Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kirk apologizes, acknowledges more errors in military resume

Posted by Rick Pearson at 5:15 p.m.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologized today for erroneous statements about his 21-year record as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer and acknowledged more discrepancies between his actual service and the political rhetoric describing his actions.

Appearing before the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, Kirk would not directly answer questions about whether the series of errors amounted to an effort to embellish his military military history as he takes on Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias.

Instead, he said he had tried to translate precise military terms into “civilian-speak.” In the future, he said, he would speak more precisely about his record in the reserve. And he said he would let his military fitness reports, which he promised to release soon, speak for his service.

In a new disclosure, Kirk acknowledged that his campaign's promotion of him coming under fire while flying aboard an intelligence reconnaissance plane in Iraq may not be correct because there is no record of whether his aircraft was being fired upon.

Kirk also acknowledged a constituent letter sent out by his North Shore congressional district office last year that described him as a member of Operation Desert Storm, though he did not participate in that effort.

“I am sorry, absolutely,” Kirk said. “You should speak with utter precision. You should stand on the documented military record. In public discourse, for high office, you should make sure that there is a degree of complete rigorous precession.”

The controversy over Kirk's military record took off last week when he acknowledged that he did not receive the Navy's award for intelligence officer of the year.

Kirk, who joined the Naval Reserve in 1989, has repeatedly described the honor as an individual award from the Navy for his actions during the war in Kosovo, known as Operation Allied Force. But late last week, amid media inquiries to the Navy, Kirk corrected his resume to show he actually received a different award.

That citation, the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award, was given to his unit while it was in Italy. Navy officers make the nominations for the award, which is given by a professional organization known as the National Military Intelligence Association.

Bishop stabbed to death in Turkey - RIP

Pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop Luigi Padovese, the Apostolic Vicar in Anatolia in Turkey who was stabbed to death in in his home in Iskenderun in southern Turkey.

AP reports that the detained suspect is the bishop’s driver who worked for him for the past four and a half years. He was identified by police only as Murat A.

Former President George Bush Admits to Waterboarding of 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Former President George W. Bush admits U.S. waterboarded 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and said he would do it again.

Well, straight from the horse's mouth, former President George W. Bush admitted that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, was waterboarded by the U.S. According to the U.K. Guardian, Bush said, "Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I'd do it again to save lives." This admission came as he spoke to a business audience in Grand Rapids, Mi. So, not only did VP Dick Cheney say it, his boss said it too.

For those of you who are fuzzy on exactly what waterboarding is, it is a simulated drowning technique, that is, with the subject on his/her back and the head inclined downwards, water is poured over the face repeatedly. The Obama administration has deemed this technique as torture, but some in the Bush Administration beg to differ.

I believe that dirtbags like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed must be treated like the scum they are, but the United States has prided itself as a country that does not engage in torture. Some experts have said that torture doesn't work and almost never yields information of substance. The Bush administration claimed they got good information from Mohammed. Go figure, but after September 11, 2001, I can't say I blame the Bush administration for utilizing waterboarding to get information.
Posted by Janet Shan

The U.S./Mexico Border Not So Dangerous

Since Arizona passed their immigration law, we have heard constant sound bites about how dangerous the U.S./Mexico border is. Well it turns out that the border isn't as dangerous as the proponents of the new law are making it out to be:

It's one of the safest parts of America, and it's getting safer.

It's the U.S.-Mexico border, and even as politicians say more federal troops are needed to fight rising violence, government data obtained by The Associated Press show it actually isn't so dangerous after all.

The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.

The Customs and Border Protection study, obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request, shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff's deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.

It's funny how the right, that party of "small government", wants the government to spend resources securing the border and are trying to sell it on "increased violence". If the right is so worried about law enforcement, then shouldn't they also be pushing for extra federal protections against our police officers? How about limiting access to guns?

By: jamie

New York Senate: Republicans Pick Candidates at Party Convention

New York Republicans “on Thursday picked a former Long Island lawmaker and an economist to run in a primary for the chance to take on Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand,” the AP reports.

Republicans wrapped up a sometimes fractious party convention by giving Bruce Blakeman, a former member of the Nassau County Legislature, the party’s official designation after two rounds of balloting, but former Bear Stearns chief economist David Malpass earned enough support to force a two-way Sept. 14 primary.

A third “Republican candidate, former congressman Joe DioGuardi, did not earn a primary spot in convention voting but said he would try to petition his way onto the ballot — a difficult and time-consuming process that, if successful, could set up a three-way primary.”

Polls show Gillibrand “with commanding leads over the potential challengers.”

She reported having $6 million in her campaign account in April, far more than the combined cash on hand for her three potential rivals.

What about Senator Chuck Schumer?

New York’s highly popular senior Democratic senator, Charles Schumer, is running for re-election this year.

Delegates on Tuesday gave the party’s official designation to take on Schumer to Gary Berntsen, a retired, decorated CIA agent who drew significant backing from tea party activists. Communications consultant Jay Townsend received enough support to challenge Berntsen in the September primary.

Ohio, Officer estimates enough for speeding convictions

COLUMBUS: Ohio's highest court has ruled that a person may be convicted of speeding purely if it looked to a police officer that the motorist was going too fast.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that an officer's visual estimation of speed is enough to support a conviction if the officer is trained, certified by a training academy, and experienced in watching for speeders. The court's 5-1 decision says independent verification of a driver's speed is not necessary.

Day 1 Of The Blago Trial: Patti Blagojevich Stands By Her Man

The day of reckoning has come for former Illinois governor and reality TV star Rod Blagojevich, and he’s still singing the same song of innocence he gave the media on Day 1. Arriving at the courthouse for the first day of his corruption trial, Blagojevich received a spirited defense from his wife, Patti, who called this a “good day,” because it was the first step towards her husband’s vindication.

Blagojevich and his husband looked refreshed and ready to take on the day’s activities, and Patti was defiant in front of dozens of reporters, thanking supporters and explaining that she was confident and positive about the beginning of the trial:

“Today is a good day because today is the day that begins the process to correct a terrible injustice that has been done to my husband, our family and to the people of Illinois. My husband has done great things for the people of Illinois, and continues to fight for them always. My husband is an honest man. And I know that he is innocent.”

NBA Final: Boston Celtics at L.A. Lakers Game 1 Odds

The NBA Finals rematch is set with Boston Celtics at L.A. Lakers treating bettors to pro basketball’s most storied rivalry for the 12th time in a championship series.

A lot has changed since 2008, when the Celtics clinched an NBA title with a 39-point victory margin over the Lakers in the deciding game. Since then, we’ve seen the Lakers take home an NBA title of their own.

Both teams had reasonably difficult conference-final battles in round three, with the Lakers winning in six and relying on Ron Artest’s buzzer beater to get the crucial lift over Phoenix in Game 5, and the Celtics holding off a late charge from Orlando to win their series in six games.

The Lakers are 5.5-point favorites to win Game 1, which goes Thursday night at Staples Center. Tip-off is at roughly 8:00 p.m. eastern time.

Prevention is Cheaper than Incarceration

By Kim Copeland

New Jersey has a choice. It can spend $38,900 per person per year to put women offenders behind bars or it can spend $3,000 per person per year to keep them out of trouble. Last year Ujima Urban Woman Center in the Trenton area, with a budget of $150,000, saved the state almost $2 million by keeping 50 women out of prison.

This is all the more significant because female offenders are America ’s fastest growing prison population. Between 1977 and 2004, the female offender population in U.S. prisons grew by an astonishing 757% percent, according to a 2006 Women’s Prison Association study, “Hard Hit: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004” by Frost, Greene and Pranis.

But despite this highly successful and cost-effective program that keeps women off the streets and out of prison, the budgets of Ujima Urban Women Center and the Urban Women Centers in Newark and Camden—funded by the Department of Community Affairs, Division on Women—are scheduled to be axed from the 2011 state budget.

Ujima Urban Women Center is a community outreach program that targets at-risk women, including female offenders and victims of domestic violence. Using a team-based, case-management model, Ujima provides gender-based re-entry strategies as well as mentoring that promotes personal responsibility and gainful employment. The team understands that its members must be sensitive to individual problems, responsive to the particular problems of women, informed about the effects of trauma and knowledgeable about the cultures that have shaped the attitudes of their clients.

Since women are the primary caregivers for minor children, their incarceration has a more deleterious impact on family stability than that of their male counterparts. The incarceration of women has “a destabilizing effect not only on the women’s immediate families, but on the social network of their communities,” according to the Frost study.

The $38,900 year cost of incarcerating a woman does not take into account the social costs of traumatized crime victims, splintered families and troubled children.

The National Institute of Corrections describes female offenders as disproportionately minority with low or limited educational skills. They are often unmarried mothers of minor children and survivors of abuse or trauma. Many have multiple physical and mental health problems and come from fragmented families with high involvement in the criminal justice system.

The female prison population in New Jersey is at an all-time low today because of programs like Ujima’s. However, if the proposed cut goes through, Ujima will have to close its doors on June 30 of this year. As a result, New Jersey taxpayers will foot a much higher bill for incarcerating women who might otherwise be become productive members of our labor force. Voters should remind their representatives at all levels of state government that reducing budgets is not just about cutting deep, it’s about cutting smart. In this case, the bottom line is simple: Prevention is cheaper than incarceration

Kim Copeland is the executive director of Ujima Women Center in Trenton.

Michael Jordan Confirmed for NBA 2K11 Cover

It's bordering on absurd and even the vice president of 2K marketing seems to know it. Michael Jordan, one of the most beloved and digitally underutilized NBA players of all time, will grace the cover of NBA 2K11 according to a CNBC report.

"We've made a lot of progress over the past 10 years, but we know we have the best NBA videogame ever made here," 2K's marketing dude Jason Argent told CNBC (via Kotaku). "So we thought to ourselves how can we embody that and there was only one person on that list who we wanted to have and that was Michael Jordan. Actually getting this done is the most ridiculous win of all-time."
Jordan, at one point, had a deal with EA that kept him from inking other deals with publishers. As a result, dude wasn't in too many games. He was a "legend" in a handful of NBA Live titles and appeared in some as a regular roster player. He also froze basketballs and rescued fellow NBA players in his own game.

This confirmation proves a late-May rumor true, but it doesn't completely seal the deal. In the ESPN report that kicked off the gossip, further rumors suggested that Jordan would be playable and 2K was looking to sign both teammates and opponents of Jordan.

Argent didn't want to talk about how Jordan will appear in the game. He dodged with a "some really good surprises" line. Jordan, in a statement, didn't mention more than digitization. "It's an honor to be featured on the cover of NBA 2K11," he said. "I have no doubt that [it] will be a big hit with gamers and basketball fans alike. I'm looking forward to getting back on the court, virtually."

Jordan is currently the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. That was probably an accident. NBA 2K11 will hit this October 5.

Hamas refusing aid from flotilla (UPDATED)

The IDF just tweeted, and confirmed by email, that Haams has refused the shipments of flotilla aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza.

The IDF spokesperson added, "Why? You'll have to ask [Hamas.]"

Nothing on the Al Qassam site about this yet.

I guess that Hamas wanted something more explosive than toys and paper.

UPDATE: From Xinhua:

Hamas authorities on Tuesday refused to receive aid and supplies to the Gaza Strip through Israel, stressing that Israel must first free pro-Palestinian campaigners who were onboard an aid flotilla.

Israel can send aid that Gaza flotilla had carried to the coastal enclave "only if the shipments are complete and when Israel release all activists who were onboard the ships, Ziad Al- Zaza, Hamas' Minister of Economy, told Xinhua.

"The priority is to release the detained activists," Al-Zaza added.

On Monday, the Israeli navy stopped five of the vessels that were en route to Gaza to defy a three-year-old Israeli blockade, killing nine international activists and forcing the ships that carried 10,000 tons of aid into its sea ports.

Today, Israel allowed part of the aid, which originally included construction materials and medical supplies, to Gaza through one of its land crossing points, but Hamas refused to let that shipment in, witnesses told Xinhua.

Hamas obviously doesn't think much of the tons of aid that the world sent to it. Maybe Israel should donate it instead to poor Arabs in Egypt or the Sudan? It would be fun to hear the "human rights' activists object to that....

JobsGate 2: Romanoff confirms WH “dangled” job offers to stay out of CO Senate race

Posted by: Sister Toldjah

Jake Tapper reports:

Andrew Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado house of representatives, issued a statement Wednesday evening claiming that the White House raised the possibility that he might be offered an administration job if he opted to not challenge incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

Romanoff also released what he said was an e-mail from White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina outlining three possible jobs — deputy assistant administrator for Latin America and Caribbean for the U.S. Agency for International Development; director of the Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID; and director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency – he could have if he didn’t run.

Romanoff did not accept any of the offers, and currently is challenging Bennet, who has the endorsement of President Obama.

The White House did not comment. The statement comes as the White House attempts to distance itself from the controversy stemming from attempts – also unsuccessful – to convince Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., to not challenge Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., in the Pennsylvania primary. Sestak ultimately defeated Specter.

I’m glad this news is seeing the light of day on a national scale – and of course we can always count on Jake Tapper and Major Garrett to do the digging most others in the MSM can but won’t (and props to the AP for their reporting on it today as well), but I have to ask: Seeing as that a much less detailed version of this story was reported in the Denver media back in September 2009, why has this only now been given the attention it deserved back then? Furthermore, why are the WH and the politicos in question – Sestak and Romanoff – being allowed to get away with skirting around the quid pro quo issue by issuing statements like “It wasn’t a paying position” and “No job offer was promised”? Instead of the DOJ launching criminal and civil investigations into the BP oil spill drama, they should be launching investigations into who said what to whom and when and what was promised – and who authorized it. I won’t hold my breath, though.

We have what appears to be at least two incidents of the office of the WH breaking federal law, and there were hints nine months ago about one of them. I don’t have to tell you how this would have played out had Bush still been President.

Whatever. It’s time for answers. Maybe after Rahmbo – who was directly involved in the coordinating of the Sestak job offer – has taken care of the little matter of being subpoenaed in the BlagoGate matter he’ll take the time to give us a few.

Umpire Jim Joyce blows perfect game for Tigers Armando Galarraga

With two outs in the 9th inning, the Tigers Armando Galarraga had a perfect game going. And folks, that’s exactly how the game should have ended.

Galaraga should have pitched the 21st perfect game in MLB history and 3rd this season. But 1st base umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first that ruined the perfect moment.

It was an egregiously bad call in any inning. But in the 9th inning with 2 outs with a perfect game on the line, I have no doubt it should be considered the worst call in MLB history.