Saturday, May 20, 2006

Post-post-post-traumatic stress deaths
Number of Deaths From Katrina Rises

May 20, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Louisiana raised its Hurricane Katrina death toll by 281 Friday to 1,577 after including more out-of-state evacuees whose deaths were deemed related to the storm or its grueling aftermath.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals decided that if residents' deaths were hastened by the stress and trauma associated with relocating - or even an accidental injury during travel - those deaths should be counted in the toll.

"Katrina was a tragedy like no other, and the human toll of the tragedy extends further than our traditional definition of a storm-related death," said Dr. Louis Cataldie, medical incident commander for Louisiana…

"Admittedly it is arbitrary, but (Cataldie's) belief was if someone already has an illness, is sick and institutionalized, the trauma involved in being relocated could hasten somebody's death," health department spokesman Bob Johannessen said.

If someone died in an auto accident while relocating, that too would be counted as Katrina-related. But if the accident occurred after new residence had been taken up, it would not be counted, Johannessen said...
Using Dr. Cataldie’s ‘logic’ shouldn’t his count include these 12 deaths as well?
Murders soar in wake of Katrina refugees

...The murder rate in the Texan city leapt by 24 per cent last year, with the toll for November and December up by 70 per cent on the same period in 2004.

There were 324 murders in Houston in 2005, compared with 263 in 2004. Of the 2005 tally, 51 occurred in November and December - up 21 on the same period of 2004.

The police department has not monitored precisely how many can be attributed to those evacuated after Hurricane Katrina, but says that at least 12 homicides in the past four months have involved evacuees either as victims or perpetrators...

Air Marshals: Now that ‘Queeg’ is gone can we have the F.A.M.S. tattoos removed from our foreheads?
Probe finds air marshals at risk

A two-year investigation found that Federal Air Marshal Service policies undermine marshals' anonymity, and it indicates terror groups have done reconnaissance of in-flight security, says a congressional report obtained by The Washington Times.

The House Judiciary Committee report says a dress code endangers marshals by "potentially compromising [their] anonymity," as does allowing them to check in and board in front of passengers.

It also said a policy requiring marshals to identify themselves to hotel clerks should be scrapped.

"Any policy or procedure that potentially compromises the identity of a federal air marshal is a policy or procedure that compromises commercial aviation and national security," said the report, which has yet to be released.

FAMS spokesman Dave Adams declined comment on the report, titled "Lack of Anonymity at the Federal Air Marshal Service Compromises Aviation and National Security."…

[Thomas Quinn, FAMS director until his resignation in February’] told investigators that only a small percentage of "disgruntled amateurs who bring down the organization" opposed a dress code, hotel policy or boarding procedures.

Mr. Quinn became so obsessive with dress code enforcement agents nicknamed him "Commander Queeg" after the character played by Humphrey Bogart in "The Caine Mutiny," who becomes so obsessed over a missing quart of strawberries that his men think he is mentally unstable.

"The Washington Times reported in December of 2004 that Director Quinn was personally agitated when he visited Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Thanksgiving Day 2004, because only one federal air marshal was wearing the required jacket. The committee questions the importance of wearing a suit jacket on Thanksgiving Day as an effective strategy for ensuring federal air marshals blend in with fellow passengers," the report said.

"Director Quinn acted to follow up this incident by assigning supervisors to airports to perform dress inspections of federal air marshals as they enter or leave an airplane. The committee is concerned that this effort may not use the finite FAMS resources in the most efficient manner possible," the report said…

MA Supremes: There’ll be no personal responsibility in our state, Mister!
SJC says tobacco firms can't blame smokers as defense

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that cigarette makers cannot defend against personal-injury lawsuits by arguing that smokers should know the health risks of cigarettes and thus are responsible for harming themselves.

Cigarettes, the court said, are so dangerous that they cannot be used safely by anyone.

The ruling, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation by a top state court, said Philip Morris Inc. cannot shield itself from a lawsuit by the widow of a Douglas man who died of lung cancer by arguing that he knew cigarettes were harmful and thus had used the product unreasonably. Tobacco companies have successfully used that defense in wrongful death suits across the country.

''Because no cigarette can be safely used for its ordinary purpose, smoking, there can be no nonunreasonable [sic] use of cigarettes," Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall wrote for the court...

No nonunreasonable use! Doesn’t it just give you goose bumps when a learned judge’s reasoning imparts clear and unassailable legal precedent for the ages.

In reading Chief Justice Marshall’s bio, I was struck by the fact that she may be the nation’s highest ranking white African-American.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Beating a dead Hoffa
Source of new Hoffa lead passed lie detector
FBI searches Michigan farm after ailing inmate recalls suspicious gathering

MILFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The informant who is spurring the search for Jimmy Hoffa’s remains is an ailing prison inmate who recently passed a polygraph exam in the probe, says a government investigator who is familiar with the FBI operation in Michigan.

The informant, Donovan Wells, 75, remembers “suspicious activity” on what is now called Hidden Dreams Farm in Milford Township, Mich., at the time Hoffa disappeared, the investigator said Friday.

The investigator spoke on condition of anonymity because some of the information he was relating comes from records that have been ordered sealed by a federal judge. Among them is an FBI affidavit detailing the basis for the search warrant used to dig up the ground on the horse farm…
Let’s spend taxpayer money and divert FBI resources to see if we can find the 30-year-old remains of a corrupt union boss who was very likely whacked by one or more Mafia sociopaths.

Seems reasonable to me.

Minority Leader Reid’s dilemma: A racist amendment from a non-racist ‘buddy’

As I understand what can loosely be called Senator Reid’s ‘train of thought’: A amendment to the immigration bill now before the Senate that designates English as the national language of the United States is so disparaging of people whose first language is not English, particularly those who speak Spanish, that it is, in fact, racist. However, the United States Senator (James Inhofe, R-OK) who introduced the amendment is not a racist because Reid has “affection for my friend from Oklahoma.” (Hat tip: exposetheleft.com has the video)

I’m not a psychiatrist, but after watching the video it is my personal opinion that Reid’s BDD (blithering dimwitted demagoguery syndrome) has finally gotten the best of him.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ted Kennedy proves yet again that he is a demagogue counting on a clueless constituency
Senate blocks effort to limit benefits to immigrants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate blocked an effort on Thursday to limit Social Security benefits for illegal immigrants who would become permanent residents under a sweeping immigration overhaul being debated by lawmakers.

The Senate immigration bill would give millions of the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country a path to citizenship as long as they pay a fine and back taxes and meet such requirements as learning English…

The Senate also killed an amendment offered by Sen. John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, that would have prevented immigrants who legalize their status from getting Social Security credit for work while they were illegal.

"Social Security was not intended for people who entered our country illegally," Ensign said.

Opponents argued that the program collects millions of dollars every year from illegal workers and it would be unfair to deny them credit for those payments.

"Their money sits in the Social Security Administration waiting to be matched with an eligible beneficiary, and once those workers establish the eligibility, how in all fairness can we deny them the credit for their past contributions? " asked Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat…
Interesting concept, Senator Kennedy, given the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria for issuing a valid Social Security number to which all payroll contributions are matched and credited:
Proof of citizenship and identity

To get a Social Security number or a replacement card, you must prove your U.S. citizenship or immigration status, age and identity. For a replacement card, proof of your U.S. citizenship and age are not required if they are already in our records. Under the new law, only certain documents can be accepted as proof of U.S. citizenship. These include your U.S. birth certificate, a U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or a Certificate of Citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, different rules apply for proving your immigration status, and those rules have not changed.

Also under the new law, only certain documents can be accepted as proof of identity. An acceptable document must show your name, identifying information about you and preferably a recent photograph.

If you are a U.S. citizen, Social Security must see your:
  • U.S. driver’s license;
  • State-issued nondriver identity card; or
  • U.S. passport.
If you do not have these specific documents or cannot get a replacement for them within 10 days, we will ask to see other documents, including:
  • Employee ID card;
  • School ID card;
  • Health insurance card (not a Medicare card);
  • U.S. military ID card; or
  • Adoption decree.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, Social Security must see your current U.S. immigration documents. Acceptable documents from the Department of Homeland Security include your:
  • Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport);
  • I-94 with your unexpired foreign passport; or
  • Work permit card (I-766 or I-688B).

And guess what. You know what those ‘undocumented workers’, who broke the law to enter the country, do when an employer wants a social security number? They buy forged Social Security cards to provide a bogus (or stolen) Social Security number to the employer. Which of course is the commission of at least three more crimes, all felonies. And, lately, how many employer W-2 reports with bogus Social Security numbers and/or names has SSA been getting each year? More than 9 million. Does that number ring a bell?

Yes, Senator Kennedy, these people are the salt of the earth and deserve citizenship, not to mention each and every government benefit you want to shower upon them.

Minority Leader Reid scuttles Senate votes so he won’t miss Gore’s “death of our planet” movie debut
Gore Debuts Global Warming Film

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Vice President Al Gore debuted his global-warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," Wednesday night to a Washington audience that included members of Congress and Queen Noor of Jordan.

When he found out when the Washington screening was scheduled, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he told Gore, "I'll make sure we're not going to have any votes tonight so we can come see your movie." Reid said the Bush administration has made a number of mistakes but that "nothing is comparable to his ignoring the death of our planet."

The Washington premiere at the National Geographic Society was held a day after Sharon Stone, David Duchovny and celebrities turned up at the film's Los Angeles screening... [Ed. – The article includes a photo of metrosexual Al giving his Hollywood producer a squeeze]

Will there be a chapter on individual intern activism?

I mean if your talking about lifting and touching, that only makes sense, right?
Bill Clinton to Write Book on Public Service

NEW YORK (AP) -- After writing an autobiography that sold millions of copies and earned him a hefty advance, former President Clinton has struck a deal to write another book.

Alfred A. Knopf will publish the new work, in which Clinton will focus on public service and individual citizen activism, telling a story that he hopes will "lift spirits" and "touch hearts," the former president said in a statement Wednesday...

Rockets, but no scientists

In Palestinian Security Deploys in Force, a report on the escalating tension between Fatah Party thugs and Hamas thugs in the Gaza Strip, Associated Press ‘writer’ Ibrahim Barzak throws this into the mix:
Also Thursday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward Israel, with one landing near an army base, the military said. No injuries or damages were reported. Palestinian militants frequently fire the rockets, but they rarely cause casualties.
It’s unclear whether Barzak is confirming that Palestinians in general and their militants in particular are without doubt the dimmest bulbs in the Middle East, or that the Israelis (who unfailingly respond with force to each such rocket attack) are overreacting to having high explosives being indiscriminately rained down upon them.

The article also offers other insights into the acute reasoning of Joe Palestinian:
The shirtless policemen ran through the streets and conducted drills near Hamas patrols. The policemen were unarmed, but were followed by commanders in jeeps, their weapons raised in the air.

Gen. Suleiman Hilles, commander of Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and Gaza, said the forces were deployed to send a message that "the Palestinian police is the only side that can maintain law and order."

However, the lines were not clearly drawn, since some of the police officers also back Hamas. Several hundred police officers met Thursday with Haniyeh and professed their loyalty to the government. Haniyeh told the officers that the new unit of militants was formed legally and would work alongside the security forces.

Ahmed Shaaban, 32, a captain in the Palestinian police, disagreed.

"We don't want to see this militia in the streets," he told a reporter. "I don't want my children to grow up in a country protected by militias."

Taxi driver Musleh Abu Aita, 38, said the Hamas gunmen should stick to attacking Israel and not get involved in crime-fighting.

"I am not going to obey them, not because I don't like them, but because this is not their business," he said…

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

No sh*t, really?
Report: Arafat used aid money for weapons

GAZA, May. 17 (UPI) — A former aide to late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat says international aid money was used to purchase weapons and ammunition.

The information came from the Israeli interrogation of Fuad Shubaki, a Palestinian official who was arrested two months ago in Jericho, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

Shubaki, who served as the finance chief in the Palestinian security forces, said Iran was one of the most generous donors, offering in 2000 to assist the Palestinians by training fighters, providing weapons and weapon-producing know-how and funding the establishment of weapon factories.

One of the largest weapons deals struck between Iran and the Palestinians was the import of 50 tons of armaments on board the ship Karine A., Shubaki told the newspaper.

In addition to the light weaponry used by the Palestinians at the time, the ship also delivered guided anti-tank missiles used by Hezbollah against Israeli armor in Lebanon, anti-tank missiles, long-range mortars, and mines, the report said.

Geez, the next thing you’ll be telling me is that Arafat was a thug who embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars while orchestrating terrorists attack in Israel.

Jimmah Carter and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee could not be reached for comment.

The gods speak

For God hates utterly
The bray of bragging tongues.
Sophocles, Antigone

IAAF Takes Away Gatlin's 100-Meter Record

MONTE CARLO, Monaco (AP) -- Justin Gatlin equaled but did not break the 100-meter world record at the Qatar Grand Prix last week, the sport's governing body said Wednesday.

The International Association of Athletics Federations said a timing error in Doha gave Gatlin a time of 9.76 seconds, which was one-hundredth of a second below Asafa Powell's world mark of 9.77.

The IAAF said Gatlin's time was actually 9.766 seconds, and that should have been manually rounded up to 9.77.

The time has been adjusted to 9.77 and, pending ratification, will equal the record set by Powell on June 14, 2005, in Athens, Greece, the IAAF said.

The IAAF said it acted after being informed of the error by Tissot Timing…

Life imitating a dumb joke

An out-of-state SUV, traveling at the speed limit on a rural interstate, hits a bull elk. The impact with the 1000 pound animal immediately pops out the SUV’s windshield and the driver, who was not wearing his seat belt, is launched out over the steering wheel on an arc that deposits him in a deep pond about 20 yards off the highway. Miraculously, the soaked driver is unhurt, save a few minor cuts and bruises. The elk, however, is dead. A young sheriff’s deputy, out on patrol, comes upon the accident almost immediately. The deputy, who doesn’t much like people who “aren’t from around these parts” surveys the scene and writes two citations: one for leaving the scene of an accident and the other for hunting without a license.
Woman Shoots Gator That Attacks Her Dog

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- A woman has shot an alligator that came into her home and attacked her dog.

The alligator was only 3 feet long, but Candy Frey wasn't taking any chances. When the reptile came into the lanai of her home east of Bradenton Saturday and attacked her golden retriever, Frey went and got her gun.

After Frey and her daughter managed to push the gator out of the lanai through the dog door, she blasted away at it four times.

"I was running on so much adrenaline," the 48-year-old former U.S. Marine aviation technician told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "I just freaked out and shot him - boom, boom, boom, boom."

A neighbor called deputies and the state sent a wildlife officer to investigate.

The alligator barely bled from gunshots to the neck and shoulder, Frey said, and wildlife officer put it back in the lake.

The deputy gave Frey a warning citation for hunting without a license.

Alligators have been blamed for three fatal attacks in the span of a week in other parts of Florida.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mexico to USA: If you start aggressively re-establishing your sovereignty, we’ll sue!!
Just who the hell do you gringos think you are, anyway?
Mexico threatens lawsuits over Guard

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) -- Mexico warned Tuesday it would file lawsuits in U.S. courts if National Guard troops detain migrants on the border and some officials said they fear the crackdown will force illegal crossers into more perilous areas to avoid detection.

President Bush announced Monday that he will send 6,000 National Guard troops to the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border, but said the troops will provide intelligence and surveillance support to U.S. Border Patrol agents and will not catch and detain illegal immigrants.

"If there is a real wave of rights abuses, if we see the National Guard starting to directly participate in detaining people ... we would immediately start filing lawsuits through our consulates," Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said in an interview with a Mexico City radio station…
If ever anyone doubted the utter contempt the Mexican government has for the United States, its laws, and its citizens, this story should put those delusions to rest.

Sure, we’ll be happy to supply that information.
Would you also like the names and addresses of our confidential informants and undercover agents?

ACLU Asks FBI for Details on Surveillance

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union are asking the FBI to reveal any surveillance of Muslims in Southern California since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU filed the request for documents Monday on behalf of six Islamic organizations and several individual Muslims.

Islamic leaders said the FBI gave them little information when they alleged that investigators had been monitoring local Muslims and mosques.

Shakeel Syed, head of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, said many area Muslims have reported being questioned by the FBI about sermons delivered in local mosques.

The government has 20 days to respond to the ACLU's request under the Freedom of Information Act. In an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times, FBI officials said they would address the request but did not say if they would turn over documents.

"The FBI does not investigate anyone based on their lawful activities, religious or political beliefs," said J. Stephen Tidwell, Assistant Director of the FBI's Los Angeles office…

Perhaps he can ‘survive’ on guile in prison as well
‘Survivor' Gets 51 Months in Tax Case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Richard Hatch, who won $1 million in the debut season of "Survivor," has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for failing to pay taxes on his reality TV prize and other income.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres said he believed Hatch had repeatedly committed perjury on the witness stand during his trial in January.

"There's no nice way to say it: Mr. Hatch lied," Torres said, later adding that Hatch took a serious offense and made it worse by offering deliberately false testimony.

When Hatch was convicted, Torres said he expected to sentence him to 33 months to 41 months. Instead, he gave him 51 months.

In addition to the "Survivor" prize, Hatch, 45, of Newport, was convicted of evading taxes on $327,000 he earned as co-host of a Boston radio show and $28,000 in rent on property he owned. The charges carried a maximum of 13 years in prison.

"What it looks like to me is he still doesn't get it - and maybe someday he will," U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente told reporters outside court…

At times, Hatch seemed to handle his criminal case like an extended reality TV competition. He abruptly walked away from a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded his innocence to Katie Couric on the "Today" show…

You can only sweep so much under the rug before you start tripping over the bump
Colorado Professor Cited for Misconduct

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- An investigation of a professor who likened some of the Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi found serious cases of misconduct in his academic research, including plagiarism and fabrications, a University of Colorado spokesman said Tuesday.

One member of the five-person investigative committee recommended that ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill be fired, and four recommended he be suspended, university spokesman Barrie Hartman said.

Churchill, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, declined immediate comment Tuesday.

The professor touched off a firestorm with an essay relating the 2001 terrorist attacks to U.S. abuses abroad. The essay referred to some World Trade Center victims as "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who carried out Adolf Hitler's plan to exterminate European Jews during World War II.

University officials had earlier determined Churchill could not be fired for his comments about the terrorist attacks, but they launched an inquiry into allegations about his research.

The committee's 125-page report said Churchill falsified, fabricated and plagiarized some of his research, did not always comply with standards for listing other authors' names and failed to follow accepted practice for reporting results.

The decision on his future at the university will be made by school officials later this year. Churchill has said if he is fired, he will sue…

Mfume: Cardin is the wrong color
Mfume decries lack of party support

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume said yesterday that Democrats risk losing the senatorial election because "old-line party bosses" are undermining his campaign and alienating black voters.

Mr. Mfume also would not say whether he would endorse Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the front-runner for the Democratic Senate nomination, if he should lose to the lawmaker in the September primary.

"I can say that there will be people who will feel disaffected [if I am not the nominee]," Mr. Mfume told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

"I've tried to resist the hypothetical question [about endorsing Mr. Cardin]," he said. "I have to stay in this mode that I'm going to win, but the day after the election, I'm sure I'll have an answer."

Mr. Mfume is vying for the nomination to replace Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Democrat who is retiring. Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the first black to win statewide office in Maryland, is running for the seat as a Republican.

Calling Mr. Steele a "friend," Mr. Mfume said he shares similar goals and ideas with the Republican official as well as Mr. Cardin...
Race is a major factor in Maryland politics because the state has a large black population that is growing as a percent of the state’s population and a cadre of black ‘leaders’ who have the race card stapled to their foreheads.

2000 numberMD%U.S.
White 3,391,30864.075.1%
Black or African American1,477,41127.912.3%

2004 numberMD%U.S.
White 3,430,76063.375.6%
Black or African American1,544,75928.512.2%

I’ve previously commented on the undercurrent of racial animus in Maryland politics here, here, and here.

Hagel & Martinez: You do the math because, obviously, we can’t
Bill permits 193 million more aliens by 2026

The Senate immigration reform bill would allow for up to 193 million new legal immigrants -- a number greater than 60 percent of the current U.S. population -- in the next 20 years, according to a study released yesterday.

"The magnitude of changes that are entailed in this bill -- and are largely unknown -- rival the impact of the creation of Social Security or the creation of the Medicare program," said Robert Rector, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation who conducted the study.

Although the legislation would permit 193 million new immigrants in the next two decades, Mr. Rector estimated that it is more likely that about 103 million new immigrants actually would arrive in the next 20 years.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican who conducted a separate analysis that reached similar results, said Congress is "blissfully ignorant of the scope and impact" of the bill, which has bipartisan support in the Senate and has been praised by President Bush.

"This Senate is not ready to pass legislation that so significantly changes our future immigration policy," he said yesterday. "The impact this bill will have over the next 20 years is monumental and has not been thought through."

The 614-page "compromise" bill -- hastily cobbled together last month by Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Mel Martinez of Florida -- would give illegal aliens who have been in the U.S. two years or longer a right to citizenship. Illegals who have been here less than two years would have to return to their home countries to apply for citizenship...
Think about that for a minute. The longer an illegal has been here, defrauding taxpayer funded social services and undercutting the American wage structure, the better his chances of becoming a citizen. That’s exactly what this country needs, citizens with a history of calculated lawlessness; an ethos no doubt imbued in their children. And which of the forged documents in the possession of the ‘undocumented worker’ will be acceptable proof of date-of-illegal-entry for the rocket scientists at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)? Several advocates of the sufficiently-ripened-illegal-alien theory of citizenship promote the idea that ICE can rely on the date of utility bills paid in the past. So are we to believe that “people living in the shadows” have filed away their utility bills from two or more years ago? Will it become the responsibility of America’s utility companies to vouch for an alien’s illegal-entry-date? Perhaps Congress should immediately enact a law that mandates that all utility companies henceforth retain all their available billing data for an indeterminate period of time, until the government can sort the situation out.

Ah, but there is yet another document, with a date and time stamp no less, which establishes an illegal alien’s time in ‘the shadows’: the birth certificate(s) of the children of illegal(s) born in the United States. Of course there is no way of knowing if the name of the parent(s) on the certificate are legitimate as there is also no telling what, if any, genuine documentation was provided to the government records division that issued the birth certificate.

Back to the article…
Although that "amnesty" would be granted to about 10 million illegals, the real growth in the immigrant population would come later.

As part of the bill, the annual flow of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. would more than double to more than 2 million annually. In addition, the guest-worker program in the bill would bring in 325,000 new workers annually who could later apply for citizenship.

That population would grow exponentially from there because the millions of new citizens would be permitted to bring along their extended families. Also, Mr. Sessions said, the bill includes "escalating caps," which would raise the number of immigrants allowed in as more people seek to enter the U.S.

"The impact of this increase in legal immigration dwarfs the magnitude of the amnesty provisions," said Mr. Rector, who has followed Congress for 25 years. He called the bill "the most dramatic piece of legislation in my experience."

Mr. Rector based his numerical projection on the number of family members that past immigrants have sponsored.

Immigration into the U.S. would become an "entitlement," Mr. Sessions said. "The decision as to who may come will almost totally be controlled by the desire of the individuals who wish to immigrate to the United States rather than by the United States government."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ay, there’s the rub
Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation. [Ed. – Imagine that, the government is actively investigating who is illegally passing classified information to whom; a situation where the passer and the passee are both criminals]

One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.

People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.

Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers...

Interestingly, Brian Ross fails to mention that the Bush Administration guidelines are actually a reigning-in of Clinton Administration policy.
The current controversy follows a Times report that, since 9/11, U.S. intelligence agencies are eavesdropping at any time on up to 500 people in the U.S. suspected of conducting international communications with terrorists. Under Echelon, the Clinton administration was spying on just about everyone.
“The US National Security Agency (NSA) has created a global spy system, codename ECHELON, which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world,”
Basically for Brian and Richard it came down to some good news and some bad news:

Good
The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.
Bad
A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

Where is extreme turbulence when you need it?
DMX Arrested After Flight Disturbance

LONDON (AP) -- Police arrested rap star DMX after he refused to put on a seat belt and became abusive on a flight from New York to London, authorities said Monday.

The rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, received a caution and was released after his American Airlines flight landed at Heathrow Airport on Saturday, police said on condition of anonymity in line with departmental policy.

A caution means a person has accepted responsibility for the offense, and a record will be made.

The artist has had brushes with the authorities in the past.

He completed a 70-day sentence late last year at New York's Rikers Island after pleading guilty to violating his parole following a 2004 incident in which he crashed his vehicle through an airport security gate…

Upon further review

Hypothetically speaking: Suppose there is a person who has just finished leading a prestigious college, one steeped in tradition with a long history of attracting the nation's best and brightest to its hallowed halls. How much would you have to pay this person to spend his later years managing a university where half the incoming freshmen class requires remedial courses in English and math?

More than $400,000, it would seem.
PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH: General does about-face
West Point superintendent says no to UNLV position

The three-star general has decided he doesn't want to take command of UNLV after all.

The UNLV presidential search committee's six regents unanimously recommended Lt. Gen. Bill Lennox last week, and he was set to be appointed Wednesday as the new president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but Lennox withdrew from consideration on Saturday.

Reached at his New York home Sunday night, Lennox issued a statement but refused to answer questions.

"I'm withdrawing my name from consideration of the presidency of UNLV, and I'm doing this for personal reasons. The community and all at the university have been superb. I view UNLV as a great university on the rise, and wish them the best of luck," said Lennox, who is superintendent at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The six regents on the UNLV presidential search committee selected Lennox as the best of three finalists. Lennox was not the choice of the UNLV faculty senate or an advisory committee of faculty, administrators and donors, however... [Ed. - Hey, who wants to work for a boss who expects results?]

Lawmakers talk about college remedial courses
Reasons for funding UNLV, UNR programs discussed

March 03, 2005

CARSON CITY -- The state will stop paying for remedial courses at universities by the 2006 school year, so legislators on Wednesday wanted to know why the schools want to keep the funding for the classes.

About 40 percent of recent Nevada high school graduates entering the University and Community College of Nevada needed remedial education in summer and fall 2004, according to a recent system report.

About 920 of the 2,024 entering freshman at UNLV and 114 of the 372 entering freshman at UNR weren't ready to go straight into college-level math or English classes or both…

Why not just turn the evidence over to federal prosecutors?

Ah, but this is New York City in New York State; the land where “So, sue me” or “I’m suing” are often a toddler’s first words.
NYC Sues 15 Out-Of-State Gun Shops

NEW YORK (AP) -- The city is suing 15 out-of-state gun shops it says supply a significant portion of the guns that flow into New York, including some that end up in the hands of criminals.

The lawsuit being filed Monday asks the federal court to order supervision and extra training for the dealers in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. It also seeks some damages and compensation. [Ed. – Surprise, surprise, surprise]

"By and large, most gun dealers respect and follow the law, but the small group of dealers that do not should be held accountable," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

The city's law department singled out the 15 gun shops after hiring private investigators who fanned out to dealers in the five states over the past several weeks.

Wearing hidden cameras, the investigators entered stores in teams of two and attempted "straw purchases," in which the buyer completes the paperwork and passes the background check, but later hands over the weapon to someone else who is not allowed to own a firearm.

The scam, prohibited by federal law, is typically used by people who are under 21 or convicted felons. The 15 dealers named in the suit sold guns to the undercover investigators. The city said the sales were refused at about 30 other shops.

Just for grins, I goggled ‘new york lawsuit’. I got 34,600,000 hits.

Winnowing the herd
Report: 48 Million Refuse to Buckle Up

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Seat belt use is reaching record levels, so just who are the holdouts who fail to buckle up? Often they are young men who live in rural areas and drive pickups, the government says.

About 48 million people do not regularly put on seat belts when they are on the road, a figure the government's highway safety agency hopes to lower with an annual public education campaign ahead of the summer driving season.

The latest report on seat belt use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says men account for 65 percent of the more than 31,000 people killed each year in passenger vehicles…

The report being released Monday found:
  • 58 percent of those killed who were not wearing a seat belt crashed along rural roads.
  • in crashes involving pickup trucks, about seven in 10 people who died were unbelted.
  • more than six in 10 people age 8-44 who were killed inside a passenger vehicle were not buckled up.
The agency said that lap and shoulder safety belts reduce the risk of death for those in the front seat of passenger cars by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injuries by 50 percent.

The fatality risk for front-seat motorists in sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and vans who wear seat belts is reduced by 60 percent; moderate-to-critical injuries by 65 percent…

Transportation officials have pushed for more states to enact laws allowing police to stop motorists solely for failing to wear a seat belts. The laws, called primary enforcement safety belt laws, have been enacted in 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The remaining states have secondary enforcement, which allows tickets for seat belt violations only if motorists are stopped for another offense. New Hampshire has no seat belt law for adults. [Ed. – Perhaps NH should change its motto to ‘Live Stupid and Die’]

Minority Leader Harry Reid is:
(a) a hypocrite
(b) a dimwit
(c) clueless
(d) all of the above.

Harry Reid has again and again and again characterized Republicans in general and the Bush Administration in particular as a “culture of corruption.” Dutifully, the MSM has disseminated that charge with nary a look at the accuser’s own political ethos and roots.

No so the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reid’s hometown paper; they take a more objective view. Here are two of their recent stories. [Ed. - The italics and color highlights below are mine]

Reid disappointed in Herrera

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday said he does not regret his relationship with Dario Herrera, a former Clark County commissioner who faces a federal prison sentence after being convicted Friday of conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion.

"I'm not going to pound on Dario," Reid said. "He's had enough pounding."

But Reid said he was disappointed in Herrera, who was Reid's handpicked candidate to run for the congressional seat won by Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., in 2002.

"I talked to him and specifically asked him during the congressional race if he was doing anything wrong because I had heard some rumors, and he said, 'No,'" Reid said.

"I said, 'Are you taking any money from anyone you shouldn't?' (Herrera answered) No," Reid said. "And of course the evidence came out that he did some very bad things."

Reid said he has kept in touch with Herrera "during all his travails." He described Herrera, 32, as having "great talent" and a "tremendous intellect."

"I think he's young enough when he finishes whatever punishment the court metes out to him that he can still contribute to society," Reid said.

Reid said his comments about Herrera also would apply to Erin Kenny, whom he encouraged to run for lieutenant governor in 2002.


Kenny, also a former Clark County commissioner, has pleaded guilty to accepting cash and campaign contributions from Michael Galardi, the owner of three Southern Nevada strip clubs. She is awaiting sentencing.


Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, blasted Reid's comments on Herrera.

"At what point does Harry Reid's absurd hypocrisy on corruption become plain disconnect? His refusal to denounce convicted felon Dario Herrera is second only to his relentless attacks on corruption despite his own ties to Jack Abramoff," Bounds said.

Abramoff, a former Washington lobbyist, has pleaded guilty to bribing members of Congress and has been sentenced to almost six years in prison.

Reid has acknowledged receiving almost $61,000 from Abramoff's clients and colleagues but none from Abramoff. Reid said the contributions are lawful and he will not return them.

Reid's aide helped exit

An aide to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid escorted former Clark County Commissioner Dario Herrera out a secured private courthouse exit Friday, shortly after Herrera was convicted of several counts of political corruption.

Reid's director of veterans affairs, Charvez Foger, used his security-access card to help Herrera avoid dozens of reporters who had gathered outside the only public entrance to the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse.

"The employee had access to certain corridors, and he used that access to help out Mr. Herrera," U.S. Marshal Fidencio Rivera said Tuesday. "It's contrary to our policy, but we have no oversight over Senator Reid's office."

Jurors returned guilty verdicts against Herrera and co-defendant Mary Kincaid-Chauncey about 4 p.m. Friday. The jury was excused from the courtroom at 4:20 p.m., according to court records. At 4:41 p.m., Foger's security card was used to gain access to a parking garage reserved for federal employees, Rivera said.

Sharyn Stein, a spokeswoman for Reid, said the senator was unaware that Foger had helped a felon leave the courthouse. She said Foger and Herrera have been friends for years, and Foger was simply doing Herrera a favor. Foger has acknowledged it was a mistake, Stein said.

"An old buddy of his was having a bad day and asked for a ride to his car," Stein said. "I don't think he thought it through at all. I'm not sure he would have any idea this would create a misperception."


In 2002, Herrera was considered Reid's protégé and the Democratic Party's future star. Reid handpicked Herrera, then 28, to challenge Republican Jon Porter for U.S. Congress. Herrera ultimately was tripped up by a series of ethical lapses.

In 2003, Herrera and Kincaid-Chauncey were indicted on charges they accepted cash bribes -- and in Herrera's case, sexual favors -- supplied by strip club owner Michael Galardi. In exchange for the bribes, the two commissioners voted favorably on Galardi-related matters.

After an eight-week trial, Herrera and Kincaid-Chauncey were convicted of the charges Friday. Sentencing was set for Aug. 21.

After the court reporter announced the verdict to a packed courtroom, Kincaid-Chauncey exited the front door and spoke at length with reporters.

Herrera's attorneys also emerged from the public exit.

Reporters waited for Herrera until they were told he had left through a separate exit.

"He should have walked through the front doors like anybody else," Rivera said.

Rivera said only witnesses who feel their lives are in danger are escorted through secured areas. If an employee of the U.S. Marshal's office had walked Herrera out a secured exit, disciplinary action would be taken. He said because Foger's action was not "egregious," Rivera's office has no intention of limiting Foger's building access.

"Our preliminary feedback is we had an individual make the mistake of allowing Mr. Herrera to go out the back door," Rivera said. "He knows he made an error and he's been apologetic to us."

Reid's office also has no plans to punish Foger.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Divine warning?
Plane Carrying Kennedy Hit by Lightning

BOSTON - A plane carrying U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) from western Massachusetts to his home on the coast was struck by lightning Saturday and had to be diverted to New Haven, Conn., his spokeswoman said.

The eight-seat Cessna Citation 550 plane lost all electrical power, including communications, and the pilot had to fly the plane manually, according to spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner. No one was hurt…

"Life is a long lesson in humility."
James M. Barrie

Mark Steyn connects the dolts
To connect the dots, you have to see the dots

May 14, 2006

BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Here are two news stories from the end of last week. The first one you may have heard about. As "The Today Show's" Matt Lauer put it:

"Does the government have your number? This morning a shocking new report that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans."

The second story comes from the United Kingdom and what with Lauer's hyperventilating you may have missed it. It was the official report into the July 7 bus and Tube bombings. As The Times of London summarized the conclusions:

"Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the bomb cell, had come to the attention of MI5 [Britain's domestic intelligence agency] on five occasions but had never been pursued as a serious suspect . . .

"A lack of communication between police Special Branch units, MI5 and other agencies had hampered the intelligence-gathering operation;

"There was a lack of co-operation with foreign intelligence services and inadequate intelligence coverage in . . ."

Etc., etc., ad nauseam.

So there are now two basic templates in terrorism media coverage:

Template A (note to editors: to be used after every terrorist atrocity): "Angry family members, experts and opposition politicians demand to know why complacent government didn't connect the dots."

Template B (note to editors: to be used in the run-up to the next terrorist atrocity): "Shocking new report leaked to New York Times for Pulitzer Prize Leak Of The Year Award nomination reveals that paranoid government officials are trying to connect the dots! See pages 3,4,6,7,8, 13-37."

How do you connect the dots? To take one example of what we're up against, two days before 9/11, a very brave man, the anti-Taliban resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, was assassinated in Afghanistan by killers posing as journalists. His murderers were Algerians traveling on Belgian passports who'd arrived in that part of the world on visas issued by the Pakistani High Commission in the United Kingdom. That's three more countries than many Americans have visited. The jihadists are not "primitives". They're part of a sophisticated network: They travel the world, see interesting places, meet interesting people -- and kill them. They're as globalized as McDonald's -- but, on the whole, they fill in less paperwork. They're very good at compartmentalizing operations: They don't leave footprints, just a toeprint in Country A in Time Zone B and another toe in Country E in Time Zone K. You have to sift through millions of dots to discern two that might be worth connecting…