Friday, May 6, 2011

Santorum: Strong families and respect for human life are the foundations of our nation

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was asked in last night’s debate if he’d be willing to tone down his position on social issues in order to appeal to more voters.

This question is taken from Gov. Mitch Daniel’s line that there should be a truce on social issues.

Santorum is known for his passionate defense of life and social issues. So I expected him to give a passionate rebuttal to this.

Santorum insisted that the need for strong families and respect for human life are the foundations of our nation and if “we abandon that, we’ve given up on America.”

Cheerleader must compensate school that told her to clap 'rapist'

A teenage girl who was dropped from her high school's cheerleading squad after refusing to chant the name of a basketball player who had sexually assaulted her must pay compensation of $45,000 (£27,300) after losing a legal challenge against the decision.

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a review of the case brought by the woman, who is known only as HS. Lower courts had ruled that she was speaking for the school, rather than for herself, when serving on a cheerleading squad – meaning that she had no right to stay silent when coaches told her to applaud.

She was 16 when she said she had been raped at a house party attended by dozens of fellow students from Silsbee High School, in south-east Texas. One of her alleged assailants, a student athlete called Rakheem Bolton, was arrested, with two other young men.

In court, Bolton pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour assault of HS. He received two years of probation, community service, a fine and was required to take anger-management classes. The charge of rape was dropped, leaving him free to return to school and take up his place on the basketball team.

Four months later, in January 2009, HS travelled to one of Silsbee High School's basketball games in Huntsville. She joined in with the business of leading cheers throughout the match. But when Bolton was about to take a free throw, the girl decided to stand silently with her arms folded.

"I didn't want to have to say his name and I didn't want to cheer for him," she later told reporters. "I just didn't want to encourage anything he was doing."

Richard Bain, the school superintendent in the sport-obsessed small town, saw things differently. He told HS to leave the gymnasium. Outside, he told her she was required to cheer for Bolton. When the girl said she was unwilling to endorse a man who had sexually assaulted her, she was expelled from the cheerleading squad.

The subsequent legal challenge against Mr Bain's decision perhaps highlights the seriousness with which Texans take cheerleading and high school sports, which can attract crowds in the tens of thousands.

HS and her parents instructed lawyers to pursue a compensation claim against the principal and the School District in early 2009. Their lawsuit argued that HS's right to exercise free expression had been violated when she was instructed to applaud her attacker. But two separate courts ruled against her, deciding that a cheerleader freely agrees to act as a "mouthpiece" for a institution and therefore surrenders her constitutional right to free speech. In September last year, a federal appeals court upheld those decisions and announced that HS must also reimburse the school sistrict $45,000, for filing a "frivolous" lawsuit against it.

"As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams," the appeals court decision says. "This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily."

The family's lawyer said the ruling meanst that students exercising their right of free speech can end up punished for refusing to follow "insensitive and unreasonable directions".

Friday’s Obama Schedule

9:30 am || Departs White House
11:20 am || Arrives Indianapolis
11:55 am || Tours Allison Transmission Headquarters
12:15 pm || Delivers remarks to workers at Allison Transmission Headquarters
1:30 pm || Departs Indianapolis
1:25 pm CT || Arrives Fort Campbell, Kentucky
2:55 pm CT|| Delivers remarks to service members who have recently returned from deployment
3:40 pm CT || Departs Fort Campbell, Kentucky
6:30 pm || Arrives White House

All times Eastern except as noted

Group may sue to get dead bin Laden photos

WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- A conservative U.S. legal watchdog group said it may sue to force the Obama administration to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden.

The group, Washington-based Judicial Watch, has already filed under the Freedom of Information Act for the pictures, and has sued the government many times in the past for the release of documents.

"We are prepared to sue if they don't respond as they are supposed to under the law," JW President Tom Fitton told The Hill. "I have not heard anything from the president that would provide a lawful basis for not providing the photos. Not wanting to be seen as 'spiking the football' is not a lawful reason to withhold documents under FOIA."
Judicial Watch filed the FOIA request Tuesday with the Defense Department. The filing requests photos and videos of bin Laden on the day of the U.S. military raid on his compound Sunday in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The group also filed a FOIA request for the photos Wednesday with the CIA, Judicial Watch said on its Web site.

The administration has 20 days to respond to the FOIA requests. If the requests are turned down, The Hill reported, the group can file an appeal and then a lawsuit for the photos.

President Barack Obama Wednesday ruled out disclosing them.

Scientist seeks to banish evil, boost empathy

* Psychopathology expert says idea of evil has done no good

* Sees empathy as world's most valuable but ignored resource

By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent

LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Simon Baron-Cohen has been battling with evil all his life.

As a scientist seeking to understand random acts of violence, from street brawls to psychopathic killings to genocide, he has puzzled for decades over what prompts such acts of human cruelty. And he's decided that evil is not good enough.

"I'm not satisfied with the term 'evil'," says the Cambridge University psychology and psychiatry professor, one of the world's top experts in autism and developmental psychopathology.

"We've inherited this word.. and we use it to express our abhorrence when people do awful things, usually acts of cruelty, but I don't think it's anything more than another word for doing something bad. And as a scientist that doesn't seem to me to be much of an explanation. So I've been looking for an alternative -- we need a new theory of human cruelty."

Baron-Cohen, who is also director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge, has just written a book in which he calls for a kind of rebranding of evil to offer a more scientific explanation for why people kill and torture, or have such great difficulty understanding the feelings of others.

His proposal is that evil be understood as a lack of empathy -- a condition he argues can be measured and monitored and is susceptible to education and treatment.


Baron-Cohen defines empathy in two parts -- as the drive to identify another person's thoughts and feelings, and the drive to respond appropriately to those thoughts and feelings.

It is also, he says, one of the most valuable resources in our world -- one which is currently woefully underused.

"We all have degrees of empathy... but perhaps we are not using it to its full potential," he explained in an interview with Reuters after delivering a lecture in London.

He says erosion of empathy is an important global issue that affects the health of communities, be they small ones like families, or big ones like nations.

If we all used our ability to empathise more, and recognised its value, he says, conflicts such as the decades of tit-for-tat violence between Palestinians and Israelis could be resolved.

"If you think about conflict resolution at the moment, usually we are dependent on diplomatic channels, legal frameworks, or military methods. But all those things operate at a very abstract level and they don't seem to get us very far.

"Empathy is about two people -- two people meeting, getting to know each other and tuning in to what the other person is thinking and feeling."

As an example, Baron-Cohen cites the meeting of minds between Nelson Mandela and the then South African president F. W de Klerk, which helped end apartheid in the early 1990s.

"The progress that came out of just that one relationship -- well, arguably, it broke through where all other methods had failed, and at far less cost in terms of human life," he says.


A Jewish upbringing peppered with tales about the horrors of the Nazis' treatment of Jews and other minorities was early motivation for Baron-Cohen to seek to deconstruct human cruelty

He cites times when his father told him how the Nazis turned Jews into lampshades, or into bars of soap, and a tale about the mother of a family friend whose hands had been severed by Nazi scientists who switched them around and sewed them back on again so that her thumbs were on the outside.

"Today, almost half a century after my father's mind is still exercised by the same single objective: to understand human cruelty," he writes in his book.

In the book, entitled "Zero Degrees of Empathy" in Britain, and "The Science of Evil" in the United States, where it comes out in July, Baron-Cohen seeks to pick apart and define components of empathy -- including hormones, genes, environment, nurture, and early childhood experiences.

Citing decades of scientific research, he says there are at least 10 regions of the brain which make up what he calls the "empathy circuit". When people hurt others, either systematically or fleetingly, parts of that circuit are malfunctioning.

Baron-Cohen also sets out an "empathy spectrum" ranging from zero to six degrees of empathy, and an "empathy quotient" test, whose score puts people on various points along that spectrum.

Drawing a classic bell curve on a graph, Baron-Cohen says that thankfully, the vast majority of humans are in the middle of the bell curve spectrum, with a few particularly attuned and highly empathetic people at the top end.

Psychopaths, narcissists, and people with borderline personality disorder sit at the bottom end of the scale -- these people have "zero degrees of empathy".

But rather than labelling them as evil, Baron-Cohen says they should be seen as sick, or "disabled", and we should seek to understand why they have such an empathy deficiency and help them replace it.

Baron-Cohen shies away from saying that psychopaths can be "cured" of extreme behaviour, but he argues strongly against locking them up and saying there is nothing society can do.

"I try to keep an open mind. I would never want to say a person is beyond help," he explains. "Empathy is a skill like any other human skill -- and if you get a chance to practise, you can get better at it." (Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

No Fed aid for Texas, but Obama to visit - for fundraiser

President Barack Obama, fresh from a tumultuous week of dealing with the military operation in Pakistan in which Osama bin Laden was killed, will visit El Paso on Tuesday, a White House official confirmed today.

While White House officials would not say his reason for visiting El Paso, local officials said Obama may discuss several issues that have particular importance on the border with Mexico.

El Paso Mayor John Cook said he has been invited to greet the president when he flies into Biggs Army Airfield.

The president will then travel by convoy to the Chamizal National Memorial, which is adjacent to the border with Juarez.

"I'm assuming it has to do with border security issues, possibly immigration reform and possibly trade on the border because all of those things interlink with each other," Cook said.

U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said Obama's visit may serve to show the president some of the challenges along the border with Mexico.

Obama's visit to El Paso was announced while the president met with victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. Those attacks, and the ones at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, launched the U.S. into two wars - one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan.

One of the main targets in the wars was bin Laden, who was shot and killed by U.S. Navy SEALS on Sunday.

Since then, the president has been preoccupied with the fall out from the attack on bin Laden.

In New York City, he also laid a wreath at the site of the World Trade Center.

US Launches Drone Attack in Yemen

By Jeb Boone and Greg Miller, Published: May 5

SANAA, Yemen — The U.S. military used a drone to strike Thursday at an al-Qaeda target in Yemen, the first such U.S. attack using unmanned aircraft in that country since 2002, according to U.S. and Yemeni officials.

Two al-Qaeda operatives were killed in the attack in the remote, mountainous Yemeni governorate of Shabwa early Thursday, a Yemeni security official said.
Drones operated by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command were redeployed in Yemen last year as part of a secret U.S. effort to reinvigorate the hunt for al-Qaeda operatives in the country.

Previous strikes in Yemen over the past 18 months involved cruise missiles fired from naval craft off Yemen’s coast.

Thursday’s attack was “the first drone strike,” a U.S. official said. The aircraft have patrolled portions of Yemen for much of the past year, the official said, but had not launched any missiles because of a lack of sufficient targeting information.

U.S. officials said the strike was not related to intelligence gathered since Sunday’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

U.S. officials have previously said that the CIA and U.S. military have struggled to gather meaningful intelligence on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen-based offshoot is known. The group has taken advantage of Yemen’s rugged terrain, as well as ties to its prominent tribes, to go deep underground after a series of high-profile strikes by the United States in late 2009 and early 2010.

The redeployment of the drones coincided with a significant expansion of the CIA’s presence in the country, but U.S. officials have said it could take years to build up informant networks and acquire actionable intelligence on the whereabouts of Anwar al-Aulaqi and other al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula figures.

The information about the strike came from Col. Hamid Saleh, security director of the Mayfaa district in the Shabwa governorate. He said the men were killed when a missile struck their car.

A Yemeni government spokesman, although not confirming that the missile was fired by a U.S. drone, identified the dead men as brothers Musaed Mubarak Aldaghery and Abdullah Mubarak Aldaghery.

The two men were active in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, officials said. Even before the killing this week of Osama bin Laden, U.S. government officials had warned that the al-Qaeda branch in Yemen had emerged as a more active and dangerous foe than the core group of al-Qaeda led by its central command in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Security authorities were tracking them down for some time,” the Yemeni spokesman said of the Aldaghery brothers. “They are known operational al-Qaeda fighters.”

Yemen has been racked for months with anti-government demonstrations calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to relinquish power. U.S. officials have said the political upheaval was interfering with efforts by the United States and Yemen to cooperate on counterterrorism operations.

Christopher Boucek, a Yemen expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Saleh has become more concerned with his political survival than fighting al-Qaeda.

“From the start, the Saleh government has been repositioning counterterrorism assets to protect the regime,” he said. “And the longer this political drama goes on in Yemen, the worse things get on the ground . . . so the Americans will step in if they have to.”

Among those killed in the previous drone strike in 2002 was a U.S. citizen suspected of ties to al-Qaeda. The CIA halted its drone campaign in Yemen after that incident.

Recent attacks in central Marib have caused widespread power outages and fuel shortages in the capital, Sanaa, further fueling anti-government sentiment and unrest. In the past week, power stations in Marib have been attacked seven times.

“We demand that [the Yemeni government] give us the truth about these drone strikes. Otherwise, disastrous things will happen to either Americans or Yemenis,” Ibrahim al-Shabawi, the brother of a tribal leader slain in an earlier U.S. attack, said in a recent interview.

Boone is a special correspondent. Miller reported from Washington. Staff writer Craig Whitlock in Washington contributed to this report.

The Vindication of George W. Bush:

As lefties gloat over the political implications of Osama bin Laden’s demise, and the media ramp up an “Obama bounce” meme, conservatives should politely but persistently shift the conversation from politics to policy. In my latest column for Townhall, I draw on a number of fascinating news accounts elucidating how the our military and intelligence community finally nailed bin Laden. US officials describe a “mosaic” of intelligence that ultimately led a team of Navy SEALs to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan — suggesting that it took many years and myriad sources to pinpoint bin Laden’s precise location. As we now know, the central strand of intel involved one of bin Laden’s trusted couriers, Abu Ahmed Al-Kuwaiti; finding him was the key to locating his boss. The early evidence is in, and President Bush and his team should feel gratified and vindicated:

Osama bin Laden was found because the United States military exploited actionable intelligence extracted by subjecting terrorists to enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) in secret CIA prisons, by questioning enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, and by capturing a top al Qaeda source in Iraq.

As long as some liberals remain intent on keeping political score, it must be pointed out that all three sources of these indispensible data points were direct or indirect results of Bush policies – EITs, Gitmo, and the Iraq war – that much of the American Left, including Barack Obama, fought tooth and nail.

Much of the evidence I cite to back up my thesis comes from two sources: A short AP story published shortly after the raid (and linked here by Allahpundit), and an incredibly detailed piece in London’s Daily Telegraph. A few key bits from the resulting information goldmine:

On the Guantanamo connection -

Secret American military files from Guantanamo Bay, leaked to Wikileaks and seen by The Daily Telegraph, suggest that al-Kuwaiti may have been with bin Laden ever since he disappeared from the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.

The file for the Guantanamo detainee, Muhammad Mani al-Qahtani, who was to have been the “20th hijacker” on 9/11, contains a reference to the key US intelligence thread that led directly to bin Laden.

According to the file, al-Kuwaiti provided al-Qahtani with computer training for the mission to attack the US in the summer of 2001. Al-Qahtani was told by the lead 9/11 hijacker, Muhammad Atta, “to make reservations and buy airline tickets to Orlando for five individuals” including himself.

“Detainee [al-Qahtani] received computer training from al-Qaeda member Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti in preparation for his mission to the US,” according to the file, dated 30 October 2008.

On KSM, secret CIA “black site” prisons, and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques -

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

The CIA gained crucial information confirming the role of al-Kuwaiti from two inmates at Guantanamo Bay – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi.

Al-Libi’s file, dated 10 September 2008, also refers to his contact with bin Laden’s personal courier, although he gives another name.

And on the Al Qaeda operative captured in Iraq:

The file suggests that the courier’s identity was provided to the US by another key source, the al-Qaida facilitator Hassan Ghul, who was captured in Iraq in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA. Ghul was never sent to Guantanamo but was believed to have been taken to a prison in Pakistan.

He told the Americans that al-Kuwaiti travelled with bin Laden…

The picture that emerges from al-Qahtani’s Guantanamo file supports statements given in the last 24 hours by US officials, who named Ghul as the “linchpin” in the intelligence operation to find bin Laden.

In short, Al-Kuwaiti’s existence was flagged by at least one Guantanamo Bay detainee, his role and pseudonym were confirmed by KSM and al-Libi, and his true identity was spilled by an Al Qaeda terrorist operating in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to assert that all three of these intelligence “strands” may never — or perhaps would never — have materialized absent the controversial Bush administration policies listed above. These facts are not historical footnotes. They eviscerate a number of core left-wing articles of faith, including the flawed notions that President Bush “took his eye off the [Al Qaeda/bin Laden] ball,” that Iraq was unrelated to the larger war on terror, and that EITs are not effective — not to mention the ongoing obsession with shuttering Gitmo. As I conclude in the Townhall piece, Presidents Bush and Obama deserve significant credit for this massive accomplishment, and it would be intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise:

Barack Obama ran for president, in large measure, as the anti-Bush. He was a prominent opponent of the war in Iraq. He promised to shutter the Guantanamo Bay prison. He pledged to ban certain EITs. Today, as president, he is rightfully receiving praise from virtually all quarters for his decisive order to take out the most wanted man in the world. Obama, his supporters, and indeed all Americans have every reason to celebrate that accomplishment. But they must also recognize and appreciate that actions and policies implemented by President Bush, often in the face of searing partisan criticism, played an inextricable role in identifying the dots that were finally connected and acted upon last weekend.

In response to bin Laden’s death, Americans of all partisan stripes should follow the example set forth by the current president and his predecessor: Credit the brave special ops forces who conducted the daring operation, offer political credit where it’s due, and celebrate this American achievement, which is a gift to all of civilization.

UPDATE – Larry Elder makes another good point in this vein:

Osama bin Laden was a) killed by a unit overseen by what New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh denounced as Vice President Dick Cheney’s “executive assassination ring,” which was b) sent into action based on intel derived from the now-outlawed “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which were c) used on detainees captured during the George W. Bush administration, who were d) being held in now-outlawed “secret prisons” or in the intended-to-be-closed Gitmo.

That’s another feather in Bush’s cap. All of the detainees/informants involved in this story were captured on his watch.

Obama regime has American flag removed before live shot at Ground Zero

What an absolutely pitiful little manchild Obama is. As if turning his back on Debra Burlingame (sister of Charles Burlingame who piloted the plane that went down at the Pentagon during 9/11) wasn’t pitiful enough. Now we learn that the Obama regime had an American flag removed from the live shot of his photo op at Ground Zero today. Jake Tapper of ABC actually tweeted this (though never mentioning Obama by name) and posted a picture.

One minute to air and they decided to take the flag down from the live shot!

“they.” I love how the biased media always tries to distort who is responsible for such actions. Obama finally does something right this past Sunday (after sleeping on it) and since then has been NOTHING but completely botch the aftermath.

Google Maps Will Soon Let You See Inside Buildings

This will be interesting. Starting next week, Google Maps will allow users to peer inside the walls of select buildings, getting a panoramic, 360-degree visual of the inside layout. It's called Business Photos and it allows any business to invite a Google photographer onto its premises and capture the interior. So instead of just being able to see the street-view of a coffee shop, restaurant or music venue, you can get a virtual tour from the comfort of your own home. The May launch was announced today at San Francisco's Social Loco conference by Google VP Marissa Mayer. Businesses can apply now here at no cost.

Should be great for newly-renovated restaurants to boast their new digs (not to mention the employment prospects of thousands of freelance photographers). It'll be interesting to see if it takes off, or if business owners will be leery of inviting Google onto its premises. Here's the promo video:

Holder intervenes in gay man's deportation case

Holder intervenes in gay man's deportation case

(AP) – 10 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder took the rare step Thursday of asking an immigration judicial panel to reconsider the case of a gay man they've cleared for deportation.

Holder set aside the Board of Immigration Appeals ruling allowing the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman, a gay man illegally in the U.S. Dorman wants to stay in the country with his male partner, with whom he celebrated a civil union in New Jersey.

The Board of Immigration Appeals judges had ruled against Dorman on the basis of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Holder asked the judges to reconsider the case and determine whether Dorman can be considered a spouse under New Jersey law and whether he would be a spouse under immigration law were it not for the Defense of Marriage Act, according to a copy of Holder's decision.

The Obama administration in February said it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

Dorman and his partner were taking the immigration board's ruling to a federal appeals court on the grounds that the decision was based on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Holder wanted the immigration judges to reconsider the case before the federal appeals court takes up the gay couple's constitutional challenge, said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.

People who are facing deportation can ask immigration judges let them stay in the U.S.

To qualify for a "cancellation of removal," a person must have been in the U.S. 10 years and have a qualifying relative, such as an American citizen spouse or children. The person also must show good moral character and that the deportation will cause "exceptional and unusual hardship" to the qualifying relative.

Lavi Soloway, a New York immigration attorney and founder of Immigration Equality, a group that advocates for the immigration rights of gay couples, said he considers Holder's decision good news for gay people. Gay couples are barred from sponsoring their partners for immigration visas and denied other immigration benefits provided heterosexual couples.

"This is the right path. Until Congress can pass legislation to remedy this, the executive branch can and should act," Soloway said.

Bin Laden’s Neighbors Say Compound Was Under Surveillance Since 2005

Bin Laden’s Neighbors Say Compound Was Under Surveillance Since 2005
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 18
May 5, 2011 04:18 PM Age: 14 hrs
By: Arif Jamal

Contrary to statements released by Pakistani intelligence agencies denying any knowledge of the occupants of the Abbottabad compound raided by American Special Forces units on May 1, there is evidence that the occupants of the compound housing Osama bin Laden were well known to Pakistani intelligence from the time the purpose-built compound was finished and occupied in 2005.

An official from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) told the BBC that the compound was raided by the ISI while still under construction in 2003 when the agency believed senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libi was on site. Since then, however, the official claimed the intelligence agency had taken no interest in the facility: “The compound was not on our radar; it is an embarrassment for the ISI… We’re good, but we’re not God” (BBC, May 3). However, in a statement that appeared to reveal the confusion over the incident at the highest levels of the Pakistani government, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the ISI “had been sharing information [on the compound] with the CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009” (The News [Islamabad], May 4).

The house in the garrison city of Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden apparently lived for several years before he was killed was the focus of neighbors’ attention for several reasons. The most important reason was its size. The house was many times bigger than most houses in the neighborhood and its reclusive occupants also appeared to have money to throw around. If the balls of children playing in the streets accidently landed in the compound, the children were given Rs 50 by the occupants of the house. [1] Several children told Pakistani TV channels that they had started throwing their balls into the compound on purpose. They were never refused the money (Geo TV, May 3).

However, there were also reasons for the people in the neighborhood not to suspect that this house was the residence of the most wanted terrorist in the world. The house had 12 to 16 foot high boundary walls surmounted by electrified barbed wire. There were surveillance cameras fixed on the walls. The human security around the compound created the impression that it was a secret military or intelligence facility, something the people living in garrison towns are quite used to. A neighbor explained the local lack of interest in the unusual building by saying, “Once you know a particular building belongs to the military or an intelligence agency or any law-enforcement department in Pakistan, you stop taking interest in the unusualness of the building or the activities there.” [2] The neighbors’ conclusion that it belonged to some security agency seems to have put any worries at rest.

The compound became the focus of attention soon after construction on the building started sometime in the fall of 2004. The haste with which it was built also surprised the neighbors: “The pace of construction of this house was one of the topics in our discussion with our families and with friends. We used to say either the owner is fairly rich or it is going to be a military facility, which is not uncommon in this garrison city.” [3] In a TV interview after his interrogation by the security agencies, Noor Mohammad, the contractor who built the house, said that the house was built in one and a half years (Geo TV, May 4). However, most of the neighbors’ accounts put the construction period between nine and 12 months. Mohammad noted that, unlike the usual back-and-forth negotiations between contractor and owner at various stages of construction that are typical of the residential construction process in Pakistan, the owners of the Abbottabad house never disputed costs and met all requests for additional funds promptly and without question. He also said that the construction work continued uninterrupted, which suggests some urgency. According to another contractor, it is quite possible to construct such a house in six months if the work is conducted without interruption. [4]

When the house was completed its residents moved in quickly: “Nobody knew when exactly they moved in. They probably moved in the middle of night when all of us were sleeping. The furniture and other stuff were brought in during the day, possibly before they moved in. It took some time before the neighbors realized that there were people living in that house.” [5] The few guests to the house typically arrived in the darkness and were rarely seen by the neighbors.

In a country where neighbors have strong ties and very often visit each other, the occupants of the new house discouraged their neighbors from visiting. “My wife tried to establish contacts with the women in that house more than once but was rebuffed. It was the only house in the neighborhood whose female occupants were not known to the other female [residents of the neighborhood]. I had concluded that some nuclear scientist was living there. Some of the nuclear scientists’ families are also reclusive.” [6] Interestingly, no neighbor seems to have seen another family visiting the Bin Laden family.

The neighbors’ accounts contradict official claims that the house was not on the radar of the intelligence agencies. According to several of these witnesses, the house was under continuous and heavy surveillance by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. A local resident observed: “The compound was continuously under the watch of agents of the intelligence and security agencies. They always looked suspiciously at every unusual interest in that compound by our guests. I always had the impression that it was some sort of an intelligence facility.” [7] However, no neighbor ever saw any uniformed personnel visiting the compound. According to a local journalist, it is unlikely that any of the security agents deputed to carry out human surveillance on the compound would have been given any inkling of who was living there. [8] However, it seems clear those directing the surveillance were aware of the identity of the suspects under watch in the compound, indicating that the residents were under the protection of a Pakistani intelligence agency since occupation began.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Liberal Party of Canada Buried at Sea After Dying in Firefight

Liberal Party of Canada Buried at Sea After Dying in Firefight
May 2, 2011 11:41 P.M.
By Mark Steyn

Sorry about the headline. Just trying to liven up the other news of the day. I think it’s fair to say the death of Osama bin Laden has reduced U.S. coverage of today’s Canadian election from 0 percent of network airtime to 0.0000 percent of network airtime. So, in the interests of driving down Corner traffic to near undetectable levels, I thought I’d provide an update:

Canada’s Conservative party has been returned to office, and for the first time Stephen Harper’s ministry will enjoy a parliamentary majority. Always good to have one nation on the North American continent with a Conservative head of government.

On the other hand, the NDP (that’s Canadian for the Socialist Loon Party) has near tripled its representation, thanks to a last-minute revelation that its leader, Jack Layton, had been found naked with a “masseuse” during a police raid on a bawdy house. One never knows what will finally cause a party to make a breakthrough with the electorate, but Mr. Layton’s was the money shot heard round the world.

Meanwhile, the Liberals, the most successful electoral organization in any Western democracy and a party that governed a G7 nation for an unprecedented 70 years during the 20th century, has been reduced to third place for the first time in Canadian history. And a very distant third, too: 33 seats versus 168 for the Tories and 104 for the Dippers. As things stand right now, Michael Ignatieff, former Harvard prof, my sometime BBC colleague and Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is on course to lose his own seat in Parliament — thereby conveniently accelerating his return to Harvard and/or the Beeb, and a speedy end to his ill-advised foray into Canuck politics.

Mr. Ignatieff’s only consolation is that the Bloc Québécois, the separatist party, suffered an even more catastrophic repudiation by the voters, being reduced to two (or possibly three) members. Its leader, the agreeably insane Gilles Duceppe, lost his seat. Not as bloody as a SEAL assault, but, upshot-wise, pretty much the same.

I believe the White House plans to release a dramatic photograph of Obama, Biden, and Mrs Clinton sitting around in shirt-sleeves anxiously watching Canadian election results in the situation room.

L.A. Economy Would Shrink by More Than $100 Billion If All Illegal Immigrants Were Deported-Report

Awesome: L.A. County just got the Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda treatment.

The UCLA Chicano-studies professor released a controversial study back in March, in which he weighed the effects of granting all Arizona's illegal immigrants citizenship against the effects of deporting them -- the latter obviously being the political favorite.

Let's just say his findings didn't exactly line up with the manic ravings of Governor Jan Brewer and the notorious Sheriff Joe. See: "If Arizona Legalized All Latino Immigrants (Fat Chance), State Would Collect $1.6 Billion More in Taxes." And believe it or not, the L.A./California version of the study is even more dramatic:

California has a gigantic immigrant population -- 10 million strong, or one-quarter of the state -- and one-quarter of those are here illegally. So their complete acceptance or removal by the law would have similarly huge effects on the local economy.

The results below are based on figures from before and after 1986, when Reagan granted sweeping amnesty (that's right, Palin -- your hero was a Latino-lover!), combined with the current number of undocumented workers, the taxes they pay and the jobs they vicariously create.
We're curious if the Republican legislators pushing for a SB 1070-style law in the Golden State understand that immigrants actually create jobs, and that our entire way of life depends upon them. (Not that politicians really care -- it's all an emotional game to secure re-election, catering to the us vs. them fear in voters, anyway. And undocumented U.S. residents ripped from their families, deported for something as "sketchy" as walking home late at night, are the game's collateral.)

Hinojosa-Ojeda describes a scenario in which all illegal-alien workers toiling in California's fruit/vegetable fields are caught and deported. What happens next? Farmers "can't harvest the crops, they can't pay their bills." Cue domino effect:
"But the harm doesn't stop there. If farmers can't harvest their crops, the truckers who transport those crops to food processors, grocery stores, and restaurants lose work. And if those enterprises that rely on these crops to prepare meals or resell to consumers want to remain in business, they will have to pay more for new producers. The increased demand from a far smaller number of producers will elevate prices for all consumers. And more money spent on lettuce means less money spent elsewhere in the economy."
Read the full report here. If you're still not convinced, we recommend you review the costly, inhumane and completely unnecessary deportation case of L.A. resident Jose Gutierrez.

Only 15 percent of immigrants deported through Immigration and Customs Enforcement's "Secure Communities" program since 2008 had committed a serious crime, according to the most recent ICE data -- and 28 percent were considered non-criminals by the Department of Homeland Security. The program has made it so that any alien who comes into contact with the law can have his or her papers checked. (Keep in mind that offenses can come in the form of driving without a license, which is an inevitable consequence of being undocumented. Talk about a vicious cycle.) Illinois was the first state to opt out of Secure Communities, just yesterday.

Phew! All this to say: California would, scientifically, be better off keeping most of them around. If only because the affordability of your daily omelette depends upon it.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agrees, and wishes upon that $1.9 billion to close the city deficit.

"When you bring people from out of the dark and into the light -- from out of a black-market economy to a free-market economy -- when you put them in a situation where they can get an education, be more productive and all that comes with legalization," he says, "we actually all benefit."

Obama’s Labor Board Accused of ‘Malicious Attack’ on Right-to-Work States

( - A political battle is brewing over the Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board for its "attack" on right-to-work states.

On Wednesday, 19 Republican senators wrote to President Obama, warning him that they will "vigorously oppose" two of his nominees to the National Labor Relations Board -- if Obama doesn't withdraw their names.

The NLRB, prodded by a labor union, recently filed a complaint against the Boeing Company for its plan to transfer a second production line to a non-union facility in South Carolina. The NLRB says Boeing must maintain that production line in union-friendly Washington State.

The NLRB accused Boeing of moving the production line out of the Puget Sound area to retaliate for past strikes and to avoid future strikes by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

One of the Obama's nominees, Lafe Solomon, is the NLRB's acting general counsel who issued the complaint against Boeing. The second nominee is Craig Becker.

In their May 4 letter to Obama, the Republicans said they consider the NLRB's complaint against Boeing to be an "attack on millions of workers in 22 right-to-work states" as well as a "government-led act of intimidation against American companies that should have the freedom to choose to build plants in right-to-work states."

The Republicans urged Obama to withdraw the nominations of Solomon and Becker "immediately." And if he doesn't -- "We will vigorously oppose both nominations, vote against cloture and use all procedural tools available to defeat their confirmation in the Senate," the 19 Republicans wrote.

Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, has called the NLRB action against Boeing a "malicious attack" on right-to-work states such as South Carolina.

"This is nothing more than a political favor for the unions who are supporting President Obama's re-election campaign," DeMint said on April 20, the same day the NLRB filed its complaint against Boeing. "Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of hundreds of jobs in South Carolina and thousands of jobs nationwide. There is no doubt that if the National Labor Relations Board's claim against Boeing moves forward, it will have a chilling effect on job growth in my state and in right-to-work states across the country.

"Using the federal government as political weapon to protect union bosses at the expense of American jobs cannot be tolerated. I intend to use every tool at my disposal as a United States Senator to stop the President from carrying out this malicious act," DeMint said.

The National Labor Relations Board describes its mission as safeguarding employees' rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also "acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions."

The Boeing Company says it will vigorously contest the complaint brought before the NLRB by the machinists' union.

"This claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent," said Boeing Executive Vice President and General Counsel J. Michael Luttig in an April 20 news release. "Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region."

In their May 4 letter, printed below, the Republicans said Obama's political appointees at the NLRB -- by proceeding with the complaint against Boeing -- will only encourage companies to move their operations -- and jobs -- overseas.

The full text of their letter is printed below:

May 4, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

In your State of the Union address, you said: “We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.”

We agree. Global competition for business and jobs is more important than ever as our country struggles to recover from the lingering recession and cope with the massive debt burden imposed on the economy by increased government spending.

Unfortunately, recent actions by your handpicked political appointees at the National Labor Relations Board are making it more difficult for America to win the future.

The NLRB, at the behest of Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, has taken unprecedented legal action against The Boeing Company to prevent it from expanding productions into South Carolina, a state that assures workers the freedom not to join a union as a condition of employment. We consider this an attack on millions of workers in 22 right-to-work states, as well as a government-led act of intimidation against American companies that should have the freedom to choose to build plants in right-to-work states.

If the NLRB prevails, it will only encourage companies to make their investments in foreign nations, moving jobs and economic growth overseas. America will not win thefuture if Washington penalizes workers in states that have discovered winning economic strategies. Right-to-work states have faster job growth, faster income growth, and faster population growth than forced-unionism states. This winning strategy should be duplicated nationwide. Instead, successful workers rights are being stamped out by political appointees who serve at your pleasure and have not been confirmed by the Senate.

You nominated Mr. Solomon to become General Counsel for NLRB and serve a full four-year term on January 5, 2011, yet, members of the Senate have not been able to vet him. Mr. Solomon has not appeared for a Senate confirmation hearing, nor has he been subjected to a full Senate confirmation vote. Additionally, you granted a recess appointment toCraig Becker, a former lawyer for the Service Employees International Union and AFL-CIO, to become one of the five members of the NLRB’s powerful board over widespread, bipartisan objections in the Senate to his nomination. The Senate rejected his nomination in February 2010. All 41 Republican senators wrote you a letter in March 2010 urging you not to give Mr. Becker a recess appointment, which you did later that month, effectively circumventing the will of the U.S. Senate.

The Senate has been unacceptably denied the ability to exercise its constitutional duty of advise and consent in regards to the NLRB. In light of the NLRB’s recent actions that would have a deleterious effect on job creation and economic opportunity across the country, it is time to hold the NLRB accountable.

We urge you to withdraw both Mr. Solomon’s and Mr. Becker’s nominations to their respective positions immediately. If not, we will vigorously oppose both nominations, vote against cloture and use all procedural tools available to defeat their confirmation in the Senate.


Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
Senator Jim Risch (R-ID)
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Senator John Thune (R-SD)
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Senator David Vitter (R-LA)

Fat Contracts Drift Toward Former Obama Official's Company

A nonprofit whose vice president is a former Obama administration official has secured a nearly $100 million government contract in Afghanistan, raising concerns with at least one former U.S. State Department insider.

The executive team at International Relief & Development, or IRD, an Arlington, Va.-based organization, includes Alonzo L. Fulgham, whom President Obama in January 2009 had appointed as acting director of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The ex-State Department source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, lamented the revolving door process of officials moving between the public and private sectors, asserting that the potential for waste and abuse is immense.

Specific to Fulgham's role as IRD VP in the context of the Afghanistan contract, the source said "there is nothing inherently illegal or unethical about it," but still decried the arrangement as "questionable."

"Typically only vendors with those sorts of connections get USAID's big-budget contracts, and they get them to the exclusion of other capable providers," the source claimed.

USAID on April 20 awarded the $98.8 million contract to IRD in support of the agency's Engineering, Quality Assurance and Logistical Support, or EQUALS, program in Afghanistan, according to contracting documents that U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor located via routine database research.

IRD will provide architectural and other engineering services to bolster infrastructure design, construction and maintenance projects via the EQUALS initiative, which focuses on transportation, vertical structures, energy and water, and sanitation.

The support contract emerged as an indirect consequence of ongoing scrutiny, both internally as well as from the media, of reconstruction aid programs, according to the Request for Proposals, #RFP-306-09-0535.

"The quality, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of USAID supported infrastructure projects in Afghanistan is a topic of intense scrutiny from the American media, Inspector General (IG), Government Accountability Office (GAO), and other stakeholders," the RFP says.

"Proper oversight and quality assurance of engineering projects requires the ability to travel to remote sites and requires specialized testing equipment and skills which go beyond USAID's in-house engineering capacity."

In an unrelated USAID program in Iraq, IRD was the prime contractor for a program ultimately put on hold due to allegations – most of which the agency says are unsubstantiated – of waste and mismanagement.

USAID back in 2006 awarded a $644 million contract to IRD for that program.

The agency had a mixed response to Office of Inspector General accusations, agreeing to certain modifications to the USAID/Iraq Community Stabilization Program, yet defending the initiative – and its contractor – as meritorious and successful.

IRD says on its website that there is a clear reason why it hired Fulgham to execute the group's "strategic business initiatives": his proven record of relevant experience and success at USAID.

As the agency's acting administrator, "Mr. Fulgham managed a diverse global enterprise of over $15 billion annually in more than 88 countries, with a professional staff of more than 7,000 worldwide."

Among other reasons for hiring him, IRD points out that in 2005-2006, Fulgham "served as USAID Mission Director to Afghanistan, where he implemented cutting edge stabilization and development programs with a budget of $1.4 billion."

Fulgham, it should be noted, was not the only USAID official to have come aboard IRD in recent years.

Jeffrey Grieco, IRD's chief of communications, until 2009 had been USAID assistant administrator for legislative and public affairs.

In that capacity Grieco "was responsible for all congressional contacts and communications, managed all agency communications to both foreign and domestic audiences, and supervised USAID media and public affairs programming worldwide."

He also worked as the agency's senior representative on interagency panels, including USAID's Muslim Outreach Coordinating Committee and the Obama Administration's Iraq Stabilization Group.

In a statement from IRD, the company said:

Since he left the U.S. government in 2010, Alonzo Fulgham has had no official contact with USAID or any of its employees as he maintains an ethics restriction for 12 months following the end of his employment. Therefore, he has had no substantive role in any USAID/Afghanistan or any USAID contracts in general that have been awarded to IRD. IRD had established itself as a leading international non-governmental organization long prior to Mr. Fulgham's arrival, implementing more than $1.75 billion in humanitarian assistance worldwide since 1998. Moreover, IRD is awarded grants and contracts by a host of funders, including the World Bank, the United Nations, DFID (the British Development Agency), the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. State Department, and USAID, and we strongly believe these awards are based on the quality of our work and our more than 5,000 dedicated staff members around the world. Everyday our people are working in some of the most helpless and unstable parts of the developing world, fulfilling IRD's mission to reduce the suffering of the world's most vulnerable groups and provide them the tools and resources necessary to increase their own self-sufficiency. It is this hard work and commitment that has earned IRD its success as an international non-governmental organization for more than a decade.

Not ready to board Obama's Kool Aid Train

The president went on TV Sunday night to tell us the news that Osama was taken out by U.S. Navy SEALS. Young Americans partied in the streets, and the mainstream media tells us we’re indebted to Obama for this victory.

It is, of course, a moral victory for all Americans in the War on Terror, not limited to those of us who supported the efforts from the beginning, but even for those who’ve criticized America’s war efforts and condoned or sup-ported the character assassination of our military, especially generals like David Petraeus.

Yes, if you believe the president, it’s a victory for even the Democrat leadership who criticized Petraeus during the crucial years of the war, unleashing and glorifying their pit bull,, in its national ad campaign, refer-ring to him as Gen. Betray-us. (The Betray-Us ad was on MoveOn’s website for three years, by the way).

If you believe the president, Osama’s death was a victory also for the anti-military politicians who had harsh words for our troops. Such as failed Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry who, in a retro moment on Face the Nation in 2005, said, "There is no reason... young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children...women..."

Remember Democrat Rep. John Murtha, in 2006, ruining the lives of his fellow Marines, the Haditha Eight, call-ing them all murderers in Time magazine and then refusing to apologize after they’d been cleared, one by one, of all charges?

Remember in 2007, Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid announced the war in Iraq was lost and the surge (the one Obama voted against) accomplished nothing? That year, the Dem controlled Congress voted to leave Iraq, no matter what, by 2008.

In 2009, Remember how Obama refused to champion that other SEAL team, the one who succeeded in capturing "Objective Amber," the mastermind behind the mutilation of American contractors in Fallujah? When the terrorist got a little roughed up, he sniveled, and the SEALS were thrown in the brig. Anyone hear of this story in the news, let alone of any support from this president? Hardly.

It’s so nice, isn’t it, that Obama could stand before us Sunday, after opposing almost everything to do with the War on Terror, voting against funding it, voting against the surge, criticizing military leaders, and changing the rules of engagement to make it much, much more dangerous for troops on the ground — and then put all that behind him and stand there and claim the victory. Subtle, but still...I’ve never heard a commander in chief talk so much about himself after such a big mission.

So all of a sudden, the president has an epiphany. SEALS are no longer brutish maniacs and Obama embraces them as professionals. The war, all of a sudden, is "just," though he still won’t call it that, will he? And this week, with his victory, we’re again all just one, big, happy family who worked towards this day for the last ten years to-gether.

Oh please.

When was the last time you heard a Democrat leader invoke images from 9-11 the way the president did the other night? Not in years. Might give credibility to the war against man-caused disasters.

When was the last time you heard a Democrat say that after 9-11, "We were united as one American family," as the president said Sunday? For years, especially during the brutal Battle for Fallujah and before the surge (the one Obama opposed) they and the mainstream media pounded us with the idea that this was "Bush’s war." He lied and men died, remember?

Meanwhile, don’t forget Obama’s indecision on sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2009, costing a surge of American deaths on the ground after more than five months of ignoring the Taliban build up, and then giving the generals only a fraction of what they had requested.

But to hear the president Sunday night, you’d think he’d had more than just a couple meetings with the generals and was right on board with the troops, as well as those of us who support the War on Terror and the spe-cial operators — the entire time.

"We will be relentless," the President said Sunday, apparently forgetting how he voted during his brief years in political office. And then he invoked, "One nation, under God...." Yes, he actually said, "under God," obviously caught up in the heat of his victorious moment.

He sort of threw himself under the bus this time, didn’t he?

Osama’s gone, that’s great. But I’m not on board Obama’s Kool Aid train, and neither is a good portion of our na-tion.

Here’s a question: If Obama loves the military so much now, how about turning back the move to hike military Tricare insurance premiums?

This administration, for all its talk, has been cavalier about keeping promises to veterans and active duty troops, preferring to stand behind public employees and labor unions on things like health care. reported today, the battle for military health care "has shifted from whether or not to increase the price of military health care premi-ums, to how much to increase them by."

So hey, Obama, If you really meant what you said Sunday, how about working to keep the promises Uncle Sam made to our troops and their families? Protect military Tricare. Stand by our troops. Earn their respect. You owe them after this.

Unemployment applications hit eight-month high

WASHINGTON -- The number of people applying for unemployment benefits surged last week to the highest level in eight months, a troubling sign a day ahead of the government's report on April employment.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the 43,000 spike in applications to a seasonally adjusted 474,000 last week was largely the result of unusual factors, including a high number of school systems in New York that closed for spring break.

Still, it marked the third increase in four weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the fourth straight week to 431,250. Applications have jumped 89,000, or 23 percent, in the past four weeks.

"The trend is clearly upward, so that's disconcerting," said Kurt Karl, chief U.S. economist for Swiss Re. "When you get three or four weeks in a row of special factors, they're no longer so special."

Applications near 375,000 are typically consistent with sustainable job growth. Weekly applications peaked during the recession at 659,000.

Rising unemployment applications and other weak economic data this week have prompted some analysts to worry that higher fuel prices may be causing employers to slow their pace of hiring.

The government is scheduled to release its April jobs report on Friday. Economists are projecting that the economy likely added 185,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate may remain 8.8 percent, but some are now saying the numbers could be lower. Thursday's report also doesn't bode well for hiring in May, economists said.

A Labor Department spokesman blamed much of the latest increase on the unexpected spike caused by New York schools. That resulted in 25,000 layoffs. The department didn't anticipate the closures when making seasonal adjustments, the spokesman said. The employees affected were bus drives and cafeteria workers, not teachers.

One economists was skeptical that school recesses, presumably that have been on the calendar all year, would be difficult to account for.

"Whatever school holidays may have occurred in New York were most likely associated with the Easter and Passover holidays, which should not have come as a surprise to those who calculated the seasonal adjustment factors for this year," said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.

Other factors also contributed to the increase, the Labor spokesman said. Oregon launched its own extended unemployment benefit program, which caused an increase in overall applications in the state for unemployment benefits.

And auto-related layoffs rose, Some companies have shut down or slowed production because of parts shortages stemming from the earthquake in Japan. Those disruptions are mostly affecting Japanese automakers with plants in the North America. Honda Motor Corp. has slowed production at 10 of its U.S. and Canadian plants. Toyota has cut its U.S. production by two-thirds. Both have said they aren't laying off workers. But the slowdowns also affect auto-supply companies.

Still, applications have risen sharply in recent weeks, raising concerns that high gas and food prices are cutting into consumer spending and slowing the economy. Businesses are also facing higher costs for raw materials, which reduce profit margins. They may be cutting back on hiring as a cost-saving measure.

The national average for gas was $3.99 a gallon on Thursday, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge. That is 30 cents higher than a month earlier.

Other recent data have also pointed to a weaker job market. A private trade group said Wednesday that a measure of employment growth in the service sector, which employs 90 percent of the work force, slowed for the second straight month. The report, by the Institute for Supply Management, still showed that employment rose, but at the slowest pace in 7 months.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits rose 74,000 to 3.7 million. Millions more unemployed are receiving aid from extended benefit programs put in place during the recession. All told, more than 8 million people received unemployment benefits for the week ending April 16, the most recent data available. That was 170,000 fewer than the previous week.

Witnesses say man may have pulled gun as Obama motorcade passed near Ground Zero

NEW YORK — Authorities apprehended a man who witnesses say may have pulled a gun out of a backpack as President Barack Obama's motorcade passed today in New York.

The man, who wore a blue hat, had dark curly hair and appeared to be in his 20s, was wearing a backpack. New York Police Department officers and Secret Service agents shouted, "Get down, get down," and tackled the man at the corner of Church and Vessey Streets in lower Manhattan.

Obama had just left the World Trade Center site and his motorcade was turning from Vessey Street to Church Street when the incident occurred in front of the Church Street Station Post Office.
The man was taken into the post office as dozens of officers from various organizations arrived to assist.

Two photographers, from the New York Daily News and the Associated Press, snapped photos of the man as he was taken down. They went into the post office with police to show them the photos.

The Daily News caught the dramatic scene in a photo, and reported the man was riding a bicycle, saying "Secret Service coming through," before he was tackled.
UPDATE: Police are reporting the man was unarmed

Obama Administration takes victory lap in clown car

It’s been less than 72 hours since President Barack Obama announced that U.S. Special Forces “a small team of Americans” had killed Osama Bin Laden. Since then, his administration has been hard at work screwing the whole thing up.

Let’s start with that speech Sunday night. It was originally announced for 10:30 but didn’t happen until 11:30. By that time, the news Obama was supposed to be breaking had broken already. Not the best start. Presumably he was delayed arguing with his speechwriters about keeping in all the “I,” “Me,” and “Mine.” Everything having to do with this raid was “I”; anything that could be attributed to the Bush administration was “We.” “I gave the order, I did this, I did that.” The hallmark of any great leader is a willingness to bravely take credit for the hard work and sacrifice of others.

Then there’s the official narrative of the raid, which has already gone through more versions than the Star Wars movies. First Bin Laden had a gun; then he didn’t. He hid behind one of his wives, who was killed; wait, no, scratch that, she’s alive and wasn’t his wife. Maybe? Now Leon Panetta says he and President Obama didn’t actually see the whole thing go down, after the White House made a point of releasing that instantly iconic picture of the whole gang watching it go down.

Isn’t it kind of important to get all that stuff right the first time? Personally, I don’t care if Bin Laden was holding a tray of freshly baked cookies and asking our boys if they wanted any tea when they shot him. You’ve heard of suicide by cop? As far as I’m concerned, Osama Bin Laden committed suicide by 9/11. But now the White House just looks like a bunch of bumblers. If you’re not exactly sure what happened, why give details you might have to retract? How in the world do you screw up a win this big? (Amanda Carey has a wrap-up of the inconsistencies in the official story.)

The Liberal interpretation of the Constitution revealed

Guest Post by J.D. Thorpe

In a town hall on July 24, California Congressman Pete Stark gave us a revealing look into the mind of a liberal. He made the following statement regarding the Constitution, “I think that there are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life.” While his honesty is admirable, this view is deeply unsettling to Americans who believe in the rule of law.

When liberals are asked about their interpretation of the Constitution, they generally are not as truthful as Congressman Stark. They tend to respond with ambiguous rhetoric about a “living Constitution.” The basic idea follows that the Constitution naturally adapts to changing conditions over time. This definition is their way of avoiding the fact that they do not believe in adhering to the Constitution as it is written or pursuing the correct steps for amending it.

The Liberal philosophy uses the “living Constitution” concept to legitimate any usurpation of power from the people. When liberals want to pass a piece of legislation that is not permitted under the Constitution, they spuriously use the General Welfare Clause as their justification. Using this method, they claim that healthcare, a living wage, and even owning a home are constitutional “rights.” This thoroughly distorts the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

The Constitution was meant to be a limiting document. The Founders were Classical Liberals who believed that the role of government should be limited to a few functions that individuals could not provide for themselves. For example, it was acknowledged that the Articles of Confederation were incapable of creating a strong national defense and therefore, it was important that the states centralize this role in a stronger federal government.

Additionally, the new Constitution gave the federal government the authority to tax in order to pay for the limited services provided by the government. Liberals have subsequently misinterpreted this authority to subject the people to a form of economic servitude. Finally, there were also functions related to adjudicating private property disputes as well as a few other minor roles.

The Founding Fathers were essentially government minimalists that advocated for a society where individuals were free to pursue their own interests. The role of the government was to foster their pursuits by protecting them from foreign invaders and internal threats to their private property. Over the past couple centuries the free society that was created has eroded at the hands of overzealous elites who want to control every aspect of an individual’s life.

Patrick Henry and the anti-federalists were not naïve in their view of human nature. Despite arguments claiming that the inclusion of a bill of rights was superfluous, Henry anticipated that men in power would be tempted to ignore constitutional limitations. This has been particularly true during times of crisis. During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln suspended the right of freedom of the press and habeas corpus. FDR enacted a plethora of New Deal legislation like the AAA, WPA, and NRA that had no constitutional grounds. And in the aftermath of the financial collapse, Bush and the Democrat led Congress picked winners in the market place through the bank bailout and institutionalized moral hazard.

The current regime of liberals continues their assault on the Constitution with Obamacare, Cap and Trade, and the Financial Reform bill. They clearly reject the notion that the Constitution places any limits on the legislation they craft.

Liberals have consistently expanded the powers of government through bypassing the amendment process. Conservatives need to push back against this violation of the rule of law. The Constitution means what it says. There are no implied meanings. If liberals do not agree with the document, then they are free to seek change through the amendment route.

It is readily apparent that Congressman Stark and many of his colleagues have no interest in reading the bills that they write. But perhaps he could read the Constitution since it is pertinent to his job. He might find it a bit more limiting than he initially thought. Perhaps, we should change our slogan from “Read the Bill” to “Read the Constitution.”
J.D. Thorpe is the Assistant Director of Programs, and ORL Regional Coordinator at the Patrick Henry Center

Pakistan army demands US slash troops

PAKISTAN'S military has demanded the US cut its troop presence in the country to a "minimum" as the fallout from the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden intensifies.

After days of questions in Washington over how bin Laden could find shelter in the town of Abbottabad, army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani threatened to "review" cooperation with the US in the event of another similar raid.

Pakistan is a key US ally in the war against Islamist militants in Afghanistan, but the relationship between Washington and Islamabad was tense even before the architect of the September 11, 2001 attacks was gunned down by US commandos on Monday.

Overnight, Pakistan's military admitted there had been "shortcomings" in developing intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts and said an investigation had been ordered.

But it said Gen Kayani had told army corps commanders "about the decision to reduce the strength of US military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum level", without saying who had made the decision.
Mr Kayani "made it very clear that any similar action violating the sovereignty will warrant a review of military, intelligence cooperation with the US".

The exact number of US military personnel in Pakistan is not known.

The presence of US Special Operations troops was uncovered by a 2010 suicide attack in which three were killed, with officials confirming 200 US military personnel were in the country.

Last month The New York Times reported about 335 American personnel, including CIA officers and Special Operations forces, were being asked to leave Pakistan in the wake of the killing of two men by CIA contractor Raymond Davis.

Gen Kayani's comments came after Pakistan said the notion that its powerful spies work hand in glove with al-Qaeda "flies in the face" of the truth.

"It's easy to say that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or elements within the government were in cahoots with al-Qaeda," top foreign ministry official Salman Bashir said.

"This is a false hypothesis. This is a false charge. It cannot be validated on any account and it flies in the face of what Pakistanis and, in particular, the Inter-Services Intelligence has been able to accomplish," he said.

In Washington and beyond there is incredulity that bin Laden could have found shelter under the noses of the military establishment in Abbottabad, a leafy garrison town just two hours' drive from the capital.

Some US lawmakers are demanding a cut to the billions in aid that flow to Pakistan each year, which is meant to shore up both nations' uneasy alliance as US-led forces fight the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

CIA chief Leon Panetta has said Washington kept Islamabad in the dark about the bin Laden raid for fear of the al-Qaeda chief being tipped off.

In a country where anti-US sentiment runs deep, there is rampant scepticism about the US version of events, which has been fuelled by the White House's decision not to release gruesome photographs of bin Laden's body.

Citing national security risks, President Barack Obama said yesterday the US should not brandish "trophies" of its victory.

"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool," he told 60 Minutes.

"That's not who we are. You know, we don't trot out this stuff as trophies," Mr Obama said, arguing that DNA and facial recognition testing had proved beyond doubt the Saudi-born extremist was dead.

The "very graphic" nature of the scene described by Mr Obama appeared to be shown in photos obtained by the Reuters news agency of three unidentified dead men in the Abbottabad house - none of whom resembled bin Laden.

Aside from bin Laden, US and Pakistani officials say four people were killed in the raid - including two brothers who were trusted al-Qaeda couriers and one believed to have been a son of bin Laden.

One of bin Laden's children, now in custody along with a Yemeni wife of the slain al-Qaeda leader, saw her father shot dead, a Pakistani intelligence official said.

The girl, reported to be 12 years old, "was the one who confirmed to us that Osama was dead and shot and taken away", said the Pakistani official.

Even without photographic proof, hardline religious groups in Pakistan have offered prayers for bin Laden, rather than taking to the streets and insisting he is still alive.

But Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's oldest religious party, gave vent to a widespread sense of national shame that US forces had struck with impunity deep into Pakistani territory.

"It was a clear violation of our sovereignty, it was an act of aggression even if Osama bin Laden was there or not," said Khurshid Ahmed, the party's vice-president.

In the most detailed public discussion of the operation yet by the Pakistani government, a top official at the foreign ministry said American helicopters had flown at a low altitude to escape Pakistani radars.

Salman Bashir said it was only when one of them crashed near bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad that suspicions were roused.

Bin Laden's body was buried at sea off a US warship to prevent any grave on land from becoming a shrine. The Abbottabad villa that served as his lair has instead become a macabre monument for locals and media alike.

Mr Obama was to lay a wreath in memory of the 9/11 victims during a visit overnight to Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center was toppled by airliners hijacked by al-Qaeda operatives.

The White House said he would meet victims' families in private but would not make a speech, in an apparent sign he is wary of his trip being seen as an overtly political affair.

While quietly rejoicing at the elimination of America's most wanted man, the Obama administration has been forced to defend the legality of the raid, after acknowledging bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot in the head.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said the UN, while condemning terrorism, demanded that anti-terrorism operations comply with international law.

"I'm still for a full disclosure of the accurate facts" regarding the raid, she said in Oslo.

11 Republican Senators Permit Former Planned Parenthood Director to Become Federal Judge

( - Senate Democrats were able to confirm the former director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island to a lifetime federal judgeship after 11 Republicans voted to close debate on the nomination and allow it to come up for a final vote.

As a lawyer, the new judge was also involved in litigation against the tobacco industry and a failed lawsuit against former manufacturers of lead paint.

The cloture vote on the nomination of John J. “Jack” McConnell was 63 to 33 with 1 senator voting present and 2 senators not voting at all. Had 4 of the 11 Republicans who voted for cloture not done so, the nomination would have failed. A cloture vote requires 60 votes to succeed.

All 11 Republicans who voted for cloture—and thus to allow McConnell’s nomination to proceed—turned around and voted against the nomination itself on the final vote. That vote succeeded 50 to 44 and McConnell was confirmed.
The 11 Republican senators who voted for cloture and thus to permit McConnell to become a lifetime federal judge were: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Thune of South Dakota.

“I voted against the confirmation of John McConnell to be a U.S. District judge. I voted in favor of invoking cloture on his nomination only to allow the Senate to proceed to a final up-or-down vote on his confirmation,” Isakson told in a statement.

Isakson, and other Republicans, said they did not want to duplicate the tactics of Senate Democrats who blocked numerous of President George W. Bush judicial nominees by refusing to support a cloture vote that would allow their nominations to come up for a final vote on the Senate floor.
“As I said repeatedly during the years President Bush was in office, I believe every president deserves an up-or-down vote on their judicial nominees,” Isakson said. “In addition, the U.S. Constitution says it is the Senate’s responsibility to give ‘advice and consent’ to the president’s judicial nominees, and the way to comply with the Constitution is to have an up-or-down vote on these nominees.”

McConnell, who was opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other organizations for his long history as a trial lawyer, had been approved 11 to 7 in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) serves as chairman.

The Chamber of Commerce cited McConnell’s less than average ranking by the American Bar Association of “substantial majority qualified, minority unqualified” as reason for opposing him.

“Sen. Collins voted against the confirmation of Mr. McConnell,” Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley told “She, along with ten of her Republican colleagues, voted for cloture because she believes that he deserved an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Senator Collins was a member of the so-called ‘Gang of 14’ that, in 2005, successfully averted a showdown in the U.S. Senate over the use of filibusters to block judicial nominations. The precedent is not to filibuster district court judges.”

Chambliss agrees that lower court nominees should get a straight vote, his spokesman Bronwyn Lance Chester said.

“Sen. Chambliss has been consistent in allowing district court judicial nominees an up-or-down vote if they come out of the Judiciary Committee,” Lance Chester told

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is the third ranking Republican in the Senate. He called McConnell a “flawed nominee” for a judge, but defended his vote for cloture.
“I know that most of my Republican colleagues are going to register their opposition to Mr. McConnell by voting to deny an up-or-down vote. I respect their decision; I understand how they feel,” Alexander said on the Senate floor. “I also was outraged in 2003 when Democratic senators filibustered President Bush’s circuit court nominees simply because they disagreed with their philosophies. I made my first speeches on the floor of the Senate arguing against such a change in precedent.”

“On February 27, 2003, I said on this floor: When it comes time to vote, when we finish that whole examination, I will vote to let the majority decide,” Alexander said. “In plain English, I will not vote to deny a Democratic President’s judicial nominee just because the nominee may have views more liberal than mine. That is the way judges have always been selected. That is way they should be selected.’”

Alexander recalled that in 2005, the Republican majority became so frustrated with Senate Democrats blocking Bush judicial nominees through procedural measures, they considered eliminating the filibuster.

The battle prompted the “Gang of 14” deal in which seven Republicans and seven Democrats agreed to allow up or down votes on judicial nominees except for in undefined “extraordinary circumstances.”

Alexander said that the “Gang of 14” agreement was intended for appeals court and Supreme Court nominees, not district judge nominees.

“It is true that the ‘Gang of 14’ agreement did not explicitly distinguish between circuit and district judges, but the debate then clearly was only about Supreme Court and circuit judges and the Senate always has thought of district judges differently,” he said. “District Judges are trial judges. Circuit judges also must follow precedent but have broader discretion in interpreting and applying the law. Circuit judges’ jurisdictions are broader. Their attitudes and philosophies are much more consequential in the judicial process.”

Alexander later added, “That is why the Senate never has allowed a federal district court nomination to fail by denying cloture. According to the Congressional Research Service, in the history of the Senate, only three cloture motions have ever been filed on district judge nominations. In each case, the nomination eventually was confirmed.”

McCain, a member of the “Gang of 14,” said he voted for cloture because it was consistent with the agreement.

“As a member of the ‘Gang of 14’ in 2005, I agreed that ‘Nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances,’” McCain said before the vote. “The nomination of Mr. McConnell does not rise to a level of ‘extraordinary circumstances.’ However, I am deeply troubled by Mr. McConnell’s less than candid responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee, his liberal judicial philosophy, including his public antipathy toward private enterprise, and his strong political activism. For these reasons, I will not support his nomination.”

In a floor speech, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Jack McConnell and fine man and praised Republican senators for allowing the McConnell nomination to come to the floor.

Jack McConnell was the director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island from 1997 through 2000, an uncompensated position, according to his written responses to a questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also contributed $1,000 to Emily’s List in 2008, an organization that raises money for pro-abortion women candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


Jack McConnell has long been active in the Rhode Island Democratic Party and has been a heavy contributor to Democratic campaigns. In a Jan. 7, 2003 op-ed in The Providence Journal, he explained what it should mean to be a Democrat.

“We as Democrats should stand for an active government,” McConnell, then the treasurer of the Rhode Island Democratic State Committee wrote in the op-ed. “Sen. Ted Kennedy reminded us that ‘the mission of government is not to stand on the sidelines, but to be active in pursuing [the principles of fairness, opportunity, equal justice] for all people.’”

McConnell joined the Providence office of the South Carolina-based Motley Rice law firm in 1986. He led a trial team representing the state of Rhode Island in a suit against former manufacturers of lead paint. He also played a leading role in litigation against the tobacco industry. But the Rhode Island Supreme Court held that manufactures of lead paint could not be held liable for harm caused primarily from poor upkeep and aging buildings.

On the tobacco settlement, McConnell is reportedly scheduled to receive $2 million to $3 million per year in deferred compensation through 2024, according to The Washington Times.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) voted "present" on the cloture motion for McConnell's nomination and then against the nomination itself. Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) did not vote on either the cloture motion or the nomination.

Photo: Dead Man at bin Laden Compound Had ... WATER GUN???

Photo: Dead Man at bin Laden Compound Had ... WATER GUN??? (UPDATED: 2nd Photo Added) **Sticky**(Update: Bumped Again)

White House slams Republican offshore drilling bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House sharply criticized a bill passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday that would expand offshore drilling as part of a broader Republican effort to stimulate domestic production in the face of rising gasoline costs.

The bill, which easily cleared the Republican-dominated House, would require lease sales to proceed that were canceled or delayed by the Obama administration offshore Virginia and in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill.

The White House said the bill would "undercut" new offshore drilling safety reforms imposed after the massive oil spill last year.

"These reforms strengthen requirements for issues ranging from well design to workplace safety to corporate accountability, and they require operators to show that they can contain a subsea oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," the White House said.
The White House also said the Interior Department would hold new lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico by mid 2012. The administration had planned to open up drilling offshore Virginia but backtracked on the idea after an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig sent millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

With both parties revving up for elections in 2012, Republicans argued that increasing exploration would help lower gasoline prices, even though it would take years to find and develop new offshore oil.

"This will send a strong signal to the world markets that the U.S. is serious about producing our resources and bringing more production online," said Republican Representative Doc Hastings, who steered the bill through the House.

Environmental groups said the legislation would leave the nation's oceans more vulnerable to drilling accidents.

"Congress is putting the interests of the oil industry over those of the American people," Ocean conservation group Oceana said in a statement. "Their chief priority seems to be assuring continued profits, even if it costs us our coasts."

Democrats were blocked from offering amendments to the bill that would have stripped billions of dollars in federal tax breaks from big oil companies.

"The Republicans say Big Oil needs these subsidies as an incentive to drill and yet for the first quarter of this year, the big five oil companies had profits of over $30 billion," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The legislation has little chance of making it into law. The measure needs to be voted on by the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it faces strong opposition.

In the Senate, the commerce committee approved a bill to toughen safety standards on oil and gas pipelines, while imposing higher fines on violators.

The safety bill is in response to a string of pipeline accidents in the last year that killed more than a dozen people, destroyed homes and polluted land and water.

The legislation would raise fines from $100,000 per violation to $250,000, and from $1 million for a series of pipeline violations to $2.5 million.

The measure must still pass the full Senate and then clear the House before it could be signed in to law.

As Republicans and Democrats scramble to show voters they are trying to do something about rising gasoline prices, the House will vote next week on legislation to set a 60-day deadline for the Interior Department to decide on new offshore drilling permits.

The Senate will begin tackling tax breaks for oil companies over the next few weeks by holding hearings on the issue and offering Republicans the chance to vote on related bills.

Debate is also picking up on a bill to promote natural gas.

This week the Blue Dog coalition, a group of 25 moderate Democrats who push for conservative budget and tax policies, endorsed a bill that would provide incentives for manufacturers to build heavy-duty trucks powered by natural gas and to covert passenger cars to run on the fuel.

The measure, which incorporates ideas from Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, has bipartisan support. But chemical makers and other industries that use large amounts of gas are afraid that increased demand would boost prices and are lobbying to stop the bill.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner and Richard Cowan; Editing by Russell Blinch, Dale Hudson and Sofina Mirza-Reid)

Krauthammer Destroys Obama’s Excuses

THANK-YOU Charles Krauthammer for telling it JUST LIKE IT IS.

To Mr. Krauthammer’s credit, he goes down a list of all showing of Americans whose deaths was either video during the gruesome process of being murdered or after their horrific deaths, often with either still pictures or videos. This includes the videos of the people who had jumped to their deaths from the burning World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2 on September 11th, 2001 to shock and horror of many Americans. Yet President Barak Obama CANNOT produce one REAL PICTURE of a dead Osama Bin Laden. To the CREDIT of Mr. Krauthammer, he not only REBUKES President Obama, but also DISTROYS the excuses one by one.

Even last night, on “Hannity”, Sean Hannity interviewed conservative writer, Ann Coulter. She not only had talked about her upcoming book, “Demonic”, but also about taking down of September 11, 2001′s mastermind Osama Bin Laden. She made no bones about it that the American people can “handle” the pictures of a very much “dead” Osama Bin Laden, but Ms. Coulter did add, it would also show how American’s tax dollars are being used.

Also to add; Ms. Coulter cites what Osama Bin Laden said about ”Arabs Admire Power And Strength,” plus Ms.Coulter had said, citing what Osama Bin Laden had said about the stronger horse winning.

IMHO, as, difficult as those dead Osama Bin Laden pictures are, it was very difficult, and even worse, for Americans like myself to have watched people having jump to their deaths from two burning World Trade Center Towers nearly ten years ago. Having put out those pictures would not only have sent a message that “JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE”, but also it would it would have”SERVED AS A NEEDED WARNING” to those in the Muslim world that do treat Osama Bin Laden as a folk-hero that they too, will come to a very bad end. Also by NOT putting out the pictures serves as a form of appeasement to the hyper-sensitivitives of those who have been supportive of Osama Bin Laden. As for putting Americans into danger, the last ten years, Americans have been in danger. Plus, the Islamofacists HATE AMERICANS anyways, despite all the efforts to appease them.

With MANY THANKS to joegerarden,,TaxTeaParty and YouTube. Watch Videos Here:

Obama Will Not Intervene With AG Holder Over Indictments of CIA Interrogators

Debra Burlingame: Obama Says He Will Not Intervene With AG Holder Over Indictments of CIA Interrogators

Just over FoxNews now. As the wife sister of one of the victims of 9/11 -- and a persistent critic of Obama's policies -- she used the meet-and-greet as a chance to ask Obama about an issue that concerns her.

Holder's holding indictments over the heads of CIA interrogators -- the same ones who delivered bin Ladin to the SEALs.

Burlingame asked him about that, and said "I know you can't tell him what to do" (which isn't really true), and Obama said "That's right."

Then she asked, even if she couldn't order him to drop the prosecution of the interrogators who got bin Ladin, if he would at least offer Holder his opinion that there should be no prosecutions, he answered: "No, I won't."

Huh. Big Damn Hero, huh?

She went on to note that, last May, a Dallas US Attorney sought to indict CAIR officials (for terrorist ties and terrorist funding, of course), and Holder quashed those indictments.

We're in the very best of hands, as Instapundit says.

Oil sinks below $100

By Charles Riley, staff reporter
May 5, 2011: 2:51 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Oil prices plunged more than 8% Thursday as weak economic data and a strengthening dollar drove crude to its biggest one-day drop since April 2009.

The main U.S. oil contract for June delivery settled down $9.44, or 8.6%, to $99.80 a barrel. That's its lowest level since mid-March and marks its biggest one-day percentage drop in two years. Brent crude, the European benchmark, fell $10.73 to $110.46 a barrel.


The broad underlying fear is that the U.S. economy is slowing down, and traders have a slew of data to back that theory.

On Thursday, a government report showed the number of people filing first-time unemployment claims surged to 474,000 in the latest week -- its highest total in 8 months. That means less demand for oil products because if you don't have a job, chances are you're trying conserve on gas and other energy costs.

In fact, a government report released Wednesday indicated Americans are consuming less gasoline due to sky-high prices.

Adding to the selling pressure was a strengthening U.S. dollar. The greenback gained 1.5% against the euro after the European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet left Europe's interest rates alone and said they weren't likely to change in the near term, despite inflationary pressures.

That sent the dollar soaring and a stronger dollar tends to drive down crude prices because oil and other commodities are priced in the U.S. currency.
Track commodities

"It's like the commodity bubble burst," Daniel Flynn, an energy trader at PFG Best said. "We knew it was going to happen, but didn't know it would be this fast and furious."

The drop has been dramatic. Crude opened the week at $113.89 a barrel, and has declined in each trading session, for an aggregate loss of around 10% in just four days.

"This entire week has been absolutely crazy," Flynn said.
6 apps to save you money on gas

And it's not over yet. On Friday, the government will release its monthly report on jobs. A weak number there has the potential to drive prices down even further.

The drop hasn't translated into lower gasoline prices though. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline rose for the forty-fourth straight day to $3.985 on Thursday, according to motorist group AAA.

Lower crude prices usually translate into lower gasoline prices, but the effect is delayed.

Osama bin Laden hideout 'worth far less than US claimed'

Osama bin Laden hideout 'worth far less than US claimed'

Pakistan property experts say US government description of '$1m mansion' was way off the mark, as further exaggerations come to light
Osama bin Laden's house, described by the US government as a $1m (£605,000) mansion, is in fact worth no more than $250,000 say property professionals in Abbottabad, the town where he was killed.

The revelation is the latest of several erroneous descriptions about the nature of Bin Laden's hideout – and the manner of his death – which have dogged the White House in recent days.

On Tuesday US officials retracted claims that Bin Laden was armed when killed, and that he had used one of his wives as a human shield.

Descriptions of Bin Laden's hideout have also been prone to exaggeration. After Sunday night's dramatic raid by US Navy Seals, a senior Obama administration official told reporters that the property, an "extraordinarily unique compound" in an "affluent suburb", was valued at around $1m.

But two property professionals in Abbottabad – a quiet, military-dominated town – said that much of that was incorrect. Based on the size of the plot and the house, which was built in 2005, and using recent property sales as a guide, they estimated that it would fetch no more than $250,000 on the current market.

"Twenty million rupees, maximum," said property dealer Muhammad Anwar, a 22-year veteran of the local market, at his Abbottabad office. "No swimming pool. This is not a posh area. We call it a middling area."

Asked about the American estimate, he chuckled. "Maybe that's the assessment from a satellite. But here on the ground, that's the price."

The assessment was backed by the local branch manager of a major Pakistani bank, who himself owns land in the same locality. "If it was worth that much, we would all be multi-millionaires round here," he said.

A doctor who sold the land where the compound was built identified the buyer as Mohammad Arshad, a name that partially matches that of one of the two brothers who lived in the house – one of whom is believed to have been the courier who unwittingly led the CIA to Bin Laden.

Property records obtained by the Associated Press show Arshad bought adjoining plots in four stages between 2004 and 2005. Dr Qazi Mahfooz Ul Haq said on Wednesday that he sold a plot of land to Mr Arshad in 2005. He said the buyer was a "modest, humble type of man" who claimed to be purchasing it for his uncle.

The neighbourhood where Bin Laden lived, Bilal Town, was developed following the 2005 earthquake that devastated northern Pakistan, killing more than 73,000 people.

People from quake-hit towns such as Mansehra and Balakot streamed into Abbottabad, seeking to build new homes in a more secure area.

Many residents come from middle-income backgrounds, having built their homes with family inheritances, said Mr Anwar's 24-year-old son, Junaid.