Friday, October 29, 2010

More Shots Fired at Marine Corps National Museum

national museum fo the marine corps.jpg

More shots were fired overnight at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., according to Prince William County Police.
The shooting incident apparently occurred just hours after the FBI linked Tuesday night's shooting at a Marine recruiting center in Chantilly, Va., with two similar cases in the commonwealth -- including an earlier incident at the museum.
Some perp is playing a "cat & mouse" game.

Update: Not much except for the FBI asking the shooter to give himself up:
WASHINGTON – As authorities investigated a fourth nighttime shooting at a Washington-area military building, the FBI urged the unknown gunman to surrender before someone is hurt.
"We appreciate that he is struggling right now," FBI spokeswoman Katherine Schweit said Friday. "This guy hasn't hurt anybody. We don't think he wants to. We're hoping that he'll turn himself in."
Police in Virginia are investigating an overnight shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the fourth such shooting at military-related buildings in the area.
Update: Live newser on shooting

Will Midterm Elections Ignite a Stock Market Rally?

The Democrats and Republicans have spent a record $3.5 billion in preparation for this year's midterm elections. But regardless of the outcome - whether you're a Democrat or Republican - the good news is that the stock market traditionally has performed well during midterm election cycles.

"The question is, 'Did the markets go up in the midterm election years by more than average in non-election years?' Brian Gendreau, market strategist for Financial Network told U.S. News & World Report. "And the answer is, 'Yes, by a huge amount more.'"

In the period from 1922 to 2006, the average gain of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the 90 trading days following midterm elections (roughly November until mid-March) was 8.5%, according to a new study authored by Gendreau. That's almost 5% higher than the Dow's gains in non-election years.

During that period, the only time the ruling party gained seats in both the House of Representatives and Senate was in the 2002 elections, and the market fell afterward -making it the only time since 1942 that the Dow has fallen after a midterm election.

In the days before midterms, the market generally tends to perform well, just as it has this year.

"The market starts to go up beforehand and it just doesn't stop," said Gendreau.

While past performance is no indication of future success, consider this: The Standard & Poor's 500 Index has posted gains for every 200-trading day period following mid-term congressional elections since 1942. Stocks surge, on average, by a whopping 18.3% in those 200 days, according to the Leuthold Group, a Minneapolis-based investment-research firm.

The S&P index chalked up its biggest 200-day gain, 30.5%, in 1942, as the tide began to turn in World War II. The smallest gain, 3.9%, came in 1946, as investors worried that the economy would sink into another depression.

End of Uncertainty Fuels Rallies

Generally, the party of the president tends to do poorly in midterm elections. Since 1942, the party in control of the White House has lost an average of 28 seats in the House and four in the Senate.

In the 11 midterm elections between 1942 and 1982, control of one or both houses of Congress flipped just twice. But in more recent elections, a majority of Americans have expressed their unhappiness with the party in power. Voters have ousted the party in power in Congress four times in the past six elections.

Since the midterms tend to be an equalizing force on Capitol Hill, many experts have said that this proves the markets like gridlock in Congress. But the market has rallied no matter which political party prevails, even when the party in power loses control.

In the 200 days after a midterm election where political power changed hands, the S&P's average return was about equal to the return the index posted during the 17 midterm elections as a whole.

Some analysts say there's another explanation for all this market enthusiasm: The markets hate uncertainty.

"Changes in congressional majority power in midterm elections appear to have little to do with causing the strong performance of equities following the election," Leuthold's Eric Bjorgen told Kiplinger. "It doesn't matter if power shifts to the other party or not. It's knowing what's going to happen, knowing how policy will be formulated. It's a clearing up of the clouds of uncertainty."

If investors truly hate uncertainty, then what matters most would be getting the election over with. Since 1942, the S&P has tended to lag in the 200 days before mid-term elections. The average return for the 200-trading day periods prior to the mid-term election has been split between gains and losses (nine up - eight down), with an average 2.6% return. Starting in early October, however, stocks have tended to stabilize and then rise - just as they have this year.

Will the Pattern Hold Through 2011?

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) has found that the S&P has averaged an 18.1% advance during the 12 months following each of the 15 midterm elections since 1950. And since 1945, the third year of a presidential election cycle has tended to be very positive for the markets. Indeed, the markets may get a boost from the "third-year effect."

Consider another intriguing statistic regarding midterm election years: In the five instances since 1942 when an incumbent first-term president was a Democrat, the S&P 500 has gained an average of 21.3% for the year.

Of course, there are other important factors weighing on the markets that might overwhelm historical trends.

Although the midterm election-rally effect appears to be on track this year, there are other pitfalls to consider. Markets often find a way to dash investors' preconceived hopes.

Expectations for big changes that might come from a Republican victory are overblown - especially on the issues that really matter to the stock market, Daniel Gross, the economics editor at Yahoo! Finance, told The Wall Street Journal. He finds it highly unlikely the Bush tax cuts will be extended, which could put a chill on any stock market rally.

"While there will be a significant shift in the political dynamic, those expecting instant rapid change in areas such as taxes and spending may be disappointed," he said.

Still, investors can find ways to protect and build their nest eggs, no matter how the elections go.

During an interview with Fox Business Network journalist Stuart Varney Tuesday, Money Map Press Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald detailed three strategies that will afford investors both safety and significant profit potential - whether the Democrats or Republicans carry the day.

First and foremost among the three: Protect your holdings.

"No. 1, I think that investors need to be concerned about preserving their wealth," Fitz-Gerald told Fox Business viewers. "The dollar, overall, is getting weaker, and the federal government has made it clear with quantitative easing that it wants a weak dollar, that it wants to win the 'race to the bottom'. So things like gold and silver - and even things like rice, and wheat and corn - are all good choices right now."

Obama: on the ropes?

Obama supporters say that he would usher in an era of post-partisan harmony, enabling America to transcend its divisive, partisan political conflicts by commanding support for his policies across the political spectrum. I was always unclear what 'bipartisanship' actually meant, especially when The Republican Party has no interest in it.
Tariq Ali in Obama hope was all hype in The Guardian says that:
In times of crisis, the incumbent suffers. And the bigger the crisis the greater the punishment inflicted on those in power, unless they do something that makes a change. Obama has not done so. Instead, both at home and abroad, the continuities between Obama's administration and that of Bush-Cheney far outweigh any differences.Whenever vested interests resisted, Obama caved.

Ali says that Obama has done so on the economy, health care, education and Guantánamo. We can add that Obama's Terrorism and war actions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, are a powerful continuity with Bush/Cheney.

Ali finishes by saying that:
As a candidate, Obama projected himself as a new Reagan, above narrow party politics. He wanted to please all, but has ended up annoying many. And if the Republicans can find a halfway decent candidate (perhaps a uniformed one) I doubt the incumbent will get a second term.

The Democrats aren't looking too good in the midterm elections. They look like losing their majority in the House, and the Senate might go along with numerous governorships and state legislative chambers.

The Tea Party movement of the Republican Party's conservative base is creating a lot of noise recycling old themes as they exploit the Democrats' intense unpopularity and failures. Kevin Drum says:
Ever since the 1930s, something very much like the tea party movement has fluoresced every time a Democrat wins the presidency, and the nature of the fluorescence always follows many of the same broad contours: a reverence for the Constitution, a supposedly spontaneous uprising of formerly nonpolitical middle-class activists, a preoccupation with socialism and the expanding tyranny of big government, a bitterness toward an underclass viewed as unwilling to work, and a weakness for outlandish conspiracy theories.

Divided government is the norm in the US; a norm based on the long-term rightward shift of the Republican Party.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Post Election Time Warp: It’s Just A Step to the Right

By Richard A. Lee

Although the fates of individual election contests around the country and in New Jersey remain uncertain, there is little doubt about which political party will fare better at the polls on Tuesday. Barring a series of stunning upsets and reversals, Republicans will pick up significant numbers of seats in Congress and could win control of the House and possibly the Senate.

A more difficult item to predict, however, is the direction the Republican Party will take after Tuesday’s election results are complete. The seeds already have been sown for an ideological battle between those on the far right and the more moderate members of the party. The increasing popularity of the Tea Party and the success of its candidates in GOP primaries have bolstered the position of the more conservative wing of the party. On the other hand, some leading Republicans fear that the Tea Party candidates will be unable to garner broader support in the general elections and could ultimately become a detriment to the party’s chances in future elections.

Clearly, the battle for the soul of the Republican Party will be a fascinating one to watch, but the future of the Democratic Party may have an even greater impact on public policy. Regardless of what their GOP counterparts do in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, I suspect that the Democrat Party will be moving further to the right.

Simply for pragmatic reasons, Democrats may need to move away from some of their more progressive platforms in order to capture enough of the independent voting bloc necessary to win most elections. The mood of the country is shifting. A series of Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys conducted between January and June of this year concluded that:

“The ideological orientation of Americans seen thus far in 2010 would represent a record-high level of conservatism (since at least 1992) if it is maintained for the full year. This follows an increase in the percentage of conservatives in 2009 that was fueled by heightened conservatism among independents, a pattern that continues today.”

A Democratic shift toward the right surely will anger some of the party’s base, but the potential benefits outweigh the risks. At the end of the day, the more liberal members of the Democrat Party will still find a watered-down version of the party more appealing than the GOP – and a more viable option than a third party.

Conversely, if Tea Party candidates make respectable showings on Tuesday and the far right wing of the GOP becomes the dominating force in the party, it could drive away independent voters with moderate ideologies who have been leaning Republican. Democrats will become a more attractive option for these voters if the party extends an olive branch of sorts and moves even slightly toward the right.

In New Jersey, we should not be surprised if Democrats start sounding more like Republicans in next year’s 2011 legislative campaigns. It’s no secret that Republican Governor Chris Christie’s approach to government and fiscal policy is resonating with residents of the Garden State and also garnering national attention. Some high-profile New Jersey Democrats have even chastised fellow party members for not advancing the Governor’s agenda.

For example, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. recently urged the State Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, to act on Christie’s “tool kit” legislation, which is designed to help local governments control costs. “The State Legislature can’t continue to drag their feet and delay discussion and passage of these much-needed reforms,” DiVincenzo said in a news release. “The Governor presented these initiatives earlier this year and our representatives have had all summer to debate. Enough is enough. Let’s cut the politicking and support the Governor’s reform package so our residents can get some relief from the high cost of government.”

There are national parallels in this year’s Congressional midterm elections. With President Obama’s favorability numbers dropping, Democrats in tough races have been quick to distance themselves from the President and his agenda and to tout more centrist credentials. In New Jersey’s hotly contested Third Congressional District, incumbent Democrat John Adler’s campaign has noted that Adler was named the 23rd most conservative Democrat in the House of Representatives by the Washington Post. Some Democrats outside New Jersey are even running ads boasting about standing up to the President and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

While moving to the right may make sense strategically, it does not serve the citizenry -- or for that matter – democracy very well. Rather than having a choice between candidates with different approaches to government and public policy, it becomes a choice between conservative and more conservative (and the issue would be the same if the choice was between liberal and more liberal).

Democracy works best, and is strongest when a wide variety of voices and divergent opinions are used to formulate public policy. “A jump to the left” and “a step to the right” are great lyrics from the Rocky Horror Show, but they don’t work nearly as well as guidelines for a healthy democracy.

# # #

Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey.  A former journalist and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies.

Former B2K Singer Raz B Continues Molestation Accusations Against Chris Stokes, Marques Houston

A few years back, former B2K singer De'Mario Thornton, better known as Raz B, made allegations that his ex-manager and cousin Chris Stokes, and fellow singer Marques Houston sexually molested him. And, two years ago, Vibe magazine did an investigative report to uncover the truth behind whether molestation really did cause both the hitmaking group and the Marques Houston-led group IMX to break up.

Raz B is speaking out again about his torrid past and how at 25 years old he's ready to tell the world the truth about what really went down with the platinum R&B group splitting at the top of their career.

In addition to doing several notable interviews, he's released YouTube video footage of conversations with Houston's sister and father discussing the abuse.Previously, he recanted his earlier statements of abuse in a Youtube video, and offered up a public apology to the two men.

But now, he's back and sticking to his story that he is not lying nor is he bipolar as Omarion alleged.

According to the Cleveland native, from the ages of 13 until 17 he was sexually abused by Houston -- who he said he "feels sorry for" -- and Stokes, who wrote and directed the hit movie 'You Got Served.'

"People ask, 'Why are you coming out now?'" he told in a recent interview. "But, this has been going on for a very long [time], Chris has been molesting boys for a while."

Raz B, who appeared on the popular Logo television series 'Noah's Arc' added, "Finally when I was able to realize these n**gas were gay, I was able to leave."

He said his realization that the abuse was wrong was late because he was living with Stokes and brainwashed. "I was a young kid and these people took advantage of me," he alleged.

When asked why he did not take legal measures against the duo, he responded, "That's a demonic system."

Raz B said that he is comfortable with his sexuality and did not deny attending gay pride parades in the past.

To date, he stands by his admission that he's never been romantically involved with another man and he does not identify with being homosexual. When Vibe asked if he would embrace it if he thought he was gay, he flat out denied that he would citing "from my beliefs, I just wouldn't."

"I support humanity the world being of children and taking care of the earth. That's why I can appear anywhere. If you want me at your pride event feel free to ask, I will come. Some of my biggest checks come from the homosexuality," Raz B revealed.

In addition to having a girlfriend with whom he's been with for four years, he also has a five year-old son.

The former teen star says that he doesn't need to speak with a psychologist and get additional therapeutic help to discuss the abuse because "the only help I will ever need is Jesus Christ."

Raz B is currently working on a new solo album and has been in talking with Will.I.Am and hopes to get the Black Eyed Peas front-man in the studio for a collaboration soon.

"I told him I have a record I really want him to hear," Raz B said. "It's hard catching up with some of these producers. A lot of people don't want to be associated with messy situations."

Stokes and Houston has yes to release comment about the claims.

By Bridget Bland

Daily SMH: Delinquent Teen Beaten By Transgender Prostitute

A 16-year-old transgender hooker beat the brakes off of a teenager who attempted to rob the 6'1", near 300 pound prostitute at gunpoint -- only after approaching the teen for "services." This has several degrees of fail written all over it.

Rufus Bowman, approached who he thought was a 6'1", 290 pound female prostitute for her services. That was only his first mistake. Turns out the she was a he, sort of -- it was a transvestite transgender hooker named Joshua Bumpus. Oh yeah, after being shot by Bowman, who was attempting to rob him, Bumpus proceeded to whip Bowman's ass, soundly.

This turn of events is a perfect example of life being stranger that fiction. Back on July 13th in Cincinatti, Bowman, who is all of 16-years-old, after going to a back alley to finish their "transaction," attempted to rob his cross-dressing paramour at gunpoint. Bowman, who at 5'7" and 230 pounds is no lightweight, actually shot Bumpus, the bullet going through his arm and ending near his ribs.

But it seems like getting shot only made Bumpus mad. Not only did Bumpus proceed to thrash Bowman -- "He got the gun away from (Bowman), he grabbed (Bowman) by the hair and beat him down. He beat the (daylights) out of him," said Hamilton County assistant prosecutor Ryan Nelson -- but some of his transgender "colleagues" jumped in to deliver some blows of their own. No pun intended, really.

Robbery and prostitution is already a double whammy. But adding a Madea on stroll that's built like an NFL lineman, along with his "teammates," to the mix makes for an equation destined to finish with a FAIL. Bowman plead guilty to felonious assault and was sentenced to three years. Hey Rufus, don't drop the soap.

by Alvin Blanco

Where to Watch Jon Stewart’s Daily Show Rally Live

The hour is nigh. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear is upon us this Saturday in Washington. The pundits have weighed in— treating it as Stewart’s coronation from lampooner to pundit—which, coupled with his coup of getting a sitting President of the United States to appear on a late-night show, let alone (wait for it) a comedy show, makes sense in a chaotic kind of way.
It’s pretty clear the media has no idea. CNN is

Slate is doing their usual bet-hedging by writing op-eds which basically take no particular stand (is it comedy? Is it politics? Is it insulting to democracy?). The Drudge Report, with its usual brilliantly infuriating economy of words, paints a devastating picture of Stewart as left-wing lackey by framing a screencap of President Obama from his appearance with Stewart over the following headlines: “JUST JOKING…” “CAN COMEDIAN SAVE THE VOTE?” “Paper: Obama’s dumb ‘DAILY SHOW’ appearance; President’s diminishing brand…” thereby damning President Obama as foolhardy and delegitimizing any claims that Stewart could make for validity. NPR has even forbidden its employees from attending the rally, claiming it would violate their hallowed standards of impartiality by endorsing a political viewpoint.

But here’s the thing. The only person who is calling Jon Stewart pure comedy is…Jon Stewart. For a man with an ability to raise an army of disaffected “moderates” (and I’ll get to that term in a second), the guy projects a comedian’s ego—which is to say, he’s ridiculously self-deprecating. On Larry King, he called the rally a satirical event in the format of a political rally. On NPR a month ago, he said the same thing (here’s the interview, it’s brilliant). The man does not want to become a demagogue at all—see his NPR interview, where he briefly touches upon a horrifying vision of himself at the front of a mass populist movement. If it means underselling the rally, Stewart is fine with it.

So is it political theatre, performance art, entertainment, or earnestness? Stewart’s afraid to give it meaning—but I think this is taking on new meaning outside of the usual definitions. Sure, it’s comedy. But to simply call it a free comedy show would cheapen the significance of this to many attendees. And to call it ironic, or parodic, or satirical, is to detach the rally from any meaning. Yet to call it Political gives a new dynamic to what most likely will be ideologically unfocused and more fun than unifying. I think in the end, attendees are coming because they trust Stewart more than anyone else out there and they want to hear him put reality — scary, ridiculous, absurd reality –into perspective. Stewart might not be comfortable with that, but he better take advantage of it. And here we come to the crux.

The Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear is essentially the most brilliant get-out-the-vote campaign ever initiated. Stewart has not said anything to that extent, but to advertise it as such would put a big “LAME” sticker on those awesome Restoring Sanity posters. It’s a huge gathering of young people taking place the weekend before Election Day—if nobody says anything about voting, it would be an embarrassment.
Here’s what I’m nervous about. I am a self-described moderate. Stewart’s a liberal—there are things he says I agree with, and things I disagree with. I’m fine with that—that’s what makes me a moderate. But what I don’t want to see is liberal politics being renamed as moderate politics. I will not tolerate a redefinition of terms—if anyone tells me that Stewart is a moderate this weekend, there’s going to be some pleasant but firm debate. I don’t want to hear that “moderates = Democrats,” or that “crazies = Republicans.” This is a shrilly reductionist viewpoint that only satisfies a party agenda and doesn’t make anybody more enlightened. Clearly, there are moderates and extremist nutcases among both parties. I hope Stewart understands this — I think he does — but how about the rest of us?

by Ari Lipsitz

First picture of Chris Evans in his Captain America costume

Chris Evans Captain-America-movie- EW-cover
At long last, here’s the first picture of Chris Evans in his WWII-era costume for Joe Johnston’s Captain America.  Er, Captain America: The First Avenger.  Sorry, Marvel, I wouldn’t want to forget your precious tie-ins.  Oh my gosh, is that Black Widow’s spent tampon in the background? I love Easter eggs!
The film is set to open July 2011. 

In the meantime, someone should tell Chris Evans that there’s a fine line between “Determined Hero” and “Le Tigre.”

Daily Show Obama and Jon Stewart: How Did They Do? by Maria Lianos

President Obama, Jon Stewart
President Obama, Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show"

Jon Stewart welcomed President Obama on “The Daily Show” Wednesday night, the first time a serving president has sat down for an interview on the program.
Stewart spent the entire half-hour interviewing the president.

How did they do?

Both Obama and Stewart shared a spirited debate on some of the key questions which have most troubled both liberals and democrats about his administration.

Jon Stewart was respectful, cracking a few jokes.

After handing Obama a cup emblazoned with the presidential seal, calling it Mug Force One, Stewart dove into his series of questions and queries on the difference between the rhetoric of Obama’s campaign and his actions as president.

“You ran on very big rhetoric: hope and change,” Stewart said. “And the Democrats this year seem to be running on ‘please baby, one more chance.’ How did we go in two years from hope and change to ‘You’re not going to give (Republicans) the keys?’”

Obama responded that most of the jobs lost in the last two years ended before his financial reforms took effect.  Several Democrats are running in mostly Republican districts, which limits their campaign efforts.  Thus many voters remain unaware of the progress the administration has made on many issues.

“If we’re making progress, we’re being true to the spirit of the campaign,” he said. “I would say ‘Yes we can, but it’s not going to happen overnight.’”

“When we promised during the campaign change you can believe in, it wasn’t change you can believe in in 18 months,’’ Mr. Obama said. “It was change you can believe in but were going to have to work for it.”
I think both did considerably well, proving that having a President on a late show can be successful.

Watch the whole interview on The Daily Show.

Game one: Thunder 106, Bulls 95

By Matt McHale

In yesterday’s preview post, I said:

“The Bulls must contain Kevin Durant as best they can (good luck, Luol), while keeping KD and his teammates off the free throw line. It’s also imperative that they take care of the ball and crash the defensive glass. Outside of Durant, the Thunder rely on points off turnovers and second-chance points to generate offense.”

How did that turn out for the Bullies?

Well, Durant (30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) was not contained. And the Thunder definitely weren’t kept off the line, as they went a nearly unthinkable 38-for-47 from the charity stripe (including 11-for-13 for Durant). The Bulls gave up only 9 offensive boards, but they surrendered 18 points off 15 turnovers.

Defense was a problem.

That may seem hard to believe considering the fact that Chicago held Oklahoma City to 41 percent shooting, including 22 percent (4-for-18) from downtown. But the Thunder — thanks in no small part to their astronomical free throw total — finished the game with an Offensive Rating of 107.2 points per 100 possessions.

Compare that to Chicago’s O-Rating of 96.1 and you can see that offense was a problem as well. It wasn’t that much of a problem through the first three quarters. The game was tied at 82-82 after three and it sure seemed as if the Bulls were in position to steal a game on the road.

Then things fell apart.

Derrick Rose and crew were outscored 24-13 in the final 12 minutes as the offense devolved so badly I half-wondered if Vinny Del Negro was patrolling the sidelines in a Tom Thibodeau costume. When the Bulls weren’t turning the ball over or bailing out with long jump shots, they were missing chippies or having the ball swatted away by an aggressive Oklahoma City defense that finished with 10 blocked shots and 11 steals.
The Bulls looked intimidated. They also looked out of gas.

The latter was certainly true of Rose. He finished with a team-high 28 points to go along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds, but he went 4-for-16 in the second half and scored only 4 points in the final 21 minutes. Derrick tried to take over in the fourth, but he was running on empty. It didn’t help that Rose was hampered by foul trouble, which got him out of rhythm. But still.

Joakim Noah (18 points, 19 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks) and Taj Gibson (16 points, 11 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals) both had strong games, but they don’t really generate offense in a pinch. Deng (13 points, 5-for-13, 2 rebounds, 4 turnovers) was eaten alive by Durant and looked every bit like the third or fourth option everybody says he is. Meanwhile, the reserves went 7-for-20, including 0-for-4 from downtown.
And did I mention that the Bulls missed nine foul shots?

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Chicago won the rebounding batte 50-44 (including 15-9 on the offensive glass) and outscored Oklahoma City 50-40 in the paint. The latter number is telling when you consider the fact that the Thunder led the league in blocked shots last season.

But the Bulls collapsed in the fourth and the offense ran like something out of the infamous VDN playbook.
Said Thibodeau: ”You can’t have blown sets in the fourth quarter. I think that’s where you have to be at your best. You have to be able to execute under pressure, and we’ll do better. We have to do better.”

This game was a prime example of why the Bulls need Carlos Boozer back as soon as possible. Simply put, without a second legitimate scoring option, there’s too much pressure on Rose to do everything. That’s a lot to ask against a really good defensive team like the Thunder, even for somebody as good as Rose.

Durant didn’t do it alone. Russell Westbrook (28 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) lit things up, going 8-for-15 from the field and 12-for-13 at the line. Oklahoma City had a one-two punch on offense. The Bulls — in the fourth quarter anyway — had one swing and a miss. Lots of misses actually.

Look, the Thunder are a good team that was playing at home in a season opener and Chicago was a team missing its second-best scorer. The loss makes sense.

It also makes me think that this opening stretch without Boozer could get messy.

Cavs might not retire LeBron James No. 23

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert conveyed that he’s not sure if LeBron James will ever have his number retired in Cleveland, or if two-time MVP will ever return to play for the Cavaliers. Gilbert said it’s too soon to know what James’ legacy will be as an NBA star, and whether his No. 23 deserves to hang from the rafters alongside names such as Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Austin Carr. Gilbert said retiring his number wouldn’t be discussed until James retires from the NBA. “A 25-year-old player?” Gilbert said. “I don’t know if any franchise or anybody can make that kind of judgment on somebody that young until their career’s over.” As for ever playing for Cleveland again, as James speculated he might like to in an off-season interview, Gilbert declined to comment, citing NBA tampering rules. — Cleveland Plain Dealer

Is it time for change at airport security?

Katie Silcox author
In the UK, there’s a growing clamour for change. As anyone who has flown recently will know, getting from check-in through to the departure gate can be a lengthy process.

British Airways’ chairman, Martin Broughton spoke out earlier this week saying that some of the current security checks are ‘completely redundant’ and should go.

He described airport security as a ‘layered’ approach, whereby ‘every time there is a new security scare, an extra layer is added on to procedures’ and that there are ‘European requirements, there’s UK requirements and… US requirements laid on top of that’.

Airports are backing Mr Broughton’s call for change.
Inside Heathrow airport
Initial checks are carried out after you’ve checked in and before you pass through to the departure lounge. These involve a number of processes including asking all passengers to place liquids under 100ml into a see-through carrier. Liquid containers that are over 100ml must be disposed of. Additional checks are sometimes carried out at the departure gate, notably on UK to US routes.

Then there’s the question about electrical equipment, do I or don’t I remove it from my hand luggage? For that matter, do I or don’t I remove my shoes? Coat? Scarf? Our experience tells us that the answer isn’t exactly clear, with individual airports acting in different ways, at different times.

We’ve even come across extra checks at the departure gate where security staff ask around 50% of passengers to remove shoes again and to take a sip from their departure-lounge bought drink.
No wonder we’re all getting so confused.

But should we be getting annoyed at the security process if it is just that – a process of security. If it’s keeping us safer when we fly then surely that’s a good thing?

Or is the blanket security check out-dated and in need of change? Could we look at having more intelligent checks instead of the mass checks that seem to be putting all passengers out?

We want to know your opinions. Should we leave airport security teams to do what they consider best? Or is it time to update old systems?

Let us know in the comment section below.

Chris Christie Stops Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced today that he is standing by his decision to cancel the under-construction ARC (Access to the Regional Core) rail tunnel under the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York. According to the AP, Christie was given four financial options for salvaging the project, but said no agreement could guarantee that New Jersey taxpayers would not pay more than $2.7 billion for the completed project.

Earlier this month when Christie first voiced concern for the project, Wendell Cox defended his decision at
1. Exaggerating the Need for the Project The new rail tunnel is to serve a purported increase in commuter rail ridership to Manhattan jobs in the future. The project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement says that Midtown Manhattan’s employment will grow from its present 2.6 million by another 500,000 by 2030. This is unlikely. Manhattan’s entire employment (not just Midtown) peaked at 2.4 million in 2008. One might expect the planners could have gotten something so simple correct. Manhattan employment remains below 2001 levels and never rose more than 35,000 even at the peak of the last boom (annual figure, from 2001). The consultants also are projecting a 1.6 million population increase west of the Hudson River (New Jersey suburbs along with the New York counties of Rockland and Orange) by 2030. However, the New Jersey and New York metropolitan counties to the west of the Hudson are more likely to grow only 1.1 million, based upon official state projections (Note). The questionable population and employment projections reveal that the “need” for the new tunnel may have been grossly overstated.
2. Exporting New Jersey Jobs to New York Why should New Jersey pay to build more capacity so that its people can work across the state line? Why should they not work in New Jersey? New Jersey is often thought of an economic afterthought in Manhattan centric media and business interests (such as by The New York Times). In fact only a small share of New Jersey commuters travel to Manhattan for work. Even in the New Jersey counties that border New York, only 12% of commuters work in Manhattan. In the other New York metropolitan area counties in the metropolitan area, the figure drops to 5%.
The trends here are also important. Since 1956, every new job in the New York metropolitan area has been created outside Manhattan (Manhattan’s employment is 400,000 lower now than back then). New Jersey depends on New Jersey far more than it does New York. New Jersey has developed successful new office complexes in Jersey City, New Brunswick, along the I-287 Belt Route and elsewhere. Perhaps New Jersey should seek to minimize work trip lengths and encourage the next 500,000 jobs to be created in the state rather than in New York. Downtown Newark, for example, has excellent transit access and could use substantial new employment investment. This might prove more beneficial for New Jersey and its taxpayers.
3. Costs Could Rise Even Higher The tunnel could easily climb in cost beyond the now feared $14 billion. Big Dig cost escalation continued almost to the project’s opening. There is no reason to expect it will be different with the Hudson tunnel. It has been reported that one of LaHood’s options is simply to lower cost projections. New Jersey should buy that option only if the federal government underwrites all of the cost overruns. However, such a deviation from federal policy would bring stiff opposition from other parts of the country. Author: Conn Carroll

Obama Approval Rating 37%, Congress 11% In New Harris Poll

Can you hear the crash? It sounds similar to a grand piano hitting the ground after the pulley gives way. It sounds a lot like two vehicles colliding in slow motion after one runs through an intersection. It sounds like my son when he fell and broke his arm. A Harris Interactive poll puts the Obama approval rating at a mere 37% just days before he’ll be handed a massive electoral defeat at the polls.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 22, 2010. Obama is on a four-day, five-state swing to support Democrats in the upcoming election. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS PROFILE HEADSHOT)

Within the poll you’ll find the usual, 90% of Republicans or Conservatives view the President unfavorably; what isn’t usual is that over one third of Democrats and liberals view the President unfavorably. Can you hear it?

The Harris Poll does its best to spin the results. Like throwing in the educational makeup of those polled. It turns out that those who favor the President most are those who have had more formal education. Post graduate and college educated individuals gave President Obama the highest marks while those with only high school educations or lower gave him a low grade as President.

Also within the poll, the fact that most Midwesterners and Southerners viewed the President in a negative light; what we’re to take from this is that those uneducated folks who live in the Bible Belt and in flyover country are too stupid to understand just what a great man we have leading our country.

Nevertheless, Obama’s approval rating of 37% is the worst he has garnered since coming into office nearly two years ago. It even took that rube George W. Bush a good six years before his approval numbers went sub-forty.

Not to be outdone, Congress only managed an 11% approval rating in the same poll. The MSM spinsters are hard at work.
By Shannon Bell

It starts: Crist within 7, Meek down to 15 in Quinnipiac poll

Florida 2010 Senate candidates, Crist, Rubio and Meek.

I’ve been saying for weeks that at some point, Democrats would begin to pick a side, and that Kendrick Meek is the most vulnerable to seeing his support (mostly among white Democrats) begin to slide, as “Anybody But Rubio” voters begin to freak out in the shadow of Election Day. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows that may be starting to occur.
The poll shows Rubio still stuck at 42 percent (they don’t poll Snitker) with Charlie Crist up 5 to 35 percent, and Meek down to just 15 percent. The innards:
In the Senate race, Rubio is carrying 77 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independent voters. Crist receives 19 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of independents. Meek gets just 1 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of unaffiliated voters.

…”Gov. Charlie Crist has cut into Rubio’s margin, but the former state House speaker remains the clear favorite to become Florida’s next U.S. senator,” said Brown. “With his supporters less likely to change their minds than those of his two opponents, Marco Rubio is in the driver’s seat with only five days to go until Election Day. Most of the closure came not from Rubio voters deserting him, but from Congressman Kendrick Meek’s voters moving to Crist.”
The pollster also adds this helpful GOTV caveat, which I’m not sure is all that relevant to a pollster, but there you go:
“Gov. Crist has pulled within hailing distance of Rubio, but there are a couple of unique factors that probably work against him in the home stretch. First of all, he is listed at the bottom of the ballot below a number of unknown independent and minor party candidates. And, since he is without a party, he lacks the ground operation that the Democrats and Republicans have to turn out their voters,” said Brown.
The poll shows 9 percent of voters still undecided — something that still matters in this environment.
Meanwhile, Crist’s numbers holding up pretty well with men:
                     LIKELY VOTERS(Includes Early Voters)..............
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl

Meek                 15%     1%    36%     9%     9%    22%     5%
Rubio                42     77      6     38     45     39     64
Crist                35     19     51     43     40     30     26
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       1      2      -      1      1      -      1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      -      -      -      -      -
DK/NA                 7      2      7     10      5      9      4
Meanwhile, the trend is moving ever so slowly Crist’s way (though time is short):
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........
                     Oct 28  Oct 13  Sep 30
                     2010    2010    2010

Meek                 15      22      18
Rubio                42      44      46
Crist                35      30      33
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       1       -       -
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -       -       -
DK/NA                 7       4       3
And Crist and Meek voters remain the most volatile about their decision:
                     LIKELY VOTERS..........
                            CAND CHOICE Q4..
                     Tot    KM     MR     CC

Made up              89%    83%    95%    84%
Might change         11     17      5     15
DK/NA                 -      -      -      -
Incredibly, 28 percent of voters including 20 percent of Democrats in this sample said they don’t know enough about Meek to make a decision about him, though 63 percent give him favorable approval ratings and just 15 see him negatively. That is pretty stunning this far in, but it also collapses the theory that Meek’s problem stems from negative impressions of him left over from his primary with Jeff Greene.

Rubio’s unfavorables are almost equal to his favorables (42-44) pulled down by the 67 percent of Democrats who view him negatively, plus a quite high 53 percent of indies — which explains why he’s stuck at 42 (13 percent of Republicans even view Rubio unfavorably.) But in what may be a sign of more “enthusiasm gap,” almost as many Democrats (18 percent) don’t know enough about Rubio to make a decision, as don’t know about the Democratic candidate. Not paying attention, people? And Rubio’s unfavorables have been growing — up from 35 percent in September.

As for Charlie Crist, he’s a bit better off than Rubio, but not by much. His 46-44 favorable/unfavorable ratio is pretty good in this environment, and given that two-thirds of Republicans now view him negatively. But Crist’s hope may lie in the 22 percent of Republicans, the whopping 70 percent of Democrats (versus 19 negative) and 53 percent of independents (versus 38 negative) who view him favorably.

One caveat: this poll was taken last week – October 18-24, so adjust your thinking accordingly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Juan Williams, Fox News Liberal

10/26/2010 by Peter Hart
After being fired by NPR, Juan Williams made an appearance with Fox host Bill O'Reilly (10/21/10) where he explained that he wasn't likely to get support from prominent African-American leaders like Al Sharpton because "I'm not a predictable black liberal."

It's not totally clear what he means by that, but Williams does a pretty good job as a Fox News Liberal-- i.e., someone willing to attack left-liberal groups and leaders while doing very little to promote an actual left-leaning perspective. This point was echoed in a column penned by Newsmax's Ronald Kessler (10/25/10), who wrote that he's known Williams since the 1970s and "the fact is, Williams is no liberal." He adds:
If you doubt that, read his book Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It. The book attacks Democrats and black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for promoting a "culture of failure" among blacks.

In an interview after the book was published, Williams told me that the Democratic Party "has not delivered in terms of protecting the poor, minorities in the country, on basic items, like education for your children, safety in our streets, making sure that you have the opportunity to have an economic foothold on the ladder of upward mobility."
That is why "there’s a need for a strong Republican voice among minorities, that’s why you need competition of ideas,” he said. "The one-party system has failed the poor and minority in this country."
Kessler adds this:
I once asked him why he comes across as a liberal in discussions on Fox News when I know him as leaning more to the conservative side. He said, in effect, that someone has to do it, meaning he is simply being a good commentator.
A reminder of what that pretend-left commentary amounts to came on yesterday's broadcast of Fox's Special Report program (10/25/10), where Williams responded when asked about the recent WikiLeaks disclosures from the Iraq War:
Well, you know what strikes me is that there's no big revelation. I think everybody sitting on this panel, everybody in America who's interested in the story, knew that, in fact, Iran was involved in Iraq. So I don't think that's it.
What this is, is trouble-making for the ability of the Maliki government to form a coalition of government, to try--you know, we're trying to move forward in Iraq at this moment. There is nothing in these documents that would suggest the U.S. military or the U.S. civilian leadership behaved wrongly, improperly. There's no great scandal here.
There's no reason to put out these documents. This is not the Pentagon Papers. This, in fact, is just trouble-making for people who are now trying to make the best of what has been a difficult situation that's been on the uptick. So it seems just mischievous and unnecessary.
I guess it's worth $2 million for Fox News to keep a "liberal" around who will say such things. One can only hope that NPR listeners will  learn to live without this caliber of analysis.

Heat Lose Opener, So I Guess LeBron Sucks Now?

wade bosh lebron kobe lobster dog
LeBron James and the new-look Miami Heat opened the NBA season last night in Boston.

 Apparently, LeBron was the only one of the “Three’t” to show up for the game, as he put up 31 points in his team’s 88-80 loss to the Celtics. Holy crap, “Three’t” might be the worst moniker ever.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers is convinced the Heat will progress into a title contender.
“They’re going to be great,” he said.
Not yet, though. Wade and Bosh weren’t even all that good on opening night.
Wade was limited to 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting and Bosh added eight points and eight rebounds. The trio combined for 15 of the Heat’s 17 turnovers— eight by James, six by Wade and one by Bosh. And Miami was outscored 16-9 in the first quarter. –Y! Sports.
Obviously the Heat still need time to find ways of maximizing their personnel advantages. After all, both Wade and James were playing in the FIBA Worlds this summer and have barely had any sort of offseason break. But I thought the Celtics were supposed to be too old to compete for the East this year.

 You know, just like last year and the year before that. They’ve got more toilet water on their balls than a dead goldfish. Okay, I might have to draw you a picture for that one.
At least Kobe won last night. Good job, Kobe.

Would-Be Metro Bomber Caught in Sting

Alleged Metro Bomb Plotter Arrested
Federal authorities say a man from Virginia was attempting to help al-Qaeda operatives in a plot to bomb Metro stations. But from early indications, it doesn’t look like the alleged bomber got very far into his plans before law enforcement tracked him down, and the only plotting he did was in response to instructions from federal agents he thought were accomplices.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Pakistan, was arrested Wednesday. On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Alexandria had indicted the Ashburn man, charging him with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at D.C.-area Metrorail stations.

Authorities say the public was never in danger because their agents had been monitoring the man’s activities throughout the conception and planning of the attacks.

Ahmed was discovered by agents to be seeking to obtain unspecified materials (presumably bomb-related). As a part of a sting operation that lasted from April through early this week, federal authorities posing as al-Qaeda operatives asked Ahmed to collect video and photographic surveillance footage  and draw diagrams of Metrorail stations. According to the indictment, Ahmed carried out all of those tasks and handed over the information to people he thought were affiliated with al-Qaeda. They were, in fact, undercover agents.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.

Read the indictment here:
Metro Indictment

Posted by Drew Costley

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Michael Jackson: dead, but lucrative

apple1 Michael Jackson: dead, but lucrative
The sudden death of Michael Jackson made his bereaved fans put into their pockets and transform the most profitable dead celebrity this year, with revenues of $ 275 million, according to a ranking released on Monday by Forbes magazine.

Jackson posthumously earned more than the sum of 12 other celebrities from the list. He died on June 25, 2009, and the list last year he appeared in third place with $ 90 million billed.

Second on the list this year comes from Elvis Presley, who died in 1977. Business and collecting fees at the mansion-museum, Graceland (Tennessee), a Cirque du Soleil and more than 200 licensing agreements and advertising yielded $ 60 million to his estate.

Jackson died at age 50, victim of an accidental drug overdose, while preparing a tour to resume his career in London. He left three sons and a debt of half a billion dollars.

But his estate has generated millions of dollars since his death, mostly by selling records, the film-show “This Is It,” for contracts to launch new albums and a Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

Rose said the “King of Pop” won last year more than Lady Gaga, Madonna and Jay-Z together.

CNBC: Berkshire's Hiring of Hedge Fund Manager Creates Instant Leading Contender for Warren Buffett's Investment Role

By: Alex Crippen
Warren Buffett
Getty Images
Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway revealed tonight (Monday) that Todd Combs, a 39-year-old hedge fund manager from Connecticut, will "soon be joining Berkshire as an investment manager."

That instantly launches the relatively unknown investor into the spotlight as a leading contender to eventually succeed Buffett as manager, or one of the managers, of Berkshire's vast portfolio.

He's not, however, the only candidate. In July, Charlie Munger told the Wall Street Journal that it was a "foregone conclusion" Chinese investor Li Lu would become one of Berkshire's top decision makers on investments.
In a news release, Buffett is quoted as saying, "For three years Charlie Munger and I have been looking for someone of Todd’s caliber to handle a significant portion of Berkshire’s investment portfolio. We are delighted that Todd will be joining us."
The release says Combs has been managing Castle Point Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut, for the past five years.
Fortune's Carol Loomis, Buffett's friend and editor of his annual letter to shareholders, writes tonight that Buffett met Combs through Munger, who thought Combs would fit in well at Berkshire.
Loomis reports:
Buffett described Combs as an "all-American type" who is not the least bit interested in publicity, an attitude unlikely to shield him from it. Now a resident of Darien, Conn., Combs is by birth a Floridian who graduated in 1993 from Florida State University with majors in finance and multinational business operations.
Buffett also tells Loomis that Combs' investment record during the financial crisis was "pretty good" and Loomis calls his hiring a clear indication Buffett is satisfied with Combs' performance.

According to Loomis, Combs will continue to work out of Connecticut and won't be moving to Omaha.
Combs' Castle Point is described as a long/short hedge fund that takes positions in financial services companies. It began full-scale investing in late 2007, the same year Buffett began his search. 

Loomis says it would have "met immediate disaster" during the financial crisis if it had only gone long on financials, but was "apparently saved" by its short positions.

She also notes that Combs "ducked all the most famous disasters," by not going long on AIG, Lehman, Bear Stearns, Citigroup, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

That, she writes, is consistent with Buffett's stated intention in his 2007 letter to hire someone who is "genetically programmed to recognize and avoid risk, including those never before encountered."

In its most recent 13-F filing with the SEC, Castle Point lists U.S. Bancorp ($22.8 million), Mastercard ($20.4 million), and State Street ($19.0 million) as its three largest long positions as of June 30. Berkshire also reports holding U.S. Bancorp stock. Its 69 million shares, as of June 30, would have a current market value of $1.6 billion.

Berkshire Portfolio
It is important to note that today's announcement does not signal Combs will automatically become the "next" Warren Buffett and eventually run all of Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett has said for some time now that when he's no longer running Berkshire, his duties will be split among a new CEO, who would oversee the operating businesses, and one or more investment chiefs.

Loomis notes that the hiring of Combs "at least partially satisfies" Buffett's 2007 plan to "hire a younger man or woman with the potential to manage a very large portfolio, who we hope will succeed me as Berkshire’s chief investment officer when the need for someone to do that arises."

He noted at the time that "as part of the selection process, we may in fact take on several candidates."
Longtime Buffett-watcher Whitney Tilson says in an email tonight that given Berkshire's many "enormously successful" investments in financials, "and the likelihood that there will be more busts/panics in this sector over time (human nature never changes) – it makes sense to have a specialist in this area be one of the investment managers going forward."

Tilson speculates that with Li Lu concentrating on Asia and China, and Combs focused on financials, Berkshire could name another investment manager, perhaps with a background in consumer products and retail.

Current stock prices:
Berkshire Class B: [BRK.B 83.33 --- UNCH (0) ]
Berkshire Class A: [BRK.A 125030.0 --- UNCH (0) ]

Iraq Court Sentences Tariq Aziz to Death

Tariq Aziz
BAGHDAD — Tariq Aziz, a former top aide to Saddam Hussein, was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court on Tuesday for crimes against members of rival Shiite political parties.

The ruling was the latest in a series of criminal cases against Mr. Aziz, 74, whose frequent media appearances and travels abroad made him the bespectacled face of Mr. Hussein’s regime. For years, Mr. Aziz served as a staunch and public defender of Mr. Hussein before the American-led invasion of 2003.

Because Mr. Hussein rarely left Iraq out of fears about his safety, Mr. Aziz represented Iraq in the diplomatic world. He surrendered to American forces shortly after the invasion, aware that, for Americans, he was among Iraq’s most hunted officials and one of the best known emblems of the Saddam Hussein era.

Mr. Aziz’s death sentence stemmed from charges of persecution against members of the religious Shiite Dawa Party, which counts Iraq’s current prime minister, Nuri Kamal-al Maliki, among its members.

It was unclear when Mr. Aziz would be executed.

One of Mr. Aziz’s lawyers, Badea Araf Azzit, said he was considering whether to appeal. He dismissed the sentence as a ploy aimed at distracting attention from Iraq’s political stalemate and the recent publication of a trove of American war records that described widespread prisoner abuse by Iraqi guards and security forces.

“It is a political judgment,” Mr. Azzit said.

Mr. Aziz’s lawyers have long claimed he was only responsible for Iraq’s diplomatic and political relations, and had no ties to the executions and purges carried out by Mr. Hussein’s Baathist government. Mr. Hussein was himself hanged in 2006, less than two months after his death sentence was handed down.

Mr. Aziz’s lawyer said he remained in poor health. In January, the American military said in a statement that he suffered a blood clot in the brain. He was taken to an American military hospital north of Baghdad for treatment.

In March 2009, Mr. Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity, but he was acquitted earlier that year on charges of ordering a 1999 crackdown against Shiite protesters after a revered Shiite cleric was assassinated.

He is also serving a seven-year prison sentence for a case involving the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, he predicted he would die in prison, citing his old age and lengthy prison sentences.

Death sentences were also handed down on Tuesday against other former officials in Mr. Hussein’s government including Abed Hammoud, a former secretary to Mr. Hussein, and former Interior Minister Sadoon Shaker.

Under Mr. Hussein, Mr. Aziz cultivated a reputation as a cigar-smoking, whisky-drinking, worldly diplomat who used his official posts to justify the invasion of Kuwait, the efforts to obscure Mr. Hussein’s weapons program, the mass killings of Kurds and Shiites in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and the use of chemical weapons at the Kurdish town of Halabja, among other things.

Only weeks before the American-led invasion in 2003, he had an audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, one of dozens of encounters with world leaders.

When he surrendered to American troops in his hometown, Mosul, in northern Iraq, he apparently did so for his own safety in the face of mobs hunting down officials of the ousted government.

He was No. 43, and the eight of spades, on the Pentagon’s ”pack of cards” listing the 55 most wanted officials of Mr. Hussein’s government. American officials said that, after his surrender, Mr. Aziz offered to testify against Mr. Hussein on the condition that he be released early, a proposition eventually rejected by an Iraqi court and its American advisers.

Source: The New York Times, October 26, 2010