Wednesday, March 31, 2010

International Community Pledges Billions for Haitian Reconstruction

Members of the international community are at the United Nations Wednesday, committing serious financial assistance to Haiti for its long term reconstruction. Donors' offered millions of dollars to all sectors in a bid to help Haiti "build back better" after its devastating January earthquake.

Haiti's reconstruction is estimated to need 10 years and $11.5 billion. But Wednesday's conference aimed to meet reconstruction costs for just the first 18 months.

The Haitian government is going to be in the lead on this, and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive outlined his country's blueprint for a national action plan to guide the reconstruction to the 140 members of the international community who participated in the pledging conference.

He said funds are needed for every part of Haiti's infrastructure, to create jobs, and to put the country on the path to sustainable development.

"We need about $4 billion in the next 18 months to achieve the critical mass that is necessary to achieve the momentum to make the difference that we talked about together. We need to innovate. Favorable conditions are there and we must succeed," said the Haitian prime minister.

Countries lined up to help, with conference co-chair, the United States, leading the way. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said if Haiti creates strong, transparent and accountable institutions it can become a engine for progress and prosperity.

"To that end, the United States pledges $1.15 billion for Haiti's long-term recovery and reconstruction, which will go toward supporting the government of Haiti's plan to strengthen agriculture, energy, health, and security and governance," she said.

Also announcing their contributions early in the conference were the European Union, pledging over $1.6 billion, Brazil, offering $172 million, France giving $27 million, and Spain pledging $465 million.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, one of the co-chairs of the meeting, said reconstruction assistance must be well-invested and well-coordinated. He added that it must work in parallel with the continuing humanitarian assistance effort, and urged donors to further fund a U.N. appeal for $1.4 billion that is only half met. That money is to meet emergency needs - such as water, food, shelter and sanitation - for this year.

By the end of the day, the U.N. expects pledges of nearly $4 billion to be committed to Haiti.

Bush wiretapping program takes hit in Calif ruling

SAN FRANCISCO — In a repudiation of the Bush administration's now-defunct Terrorist Surveillance Program, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that government investigators illegally wiretapped the phone conversations of an Islamic charity and two American lawyers without a search warrant.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker said the plaintiffs provided enough evidence to show "they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance."

The judge's 45-page ruling focused narrowly on Al-Haramain case, touching vaguely on the larger question of the program's legality.

Nonetheless, Al-Haramain lawyer Jon Eisenberg said the ruling had larger implications.

"By virtue of finding what the Bush administration did to our clients was illegal, he found that the Terrorist Surveillance Program was unlawful," Eisenberg said.

At issue was a 2006 lawsuit filed by the Ashland, Ore., branch of the Saudi-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and two American lawyers Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor.

Belew and Ghafoor claimed their 2004 phone conversations with foundation official Soliman al-Buthi were wiretapped without warrants soon after the Treasury Department had declared the Oregon branch a supporter of terrorism. They argued that wiretaps installed without a judge's authorization are illegal.

It was the last active case pending before a trial judge challenging the wiretapping program that ended in 2007.

"The ruling ends the case, but without the fireworks everyone expected," George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr said. "It ended with a whimper."

The plaintiffs were seeking $1 million each, plus attorney fees in the case. Walker ordered more legal arguments before deciding on possible damages.

The ruling came after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the lawsuit threatened to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.

In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insisted it came to the decision differently.

Holder's effort to stop the lawsuit marked the first time the administration has tried to invoke the state secrets privilege. Under the strategy, the government can have a lawsuit dismissed if hearing the case would jeopardize national security.

Holder said Judge Walker had been given a classified description of why the case must be dismissed so the court could "conduct its own independent assessment of our claim."

That was a departure from the Bush administration, which resisted providing specifics to judges handling such cases about what the national security concerns were.

Holder previously said the administration would respect the outcome of Walker's review.

Eisenberg called on the Obama administration to accept Wednesday's ruling and forgo any appeals.

"We are reviewing it," Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.

President Bush authorized the surveillance program shortly after 9/11, allowing National Security Agency officials to bypass the courts and intercept electronic communications believed connected to al-Qaida.

Generally, government investigators are required to obtain search warrants signed by judges to eavesdrop on domestic phone calls, e-mail traffic and other electronic communications.

In June, Judge Walker tossed out more than three dozen lawsuits against the nation's telecommunications companies for allegedly taking part in the program.

Congress in 2008 agreed on new surveillance rules that included protection from legal liability for telecommunications companies that allegedly helped the U.S. spy on Americans without warrants.

Walker previously upheld the constitutionality of the new surveillance rules. His ruling is being appealed.

Anthony Coppolino, the U.S. Department of Justice lawyer who has been in charge of the Islamic Foundation case under both administrations, has never addressed the legality of the wiretap program.

Read More..

D.C. shooting leaves 4 dead, 5 wounded

WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- Officials said a fourth person died Wednesday of wounds sustained in a shootout the previous evening in a southeast neighborhood in Washington.

District of Columbia police said shots were fired into a group of people in one of the District's deadliest shootings in years, The Washington Post reported.

Officials said three of the victims died Tuesday and the fourth Wednesday. Five other people were injured.

Police said a 10th person was found shot a few blocks from the scene but they said they weren't sure whether he was part of the gunfire exchange.

Three people were in custody but charges hadn't been filed, District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

Two police vehicles crashed during a pursuit of the three individuals and four police officers suffered minor injuries, officials said.

Lanier said many people were outdoors in the District of Columbia's southern tip when a gunman began "spraying (bullets) into a crowd."

A man told the Post he heard sounds he described as "pat, pat, pat, pat, pat," followed by a loud boom.

Then, "all I saw was bodies dropping," the witness said. "It was like Vietnam."

Officials said a motive wasn't immediately known.

Sources told the Post they were investigating whether the shootings were tied to two incidents in March in the southern part of the district.

The number of people shot Tuesday may have been the most in one incident in Washington since 1994, when 10 people were wounded, one fatally, the Post said.

Empire State Observation Deck Remains Open After Death

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Empire State Building's 86th floor observation deck will remain open from its regular hours of 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday, a day after a man reported to be a Yale University student jumped to his death from the 86th floor Tuesday.

A customer service representative at the Empire State Building said that everything was operating as normal, and the incident had no impact on its regular schedule. However, a spokesman for the Empire State Building declined to comment on any inquiries surrounding the incident.
Dabaghi, 21, from Austin, Texas was an East Asian studies major and set to graduate next year. Police said he jumped from the building at about 6:15 p.m., plunging onto West 34th Street in front of a Bank of America building. Reports said the 86th floor was relatively quiet Tuesday evening due to the bad weather.
More than 30 people have jumped to their deaths from the Empire State Building since it opened in 1931.

Fox News, Sarah Palin vs. LL Cool J

Network announced rapper as one of first guests on former governor's show, but then things went downhill

By Alex Koppelman

The Ladies, in general, Love Cool James. But after today, we probably can't count former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin among LL Cool J's fans.

Fox News had announced the rapper as a guest on the debut episode of Palin's new show, "Real American Stories." The announcement -- and the oddity of it -- did serve to prompt some interest in the premiere. But then LL stepped in, announcing on Twitter, "Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palin's Show. WOW."

Fox says the interview was originally part of an online series also called "Real American Stories," the Los Angeles Times reports. But it decided to pull the segment anyway, and a spokeswoman said, "[A]s it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career."

Lest there be any confusion, Fox isn't really wishing LL "the best." That formulation -- more often expressed as some variation of "we wish X well" -- is a classic line from the network's P.R. people, unsubtle code meaning, basically, "Oh, and fuck you." In this case, they made it even more plain than usual with the "fledgling acting career" bit. The rapper may not be a megastar, but he's had a fair number of movie roles dating back to the early 1990s, and he's currently a regular cast member on "NCIS: Los Angeles."

Cops: Trenton 7-year-old gang raped after 15-year-old sister pimps her out

Staff Writer

Rowan Towers, allegedly the scene of one of the most disturbing crimes in recent history: the gang rape of a 7-year-old whose sister allegedly pimped her out. (Trentonian Photo/GREGG SLABODA)

TRENTON — City police have charged a 15-year-old girl as an accomplice to the gang rape of her 7-year-old sister.

Police said they believe the older sibling was paid for having sex with multiple partners Sunday night during a party at the troubled Rowan Towers apartment complex, and that she then sold her sister to others at the party.

Police said they believe the younger girl was raped by five to seven individuals, who held the girl against her will and threatened to kill her if she screamed or if she later told anyone about what happened.

Capt. Joe Juniak, commander of the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, said he expects there to be many arrests in the case and he expects them imminently.

“The things that took place in there were just horrid,” Juniak said. “Anyone can imagine, especially those who have allow someone to do that to a 7-year-old is just beyond comprehension.”

Juniak noted that the girls were not full-blooded sisters. He said they were either half-sisters or stepsisters, but whatever the case, they were still raised as sisters.

Juniak said police were initially called by the girls’ family because they believed the 15-year-old had run away from home and that she took the younger girl with her. He said the 15-year-old had exhibited some behavior problems in the past.

Police officers were at the family’s home that night, after 9 p.m., when the 7-year-old returned without her older sister, and she told her mother that she had been raped, Juniak said. Police later located the 15-year-old, who relayed the same details regarding what had happened at the party, and she was arrested and charged.

Juniak said the party took place in a 13th-floor apartment in the complex at 620 West State St., where the 15-year-old met up with a couple of male acquaintances. He said the older sister then had sex with several party-goers for money in a bedroom, while leaving the younger girl unattended in the living room.

At some point, Juniak said, the older sister visited the 7-year-old in the living room and handed her a wad of money, telling her to let the assembled males have sex with her.

“She tells the sister, ‘Let the boys do what they want to do,’” Juniak said.

Juniak said the older girl promoted and watched the acts perpetrated upon her sister.

After the assaults, Juniak said, the 7-year-old got dressed and left the party, while her older sister stayed behind. Two unidentified individuals found the young girl crying outside, and they took her to her home nearby on West State Street, where police had already gathered.

The Rowan Towers complex has been the center of controversy lately, with an increasing number of violent crimes reported there.

Juniak said investigators have identified the apartment used during the party and the person listed as the renter of the unit. But he said that it doesn’t appear the individual was there at the time or that he had any knowledge of what occurred at the party.

Juniak said the tenant is in the process of being evicted from the apartment, which appears to already have been at least partially vacated.

“Individuals within that building have knowledge of what apartments are vacant, and they will gain access to those apartments and utilize them for drinking, partying or whatever else,” Juniak said. “That’s what we believe happened in this instance.”

The 15-year-old sister has been charged with complicity in an aggravated sexual assault, criminal restraint, terroristic threats, endangering the welfare of a child, and promoting prostitution. She was held in the Mercer County Youth Detention Center.

Trenton detectives are working with investigators from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, and the state Division of Youth and Family Services is involved with the case.

Juniak said there appear to have been 12 to 15 people at the party throughout the night, and detectives are searching for anyone who may have been there. He said charges could be brought against everyone, not just those physically involved with the rape of the 7-year-old.

Anyone who was there could be charged for allowing it to happen, and any adults who had sex with the 15-year-old will be prosecuted for rape because of the girl’s age, Juniak said.

“We’re going to identify everyone who was in that apartment,” he said.

Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, who has a 7-year-old daughter, called The Trentonian last night to express his outrage and to make a plea for the public’s help.

“I am just sick,” Palmer said. “Citizens have got to come forth if they have any information. If you ever wanted to get involved ... if there is nothing that will get your conscience to say ‘I have to step up,’ if it’s not this, then I don’t know what you’re waiting for.

“Police are working triple-overtime and not leaving any stone unturned to get justice for this innocent angel, but we need the people’s help.”

Anyone with additional information about the rape should contact the Trenton police confidential tip line at (609) 989-3663.

© Copyright 2010 The Trentonian, a Journal Register Property. All rights reserved

Breaking News: Jesse James Checks into Rehab, Begs Sandra Bullock Not to Divorce

more Sandra and Jesse after the jump…

Radar Online reports that a source close to the couple says “He offered to go to the same rehab center that Tiger Woods went to if Sandra would support him and stick with him. She said ‘no’, and that basically he’s the scum of the earth.”

Jesse is said to be desperate to save his marriage and he’s checked into Sierra Tuscon, a treatment facility in Arizona.

The source says that Jesse is in for sex rehab. “But no, Sandra is not there” the source said. “He (Jesse) is trying to show her he wants to recover. Sandra is tough and does not take humiliation well. It will take a lot more than Jesse going for a week to some clinic for her to even take him seriously.”

According to the same source, Sandra wants out of the marriage, she has felt humiliated, devastated and embarrassed by the whole Jesse’s cheating scandal.

rep told People magazine that “Jesse checked himself into a treatment facility to deal with personal issues,” “He realized that this time was crucial to help himself, help his family and help save his marriage.”

It sounds like too little, too late, doesn’t it? What do you think Sandra should do? Give Jesse a chance or not?

Obama to allow oil drilling off Virginia coast


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a reversal of a long-standing ban on most offshore drilling, President Barack Obama is allowing oil drilling 50 miles off Virginia’s shorelines. At the same time, he is rejecting some new drilling sites that had been planned in Alaska.

Obama’s plan offers few concessions to environmentalists, who have been strident in their opposition to more oil platforms off the nation’s shores. Hinted at for months, the plan modifies a ban that for more than 20 years has limited drilling along coastal areas other than the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama was set to announce the new drilling policy Wednesday at Andrews air base in Maryland. White House officials pitched the changes as ways to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and create jobs — both politically popular ideas — but the president’s decisions also could help secure support for a climate change bill languishing in Congress.

The president, joined by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, also was set to announce that proposed leases in Alaska’s Bristol Bay would be canceled. The Interior Department also planned to reverse last year’s decision to open up parts of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Instead, scientists would study the sites to see if they’re suitable to future leases.

Obama is allowing an expansion in Alaska’s Cook Inlet to go forward. The plan also would leave in place the moratorium on drilling off the West Coast.

In addition, the Interior Department has prepared a plan to add drilling platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico if Congress allows that moratorium to expire. Lawmakers in 2008 allowed a similar moratorium to expire; at the time President George W. Bush lifted the ban, which opened the door to Obama’s change in policy.

Under Obama’s plan, drilling could take place 125 miles from Florida’s Gulf coastline if lawmakers allow the moratorium to expire. Drilling already takes place in western and central areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

The president’s team has been busy on energy policy and Obama talked about it in his State of the Union address. During that speech, he said he wanted the United States to build a new generation of nuclear power plans and invest in biofuel and coal technologies.

“It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development,” he warned.

Obama also urged Congress to complete work on a climate change and energy bill, which has remained elusive. The president met with lawmakers earlier this month at the White House about a bill cutting emissions of pollution-causing greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020. The legislation would also expand domestic oil and gas drilling offshore and provide federal assistance for constructing nuclear power plants and carbon sequestration and storage projects at coal-fired utilities.

White House officials hope Wednesday’s announcement will attract support from Republicans, who adopted a chant of “Drill, baby, drill” during 2008’s presidential campaign.

The president’s Wednesday remarks would be paired with other energy proposals that were more likely to find praise from environmental groups. The White House planned to announce it had ordered 5,000 hybrid vehicles for the government fleet. And on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are to sign a final rule that requires increased fuel efficiency standards for new cars.

ALG Condemns Congressional Efforts to “Discredit and Marginalize the American People”

March 30th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today condemned members of Congress who he said “are attempting to discredit and marginalize the American people who vehemently opposed the government takeover of the nation’s health care system.”

Wilson said the attacks were “contrived” and designed to intimidate the political opposition. “The allegations members of Congress are using now are simply a part of a pre-conceived narrative to criminalize dissent against the expansion of government. Members of Congress will stop at nothing to politically marginalize the primary threat to them holding onto power, and that’s the American people.”

“This is right out of the Hugo Chavez-Fidel Castro playbook to take normal political dissent and to delegitimize it,” Wilson declared. “Congressional Democrats, having failed to persuade the American people to support the health care takeover, have dusted off that playbook and are once again attempting to portray their own constituents in the most extreme and provocative terms.”

“I really hope that the DNC will stop using these Marxist tactics, and accord individuals the right to legitimate dissent,” Wilson added.

Wilson pointed to Congressman James Clyburn’s claim that tea parties were a “kind of terrorism.” Others have alleged that activists shouted racial epithets at members of Congress on March 20th at a protest against the health care bill, as reported by the American Thinker. Others have attested that acts of vandalism were linked to the tea parties.

“This is not the first time they’ve done this,” Wilson added, pointing to portrayals of demonstrators at tea parties and town halls throughout 2009 by Congressional Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote an oped in USA Today calling opponents “un-American”. Congressman Steve Kagen called opponents “uncivilized,” and Congressman Baron Hill called them “political terrorists.”

Congressman Brian Baird called opponents of the legislation “Brown Shirts” and compared them to domestic terrorists, “Some of the rhetoric that we’re hearing is… eerily reminiscent of the kind of things that drove Tim McVeigh to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma.”

Wilson said the allegations being made against the tea party movement as a whole were “absurd.”

“Members of tea parties are just regular Americans who are fed up with the unprecedented expansion of government they have witnessed over the past three years,” Wilson said. “They are concerned mothers and fathers, young people and the elderly, who simply do not want to see their nation bankrupted and don’t want government in charge of health care.”

Get full story here.

Editorial: The Costs of Expanding Medicaid Will Bankrupt States

One of the central aspects ObamaCare, besides the individual mandate to purchase insurance, is the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the poverty level. To entice Democrat lawmakers, especially in the Senate, to vote for this, Senate leaders assured the states that the federal government would cover the costs of the expansion until 2014. After that, they said, the states would be responsible for paying for 10 percent of the expansion.

According to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the Medicaid expansion would “result in large increases in eligibles in most states and many new enrollees. Not only would eligibility standards be extended but the individual mandate, though somewhat difficult to enforce at these income levels, will mean that large numbers of both previously eligible and newly eligible people will enroll.” In other words, costs will go up. A lot.

Now the states are pushing back. Their case: the cost increases are immediate—and they are devastating. As reported by the AP, Arizona has said that the new Senate bill is forcing Arizona to rescind cuts it intended to make to Medicaid to balance its budget. As a result, says Arizona, the state will have to pay at least $3.8 billion in additional costs before 2014.

It gets worse, from the AP report, “For the seven years starting in 2014, Arizona will have to spend an additional $7.8 billion, AHCCCS Director Tom Betlach said in the report.” That’s money the people of Arizona simply do not have. Arizona, which already faces a $2 billion deficit on a $10 billion budget this year, now must find nearly an additional $1 billion to pay for the Medicaid cost increases.

In contrast, if Arizona’s eligibility had not been expanded, its costs over that same seven year period would have only been $1.8 billion. Therefore, thanks to ObamaCare, by 2020, Arizona will be a full $9.8 billion more in the hole than they would have been. This is a state that is literally on the brink of bankruptcy. Only California has a worse financial predicament than Arizona.

And that is just one example. In South Carolina, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services has said that the Medicaid expansion through 2019 will cost and additional $914 million, or about $100 million a year. South Carolina already faces a $1 billion deficit this year alone, and now will have to find additional sources of revenue to pay for what amounts to a mandate.

Coupled with mandatory insurance, the states are, in effect, being forced to bear the burden of anyone who is eligible for expanded Medicaid. Consider California where, according to the state’s deputy director of health care programs, “the extra load will cost at least an additional $2 billion to $3 billion annually.” From 2014 to 2020, those additional costs could therefore range anywhere from $14 to $21 billion.

In sum, the costs of the Medicaid expansion will be far beyond what anybody has estimated. For a state like California, the costs could be tens of billions of dollars by 2020. And for states in such fiscal dire straits, like California, New York, Arizona, and others, that is the difference between solvency and insolvency.

Therefore, these new costs will be more than the states can bear, which is why at least eleven states are suing in federal court over the costs involved, according to Bloomberg News. The suits will need the support of the American people, and a little bit of luck in the federal courts, to be successful. For, if they are not, and the legislation is not repealed entirely, the states will likely be bankrupted.

Tea Party in Russia

Did Lawmakers Play “Race Card” to Smear Protesters?

By Chris Slavens

Was a group of lawmakers, including Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), James Clyburn (D-SC), and Andre Carson (D-IN), verbally assaulted with racial slurs on March 20? Did protesters of the federal health-care takeover shout racial slurs at them? Was Rep. Cleaver spat upon? Was the rally held that weekend one of violence, hatred, and bigotry?

Mainstream media outlets have reported these incidents as factual, many commentators conveniently drawing the conclusion that “tea partiers” are racists trying to prevent black Americans from receiving free healthcare at the expense of working taxpayers. Even right-leaning Fox News reported the charges without questioning their basis.

In one case, there simply is no evidence. Video shows the congressmen walking to the Capitol, while protesters shouted “Kill the bill!” No racial slurs can be heard. In another case, emerging facts seem to expose the lie; Cleaver claimed that a protester spat on him and was arrested, yet Capitol Police spokesman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said that no arrests were made that day.

Was Cleaver mistaken about the alleged offender’s arrest? Or did the congressman simply make the whole thing up?

Get full story here.

Appointment Watch: Chatigny

The mainstream media continue to ignore President Obama’s appointment of bizarre personnel to run the government. Personnel is policy. That being the case the American people need to know about these appointments. This week we look another Obama appointee. This is not an isolated incident or an occasional bad apple. This appointment is representative of the appointments he is making with little or no push back from the Senate during the confirmation process.

Robert Chatigny, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit

• Chatigny is currently a federal district court judge.
• Chatigny’s actions as a judge should have lead to his impeachment, not elevation.
• Chatigny as a judge has threatened counsel and abandoned the role of a neutral arbitrator.
• Chatigny’s nomination is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This is just a sample of the type of people President Obama is placing in positions of power within his Administration. If you want more information please visit:

Next week we will examine one more. Those who are interested in exclusive information before it reaches the public, please contact

Permalink here.

Arrests in China over dead babies

Authorities have arrested two mortuary workers of a hospital in eastern China believed to be involved in the dumping of bodies of 21 dead babies, according to Chinese state media.

Zhu Zhenyu and Wang Zhijun were dismissed and taken away by police on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing Gong Zhenhua, the government spokesman for Jining.

Investigators found that the two men had "privately struck oral agreements with the families of the deceased babies to dispose of their remains and had taken payments from them", according to Xinhua.

Three senior hospital officials were also sacked or suspended and the government ordered the Jining Municipal Health Bureau to make a public apology.

"It exposes a serious loophole in the hospital's management and indicates a lack of ethics and legal awareness of some hospital staff," Gong was quoted as saying.

"It exerts a very negative impact on society and teaches us a profound lesson."

The two detained workers reportedly said the families of the dead babies had paid them to dispose of the bodies, but they instead dumped the bodies in the river.