable from Iraq might be a shaky strategic move, but it would provide a morale boost for service members and their families, a former Army War College commandant said Wednesday. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales Jr., testifying before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee about U.S. military strategy in Iraq, said he has no doubt that a major withdrawal of combat forces is coming because the U.S. has “run out of military options” and cannot indefinitely sustain troop levels. “Regardless of who wins the election and regardless of conditions on the ground, by summer the troops will begin to come home,” said Scales, who headed the war college in 1997. “The only point of contention is how precipitous will be the withdrawal and whether the schedule of withdrawal should be a matter of administration policy.”

Sunni residents of Saydiyah grateful U.S. presence helps keep lid on violence.

"Unbelievable" Abuse Reigns in Iraqi Jails.

A Block in Baghdad Mourns Its Own. Sudden U.S. Gunfire Claims Child, Her Grandfather and a Neighbor, Residents Say.

Iraq: New Attacks on Green Zone. The fortified Green Zone came under fresh attack Monday, less than 24 hours after anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his fighters to stand down following a week of clashes with government forces. Al-Sadr's order stopped short of disarming his fighters and left the militia intact in a blow to the credibility of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who flew to the southern oil city of Basra a week ago to personally oversee a crackdown on militia violence.

Under The Needle: West Seattle man's war-dead tally gains following on Web. Richardson said he wasn't surprised people might have a negative reaction to seeing a war-dead count, but he didn't expect people to assume they know so much about him based on one sign. "I don't like it when people ascribe my personal views to that number," he said. "I'd say they misrepresented my views."

Soldiers hunt their brothers’ killers.

Apache pilots see new tactics from insurgents. Royar said insurgents once concentrated their efforts on roadside bomb attacks that were well thought out and deliberate. Other pilots noted that their direct attacks were usually limited to firing a few shots, then running off and hiding. But the attacks have become more direct, and Bowery said the insurgents are staying in the fight longer. They often attack, back off and reposition to pick away at coalition forces. “It’ll go on for a couple of hours,” he said. They’ve also become bolder with the changing atmosphere around Sadr City. In the past, pilots might have seen suspicious characters in the area, Bowery said. But they usually kept a low enough profile to prevent the pilots from confirming that they were insurgents — however much a pilot’s instincts told him or her that they were bad guys. “We had hardly seen an RPG in the past few months,” he said. But gun camera footage shows just how barefaced the attackers have become. A row of rocket launchers sits in an open field ready to fire instead of concealed within palm groves in ones and twos. Insurgents load weapons onto a waiting van to distribute later to crowds instead of keeping the guns and RPGs tucked away in hidden caches.

One of the best Iraqi units finds it still depends on American forces to move forward.

Clashes continue in areas surrounding Sadr City. U.S. blames Mahdi Army rogue elements.

Southfield Muslim charity executive indicted as spy. Feds: He helped Saddam, paid for trip for Bonior, others. A former top official with the Southfield-based Muslim charity Life for Relief and Development spied for the regime of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and organized a 2002 congressional junket to Iraq secretly paid for by the Iraqi Intelligence Service, a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges. There is no evidence the congressmen knew Iraqi intelligence paid for the trip. The indictment does not identify the congressmen, but records show former U.S. Rep David Bonior, D-Mount Clemens, and two other congressmen made that trip to Iraq. Bonior could not immediately be reached. Muthanna Al-Hanooti, 48, of Dearborn Heights received a potentially lucrative contract for the right to purchase 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil in return for his work for the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the indictment alleges. Al-Hanooti, arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Tuesday after returning from a trip to the Middle East, was led in handcuffs Wednesday into federal court in Detroit. U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman ordered Al-Hanooti to post a $100,000 bond, surrender his passports and wear an electronic tether after government prosecutors appealed more lenient release conditions ordered by a U.S. magistrate judge.

In Iraq, Was I a Torturer? When 27-year-old Ben Allbright returned from Iraq, he was treated like a hero. But he is haunted by the "harsh interrogations" he oversaw. The prisons in Iraq stink. Ask any guard or interrogator and they'll tell you it's a smell they'll never forget: sweat, fear and rot. On the base where Ben Allbright served from May to September 2003, a small outfit named Tiger in western Iraq, water was especially scarce; Ben would rig a hose to a water bottle in a feeble attempt to shower. He and the other Army reservists tried mopping the floors, but the cheap solvents only added a chemical note to the stench. During the day, when the temperature was in the triple digits, the smell fermented.

Operation Iraqi Liberation, achived March 27, 2008

Pentagon Holds Thousands of Americans 'Prisoners of War'. He was referring to those who have been the victims of stop-loss, the device by which the president can, "in the event of war," choose to extend an enlistee's contract "until six months after the war ends." The "War on Terror" is this president's excuse for invoking that clause. Because that war will, by definition, continue as long as we insist that there is a difference between the terror inflicted on our innocents and the terror inflicted on theirs, American soldiers are effectively signing away their freedom indefinitely when they join the military. They are prisoners of an ill-defined and undeclared war on a tactic -- terrorism -- that dates back to Biblical times and will be with us indefinitely. According to U.S. News and World Report, there are at least 60,000 of them.

Milestone leaves kin of fallen GIs somber.


Staff Sgt. Michael Elledge and Sgt. Christopher Simpson weren’t the 4,000th. The C Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment soldiers died while returning from Taji, Iraq, a week before the grim milestone. Their convoy had left their base in Baghdad to exchange an older Humvee for an updated model. They were driving that new and improved Humvee when an explosively formed projectile killed them. But Elledge’s and Simpson’s deaths give the growing U.S. casualty list in Iraq a special resonance to the 1-68 soldiers. “Every one of them is a husband, a son, a father, could be a mother or daughter,” said Capt. Leonard Siems, the 1-68 chaplain. “They are truly a great generation.”

As death toll rises, visitors honor, reflect on war in nation’s capital.

'Prowlers' detonate roadside bombs.

Six of the Fallen, in Words They Sent Home.

Remains of 2 US contractors recovered. The remains of two U.S. contractors kidnapped in Iraq more than a year ago have been recovered, the FBI said Monday, weeks after families of several long-missing men gained hope that they might be found alive. Ronald Withrow of Roaring Springs, Texas, and John Roy Young of Kansas City, Mo., were among six Western contractors kidnapped separately. The disappearances received new attention this month when the severed fingers of several men were sent to the U.S. military in Iraq.

Securing Iraqi roads a matter of tit for tat. When insurgents plant bombs, engineers step in to remake the landscape around Taji.

US troop Iraq toll 'no milestone'. A while ago, I stood on a porch in a small American town with the father of a fallen marine. He described a sense of utter aloneness among the rituals that accompany a marine's death - the flag, funeral, memorial quilt. The naming of a high school gymnasium. The US military is, perhaps understandably, unwilling to discuss publicly its true feelings regarding the deaths of 4,000 of its men and women. Senior officers say they do not hold with "milestones". "No casualty is more or less significant than another; each soldier, marine, airman and sailor is equally precious and their loss equally tragic," said US military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith. The military tells us that more is to be learned by looking at trends - the way in which US soldiers have died, and with what frequency. And the figures tell us that many fewer have been killed in recent months.

Camp Taji units spreading out into the community to build relationships, curb violence.

Iraq war shows limits of US power. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 I have spent almost a year of my life here, reporting on the conflict. An increase in US troop numbers has helped contain violence. I have witnessed a disturbing amount of death and injury, and several of my friends have lost their lives. Others have become refugees and asylum-seekers. It has lasted almost as long as World War II and cost almost as much. Only one of its original aims, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, has been achieved. Of the other aims, one was unobtainable because Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction to be destroyed, and the other - bringing democracy to the Middle East - has been indefinitely postponed.

Dozens die in attacks across Iraq. A suicide bomber in Baghdad left five dead as they queued for fuel. A string of suicide attacks, shootings and rocket strikes have claimed dozens of lives on a day of violence in Iraq. In the bloodiest single incident, 13 Iraqi soldiers died when a suicide attacker drove a fuel tanker into an army base in Mosul in northern Iraq. The US military said it killed 12 militants preparing suicide attacks in a house east of Baquba. At least 15 people died in rocket and mortar fire apparently aimed at Baghdad's Green Zone. Eight were civilians who were killed when rockets landed short of their targets on Sunday morning. The bloodshed comes despite an overall reduction in violence since last June.

Is the Iraq war vanishing from US view? The US-led war in Iraq is now five years old. Yet it seems the American media and public are paying less attention than ever. Coverage has declined sharply, according to a Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism study, falling from an average of 15% of news output last August to just 3% in February this year. A separate Pew study found that only 28% of Americans recently polled could correctly identify the number of US troops killed in Iraq, compared with more than half in August last year. In response, the non-partisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) group launched a petition this week calling on the major US TV networks to "make sure the Iraq war is getting the coverage it deserves".

Iraq lives: Schoolgirl in Baghdad. Noor Salman is 16-year-old Iraqi girl living in Baghdad. She writes about her experiences of life in the five years since the US-led invasion.

Plenty of books have beaten up on the Bush administration's military and diplomatic strategies. But Fred Kaplan's Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power may be the most broad-based assault yet. In it, Kaplan hammers on everything from the White House's faith in military technological superiority to its holier-than-thou approach to negotiating (or not). Kaplan, who writes Slate's "War Stories" column, also explores the roots of many of these beliefs. And that's where we start this Q&A -- this first of many, I hope, with leading authors on national security.

Families of Iraq Captives Cling to a Grisly Find. For the families of five American contractors kidnapped in Iraq more than a year ago, the months of waiting with no news of their fate have made for a battle of hope against dread. This month has come news, but of an inconclusive sort: that severed fingers delivered to the United States authorities in Iraq had been shown by DNA analysis to be those of four of the missing Americans and an Austrian who worked with three of them.

German Intelligence Was 'Dishonest, Unprofessional and Irresponsible'. David Kay was charged by the Bush administration with finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the invasion. Instead of finding weapons, though, he found what he told SPIEGEL was 'the biggest intelligence fiasco of my lifetime.',1518,542888,00.html

The unsung heroes of Iraq war coverage. Here are some of the voices that delivered the truth about Iraq while the mainstream media failed us.

Protesters call for end to war.

Winter Soldier. Former Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia also spoke. After serving in Iraq, he refused to return there. He was court-martialed and spent almost a year in prison. Mejia is now the chairman of IVAW. After he finished the testimony of his experience in Iraq, he laid out the group’s demands: “We have over a million Iraqi dead. We have over 5 million Iraqis displaced. We have close to 4,000 dead [Americans]. We have close to 60,000 injured. That’s not even counting the post-traumatic stress disorder and all the other psychological and emotional scars that our generation is bringing home with them. War is dehumanizing a whole new generation of this country and destroying the people in the country of Iraq. In order for us to reclaim our humanity as a military and as a country, we demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, care and benefits for all veterans, and reparations for the Iraqi people so they can rebuild their country on their terms.”

Iraqis get nothing but disappointment five years after Iraqi war.

Victory Impossible in Iraq, Say Americans. Many adults in the United States continue to question whether the coalition effort can be won, according to a poll by Hart/McInturff released by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News. 53 per cent of respondents think the U.S. goal of achieving victory in Iraq is not possible. In addition, 52 per cent of respondents think the most responsible thing the U.S. can do is find a way to withdraw most of our troops from Iraq by the beginning of 2009.

“The Iraqi Perspectives Project -- Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents.”

Soldier Electrocutions Probed in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, died Jan. 2 of cardiac arrest after being electrocuted while showering at his barracks in Baghdad. Also Wednesday, Maseth's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Allegheny County Court against KBR Inc., the Houston-based contractor responsible for maintaining Maseth's barracks. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages and costs, alleges that KBR allowed U.S. troops to continue using electrical systems "which KBR knew to be dangerous and knew had caused prior instances of electrocution."

5 years of blood and tears.

Hundreds of protesters fanned out across the nation’s capital Wednesday to call for an end to military operations in Iraq, but city police reported none of the major civic disruptions organizers had predicted. The events, scheduled to coincide with the five-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, came a few days after pro-war groups marched on the National Mall in support of a continued U.S. presence in Iraq.

five years


Even on home front, war is daily battle. It's been five years now, and the shock and awe have turned to a kind of distant numbness. For many civilians, the war is little more than a running ticker that underscores the daily news, a surreal reminder there is still a war going on. But there are those for whom the front line extends to here at home -- for whom the war is a near constant presence. They don't have the luxury of battle fatigue.

Key events in Iraq since 2003.

Active-duty soldiers not deployed reported three times as many sexual assaults in 2007 as their counterparts downrange, according to Army officials. One reason for the difference is the U.S. Central Command’s ban on alcohol, according to Carolyn Collins, the Army’s chief for sexual assault prevention and response. Army investigators have found that alcohol is “the weapon of choice” in sexual assaults reported by soldiers, playing a role in more than half of all such attacks, Collins said. “So it’s not surprising that where there’s alcohol available, we would see a higher level of assaults,” she told reporters Friday during a roundtable to discuss the Army’s 2007 sexual assault statistics. In the active-duty Army in 2007, there was an average of 2.6 sexual assaults reported for every 1,000 soldiers, Collins said. But in CENTCOM, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan, that reported rate dropped to just 0.86 attacks per 1,000 soldiers, Collins said.

War is change. It alters the landscape, diverts the courses of lives. It compels nations to weigh human and fiscal priorities, and armies to evolve and adapt. It inspires courage, cruelty, humanity. It has been five years — 1,827 days — since American and allied troops massed on the desert border, poised for the charge north, listening to the first strikes of warplanes and cruise missiles scream overhead. Within 21 days Baghdad would fall. But the conflict would only be in its infancy.

Raid in Baghdad’s Abu Saif neighborhood a success as GIs nab 2 suspected insurgents.

Study reveals drop in assault-related hospitalizations for troops.

Ordinary life in a broken country. After the US authorities disbanded the Iraqi army and police in late 2003 criminality became endemic. At the same time, electricity and water supplies rapidly became spasmodic. Hospitals ran out of drugs. When the sectarian fighting began in earnest after the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra in 2005, the foundations of ordered society broke down to such an extent that individual streets began to turn to their own devices for protection.

Seven out of 10 Iraqis want foreign forces to leave: poll.

"Under Saddam's regime, we had limited salaries but we had security and decent services. Now, we have decent incomes but we lose it all to water, propane, groceries, fuel. We save nothing," said Balqis Kareem, 46, a Sunni Muslim housewife who lives in the predominantly Shiite Muslim district of Karrada. "This government gives with the right hand and takes away with the left." At Kareem's modest, single-story home, a wall in the living room sprouts a tangle of electrical wires, a reflection of the three power sources she juggles throughout the day: the government's supply, her own small generator and the neighborhood's larger generator. Even so, for five years she hasn't been able to keep milk or meat in the refrigerator for more than a few hours because it spoils so quickly in the daily blackouts. A kitchen cupboard holds a barely touched box of rationed tea, which Kareem described as "so bitter no amount of sugar can sweeten it." She said that she'd once used a magnet to clean metallic flakes from a bag of government-supplied rice. She barred her four children from drinking tap water after she found worms floating in a glass she'd poured.

A study by Amnesty International, Carnage and Despair, found that in war-torn Iraq two out of three Iraqis had no access to safe drinking water. Aside from highlighting the desperate poverty in Iraq, the human-rights campaign group focused on security dangers to civilians in a country where sectarian killings are common. It also warned that Iraqi government forces were involved in torture and ill-treatment, while the detention of thousands of suspects by US and Iraqi forces have had a devastating impact. Amnesty said this had led to more than four million Iraqis being displaced from their homes while many detainees were held without charge or trial, some for several years. Amnesty's study also focused on the humanitarian disaster still unfolding in the country which boasts the world's second-largest oil reserves. Some eight million people need emergency aid to survive, Amnesty said. Malcolm Smart, the group's director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: "Saddam Hussein's administration was a byword for human-rights abuse. But its replacement has brought no respite for the Iraqi people."

Red Cross: Many Iraqis still lack basics. Five years after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, many Iraqis still lack access to basic health care, sanitation and clean water, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday.

Iraqis don't credit US for safer lives. The Bush administration has credited an increase of 30,000 troops for a decrease in violence, which it says has improved the lives of ordinary Iraqis. In the poll, however, more than half the Iraqis, 53 percent, felt that the rapid buildup of U.S. troops in Anbar province and in Baghdad has made overall security worse, not better. Even those negative findings, however, were a sharp improvement since a similar poll last August. Then, 70 percent said the American buildup had made matters worse in the areas it had emphasized. Only 18 percent said it had improved their conditions then, compared with 36 percent now. The nationwide poll found the Iraqis' negative assessment of the rapid troop buildup came from all categories of respondents. Still, the poll responses reflected the overall improved assessment of conditions now as opposed to August, the month after the buildup was fully in place.

When will it be over? Battle-weary Americans face a long road before there's relief in sight, officials say.

Study gives info on foreign fighters in Iraq. The suicide bombers who have killed 10,000 people in Iraq, including hundreds of American troops, usually are alienated young men from large families who are desperate to stand out from the crowd and make their mark, according to a U.S. military study. As long suspected, most come from outside Iraq. Saudi Arabia, home of most of the 9/11 hijackers, is the single largest source. And the pipeline is continually replenished by al-Qaida in Iraq’s recruiters.

Iraq’s Insurgency Is Running on Stolen Oil Profits.

U.S. unlikely to wipe out al-Qaida in Iraq. American commanders believe militants won't fall to severe attacks. Al-Qaida is in Iraq to stay. It's not a conclusion the White House talks about much when denouncing the shadowy group, known as al-Qaida in Iraq, which used the U.S. invasion five years ago to develop into a major killer. The militants are weakened, battered, perhaps even desperate, by most U.S. accounts. But far from being "routed," as Defense Secretary Robert Gates claimed last month, they're still there, still deadly active and likely to remain so far into the future, military and other officials say.

A combat outpost isn’t much to look at, but for many front line soldiers in Iraq, it’s what they call home. With the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Mosul, the soldiers of Killer Troop’s 3rd Platoon spend anywhere from three days to a week living at Combat Outpost Rabiy before they rotate back to Marez, the big U.S. camp, for a few days of welcome rest.

The U.S. military said it has captured four people suspected of involvement in the Monday suicide attack that killed five soldiers and their interpreter in central Baghdad. The military said in a statement that the four were positively identified for their alleged involvement in the attack. The arrests were made Tuesday in the Mansour district of Baghdad, officials said. “The detention was based on another Iraqi civilian who gave U.S. soldiers four names and a location,” Maj. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman with the 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division—Baghdad, said in an e-mail.

Only one-quarter of the American adult public knows the approximate U.S. casualty count in Iraq, down from around 50 percent of adults who knew that figure last year, according to a survey released Wednesday. The Pew Research Center report also found that media coverage of the war had drastically fallen since last summer.

When 1st Lt. Rusty Morris joined the Army in 2005, he did so because he believed in the war and thought the time had come to do his part. “I believe in fighting the war on terrorism,” said Morris, 27, of Sumter, S.C. “I didn’t want to be a person who agreed with it, but didn’t want to go.” Moving from behind a desk at a credit union, Morris now finds himself on the front lines of the war in Iraq, leading a 21-man scout platoon on the streets of Mosul for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. “It’s a chance to do a big thing in the world, to be a part of history, to do something better,” he said. That seems a rare sentiment, given that less than one percent of the U.S. population is shouldering the burden of the war, and what passes for patriotism often amounts to little more than bumper stickers on cars. But it’s not uncommon in Iraq to hear soldiers describe those kinds of reasons for joining up. In Killer Troop’s 3rd Platoon, some enlisted because they wanted to fight. Others wanted experience in the world. Some wanted money for college. Some just wanted to make a better life for themselves. For Spc. Jeremy Epps, 28, of Indianapolis, the Army meant a steady paycheck. A carpenter who had been laid off one too many times, he had a wife and three children to support.

A young convict and alleged gang member had been released from jail a little more than a day before he shot and killed Los Angeles High School football star Jamiel Shaw Jr., LAPD Chief William J. Bratton said Tuesday. is mother, Army Sgt. Anita Shaw, was serving in Iraq when her son was slain and flew home to be with her family. She has called for community action to stop gang violence. Shaw, who was not a gang member, was only three doors from his home in Arlington Heights on March 2 when he was fatally shot. Two men in a car had pulled up next to him, asked if he belonged to a gang, and then shot him when he apparently didn't answer, authorities say. After hearing the gunshots, Shaw's father ran outside to find his son wounded next to a tree that the two had planted with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa almost three years ago as part of the city's Million Trees Initiative. The boy later died in a hospital.