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general and Climate Change

The Right’s Climate Denialism Is Part of Something Much Larger.

An invasive species of mussel called quagga has recently begun eating its way through the phytoplankton population of Lake Michigan, which could have dire effects on the lake's ecosystem, scientists now warn.

__5Nzo2ZD9uBc_SwwT6fd9q_I_AAAAAAAAAQM_yB92mF8E44s_s1600_Humble+Ad.jpg EACH DAY HUMBLE SUPPLIES ENOUGH ENERGY TO MELT 7 MILLION TONS OF GLACIER! This giant glacier has remained unmelted for centuries. Yet, the petroleum energy Humble supplies- if converted into heat- could melt it at the rate of 80 tons each second! To meet the nation's growing needs for energy, Humble has applied science to nature's resources to become America's Leading Energy Company. Working wonders with oil through research, Humble provides energy in many forms- to help heat our homes, power our transportation, and to furnish industry with a great variety of versatile chemicals. Stop at a Humble station for new Enco Extra gasoline, and see why the "Happy Motoring" sign is the World's First Choice!

Vast Ice ‘Island’ Breaks Free of Greenland Glacier.

DOT to Turn Underused Waterways Into Marine Highways. Read More

You probably won't hear it from columnist George F. Will, Fox News commentators or the plethora of conservative blogs that have claimed global warming essentially stopped in 1998, but recent figures released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that global land and ocean surface temperatures in June were the highest since record-keeping began in 1880. What's more, the first half of 2010 was the hottest such period ever recorded, and Arctic sea ice melted at a record-setting pace in June. The heat can probably be attributed at least in part to periodic and entirely natural changes in ocean temperatures and surface air pressure — the El Niño/La Niña phenomena most likely played a role. But the fact that peak years are getting hotter while even relatively "cool" years now tend to remain above historical averages (the 10 warmest years on record all occurred within the last 15 years, according to the NOAA) shows that something else is at work. A consensus of climate scientists worldwide, including not only the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but the national scientific academies of the United States and the rest of the developed world, have identified that "something else" as anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gases, which reflect the sun's heat back onto the Earth rather than letting it escape into space. Climate skeptics such as Will et al either deny that this warming is happening — an increasingly untenable position in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is — or insist that it doesn't matter. They argue that it would be more expensive to try to solve the problem than to adapt to it, and that in any case, the effects of higher temperatures won't be all that damaging. Climate modelers, who have accurately forecast the currently observed climate oscillations, sea-level rise and ice melting, do not agree. They predict catastrophic destruction in coastal cities, droughts, crop failure, forest loss, insect infestations and other woes.,0,4284048.story

The retreat of the glaciers threatens agriculture downstream. A study published last month in Science magazine indicated that glacier melt is essential for the Indus and Brahmaputra rivers, while less important a component of the Ganges, Yellow and Yangtze rivers. The potential disappearance of the glaciers, the report said, is “threatening the food security of an estimated 60 million people” in the Indus and Brahmaputra basins. We Americans have been galvanized by the oil spill on our gulf coast, because we see tar balls and dead sea birds as visceral reminders of our hubris in deep sea drilling. The melting glaciers should be a similar warning of our hubris — and of the consequences that the earth will face for centuries unless we address carbon emissions today.

EPA Scientist Says East Coast Beaches Threatened by Sea Level, But Nobody’s Listening. Read More

Sea-Level Rise Will Be Worse for Some, We Just Don’t Know Who. Read More

Moynihan, as Nixon aide, warned of global warming.

Climate Scientist Cleared of Altering Data.

Scientific expertise lacking among 'doubters' of climate change, says Stanford-led analysis. The small number of scientists who are unconvinced that human beings have contributed significantly to climate change have far less expertise and prominence in climate research compared with scientists who are convinced, according to a study led by Stanford researchers.

48217: Life in Michigan's most polluted ZIP code. Illness is just as pervasive as metallic dust cover.

National Academy of Sciences urges strong action to cut greenhouse gases. The academy, calling it 'the most comprehensive report ever on climate change,' suggests taxing carbon emissions. The papers also raise the possibility that global warming might make it necessary to shift vulnerable populations away from coasts.,0,6608889.story

The KUSI Weatherman's Cloudy Climate Claims.

Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez.;_ylt=Au5nhOh3Z.uw0ZNn3_h.aj7pcLQF;_ylu=X3oDMTNqZzF1ZTRpBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNDMwL3VzX2xvdWlzaWFuYV9vaWxfcmlnX2V4cGxvc2lvbgRjY29kZQNtb3N0cG9wdWxhcgRjcG9zAzIEcG9zAzIEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yaWVzBHNsawNndWxmY29hc3RvaWw-

Warm, and getting warmer. New NASA data show just how quickly the climate is changing.,0,5468093.story

Our research, "Addressing the Employment Impacts of AB 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act," which was released in February 2009, has been used by groups like the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., AB 32 Implementation Group and the California Jobs Initiative as part of their campaign to stop the implementation of AB 32. They claim that our study says AB 32 will "threaten" more than 3 million jobs in California, but the report says no such thing. In fact, it shows that AB 32 will generate enormous opportunities for California by fostering leading-edge technologies, processes and products that can be exported to the rest of the world. All the most rigorous research done so far on AB 32's economic impact agrees that the law will have a small but positive impact on the state's jobs. The main reason is that California households will save money by using products that are more energy efficient — such as appliances that use less electricity and cars that use less gasoline — and they will be able to spend that savings on other goods and services, which will create jobs. In addition, generating energy savings by doing things like retrofitting buildings produces more domestic jobs than generating fossil fuel energy. So where did the anti-AB 32 groups come up with their 3 million "threatened" jobs? In our study, we do talk about 3 million jobs. It is the estimated number of jobs in industries that, when the study was done, seemed likely to be affected by AB 32 through 2020. And what does "affected" mean? Our research didn't find that any of these jobs disappeared, but it did show that some industries would grow faster and some slower, resulting in that small net gain in jobs overall.,0,7323760.story

According to Bill McKibben, the respected environmentalist and author of the pioneering "End of Nature," the planet Earth, as we know it, is already dead. Over a million square miles of the Arctic ice cap have melted, the oceans have risen and warmed, and the tropics have expanded 2 degrees north and south. Global warming has caused such pervasive and irreversible changes, he argues, that we now live on a new planet with a new set of environmental and climatic realities — and, as such, it deserves a new name: Goodbye, Earth. Hello, "Eaarth."

Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash, but U.S. Lags.

What would Reagan do about climate change? It's a question Republicans for Environmental Protection are asking in radio ads, to show that concern about climate change is 'consistent with true conservative values' and to push legislation.,0,1093600.story

Four years ago, California earned accolades for adopting a law that would slash its greenhouse gas emissions and serve as a model for national climate change legislation. With the state mired in a crippling recession, the law that once looked like a landmark achievement is coming under assault. The regulatory effort Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set in motion is facing a political backlash and could come to an abrupt halt in the months ahead. A coalition of businesses, financed largely by three Texas oil companies, is funding a ballot petition that would delay the law until California's current unemployment rate is cut by more than half. Leading Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has vowed she would suspend the law on her first day in office, which she would have the authority to do. Both candidates cite a much disputed study by the dean of the business school at California State University, Sacramento, which concludes the law could cost 1.1 million jobs. That study, which also is a key element of the initiative campaign, has been discredited by the state's nonpartisan legislative analyst. The California Air Resources Board, the entity charged with implementing the law, estimates climate regulations will promote investments in clean energy and will reduce California's overall fuel expenses $3.8 billion by 2020.

Cited again and again by opponents of California's global warming solution law, AB 32, the Varshney/Tootelian report estimates that this law will cost small business $50,000 a year and each household $3,857 a year once the new rules kick in. We each independently analyzed the economic projections made by Sanjay Varshney and Dennis Tootelian -- Cal State Sacramento business school dean and marketing professor, respectively -- and came to this conclusion: Their estimates are highly biased and based on poor logic and unsound economic analysis. The costs they predict are far too high.,0,4117444.story

Climate Quick Fix Could Create Toxic Algae Blooms. Read More

Changes in the global climate are imposing additional stress on hundreds of species of migratory birds in the United States that are already threatened by other environmental factors, according to a new Interior Department report. The latest version of the department’s annual State of the Birds report shows that nearly a third of the nation’s 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or suffering from population decline.

Green Cities California (GCC) is delighted to announce the release of its Master Environmental Assessment (MEA) on Single Use and Reusable Bags. The MEA, commissioned by GCC and developed by ICF International’s Sacramento and San Francisco offices, summarizes existing studies on the environmental impacts of single use plastic, paper, compostable and reusable bags, as well as the impacts of policy options such as fees and bans on bags. “Our intent in commissioning and publishing this MEA is to provide assistance to those forward thinking jurisdictions seeking to foster more sustainable communities by adopting ordinances that discourage the use of single use bags, and encourage the use of reusable bags” said Carol Misseldine, GCC Coordinator.

The Earth has its own set of rules. Our view of nature is based on our human desire for more, and that economic model is broken.,0,6899831.story

Southern California air regulators proposed tougher rules Friday to ensure that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reduce their share of deadly emissions from ships, trains, big rigs and cargo-handling equipment, prompting harsh objections from harbor officials. The so-called backstop rules, unveiled during a South Coast Air Quality Management District governing board meeting in Long Beach, would enable regulators to enforce the voluntary pollution reduction targets set by the ports to control soot and smog over the next decade and impose financial penalties if needed.,0,5171430.story

A review from the UK Met Office says it is becoming clearer that human activities are causing climate change. It says the evidence is stronger now than when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change carried out its last assessment in 2007. The analysis, published in the Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Climate Change Journal, has assessed 110 research papers on the subject. It says the earth is changing rapidly, probably because of greenhouse gases. In 2007 the IPCC's report concluded that there was "unequivocal" evidence that the Earth was warming and it was likely that it was due to burning of fossil fuels. Since then the evidence that human activities are responsible for a rise in temperatures has increased, according to this new assessment by Dr Peter Stott and colleagues at the UK Met Office.

The Earth has its own set of rules. Our view of nature is based on our human desire for more, and that economic model is broken.,0,6899831.story

We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change.

Business group loses ‘green’ members in global-warming fight.

Navy: Time is now to prepare for ice-free Arctic. The Navy will soon have a new battlefield on its hands. Climate changes near the North Pole have been dramatic. The amount of summertime ice has decreased by half over the past 50 years. The ice is also 50 percent thinner, resulting in greater seasonal variations. “The Arctic is changing, and it is changing rapidly,” said Rear Adm. David Titley, oceanographer of the Navy. “If the Navy does not start looking at this today … we could wake up in seven or eight years and find ourselves way behind the power curve.” Climate experts predict several weeks of “ice-free” conditions each year, meaning there will be less than 10 percent aerial ice coverage. Navigable waters would likely bring trans-Arctic container shipping, fishermen and even ill-advised thrill seekers. All will meet in a resource-rich region buried beneath disputed claims, untested treaties and five nations vying for their share of sovereignty. And it will happen sooner than you think. As few as four years ago, leading experts anticipated ice-free summers by the end of the century. Now, such conditions are expected in the 2030s — and many key scientists say those estimates may be conservative.

Mt. Rainier's melting glaciers create hazard. Exposed gravel and sediment are increasingly rolling downhill into rivers, increasing the threat of flooding in the national park complex and Puget Sound communities.,0,604880.story

I started reading James Hansen's new book, Storms of My Grandchildren, at the edge of a vanishing Arctic. I sat on a bare brown Greenland hillside listening to the ferocious crack and crash of the dying glaciers in the distance. As I watched the corpse of the ice sheet float by, broken into a thousand icebergs, it seemed the right place to begin the leading NASA scientist's explanation for what I was seeing. Since the year I was born, 1979, 40 percent of the Arctic sea ice has vanished. If we don't change our behavior fast, Hansen says I will live to see the day when it is all gone, and the North Pole is a point in the open ocean, reachable by boat. He stresses these are only the starting symptoms of a planetary fever that will remake the map of the world—and the capacity of human beings to survive on it. I finished reading the book at the Copenhagen climate summit, where the world's leaders gathered to offer a giant shrug. Professor Hansen has been driven into a strange situation, and produced a strange book. For one-third of a century now, this cantankerous scientist has been more accurate in his predictions about global warming than anyone else alive. He saw these disastrous changes coming long before others did, and the U.S. government has tried to censor or sack him for his prescience. Now he has written a whistle-blower's account while still at the top: a story of how our political system is so wilfully, deliberately blind to environmental realities that we have no choice now but for American citizens to take direct physical action against the polluters. It's hardly what you expect to hear from the upper echelons of NASA: not a call to the stars, but a call to the streets. Toss a thousand scientific papers into a blender along with All the President's Men and Mahatma Gandhi, and you've got this riveting, disorienting book.

Ed Begley Jr.: Big green man.,0,3695499.column

San Diego is home to renowned scientific hubs such as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, so to provide some kind of cosmic balance, perhaps it’s only right that San Diego is also home to John Coleman and KUSI. On Saturday evening, Jan. 16, the independent local station aired an hour-long show narrated and co-written by weatherman John Coleman that promised to provide “the other side” of the climate-change debate. “Our carbon footprints are not creating any significant global warming. The global-warming frenzy is based on a myth, a scientific hypothesis that has gone bad,” Coleman declared at the outset. Somerville could shoot down each claim of fact or misinterpretation of data Coleman made during his show, but it would require far more space than we have available here. Somerville noted that he refuses to debate Coleman because Coleman’s not a worthy-enough opponent, and a one-on-one with such a character would cheapen the issue. “It’s the same reason biologists don’t debate creationists,” Somerville said. It almost seems silly spending this much energy commenting on a knucklehead like Coleman, but his show might have appeared plausible to some viewers, and KUSI, a large-market broadcasting company—whose owners are prolific contributors to the Republican Party and its candidates—gave us no choice.

Copenhangover: Rallying for Next Steps, Part II.

Copenhangover: Rallying for Next Steps.

Jesse "The Body" Ventura, the erstwhile professional wrestler, Navy Seal, motorcycle gang member, and governor of Minnesota, has embarked upon yet another career: investigator of nefarious plots. This month, Ventura launched a show called "Conspiracy Theory" on TruTV which claims to shine light on "the most frightening and mysterious conspiracy allegations of our time." So far Ventura has explored whether 9/11 was an inside job (he doesn't buy the 9/11 Commission's official explanation) and whether the government is testing mind-control weaponry at a secret base in Alaska. (Conclusion: "I learned that radio waves really can get inside your head. They got inside mine.") And in another recent episode, he takes on "the global warming scam." "Whether global warming is real or not, some people may be using the issue to earn billions of dollars, start a one-world government and control people's lives," warns the teaser on the website for TruTV (formerly known as Court TV). In the show, a voiceover promises that "Jesse Ventura finds the direct link between global warming and a plot to rule the world."


7.2 Mexicali quake shifted Earth's crust 31 inches, NASA images show.

The California-Mexico border continued to rattled by what the U.S. Geological Survey called an "elevated level" of earthquake activity as hundreds of aftershocks to Monday's 5.7 temblor were recorded. Monday's quake was itself an aftershock of the 7.2 magnitude Easter Sunday quake that hit the Mexicali area, causing two deaths. There was more than $90 million in damage in California alone.


Environmental groups spent a record amount of money on lobbying in 2009, a year everyone thought presented the best hope for signing landmark climate change legislation into law. But for every dollar they dropped, the fossil fuel industry spent almost eight times as much, according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics. Last year, as the House debated and eventually passed cap and trade legislation and the Senate began to draft its own bill, environmental groups spent a record $22.4 million on federal lobbying—about double what green groups had spent annually for the previous eight years. Groups like the Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense Fund spent an unprecedented $2.2 million each on lobbying. But all the green's green was no match for the fossil fuel lobby. ExxonMobil alone spent $27.4 million in 2009, more than all the environmental groups combined. Oil and gas interests spent a combined $175 million on lobbying.

Where Oysters Grew on Trees.

Heather Wylie was a key instigator of what must be the biggest, most important boating expedition ever undertaken on the Los Angeles River. With two dozen others in kayaks and canoes, she braved the river's shallow waters, paddling past garbage trucks at the water's edge, homeless bathers and other unexpected riparian obstacles. "I've never had so much fun on a boating trip," Wylie told me. "It was a new kind of adventure." That adventure cost Wylie, then a 29-year-old government biologist, her job — and $60,000 salary — with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But it helped save the L.A. River. Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled the Los Angeles River "traditional navigable waters," entitled to the protections of the Clean Water Act. It was a huge victory for the legions of activists who have worked for decades to protect the river from developers and polluters. Without Wylie and that law-defying boat trip, it might not have happened. As proof that the river is indeed navigable, the EPA cited in its official report the July 2008 Los Angeles River expedition organized by Wylie, George Wolfe and others.,0,2145175.column?page=1

Banning plastic bags: good for California. A ban on single-use plastic bags would provide green jobs and a greener environment for the state and its residents.,0,1664967.story

Pacific Garbage Patch Plastic to be Recycled Into Vacuum Cleaners (Video).

Arnold Schwarzenegger is worried about the oil that might possibly befoul our beaches at some wretched moment in the future, but not about the tens of millions of cigarette butts that actually do befoul our beaches every hour of every day of every year? I may be a little dizzy from the governor’s turnabout today, but I am on board with his 180-degree reversal of his position on offshore drilling in California; the oil rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico proves that five or 10 or 20 years of a "pretty good" drilling record can’t stay in the game against one gazillion-gallon nightmare mess. It’s like gambling in Vegas – eventually, the odds catch up and beat the light sweet crude out of you. But at the same time that the governor did a spin on drilling off the California coast, he vetoed a bill to ban smoking on the state’s beaches. Offshore oil drilling is absolutely and clearly a peril to the environment and to the coastal economy, whether it’s wildlife, tourism or fishing, and in my book it’s all three. But cigarette butts are the single biggest litter item on our beaches – a quarter of a trillion every year in the U.S., by one reckoning. They and the nicotine in them are a menace to wildlife both on the sand and when they float out to sea and into the food chain, unless you like your swordfish with a big ol’ side of nicotine.

A rare blue butterfly took flight Saturday morning on a wind-swept bluff of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Then another. And then another. A cluster of conservationists watched in awe. In all, 80 endangered butterflies, each bred in captivity, ventured into the wild for the first time.,0,884221.story

Rail Yard Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Vulnerable Kansas Communities. Diesel Pollution from Proposed Project Could Further Exacerbate Region's Poor Air Quality. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of a mega rail yard 30 miles southwest of Kansas City fails to address human health impacts from significantly increased diesel pollution, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There are homes and schools less than a mile away from this rail yard’s cargo transfer facility,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, NRDC attorney. “The thousands of trucks expected to move in and out of that rail yard every day will produce toxic diesel fumes that could pose serious health problems for the surrounding communities, including increased rates of asthma, respiratory disease and cancer. The Army Corps has a responsibility to protect people from these health impacts.”

Sonar plans could face stricter rules. SAN DIEGO — The Navy’s plans to expand sonar training in its ocean ranges — including off Alaska —are facing renewed scrutiny and potentially stiffer restrictions meant to reduce threats to whales and other marine mammals. In a Jan. 19 letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, outlined new steps by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which seeks to collect information and population data of marine mammals and assess impacts of mid-frequency active sonar used by the Navy. In the letter to Nancy Sutley, the council’s chairwoman and the president’s principal environmental policy adviser, Lubchenco outlined the measures taken by the Navy during training exercises to lessen harm to marine mammals from sonar exposure. These include trained lookouts on bridges to identify marine mammals, course changes to avoid marine mammals, and reducing or shutting down active sonar when mammals are within 1,000 yards of the ship. But she added that it doesn’t have to stop there. “I also expect the Navy to be open to new ideas and approaches to mitigation that are supported by the best available science,” she wrote.

Save the salmon -- and us. The Obama administration's plan for the Columbia Basin doesn't go nearly far enough.,0,3172298.story

Scientists Call for Moratorium on Issuance of Mountaintop Mining Permits.

Off Shore Oil

Rick Steiner: "Government and industry will habitually understate the volume of the spill and the impact, and they will overstate the effectiveness of the cleanup and their response," he told me at the time. "There's no such thing as an effective response. There's never been an effective response -- ever -- where more than 10 or 20 percent of the oil is ever recovered from the water. Most of the oil that goes into the water in a major spill stays there," he said. "And once the oil is in the water, the damage is done."

Two weeks ago, as federal officials prepared to declare that some three-quarters of the estimated 5 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf over three months had disappeared, Mark Williams, a fishing boat captain hired by BP to help with the spill cleanup, encountered tar balls as large as three inches wide floating off the Florida coast. Reporting his findings to his supervisor, a private consulting company hired by BP, the reply, according to his logbook came back: "Told—no reporting of oil or tar balls anymore. Don't put on report. We're here for boom removal only," referring to the miles of yellow and orange containment barriers placed throughout the Gulf. Williams' logbook account, which I inspected, and a similar account told to me by a boat captain in Mississippi, raises serious concerns about whether the toll from the spill is being accurately measured. Many institutions have an interest in minimizing accounts of the damage inflicted. The federal and local governments, under withering criticism all summer, certainly want to move on to other subjects. BP, of course, has a financial incentive. The BP Cover-Up.

Estimate Rises of Oil Spill in Michigan. The company responsible for a massive oil spill here was warned in January by federal regulators about insufficient monitoring of corrosion on the pipeline that federal officials say leaked more than one million gallons of oil into a major waterway this week.

A state of emergency has been declared in southwest Michigan's Kalamazoo County as more than 800,000 gallons of oil released into a creek began making its way downstream in the Kalamazoo River, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports. The trouble began Monday at 9:45 a.m., when an oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Liquids Pipelines sprung a leak in Marshall Township. Enbridge Energy is a subsidiary of Calgary, Canada based Enbridge Inc., the Detroit Free Press reports. According to the company, it is the largest transporter of oil from western Canada. The cause of the leak is under investigation, and the pipeline has been shut down--but not before it did some serious damage. U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer called the spill the "largest oil spill in the history of the Midwest." Officials are suggesting all water activities in the Kalamazoo River be put on hold until the situation is resolved--and some are fearing contamination of local water supplies.

After Oil Spills, Hidden Damage Can Last for Years.

Who Is Tracking Spilled Oil In The Gulf?

Jimmy Buffett Free Concert Supports Oil Spill Victims.

famous "Margaritaville" musician and Gulf coast resident and business owner Jimmy Buffett talks to Anderson Cooper about his reaction to the BP oil spill. "You're not human if anger isn't your first emotion," Buffett tells Cooper while walking along a Gulf beach where he spent many of his younger days. Jimmy expresses his frustration with "people in the extraction business", as protection of the Gulf is clearly not their primary concern. When Cooper asks Buffett how he feels about the sight of tarballs littering the beaches he grew up on, he exclaims, "It's depressing as hell!" Jimmy also talks about the unforeseen long-term effects of the chemical dispersants being used on the spill, and about the incredible resilience of the Gulf population to withstand any crisis thrown their way. When asked how long he thought the disaster would initially last, Buffett laughingly replied, "I've been in show business a long time, and I know liars when I hear them."

Locals Criticize Delay In Getting Oil Skimmers To Gulf.

contrary to reports such as the one on "Fox & Friends," international assistance has been accepted. To date, 25 countries and four international organizations have offered support in the form of skimming vessels, containment and fire boom, technical assistance and response solutions, among others. A chart provided by the State Department shows that as of June 23 offers from six foreign countries or entities had been accepted. Fifty more offers were under consideration — including multiple offers from a single country or entity. One offer had been declined: France offered a chemical dispersant that is not approved for use in the United States. President Barack Obama described this process in his May 27 press conference:

Myth: Obama admin turned down foreign assistance in dealing with oil cleanup. CLAIM: Obama's refusal to waive Jones Act has prevented international assistance. Fox News' Dick Morris, Bill O'Reilly and Oliver North have similarly asserted that Obama's purported refusal to waive the Jones Act has prevented the United States from accepting aid from foreign ships. REALITY: International assistance is part of Gulf spill response. In an interview on the June 15 edition of Fox & Friends, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated that "foreign entities are operating within the Gulf that help us respond" to the oil spill. Further, in a June 15 press release, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center stated, "Currently, 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history." The Center further explained, "No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations in the Gulf of Mexico." The administration has further stated that they would waive the Jones Act if waivers were requested, but that "there are no pending requests for foreign vessels to come into the Gulf."

Breathing the filth. Hydrocarbons in the air are more toxic than oil in the gulf.,0,1277509.story

Journalists who come too close to oil spill clean-up efforts without permission could find themselves facing a $40,000 fine and even one to five years in prison under a new rule instituted by the Coast Guard late last week. It's a move that outraged observers have decried as an attack on First Amendment rights. And CNN's Anderson Cooper describes the new rules as making it "very easy to hide incompetence or failure." The Coast Guard order states that "vessels must not come within 20 meters [65 feet] of booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law." But since "oil spill response operations" apparently covers much of the clean-up effort on the beaches, CNN's Anderson Cooper describes the rule as banning reporters from "anywhere we need to be."

Conservatives and the Oil Spill.

Fox News is BP oil spill misinformation clearinghouse. Myths and falsehoods on the Gulf oil spill.

nearly two months after the governor requested - and the Department of Defense approved the use of 6,000 Louisiana National Guard troops - only a fraction - 1,053 - have actually been deployed by Jindal to fight the spill. "If you ask any Louisianan, if you said 'If you had those troops, do you think they could be put to good use? Is there anything they can do in your parish?' I think they'd all tell you 'Absolutely,'" Louisiana state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said.

Niger Delta oil spills dwarf BP, Exxon Valdez catastrophes.

Right-wing media figures have repeatedly claimed that it's "time we stopped blaming Bush" in discussions of the Gulf oil spill. However, under the Bush administration, federal offshore drilling regulators relaxed regulatory standards and were plagued by ethics scandals.

The true story of the BP disaster is how private contractors, not the government, are handling the response. Of the 25,000 people responding to the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of the nation, 21,000 are under contract to the foreign oil giant BP. This private army includes workers shipped in from California making $10 an hour to clean the beaches, ex-military public relations experts, and submarine robotics companies. There are no contractors working directly for the government. The Center for American Progress — like many other outside observers — recommends that the government take over operational control from BP, to resolve conflicts of interest between the foreign corporation’s shareholders and public health and safety.

California's legendary oil spill. The Lakeview gusher of 1910 spewed 378 million gallons of oil in Kern County scrubland, far more than the gulf spill wreaking havoc today.,0,1750048.story

Dick Cheney hasn't made much time for television appearances lately. But in the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon unleashed a torrent of oil on the Gulf of Mexico, his name has been creeping back into the press. "The truth is that right now we have precisely the regulatory system that the Bush-Cheney administration wanted: full of loopholes, full of cronies and lobbyists filling the very agencies that are supposed to be overseeing the industry," liberal commentator Arianna Huffington said on ABC's This Week last Sunday. Cheney's daughter, Liz, was on hand to defend her father. "Arianna, I don't know what planet you live on," she shot back. "What you are saying has no relationship to the truth, no relationship to the facts." The reality is a lot more complicated than that. Many of the policy and regulatory failures that laid the groundwork for the BP catastrophe can be traced back to the Bush-Cheney era. But so far, this question has received relatively little attention—mostly because the task force that developed the former administration's energy policy operated in extreme secrecy. Did the task force's decisions play a role in the BP spill? And could the Gulf disaster finally provoke new scrutiny of the task force's clandestine workings?

The Spill, The Scandal and the President. The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years – and let the world's most dangerous oil company get away with murder.

Who’s to blame for the Gulf oil gusher? We break it down.

BP Banishes Hair Booms.

The commander of the federal government's response to the gulf oil spill said Sunday that the containment dome captured 10,000 barrels of oil gushing from the sea floor in its second day of operation, up from 6,000 barrels. U.S. Coast Guard Adm Thad Allen, in an interview on the ABC news show "This Week," said engineers are slowly raising production and agreed with an assessment from BP chief executive Tony Hayward that the containment effort could eventually collect a majority of the oil "if it's operating properly.",0,6338430.story?

Haley Barbour: Oil? What Oil? Press Should Stop Scaring Tourists.

Oil disaster shows a divide from physical world. It's all so last millennium, that filthy business in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. It reeks of yesterday's fuel, yesterday's sweaty labor - a hands-on way of life from another time. Today's Americans don't care to know how the gas comes to the pump, the food to the table, the iPad to the store. Just make sure they do. But now they're staring, transfixed, at where things come from. And what people still do to get it to you, and the death and devastation that can result when something goes wrong and it can't be fixed with a call to technical support. "Top kill" wasn't a video game. It was a desperate injection of mud and junk into the primeval muck near the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. It was the most ambitious effort yet for a temporary fix, and it failed. So the oil spews, the search goes on and long-term hopes rest on relief wells still two months or more away. In this age of microchip miracles, people are seeing brute mass, old tools and ancient physics at work in the weirdly lunar undersea landscape. The atmospherics could be from a moon mission. A mile down, supersized vise grips clench a pipe forcing a flotsam into the ruptured well like oil workers have done on land. All so yesterday in look and feel - even if it is the first ever top kill at such great ocean depths.

One Month Later: Five Things We Know About the BP Gulf Disaster.

I've been in Oil and Gas Production (all upstream) and Exploration for over 30 years. My salary is a little bigger than God's, which is okay because I'm more useful than he is. I'm a better cook than God is too, but lets get back on subject here. Booming School. Not only is Oil Spill Booming a large industry in the USA, teaching Oil Spill Booming is a large industry in the USA. Most of BP's production and pipeline employees in the USA have attended at least one booming school. Many have attended two or three. Most oil and gas production employees in the USA have attended booming school. Some of us have attended really good, really extensive, week or two-week booming schools. BP's production employees have attended the best booming schools. I know this. I've seen them there.

BP Fails F***ing Booming School: Oil Industry Insider Vents - NSFW (Video)

Federal investigators said Wednesday that an Interior Department group in charge of collecting oil and natural gas royalties was compromised for years by employees who improperly accepted gifts from oil company employees, handed out sweetheart deals, had sex with subordinates and industry contacts and used illegal drugs. The reports from the department's inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, the culmination of several years-long investigations, were the latest to question the cozy relationship between the energy industry and the Minerals Management Service, the obscure Interior Department agency that issues lucrative drilling leases to energy companies and then collects royalties from the leases of taxpayer-owned land.

The bottom line is that the Gulf of Mexico dies a little every day from the tens of thousands of chemical plants, oil refineries, and oil and gas rigs that pockmark the Gulf and its coastlines. It's a death of ten thousand cuts, and many of these offenses don't get reported at all. We, the public, really have no way of knowing. The companies and the agencies certainly aren't going to tell us. They've proved that time and time again. The truth of the matter only becomes clear when something monstrous like the BP oil spill comes along and wakes us up to the nightmare.

It should have come as no surprise to learn that inspectors for the federal Minerals Management Service accepted meals and gifts from the companies whose work they were overseeing in the Gulf of Mexico. This wasn't the first evidence that the agency was out of control. Less than two years ago, a report revealed that employees at the Denver office were engaging in sex and using drugs with energy company representatives in addition to accepting gifts from them — all while overseeing billions of dollars worth of contracts.,0,4481824.story

True Conservative Environmental Values: BP Spill Responders Told to Forgo Precautionary Health Measures in Cleanup Local fishermen hired to work on BP's uncontrolled oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico are scared and confused. Fishermen here and in other small communities dotting the southern marshes and swamplands of Barataria Bay are getting sick from the working on the cleanup, yet BP is assuring them they don't need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.

True Conservative Environmental Values: The GOP rushed to brand the Gulf Coast disaster "Obama's Katrina." But new reports make clear the Bush administration's lax attitude toward regulation deserves much of the blame. Ever since the great oil price spike of 2008, conservatives have been riding a tide of pro-drilling sentiment to shore up their message on energy issues. Environmentalists had done a decent job in earlier years of framing their concerns about fossil-fuel use in part in terms of energy "independence" and "security," rhetoric that was turned on its head by efforts like Newt Gingrich's "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" slogan. The push was so successful that the Obama administration somewhat reluctantly came around to the pro-drilling viewpoint, just in time for the largest oil spill in human history to hit the Gulf of Mexico—pushing public support for drilling down for the first time in years. This left the hard-core drillers of the right like Gingrich and Karl Rove to grasp for the argument that the spill is somehow "Obama's Katrina"—a charge so absurd that even Fox News hosts won't buy it. Meanwhile, new revelations in Friday's New York Times reveal that something closer to the reverse is the truth—the Deepwater Horizon fiasco is yet another consequence of George W. Bush's corruption and incompetence.

BP oil spill conspiracy theories.

Obama assures Louisiana of aggressive federal response to oil spill. The president, on a quick trip to the Gulf of Mexico, vows to protect natural resources and compensate those affected by the massive spill.,0,2853764.story?page=1

Halliburton in spotlight in gulf spill probe. Investigators look at the company’s role in cementing the deepwater drill hole in the Gulf of Mexico. Transocean and BP also face questioning.,0,2641014.story

Memo to media: Timeline contradicts "Obama's Katrina" claim.

Gulf oil spill: The Halliburton connection.


Paper or plastic or neither. A bill in the California Legislature to ban all single-use carry-out bags goes too far.,0,3084878.story

Recycling still the most effective waste disposal method, report finds. Report for UK government refutes persistent claims that recycling is a waste of time, calls for better facilities and an increase in incineration.


The Dry Garden: If critics would stop picking on the school garden, they might learn a thing or two.


Health Care Repeal Opposed By 61% Of Public: Poll.

The Hundred Years' War over Toxic Chemicals.

Number of swine flu cases in the U.S. reaches 57 million. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 12,000 have died from H1N1 infection, far fewer than in a typical flu season. Other data suggest the pandemic is waning.,0,133.story


Animals and Pets

Each year, over 6000 people are traumatized by goats in the United States alone.


Hooked on a New High. Teens are making heroin the drug of choice.

A report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released Thursday found that oxycodone was the cause of 1,185 state deaths in 2009, a 26 percent increase from the year before and a whopping 249 percent increase from 2005. And among the 24 medical examiner districts in the state, the St. Petersburg district — which is Pinellas and Pasco counties — had the most deaths caused by oxycodone, with 197. The Fort Lauderdale district had 161 oxycodone deaths, the West Palm Beach district had 130, and the Tampa district, which comprises all of Hillsborough County, had the fourth most with 128.

Willie Nelson is high while on Larry King show. Willie Nelson tells Larry King he is stoned as they speak. It reminds me of the time Timothy Leary was at a press conference and a reporter asked him: "When was the last time you took LSD?" and Leary said, "I'm tripping now."


'POSSESSED' enters the complicated worlds of four hoarders; people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions. The film questions whether hoarding is a symptom of mental illness or a revolt against the material recklessness of consumerism. When does collecting become hoarding and why do possessions exert such an influence on our lives?


Muslims throughout Temecula and Murrieta have saved up for years to build a mosque to replace the plain white industrial building, tucked between a pipeline company and packaging warehouse, where they now gather to pray. But as the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley moves ahead with plans to build on a four-acre plot of vacant land near Temecula's gentle hills and invading housing developments, plans for the new mosque have stirred hostility in this mostly conservative community in southwest Riverside County. Along with increased traffic and noise, opponents fear the mosque would clash with Temecula's rural atmosphere and, they say, possibly turn the community of 105,000 into a haven for Islamic extremists.,0,2447625.story

A car show planned for the Benton County Fairgrounds in Kennewick for Sunday has been canceled because of police concerns about rap music and possible gang activity. The Tri-City Herald reports county officials decide to void the contract when they learned rap groups from Seattle would be performing. Police Det. Chris Littrell says he called the county about the event because he was concerned about security. County officials said insurance for the event didn't cover a concert. The contract was canceled Tuesday. The treasurer of the Rollerz Only low-rider car club says the club has no gang ties. He says the event was aimed for families and included plans for a children's bounce house, face painting, art contest and ice cream cakes.

White Supremacists stir up opposition on the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall. The man was then escorted away by police as blood spilled from the back of his head. His sign, broken into pieces, was left behind on the street. It read: "Christianity = Paganism" and had an arrow pointing to a swastika. It wasn't clear if the man was a white supremacist. "Gosh, I think he just didn't have a clear message. I don't even think he was a Nazi," said one man looking at the broken pieces of the sign.,0,4238180.story?

LAPD enters tactical alert as white supremacist rally prepares to start.

Arrest At Wal-Mart After Racial Announcement In New Jersey.

A Ku Klux Klan-like hood was fashioned from a pillowcase and placed on a statue outside UC San Diego’s main library, in what may be another racially provocative incident at the beach-side campus, officials said Tuesday. University police say they are investigating the matter as a possible hate crime and examining the hood for fingerprints and even DNA analysis. The hood, with a hand-drawn cross inside a circle, was found about 11 p.m. Monday on the statue of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as the children’s book author Dr. Seuss, after whom the library is named. A rose was inserted into the statue’s fingers. The incident occurred on the eve of Geisel's birthday Tuesday. He was a UC San Diego benefactor who died in 1991 at age 87. However, plans for an annual campus celebration of his birthday had been cancelled because of the recent tumult and protests regarding racially charged incidents and the low enrollment of black students.

Student apologizes for UC San Diego noose incident, claims no racist intent.

California Campus Sees Uneasy Race Relations.

Earlier this week, hundreds of UCSD students held a protest over the school's treatment and recruitment of minorities. The action follows a week of discussions at UCSD after an off-campus party mocking black culture angered the school's African-American students. What can be done to improve racial equality at the school?

UC San Diego police said Friday that a student admitted hanging a noose from a library bookcase in an incident that set off a new round of protests and a sit-in at the chancellor's office. In statements released by campus police, the student’s identity was not released and no further information was provided about a possible motive. All officials would say was that the student contacted campus police and admitted hanging the noose on a lamp fixture on top of a seventh-floor bookcase in Geisel Library. Police originally said they were investigating the noose incident as a crime with “intent to terrorize.” Student protesters, angry about the noose and other recent racially charged incidents, occupied the office of UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

UC San Diego officials meet with students angry about off-campus 'Compton Cookout'


Failure doesn't stop predictions of the apocalypse. The recent scare over a missing Palmdale church group reflects the continuing belief in the end times, especially amid feelings of desperation.,0,5600513.story

Atheists in Oklahoma City have erected a billboard seeking fellow non-believers, and Satanists have scheduled a conference in a city-owned building, drawing criticism from ministers in a state where more than eight out of 10 people say they are Christians. "It's not a question of 'Can you?' It's a question of 'Should you?'" said Dan Fisher, pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon. "It's kind of like they're poking a finger in your eye." Nick Singer, the coordinator of a local atheists' group called "Coalition of Reason," recently received $5,250 from its national counterpart to erect the billboard along Interstate 44 near the Oklahoma State Fair, which opens Wednesday. Its message reads, "Don't believe in God? Join the club."

Bikini-Clad Strippers Protest Church In Rural Ohio.

From deceptive advertising to flat-out lies, crisis pregnancy centers prey on desperate young women looking for help. Joyce C. Tang on new laws across the country fighting back.

An atheism debate writ large, on billboards. In North Carolina, a church group and an atheist group put up dueling signs quoting their respective versions of the Pledge of Allegiance. Each group accuses the other of rewriting U.S. history.,0,5835073.story

A petition opposing the new mosque is being circulated by a group called Koncerned Kommunity Kitizens, and other politically active volunteers have started organizing a campaign against the facility. Karen Fesini, who belongs to a Republican women's group in the Temecula and Murrieta area, said she's been making calls to warn her friends about the project. "They say they're not radicals, but how do we know?"' said Fesini, 68. "Right now we're at war with the Taliban and the Muslims and our boys are over there fighting and dying for our freedom. What would it be like if they come home and found out we just let them in the front door?",0,2447625.story

when I get back to the secular university in August, I plan to round up the students I know who are most hostile to atheism. Then I'm going to get them to help me find atheist-haters willing to join atheist student groups across the South. I plan to use my young fundamentalist Christian warriors to undermine the mission of every group that disagrees with me on the existence of God. That means an invading group can turn a smaller, weaker group into second class citizens on campus. That's what I intend to do to those groups who do not believe in God. I do not seek robust debate. I seek power over the godless heathen dissident.

Four Christian missionaries trying to convert Muslims were arrested and jailed Friday for disorderly conduct at an Arab festival in Dearborn, police said. Nabeel Qureshi of Virginia and David Wood of New York, both with a Christian group called Acts 17 Apologetics, were arrested with two others after they were said to be causing disruptive behavior, police said. The four, who were at the Dearborn Arab International Festival, were later released on bail. Qureshi described the arrest on the Acts 17 blog at

The rise of this Christian fascism, a rise we ignore at our peril, is being fueled by an ineffectual and bankrupt liberal class that has proved to be unable to roll back surging unemployment, protect us from speculators on Wall Street, or save our dispossessed working class from foreclosures, bankruptcies and misery. The liberal class has proved useless in combating the largest environmental disaster in our history, ending costly and futile imperial wars or stopping the corporate plundering of the nation. And the gutlessness of the liberal class has left it, and the values it represents, reviled and hated. The Democrats have refused to repeal the gross violations of international and domestic law codified by the Bush administration. This means that Christian fascists who achieve power will have the “legal” tools to spy on, arrest, deny habeas corpus to, and torture or assassinate American citizens—as does the Obama administration.

To Justice John Paul Stevens, one thing is perfectly clear: The Christian cross in the Mojave National Preserve cannot commemorate all veterans of World War I. “Congressional action, taken after due deliberation, that honors our fallen soldiers merits our highest respect,” observed Stevens, the Supreme Court’s only war veteran. “As far as I can tell, however, it is unprecedented in the nation’s history to designate a bare, unadorned cross as the national war memorial for a particular group of veterans.” Governmental use of a sectarian symbol to memorialize all fallen soldiers, he said, not only violates the separation of church and state, but also results in “a dramatically inadequate and inappropriate tribute. “Making a plain, unadorned Latin cross a war memorial,” he said, “does not make the cross secular. It makes the war memorial sectarian.”

Mojave cross mysteriously replaced.

Anonymous letter explaining cross theft sent to Desert Dispatch.

Replica cross placed in Mojave Desert war memorial is taken down within 24 hours.,0,1337703.story

The founding pastor of a Christian motorcycle club who was originally charged with street terrorism for his role in a 2008 brawl in Newport Beach with the Hells Angels has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and been sentenced to probation. Philip Aguilar, 62, was sentenced Thursday and given credit for time he’d already spent in jail. He pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of a prohibited person owning ammunition. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop three felony weapons and street-terrorism charges. The plea brought to a close a case that highlighted the controversial Christian ministry's descent into what prosecutors alleged was a criminal enterprise. The charges stemmed from a July 2008 bar fight on the waterfront in Newport Beach between the Set Free Soldiers and the Hells Angels, a brawl that ended with two stabbings and one man being pelted with a billiard ball. In a predawn raid in August 2008, authorities seized dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition at four homes on Archer Street in Anaheim owned by Set Free. Aguilar served prison time for child abuse in the 1970s, and as a convicted felon is prohibited from having a firearm and ammunition. He converted to Christianity in prison and founded Set Free Worldwide Ministries in 1982.

Political Sense: Crosses, immigration law and federal debt. Read more:

The Mojave cross ruling: a blow to the 1st Amendment. The Supreme Court sends the message the government can treat a Christian symbol as a national emblem and display it on public property.,0,1289858.story

Abuse Scandal in Germany Edges Closer to Pope.

At the behest of a friend, I logged on to The Mikey Show website to listen to several of his Friday-morning radio testimonials. For those who don’t know the back-story, in January, Mikey Esparza, the infamous morning cock-jock, left Rock 105.3 (KIOX), and moved to FM 94/9 (KZBT), where the new Mikey morning show now resides. The Mikey Show is like every other morning monkey-house program, with one exception: Every Friday, at the end of his broadcast, Mikey—former purveyor of filth, smut and depravity; former self-proclaimed shit-talking assdouche—tells his audience the story of how Jesus saved his life. He calls the segment his “testimony,” and it is, judging from the shows I’ve heard, the same every week: Mikey cues up the melodramatic music bed—a gloomy, meandering, reverb-drenched guitar track (think Ry Cooder on morphine)—and, in a soft, contemplative voice, tells the story of his sexual molestation as a child and the vortex of depression, self-loathing and addictions that ravaged him until Christ came along. “In 2003, I was laying in bed one night,” he says. “I knew I was going to die, so I asked Jesus to come into my life.” Apparently, Jesus did just that, because soon after, Mikey’s life began to improve.

The Constitution never mentions the words "Christian," "Jesus" or "Christ."

How Christian Were the Founders?

Lancaster mayor comes under fire from Muslim organization.

Mayor denounced for saying Lancaster is 'growing a Christian community'


Harvard Secular Society conferred lifetime achievement awards on MythBusters' Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman this weekend. Adam's splendid acceptance speech follows.


But that means we’re also the solution — if we’re serious. Look, we managed to survive 9/11 without letting it destroy our open society or rule of law. We managed to survive the Wall Street crash without letting it destroy our economy. Hopefully, we will survive the BP oil spill without it destroying our coastal ecosystems. But we dare not press our luck. Here’s the bottom line: If we want to end our oil addiction, we, as citizens, need to pony up: bike to work, plant a garden, do something.

Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth.

The idea has taken hold that Americans have become more conservative on abortion. Sarah Palin put this new conventional wisdom to political work in a speech two weeks ago when she claimed polls showed "more Americans proudly proclaiming themselves as pro-life . . . and that's a huge victory." She's not entirely wrong, but that doesn't mean she's right. You might be surprised to learn that only about 15% of Americans agree with the particulars of the "pro-life" policy of Palin's Republican Party. Or that, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 59% of Americans want Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, if she is confirmed, to uphold Roe vs. Wade.,0,5336153.story

Last week that comedian did something that the hosts of “Fox & Friends,” the morning show on Fox News, did not do: he had his staff members call the White House and ask a question. It may have been in pursuit of farce, not fact, but it gave credence to the people who say “The Daily Show” is journalistic, not just satiric. “Fox & Friends” had repeatedly asked whether the crescent-shaped logo of the nuclear security summit was an “Islamic image,” one selected by President Obama in his outreach to the Muslim world. The White House told “The Daily Show” that the logo was actually based on the Rutherford-Bohr model of the atom. “This is how relentless Fox is” in savaging President Obama, Mr. Stewart said.

A member of several heretofore little-known groups, including Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and Oath Keepers -- former and active military and law enforcement officials who have vowed to resist laws they deem unconstitutional -- Almond, 31, considers packing heat on the doorstep of the federal government within the mainstream of political speech. Others consider it an alarming escalation of paranoia and anger in the age of Obama. "What I think is important to note is that many of the speakers have really threatened violence, and it's a real threat to the rule of law," Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said of the program for the armed rally. "They are calling health care and taxes that have been duly enacted by a democratically elected Congress tyrannical, and they feel they have a right to confront that individually." On the lineup are several heroes of the militia movement, including Mike Vanderboegh, who advocated throwing bricks through the windows of Democrats who voted for the health-care bill; Tom Fernandez, who has established a nationwide call tree to mobilize an armed resistance to any government order to seize firearms; and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, who refused to enforce the Brady law and then won a Supreme Court verdict that weakened its background-check provisions.

Republicans Condemn Violence, Threatened Democrat Not Satisfied.

Republicans don't speak fr me!

Frightening GOP Behavior. A Republican talking point repeated ad nauseam during yesterday's debate pounded on the theme that they, and they alone, had the right to speak for "the will of the American people." This took different forms: "the American people have spoken," or "you (Democrats) are ignoring/imposing your views on the American people" or "the American people have sent a message," etc. All making the same point -- that the GOP speaks for the American people. Of course, the American people have spoken, and in November 2008 elected a Democratic White House and Senate and House of Representatives. But, elections and the workings of our democracy including the idea that the losing party respect the outcome of elections appear to be alien concepts to today's GOP. The idea that the minority party represents the "will of the people" (not some of the people, but "the people") is the seedling of a totalitarian mindset. In this mindset -- democracy doesn't matter, ideas are not to be discussed, and opposing views are not to respected. What matters is that they alone have truth, they alone are metaphysically connected to the "mind of the people" can interpret their will, and because they have truth and speak for the people, others represent a threat and must be silenced and stopped.

Obama aides to meet with atheists on White House grounds.

What made Joseph Stack crazy enough to crash his plane into an IRS building, and why are some commenters praising him? John Avlon—author of Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America, which predicted that anti-government rage leads to violence—on how tax protesters become unhinged.

President George Washington became an Anglican as required for military service under the British, and he occasionally quoted scripture. But he vehemently opposed any church-state union. In a 1790 letter to the Jews of Truro, he wrote, "(The) government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistances, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens." And a 1796 treaty he signed says, "The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Washington rarely went to church and, by some accounts, refused last religious rites.

Why do people vote against their own interests? The Republicans' shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US. Political scientist Dr David Runciman gives his view on why there is often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.


California passes bill to counteract ‘disturbing’ Texas curriculum. "My bill begins the process of ensuring that California students will not end up being taught with Texas standards," State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who authored and sponsored the legislation, said in an interview. Texas standards had better not "creep into our textbooks," he said.

The Science of Making Up Stuff. America’s most dedicated educators have been praying mightily for an end to the hell of false labels and the testing tail wagging the dog-and-pony show that now passes as teaching and learning in schools where administrators are forced to bundle toxic testing strategies worthy of Lehman Brothers in their efforts to be accountable–not to the kids, but to hitting their numbers. Good Teachers know the difference. We have continued to teach in spite of No Child Left.


1984 World Series. Detroit Tigers. The late Kenneth (Bubba) Helms was the 17-year-old eighth-grade dropout holding a pennant in front of an overturned and torched police car after the final game of the 1984 World Series. He and some friends, he later said, had knocked off a fifth of Jim Beam and "smoked a few bad ones" before he passed out on a lawn, arose refreshed, and headed downtown toward infamy. From The Detroit News:



The US military is developing plans for a unilateral attack on the Pakistani Taliban if the terrorists successfully strike within the United States, according to a report. The planning for a retaliatory attack was spurred by ties between alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and the Pakistani Taliban, The Washington Post said. The military would focus on air and missile strikes but also could use small teams of Special Operations troops currently stationed along the border with Afghanistan, the Post said. The CIA already conducts unmanned drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions. Read more:

Secrecy of Pakistan UAV strikes is criticized. ISLAMABAD — Criticism is mounting over Washington’s refusal to say anything about missile strikes against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in Pakistan’s northwest, prompting even supporters to argue the U.S. needs to be more open to counter militant allegations that only innocent civilians are dying. Missiles launched by unmanned drones are the most effective way for the U.S. to go after militants hiding in the lawless border area near Afghanistan because the Pakistani government refuses to allow U.S. troops on its soil and has been reluctant to target many of the fighters itself. While the government criticizes the strikes as an infringement on national sovereignty, it is widely assumed to privately support the attacks and help provide intelligence.

C.I.A. Deaths Prompt Surge in U.S. Drone Strikes.



Powell tells Mainichi Iraq invasion was avoidable, regrets false WMD intelligence.

A U.S. 'legacy of waste' in Iraq. The $53-billion reconstruction effort is not without its successes. But poor planning, violence and a failure to consult Iraqis derailed many projects, which may offer lessons in Afghanistan.,0,5306224.story

Anti-war activists claim 'partial success' for Iraq combat pullout.

The Defense Department failed to properly account for almost $9 billion of Iraq reconstruction funds, which is 96 percent of the money it received from 2004 to 2007, according to a report released Tuesday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Eight organizations in the department were authorized to spend $9.1 billion from the Development Fund for Iraq, which is made up of funds from Iraq’s oil and gas exports, surplus money from the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program and frozen Iraqi assets. The DoD organizations were supposed to set up accounts at the Treasury Department to manage the money, but only the Army Central Command did so for the roughly $400 million it received. As a result, the SIGIR report found, the remaining $8.7 billion was “vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss.”

The report faults the Pentagon for not issuing guidance on establishing the accounts at Treasury until December 2004, about six months after DoD organizations had received most of the money from the Development Fund for Iraq. The department also didn’t name an official to make policy on or oversee the use of that money, the report says.

Ex-MI5 spy chief: No link between Iraq and 9/11.

FALLUJA, Iraq — After two devastating battles between American forces and Sunni insurgents in 2004, this city needed almost everything — new roads, clean water, electricity, health care. The American reconstruction authorities decided, however, that the first big rebuilding project to win hearts and minds would be a citywide sewage treatment system. Now, after more than six years of work, $104 million spent, and without having connected a single house, American reconstruction officials have decided to leave the troubled system only partly finished, infuriating many city residents. The plant is just one of many projects that the United States has decided to scale back on — or in some cases abandon — as American troops who provide security for reconstruction sites prepare to leave in large numbers. Even some of the projects that will be completed are being finished with such haste, Iraqi officials say, that engineering standards have deteriorated precipitously, putting workers in danger and leaving some of the work at risk of collapse.

In 1970 a Lao villager who had survived five years of U.S. bombing wrote: "In reality, whatever happens, it is only the innocent who suffer. And as for the others, do they know all the unimaginable things happening in this war? Do they?" Do we? And if we did know about the innocent men, women and children our leaders kill, would it matter? Does it matter that those who justified the Iraqi invasion in the name of the people of Iraq have largely ignored their unimaginable suffering under U.S. occupation, as more than 5 million civilians have been murdered, maimed, made homeless, unjustly imprisoned and tortured—and millions more impoverished? Would war supporters serve themselves and their nation if they wrote about both the humanity and suffering of, say, just 10 Iraqi victims—and sought to convey how each represents at least 500,000 more? Is the suffering our leaders inflict on innocent civilians relevant to deciding whether to support our present war-making in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Would it matter if the N.Y. Times had run daily profiles and photos of Iraqi civilian victims since 2003, as it did of U.S. victims after 9/11? Such questions are raised by Christopher Hitchens’ recently published best-selling memoir, Hitch-22, in which he proudly claims to have helped cause the invasion of Iraq as the most prominent of a group of war hawks ("by which political Washington was eventually persuaded that Iraq should be helped into a post-Saddam era, if necessary by force”), but entirely ignores the human cost that followed. No one spoke more eloquently of the Iraqi people’s suffering before the invasion. Thus his indifference to it since has been striking.

Bombings outside Baghdad bank kill dozens. Two cars are detonated in suicide attacks outside the headquarters of a major Iraqi bank, killing 28 and wounding 57.,0,1054435.story?

How the military improved its language education.

WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website

A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives inside a way station for Shiite pilgrims Monday, killing 54 people and rattling security officials who are struggling against a possible rise in violence before key elections next month.

Citing 9/11, Blair Defends Legacy at Iraq Inquiry.


US soldiers 'killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies' Soldiers face charges over secret 'kill team' which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war.

General David Petraeus has condemned a Florida church's plans to burn Qurans this week, warning that the scene "could endanger troops" in Afghanistan. Petraeus told The Wall Street Journal Monday that Pastor Terry Jones' September 11 stunt could ignite violence from Taliban forces already versed in harnessing American headlines as propaganda: "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Gen. Petraeus said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."

5 U.S. troops accused of targeting, killing Afghan civilians.

Troops Wonder: WTF Are We Doing In Afghanistan, Again? Read More

nited States troops shot three civilians including a 12-year-old boy at a demonstration near its main base at Bagram airfield at the weekend - the latest in a rising wave of protests against the occupation. Nato claimed the soldiers had been forced to shoot at locals after they surrounded contractors building a massive Afghan army base on their land. Around 250 civilians gathered around the building workers and their heavily armed escort to demand that the project be halted, said government official Abdullah Adil. Reports of the latest violence against civilians came as US commander in the country General David Petraeus launched a prime-time TV bid to shore up plummeting public support for the occupation. July was the deadliest month for US forces so far, with 66 soldiers killed, while the UN warned last week that civilian casualties are increasing at their fastest rate yet.

Navy records were not clear about exactly how long the sailors had been in Afghanistan, but it initially appeared Newlove had been in country since December and McNeley since some earlier point last year. Pentagon spokesmen would not give details on why Newlove and McNeley might have been driving by themselves outside the wire. Cole said the International Security Assistance Force is still conducting an investigation into what happened.

A six-year archive of classified military documents made public on Sunday offers an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal. The secret documents, released on the Internet by an organization called WikiLeaks, are a daily diary of an American-led force often starved for resources and attention as it struggled against an insurgency that grew larger, better coordinated and more deadly each year. The New York Times, the British newspaper The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel were given access to the voluminous records several weeks ago on the condition that they not report on the material before Sunday. The documents — some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009 — illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.

U.S. money wasted on Afghanistan projects, auditor finds. A federal auditor says the problems are indicative of a pattern of building facilities that are too costly and complex for the Afghan government to maintain.,0,4200098.story

It's fun to kill in Afghanistan, says top US commander.

First the fighters, then the farmers: California National Guard at work in Afghanistan.

Michael Steele causes uproar with Afghan remarks.

Rising death tolls. Military timetables slowed. Infighting in the partner government. War-weary allies packing up to leave — and others eyeing an exit. Events this spring — from the battlefields of Helmand and Kandahar to the halls of the U.S. Congress — have served as a reality check on the Afghan war, a grueling fight in a remote, inhospitable land that once harbored the masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The Taliban have proven resilient and won’t be easily routed. Good Afghan government won’t blossom any faster than flowers in the bleak Afghan deserts. Phrases like “transition to Afghan control” mask the enormous challenge ahead to make those words reality.

Five Stryker Brigade soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord killed three civilians in separate shootings in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province earlier this year, charging documents released by the Army on Wednesday allege. The Army says all three victims were shot and two of them were hit by thrown grenades. Two of the soldiers also are accused of assault and another is charged with seeking to destroy evidence. In all, five soldiers have been charged with premeditated murder in the killings. All are assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

U.S. report faults drone crew, command posts in Afghan civilian deaths. The investigation into the February deaths of up to 23 Afghans prompts Gen. McChrystal to punish six U.S. officers.,0,1961214.story?

Four German soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

U.S. Admits Role in February Killing of Afghan Women.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has brought most American Special Operations forces under his direct control for the first time, out of concern over continued civilian casualties and disorganization among units in the field. Critics, including Afghan officials, human rights workers and some field commanders of conventional American forces, say that Special Operations forces have been responsible for a large number of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan and operate by their own rules. Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi, the chief spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said that General McChrystal had told Afghan officials he was taking the action because of concern that some American units were not following his orders to make limiting civilian casualties a paramount objective.

The so-called “civilian surge” in Afghanistan is mired in bureaucracy and may not succeed in time to help the war effort, a State Department report found. The report released Friday said U.S. diplomats spend too much time giving war zone tours to visiting officials. They have struggled to house, feed and transport an influx of new civilians. And they can’t get regular sleep because bosses at the National Security Council and others in Washington call for briefings from midnight to 4 a.m., apparently unworried about the different time zone. The department’s inspector general said the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, and his team made impressive progress during their first six months in Kabul toward carrying out the “civilian surge” ordered by the Obama administration to accompany its military push. The force of agriculturalists, lawyers, engineers and others — which nearly tripled from 320 people to about 900 early this year — is meant to encourage the Afghan people to like their own government more than they like the Taliban. But Eikenberry’s team has been challenged by the unprecedented pace and scope of the civilian buildup, the report said. “Even with the able leadership of senior officers, the best of intentions and the most dedicated efforts, Embassy Kabul faces serious challenges in meeting the administration’s deadline for ‘success’ in Afghanistan,” the 146-page report said.

Afghan interpreter shoots dead two US soldiers.

US troops shoot and kill Afghan cleric near Kabul.

NATO airstrike kills 4 Afghan troops. Afghanistan's Defense Ministry demands that those responsible be punished. NATO says the incident is being investigated.,0,5693612.story

Earlier this month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai fought back against allegations of pervasive graft within his government, telling Al Jazeera that "the Western media has blown corruption totally out of all proportion in Afghanistan." Perhaps Karzai should have a conversation with Antonio Maria Costa, the United Nations' drug and crime czar. His office released a report on Tuesday concluding that in the past year Afghans paid out $2.5 billion in bribes and kickbacks—the equivalent of 23 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The income generated by corruption is exceeded only by the booming opium trade, which brings in an estimated $2.8 billion annually. "In other words, this is shocking, drugs and bribes are the two largest income generators in Afghanistan," writes Costa, who heads the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in the preface of the study.

How the US Funds the Taliban. Afghanistan is ruled by Popal's cousin President Hamid Karzai. Popal has cut his huge beard down to a neatly trimmed one and has become an immensely wealthy businessman, along with his brother Rashid Popal, who in a separate case pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn. The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals' private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan. One of Watan's enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies. Welcome to the wartime contracting bazaar in Afghanistan. It is a virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers joining hands with former Taliban and mujahedeen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort. In this grotesque carnival, the US military's contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. "It's a big part of their income," one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon's logistics contracts--hundreds of millions of dollars--consists of payments to insurgents.

The Taliban not only has the “momentum” after the most successful year in its campaign against the United States and the Kabul government. “The Afghan insurgency can sustain itself indefinitely,” according to a briefing from Major General Michael Flynn, the top U.S. intelligence officer in the country. “The Taliban retains [the] required partnerships to sustain support, fuel legitimacy and bolster capacity.” Read More


U.S. military teams, intelligence deeply involved in aiding Yemen on strikes. U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials. The operations, approved by President Obama and begun six weeks ago, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. The American advisers do not take part in raids in Yemen, but help plan missions, develop tactics and provide weapons and munitions. Highly sensitive intelligence is being shared with the Yemeni forces, including electronic and video surveillance, as well as three-dimensional terrain maps and detailed analysis of the al-Qaeda network.


Nine years after the most devastating attack on the American homeland by a foreign power since the British army burned Washington in 1814, al Qaeda remains alive and deadly. President Obama has placed considerable pressure on Osama bin Laden and his gang but they are a remarkably adaptive and resilient foe. Al Qaeda today has five faces. The first is the old face, the core group around bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, which still provides strategic direction to the group and to the larger jihadist community. Despite the largest manhunt in human history, the core is still operational in the badlands along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The drone offensive Obama has ordered is hurting them seriously, but it has not destroyed them. They usually mark the anniversary of 9/11 with a major propaganda statement so we should expect one.

At first, the news from Yemen on May 25 sounded like a modest victory in the campaign against terrorists: an airstrike had hit a group suspected of being operatives for Al Qaeda in the remote desert of Marib Province, birthplace of the legendary queen of Sheba. But the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk Qaeda members into giving up their fight. Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes. The strike, though, was not the work of Mr. Saleh’s decrepit Soviet-era air force. It was a secret mission by the United States military, according to American officials, at least the fourth such assault on Al Qaeda in the arid mountains and deserts of Yemen since December. The attack offered a glimpse of the Obama administration’s shadow war against Al Qaeda and its allies. In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.

Republicans used a confirmation hearing for a top Justice Department official to argue that the administration is failing to aggressively fight terrorism, says the Washington Post. The latest flare-up of the politics of terror centered on Obama’s nomination of James M. Cole as deputy attorney general, a critical position that has been vacant for months. Cole is a white-collar defense lawyer and longtime friend of Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and has held numerous jobs in government, including serving 13 years at the Justice Department. At Cole’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Republicans focused on several phrases in a 2002 column he wrote for Legal Times that criticized the Bush administration’s battle against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “The attorney general is not a member of the military fighting a war — he is a prosecutor fighting crime,” Cole wrote. “For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population.” By hearing’s end, even Republicans were acknowledging that Cole’s confirmation by the full Senate was likely.

Under Panetta, a more aggressive CIA. The plan was a standard one in the CIA's war against extremists in Pakistan: The agency was using a Predator drone to monitor a residential compound; a Taliban leader was expected to arrive shortly; a CIA missile would kill him. On the morning of Aug. 5, CIA Director Leon Panetta was informed that Baitullah Mehsud was about to reach his father-in-law's home. Mehsud would be in the open, minimizing the risk that civilians would be injured or killed. Panetta authorized the strike, according to a senior intelligence official who described the sequence of events. Some hours later, officials at CIA headquarters in Langley identified Mehsud on a feed from the Predator's camera. He was seen resting on the roof of the house, hooked up to a drip to palliate a kidney problem. He was not alone. Panetta was pulled out of a White House meeting and told that Mehsud's wife was also on the rooftop, giving her husband a massage. Mehsud, implicated in suicide bombings and the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was a major target. Panetta told his officers to take the shot. Mehsud and his wife were killed. Panetta, an earthy former congressman with exquisitely honed Washington smarts, was President Obama's surprise choice to head the CIA. During his 13 months in the job, Panetta has led a relentless assault on al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives in Pakistan, delivering on Obama's promise to target them more aggressively than his predecessor. Apart from a brief stint as a military intelligence officer in the 1960s, little in Panetta's résumé appeared to merit his nomination to become the 19th director of the CIA, but his willingness to use force has won over skeptics inside the agency and on Capitol Hill. Said one former senior intelligence official: "I've never sensed him shirking from it."

Under Obama, more targeted killings than captures in counterterrorism efforts.

Crime, Corruption, Cheating, Incompetence, Blackwater

Cole CSO arrested in court outburst. The combat systems officer of the destroyer Cole is back on duty this week after he was arrested in a courtroom outburst over a disputed traffic ticket in Portsmouth, Va. Lt. Timothy Barry appeared in court to challenge a speeding ticket, but the proceedings started off bad and got worse: According to a report in the Washington Times, which cited a Sept. 3 internal Navy message, Barry refused to rise when the judge entered the courtroom. When a bailiff asked him why he hadn’t stood, Barry asked whether that was required by law. Barry, who could not persuade the judge he hadn’t been speeding, threw his credit card onto a clerk’s desk — presumably to pay his fine — but would not give the clerk his driver’s license, the Times reported. So the judge brought him back to court and ordered him arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and of “interfering with a law enforcement officer.” Additional details in the case were not available late Thursday; the Portsmouth courthouse’s closing time is 4:30 p.m. Paul Taylor, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force Atlantic, confirmed the story and confirmed that Barry was back on duty aboard the Cole. There has been “no additional action,” so far by the Navy or his command, Taylor said, “but that doesn’t’ mean there’s not a possibility of action to follow.”

It turns out that even after Blackwater security personnel gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007—and eluded criminal charges—the mercenary company still managed to win lucrative government contracts through a web of more than 30 shell companies.

The mother of Pat Tillman and filmmaker Michael Moore have something to say about Yale University’s hiring of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Mary Tillman, whose discovery that McChrystal orchestrated the cover-up of her son’s death by friendly fire in Afghanistan, is depicted in Amir Bar-Levs documentary "The Tillman Story" tells us the Ivy League institution’s hiring of the general that President Obama fired is "insulting." And Moore wonders if university administrators would re-think their offer after seeing some of the jaw-dropping information in the film. This week, Yale announced that McChrystal had been appointed a Senior Fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and will be teaching a graduate course on the complexity of leadership at the university this fall. The general retired this year after the president relieved him of command after he made disparaging remarks to interviewer Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone magazine.

Read more:

The private security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide, long plagued by accusations of impropriety, has reached an agreement with the State Department for the company to pay $42 million in fines for hundreds of violations of United States export control regulations.

“I’m Pat Tillman! I’m Pat fucking Tillman! Why are you shooting at me?” With those livid last words, pro-football star and Army Ranger Patrick Daniel Tillman Jr.—who gave up a multimillion-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to serve his country and become the most famous enlisted man in Afghanistan—died in a fusillade of friendly fire on a rocky hillside near the Pakistani border. The bullets, coming at him from 40 yards away at a rate of 950 rounds per minute, were from a machine gun wielded by a member of his own platoon. “I remember the sound of a drinking fountain,” Private Bryan O’Neal says in The Tillman Story, a masterfully produced documentary opening in theaters Friday. On the evening of April 22, 2004, O’Neal was crouching next to his team leader, Corporal Tillman, as the furious volleys flew. “And I look over at my side and I see this blood pouring down this rock that I’m sitting by. His head was gone. Completely gone. And I take my helmet off and I throw it against the ground and then I kind of black out.”

The notes, penned to Brigadier General Gary M. Jones (the man spearheading the investigation) as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee (which oversaw Jones's work), paint a picture of a man increasingly convinced that a massive conspiracy was emerging around the death of his son. "You are a General," Tillman's father writes Jones after being presented with a briefing book of his findings. "There is no way a man like you, with your intelligence, education, military, experience, responsibilities (primarily for difficult situations), and rank... believes the conclusions reached in the March 31, 2005 Briefing Book. But your signature is on it. I assume, therefore, that you are part of this shameless bullshit. I embarrassed myself by treating you with respect [on] March 31, 2005. I thought your rank deserved it and anticipated something different from the new and improved investigation. I won't act so hypocritically if we meet again." "In sum: Fuck you... and yours." The two letters are worth a read, if only for the insight they provide into how haphazard and mismanaged (deliberately or not) the investigations were. Tillman's father comes off as emotional, for good reason. But the questions he raised -- while conspiratorial in tone -- offer compelling drama (both real life and for the upcoming movie). Take, for instance, the notion that the shooters of his son may have been blinded by the glare of the sunset. "The shooters were always looking North or Northwest," Tillman's father writes. "Even in Afghanistan, the sun sets in the West - Southwest. How on God's green earth can you add in a "glare factor" looking away from the sun that has set? (P-16) Immediately after the sunset , facing the wrong direction (North vs. Southwest), the glare impaired their vision? Don't you need sun to have glare?"

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was forced to retire because of remarks he made to a Rolling Stone reporter. Having read the article that led to his departure, I feel strangely validated. "The Runaway General" described by journalist Michael Hastings is exactly the arrogant individual I believed him to be. McChrystal was in charge of Joint Special Operations Command in 2004, when my son, Pat, was killed in Afghanistan. But I didn't become aware of him until March 2007. That's when someone anonymously sent an Associated Press reporter a copy of a high-priority correspondence. The memo was written on April 29, 2004, by McChrystal and sent to Gen. John P. Abizaid, Gen. Bryan Douglas Brown and Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr. Its purpose was to warn President George W. Bush and other officials to avoid making public comments about Pat's heroic death at the hands of the enemy, because it was beginning to seem "highly possible that Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire." The memo went on to caution against "unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death become public." We knew nothing about this memo at the time it was written. In fact, we did not learn until weeks after Pat's memorial service that it was even possible he was killed by friendly fire. People have asked, "Why is Pat so special that so much attention is given to his death"? I understand that question. Thousands of soldiers and Marines have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of their families have also been lied to, yet those deaths have not received the attention Pat's did. And Pat's death continues to be in the news. Pat's story initially became news because he was well known for having played in the NFL. The government used his fame to create propaganda for the war. Pat is not more important or special than any of the others who have fought in these wars, but the truth of what happened to Pat — and to every soldier who has died — is important. The truth shines a light on systematic corruption, incompetence and lack of accountability in the military and in government. Over the last five years, the Pentagon and Congress have had numerous opportunities to hold accountable those responsible for the coverup of Pat's death. Each time they've failed. The government didn't just lie to us; it lied to a nation.,0,4079414.story

Banks won't take Fort Hood shooting suspect's paychecks. As he sits in the Bell County Jail, accused of the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead, Maj. Nidal Hasan continues to receive his monthly U.S. Army paycheck, which based on his rank and experience is probably more than $6,000. That's standard procedure for soldiers who are confined before military trial, according to Army officials. But Hasan, charged with a shooting spree that shocked the country, is not a standard defendant. And he's having a hard time finding a bank to take his money. According to his civilian attorney John Galligan , Bank of America notified Hasan last month that it was closing his account and no area bank so far has agreed to open an account for the Army psychiatrist. Military regulations require soldiers to be paid through direct deposit, making a bank account indispensable. "I think it's just another example of the prejudice that he's been exposed to," Galligan said. "It's money that he's entitled to, that he has a right to." But Hasan shouldn't miss a paycheck. Army regulations allow commanders to grant waivers exempting soldiers from the SURE-PAY direct deposit system. Fort Hood officials said that when a soldier has a pay problem, commanders and finance officials help the soldier fix the issue, and Galligan said he is working with Fort Hood officials on finding a solution. Galligan said he and his staff have tried to open accounts in Hasan's name at half a dozen banks but were turned down at each one. He was especially angry that Fort Hood National Bank also refused, he said. "In its unique position as the one major bank on post, with access to all of the soldiers, they turned us down too," Galligan said. "Well, give me a break. How many other people pending a court-martial, still presumed to be innocent, does the bank say, 'Hey, we're not going to do business with you?'\u2009" Galligan said, "How do you expect me to get a fair trial at Fort Hood if he can't even get a bank account?"

Off-duty Marine accused of throwing kitten at wall. A Marine sergeant is set to be arraigned Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court on a felony charge of animal abuse for allegedly hurling a kitten at a wall, authorities said. Fernando Pacheco, 27, is assigned to administrative duties at the Marine Corps' San Diego boot camp. The kitten was badly injured, but survived after extensive medical treatment, officials said. The case was brought to the district attorney by the San Diego Humane Society. The 4-month-old kitten named Cullen allegedly suffered a broken leg, head trauma, and bloody eyes and a bloody nose. The incident allegedly occurred off-base while Pacheco was not on duty. Still, a Marine Corps spokesman said the Marines will cooperate with authorities in the case. "If these allegations are true, they are a violation of our core values of 'honor, courage and commitment,' " the spokesman said.

Right here we have the poster child of Bush-Cheney crony capitalism, Halliburton... They, after all, were responsible for cementing the well. Here's Halliburton, after it defrauded the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars--

Sick of reading about Stanley McChrystal yet? Brace yourself. The newly retired general won't be getting in many relaxing golf games or afternoon naps anytime soon—at least not if a new documentary about the death the professional football player turned Army ranger Pat Tillman has any say about it. In the film, which will open next month, documentarian Amir Bar Lev explores the myth-making by both the government and the media following the death of Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. Bar Lev points his finger directly at McChrystal for perpetuating what the Tillman family believes is a massive, ongoing cover-up. Initial accounts claimed Tillman was shot in an ambush by Taliban fighters; later the government admitted he was killed by friendly fire. In the documentary, Tillman's parents allege the government is still lying about what really happened the day Tillman died, and has used their son's death to further their pro-war agenda. After Tillman's death, McChrystal, who doesn't appear in the film, was involved in the decision to award Tillman a posthumous silver star for valor, based on the report that he had died under enemy fire. McChrystal then sent a memo to several top generals and to White House personnel warning that there might be questions about Tillman's death and cautioning speechwriters against making direct reference to what happened the day Tillman died in President Bush's speech for the White House Correspondents' Dinner. One of the most disheartening scenes in the film is the footage from a 2007 congressional hearing featuring recipients of McChrystal's memo. One by one, the military brass, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, come up with one excuse or another for why they, literally, "didn't get the memo." (General John Abizaid blames a faulty fax machine—a crazy notion until you realize that this is the Army.) No one, including McChrystal, takes responsibility for the alleged cover-up; the Army continues to insist blame lies solely with Lt. General Phillip Kensinger, who was in charge of the Army Rangers and is conveniently the only general involved in the situation who is retired. By the time The Pat Tillman Story comes out in August, McChrystal will be a civilian as well. Maybe, at that point, he'll be as forthcoming about what the Army really knew about Pat Tillman’s death as he was in his career-killing interview with Rolling Stone. Or maybe further requests for clarification about Tillman will be mysteriously lost by one of those darn unreliable fax machines.

War zone corruption allegations rise sharply. Cases of suspected fraud and other wrongdoing by U.S. troops and contractors overseeing reconstruction and relief projects in Iraq and Afghanistan are up dramatically. James Burch, the Defense Department’s deputy inspector general for investigations, says his agency is investigating 223 cases — 18 percent more than a year ago. Investigators have charged an Army officer with pocketing cash meant to pay Iraqi civilian militiamen, contractors offering an Army officer $1 million for the inside track on a road project in Afghanistan, and three contractors for an alleged conspiracy to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fuel from a U.S. base in Baghdad. Army Maj. John Cockerham was sentenced in December to 17 years in prison for accepting $9 million in bribes for contracts to sell water and other supplies to the U.S. military.

A Navy veterans association accused of fraudulent fundraising is under investigation by authorities in New Mexico and Florida. The state officials are targeting the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which conducts extensive telemarketing and direct-mail fundraising efforts nationwide and raised more than $20 million in 2008, tax records show. The New Mexico attorney general’s office told the local chapter to “cease and desist” fundraising activities April 1 after learning that the group listed a bogus name and address on its tax forms. “The offices of the New Mexico chapter consist of a dirt lot and a nonexistent address,” said Elizabeth Korsmo, who heads the charities office for the attorney general. Korsmo was unable to verify the existence of the two Navy veterans listed on the group’s tax reports, Cmdr. Howard Bonifacio and Lt. Cmdr. Don Archer.

Sources close to Blackwater and its secretive owner Erik Prince claim that the embattled head of the world's most infamous mercenary firm is planning to move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Middle Eastern nation, a major hub for the US war industry, has no extradition treaty with the United States. In April, five of Prince's top deputies were hit with a fifteen-count indictment by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges. Among those indicted were Prince's longtime number-two man, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson, former vice presidents William Matthews and Ana Bundy and Prince's former legal counsel Andrew Howell.

As we enter Memorial Day weekend, with its parades and programs honoring service to country, it's worth asking: What, precisely, do the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force still have to work out before deciding whether gays and lesbians can serve in their ranks? As a vet and ex-contractor, I know firsthand that the implementation of any new defense policy, from rules of engagement to Facebook usage guidelines, is hard and takes time. But implementation is different from deliberation—and where "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is concerned, the service chiefs seem intent on doing the latter, not the former. "We must make logical and pragmatic decisions about the long-term policies of our armed forces," Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway wrote in a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an ex-sailor who opposes repailing DADT. Each service's top uniformed officer gave McCain a similar letter, advocating what Conway called an "organized and systematic approach" to studying the issue. While he's at it, perhaps Conway could study what's wrong with the Corps' new crop of officer trainees. Thirteen newly minted lieutenants are being discharged from the service after instructors at The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, learned they'd cheated to pass a land navigation exam. There are a few things all Marines need to be good at: physical training, shooting, and not getting lost. Yet at least one of the cheaters told investigators he didn't see the point of the land-nav exercise in the age of GPS. "While proficiency with a Lensatic compass is important, their moral compass is of utmost importance to our Corps," Col. George W. Smith JR., the school's skipper, told Navy Times. "Their moral compass must unerringly point to do the right thing at all times. Without that, in my strongest opinion, they don't have the foundation to continue to serve as Marine leaders."

Blackwater founder slams big gov't in Mich. speech.

Secret Erik Prince/Blackwater Tape Exposed.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers. With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing.

I have never quite gotten the Pat Tillman story out of my system. Only now am I understanding why. It has been six years and two days since he died, his head blown off amid a pile of rocks on the side of a hill in Afghanistan, murdered by guys on his own team, other U.S. soldiers. After lying about it, the military eventually called it friendly fire and treated it as a mistake. Horrible, yes, they said. But a mistake.,0,1036733.column

A New Jersey congressman has renewed long-standing concerns that the South Korean nightclubs whose oft-abused “juicy girls” attract U.S. service members from nearby bases are not being properly monitored by U.S. and Korean officials. Availability of cheap prostitutes is a recruitment inducement for many service members.

The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the king of Jordan. Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shake-up, was charged along with four of his former colleagues, according to the federal indictment.

Iraq war video raises more than just ethical and legal questions. Footage from a U.S. military helicopter of Iraqis being killed offers a close-up of the ugliness of war. But the picture is incomplete unless we consider what happened before and what happens after.,0,2618066.story

5th April 2010 10:44 EST WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.

The families of three private security contractors who were kidnapped, held for ransom and beheaded in Iraq are suing the State Department over their deaths. Joshua Munns, John Cote and John Young were working for Crescent Security Group in November 2006 when they and two other co-workers were ambushed and abducted while guarding a military convoy near the southern Iraq city of Safwan. The complaint, which filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, seeks punitive damages and challenges the constitutionality of the U.S. government’s practice of using private military contractors in war but not supporting them when they are injured, killed or kidnapped. “The primary goal is to peel back the lid on this black box .... to ask the hard question about what this ‘War on Terror’ is about,” Bill Palmer, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told The Associated Press. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Did a Pentagon official set up his own rogue intelligence operation in Afghanistan? And did he divert cash from an open-source cultural research program to do it? The top national security story of the day in today’s New York Times raises more questions than it answers. Here’s the short version: Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti of the Times tell the story of Michael Furlong, a defense official reporting to U.S. Strategic Command who may have hired private security contractors to serve as his own personal “Jason Bournes” to collect targeting intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And in a particularly interesting twist, he may have used money intended for a military-funded newsgathering operation as his own slush fund. The whole scheme, apparently, irritated the CIA — and may have crossed the line into contract fraud, if the Times account is correct. But it also sheds light on some lesser-known players like International Media Ventures, a “strategic communications” firm that seems to straddle the line between public relations, propaganda work and private security contracting. “Strategic communications” firms have flourished in the strange new post-9/11 media environment. Unlike traditional military public affairs, which are supposed to serve as a simple conduit for releasing information to the public, strategic communications is about shaping the message, both at home and abroad. Why is that problematic? As Danger Room’s Sharon Weinberger pointed out, “When a newspaper calls up a public affairs officer to find out the number of casualties in an IED attack, the answer should be a number (preferably accurate), not a carefully crafted statement about how well the war is going.”

Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants.

Senator warns against $1B deal with Blackwater.

Soldier in "Coming Home" series dies after surgery. Charged with murdering his girlfriend, John Needham's war wounds went untreated.

Nothing 'suspicious' in death of Iraq veteran charged with killing girlfriend, authorities say.

Combat follows soldiers home. Back from Iraq, some Lethal Warriors got mixed up in murder. What pushed these men over the edge?

Guards linked to the former Blackwater must leave, Iraq says. The guards, who now work for other security firms, have been given a week to leave, the Interior Ministry says. Blackwater guards were involved in a 2007 incident in which civilians were killed.,0,2255928.story

The Justice Department is investigating whether officials of Blackwater Worldwide tried to bribe Iraqi government officials in hopes of retaining the firm’s security work in Iraq after a deadly shooting episode in 2007, according to current and former government officials.

The military typically keeps its detailed service records confidential. That makes it difficult to verify the conventional perception that Xe has long filled its rosters with decorated special forces personnel. In the cases of Chris Drotleff and Justin Cannon, prosecutors brought up their records while arguing at hearings this month that both men should be jailed pending their trials. Drotleff's three-year service in the Marines ended with an other-than-honorable discharge in 2001 and a military record that included offenses for seven unauthorized absences, two failures to obey an order, assault, disrespect toward a noncommissioned officer and falsely altering a military ID card. Before his service with Blackwater in Afghanistan, the 29-year-old also faced a number of state convictions for reckless driving, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, resisting arrest and DWI. Cannon, 27, was discharged from the Army after going AWOL and testing positive for cocaine. He later petitioned successfully to have his military records officially changed to an honorable discharge. Both men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia this month on two counts of second-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons charges in a 2008 shooting along a Kabul road. They had been in Afghanistan working for Xe subsidiary Paravant under a Department of Defense contract to provide weapons training to the Afghan National Army. Their records were detailed in exhibits and arguments at detention hearings in Virginia and Texas this month. Cannon, of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Drotleff, of Virginia Beach, Va., have been ordered held in custody, with the federal judge in Drotleff's hearing citing his "decade long pattern of refusing to obey laws orders and regulations."

The director of a company which sold a bomb-detecting device to 20 countries, including Iraq, has been arrested. ATSC's Jim McCormick, 53, was detained on Friday on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation, Avon and Somerset police said. He has since been bailed. It comes after a BBC investigation alleged the ADE-651 did not work. Earlier, the British government announced a ban on the export of the device to Iraq and Afghanistan, where British forces are serving. Anti-theft tag Mr McCormick has said the device, sold from offices in rural Somerset, used special electronic cards slotted into it to detect explosives. But a BBC Newsnight investigation reported that a computer laboratory said the card it examined contained only a tag used by shops to prevent theft.

But allegations of murder just scratch the surface: the two men – one alleges he is an ex-Marine, the other says he shared his allegations with a federal grand jury – claim far more. John Doe 2 claims routine murderous violence against Iraqis, a wife-swapping sex ring, use of child prostitutes, gun-running and more by Blackwater employees. John Doe 2 describes Prince as viewing himself as "a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," who intentionally sent like-minded mercenaries to Iraq "to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis."

Cruiser CO relieved for ‘cruelty’

3 Blackwater Guards Called Baghdad Shootings Unjustified.

Ex-boyfriend used Craigslist to arrange woman's rape, police say. A Wyoming man is accused of posing as his ex and soliciting someone to act out a rough sexual fantasy. Craigslist has had a year full of legal troubles. The Wyoming case began to unfold Dec. 5. Jebidiah James Stipe, 27, a Carbon, Wyo., native and Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif., allegedly posed as his ex-girlfriend and placed the ad seeking an aggressive man. A maintenance mechanic who enlisted with the Marines in 2001, Stipe was being processed for administrative separation due to an undisclosed pattern of misconduct at the time of his arrest, according to a Marine Corps spokeswoman.,0,1128043.story

Christian Crusade against Islam

Troops: Skipping Christian concert got us punished.

"My whole issue was I don't need to be preached at," Smith said in a phone interview from Phoenix, where he is stationed with the National Guard. "That's not what I signed up for." Smith, 21, was stationed in Virginia for nearly seven months for helicopter electrician training when the Christian rock group BarlowGirl played as part of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts." Smith said a staff sergeant told 200 men in their barracks they could either attend or remain in their barracks. Eighty to 100 decided not to attend, he said. "Instead of being released to our personal time, we were locked down," Smith said. "It seemed very much like a punishment."

Marines headed for Afghanistan baptized in ocean off Camp Pendleton. The baptism service was attended by Lt. Col. Lawrence Kaifesh, the battalion commander, who called each of the 29 Marines forward for the symbolic immersion at Gold Beach. "The spiritual and religious foundation that we're able to develop here allows us to perform our job the way we need to in a very challenging environment," Kaifesh said. The baptisms were performed by Navy Chaplain Lt. William Hlavin and Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Eric Dickerson. "I believe and trust that God will take me and my fellow Marines back home safely," Lance Cpl. Yeke Sumo said in a statement released by the Marine Corps. Forty-six Marines and two Navy corpsmen from the battalion were killed in Iraq -- 14 on a single-day, one of the largest one-day losses of any Marine battalion.

True Conservative Values, Spc. Robert A. Rodriguez taunts smiling Iraqi children by asking if they're gay, if they engage in certain sex acts and if they would grow up to be terrorists. Duncan Hunter is a strong support of these values.

Obama has ordered a dramatic increase in the pace of CIA drone-launched missile strikes into Pakistan in an effort to kill al-Qaeda and Taliban members in the ungoverned tribal areas along the Afghan border. There have been more such strikes in the first year of Obama's administration than in the last three years under President George W. Bush, according to a military officer who tracks the attacks. Obama also has sent U.S. military forces briefly into Somalia as part of an operation to kill Saleh Ali Nabhan, a Kenyan sought in the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned resort in Kenya.

By branding weapons with Christian messages, there is a deep and ugly blending of religion, politics and bloodshed, and it has unwittingly painted our government and military with the embarrassing language of "crusade." America is largely composed of people who consider themselves Christian, separated by various interpretations of the same book. But I did not go onward as a Christian soldier. I went forth as an American, a Marine. I was sent by my country to fight a threat, and thereafter with the best intentions of democracy, not theocracy. Our efforts in the Middle East were complicated enough, and small symbols are examined carefully by our opponents. Based on my understanding of the teachings of Christ, he would be very disappointed to see his Gospel assigned to war of any kind in the first place. I leave you with a verse that has not been stamped on our weapons: "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you" — Matthew 5:44.

Trijicon Will Remove Secret Biblical Codes From Gun Sights Sold To US Military.

Gunsights' biblical references concern US and UK forces. Coded references to biblical passages are inscribed on gunsights widely used by the US and British military in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has emerged.

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes. Pentagon Supplier for Rifle Sights Says It Has 'Always' Added New Testament References.

U.S. military suicides

Marine Corps Reports Suicide Rate has Doubled.

Family seeks answers to Army reservist's death. Private 1st Class David Michael Smith, 26, of Lemon Grove died immediately when he was struck about 3:30 a.m. by a tan Nissan Murano traveling south in the fast lane near Bradley Avenue. The female driver did not stop but returned minutes later, the California Highway Patrol said. The impact of the collision sent Smith over the center divide into northbound lanes where he was struck by at least two more cars, the CHP said. Witnesses said Smith was sprinting at full speed across the lanes, said his brother, Rodney Smith, 28, of El Cajon.

More than 13,000 active-duty Army soldiers -- the equivalent of four combat brigades -- are sidelined as unfit for war because of injury, illness or mental stress. In an unmistakable sign that the Army is struggling with exhaustion after nine years of fighting, combat commanders whose units are headed to Afghanistan increasingly choose to leave behind soldiers who can no longer perform, putting additional strain on those who still can. The growing pool of "non-deployable soldiers make up roughly 10 percent of the 116,423 active-duty soldiers currently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands more Army reservists and National Guard soldiers are also considered unfit to deploy, a growing burden on an Army that has sworn to care for them as long as needed.

A year ago, Specialist Michael Crawford wanted nothing more than to get into Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion, a special unit created to provide closely managed care for soldiers with physical wounds and severe psychological trauma. Last August, Specialist Crawford attempted suicide with a bottle of whiskey and an overdose of painkillers. By the end of last year, he was begging to get out of the unit. “It is just a dark place,” said the soldier, who is waiting to be medically discharged from the Army. “Being in the W.T.U. is worse than being in Iraq.”

Fort Hood, Army still seeing suicide problem.

Military commanders take on stigma regarding suicides.

Despite prevention efforts, U.S. military suicides rise.


Iraq vet was in a tailspin before he died in a hail of police bullets at home. A woman’s death in combat was a turning point. Depressed after returning home, he lost interest in everything, his marriage dissolved and he turned to drugs. And then things got worse.,0,2025791.story?page=1

18 veterans commit suicide each day.

The commander of the nation’s largest organization for combat veterans has issued an unusual apology for stating that President Obama’s national health care reform initiative is “betraying” veterans. Thomas Tradewell Sr., national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, issued a written apology for his earlier criticism of Obama and Democratic leaders for failing to include language in the final health care reform bill that specifically exempts the veterans health care system from its effects. Just as the House of Representatives was about to vote on the final national health care reform package March 21, Tradewell issued a statement that read: “The president and the Democratic leadership are betraying America’s veterans, and and what makes matters worse is the leadership and the president knows the bill is flawed, yet they are pushing for passage today like it’s a do-or-die situation.” In a March 25 statement, Tradewell, a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran, said he “apologized for using too harsh of a word. But I did not apologize for our strong advocacy on the issue.” If his statement ended there, he might have been fine with key House Democrats. However, his statement of apology went on to explain, again, why the health care bill concerned him. “In some ways, it is worse than the original statement,” said Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, who said he remains unsatisfied. “We believe there is nothing in health care reform that harms veterans health care. If there is something in there, we will fix it,” Filner said. “We don’t see any problem, and if any problem comes up we will fix it right away.”

Filner urges quick approval of some VA claims.

abuse, harassment and rape

Members of U.S. platoon in Afghanistan accused of killing civilians for sport.

Known as John to his friends, Trevino was an Army Ranger with a chest full of ribbons who’d been chosen for every Army school imaginable. He’d risen steadily through the ranks, responsible for platoons, and then companies, of soldiers. But some of Trevino’s soldiers said they saw his dark side. He made remarks about women so denigrating that they gave even infantrymen pause, they said. And although Trevino had soldiers to his house for barbeques, he was often a violent, punishing presence, some of his former comrades said. “I always thought he’d end up in prison,” said Dave Johnson, a lawyer and former sergeant with the Triple Deuce. “But I thought it would be for killing someone in a bar fight.” Trevino, Johnson said, enjoyed choking soldiers until they passed out, practicing hand-to-hand combatives training. “A lot of people took to that,” Johnson said. “We’d have full platoon brawls. It was a weird environment.” One time, Johnson said, Trevino, then his platoon sergeant, ordered him to beat up another soldier. “I said, ‘Why would I want to do that?’ He said, ‘Because then he’ll be your bitch forever.’ ” “He was considered a successful soldier,” Johnson said. “His personality disorder … is considered a good thing. The military is very clueless.”

The Navy’s top brass wants commanders to “get uncomfortable” about sexual assaults, which are happening at the rate of more than one a day and to one in five female sailors during her career — mostly at the hands of other shipmates. “A lot of it is blue on blue, sailor on sailor,” the Navy’s No. 2 officer, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert, said during a recent speech in San Diego. “In your Navy and my Navy, that’s, to me, totally unsatisfactory. I have a problem even talking about it. It gets me irritated,” he said. After spending five years concentrating on supporting victims but seeing no decrease in assault numbers, the Navy’s new tactic is to get “left of the event” — the same language the Pentagon used when it concentrated on diminishing roadside bomb deaths. They are instructing sailors to step in when something looks sinister, even if the perpetrator is of a higher rank — something, they acknowledge, that may be tough to achieve because the difference between a commander and a petty officer is woven into the basic fabric of the military. The Navy recently held “bystander intervention” seminars in San Diego, Virginia and Hawaii. It’s a pilot program, and officials will look at the results before they roll out the seminars to the entire fleet. Jill Loftus, director of the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office, said there’s evidence from college campuses that the strategy works.

Sexual assault and rape are still a vastly underreported problem in the military. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice, CA) on what is being done to help victims. Despite genuine attempts within the Pentagon to end sexual assault and rape in the military, there are still rapists in the ranks. On June 16, police arrested an Army recruiter in Orlando, Fl. for allegedly having a 20-year-old female recruit strip naked from the waist up so he could measure her body fat, and then coercing her into performing oral sex in the back room of his office. By the time the female recruit reported the incident to the police, the accused had already been suspended by the Army for another offense: In April he was arrested for allegedly fondling a 14-year-old girl in the same recruiting station.

Duncan Hunter True Conservative Values: An AWOL Fort Lewis soldier was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the rape and torture of two women near Tacoma last year. The judge said he was "stunned" that such brutal crimes could be committed by a sergeant who had served his country in the U.S. Army. Nathaniel Ryan Smith, 29, had earlier pleaded guilty to the charges stemming from two separate attacks on women in the Parkland area in January 2009.

Neo-Nazis are in the Army now. Why the U.S. military is ignoring its own regulations and permitting white supremacists to join its ranks.

A soldier and another man have been arrested in the beating of a homeless man, and two other soldiers are suspects, police said Tuesday. Military police in Fort Knox, Ky., turned over 24-year-old Riley Feller to the Hardin County, Ky., sheriff's office Tuesday. Feller was being held on a fugitive charge at the county jail. He will be arraigned Wednesday, pending extradition to Ohio. Cincinnati police say Feller, 24-year-old Michael Hesson of Cincinnati and two soldiers based at Fort Bragg, N.C., badly beat 52-year-old John Johnson on April 10 at a homeless encampment under a bridge. Police say the four described themselves as skinheads.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Thursday that he has approved a “fairer and more appropriate” enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans open service by gays. The biggest change, reflecting concerns that Gates voiced before the Senate Feb. 2 when he announced the 45-day review that led to the changes, calls for commanders to reject accusations about a service member’s alleged homosexuality made by third parties unless the accuser is willing to do so under oath.

Wikileaks presents a “threat to the U.S. Army” and publishes “potentially actionable information” for targeting military personnel, according to a classified intelligence report posted Monday on the whistleblowing site. The 32-page report entitled – An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups? (.pdf) indicates the government’s concern that “current employees or moles” within the Defense Department or the U.S. government “are providing sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.” To stop this, the 2008 report had suggested a campaign to expose and punish those who leak to the site, which was founded in 2007 by Chinese dissidents, journalists and mathematicians. Read More

French bread spiked with LSD in CIA experiment. A 50-year mystery over the 'cursed bread' of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment.

Open the Shut CaseWhy is KBR so afraid of letting Jamie Leigh Jones have her day in court? According to Jones, just four days after she arrived in Baghdad, she joined a small group of Halliburton firefighters outside the KBR barracks. One gave her a drink. She took two sips, after which she can recall nothing. In legal filings and congressional testimony, Jones describes waking up the next morning "still affected by the drug," and discovering "her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn‚ which would later require reconstructive surgery."

Ex-CO, retired flag slammed in hazing probe.


Investigating the interrogators. Former Assistant Atty. Gen. Jay S. Bybee has said CIA interrogators went beyond the methods authorized. If the Justice Department agrees, it should prosecute the wrongdoers.,0,7915013.story

the Times acknowledged that political circumstances did play a role in the paper's usage calls. "As the debate over interrogation of terror suspects grew post-9/11, defenders of the practice (including senior officials of the Bush administration) insisted that it did not constitute torture," a Times spokesman said in a statement. "When using a word amounts to taking sides in a political dispute, our general practice is to supply the readers with the information to decide for themselves. Thus we describe the practice vividly, and we point out that it is denounced by international covenants and in American tradition as a form of torture." The Times spokesman added that outside of the news pages, editorials and columnists "regard waterboarding as torture and believe that it fits all of the moral and legal definitions of torture." He continued: "So that's what we call it, which is appropriate for the opinion pages."

Once America Started Waterboarding, Major Newspapers Stopped Referring To It As Torture, Says Study.

US Crimes Sinchon-Ri Museum.

Every time I've written a post here on the subject of the secret U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan -- a prison where, according to reports, at least one detainee has died as a result of harsh treatment -- commenters here have pooh-poohed the notion. Today, they have to argue with the Red Cross and the BBC. In this report, the Red Cross, responding to a BBC inquiry, confirms that there's a second, secret detainment facility on the grounds of the base in addition to a publicly acknowledged prison. And of course the US continues to deny the existence of the facility. I've been writing about Bagram because it stands as a rebuke to the president's pledge to close Gitmo. What's happened at Bagram -- and you can Google it -- is perhaps worse than our history at Guantanamo, and Bagram detainees are not covered by the Supreme Court's habeas corpus decision re: Gitmo detainees. In other words, they remain in a lawless black hole where their captors can do literally anything. And their captors are us.

Detainees in a secret Baghdad detention facility were hung upside-down, deprived of air, kicked, whipped, beaten, given electric shocks, and sodomized, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraq should thoroughly investigate and prosecute all government and security officials responsible, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch interviewed 42 of the men in the Al Rusafa Detention Center on April 26, 2010. They were among about 300 detainees transferred from the secret facility in the old Muthanna airport in West Baghdad to Al Rusafa into a special block of 19 cage-type cells over the past several weeks, after the existence of the secret prison was revealed.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times. The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Rove 'proud' of US waterboarding terror suspects. A senior adviser to former US President George W Bush has defended tough interrogation techniques, saying their use helped prevent terrorist attacks.

Waterboarding for dummies. Internal CIA documents reveal a meticulous protocol that was far more brutal than Dick Cheney's "dunk in the water"

Justice OPR Report Damages Cheney's Claims On Torture, Reports Newsweek's Isikoff.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq admonished his troops regarding the results of an Army survey that found that many U.S military personnel there are willing to tolerate some torture of suspects and unwilling to report abuse by comrades. "This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we -- not our enemies -- occupy the moral high ground," Army Gen. David H. Petraeus wrote in an open letter dated May 10 and posted on a military Web site. He rejected the argument that torture is sometimes needed to quickly obtain crucial information. "Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary," he stated.

Some torture stories are just too horrible to contemplate, while others are too complicated to understand. But Scott Horton's devastating new exposé of the possible murders of three prisoners at Guantanamo in 2006 is neither: It's simply too terrible to allow to be true. Which is why it has been mostly ignored this week in the mainstream American media and paid little attention by the usual crew of torture apologists on the right. The fact that three Guantanamo prisoners—none of whom had any links to terrorism and two of whom had already been cleared for release—may have been killed there and the deaths covered up, should be front-page news. That brand-new evidence of this possible atrocity from military guards was given only the most cursory investigation by the Obama administration should warrant some kind of blowback. But changing what we allow ourselves to believe about torture would change the way we have reconciled ourselves to torture. Nobody in this country is prepared to do that. So we have opted to ignore it. According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell's eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.

Ships and Shipbuilding

Navy: Widespread faults caused LPD 17 woes. Endemic government and contractor failures — including shoddy workmanship and bad quality control — caused the engineering problems aboard the fleet’s San Antonio-class amphibious ships, according to a new Navy report, and, in the case of San Antonio itself, the $7.5 million repairs it needs might prevent it from making a deployment in the near future. “Inadequate government oversight during the construction process failed to prevent or identify as a problem the lack of cleanliness and quality assurance that resulted in contamination of closed systems,” said the Navy report, released Thursday. “Material challenges with this ship and other ships of the class continue to negatively impact fleet operations. Failures in the acquisition process, maintenance, training and execution of shipboard programs all share in the responsibility for these engineering casualties.”

A Virginia senator said Thursday that a carrier move from Virginia to Florida now seems “unlikely to happen” after receiving a Navy document that states the earliest the move could take place is 2019, five years later than initially proposed. “We have been provided an official Navy document which states that the earliest an aircraft carrier could be homeported in Mayport is 2019,” said Democratic Sen. Jim Webb in a news release. “Given the other needs of the Navy, and the prospect of moving other types of ships to Mayport earlier, it appears that the relocation of an aircraft carrier from Norfolk to Mayport is unlikely to happen.”

A Navy investigation into the USS Hartford’s collision with a Navy ship paints a picture of submarine crew members falling asleep on the job, spending too much time away from their stations and chatting informally while working. "This was an avoidable mishap," Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, wrote in endorsing the Judge Advocate General Manual investigation. "Correction of any one of nearly 30 tactical and watchstander errors, or adherence to standard procedures, could have prevented this collision." The Groton-based Hartford (SSN 768) collided with a Navy amphibious ship, the USS New Orleans, in the Strait of Hormuz on March 20. A heavily redacted copy of the previously top secret investigation, obtained by The Day through a Freedom of Information Act request, states the New Orleans "bears no fault" and places the blame on the Hartford's "ineffective and negligent command leadership."

USS Ronald Reagan sailor killed in accident.

Aircraft carrier redelivered after repairs.

Submarine Los Angeles is decommissioned from active fleet. After entering service in 1976 as the Navy's most innovative underwater warship, it is headed for retirement as its oldest. Hundreds gather in San Pedro for a tradition-rich ceremony.,0,1935053.story


Assault Breacher.

War zone drone crashes add up. The unmanned craft were rushed into use in 2001 and some design and system problems were never fully addressed. Losses don't involve lives but are expensive.,0,1508593.story

A Very Scary Light Show: Exploding H-Bombs In Space.

On April 22 an Atlas V rocket roared into the sky from Cape Canaveral, Fla., carrying the X-37B on its first orbital test flight. At that moment the reusable craft vanished, as far as the general public was concerned. The Air Force did not say where in space the X-37B was going. But last week a team of sky-watchers with members who specialize in tracking orbiting objects announced that they’ve spotted what they are certain is the X-37B in space, about 255 miles up, circling the earth every 90 minutes. The X-37B is traveling in a an area bounded by 40 degrees north latitude (the mid-Atlantic of the US, Spain, the Middle East) and 40 degrees south latitude (Argentina, South Africa, Australia), according to Greg Roberts, a South African member of the spotting team. The Air Force says that the performance of the system itself is the biggest thing this launch is testing. They want to see how the X-37B performs in orbit, how it flies itself back to the ground, and how quickly they can get it ready to re-launch. The goal is to be able to turn the X-37B around as fast as the Air Force could turn around a high-performance spy plane such as the SR-71 Blackbird. “That’s [a time period] measured in several days, or maybe 10, 15 days or less, something like that,” said Mr. Payton in April. But an Atlas V launch, combined with weeks in space, is awfully expensive just to test the X-37B. The spacecraft surely will have another purpose, and it’s likely the Air Force is currently testing the system’s performance in that unknown capacity, as well.

Military’s Mystery Ray Gun to Zap Bombs, ‘Change the Face of This War’ Read More

Paranormal Soldier: John Alexander. From Special Services to spoon-benders and UFOs.

Surveillance Suspected as Spacecraft’s Main Role.

Super Stealth Plane Breaks Through Cost Barrier. the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter cost has ballooned to $112 million per aircraft. Read More

Airborne laser shoots down missile in test, Pentagon says. The successful trial near Point Mugu could save the endangered defense system and benefit Southland companies that helped develop the weapon.,0,7891734.story



With her characteristic determination to do justice, we watch the fictional detective start calling jurisdictions around the country to ascertain the ugly truth. Houston? 4,000 untested kits. Birmingham? 2,000. Phoenix? 4,100. Detroit? 16,000, which led to closing the lab there and turning all the evidence over to the already-swamped state facility. Authorities in a dozen major cities—from Baltimore to Columbus to Anchorage—admit to having no idea how many kits are floating around somewhere in storage. And then there are cities like Los Angeles that threw thousands of them away a decade ago, figuring wrongly that they would be of no use in criminal investigations. The results in New York have been stunning. Every rape kit is tested, there has not been a backlog since the NYPD project began ten years back, the arrest rate for this crime has soared to seventy percent—triple the national average—and offenders are connected to many other violent crimes.

Database: FBI Crime Statistics, 2005-09.

Biker killed, dozens arrested in fed sweep. More than two dozen members of the infamous Outlaws biker gang with menacing monikers like “Madman,” “Snuff” and “Torch” will miss out on Laconia Motorcycle Week now that they’ve been charged with such leather-collar crimes as attempted murder, kidnapping and witness intimidation. The Outlaws’ reputed New England treasurer, Thomas “Tomcat” Mayne, 58, of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, rode off into the sunset as a result of yesterday’s eight-state sweep. Mayne was killed allegedly resisting arrest in a gunfight with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives SWAT team, according to an ATF spokesman. Glenn Anderson, special agent in charge of ATF’s Boston office, said the SWAT team was fired at when they arrived, and investigators recovered a shotgun and handgun in Mayne’s house.

#1 Tennessee. Public Corruption: 18, Racketeering & Extortion: 11, Fraud Rank: 7, Forgery & Counterfeiting: 5, Embezzlement: 9 .

In what officials described Tuesday as a "sophisticated, well-planned" heist, thieves scaled the walls of an Eli Lilly warehouse, cut a hole in the roof, slid down ropes and loaded dozens of pallets holding $75 million worth of prescription drugs onto at least one truck. The thieves also disabled the alarm system at the 70,000-square-foot warehouse, one of three distribution centers in the nation for the international pharmaceutical firm. The robbery took place sometime early Sunday but was not discovered until later in the day, when an employee showed up for work, authorities said.,0,2432983.story

Armed Customer Kills Knife-Wielding Man.

John Patrick Bedell, whom authorities identified as the gunman in the Pentagon shooting on Thursday, appears to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent antigovernment feelings.

The man who flew his Piper aircraft into an IRS office building in Texas last month and the man who calmly walked up to the Pentagon entrance the other day and began firing his 9mm handgun at police officers are both dead now. They can’t be questioned; what they believed and what led them to act can be gleaned only from the things they had written, posting their screeds online. That has not stopped the politically-minded from attributing blame to the “other side.” If IRS attacker Joseph Andrew Stack was against taxes, then he must be a tea party fellow traveler, right? Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell was an anti-Bush registered Democrat who believed 9/11 was planned and carried out by the US government, so he must be left-wing, right?

Pilot learned to keep emotions to self. The day after Andrew Joseph Stack III crashed his plane into an Austin IRS office, people who knew him described an intense, self-reliant man with a well-honed ability to internalize emotions. The 53-year-old software engineer who set fire to his Austin house before flying his aircraft Thursday into the office on U.S. 183 — killing himself and IRS employee Vern Hunter and seriously injuring two others — was described as “a little offbeat” and “brilliant” by one former classmate. Stack also was a fiercely independent person who relied on himself to surmount his troubles in life and did not reach out to others for help, one of his siblings said.

Ex-NYC police boss gets 4 years in prison.,0,6906700.story

Internet note posted by man linked to plane crash.

University shooting at Alabama-Huntsville: Dr. Amy Bishop is suspect. Read more:,0,3825797.story

Somerset authorities seize grenade launcher, weapons cache from Virginia man at motel. At the time of his arrest, Woodson was wearing a military-style ballistic vest with a reinforced steel plate and carrying a .223-caliber assault rifle that had been altered to fire .50-caliber ammunition, Forrest. He was also carrying four loaded magazines with hollow-point ammunition, Forrest said. Detectives later searched Woodson’s room at the Red Mill Inn on Route 22 and found weapons including a .308-caliber semi-automatic assault rifle with a defaced serial number, a grenade launcher, hundreds .50-caliber and .308-caliber rounds, a police scanner, and the maps of a U.S. military installation and an out-of-state civilian community, Forrest said. Woodson, who is a Navy veteran, had been staying at the hotel since last week.

Va. rampage victims include suspect's relatives.

Craigslist's vast network of classified-ad websites has been a boon not just to bargain hunters but also to criminals searching for victims. The San Francisco-based company has been linked to a wide range of crimes in recent years, from petty thefts to grisly murders. The most recent was a rape in Wyoming allegedly orchestrated by the victim’s ex-boyfriend, a former Marine in Twentynine Palms. The 27-year-old mechanic is accused of placing an ad on Craigslist purportedly from a woman seeking "a real aggressive man with no concern for women." He allegedly continued the impersonation in e-mails and instant messages, enticing a 26-year-old Wyoming man to the victim's house to engage in abusive, humiliating sex.,0,1788042.story

Bush Regime

Bush’s Illegal Wiretapping Tab: $612,000.

San Diego


Absence has not made the FBI's heart grow fonder toward the "Geezer Bandit." But it has increased the agency's desire to arrest the bank robber accused of 11 holdups in San Diego and Riverside counties. The Geezer Bandit has not hit a bank since June 24 -- the longest hiatus since he began his spree a year ago. In response, the FBI has increased the reward for information to $20,000, up from $16,000. His nickname comes from his appearance: Tellers judged him to be between 60 and 70 years old. In some cases he's had a small oxygen tank over his shoulder, attached to a plastic nose-inhaler. Advanced age notwithstanding, the FBI advises civilians to consider him armed and dangerous and to not attempt a citizen's arrest.

UC San Diego police investigate noose in stairwell.

Geezer Bandit's popularity: sort of an old story. Fans have set up a website and may hawk gear inspired by the apparently older man robbing San Diego banks. But public fascination with bank robbers is nothing new. The authorities are not amused.,0,6123369.story

Bank robbery suspect in wheelchair detained.

A young man was arrested at the Comic-Con exposition in San Diego Saturday and accused of stabbing another attendee with a pen, San Diego police said. The two young men were seated in Hall H, the convention center ballroom where studios parade stars and filmmakers, when a man accused the other of sitting too close to him, police said. The two got into a fight, and one was stabbed near the eye with the pen, police said. The victim was taken to a local hospital with a cut near his eye, and the alleged assailant was arrested and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, police said. Comic-Con, which ends Sunday, had been expected to draw a sold-out crowd of roughly 126,000 people.

Two San Diego police officers responding to a disturbance call Friday night at an apartment in Logan Heights shot and killed a knife-wielding man, police homicide Lt. Ernie Herbert said. Police received a call about 10:25 p.m. about a disturbance at the apartment in a two-story building on Martin Avenue near 31st Street, about a half-block from Memorial Park. The man who was shot lived in the apartment building. The victim got into an argument at a neighboring apartment, then went back to his apartment and returned with a large kitchen knife, Herbert said.

Police: Man Disguised As Elderly Person Robs Bank. Authorities Investigating Possible Link To 'Geezer Bandit' Series.

Geezer Bandit strikes in 11th bank robbery.

Police are working hard to catch the so-called "Geezer Bandit", but somehow he always manages to slip away. His get-up could actually be a special effects Hollywood mask. News 8 takes a look at a Midwest robbery spree which has virtually the same elements. 'Geezer Bandit' hits 10th bank in San Diego County

Authorities missed dozens of parole violations that would have sent registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III back to prison and kept him from raping and murdering two teenage girls in northern San Diego County, according to a report released Wednesday by the inspector general of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Among other violations, Gardner visited the grounds of a state prison in 2008, a felony that could have brought a life sentence as a third strike, the report said. Also, a review of the data from the GPS device that Gardner was required to wear shows that on 158 occasions in a 13-month period he violated his parole by going near schools, leaving home after curfew or visiting a storage facility.

Teen arrested for kidnapping, rape.

Amid anguished and angry comments from the parents of his victims, registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III was formally sentenced Friday to life in prison without the chance of parole for the murder and rape of two teenage girls in northern San Diego County.

Woman in floppy hat, sandals robs two San Diego banks, one credit union in 90 minutes.

Geezer Bandit hits eighth bank in San Diego County; $16,000 reward offered for capture. The man was holding a small revolver when he handed a teller a demand note at a US Bank satellite office inside an Albertson’s supermarket on East Vista Way about 2:15 p.m., according to the FBI. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

An East County woman was behind bars Friday and facing nearly two dozen criminal charges for allegedly stealing wallets and purses after talking her way into at least 10 homes belonging to senior citizens in El Cajon, La Mesa and San Diego, police reported. Deirdria Nicholson, 50, was arrested about 11 a.m. Thursday at her apartment in the 4400 block of Fourth Street in La Mesa , SDPD public affairs Officer Jim Johnson said. The 5-foot-9-inch, 280-pound suspect was booked into county jail on four counts of elder abuse, 14 counts burglary and four counts of grand theft via fraudulent use of credit cards, according to Smith. Read more:

John Gardner, Chelsea King Suspect, Broke Parole Multiple Times, Remained Free.

Registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III is under investigation in the killing of Amber Dubois, the Escondido teen who disappeared 13 months ago and whose remains were discovered near the Pala Indian Reservation on Saturday, Escondido police said Monday. "The Amber Dubois crime scene is still being processed and John Albert Gardner III remains a focus of the investigation," Lt. Craig Carter, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement released shortly after 2 p.m.

Police say they've found the remains of Amber Dubois.

Amber Dubois' remains found in Escondido.

2 Missing Teen Cases, 2 Different Police Responses.

Body thought to be that of Chelsea King, 17, found in shallow grave near lake.

Chelsea King, 17, still missing; search is ‘aggressive, ongoing’ Read more:

San Diego Police Department to fold mounted unit, auction off horses to cut costs.

El Cajon, East County

A man in a white sweat shirt and baggy jeans used a demand note to rob a banking center inside an East County supermarket Tuesday afternoon. The thief approached a teller at the US Bank satellite office at the Vons store in the 3600 block of Avocado Boulevard in Rancho San Diego and handed over the written message shortly before 1:30 p.m., Lt. Mike Munsey said. The bandit fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, along with a second man who apparently had waited outside during the heist, according to Munsey. It was unclear if they left the area on foot or in a vehicle. The robber's accomplice reportedly was wearing denim pants and a red-and-gray long-sleeved shirt, the lieutenant said.

Two men in their 40s, one with bandages on both ears, robbed a bank in downtown El Cajon Saturday and shoved the cash in their pockets before leaving, police said. Officers, aided by a sheriff's helicopter, searched but didn't find the pair of bandits. The holdup occurred about 2:50 p.m. at a Union Bank branch inside Albertson's supermarket at Broadway and Main Street, said El Cajon police Lt. Ron Smithson.

Arson: The fires occurred late Wednesday and Thursday nights. Fire crews were able to quickly extinguish them with no damage to structures. Bazan had been living at a homeless camp near where the fires started, Schuler said. A witness saw a flare shoot across the freeway around the time of the second fire about 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Statements from the witness led investigators to the transient camp, Schuler said. They found a flare gun and flare, and a receipt for the purchase of both in Bazan’s wallet. In addition, Bazan admitted setting the fires, Schuler said.

FBI seeking info on cross-dressing robber.


A stabbing in Logan Heights stopped trolley service Monday night, as many were traveling home from the Padres game. The trolley station at 32nd and Commercial was blocked off by crime scene tape and surrounded by several police officers for hours. Police said an 18-year-old man was stabbed shortly after 9 p.m. Monday. Witnesses said there was an argument between the victim and another man. Moments later, they reported seeing one man running from the scene and the teenager bleeding by the tracks. He was stabbed in one of his armpits with a knife, San Diego police Officer Dino Delimitros. adding that the wound was not life-threatening. Emergency crews rushed the unidentified victim to the hospital. In the meantime, both sides of the tracks were shut down as part of the investigation. The stabbing created a big challenge for passengers traveling to the southeast part of the county. Many people were just leaving the Padres’ game. Buses were brought in to reroute people to a different trolley stop. Police are still searching for the person responsible. They describe him as being between 20-30 years old wearing a black leather jacket. Police are still investigating whether or not this was gang related. Trolley service was back up and running Tuesday morning.

Two teenagers were arrested Saturday evening, one while riding the trolley, shortly after the robbery of a 21-year-old woman in a Vons parking lot on University Avenue. A third suspect is being sought. The victim was not injured, and La Mesa police are searching for her wallet. Authorities say the woman was in front of the store when the male teens approached her from behind. One grabbed her wallet, forcibly taking it from her. They ran away as witnesses chased them. Within a short time, officers arrested one of the suspects about a block away. Acting on witness tips, a second suspect was found riding the trolley and was arrested at the Grossmont Trolley station. One of those arrested is 16 and the other is 18.

shooting video

Police: 'Dirty Looks' Led To Trolley Shooting. Man Shot Inside Trolley Car; Police Search For Suspected Shooter.

Gang violence expected in trolley shooting.

Man wounded by gunfire on San Diego Trolley.

LA area

Baby bunnies rescued from Downtown L.A. streets.

Man shot by LAPD officer in Westlake apparently went by several names. Relatives identify the Guatemalan day laborer as Manuel Jamines. But coroner's officials find a fingerprint match with the name Manuel Ramirez and immigration papers calling him Gregorio Luis Perez.,0,1193382.story

LAPD officer who fatally shot day laborer was accused of using improper deadly force in 2008 shooting.

A city all too familiar with civil unrest was caught by surprise with the level of outrage over the fatal police shooting of an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who was menacing officers with a knife. The officers were also Hispanic, and witnesses backed up their claims that Manuel Jaminez threatened them.,0,3082919.story

And yet, protesters hurled eggs, bottles and rocks at a police station over the past several days, jeered the police chief when he tried to explain in front of a raucous community meeting and pushed long-simmering tensions to the forefront.

'It was a terrifying time' More than 100 women died during a 10-year period that serial killers roamed South L.A.,0,7217036.story

Long Beach woman fatally shoots man who was running on her roof.

Police fire on suspected burglars in parking lot at O.C. theme park.

In Grim Sleeper case, a new tack in DNA searching. It's the first successful use of controversial 'familial' matching in a high-profile U.S. case.,0,7037531.story

2 men arrested in Hemet police attacks; 2 suspects remain at large, authorities say.

Authorities were investigating Tuesday whether a vintage military rocket discovered on the roof of a Hemet market, pointed in the direction of a nearby police facility, is related to a series of attacks targeting the Hemet police. The rocket, with its motor ignited, was discovered Thursday after firefighters checked the Los Altos Market rooftop and found a wooden pallet fire had broken out inside. Shortly after the 10 p.m. fire in the 100 block of North Carmalita Street, police and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's hazardous device team rendered the rocket safe. Hemet police Lt. Duane Wisehart said the device was determined to be an inert training rocket whose motor was ignited by unknown means. It appeared the approximately nine-pound rocket was pointing in the general direction of a police facility and could have done considerable damage as a projectile, Wisehart said.

Homicide Blog Shows Who Murder Victims Really Are.

Attacks on Hemet police put spotlight on region's white supremacist groups.

A month later, less than half of 33 arrested Vagos members charged.

Hemet City Council approves measure to "harden" buildings after attacks against police. "Intelligence reports indicate that the police facility is the likely focus of future criminal acts," Capt. Dave Brown wrote in a memo to council members. "Immediate action is required to harden these facilities."

 No specific suspects have been named, and authorities have not said whether they believe the attacks have been carried out by a single person or group. Last month, authorities led raids on the Vagos motorcycle gang, which was described as an "extreme threat" to law enforcement. In all, 33 members were arrested in Riverside County and 36 others were taken into custody in Arizona, Nevada and Utah as part of the operation, authorities said. Charges included possession of drugs and weapons.

A rabbit rescue in downtown L.A. Officers confiscate bunnies and other animals being illegally sold by sidewalk vendors. The problem is especially bad around holidays.,0,1931710.story

Hemet's shadow war. Police believe a gang is targeting officers with potentially deadly booby traps, vandalism and harassment.,0,3645749.story

Authorities arrest 30 members of the Vagos motorcycle gang in Riverside County.

A Santa Clarita City Council candidate who was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting two teenage girls was released from jail early Saturday after prosecutors failed to file criminal charges against him, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. Citing insufficient evidence, the district attorney's office said no charges would be filed against 26-year-old Johnny Pride, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Bike couriers chase down bicycle thief in wild downtown pursuit.

Car seizures at DUI checkpoints prove profitable for cities, raise legal questions.

Times partners with USC journalism students on Homicide Report.

Los Angeles doctor gets 5 years for injuring cyclists. The judge expresses doubt about Christopher Thompson's remorse over braking in front of two riders and calls on cyclists and drivers to respect each other.,0,4794493.story?

La Vegas

Erik Scott, who was described by Las Vegas police as "kind of going berserk" before he was fatally shot by officers in front of a Costco store on Saturday, did not appear out of control to one witness who saw the man interacting with store employees. In a news release issued Monday, police said Scott, 39, was "acting erratically" and "damaging merchandise" while inside the store in Summerlin. He also was seen with a pistol on him, police said. Police were called to the store about the incident, which ended with Scott's death. Shots were fired by three officers, including one who was involved in a fatal shooting in 2006. But a witness the Review-Journal interviewed Monday, a 72-year-old man who spoke on the condition that his name not be used, said Scott did not appear to be doing anything nefarious.

Police Capt. Patrick Neville said Costco security personnel called police at 12:47 p.m. after the man began destroying merchandise in the store. After the call, store security noticed the man had a gun and began to evacuate the business, Neville said. The store is at 801 S. Pavilion Center Drive, which is near the Charleston Boulevard and Las Vegas Beltway interchange. The business was mostly evacuated when officers arrived. Police approached the man just outside Costco's front doors near a display of tires. Neville said an officer tapped the man on the shoulder. The man turned around and the officer saw a gun in the man's waistband, police said. The officer ordered the man to the ground, but the gunman refused, police said. Neville said the gunman then pulled out the gun in his waistband, prompting three officers to fire multiple shots. The man was taken to University Medical Center, where he later died. At the hospital, medical personnel discovered a second gun on the man. Both were semi-automatic handguns.

Metro Police on Monday said a man fatally shot by officers at a Costco store in Summerlin had pointed a gun at an officer before three officers fired their weapons, killing the man. Police identified the three officers in the Saturday shooting as Officer William Mosher, 38, who has been with the department since June 2005; Officer Joshua Stark, 28, with the department since September 2008; and Officer Thomas Mendiola, 23, with the department since March 2009. All officers are part of the Northwest Area Command Patrol Division. The Clark County Coroner's Office has identified the man killed as Erik Scott, 38, of Las Vegas. Authorities said a Costco employee called 911 to report a man acting erratically in the store, damaging merchandise and carrying a pistol in his waistband. An officer approached the man, identified as Scott, then noticed the pistol and gave him verbal commands to lay on the ground, police said. After Scott pointed the pistol at an officer, the officers fired at him, striking him multiple times, police said. He died at University Medical Center a short time later. Metro Police on Monday said witness accounts match the officers' description of events, but a lawyer representing Scott's family denied police reports Monday that the man had pulled out a handgun and pointed it at police. Attorney Ross Goodman, a criminal defense lawyer and son of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, said Scott had a concealed weapon permit. "He did not pull a handgun," Goodman said. "All the witnesses we've heard from have said he did not make any threatening gestures, and didn't do anything that could be construed as acting in a threatening manner." Goodman said he expects that surveillance videos and a coroner's inquest will show that the shooting near the entrance of Costco was neither justifiable nor excusable. Only one officer has been found to have acted improperly since 1976.


Gun extremists. Rochelle Riley, in her column last Sunday (“Royal Oak’s choice: Guns or families”), is right to criticize gun activists who are imposing their will on the City of Royal Oak. The sense of entitlement and privilege motivating such zealots should not be confused with patriots defending the Constitution. This is intimidation and bully tactics, plain and simple — tactics effectively used by Tea Party and militia types to punish those who step out of line. Such zealots — a minority among gun owners — are themselves politicians with a lockstep agenda focused on guns. Any city or individual who doesn’t share their obsession is being targeted for legal and economic punishment. Never mind that Royal Oak’s leaders, duly elected to represent the city, at first wisely decided to make a family-oriented event for tens of thousands of people a no-gun zone. That’s unacceptable to vigilantes touting guns 24/7.

Activists outgun Royal Oak. Michigan's gun-rights activists have gotten bolder and smarter. In the last year, they began showing up in force -- handguns on hips -- at city and township council meetings to protest policies they say violate state law and their constitutional rights in communities including Taylor and Clawson. In their sights now is Royal Oak, for its ban on guns at the Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival over Labor Day weekend. Read more: Gun activists take aim at metro Detroit | | Detroit Free Press

Openly bearing arms, beachgoers cite their rights. Members of a South Bay group hope to win public acceptance of the public display of firearms. Burbridge, an oil field equipment mechanic, said he carries a firearm whenever he goes shopping or visits a restaurant. Sporting a Rock Island 1911 pistol in a holster on his right hip and a clip of ammunition on his left side, Burbridge looked toward his wife, Tiffany, and their two children, Brooke, 8, and Noah, 2. "I would like to have the right to protect my beautiful family and not feel that people are thinking I'm breaking the law," he said. "I'm not trying to intimidate people." Burbridge said he hoped law enforcement officers would understand that openly carrying firearms is legal. He said he was recently handcuffed and detained before being released when he was peacefully watching a July 4 fireworks show in Long Beach with his family while armed.,0,684001.story

Man finds gun in lawn, shoots self. Oxford Township -- A 51-year-old man shot himself in the left hand with a gun he thought was a toy, Oakland County sheriff's officials said. The man was mowing the lawn about 11:30 a.m. Friday on the 1540 block of Lapeer Road at the time of the incident, officials said. He told investigators the mower hit something in the grass and found what he thought was a toy gun. When he picked up the 38-caliber, it fired, officials said. He was taken to Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital for treatment of wounds not believed to be life threatening. From The Detroit News:

Man at firing range accidentally shoots nearby shopper in Rancho Cucamonga. A man checking in firearms to use at a store's indoor firing range in Rancho Cucamonga accidentally shot a shopper when one of his weapons discharged, authorities said Tuesday. The 52-year-old Chino Hills man was placing six guns on the front counter of Bass Pro Shop in the 7700 block of Victoria Gardens Lane at about 3:45 p.m. Sunday when he noticed the hammer on a gun was pulled back, said Jodi Miller, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. He pulled the trigger of the .45 caliber handgun, apparently thinking it was unloaded because the magazine was removed. But the weapon went off from inside a bag, hitting a woman more than 100 feet away, grazing her in the buttocks. She was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Authorities said the shooting appeared to be accidental and no crime was committed. "The store has very specific guidelines to ensure safety," Miller said, including locking weapons until the range master unlocks them at the indoor shooting range. "This particular time there was an accidental discharge."

L.A. judge rules Alameda County D.A.'s office may stay on BART murder case.

Anti-gun group wants Starbucks to prohibit customers from openly carrying guns in its California stores.


Man kills himself at Burbank shooting range.

Williams' mother, Janice Williams of Groveland, said her son had been living next door and taking care of her father's house and land. She said he had been released from prison about 2 1/2 years ago after a felony conviction, which she declined to describe, and had almost completed his parole. "He hasn't been able to get a job because he's an ex-felon and nobody will hire him," she said. She said her son, who had been a carpenter and a cabinetmaker before his imprisonment, was angry about his unemployment and about "what's happening to our country." Williams watched the news on television and was upset by "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items," his mother said. She said she had planned to make salsa with her son on Sunday and was making preparations when she got a call from a television reporter, looked out the window and saw that her pickup truck was gone. She said she then checked the locked safe where she kept her guns, all legally purchased and owned, and found that they were also missing. Janice Williams said she kept the guns because "eventually, I think we're going to be caught up in a revolution." But she said she had told her son many times that "he didn't have to be on the front lines." She said she had no explanation for his actions. "Something snapped," she said. "His life is over. He will go back to prison for the rest of his life. Our lives are over." Read more:

Man killed by police in Costco shooting honored at memorial. A 38-year-old West Point graduate who was fatally shot outside a Costco store last week by Metro Police was remembered Saturday as an ambitious businessman and a dreamer. His younger brother, Kevin Scott, said Erik Scott was working as a salesman, selling medical devices. He said he was excellent at his job and persuasive — especially when convincing his younger brother into dangerous stunts.

Authorities say Oakland and Bay Area Rapid transit police officers shot and killed a suspect who charged at them with a knife. Oakland Police Deputy Chief Jeff Israel says police received a call around 8:15 a.m. Saturday of a man armed with knives walking toward a BART station. The man, who has not been identified, allegedly ran when approached by two BART officers. Israel says Oakland police joined the pursuit. He says officers used a stun gun on the suspect at least twice before five of them opened fire as he charged at them with a knife. Witnesses reported hearing the man shout, "Shoot me, shoot me," before officers opened fire. Read more:

Boy who accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old brother thought he was firing a play gun, police say.

El Cajon officer shoots knife wielding man.,0,4387599.story?

Officer shoots knife-wielding man in El Cajon. A man who refused to drop a hunting knife and continued to advance toward a police officer was shot several times Friday morning in a Jack in the Box parking lot, authorities said. The shooting was reported at 10:38 a.m. outside the eatery on Second Street and Madison Avenue. The injured man, who was shot in his upper torso, was transported to a hospital. His condition was not immediately known. Police responded to the restaurant after they received reports that a man was running around with a hunting knife and threatening people, El Cajon police Lt. Mark Coit said. The first officer to respond was a veteran motorcycle officer who found the man in the parking lot and ordered him to drop his knife. But the man refused and the officer backed up until he couldn’t back up anymore, Coit said. It was believed the officer fired at least five times, Coit said. “He is continually backing up, telling him to drop the knife. The guy keeps advancing on the officer and he finally fires several rounds, striking the suspect multiple times,” Coit said. Coit said the man had threatened at least one pedestrian on the street with his knife before officers arrived.

One of three young people wounded in what investigators believe was a gang-related shooting remained hospitalized in critical condition Friday, police said. Juan Barba-Hinojosa, 31, and Joshua Cordova Sander, 26, are jailed, and both have been denied bail pending arraignment. Each is expected to face three counts each of attempted murder when arraigned Tuesday, El Cajon police Lt. Steve Shakowski said. Detectives are still investigating what took two brothers, one 18 and the other a little older, and a 17-year-old girl to Merritt Drive and Scranton Street, where two men opened fire on them Wednesday night, Shakowski said. Read more:

Two guns used in high-profile shootings this year at the Pentagon and a Las Vegas courthouse both came from the same unlikely place: the police and court system of Memphis, Tenn. Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that both guns were once seized in criminal cases in Memphis. The officials described how the weapons made their separate ways from an evidence vault to gun dealers and to the shooters. The use of guns that once were in police custody and were later involved in attacks on police officers highlights a little-known divide in gun policy in the United States: Many cities and states destroy guns gathered in criminal probes, but others sell or trade the weapons in order to get other guns or buy equipment such as bulletproof vests.

Pentagon shooter's spiral from early promise to madness.

TSA, airlines & terrorists

The rising threat from homegrown radicals makes terrorist plots against the U.S. harder to detect and more likely to succeed, top administration officials are scheduled to tell Congress on Wednesday. In written testimony to be delivered before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Michael E. Leiter, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, each say terrorist threats have become more complex, with a greater array of plotters inspired by Al Qaeda without necessarily being directly linked to the terrorist network. "Homegrown terrorists represent a new and changing facet of the terrorist threat," Napolitano said in the testimony, obtained in advance by the Los Angeles Times. "The threat is evolving in several ways that make it more difficult for law enforcement or the intelligence community to detect and disrupt plots.",0,2644608.story

An infuriating search at Philadelphia International Airport.

Muslim 9/11 Victims:

For terrorism trials, civilian courts are up to the job. Our federal courts are unmatched at putting terrorism suspects on trial, collecting intelligence when possible and sending them away for good.,0,3948351.story

Probe Into Missing Guns Shifts to Los Angeles.

With neighbors like this, who needs enemies? A Minnesota man accused of hacking into his neighbor’s computer and sending a threatening e-mail to Vice President Joe Biden has turned down a two-year plea deal and is negotiating for less, the defendant’s attorney said Monday. Barry Ardolf, a Minnesota computer technician, is accused of unlawfully accessing his neighbor’s computer last year and sending an e-mail under the neighbor’s identity to the vice president, saying “I swear to God I’m going to kill you!” Read More

Calling himself a "Muslim soldier," a defiant Pakistan-born U.S. citizen pleaded guilty Monday to carrying out the failed Times Square car bombing, saying his attack was the answer to "the U.S. terrorizing ... Muslim people." Wearing a white skull cap, Faisal Shahzad entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan just days after a federal grand jury indicted him on 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of which carried mandatory life prison sentences. He pleaded guilty to them all. "One has to understand where I'm coming from," Shahzad calmly told U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who challenged him repeatedly with questions such as whether he worried about killing children in Times Square. "I consider myself ... a Muslim soldier.",0,4896723.story

New concerns arise over body scanners. Aviation security experts say the machines may miss items that metal detectors catch. Airline passengers may also be able to hide materials in the groin or body cavities.,0,5146318.story

A History of Deadly Terrorist Attacks.

Police scour videotape in attempted Times Square car bombing.,0,3507410.story

Times Square reopens after car bomb is found, dismantled. A T-shirt vendor alerts police to a smoking SUV, and investigators find propane tanks, fireworks, gasoline and more inside. "I think the intent was to cause a significant ball of fire," the police commissioner says.,0,1386744.story

Al-Qaida calls on US Muslims to attack America.

German Court Convicts Suspects for Foiled Attack.

Newt Gingrich Trips Up Again With 'Daily Show' Correction.

GOP Criticism Of FBI 'Unconscionable'

Washington responds to 'Bin Laden tape'. The US has said a tape purported to be from al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden simply repeats "hollow justifications for the mass slaughter of innocents". White House adviser David Axelrod also said that the US could not confirm the authenticity of the audio tape.

Tonight, on The Factor, I heard—news flash—a whole bunch of bullshit. Our boy Newt Gingrich and Factor host Bill Oaf-Reilly were discussing Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the diaper bomber) in a civilian court. “The attorney general is more concerned with protecting terrorists than protecting his own family,” Gingrich said, in all his glimmering wisdom. “Why else would he let [Abdulmutallab] lawyer up?” Now, I know ol’ Newt isn’t exactly the fastest salamander in the slew, but there is quite an abundance of people who actually, truly, honestly believe this garbage he’s spewing. They believe the reason Holder, Obama and others such as me care so much about Abdulmutallab’s rights is because we are a bunch of big, fat terrorist huggers who want to keep terrorists safe and sound so they can continue to do those cute little terrorist-things they do, like murdering and torturing and raping our families. The bottom line is this—and, to be honest, I really hate it when people say “bottom line,” as if that somehow makes their point irrefutable, that it will be the last word on the subject, but, really, sometimes there is a bottom line, and it is irrefutable, and it should be the last word, such as a last word like this: If you really believe people like me care more about terrorists than our own families, then you are either an idiot, a liar or both. Bottom line.

Looking for guns, bombs harder when risk is small.

Science project prompts SD school evacuation.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Is the US winning its "war on terror"? As it enters into its fifth year, trying to measure success, failure or even just progress remains stubbornly difficult. And the record for 2005 provides few easy answers. The US administration used to talk about how it had killed or captured two-thirds of al-Qaeda's pre-9/11 leaders. But that statistic looks increasingly irrelevant when al-Qaeda has itself evolved and mutated, with a new generation of militants and leaders over the past few years - as well as the problem that the best known al-Qaeda leaders remain at large.

Terror case's drain on resources draws outrage. 3 public defenders on legal team a financial strain, critics say.

Hate crimes

Community reaches out to local Islamic Center after hate crime.

Murder He Wrote. A jury convicted Scott Roeder of killing Dr. George Tiller after a rocky trial.

Abortion foe Scott Roeder tells jury he killed Dr. George Tiller. Roeder begins to testify in his own defense in the killing of a Kansas abortion doctor. He says he does not dispute the evidence. His admission draws heavy sighs from Tiller's family in the courtroom.,0,4411736.story?

Militias, Right-wing Extremists

A California man known for his anger over left-leaning politics said after a freeway shootout with CHP officers that he had been planning an attack on the ACLU and another nonprofit group, police said Tuesday. Byron Williams, 45, a parolee with two previous bank robbery convictions, wanted to "start a revolution" by killing people at the American Civil Liberties Union and Tides Foundation, both in San Francisco, Oakland police Sgt. Michael Weisenberg said in court documents.

No bond for 5 in militia. U.S. appeals court overturns earlier ruling, says Hutaree members pose a danger.

Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason.

Anti-Government Man Jerry Kane Jr., Teenage Son Reportedly Killed Police In Deadly Shootout.

Minn. officer killed in ambush, sets off manhunt.

Post-Hutaree: How Glenn Beck and Fox News spread the militia message.

Other militias told on Hutaree. FBI is told group is 'kind of creepy'. From The Detroit News:

Ex-Marine Provided Hutaree 'Hit List' of Judges and Elected Officials and Served as Group's 'Heavy Gunner'

Hate. Antigovernment extremists are on the rise—and on the march. politics seem more intense than usual, and the domestic extremist threat seems more real. Partisan disputes are rarely pretty, but lately they have taken a particularly ugly, menacing turn. Last week the FBI arrested individuals for making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington for their votes on health-care reform. A series of expletive-strewn voice-mail messages left for Senator Murray were particularly creepy: "You're gonna have a target on your back for the rest of your life," the caller warned. "How long do you think you can hide?" Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance W. Gainer said last week that serious threats to members of Congress had nearly tripled, from 15 in the last three months of 2009 to 42 in the first quarter of 2010, with most of them coming in March during the height of the health-care debate. Some of the calls and e-mails were "very vicious" and included threats to members' homes and families. "You had people saying, 'I'm going to get your kids, I'm going to get your wife,' " says Gainer. "It was very disturbing to members."

Hutaree arrests are a gut-check moment for militia movement. Some are sympathetic to the group, accused of plotting to kill police, but many shun what they see as a cult-like religious fringe.,0,1174015.story

FBI Tricked Hutaree Christian Militia Into Showing Up Unarmed.

Guardians of the free Republics tied to Texas radio station. The FBI interviewed radio host Sam Kennedy on Friday. Mr. Kennedy is 'up to his eyeballs' in the Guardians of the free Republics, says the owner of a Texas radio station, and is behind letters sent to all 50 governors. The letters prompted an FBI investigation.

Last militiamen hid before surrender.

Giving the Michigan militia a bad name. Armed for Christ. Prosecutors say the Stoneses' group, Hutaree, was convinced Jesus Christ was coming to overthrow that satanic government and was determined to assist Him. To more theologically sophisticated militia members like Lackomar, that's just silly. "The rest of us in the movement and those of us who follow religion realize that if Jesus were to come back today, he's not going to need me and my AK to pull off what he needs to do," Lackomar told his CNN interviewers.

For Hutaree, Web rumor stoked anger at Obama.

8 Hutaree militia members jailed.

Cop Crimes

New Cato Video on Cops and Cameras.

6 police officers charged in New Orleans Danziger Bridge shootings after Katrina.

Former probation officer charged with meeting teen girl for sexual liaison.

An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer was arrested Wednesday evening after he allegedly rammed his car into his wife's vehicle after an argument, an Oceanside police lieutenant said. Officer Armando Arriaga, 46, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and assault with a deadly weapon, Oceanside police Lt. Leonard Mata said. The assault charge was a felony. Arriaga was booked into jail around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and was released about 5 a.m. Thursday after posting a $30,000 bond, according to jail records. It was unclear Thursday what date the veteran officer was ordered to return to court to learn if prosecutors will pursue a case against him. No phone listings could be found for Arriaga, and he could not be reached for comment. According to Mata, Arriaga reportedly rammed his BMW sedan into the back of a PT Cruiser driven by his wife, Melanie Arriaga, 52, in an alley in the 600 block of N. Coast Highway.

Arizona sheriff under investigation for alleged abuse of power.

Former BART officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors accused Johannes Mehserle of intentionally firing his handgun as he tried to handcuff Oscar J. Grant III on New Year's Day 2009. Mehserle testified that he thought he was pulling out his electric Taser weapon and not a firearm.,0,4753049.story

S.F. police investigate Pride Parade brawl.

Advocates prepare for peace in Oakland in advance of Mehserle verdict.

In calling retired Los Angeles police Capt. Greg Meyer, the defense sought to varnish Mehserle's testimony last week that he meant to deploy his Taser but got confused and accidentally fired a fatal pistol shot into Grant's back on Jan. 1, 2009. But Meyer, who often defends police officers accused of using excessive force, faced a long and bruising cross-examination by prosecutor David Stein, who suggested he ignored critical evidence and was biased toward a client that paid him at least $44,000 for his testimony. Stein prompted Meyer to say he had studied the Rodney King case and had concluded that the officers who beat King in 1991 did not use excessive force. At one point, Meyer referred to Grant as "the defendant in this case" before Stein corrected him. Read more:

Ex-O.C. police officer surrenders in bestiality, fraud case.

EXCLUSIVE: CHP brass ignored calls to fire officer. Discipline failed to stop inappropriate behavior toward women.

A decorated former Chicago police lieutenant accused of suffocating, shocking and beating confessions out of scores of suspects was convicted Monday of federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges for lying about the torture. Former Lt. Jon Burge, whose name has become synonymous with police brutality and abuse of power in the country's third-largest city, did not react as the guilty verdicts were read. But several attorneys who have represented Burge's alleged victims celebrated outside the courtroom, hugging each other and calling colleagues to deliver the news. "I'm very happy and I'm very gratified," said attorney Flint Taylor. "Not for myself but (for) all of the people who have fought so long and so hard to bring it to the point that it is today." None of Burge's lawyers or supporters spoke to reporters after the verdict. He will remain free on bond until his Nov. 5 sentencing, when he faces up to 45 years in prison.

Racially charged Oakland case nears its completion in L.A. A white BART officer's trial in the shooting death of a black man draws comparisons with the beating of Rodney King. Both were recorded on widely viewed video and stirred strong emotions.,0,4913737.story?page=1

A former Santa Ana police officer who worked as an unlicensed private investigator was charged Friday with 63 counts, ranging from defrauding clients to intimidating witnesses to posting ads on Craigslist seeking women to engage in sex acts with his Labrador retriever. Kevin Michael Sianez, 53, of Fountain Valley is also charged with illegally operating a private investigation service without a license, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. Sianez opened his office in 2005 and employed five people, most of whom were family members, the district attorney’s office said. He allegedly posted false reviews of his business on the Internet, misleading potential clients into believing his business had nationwide offices and investigators.

Dramatic video of BART shooting released by court. In response to a request by The Times, the court on Thursday released videos of the shooting that have been played for jurors in court, including some footage that has never before been made public.

Prosecution rests in BART shooting case. Jurors see a synchronized video of the killing of a black man by a white former transit officer in a trial that was moved to L.A. over concerns about media exposure in the Bay Area.,0,6763686.story

The Alameda County prosecutor, David R. Stein, has sought to portray Pirone and another officer who testified as attempting to justify the shooting by falsely claiming that Grant and his friends resisted and by exaggerating the threat they felt to their own safety. Stein questioned Williams about her brief conversation with Pirone the night of the shooting. Pirone testified last week that the train operator told him that the men he had detained were responsible for an earlier fight on the train. Williams testified she never said such a thing. Under cross-examination, Williams said the passenger who had been concerned about getting shot did not explain whether she was in fear of police or others.

Ex-CHP officer convicted of bribery and perjury for dismissing speeding ticket in exchange for sex. A former California Highway Patrol officer was convicted Monday of bribery and perjury for allegedly dismissing a traffic ticket for a woman who agreed to have sex with him. Abram Carabajal, 53, faces up to four years and eight months in prison when he is sentenced in San Diego County Superior Court in Vista. The jury that convicted Carabajal acquitted Shirin Zarrindej, 49, a dog-groomer, of similar charges. Investigators followed the two to a motel in Oceanside after Carabajal went to court to have the speeding ticket dismissed. The jury split 11-1 for conviction on a conspiracy charge against the two. Carabajal, a 26-year veteran of the CHP, retired immediately after being confronted by investigators about the motel tryst. Carabajal had written Zarrindej a speeding ticket on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton in March 2008. During the trial, he insisted that he and Zarrindej were having a love affair. Four women testified that he had made suggestive comments to them after stopping them on the freeway-- allegations that Carabajal denied. Prosecutors sought to have Carabajal taken immediately into custody. Judge Lisa Foster declined but ordered him to surrender his guns to Oceanside police.

Police Punches Woman On Tape In Jaywalking Incident.

Majority Of Cop Trainees Back Aggression Over Courtesy In Some Areas. A slight majority of police recruits at the beginning of training told surveyors in a Justice Department-sponsored research project they believe that in some working areas, it is more useful to be aggressive than to be courteous. Only a minority of recruits believe that the “community shares a lot of respect for the police,” and 37 percent believe that officers generally should be suspicious of people rather than give them the benefit of the doubt. These were among preliminary results reported in mid-June by criminologist Dennis Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois-Chicago to the National Institute of Justice’s annual conference. An earlier version of this post erroneously attributed the findings to police officers. Nearly three-fourths of the recruits believe that “all people should be treated with respect regardless of their attitude.”

An Encino woman on trial for allegedly having sex with a California Highway Patrol officer in exchange for him making her speeding ticket go away denied the allegation in court Friday, saying she simply fell in love with him. Shirin Zarrindej, 49, is charged with subornation of perjury, bribery of a witness and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with a March 12, 2008, traffic stop on southbound Interstate 5 near Oceanside. Former CHP Officer Abram Carabajal, 53, is charged with perjury, receipt of a bribe and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Jury seated for CHP officer sex case. A jury was seated Friday for the trial of a former California Highway Patrol officer and the female motorist for whom he allegedly fixed a speeding ticket in return for sexual favors. Abram Carabajal, 53, faces five years and four months in prison if convicted of a bribery charge and one count each of perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The 49-year-old woman with whom he allegedly traded sex, Shirin Zarrindej, is charged with subornation of perjury, giving a bribe and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Carabajal, a 26-year veteran, resigned from the CHP during the investigation. The prosecution alleges the officer pulled over Zarrindej for speeding on March 12, 2008, and issued her a ticket. Carabajal later testified under oath that he was not served with a subpoena, so the speeding case against Zarrindej was dismissed. Carabajal and Zarrindej were allegedly seen walking arm-in-arm to a room at the Guesthouse Inn in Oceanside immediately following his testimony. The woman later conceded the two had sex, the prosecution alleges. Opening statements will be heard Monday in the San Diego courtroom of Judge Lisa Foster. Read more:

The officer tells the photographer that he is making him nervous and asks him to "move along." The photographer tells the officer that the sidewalk is open to the public and that it's not against the law to shoot video. When the photographer continues to say he can take video on a public street, the officer begins to get angry and tells him he can't take a picture of him. "I am a citizen of this country," the officer says. "I was in the Marine Corps a few years getting shot for you, you can move along. ... Start moving." The photographer asks for the officer's badge number. The officer tells him to "go ahead, saying he spent "two years in the desert, and I have to hear from your fruitcake ass." The officer tells the man he is making a legal stop and asks the photographer for his identification and that the grounds for the stop is "taking a picture of me." The officer then tells the photographer, who is being detained and appears to be seated on the sidewalk, that he has a record of parking violations, which the man says he had paid. They continue to argue about the law, the officer telling the man that he does not have a right to take a picture and the man saying it's not against the law to take photographs. He asks for the officer's card, and a short time later, the video ends.

Video here:

Gruesome death photos are at the forefront of an Internet privacy battle. A car crash victim's father is suing the CHP over the wide dissemination of pictures of his daughter's body.,0,7898781.story

Drug raid inquiry is ongoing. Target questions tactics of SWAT.

It has been nearly 40 years and yet members of the May 4 Task Force are still looking for the truth behind the May 4, 1970, shooting at Kent State. They are seeking answers as to why the Ohio National Guard opened fire on campus killing four students, Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer. Nine others were wounded. Who actually gave the verbal order to shoot? asked Al Canfora, one of the injured students, at a news conference Friday on the site of the campus shooting.

The number of wiretaps authorized by state and federal judges in criminal investigations jumped 26 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to a report released Friday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Courts authorized 2,376 criminal wiretap orders in 2009, with 96 percent targeting mobile phones in drug cases, according to the report. Federal officials requested 663 of the wiretaps, while 24 states accounted for 1,713 orders. Not one request for a wiretap was turned down.

2 Desert Hot Springs officers charged with excessive force for allegedly Tasering unarmed suspects.

Cop Walks Into a Bar And...Arrests You. For Having a Drink. Texas’ bizarre, racist liquor laws.

Don't Tase me Bro!

2 officers out of jobs in wake of repeated Tasering of woman. The officer in question is Ryan Smith of the Lumpkin Police Department. Smith was called to back up an officer from the Richland Police Department because the sheriff's office in the county, Stewart, had no deputies to send. Smith resigned as a result of the incident. The other officer involved, Tim Murphy of Richland PD, was fired for using pepper spray while trying to arrest Wells. Stewart County Sheriff Larry Jones, who came to the house seconds after the last electric shock was administered, suspects the outcome would have been different if the woman had been white and the officers black. “I don’t think they would have done a white female like that,” said Jones, who is black. “If they had, it wouldn’t have been any doubt about whether they need to be terminated.”

LAPD to investigate Hollywood stun gun incident. Los Angeles police are investigating an incident in which an apparently intoxicated man suffered a head injury when he fell to the curb after being hit with a stun gun by Hollywood Division officers. The investigation grew out of a three-minute video posted on YouTube showing a man refusing to comply with the orders of at least two LAPD officers, shouting obscenities and threatening them. A woman's voice can be heard saying that police were responding to "a fight."

Oklahoma granny sues cops over tasering. Bedridden octogenarian pulled knife, police claim.


G20 Policing: From Bubbles to Bookings?

Boxed in and arrested on Queen Street West. Police pen in G20 protesters and passersby at the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue on Sunday afternoon. Globe writer recounts how she became swept up in Sunday’s mass arrests in downtown Toronto.

Sex Crimes, Catholic Church and others

MURRIETA: Residents receive letter threatening children's lives. Anonymous missive threatens violence for "unfair" treatment of registered sex offenders.

the New York Times published a pair of stories suggesting that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- the future Pope Benedict -- participated in precisely the sort of secrecy and administrative negligence that has been at the root of this scandal. Documents produced over the church's objections in an American lawsuit show that the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Ratzinger headed from 1981-2005, declined to defrock Father Lawrence C. Murphy, even though he molested at least 200 boys at a Wisconsin school for the deaf. In 1996, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland twice wrote directly to Ratzinger requesting a trial aimed at defrocking Murphy, whose crimes were known to three successive Milwaukee prelates.,0,715320.column


According to newspaper accounts, in 1983 the blood-covered body of E. David Auer was found in the trunk of his silver Mercedes in the parking lot of a Pontiac motel, choked with a cord and beaten to death. He was president of Auer Mortgage; Schrott, the company’s executive vice president, was reportedly the last person known to have seen Auer alive. The two parted company in a bar parking lot following a business meeting. Earlier that year, according to a press account, the company was sued by the state of Michigan for “allegedly bilking borrowers through high-interest loans.” Following Auer’s death, Schrott sued to force payment on a $1 million insurance policy taken out on his partner. “It was a business obligation,” explained Schrott. The insurance company, he said, eventually paid up. No one was ever charged in connection with Auer’s murder. When the Metro Times submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking to review the Auer case file, the city of Pontiac Law Department replied that the information could not be found.

A neighborhood watch with firepower. James 'Jackrabbit' Jackson keeps an eye on Detroit's streets at a time when police are scarce.,0,4595761,full.story

A former Detroit city councilwoman was sentenced to more than three years in prison Wednesday for bribery after a federal judge refused to set aside her guilty plea during a stormy court hearing dominated by a dispute over evidence of other payoffs.

Fear fuels demand for gun permits. Advocates, others fired up over the economy, politics.

He called himself Jabril. Two years ago, a white man who claimed he was an ex-con and convert to Islam started attending a predominantly African-American mosque on a run-down street in Detroit. He touted his Islamic ways while offering poor members of the mosque cash for odd jobs at an auto shop on the city's west side. He told tales of sick family members and brought a young boy to the mosque who he said was his son. Jabril soon became a brother in faith and a confidante of the mosque's fiery leader, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed in a shootout during an Oct. 28 raid by FBI agents to arrest men suspected of dealing in stolen goods. Members now believe Jabril was an FBI informant who infiltrated their mosque. "He built up trust in the community," said Omar Regan, 34, one of Abdullah's sons.


Both sides in Arizona's immigration debate use crime argument. Statistics show foreign-born residents commit fewer crimes, but backers of an illegal immigrant law say public safety is their key motivation.,0,5543081.story

17 caught in search for Ariz. deputy's attackers.

Lt. Tamatha Villar said that Deputy Louie Puroll, 53, was patrolling on his own along a stretch of Interstate 8 that runs through the empty desert south of Phoenix about 4 p.m. when he saw five men on foot hauling a load of marijuana. The moment Puroll left his vehicle, he was shot. The bullet grazed Puroll's stomach. He was flown to a hospital and was expected to be released late Friday. The gunman and other men fled, and a massive search was underway well after sunset. The route is where smugglers frequently run drugs from Mexico up to Interstate 8, where they are picked up and driven west into California, say law enforcement officials familiar with the area. In March, an apparent smuggler shot and killed a rancher, Robert Krentz, on the rancher's property just north of the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona. The killing helped galvanize support for the new anti-illegal- immigration law. Supporters have regularly cited the Krentz case and the cases of two Phoenix police officers killed by illegal immigrants since 2007.,0,6997560.story


Mexican state security minister can't trust her own police. Minerva Bautista and her entourage were attacked by gunmen in Michoacan, turf of La Familia drug gang. The chief suspects are well known to her.,0,1441936.story?

3 killed in drug-related shootings in Mexico. A U.S. Consulate worker and his wife, as well as another consulate employee, are dead, officials say. Also, 13 people are slain in Acapulco just as spring break brings an influx of visitors.,0,1698276.story

At least 13 people were killed Saturday, some of them beheaded, around the popular beach resort of Acapulco, just as foreign visitors have begun arriving for spring break. The dead included five police officers, authorities said, who were ambushed while on patrol on the city's outskirts about 2 a.m. Over the next four hours, the bullet-riddled bodies of eight men were discovered in three locations, police said. Four had been beheaded, in the style typical of drug traffickers who have been at war with one another and with government forces for three years.,0,5589087.story

13 teens, adults killed at party on Mexican border. Violence also rocked the oceanside Mexican community of Lazaro Cardenas overnight. Police in the southwestern city say that just after midnight Saturday, about 20 heavily armed gunmen riding in trucks with tinted windows attacked a police station with grenades and assault rifles, killing a police officer and two civilians -- a mother and her son who had come to pay a fine. Also early Sunday morning, three women and two men, all identified as Mexican citizens, were murdered while driving in their van with California license plates near the western Mexican city of Navolato. The bodies of the five victims, including a 16-year-old girl, were found riddled with bullets, said Martin Gastelum, attorney general for the state of Sinaloa, where Navolato is located. Authorities also found more than 60 spent shell casings from Kalashnikov assault rifles in the van, Gastelum said.,0,6669832.story

Police Procedure

On The Scale Of Evil, Where Do Murderers Rate?

Police Cite Help From Stop-and-Frisk Data in 170 Cases.

Paterson Signs Bill Limiting Stop-and-Frisk Data. Police officials in New York City can no longer electronically store the names and addresses of people stopped in the street to be questioned but found to have done nothing wrong, under a bill Gov. David A. Paterson signed into law on Friday. At a signing ceremony in his Manhattan offices, Mr. Paterson ended a debate over the so-called stop-and-frisk database that had been raging for months and will fundamentally alter one of the Police Department’s chief crime-fighting strategies.

Stop & Frisk


Study of Waterboarding Coverage Prompts a Debate in the Press. Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said the newspaper has written so much about the issue of waterboarding that, “I think this Kennedy School study — by focusing on whether we have embraced the politically correct term of art in our news stories — is somewhat misleading and tendentious.” In an e-mail message on Thursday, Mr. Keller said that defenders of the practice of waterboarding, “including senior officials of the Bush administration,” insisted that it did not constitute torture. “When using a word amounts to taking sides in a political dispute, our general practice is to supply the readers with the information to decide for themselves,” Mr. Keller wrote. “Thus we describe the practice vividly, and we point out that it is denounced by international covenants and human rights advocates as a form of torture. Nobody reading The Times’ coverage could be ignorant of the extent of the practice (much of that from information we broke) or mistake it for something benign (we usually use the word ‘brutal.’)”

Physicians group accuses CIA of testing torture techniques on detainees. A report says agency doctors helped refine the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and severe pain under the guise of medical research. The CIA says the report is 'wrong.',0,1471800.story

That was no experiment; it was torture.

"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," Bush told a Grand Rapids audience Wednesday, of the self-professed 9/11 mastermind. "I'd do it again to save lives." But, Irvine said: "When he decided to do it the first time, he launched the nation down a disastrous road, and we will continue to pay dearly for the damage his decision has caused. "We are seen by the rest of the world as having abandoned our commitment to international law. We have forfeited enormous amounts of moral leadership as the world's sole remaining superpower. And it puts American troops in greater danger -- and unnecessary danger." George W. Bush's casual acknowledgment Wednesday that he had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarded -- and would do it again -- has horrified some former military and intelligence officials who argue that the former president doesn't seem to understand the gravity of what he is admitting. Waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, is "unequivocably torture", said retired Brigadier General David R. Irvine, a former strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner of war interrogation and military law for 18 years. Matthew Alexander, the pseudonymous former Air Force interrogator and author of "How To Break A Terrorist" e-mailed HuffPost that Bush's statement "is de facto approval of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers in Iraq who were killed by foreign fighters that Al Qaida recruited based on the President's policy of torture and abuse of detainees. "At least now we know where the blame for those soldiers' deaths squarely belongs. President Bush's decision broke with a military tradition dating back to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and the consequences are clear: Al Qaida is stronger and our country is less safe."

A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm. U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen's ruling did not say the two contractors had proven their claims, including that they were tortured after reporting alleged illegal activities by their company. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened. Andersen said his decision "represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting."

Torture memos resemble Clarence Thomas' way of thinking. The Supreme Court justice has a history of dismissing prisoner brutality. And it's his former law clerk who was investigated for authorizing harsh interrogation tactics as a Justice Department lawyer. Thomas' now-famous former law clerk John C. Yoo was charged with flawed reasoning, but not professional misconduct, as a Justice Department lawyer when he applied much the same view toward the treatment of Al Qaeda prisoners. In the so-called torture memos in 2002, Yoo reasoned that subjecting prisoners to simulated drowning or "stress positions" in cold cells was not illegal torture because it did not cause the intense pain of a serious injury, equivalent to "death or organ failure.",0,3782840.story

When it was revealed that the U.S. resorted to torture to extract information from prisoners, many people my age must have had a very somber thought for the thousands of young Americans who had given their lives on the beaches of Normandy in a brave effort to rid the world of governments that engaged in such shameful practices. Two other thoughts flashed to mind: the stupidity of giving up the high moral ground at a time when the U.S. had earned so much goodwill thanks to its stand on democracy and human rights; and the pointlessness of such interrogations, often stated by our military experts, since the victims will generally admit to anything in order to stop the pain.

Immigration and border fence

Arizona Law

Border deaths in Arizona may break record. This year, 170 bodies have been found in Pima County; many of those cannot be identified. Some expected tougher immigration policies to deter people from trying to cross the desert into the U.S.,0,5950093.story

Migrants sell up and flee Arizona ahead of crackdown.

Minutemen groups, a surge in Border Patrol agents, and a tough new immigration law aren't enough for a reputed neo-Nazi who's now leading a militia in the Arizona desert. Jason "J.T." Ready is taking matters into his own hands, declaring war on "narco-terrorists" and keeping an eye out for illegal immigrants. So far, he says his patrols have only found a few border crossers who were given water and handed over to the Border Patrol. Once, they also found a decaying body in a wash, and alerted authorities. But local law enforcement are nervous given that Ready's group is heavily armed and identifies with the National Socialist Movement, an organization that believes only non-Jewish, white heterosexuals should be American citizens and that everyone who isn't white should leave the country "peacefully or by force." "We're not going to sit around and wait for the government anymore," Ready said. "This is what our founding fathers did."

Will new immigration law help or hurt Arizona economy? Law might save tax dollars, but new costs could emerge. Read more:

Violence is not up on Arizona border despite Mexican drug war. Mexico crime flares, but here, only flickers. Read more:

Arizona's Immigration Law: Unintended Consequences and Victimization.

Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday that most illegal immigrants entering Arizona are being used to transport drugs across the border, an assertion that critics slammed as exaggerated and racist. Brewer said the motivation of "a lot" of the illegal immigrants is to enter the United States to look for work, but that drug rings press them into duty as drug "mules." "I believe today, under the circumstances that we're facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in," Brewer said. "There's strong information to us that they come as illegal people wanting to come to work. Then they are accosted and they become subjects of the drug cartel," she said. Brewer's office later issued a statement in response to media reports of her comments. It said most human smuggling into Arizona is under the direction of drug cartels, which "are by definition smuggling drugs."

Arizona immigration law an unpleasant reminder of Chandler's past. Police and Border Patrol agents detained U.S. citizens and legal residents along with illegal immigrants in 1997. Many fear the new law will make history repeat itself.,0,2415717.story?

The federal plan got far less attention than the headline-grabbing state initiative, but it deserves the same scrutiny. Among other problematic suggestions, McCain and Kyl have recommended expanding Operation Streamline, a costly initiative aimed at criminally prosecuting and imprisoning every immigrant who crosses the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully. I recently conducted a study of Operation Streamline for the Warren Institute, a think tank at UC Berkeley School of Law, traveling to four border cities where the program is in place. In each city, I observed court proceedings and interviewed federal judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. I also analyzed prosecution data from the border district courts. Our report concludes that Operation Streamline forces federal prosecutors to spend their time and resources on people with no criminal history — men and women looking for work in U.S. factories and farms — instead of focusing on the drug cartels responsible for the recent surge in border violence.,0,3643643.story

U.S. Border Patrol

Border Patrol Suicides On The Rise.

President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill directing $600 million more to securing the U.S.-Mexico border, a modest election-year victory that underscores his failure so far to deliver an overhaul of immigration law. The new law will pay for the hiring of 1,000 more Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unmanned surveillance drones. The Justice Department gets more money to help catch drug dealers and human traffickers.

The Obama administration has set a record for deportations of illegal immigrants, much to the dismay of immigration reform advocates who had hoped the president would reverse the enforcement policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush. In fiscal year 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 387,790 people, a 5% increase in "removals" (in the parlance of immigration officials) over the previous year.

There are currently more Border Patrol agents "than ever before in the history of this country." PolitiFact has noted that Obama has been "increasing the number of border patrol officers." Indeed, in a July 22 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Michael Fisher, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, stated, "Currently we have over 20,000 Border Patrol agents nationwide, more than ever before in the history of the country." A Customs and Border Protection document states that the 2010 budget included $19.4 million for 123 new Border Patrol agents and support staff. The Obama administration's 2011 budget states, "An increase of $44.8M is requested to fund 318 Custom and Border Protection Officers FTEs [Full-Time Equivalent] within the Office of Field Operations and 71 support FTEs for CBP." From the Arizona Republic:

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — A U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a 15-year-old Mexican boy after a group trying to illegally enter Texas threw rocks at officers near downtown El Paso, U.S. authorities said Tuesday. The shooting, which happened Monday evening beneath a railroad bridge linking the two nations, drew sharp criticism from Mexico, where the government said Tuesday that "the use of firearms to repel attacks with stones represents disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from authorities who have received specialized training.",0,2151639.story

An illegal immigrant who died after being shot with a Taser during an altercation with federal authorities at the border had methamphetamine in his system, according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego County medical examiner's office. Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas, 42, died Saturday after a struggle with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent at the U.S.-Mexico border. The medical examiner's report read that at the time of death, he had "acute methamphetamine intoxication" as well as high blood pressure and heart disease. The report lists the manner of death as homicide and the cause of death as heart attack due to the drugs, heart disease and a "physical altercation with law enforcement officers." Hernandez-Rojas was being removed from the U.S. through the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing when he became combative and was Tasered, according to Customs and Border Protection. The San Diego Police Department is investigating the death, which has prompted criticism by immigrant rights groups.

Death of illegal immigrant at San Diego crossing prompts outcry.

Mexico accuses U.S. Border Patrol of excessive force in stun gun incident. The Mexican government says a man whom U.S. authorities shot with a stun gun at a San Diego County border crossing is unconscious and in serious condition. The Mexican consulate in San Diego said in a statement Saturday night that agents from the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection agencies appear to have used excessive force in the Friday confrontation. It said it was trying to establish contact with the Mexican man's family. Border Patrol spokesman Daryl Reed said the man was taken to a San Diego-area hospital Friday night at the San Ysidro border crossing separating San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Reed says the man had become combative. The man's name has not been released.

Border Fence

Corn roasting on sidewalk grills. Latin music blasting from shops. Colorful signs touting tongue-twisting names like Atitlán and Quetzaltenango. The central Los Angeles neighborhood could almost be plucked right out of Guatemala City. Long ago a well-heeled area of Los Angeles, the Westlake district surrounding MacArthur Park has in more recent decades become a densely packed enclave of Central American immigrants fleeing brutal civil wars and grinding poverty in their home countries. Last week, the bustling community turned into a hotbed of unrest after a police officer shot and killed Manuel Jaminez, a 37-year-old Guatemalan day laborer, who allegedly lunged at him with a knife. The shooting last Sunday set off three days of protests by people who felt that the shooting was an unfair and unnecessary use of police force. The demonstrations surprised officials, who blamed outsiders for stirring up trouble. A visit to the neighborhood of grimy tenements with curlicued cornices and portals that belie a more elegant past discloses a social tapestry fraying from increasingly hardscrabble living and widespread frustration.

The 'Great Wall of America' and the threat from within. Cynicism, hypocrisy and an entirely un-American urge to exclude are the foundation of the barrier that stretches along the border with Mexico.,0,3589696.column

When U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled on Wednesday that key provisions of Arizona's new anti-immigration law were unconstitutional, she could have also declared them unnecessary. That is, if the main impetus behind the controversial legislation was, as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said when she signed it in April, "border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration." The fact is, despite the murderous mayhem raging across the border in Mexico, the U.S. side, from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, is one of the nation's safest corridors. According to the FBI, the four large U.S. cities (with populations of at least 500,000) with the lowest violent crime rates — San Diego, Phoenix and the Texas cities of El Paso and Austin — are all in border states. "The border is safer now than it's ever been," U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling told the Associated Press last month. Even Larry Dever, the sheriff of Arizona's Cochise County, where the murder last March of a local rancher, believed to have been committed by an illegal immigrant, sparked calls for the law, conceded to the Arizona Republic recently that "we're not seeing the [violent crime] that's going on on the other side." Read more:,8599,2007474,00.html#ixzz0vNkPUQIV

Reporting from Tecate, Mexico — The bedraggled immigrants were picking their way through the boulders and scrub when a group of heavily armed men descended on them just short of the California- Mexico border. They corralled them in a cave and pointed their guns on the 10 men and one woman. These lawless badlands in the hills east of Tijuana have long teemed with bandits and rapists, but these criminals demanded only phone numbers. They started calling the immigrants' loved ones in Pomona, San Diego and Bakersfield: Send us money or we'll shoot, they said. The days-long kidnapping ordeal in May illustrates a growing trend as roaming gangs of well-organized, heavily armed gunmen turn their sights on illegal immigrants, making a treacherous journey ever more dangerous for people trekking north.,0,2982537.story

Fence Frustrates Minutemen, Too. East of San Diego, Conservatives Rig Up Cameras and Sensors—and Encounter Same Snafus as the Feds.

A high-tech, low-result border fence. It's a high-tech solution to the complex problem of illegal immigration. And so far, it doesn't work. It turns out the smart fence was kind of a dumb idea after all. The virtual border wall, a network of sensors, cameras and radar meant to help the Border Patrol nab illegal crossers, has never worked as planned, and according to the Government Accountability Office, even the tests designed to evaluate it are badly flawed. After ordering a reassessment of the project two months ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that she would freeze all funding for the 2005 Bush administration initiative until the probe is complete.,0,4455401.story

Right-wing Attacks

Economists say immigration, legal or illegal, doesn't hurt American workers.

“It was a good meeting. We had a very frank discussion about a national issue,” Rohrabacher said afterward. “This community is a microcosm of the problems in the whole country.” “America can close its eyes and incrementally allow the country to be dominated by people who are here illegally,” added Rohrabacher, who is running for reelection in November and whose district includes the island. “Where you have illegal immigration, crime and drugs are sure to follow.”

Why don't we just criminalize Republicans?

What does the Republican Party stand for? Is it the party of Ronald Reagan, whose economic philosophy inspired him to sign legislation that allowed more than 3 million undocumented immigrants to legalize their status? Or is it the party of David Duke, Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan, who see the United States being invaded by Third World hordes who threaten Western civilization? That was the question asked during a teleconference of conservative leaders and evangelical pastors this week, and it's a good one.,0,7955291.story

The main piece of the law that seems to be getting overlooked by many people is that instead of handing an illegal immigrant over to the federal government, which is normal procedure, the police would be charged with arresting the person and the state would deal with him. This just seems like it is inviting trouble, as normal, ingrained federal processes are handled by inexperienced state authorities. What I am really worried about if this goes into affect is how long I am going to have to wait at the dozen or so border patrol/police checkpoints from Phoenix to San Diego. Next thing you know I’m going to have to show I.D. traveling from here to L.A. Here’s a collection of the various opinion pieces we’ve run on SB 1070 this week: Read more:

What Duncan Hunter, his kind don’t understand.


The Escondido Police Department has agreed to end its oft-criticized driver's license-only checkpoints to avoid a legal challenge from civil rights groups, Police Chief Jim Maher said this week. The checkpoints, which used to be held primarily to determine whether drivers were properly licensed, will now include other inspections, such as whether the vehicle is properly registered and whether occupants are wearing seat belts, Maher said. The checkpoints also have a new name: Rather than calling them driver's license checkpoints, they are now called traffic safety checkpoints to emphasize their broader purpose, the chief said.

ESCONDIDO: Diaz wants attorney general's opinion on checkpoints. License enforcement stops raise legal questions.

Mexico and Drug War

The Baja coast is a Mexican Malibu, a place where a blue-collar guy from L.A. can build a palace overlooking the Pacific. Only one bit of ugliness taints this accessible slice of paradise: the drug wars. "You go there and you know you're in the fire," Hernan Sosa, a 45-year-old welder from Rosemead, told me in Spanish. "You feel it. At any moment, something bad could happen.",0,3907877.column



Forbes' Rich Get Richer.

Zandi had other problems with Boehner's big speech. When asked about Boehner's claim that "all this stimulus spending has gotten us nowhere," he responded: That is just wrong. The stimulus has been very helpful. … We'd be in a measurably worse place if not for the stimulus. … I don't think it is any coincidence that the Great Recession ended at precisely the same time that the [Recovery Act] … was providing its maximum economic benefit. Instead of a national unemployment rate of 9.5 percent, he said, it would be closer to 11.5 percent.

Joining the backlash against House Majority leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) economic speech yesterday, Mark Zandi, Moody's chief economist, said Boehner was "just wrong" to call the $787 billion stimulus spending "a failure." If there was no stimulus at all, Zandi said, unemployment would be at around 11.5% rather than 9.5%. "I think if we had not had the stimulus, estimates put forward by the Congressional Budget Office are absolutely right: we'd have 2.5-3 million fewer jobs than we'd have today," he said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing this morning.

GM bailout appears to be meeting goals. GM's turnaround helps redeem the decisions by the Bush and Obama administrations to lend the carmaker nearly $50 billion to stave off liquidation.,0,1917834.story

Governments Go to Extremes as the Downturn Wears On.

IF there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt — if honestly reckoned to include municipal bonds and the $7 trillion of new deficits baked into the cake through 2015 — will soon reach $18 trillion. That’s a Greece-scale 120 percent of gross domestic product, and fairly screams out for austerity and sacrifice. It is therefore unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase. More fundamentally, Mr. McConnell’s stand puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy. Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes. This approach has not simply made a mockery of traditional party ideals. It has also led to the serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy. More specifically, the new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one.

Few here say they can comprehend the incredible amount of bailout money ($60 billion for GM and Chrysler) spent to keep the auto industry and banks afloat. Facing our own tightening budgets, it's hard to understand a six-digit bonus for executives paid for with the taxes of hard-working, cash-strapped Americans. Others fear what could have happened without auto-industry bailouts. Would it have been any worse than losing so many small businesses and seeing friends and neighbors lose their houses? We'll never know. (you'll never know?? you think it would be better if GM and Chrysler had been wiped out?? SLATR! ed)

Historical chart of savings rates: 1987 - 2005.

Obama: Detroit auto bailout was unpopular, but it worked. Obama visited Michigan Friday, responding to critics who say the government shouldn't have spent taxpayer money to rescue the Detroit auto industry.

The Unemployed, Organized Online, Look to the Midterms. Jobless Workers Look to Shift Elections.

Free means free: The FTC has sent warning letters to 18 credit-report websites for failing to inform consumers of a federal program that offers no-strings-attached free credit reports. The FTC’s Free Credit Reports Rule took effect April 2 and requires companies that sell credit-monitoring services to inform consumers of free credit reports available at and The law is intended to help consumers distinguish between the free credit reports and other programs that promote free reports but often charge fees for credit monitoring.

The Daily Beast Manifesto Reboot America.

Obama signs extension of unemployment benefits.,0,7662973.story

GET AMERICA BACK TO WORK. Fourteen million unemployed represents a gigantic waste of human capital, an irrecoverable loss of wealth and spending power, and an affront to the ideals of America. Some 6.8 million have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Members of Congress went home to celebrate July 4 having failed to extend unemployment benefits. We recognize the necessity of a program to cut the mid- and long-term federal deficit but the imperative requirement now, and the surest course to balance the budget over time, is to restore a full measure of economic activity. As in the 1930s, the economy is suffering a sharp decline in aggregate demand and loss of business confidence. Long experience shows that monetary policy may not be enough, particularly in deep slumps, as Keynes noted. The urgent need is for government to replace the lost purchasing power of the unemployed and their families and to employ other tax-cut and spending programs to boost demand. Making deficit reduction the first target, without addressing the chronic underlying deficiency of demand, is exactly the error of the 1930s. It will prolong the great recession, harm the social cohesion of the country, and continue inflicting unnecessary hardship on millions of Americans.

Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky found few friends by his side this year when he stood in his cranky way against unemployment benefits as the nation inched toward a 10% jobless rate. Even his fellow Republicans squirmed. But now, even as the Senate is poised this week to approve aid for more than 2.5 million out-of-work Americans whose benefits have run out, Bunning's insistence that aid not add to the national debt may have indelibly altered the debate. » Don't miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox. If approved, this may be the last package of jobless benefits that Congress can pass without making offsetting cuts. The reason: Lawmakers in both parties have grown squeamish about being seen as soft on deficit spending. Public outrage over Washington's rising debt runs higher now than when Bunning made his solo stand, and polls show many voters are not convinced that the unemployed should continue receiving aid if it means more debt. A Bloomberg poll last week showed public attitudes were split over extending benefits, with 47% in favor and 49% opposed. A CBS News poll showed 52% believed the aid should be extended, even if it adds to the deficit.,0,400306.story

At a conference on ideas paid for and attended by the rich and well-positioned, Ferguson argued that the high rate of unemployment is not due to the Wall Street high rollers whose funny-money games wiped out 8 million jobs but rather the extension of the government’s unemployment insurance program: “The curse of long-term unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for very long periods of time. Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.” Yes, except that the public policy that was so terribly misconceived was that of radical deregulation, launched by the Reagan Revolution and implemented by President Bill Clinton, not the pathetic palliative of unemployment checks. Notice that the attacks on Obama are not about his having followed George W. Bush’s example of throwing money at Wall Street, the cause of the meltdown and the run-up of the national debt, but rather the much smaller amount spent on ameliorating the pain that the titans of finance caused for ordinary citizens. And of course there is never a word of self-criticism on the part of folks like Ferguson, Immelt and Zuckerman for their own roles in having cheered on the radical deregulation that made this mess not only possible but inevitable. Not so Volcker, once the darling of fiscal conservatives when he tamed inflation during the Carter and Reagan years, and when as Fed chair and later as an influential observer he failed to stand publicly against the move to radical deregulation. As was reported in the Times interview, “In retrospect, Mr. Volcker regrets not challenging the widely held assumptions that underpinned much of this. `You had an intellectual conviction that you did not need much regulation—that the market could take care of itself,’ he says. `I’m happy that illusion has been shattered.’ ” Unfortunately, that illusion has not been shattered for many of the elite in this country, as evidenced by their rage against Obama’s too modest steps in the right direction.

Top Senate Republican Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) insisted on Sunday that Congress should extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans regardless of their impact on the deficit, even as he and other Republicans are blocking unemployment insurance extensions over deficit concerns. "[Y]ou should never raise taxes in order to cut taxes," said the Arizona Senator during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "Surely Congress has the authority, and it would be right to -- if we decide we want to cut taxes to spur the economy, not to have to raise taxes in order to offset those costs. You do need to offset the cost of increased spending, and that's what Republicans object to. But you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans." White House aides immediately seized on the comments. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs wrote on Twitter, "Kyl says wealthy need big Bush tax cuts while middle class families are on their own to fend for themselves as a result of Bush economy."

GOP is shocked, shocked at growth of deficit it spawned. This is a party that inherited a $230-billion annual surplus when it took control of the White House and both houses of Congress in 2000, but blew it on two wars and big tax cuts. Where were the GOP leaders now decrying the growth of deficit spending when the beneficiaries were those in higher tax brackets? President Barack Obama inherited a budget that was $400 billion in the red. Now, the GOP says it's time for belt-tightening, and that the Obama administration's efforts to jump-start the economy with government spending (which have admittedly added quite a bit to that deficit) are the problem, not part of the solution. They won't fulfill promised Medicaid payments to states. Jobless benefits won't be extended for about a million people who face being cut off in the coming months. The about-face is stark and disturbing. It reflects a party whose principles have come unmoored from any regard for the country's middle-class needs, or the pain of joblessness felt by American families. It's the policy of a party that has taken its anti-government rhetoric to a dangerous extreme. Jobless benefits, according to many economic models, are critical tools in recovery. They help prevent state budgets from being busted with demands for social services. They help keep money in people's pockets -- and, as a result, in local businesses -- while times are tight. There's a reasonable fear that jobless benefits discourage people from looking for jobs. But many economists, including the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, believe that danger is outweighed by the other drags on the economy right now. The biggest impediment to more employment these days is lack of demand for the goods workers produce. That has little to do with people's motivation to find work. Despite all those truths, though, Republicans in Washington are mouthing with full seriousness their lines about cutting deficits, shrinking bureaucracies, getting government out of people's lives. They may be trying to drown their notion of big government. But right now, they're doing more to asphyxiate the nation's middle class.

we’re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it’s possible to clear up some of the confusion. By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do — including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation’s economic pain — improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don’t pretend to be shocked: you know they’re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus. By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.” Now, I don’t have the impression that unemployed Americans are spoiled; desperate seems more like it. One doubts, however, that any amount of evidence could change Ms. Angle’s view of the world — and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people in our political class just like her.

The basic reality for America's job seekers is that currently there are five people looking for work for every job opening. The average unemployment benefit is a scant $290 per week. And, as Arthur Delaney reported on these pages in early June, there are other difficult-to-ignore facts that harpoon the notion that the unemployed are content to live off benefits: Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute pointed out that only 67 percent of the 15 million unemployed receive benefits. Even if all those people are enjoying the dole, shouldn't businesses still be able to hire some of the other five million receiving no benefits at all? Exactly. If unemployment benefits truly tamp down the motivation of job seekers, there would still be about five million people going after the jobs that Sharron Angle believes exist with a rabid intensity.

Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's and a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said Friday that Congress needs to hurry up and reauthorize expired jobless aid or risk derailing the nascent economic recovery. "The odds that the economy will slip back into the recession are still well below even," Zandi said during a conference call with reporters. "But if Congress is unable to provide this help, those odds will rise and become uncomfortably high."

The really juicy details behind the Lehman Bros. collapse. Behind-the-scenes account skips geeky economic discourse to examine the underlying history of backstabbing and greed that helped bring down the investment bank.,0,372214.story?

Map: Where Americans Are Moving.

Trade numbers were up sharply in May at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation's busiest seaport complex, officials said Friday, another sign that the economy is picking up steam. For Los Angeles, which ranks first in cargo container traffic, it was the port's second-best May ever, eclipsed only during the height of the global economic boom in 2006. The Port of Los Angeles saw imports surge 12.5% compared with the same month a year earlier. Export traffic grew more than 5%. The increases were even stronger at Long Beach, which is second only to Los Angeles in container traffic. Imports there rose nearly 27% compared with May 2009. Long Beach's exports were up more than 14%.,0,2315402.story

Arizona towns pitch in to save state parks. Donations keep Lost Dutchman, Tonto Natural Bridge and others open a bit longer amid a state budget crunch. One resident puts up $8,000.,0,3908187.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fmostviewed+%28L.A.+Times+-+Most+Viewed+Stories%29

Obama, Lehman and ‘The Dragon Tattoo’

At institutions that train students for careers in areas like health care, computers and food service, enrollments are soaring as people anxious about weak job prospects borrow aggressively to pay tuition that can exceed $30,000 a year. But the profits have come at substantial taxpayer expense while often delivering dubious benefits to students, according to academics and advocates for greater oversight of financial aid. Critics say many schools exaggerate the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty. And the schools are harvesting growing federal student aid dollars, including Pell grants awarded to low-income students.

Trade numbers climb sharply at Southland ports. The growth in February lends strength to the arguments of some experts who believe that a stronger-than-anticipated recovery may be underway.,0,5050733.story

Schwarzenegger Rips Romney, GOP For Stimulus Hypocrisy.

The Denver Post reports that “more than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark; the city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops; water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead ... recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools [and] museums will close for good; buses no longer run on evenings and weekends; [and] the city won’t pay for any street paving.” Meanwhile, even with the Colorado Springs Gazette uncovering tent ghettos of newly homeless residents, the city’s social services are being reduced—all as fat cats aim to punish what remains of a middle class. As just one example, rather than initiating a tax discussion, the CEO of The Springs’ most lavish luxury hotel is pushing city leaders to cut public employee salaries to the $24,000-a-year level he pays his own workforce—a level approaching Colorado’s official poverty line for a family of four. This is what Reaganites have always meant when they’ve talked of a “shining city on a hill.” They envision a dystopia whose anti-tax fires incinerate social fabric faster than James Dobson can say “family values”—a place like Colorado Springs that is starting to reek of economic death.

Arizona decides to close most state parks. Facing a multibillion-dollar shortfall, the state will shut 13 parks by June, including the Tombstone Courthouse and Yuma Territorial Prison. Several had already been closed.,0,319764.story

What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.

America's can't-do list. The list of what works in other countries, but no longer does in the U.S., is growing.,0,7458460.story?page=1

Federal Budget

Playing Politics with Deficits and Debt. Charts.

Can a nation remain a superpower if its internal politics are incorrigibly stupid? Start with taxes. In every other serious democracy, conservative political parties feel at least some obligation to match their tax policies with their spending plans. David Cameron, the new Conservative prime minister in Britain, is a leading example. He recently offered a rather brutal budget that includes severe cutbacks. I have doubts about some of them, but at least Cameron cared enough about reducing his country’s deficit that alongside the cuts, he also proposed an increase in the value-added tax from 17.5 percent to 20 percent. Imagine: a fiscal conservative who really is a fiscal conservative. That could never happen here because the fairy tale of supply-side economics insists that taxes are always too high, especially on the rich.

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said that the push by congressional Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts without offsetting the costs elsewhere could end up being "disastrous" for the economy. In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Greenspan expressed his disagreement with the conservative argument that tax cuts essentially pay for themselves by generating revenue and productivity among recipients. "They do not," said Greenspan.

IF there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt — if honestly reckoned to include municipal bonds and the $7 trillion of new deficits baked into the cake through 2015 — will soon reach $18 trillion. That’s a Greece-scale 120 percent of gross domestic product, and fairly screams out for austerity and sacrifice. It is therefore unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase. More fundamentally, Mr. McConnell’s stand puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy. Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.

Runaway Defense Spending Not Winning Any Wars.

pie chart


Farm work should be an honored, palatable job for Americans. If the very thought of working in the fields didn't make so many Americans laugh, we'd all be better off.Though Freedman was not totally organic, a wide variety of chemicals were banned under the union contract, and other chemicals were carefully regulated — a tremendous benefit for workers and consumers. By 1981, the contract provided about double minimum wage, at which point we were probably the best-compensated grape pickers in the world. We had paid holidays, and for high-seniority workers, two weeks' paid vacation; disability and unemployment insurance; family medical insurance (with 60 hours of work or more in a month); even a modest pension plan. The Coachella Valley had a UFW medical clinic for the workers and their families, and a legal aid center to help with taxes, Social Security and other issues. Sadly, only one UFW contract remains in the Coachella Valley, and wages and benefits are not as generous as they were 25 years ago. Today, without a union contract, farmworkers are lucky to get minimum wage, with no benefits, no insurance, no enforcement of labor laws that protect other American workers. Agriculture is ranked among the three most hazardous occupations in the nation. Well-fed politicians heap scorn on undocumented workers, including much of today's farm labor force, and de-fund the most minimal programs that might help them. Calls for arresting and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants are not a solution for a broken system. It's just "biting the hand that feeds.",0,7614896.story

Schwarzenegger again orders cut in state workers' pay.

Proposing a budget that would eliminate the state's welfare-to-work program and most child care for the poor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday outlined a stark vision of a California that would sharply limit aid to some of its poorest and neediest citizens. His $83.4-billion plan would also freeze funding for local schools, further cut state workers' pay and take away 60% of state money for local mental health programs. State parks and higher education are among the few areas the governor's proposal would spare. The proposal, which would not raise taxes, also relies on $3.4 billion in help from Washington — roughly half of what the governor sought earlier this year — to help close a budget gap now estimated at $19.1 billion. Billions more would be saved through accounting moves and fund shifts.,0,877220.story

State programs that help California's neediest residents would be significantly cut or outright eliminated under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's updated spending plan announced Friday. Schwarzenegger proposed ending the entire state welfare program along with most state-subsidized child care, cutting mental health services by 60 percent and considerably slashing in-home care services for elderly, sick and disabled people. Those cuts, along with others, would save the state an estimated $12 billion in the year starting July 1. "California no longer has low-hanging fruits, we don't have any medium-hanging fruits and we also don't have any high-hanging fruits," Schwarzenegger said. "We have to take the ladder from the tree and shake the whole tree." But the Republican governor refused to suspend the implementation of corporate tax breaks that will cost the state $2.1 billion. Read more:

Cost to California of tax breaks for green-tech equipment questioned. Schwarzenegger and legislators say the state won't lose a cent because the credits will lure firms and create jobs. But economists and other experts say the claim is misleading.,0,4624330.story

Federal stimulus program pours $54 million into Wine Train project. Suulutaaq is one of dozens of Alaska Native corporations that have emerged as players in federal contracting via measures crafted in the 1980s and 1990s by former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, a powerful lawmaker whose career ended with a contracting scandal. For decades, the U.S. Small Business Administration has run a preferential contracting program to aid disadvantaged businesses. Qualifying firms can get federal contracts worth up to $5.5 million by negotiation, rather than competitive bidding. The Stevens measures gave corporations that were set up by Alaska Natives special access to the program – with no cap on the size of contracts they can obtain. The share of federal contracts going toward Alaska Native corporations has grown rapidly. It was $508 million in 2000 and $5.2 billion in 2008, records show. Advocates say the program has provided crucial economic development for impoverished Alaskan tribes. It’s a way of redressing centuries of grievous wrongs against them, they say. But critics have complained that the no-bid contracts provide relatively few jobs and little investment income to the tribes while costing taxpayers a fortune. “Alaska Native corporations don’t have to prove that they’re socially or economically disadvantaged,” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said at a 2009 hearing. “They don’t have to be small businesses. And they can receive no-bid contracts worth billions of dollars.” The companies employ few Alaska natives and “rely heavily on non-native managers,” McCaskill claimed. Thus the firms create relatively few jobs for the people they are supposed to benefit, she argued.

Rio Tinto, a London-based mining giant with operations on five continents, has been negotiating with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 30 for the last five months. The company says it has lost 25% of its global borax share and needs to make changes to stay competitive. The union is resisting proposed changes in the seniority system it believes would open the door to nepotism and cronyism and ultimately to breaking the union. “They are locking out workers and telling the families they are going to take food off the table and threaten their jobs unless people agree to roll over and surrender their rights to the corporation,” said union spokesman Craig Merrilees. “To their credit, people are standing up and saying, 'Enough is enough. You may be big, you may operations all over the world, but the line is being drawn here in Boron and you will have a fight if you want to destroy our jobs, our lives and our communities.'”

Scams target job seekers. The e-mail said it came from CareerBuilder and offered a job opportunity as a "trading assistant," which it described as an easy part-time job with "considerable" compensation. There's just one hitch: It was not an e-mail from, the No. 1 online job website partly owned by Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, and it was not a job. It was part of a cynical scam that's becoming widespread in the waning days of the recession. This scam is just part of an evolving cacophony of employment frauds that prey on the millions of Americans who are out of work. In the early days of the recession, con artists capitalized on the rising unemployment rate by launching schemes that promised jobs but required consumers to pay for "equipment" or "training" before they could start work, said Alison Southwick, a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau in Washington. You paid the fees and got the equipment or training, but the work never seemed to materialize.,0,7604349.column

Cutting deeper into the same battered programs. The governor's proposed cuts sound familiar: healthcare, in-home services, transportation, college grants. Some say reducing or eliminating those programs will only shift the burden elsewhere.,0,3855161.story

by all basic measures the state is in much worse shape than we were before Arnold Schwarzenegger took office.

San Diego

Young And Middle-Income Californians Hit Hardest in Recession.

San Diego County turned down federal stimulus money to create jobs for out-of-work, low-income residents this year, one of a small number of California counties to do so. Under a program lionized by both conservatives and liberals for its successes around the country, the federal government subsidizes local employers, paying all or some of the wages for welfare recipients placed in jobs. The states and counties set up and run the program. In California, 47 of the 58 counties receive funds for the program. Statewide, the program has created about 20,000 temporarily subsidized jobs. Los Angeles has been awarded $62 million in federal funds. Santa Clara, $9 million. Fresno, $4.3 million. San Diego, $0. The county was the biggest county that didn't take advantage of the funds. "I was shocked to learn that San Diego did not apply," said Laura Chick, who as inspector general oversees federal stimulus money in California. "It's incomprehensible to me that that a large county hit by the recession, with such a problem with foreclosure rates and such high unemployment wouldn't avail itself of a program that helps people get off welfare rolls and helps businesses by paying employer salaries," Chick said. County spokeswoman Lesley Kirk said in a written statement that the county's Health and Human Services Agency did not pursue the funding "due to timing and risk." The agency did not present the program to the Board of Supervisors before making that decision. But in rejecting the federal funding, the county refused a temporary boost to the local economy and a reprieve for its swelling welfare rolls and 10 percent unemployment rate. The county turned down the chance for a shot in the arm to its overburdened welfare program.

Road Building

Accountancy has a reputation for dullness but its history is the history of civilisation itself, from the evolution of government and taxation to trade and capitalism. It has also provided a paper trail through some of the darker periods of human history.

Highway will bring Nepal and Tibet 'in from the cold'. The Himalayan mountains on the Nepal-China border are some of the most remote and inaccessible in the world. But deep in the valleys next to the green, flowing waters of the Kyirong River, Chinese construction workers are blasting through the jagged landscape to turn an ancient trading track into a modern road. This small stretch of road - just 17km (10.5 miles) long - from the border to the Nepalese town of Syabrubesi is costing the Beijing government almost $20m. But it's an important investment because this mountain pass not only connects Tibet to Nepal - it's also the most direct land route to India's capital, Delhi.

Small Businesses

Billy the Printer soon grew into three locations and is still in operation today, owned by one of Bill’s first employees. In the past twenty-five years Bill has also owned and operated several fitness clubs, an outdoor advertising company, a corporate aircraft brokerage business, a travel agency, a professional hockey team, and several other commercial properties and developments.