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Roland Burris suggested he would challenge an effort to block his appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, but said he's confident Senate Democrats will relent and let him take the job.Burris is taking the effort to court. Is there anything that can legally stop it?
"We think they will come around and recognize that the appointment is legal and valid and I am the junior Senator from Illinois," the former Illinois attorney general said in an interview at his office here.
He spoke Wednesday as it became clear that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich offered the post to at least one other African-American politician, and as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald sought more time to seek an indictment against the governor—and perhaps widen a five-year-old corruption case that already has resulted in felony convictions.
Gov. Blagojevich, facing federal corruption charges, named Mr. Burris on Tuesday as his choice for the Senate seat that the governor is accused of having tried to sell. Senate Democrats have vowed to block Mr. Burris's appointment, citing the allegations against Gov. Blagojevich.
Mr. Burris, 71 years old, brushed off the opposition in a 25-minute interview in which aides called him "senator" and he gamely argued that he'd make a good representative of his state. "From South Beloit to Cairo, from Galena to Zion, East St. Louis to Lawrenceville, I know this state. I know its people," he said.
He also questioned—as have several legal scholars—the Senate's legal right to keep him from taking the Senate seat. "By what authority can [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] deny a governor carrying out his constitutional duty?" Mr. Burris said.
"I am the senator, and it sounds good," he said. "This is what I love to do. I tried to be governor not once, not twice, but three times. I'm giving up a lot of money to go to the Senate, OK? I'm taking a pay cut."
Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press.Yeah, well, this is one time I'll agree with the experts. Any government intervention or bailout of a media enterprise to me makes that outfit government media. They just cannot ever be viewed as objective, not that many of them are to begin with.
Nicastro represents Connecticut's 79th assembly district, which includes Bristol, a city of about 61,000 people outside Hartford, the state capital. Its paper, The Bristol Press, may fold within days, along with The Herald in nearby New Britain.
That is because publisher Journal Register, in danger of being crushed under hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, says it cannot afford to keep them open anymore.
Nicastro and fellow legislators want the papers to survive, and petitioned the state government to do something about it. "The media is a vitally important part of America," he said, particularly local papers that cover news ignored by big papers and television and radio stations.
To some experts, that sounds like a bailout, a word that resurfaced this year after the U.S. government agreed to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the automobile and financial sectors.
Even as industries deemed too important to fail are seeking bailouts, most newspaper publishers have refused to give serious thought to the idea, though some industry insiders recounted joking about it with other newspaper executives.Digby Solomon gets it.
"The whole idea of the First Amendment and separating media and giving them freedom of control from the government is sacrosanct," said Digby Solomon, publisher of Tribune Co's Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia.
Former Miami Herald Editor Tom Fiedler said that a democracy has an obligation to help preserve a free press.Astonishing. No, Mr. Fiedler, it is not in the government's business to support a failing enterprise, although we're apparently well on out way to doing just that.
"I truly believe that no democracy can remain healthy without an equally healthy press," said Fiedler, now dean of Boston University's College of Communication. "Thus it is in democracy's interest to support the press in the same sense that the human being doesn't hesitate to take medicine when his or her health is threatened."
The Gaza Strip has lost its last lifeline after five days of Israeli bombing raids that destroyed dozens of smuggling tunnels under the sandy border with Egypt.Meanwhile, Israel is sending in more troops. Have at it, boys.
The passages did not just supply Hamas with arms, but brought in flour, fuel and baby milk. For Gazans, already used to blackouts and shortages from an 18-month border blockade, the daily hunt for basics is ever more desperate — though there are no reports of outright hunger.
"I fed the children cooked tomatoes today, I can't find bread," Nima Burdeini, a mother of 11, said Wednesday at the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border.
Israel sent more troops to the Gaza border Wednesday, rapidly moving forward with preparations for a possible ground offensive as the next stage of its military assault on the coastal territory's Hamas rulers. Israel rebuffed calls by world leaders for a truce, and Hamas also was cold to a cease-fire.Naturallly, the Paleo-stinians have resoted to hiding in hospitals. What brave warriors.
Instead, both intensified their fire. Israel bombed a mosque that it said was used to store rockets as well as vital smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian border, and the Islamic militants hammered southern Israeli cities with about 60 rockets.
Diskin also noted that large numbers of Hamas operatives are hiding in hospitals and that some are posing as medical staff. "Some are also hiding in mosques and some of those have been turned into headquarters, since they assumed Israel won't attack them there. Their weapons' labs have been completely destroyed and their tunnel system has been severely damaged.
Sen. Bill Clinton? Sen. Mario Cuomo? Don't completely rule it out. The former president and the former New York governor are among several boldface names being touted as possible "caretakers" for New York's Senate seat — people who would serve until the 2010 elections but wouldn't be interested in running to keep the job.Having noted earlier what a glorious year it's been for public officials with sexual peccadilloes, the choice of The Clenis would be most ironic.
As the process of picking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's replacement gets messier, the option may become increasingly attractive to Gov. David Paterson, who has sole authority to name a successor.
A spokesman for Bill Clinton, Matt McKenna, said Wednesday that the former chief executive isn't interested in the job and plans to continue the work of his foundation. Cuomo declined through a spokesman to discuss the Senate seat.
A big name could have an immediate impact for New York in the Senate while letting the large field of hopefuls duke it out in 2010, according to three Democratic Party advisers in New York and Washington who are close to the discussion with Paterson's inner circle on this issue.
Two others in the party confirmed that Paterson is still considering the caretaker option. The advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to comment.
"You could find a very senior person who could serve New York well" on an interim basis, said Gerald Benjamin, a political scientist and dean at the State University of New York at New Paltz. "Then you can say to Caroline Kennedy, `You know, you'd make a good senator. Run for it.' And you can tell everyone else that it's a level playing field."
Paterson has made it clear in recent days that he's getting annoyed by the constant jockeying by supporters of high-powered hopefuls including Kennedy, half a dozen members of Congress and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of the former governor.
As more and more black renters began moving into this mostly white San Francisco Bay Area suburb a few years ago, neighbors started complaining about loud parties, mean pit bulls, blaring car radios, prostitution, drug dealing and muggings of schoolchildren.So here you have people looking to escape the miserable conditions resulting from liberal social engineering and the first ones complaining are the liberals themselves.
In 2006, as the influx reached its peak, the police department formed a special crime-fighting unit to deal with the complaints, and authorities began cracking down on tenants in federally subsidized housing.
Now that police unit is the focus of lawsuits by black families who allege the city of 100,000 is orchestrating a campaign to drive them out.
"A lot of people are moving out here looking for a better place to live," said Karen Coleman, a mother of three who came here five years ago from a blighted neighborhood in nearby Pittsburg. "We are trying to raise our kids like everyone else. But they don't want us here."
City officials deny the allegations in the lawsuits, which were filed last spring and seek unspecified damages.
Across the country, similar tensions have simmered when federally subsidized renters escaped run-down housing projects and violent neighborhoods by moving to nicer communities in suburban Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles.
African-Americans are abandoning this famously progressive city at a rate that has alarmed San Francisco officials, who vow to stop the exodus and develop a strategy to win blacks back to the city. In June, Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed a task force to study how to reverse decades of policies — and neglect — that black leaders say have fueled the flight.They just can't handle all the progressive tolerance, not to mention the sky-high cost of living. They're probably also sick of all the
Black flight can alter a city's character. "It's important for a city's future that it be a diverse place, and San Francisco is drifting toward being an upper-middle-class city," says Ed Blakely, director of Katrina recovery for New Orleans.
According to Census estimates, the number of blacks here shrank from 13.4% of the population in 1970 to just 6.5% in 2005 — the biggest percentage decline in any major American city.
After five straight days of punishing air attacks, Israel rejected a proposal for a 48-hour cease-fire in its military onslaught in Gaza on Wednesday, saying it would maintain pressure on Hamas. But it did not rule out future diplomacy and was open to ways of increasing humanitarian aid.Not that Israel extending aid to their enemies is met graciously or even acknowledged. No, but defending themselves, well, that just provokes outrage. They can't win either way, so they may as well step up the offensive.
The decision was announced after a security cabinet meeting here.
The Israeli air strikes on Gaza continued on Wednesday, and at least 20 more rockets were fired by Hamas militants in reprisal into southern Israel, including three that landed in the city of Beersheba. Mark Regev, the spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said earlier that the country’s leaders “view it as important to keep up the pressure on Hamas.”
“We cannot give them a respite to rearm and regroup,” he said. “We need a real, sustainable solution, not a Band-Aid.” But he added that Israel would still explore ways to expedite humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and would also explore a broader diplomatic effort to achieve a lasting cease-fire.
The attacks on Israeli citizens have little to do with what Israel does or does not do. They have everything to do with an ideology that despises – and openly seeks to destroy – the Jewish state. Consider that rocket attacks increased substantially after Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, and they accelerated further after Hamas seized control last year.
In the past months, a shaky cease-fire, organized by Egypt, was in effect. Hamas agreed to stop the rockets and Israel agreed to stop taking military action against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The cease-fire itself was morally dubious and legally asymmetrical.
Israel, in effect, was saying to Hamas: If you stop engaging in the war crime of targeting our innocent civilians, we will stop engaging in the entirely lawful military acts of targeting your terrorists. Under the cease-fire, Israel reserved the right to engage in self-defense actions such as attacking terrorists who were in the course of firing rockets at its civilians.
Just before the hostilities began, Israel reopened a checkpoint to allow humanitarian aid to reenter Gaza. It had closed the point of entry after it had been targeted by Gazan rockets. Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, also issued a stern, final warning to Hamas that unless it stopped the rockets, there would be a full-scale military response. The Hamas rockets continued and Israel kept its word, implementing a carefully prepared targeted air attack against Hamas targets.
Mayor Bloomberg yesterday defended Caroline Kennedy from attacks over recent interviews in which she punctuated her remarks with a stream of "ums" and "you knows."Well, I though everyone was trying to, um, portray the Princess as an average New Yorker? Could you people get your talking points straight?
"Caroline Kennedy isn't just your average person, so people may be a little more critical," said Bloomberg, who has repeatedly praised Kennedy since she threw her name into the hat to replace Hillary Rodham, Clinton in the Senate.
"If there's anybody who understands the pain and suffering of having the press criticize how you speak, it is me," he added.Pain and suffering?
Bloomberg's defense of Kennedy yesterday also extended to the criticizing the press corps, which he accused of subjecting her to intense scrutiny not visited on her rivals.Meanwhile, it sure doesn't appear Bloomberg's support is helping.
"Nobody seems to be asking other particular candidates, 'Tell us what you would do in the situation of world chaos or whatever, a Depression, a world war,' " Bloomberg said.
Kevin Wardally, of Bill Lynch Associates, who is representing Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the Senate contest, said Kennedy has "sucked the air out of the room," and his client would welcome scrutiny from the press.
"We're barely included," said Wardally. "We are the last sentence in most articles in a list with the other candidates."
Congressional leaders from several states, including Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, question whether the BCS violates the federal Sherman Antitrust Act, a law passed in 1890. In a formal House resolution and in a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, the Congressional members said the BCS unfairly prohibits many small colleges from competing for a championship berth. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat from Hawaii, said, "The anti-competitive effects of the BCS far outweigh its procompetitive benefits. The most obvious anti-competitive effect is the vast difference in revenue generated in the postseason between the BCS and non-BCS schools."
A movie about a "maverick," his journey "from Wall Street to Main Street," his "desperate search" for a "monkey" and a "game-changing" revelation about his "carbon footprint" probably would make the nation's word-watchers physically ill.Another on that grates like nails on a chalkboard (wait, is that phrase banned?) is the dreaded staycation. It was bad enough this past summer we were inundated daily with stories about gas prices, but then we had to hear about people not going on vacation, but staying home--hence staycation.
Especially if it were the "winner of five nominations."
All those words and phrases are on Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. The 34th version of the list was released Tuesday, which means, "It's that time of year again."
The school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula selected 15 entries from about 5,000 nominations.
Despite the year's economic meltdown (which itself wasn't banished but don't rule it out for next year), the most entries came from the environmental category — for "green" or "going green."
"If I see one more corporation declare itself 'green,' I'm going to start burning tires in my backyard," wrote Ed Hardiman of Bristow, Va., in his submission. Nominators also had their fill of "carbon footprint" — the amount of greenhouse gases an individual's lifestyle produces.
Although this year's sluggish economy and record rise in gas prices may have kept people closer to home, the word coined for it, "staycation," is "idiotic and rootless," says Michele Mooney of Los Angeles.
Still, the fact remains that Bush is a prodigious, industrial reader, and this does not conform at all to his critics' idea of who he is. They would prefer seeing him as a dolt, since that, as opposed to policy or ideological differences, is a briefer, more bloggish explanation of what went wrong. Still, in fairness to these critics (see Rove above), Bush himself has encouraged this approach. Aw shucks is an infuriating defense of a policy.I doubt Cheney will be reading that, either.
It is awfully late in the day for Rove -- and, presumably, Bush -- to assert the president's intellectual bona fides. Now feeling the hot breath of history, they are dropping the good ol' boy persona and picking up the ol' bifocals one. But the books themselves reveal -- actually, confirm -- something about Bush that maybe Rove did not intend. They are not the reading of a widely read man, but instead the books of a man who seeks -- and sees -- vindication in every page. Bush has always been the captive of fixed ideas. His books just support that.
The list Rove provides is long, but it is narrow. It lacks whole shelves of books on how and why the Iraq war was a mistake, one that metastasized into a debacle. Absent is Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," Tom Ricks's "Fiasco," George Packer's "The Assassins' Gate" or, on a related topic, Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side" about "extraordinary rendition" and other riffs on the Constitution. Absent too is Barton Gellman's "Angler," about Dick Cheney, the waterboarder in chief.
After loading his clubs onto a cart, Obama, wearing sunglasses, a white shirt, khaki shorts, white and brown golf shoes, and a red baseball cap emblazoned with the City and County of Honolulu's Ocean Safety logo, drove down to the driving range....Keep suffering, dude.
Prior to leaving for the course at about 11 a.m., a group of five people approached the security checkpoint set up by the U.S. Secret Service and Honolulu police carrying a box wrapped with a gold ribbon. The group, led by Fred and Pat Shepherd from Greenbrae, Calif., and Robert Steiver, 65, of Honolulu, asked the Secret Service if they could deliver the box and a letter to Obama.
The Secret Service declined.
Speaking to a reporter, Fred Shepherd said they wanted to deliver the box, which once held "Super Gorilla" golf balls but now contained informational DVD's about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
"I don't think he's taking a vacation, he's preparing to be the next president," said Steiver. "I'm deathly afraid he'll continue the failed policies of the Bush administration. I've been suffering with the Palestinians for years."
President-elect Barack Obama thought he'd put the bowling jokes behind him. Not likely.
On the golf course Monday, a woman waiting at the 18th green reminded Obama of his disastrous bowling during the presidential campaign. It was an unwelcome reminder for Obama, whose golf game during a 12-day vacation has been just as troublesome.
"That was pretty good, right?" Obama said to cheers as he finished a round of golf near his $9 million rented vacation home near Honolulu.
The woman sitting on a nearby wall shouted, "Better than your bowling."
In a press release, the Free Gaza movement stated, “Contrary to international maritime law, the Israelis are actively preventing the Dignity from approaching Gaza or finding safe haven in either Egypt or Lebanon. Instead, the Israeli navy is demanding that the Dignity return to Cyprus — despite the fact that the ship does not carry enough fuel to do so.”Liberals are so fascinated with self-inflicted gunshot wounds it isn't funny. They try to make their plight more sympathetic by citing the lack of fuel. Hey idiot, before embarking on this type trip do you think it might have been a good idea to plan for that eventuality? Gee, what are we going to do if we get turned around?
Taliban militants are beheading and burning their way through Pakistan's picturesque Swat Valley, and residents say the insurgents now control most of the mountainous region outside the lawless tribal areas where jihadists thrive.Such a charming bunch. They'll love the Obama administration.
The deteriorating situation in the former tourist haven comes despite an army offensive that began in 2007 and an attempted peace deal. It is especially worrisome to Pakistani officials because the valley lies away from the areas where al-Qaida and Taliban militants have traditionally operated and where the military is staging a separate offensive.
"You can't imagine how bad it is," said Muzaffar ul-Mulk, a federal lawmaker whose home in Swat was attacked by bomb-toting assailants in mid-December, weeks after he left. "It's worse day by day."
The Taliban activity in northwest Pakistan also comes as the country shifts forces east to the Indian border because of tensions over last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, potentially giving insurgents more space to maneuver along the Afghan frontier.
Militants began preying on Swat's lush mountain ranges about two years ago, and it is now too dangerous for foreign and Pakistani journalists to visit. Interviews with residents, lawmakers and officials who have fled the region paint a dire picture.
A suicide blast killed 40 people Sunday at a polling station in Buner, an area bordering Swat that had been relatively peaceful. The attack underscored fears that even so-called "settled" regions presumptively under government control are increasingly unsafe.
The 3,500-square-mile Swat Valley lies less than 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad.
A senior government official said he feared there could be a spillover effect if the government lost control of Swat and allowed the insurgency to infect other areas. Like nearly everyone interviewed, the official requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by militants.
Officials estimate that up to a third of Swat's 1.5 million people have left the area. Salah-ud-Din, who oversees relief efforts in Swat for the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated that 80 percent of the valley is now under Taliban control.
Swat's militants are led by Maulana Fazlullah, a cleric who rose to prominence through radio broadcasts demanding the imposition of a harsh brand of Islamic law. His appeal tapped into widespread frustration with the area's inefficient judicial system.
Most of the insurgents are easy to spot with long hair, beards, rifles, camouflage vests and running shoes. They number at most 2,000, according to people who were interviewed.
In some places, just a handful of insurgents can control a village. They rule by fear: beheading government sympathizers, blowing up bridges and demanding women wear all-encompassing burqas.
They have also set up a parallel administration with courts, taxes, patrols and checkpoints, according to lawmakers and officials. And they are suspected of burning scores of girls' schools.
Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, on Monday announced that it was recruiting an additional 1,000 militiamen ahead of a possible IDF ground operation in the Gaza Strip.Naturally, Hamas talks tough while getting trashed.
The group said that thousands of volunteers from the Gaza Strip had also asked to be recruited to the movement in the past 48 hours so that they could fight against IDF soldiers.
The announcement came as sources close to Hamas said that the movement's armed wing had hardly been affected by the IDF operation that began on Saturday.
The sources told The Jerusalem Post that many of the casualties in the first two days of the operation were "ordinary" policemen who had been recently recruited to various branches of the security forces.
"These policemen were being enlisted to direct the traffic and fight crime," the sources said. "These are not the militiamen who are responsible for the rocket attacks on Israel."
This explains why Hamas did not rush to evacuate the headquarters of the "civilian" police force in Gaza City before the IDF offensive.
On the contrary, the police chiefs decided to go ahead with plans to hold a graduation ceremony for the cadets on Saturday because they did not believe that they would be targeted by Israel.
The Hamas militiamen have now been entrusted with the task of repelling an IDF ground attack. Spokesmen for the group said on Monday that their men are determined to fight to the end.I hope Ehud Barak is firm when he says this is an all-out war until the end, and they better be prepared to unleash a full fury on these terror monsters. No matter what Israel does, the "world community" will be "outraged" so it's better they be outraged over the quivering corpse of Hamas rather than dancing with glee over Israel retreating in any form while rockets continue to rain down on civilian Israelis.
"We have many surprises for Israel," said one of the spokesmen. "We are just waiting for the ground attack to teach them an unforgettable lesson."
While Bush has been briefed on the situation by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, he has opted not to interrupt his final vacation as president to make a public statement on the crisis. For someone who has enjoyed the most vacation days as sitting president — including days spent relaxing in comfort during Hurricane Katrina and in the lead-up to 9/11 — it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Bush prioritizes vacationing over crisis management.This marks an unbroken string of Bush vacations the left didn't whine about since Bush "stole" the 2000 election from Al Gore. Congratulations. You've managed to be complete assholes for eight straight years. Give yourselves a medal. Now please, answer me this: If you're going to relax, would it be in comfort or discomfort? Really, who is able to relax if they're not in comfort? I realize you folks are always angry and in perpetual rage, but I figure you might find the time now and then to relax in comfort. Now I know also the left grants some mysterious powers to Bush (or is it still Rove?), but how would he have known not to relax in comfort prior to 9/11?
President-elect Barack Obama has also been monitoring the violence from his vacationing spot in Hawaii, staying in contact with Bush and Rice. “President Bush speaks for the United States until Jan. 20 and we’re going to honor that,” Obama adviser David Axelrod said.No, you idiots, Bush is just in agreement with the Israelis that they need to defend themselves against the terrorists. How difficult is this to understand? Why the hell does he have to interrupt his vacation when his spokespeople can issue statements? Now if he did, you'd be criticizing him for not getting out of the way and letting the uber-cool heartthrob take over.
One senior Bush administration official told the Washington Post that he thinks the Israelis acted in Gaza “because they want it to be over before the next administration comes in” and because “they can’t predict how the next administration will handle it.” Indeed, Bush has become fairly predictable in how he manages these sorts of crises.
If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.Finally, take the time to read Ralph Peters.
These aren't my words -- they're Barack Obama's. But I attach myself to this sentiment. Obama said this in July, after visiting the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Visits to Sderot will do that for you -- make you see things clearly. For what it's worth, this is how I see what's happening in Gaza: In 2005, the Israeli government acceded to the longstanding Arab demand to withdraw its settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip. Almost as soon as the Israeli withdrawal was completed, Hamas and other Islamist factions in Gaza began firing rockets at Israeli civilians living in towns and kibbutzim inside the pre-1967 borders of Israel. Sometimes -- and I've seen this with my own eyes -- Hamas rocketeers fired on Israel from atop the ruins of the abandoned Jewish settlements.
No country in the world could afford to ignore such attacks. And no country would. An elected government, such as Israel's, has a basic, overriding responsibility -- to protect its citizens from the organized violence of their enemies.
Given the fact that Hamas adheres to the terrorist practice of locating command sites, arsenals and training facilities in heavily populated areas, the results suggest that the IDF - supported by first-rate intelligence work - may have executed the most accurate wave of airstrikes in history, with a 15-to-1 terrorist-to-civilian kill ratio.Update: Thanks to AmericanNeocon in the comments for pointing out this magnificent Melanie Phillips piece.
The bad news is that it still won't be enough. While Israel has delivered a painful blow against Hamas, it's still not a paralyzing hit. The only way to neuter such a terror threat - even temporarily - is to go in on the ground and scour every room, basement and underground tunnel in a region.
That would mean high Israeli casualties and, of course, condemnation of Israel's self-defense efforts by every self-righteous, corrupt and bigoted organization and government on earth, from Turtle Bay to Tehran.
What have been Israel's "crimes?" Not "stealing Palestinian land," but making that land productive, while exposing the incompetence and sloth of Arab culture.
Israel's crime isn't striking back at terror, but demonstrating, year after year, that a country in the Middle East can be governed without resort to terror. Israel's crime hasn't been denying Arab rights, but insisting on human rights for women and minorities.
Israel's crime has been making democracy work where tyranny prevailed for 5,000 years. Israel's crime has been survival against overwhelming odds, while legions of Arab nationalists, Islamist extremists and Western leftists want every Jew dead.
Certainly, some civilian casualties are regrettably inevitable in any such situation – but particularly so in Gaza, since Hamas has deliberately sited its terrorist infrastructure amongst the civilian population.Keep reading. She lays out Socky McSockpuppet.
Those who scream ‘disproportionate’ think – grotesquely -- that not enough Israelis have been killed. But that’s in part because Israel cares enough about human life to construct air raid shelters where its beleaguered civilians take cover; Hamas deliberately stores its rockets and other apparatus of mass murder below apartment blocks and in centres of population in order to get as many of its own people killed as possible as a propaganda weapon. Hamas is thus guilty of war crimes not just against Israelis but against the Palestinian people. Yet on this there is – fantastically, surreally – almost total silence in the west, which blames Israel instead. Historical resonances, anyone?
In any event, if by ‘disproportionate’ is meant merely an imbalance in the numbers who are killed on either side, this is actually inescapable if the infrastructure of aggression is to be defeated. Many more died in Afghanistan than in the 9/11 attacks; yet that war was necessary to destroy the Taleban. Many more died in Nazi Germany or Japan than in Britain or America during World War Two. Yet the scale of the Allied offensive was necessary to defeat Nazism and prevent yet more carnage amongst its designated victims.
The disgusting fifth column in the Gaza conflict, however, is – as ever – the western media. It was telling to witness the sight of British TV camera crews heading out to Israel on Saturday night. The point was that they weren’t already there – because their editors had not thought it necessary to send them to cover the resumed rocket attacks on southern Israel. Indeed, hardly anyone in Britain is aware that Israel is only now finally responding to some 6000 rocket attacks since 2001, with a fifty per cent increase after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. British journalists were only dispatched to the battle zone when Israel finally retaliated – because, appallingly, it is only Jewish violence that is ever the story.
As a result, Israel is painted – wholly unjustly and untruthfully -- as the aggressor. The ineffable BBC reported in radio bulletins on Saturday that Israel’s attack had ‘put back the chance of peace in the region’. Most sane people would think that the reason peace in the region had been put back was that Hamas was continuing to wage aggressive war.
Israeli attacks on suspected Hamas strongholds in Gaza have triggered protests in more than a dozen countries.Ooh, a dozen countries? So how does that translate into the world?
In London, England, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy, waving flags and trying to push their way closer to the building, as police tried to hold them back and erect a barricade.Oh my God! Dozens of protesters! Why, that sure seems like a healthy representation of the more than five billion people on the planet, no?
Protesters also have taken to the streets in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, according to news reports. There also were reports of demonstrations in Caracas, Venezuela.Sure, that Iranian media is always a trust source. Actually, they do have more credibility than CNN these days.
Iranian media reported that thousands took part in anti-Israel demonstrations in Tehran on Monday, which the government declared a day of mourning for the Palestinians in Gaza.
In Iraq, hundreds of supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated in al-Mustansiriya Square in eastern Baghdad. The demonstrators carried Iraqi and Palestinian flags, banners and pictures of al-Sadr and his father.Well, at least they scared up hundreds in Iraq.
The demonstrators threw an Israeli flag on the ground, put President Bush's picture on top of it and set both on fire.
An Iraq-born Canadian citizen who was detained at the U.S. border is accused of conspiring to spy for Iraq.Much more here from the Department of Justice release.
U.S. Justice Department officials say 47-year-old Mouyad Mahmoud Darwish will appear in federal court in Buffalo for a detention hearing Tuesday. He was detained while entering the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo Dec. 24.
A criminal complaint filed in Maryland Monday alleges Darwish, while working at a Maryland restaurant, was paid to provide information to Iraqi government officials and intelligence officers, including that Iraqi volunteers were being trained by the U.S. military in Virginia.
An alleged co-conspirator pleaded guilty in Maryland last week.
Darwish is a Canadian citizen born in Iraq. During part of the alleged conspiracy, he resided in Maryland. According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) routinely recruited individuals, either currently in the United States or to be placed into the United States, to support the IIS and the Government of Iraq. Following the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces in March 2003, the United States military obtained confidential IIS documents establishing that Darwish provided information to officials of the Government of Iraq and intelligence officers with the IIS.
The seized documents also established that Darwish received payments from the IIS and the Iraqi government as compensation for his assistance and information. For example, an IIS document indicated that Darwish had provided information he received from a source of Iraqi descent that Iraqi volunteers, including the source, were being trained by the U.S. military in Virginia. Another document identifies Darwish as an employee of the Iraqi Interests Section (ISEC), formed in 1991 within the Algerian Embassy in Washington, D.C., after the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Iraq for invading Kuwait.
Specifically, according to the affidavit, throughout the conspiracy Darwish performed tasks at the Iraqi Embassy and at the ISEC. For example, the affidavit alleges that from 2000 through March or April of 2004, Darwish was working full-time at the ISEC as an assistant to the accountant and as a driver, for which he was paid $1,500 per month. Darwish also had obtained a work visa for a position as a cook at a restaurant in Maryland during that time frame, in an effort to legally remain in the United States.
According to the affidavit, in January 2004, a co-conspirator asked that Darwish locate and destroy any ISEC files associated with the conspirator, in an effort to conceal that person’s ISEC activities and Ba’ath Party membership. While attempting to locate the files, Darwish learned that the files had already been destroyed and shared this information with his co-conspirators. Darwish also is alleged to have told his conspirators about his employment activities at the Iraqi Embassy and the ongoing activities in the United States of the Iraqi ambassador and other Iraqi government officials who were associated with the interim government following the downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime.
Darwish also is alleged to have attended social gatherings at the Iraqi Embassy and the ISEC, which were used to recruit individuals to work for the IIS; to interact with individuals who were already working with the IIS and Saddam Hussein’s regime; and to maintain the loyalties of the participants to the Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Gov. Sarah Palin is a grandmother. The baby's name is Tripp, and he was born Sunday, People magazine is reporting.The scurrilous Andrew Sullivan, the Trig Troofer whose bizarre obsession with Bristol and Trig Palin, Sarah's fifth child, has bordered on the deranged, was unavailable for comment.
Palin's daughter Bristol gave birth to the healthy 7-pound, 4-ounce baby in Palmer, the magazine reports on its Web site.
The full name: Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston.
Forget Chappaqua.If Kennedy succesfully manages to finagle her way into a Senate seat despite having zero qualifications, she'll likely be the wealthiest U.S. senator.
This amazing Martha's Vineyard spread will be the next home-away-from-the-Beltway for New York's junior senator if Caroline Kennedy is tapped to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The 366-acre estate - worth at least $50 million - just underwent a major renovation and rezoning that will keep it the exclusive province of Kennedy, 51.
It's also the spot where she got her first call to public service, six years before she launched her campaign for Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.
In 2002, her houseguest, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, reportedly floated the idea of her coming on board the city's Department of Education as a fund-raiser.
Kennedy and her advocates have been relentlessly touting that two-year stint as qualifying her to be senator.
If Kennedy were to be appointed to the Senate, her fortune would plant her firmly in the top five wealthiest members. Despite common perceptions of the Republicans being the party of wealth, the five richest senators are all Dems: John Kerry ($336.2M), Herb Kohl ($241.5M), Ted Kennedy ($103.6M), Jay Rockefeller ($93.7M) and Mark Warner ($90.9M).A little dubious putting John Heinz Kerry on that list considering he married into the Heinz fortune. But even Kennedy's wealth surpasses that.
By all accounts a very wealthy woman who could be worth as much as $400 million, Kennedy has said she will not release details of her finances unless Democratic Gov. David Paterson picks her for the Senate seat that will open up if Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state.Gee, I wonder how that common perception of Republicans all being rich came about?
Protesters took to the streets of the Big Apple and major European capitals yesterday to demonstrate against Israel's air attacks on Gaza.Israelis now responding to terrorism is now ethnic cleansing.
In New York, some 300 people held a rally at 50th Street and Fifth Avenue to denounce the strikes.
"We're here because we have the freedom to voice our opinion against ethnic cleansing," said Amal Amar, 26, a Staten Island nurse who has relatives in Gaza.
"This is terrorism," she said. "What the Palestinians are witnessing is true terrorism."
As a young Navy swift boat commander in Vietnam, Sen. John Kerry was no stranger to the perils of hot pursuit in combat.Where was Kerry's criticism of the Somalia incursion back in 1993? I don't recall any criticism from him back then over the botched efforts of Bill Clinton and the late Les Aspin. But now Kerry would rather hold hearings and pay lip service to the problem rather than suggest decisive action. This vacillating exercise will do nothing to stem the problem but rather will embolden the pirates. Perhaps Kerry would like to sit down with them and sweet talk them with some of his legendary nuanced dialogue.
He was awarded a Silver Star for beaching his boat after a rocket attack and racing ashore to chase down and kill a Viet Cong fighter armed with a rocket launcher.
Nearly 40 years later, as incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates in the waters off Somalia, but urges a cautious approach before U.S officials consider sending American forces to chase them ashore. Kerry plans committee hearings next year looking at the problems posed by piracy.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who was on President-elect Barack Obama's short list to be secretary of state, said a hot pursuit policy on Somalia's coastline is "long overdue." But he warns against any "haphazard, sloppy" military missions.
"You gotta know what you're getting into and where you're going and under what circumstances," Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I mean, if you send five police officers raging into the center of Mogadishu, you are asking for trouble. You gotta be smart."
Responding to the growing problem of piracy in Somali waters, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously earlier this month to authorize nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases.
The resolution could set the stage for increased American military action in Somalia, a chaotic country where a U.S. peacekeeping mission in 1992-93 ended with a humiliating withdrawal of troops after a deadly clash in Mogadishu. The movie "Black Hawk Down" portrayed the ill-fated operation.
The senator said he was mindful of the dangers of hot pursuit cases, particularly given his Vietnam experience and his work as a longtime member of the Foreign Relations panel.
"If you've just got one patrol boat and it chases guys in and people go ashore without enough firepower, without knowing what they're up against, you can get into a lot of trouble," Kerry said.
He knows hot pursuit cases can be ripe for controversy. As the Democratic nominee during the 2004 presidential race, Kerry was accused by some former swift boat veterans of lying about the Silver Star he won as a result of the onshore confrontation in South Vietnam's Mekong Delta.
Black Monday continues, but takes a somewhat surprising twist.In a surprise to nobody, the architect of the 0-16 Detroit Lions is also looking for employment.
FOXSports.com has learned that the Jets have fired head coach Eric Mangini.
Players began getting calls from team officials this morning informing them of the move, telling them that it will be announced at 10 a.m. ET and that GM Mike Tannenbaum, who appears to be safe, will be addressing the team at noon.
The Jets suffered an abysmal collapse, which unfortunately is nothing new for the organization.
The report primarily blames cutbacks in federal support for community policing and juvenile crime prevention, reduced support for after-school and other social programs, and a weakening of gun laws. Cuts in these areas have been felt most deeply in poor, black urban areas, helping to explain the growing racial disparity in violent crime, Dr. Fox said.Clearly the community organized by the uber-cool Barack Obama is out of control. Both Chicago and Washington, DC, another city with high murder rates, have very strict gun control yet have high gun murder rates.
But Bruce Western, a sociologist at Harvard, cautioned that the change in murder rates was not large and did not yet show a clear trend. Dr. Western also said that the impact of the reduction in government spending on crime control would have to be studied on a city-by-city basis, and that many other changes, including a sagging economy, could have affected murder rates.
Conservative criminologists place greater emphasis on the breakdown of black families, rather than cuts in government programs, in explaining the travails of black youths.
Much of the increase, experts say, is a product of gang activity, in midsize and large cities.
“The aggregate national murder rate since 2000 has been impressively flat — not to say there haven’t been fluctuations in individual cities,” said Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University. “But when you see a spike in a city,” he said, as in Chicago recently, “it very often involves young black males shooting other young black males.”
The heightened attention to security after the 9/11 attacks might, paradoxically, have contributed to a decline in crime-fighting.Of course now we're told we must "invest" in the gangsta culture that is the cause of the problem. Forget locking up the thugs. Let's throw money at the problem and hope it goes away. As of that strategy hasn't already failed countless times.
“One problem we faced was a disinvestment in policing in the post-2001 environment,” said Chief Edward A. Flynn of the Milwaukee police, who served from 2003 to 2006 as secretary of public safety in Massachusetts. “I witnessed homeland security become the monster that ate criminal justice,” Chief Flynn said, as money went to security equipment and communications and the number of police officers fell.
Still, Chief Flynn said, “any improvements will be temporary unless there’s more investment in the futures of our young people.”Aren't we already "investing" billions in education and social programs? How much more do we need to "invest" before we see a return on our money?
The sending of a Christmas greeting by Chip Saltsman to the members of the Republican National Committee that includes a recording of the so-called parody, "Barack the Magic Negro" is not only offensive, it is shocking and saddening in the extreme. It flies in the face of America's deeply held hope for a new era in which common ground and mutual respect characterize the exchanges between our national leaders.Dude, get over yourself. Have you even heard the song parody in context?
I and my co-writer of "Puff," Lenny Lipton, have been eagerly awaiting an end to the mean-spiritedness, outright disrespect and bigotry that was commonplace prior to this last presidential election. What might have been wearily accepted as "the way it was" in the campaign, is now unacceptable. Obama is not a candidate. He is the President-Elect, and this song insults the office of the Presidency, the people who voted for him, as well as those who did not -- and taking a children's song and twisting it in such vulgar, mean-spirited way, is a slur to our entire country and our common agreement to move beyond racism.
The folksinger pleaded guilty to taking "immoral and improper liberties" with a 14-year-old girl back in 1970.Molesting 14-year-olds apparently doesn't rise to the horrific levels of outrage as comedy does. Does this idiot even realize the parody is nearly two years old?
As reported at the time, the girl and her 17-year-old sister went to Yarrow's hotel room seeking an autograph. Yarrow answered the door naked and made sexual advances that stopped short of intercourse. The 14-year-old resisted his advances but did not call for help. Yarrow served three months of a one- to three-year prison sentence and was pardoned by Carter in 1981.
The singer has acknowledged the incident as "the most terrible mistake I have ever made."
A political analyst in Tehran said on Sunday that the atrocities of the Zionist regime in Gaza Strip on Saturday was jointly orchestrated by Cairo and Tel Aviv to isolate and eradicate Palestinian resistance in Gaza Strip.The sad thing is the idiotic left in this country will be parroting this drivel.
The Zionist regime targeted Gaza with some 60 jet fighters on Saturday and all evidence and news indicate that it was a plot jointly masterminded by the Zionist and a number of Arab heads of states, said the analyst.
Exchange of views in the past two days between the foreign minister of the Zionist regime and the head of self-rule Palestinian Authority with Egyptian officials in Cairo as well as authorities in Amman and Saudi Arabia preceded the large-scale inhuman crimes in Gaza, he said.
"We are now witnessing a real war in Gaza which is to uproot people's resistance and try to bring them to their knees," pointed out the analyst.
Egyptian leadership who played a reconciliation role in the Arab world indicated that they have exerted the most pressure over people's resistance and in fact they seek to move in line with the Zionists' goals, he said.
Cairo cannot open Rafah crossing without permission from Tel Aviv and this can only be obtained through submission of Palestinian resistance, he said.
The silence of Arab and western countries has emboldened the Zionist regime not to hesitate to savagely target innocent civilians in Gaza, he said.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a historical message on Sunday strongly condemned the inhuman atrocities of the Zionist regime in Gaza Strip.
In his message, the Supreme Leader said the silence and indifference of international organizations and certain Arab states have prepared the grounds for such crimes by the Zionist regime with the support of the Bush administration.
The Supreme Leader also declared Monday, December 29, as a day of mourning and urged all Palestinians, freedom seekers, Muslim nations, Ulema, intellectuals and media throughout the world to fulfill their heavy duty in confronting the crimes of the 'Zionist vampires'.
How does it feel, Bernie?Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Chuckie Schumer, biggest recipient of Madoff's political contributions, remains unusually silent on the biggest swindle in American history. He's been tackling important issues like fees on gift cards.
Swindler extraordinaire Bernard Madoff got a taste of his own medicine last weekend when a burglar stole a $10,000 statue from his posh, $9.4 million Palm Beach estate, according to a police report.
The theft occurred sometime between 3 p.m. on Dec. 19 and 11:30 a.m. last Sunday, a week after Madoff confessed to ripping off $50 billion from investors in a decades-long Ponzi scheme.
1. They have been unable to calm down the Israeli government and to convince them to minimize their actions.Such keen insight.
2. They have exaggerated extreme feelings in the Arab world that resulted in Palestinians switching to Hamas instead of the much more moderate Fatah.
3. They have provided zero (0, null) leadership in the middle east.
4. They have given the wrong example by violating international law and randomly destroying another country (Iraq).
5. They are incompetent to handle international crises.
6. They suck in general.
* She opposes the death penalty, even in cases of cop killers.Right there her judgment must be questioned. Fernando Ferrer? Oh, and I'll go out on a limb and suggest even most Democrats would support the death penalty for cop killers. The rest of her Post interview consisted of the usual softballs and what's on her iPod.
* She voted for Democrat Fernando Ferrer over Bloomberg in the 2005 mayoral race.
With several weeks to go before Mr. Paterson makes his decision, she is doling out glimpses of her political beliefs and private life. But when asked Saturday morning to describe the moment she decided to seek the Senate seat, Ms. Kennedy seemed irritated by the question and said she couldn’t recall.Not a good way to curry favor.
“Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman’s magazine or something?” she asked the reporters. “I thought you were the crack political team.”
Some top Democrats were certain Gov. Paterson, a close-to-the vest electorate of one, would find Kennedy irresistible now and as a running mate in two years. All others were chopped liver next to her sudden star power.Ouch.
But a strange thing is happening on the way to the coronation. The wheels of the bandwagon are coming off. Fantasy is giving way to inescapable truth.
That truth is that Kennedy is not ready for the job and doesn't deserve it. Somebody who loves her should tell her.
Her quest is becoming a cringe-inducing experience, as painful to watch as it must be to endure. Because she is the only survivor of that dreamy time nearly 50 years ago, she remains an iconic figure. But in the last few days, her mini-campaign has proved she has little to offer New Yorkers except her name.
Her handlers and family enablers insist she feels no entitlement to the Senate job, yet there is no other possible reason to give it to her. Her name is the sole reason she even dares go for it. Camelot must be Gaelic for chutzpah.
New York can do better.
Even the one job she had in public life has come into question. Apparently on the basis of a chance meeting with New York's schools chancellor at a party on Martha's Vineyard, she signed on as a part-time fund-raiser. How much she raised and how much she worked have been challenged, but no matter. The point is that this self-described advocate for the public schools did not send her children to them.Does anyone dare tell her this?
Limousine liberals are a dime a dozen, and carpetbaggers are nothing new in New York. And with the social scene constantly churning out the old for the next new thing, there's no reason middle-aged dilettantes can't also try their hand at politics.
They just can't start in the Senate.
Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush's personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush's actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America's 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.Read the whole thing. You can be sure Bush's enemies won't.
Widely seen as his biggest foreign policy error, the decision to invade Iraq could ultimately prove to have been a masterstroke. Today the world is witnessing the birth of the first truly democratic state in the Middle East outside of Israel. Over eight million voted in Iraq's parliamentary elections in 2005, and the region's first free Muslim society may become a reality. Iraq might not be Turkey, but it is a powerful demonstration that freedom can flourish in the embers of the most brutal and barbaric of dictatorships.
The success of the surge in Iraq will go down in history as a turning point in the war against al-Qaeda. The stunning defeat of the insurgency was a major blow both militarily and psychologically for the terror network. The West's most feared enemy suffered thousands of losses in Iraq, including many of their most senior commanders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Qaswarah. It was the most successful counter-insurgency operation anywhere in the world since the British victory in Malaya in 1960.
The broader war against Islamist terrorism has also been a success. There has not been a single terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and for all the global condemnation of pre-emptive strikes, Guantanamo and the use of rendition against terror suspects, the fact remains that Bush's aggressive strategy actually worked.
Significantly, there have been no successful terrorist attacks in Europe since the July 2005 London bombings, in large part due to the cooperation between U.S., British and other Western intelligence agencies. American intelligence has proved vital in helping prevent an array of planned terror attacks in the UK, a striking demonstration of the value to Britain of its close ties to Washington.
Offensive or indecent websites will be branded with cinema-style age certificates in a Government crackdown on dangerous online activity.I'm all for the government security services monitoring online jihad sites and those who foment terror. But standard website should not be rated or come under any government domain. There are sites that indeed show beheadings, but this is done as a means of demonstrating what animals the jihadists are, and every site I've come across that shows them carries a clear warning.
In a bid to limit the ease to which 'unacceptable' material is accessed, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, last night called for 'clearer standards' in cyber space.
He said it was his 'absolutely categorical' view that there was material on the web -including beheadings - which should not be available to anyone.
Plans are also underway to discuss new policing methods for English language websites with the President-elect Barack Obama.
Mr Burnham confirmed one of the proposals being considered by ministers to protect children and vulnerables from harmful material was the introduction of age-ratings for websites.Of course they're doing this under the guise of protecting the children, which again is the responsibility of parents, not the government. The next thing you know they'll be in the business of taxing websites that aren't government approved.
'That would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus,' he said.
A separate option under consideration was imposing requirements on internet service providers to offer a service which would give access only to websites which are suitable for children.
Mr Burnham refuted the proposals were an attack on freedom of speech amid a stark warning that some material on the web has breached the boundaries of taste and decency.
'If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now,' he said.
The pool got to the park at 1:10 p.m. so it had to take on faith the staff’s word that Mr. Obama had arrived there exactly an hour earlier. “Your pool was not allowed inside the park,” Mr. Rucker then reported. He did see the Obama group leave the interactive dolphin area, saying, “It is unclear whether the Obamas swam with dolphins, and Obama’s clothing did not appear wet.”No word whether Obama belched after eating his sandwich or had a smoke afterward.
Jeff Goldman, a CBS producer and “chief” of the press pool here, said in an e-mail message later: “I don’t think they were necessarily trying to ditch us. However, I have let them know that, this is important to us.”
Mr. Obama may have gotten the message. The next stop was the Koko Marina Center, where he ordered a tuna melt for himself — on 12-grain bread with cheddar cheese, tomatoes and no mayonnaise (details thanks to the pool report) — and shave ice treats for the children. Then he made rare contact with his pool, putting his arm around a scribbling Mr. Rucker to tease him, “You don’t really need to write all that down.”
The president-elect offered to buy shave ice for the entire pool. “I don’t think this is against policy,” he said. “You want one, I can tell.”