Monday, August 9, 2010

Actress Farrow Testifies in War Crimes Trial

American actress Mia Farrow says she heard British supermodel Naomi Campbell tell people she had received a "huge diamond" from former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

More black men in jail or college? An old “fact” revisited

We always hear about the disproportionate number of blacks in prison, but I’ve always wondered: how many areincarcerated and what does that really mean? What I didn’t realize ishow difficult it is to pin down a precise number. I mean, true, itdoesn’t take too much to find out that black men are incarcerated at arate six and a half times higher than white men. That’s easilyavailable through the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. But ever since the Justice Policy Institute released a report in 2002 stating that there were more black men in jail than college, people have just ran with the numbers. Even President Obamadid it. That study, however, quoted figures from 10 years ago and,surprisingly, the number of blacks in prison has actually declined. AndI haven’t been able to find anything recent that concretely dispels themyth, only skeptics that point to the fact that the saying is a myth. So I decided to do my own update to see if the old saying is still true.

There you have it.

U.S. Employers Shed Jobs

Liberty News Nationwide

U.S. Employers Shed Jobs

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy shed more jobs than expected in July while the unemployment rate held steady at 9.5%, a further sign the economic recovery may be losing momentum.
Nonfarm payrolls fell by 131,000 last month as the rise in private-sector employment was not enough to make up for the government jobs lost, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday. Only 71,000 private-sector jobs were added last month while 143,000 temporary workers on the 2010 census were let go.
Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires were expecting total nonfarm payrolls to drop by a smaller 60,000 in July.

Obama's zealous civil rights enforcer gets busy
"I love this job," said Thomas Perez, the hard-charging head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, in a speech last December to the liberal legal group American Constitution Society. "We have a very broad, a very ambitious vision. It's a very exciting vision, and I wake up every morning with a hop in my step."
There's no doubt Tom Perez is hopping a lot these days. Of all the transformations that have taken place in the Obama administration, perhaps none is so radical as that within the Civil Rights Division. Under Perez, it is bigger, richer and more aggressive than ever, with a far more expansive view of its authority than at any time in recent history.

The Coming Catastrophe: State Governments

By Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
As Congress reconvenes next week to pass a $26 billion bailout of state and local governments entombed in their own deficits, we witness a foretaste of the crisis that will be the central event of the first half of next year: the collapse of state governments.

As long as the Democrats control Congress, they will continue to rubber-stamp Obama's requests for bailouts of profligate states. But when the Republicans take control, they will be less than forthcoming. Republicans will ask the central question: Why should taxpayers from states that have cut their budgets and observed spending restraint, pay for the extravagances of the other states? Why should forty-seven states have to pay for California, New York, and Michigan?

State government employment has risen by 16 percent since 1995 and overly generous Medicaid and other spending has climbed alongside it. Pension obligations, initially incurred as a cheap alternative to pay raises for public workers, are increasingly driving state budgets over the brink.

State and local governments and school boards are hostages to the public employee labor unions that control their finances through their contracts and their politics with their donations and votes. These nominally democratic government bodies are as much under the sway of their union captors as the auto companies are of the UAW.

When a Republican Congress turns off the spigot of federal bailouts, the municipal and state bond markets are going to take the hint and stop buying state paper at any interest rate. California will find its debt has become unmarketable and will come begging Congress for relief. First it will seek federal money and then its demands will escalate into a federal guarantee of its state debt.

The Greek financial crisis will come to our shores in the form of state bankruptcies.
Get full story here.

Logging Industry Faces the Chopping Block

By Rebekah Rast
What better example of American folklore then the tales of Paul Bunyan, the Giant Lumberjack. Nothing ever got in the way of him or Babe his Blue Ox companion. Paul Bunyan’s giant ax never left his hand and he loved to harvest timber.
Though Paul Bunyan is a fictional character, his loyalty to the lumber industry is felt by all lumberjacks. Whether chopping down trees, transporting wood or running sawmills, the work required by the lumber industry is not easy.

Now lumberjacks are facing a different challenge — a fading industry. The Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, U.S. Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal and state restrictions are jeopardizing an industry critical to America’s past and future.

“This is just another example of an industry being destroyed by the environmental agenda of the federal government,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).
Get full story here.

Just Above Mel Gibson

Get permalink here.

Unemployment Remains at 9.5 Percent With Another 131,000 Job Losses

By Adam Bitely
The Obama administration is in more trouble with news that the unemployment situation in the United States has not improved. On Friday morning, the Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate had remained unchanged in July at 9.5 percent. On top of that, another 131,000 jobs were lost.
These jobs and unemployment numbers are not only troubling, they are devastating. The economy has been in a downward spiral since 2008 and is showing no signs of recovery. Just consider the following things.

First, the unemployment rate according to the Department of Labor accounts for the number of people that are unemployed — not the number that have given up on looking for jobs. Currently the underemployment rate is at 16.5 percent but if you factor in the number of people that have walked away from the civilian labor force altogether the number would be much higher. Now those are not numbers you often hear reported in the news.

Second, unemployment among America’s youth is skyrocketing.
Get full story here.

Joe Siano Libertarian For Congress

The only small government choice in District 4

I am not a professional politician.
Like most New Jerseyans I earn my living in private enterprise. Andlike most Americans, I am more than just a little annoyed at how muchof my rightful earnings and freedoms that my government steals from me.
In fact, I am convinced that years of government greed, fraud, wasteand abuse threaten the very existence of our free and prosperousConstitutional democracy.

That is why I am running for the U.S. House of Representativesagainst incumbent Chris Smith. Smith has enjoyed a 30-year cruise inthe House while everyday New Jerseyans have struggled to make ends meetthrough one crisis after another.

While we taxpayers fight to get by, government keeps getting biggerand bigger. Government workers get paid more and more. And governmenttakes more from us each year to feed its insatiable appetite for power.
It’s time to send Chris Smithhome to get a real job and to replace him with someone who understandsthe reality and challenges of everyday life in the Garden State.
  • I am asking you to cast a vote this November for a return to theConstitutional principles of limited government that made America free,prosperous, and strong.
  • I am asking you vote down the two-party stronghold that passes ourhard earned money onto fat-cats, bureaucrats, union bosses and specialinterest lobbyists.
  • I am asking you to send me to Washington to unchain the engine ofAmerican prosperity by shrinking government, reducing taxes, breakingdown obstructions to commerce and free trade and by fighting for asound currency.
  • I am proud to be representing the New Jersey Libertarian Party, the only party firmly rooted in America’s founding principles.
  • I invite you to explore this site, investigate the NJLP Platform,which I endorse with one key exception. I am staunchly pro-life. Ibelieve that human life begins at conception and must be protected.
  • Compare my positions to Representative Chris Smith and follow my personal philosophical journey to libertarianism.
  • Take a look at the books, thinkers and writers that have shaped my views.
Please contact me with questions or comments This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I want to know what you think. We love good ideas and fresh thinking!

Please also contact us to volunteer to leaflet or put up lawn signs.
Please click here to Donate. We need your financial support to get our message through.
If you'd prefer to donate by check, Please make all checks payable to Siano For Congress and mail to:

Siano for Congress
c/o The Sawtooth Group
100 Woodbridge Center Drive - Suite 102
Woodbridge, NJ 07095
Attn: Charles Valan

Note: For FEC reporting purposes, please include your occupation and employer. Thanks.
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Monday Morning News Kick Off: Letitia Long Being Elevated to NGA Director, DoD Ends Performance Pay for Most Intel Workers and More

Welcome to the Monday Morning News Kick Off post on got geoint? It has been a whirlwind few days for the GEOINT community. Late last week, General Clapper was confirmed as the new Director of National Intelligence. And, today, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is hosting a ceremony that will honor the elevation of Letitia A. Long as its new director. You all may recall got geoint? was instrumental in announcing this news back in February. Stay tuned for more coverage of Letitia Long as members of the editorial staff of got geoint? will be covering the ceremony at the NGA today. So, with that, as we always say, fire up that second cup of coffee and read on.

First Woman to Head Major US intelligence Agency
The United States has had three female secretaries of state — but until now has never had a woman lead one of its 16 major intelligence agencies. Letitia A. Long is being elevated Monday to director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in a ceremony at the agency’s half-built, high-tech campus in Springfield, Va. The “Jetsons”-style rounded wedge of buildings is rising from a vast construction site at Fort Belvoir. The NGA’s staff, now spread across the Washington metropolitan area, is slated to relocate there by fall 2011. Long’s 32-year career has led to a series of senior management positions: deputy director of Naval Intelligence, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and, most recently, second in command at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Read the full AP story here.

DoD Ends Performance Pay for Most Intel Workers
The Pentagon is scrapping plans to link pay raises for intelligence employees to their performance, according to an Aug. 5 memo from outgoing Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper said that except for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — which has been under its own pay-for-performance system for more than a decade — intelligence employees at Defense will be placed in a grade structure similar to the General Schedule. Those employees will receive regular increases to their base pay each year. Clapper said Defense Secretary Robert Gates decided to halt pay-for-performance after reviewing a report from the National Academy of Public Administration that concluded that implementation of the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS) was rushed and flawed, that it gave better ratings and raises to higher-ranking employees, and that employees have lost faith in the system. The report also concluded there was no evidence that the pay-for-performance system at NGA has improved employee productivity or agency performance. Read the Federal Times “News Digest” here.

DigitalGlobe Secures $3.55 Billion EnhancedView Agreement with National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA)
DigitalGlobe today announced that it has entered into a $3.55 billion agreement with NGA, under the EnhancedView procurement, effective September 1, 2010 upon expiration of the company’s NextView Agreement. The agreement provides for DigitalGlobe to supply satellite imagery deliveries from the WorldView satellite constellation under a Service Level Agreement (”EnhancedView SLA”) in a total amount of $2.8 billion. The agreement also provides for up to $750 million for value added products, infrastructure enhancements and other services. Read the full press release here.

GeoEye Awarded National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Contract
On August 6, 2010, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) gave an award under the NGA’s EnhancedView program to GeoEye Imagery Collection Systems Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of GeoEye, Inc. The award provides for the engineering, construction and launch of the GeoEye-2 satellite, and the design and procurement of associated ground station equipment. Pursuant to the contract terms, NGA will contribute up to 40% of the overall construction costs of the GeoEye-2 program, subject to certain contract limitations. Read the full StreetInsider article here.

Dimmer View of Earth
When Stanford climate scientist Christopher Field looks at visual feeds from a satellite monitoring deforestation in the Amazon basin, he sees images streaked with white lines devoid of data. The satellite, Lansat 7, is broken. And it’s emblematic of the nation’s battered satellite environmental monitoring program. The bad news: It’s only going to get worse, unless the federal agencies criticized for their poor management of the satellite systems over the past decade stage a fast turnaround. Many, however, view that prospect as a long shot. “I would say our ability to observe the Earth from space is at grave risk of dying from neglect,” said Field, director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University. Inez Fung, a noted climatologist at UC Berkeley, was shocked as she scanned a recent federal report warning of impending gaps in the country’s ability to monitor Earth from space. Read the full San Jose Mercury News article here.

Happy Monday!

The Associated Press: Radical Indonesian cleric arrested in terror plot

The Associated Press: Radical Indonesian cleric arrested in terror plot: "AKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia's anti-terrorism unit arrested a radical Islamist cleric Monday for alleged ties to an al-Qaida-affiliated cell accused of plotting high-profile assassinations and Mumbai-style attacks targeting foreigners in the capital.

Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been arrested twice before and spent several years in jail, was heading home after delivering a sermon when the police swooped, surrounding his van and smashing in the rear window when body guards tried to stand in their way, according to Bashir's son, Abdul Rohim.

'The United States is behind this!' shouted the white-bearded cleric, who was wearing his traditional flowing white robe. He smiled as he was escorted under tight security into police headquarters, and said: 'This arrest is a blessing ... I will be rewarded by Allah!'

The fiery 71-year-old is best known as one of the co-founders and spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaida-linked network responsible for a string of suicide bombings in the world's most populous Muslim nation, including the 2002 attacks on Bali island that killed 202 people, most of them Western tourists.

Bashir, who has always denied terrorist links, was also one of the founders of al-Mukmin boarding school in the Central Java town of Solo that produced some of the country's deadliest bombers....

Germany Shuts 9/11 Plotters' Mosque in Hamburg

German police have shut down the Hamburg mosque where the 9/11 hijackers met before their suicide attacks on the US in 2001. What took so long?

Every one of the 15,803 Islamic attacks since 911 has the imprimatur of an Islamic cleric. Every act of jihad is in the service of allah. And behind every act of jihad, there is a mosque.

Gary Berntsen, a Republican hoping to unseat Sen. Chuck Schumer, told Capitol Confidential earlier this month, "Militants are using these mosques. They are using front organizations against us. They are using the west’s respect and tolerance for all religions against us... We would not have allowed a Shinto shrine to be placed at the front gate of Pearl Harbor."

Claudia Rosett reports that Imam Rauf in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar for Ground Zero Mosque money.
 Most  troubling is the story I broke at Atlas on July 31st: Rauf's involvement with the Saudi-based conglomerate Xenel Industries, which has ties to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Xenel is a funder of Imam Rauf's Cordoba Initiative and ASMA (American Society of Muslim Advancement).

Mosques must be monitored. Look at this US terror history map painstakingly produced by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The mosques and Islamic centers that are listed were at one time home to radical clerics or to conspirators in a terrorism-related investigation, or had other connections to radical individuals or terrorist organizations.
Germany shuts 9/11 plotters' mosque in Hamburg BBC
German police have shut down the Hamburg mosque where the 9/11 hijackers met before their suicide attacks on the US in 2001.
Police said they believed the Taiba mosque was again being used as a meeting point for extremists.
The cultural association that runs the mosque has also been banned.
A German intelligence report last year said radical Muslims had travelled to military training camps in Uzbekistan after associating at the mosque.
"We have closed the mosque because it was a recruiting and meeting point for Islamic radicals who wanted to participate in so-called jihad or holy war," said Frank Reschreiter, a spokesman for Hamburg's state interior ministry.
He said 20 police officers had been searching the building and had confiscated material, including several computers, the Associated Press reported.

Naomi Campbell admits to taking “very small, dirty-looking stones”!

Supermodel Naomi Campbell took the stand at the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor on Thursday as prosecutors tried to undermine a key element of the former Liberian president’s defense.
Campbell told the special tribunal that she received a gift of “dirty-looking stones” that she assumed was from him.
Prosecutors are trying to prove that Taylor handled uncut diamonds — which do not glisten like polished ones — that fueled a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone when Taylor was president of neighboring Liberia.
The supermodel was handed the stones following a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela in 1997, she said.
“When I was sleeping, I had a knock on my door. I opened the door and two men were there. They gave me a pouch and said, ‘A gift for you.’”
The men didn’t introduce themselves or say anything else, Campbell said.
The next morning, she opened the pouch and saw a few “very small, dirty-looking stones.”
She gave them to a friend to auction for charity, she testified.

Future witnesses at the war crimes trial are likely to dispute Campbell’s story, prosecutors said after her testimony.

“Two other witnesses will also testify about these events…. there are significant differences between those accounts and Ms. Campbell’s account,” the prosecution said in a statement. It did not name the witnesses, but court papers show prosecutors plan to call Campbell’s former agent Carole White and the actress Mia Farrow.
Prosecutors had rested their case against Taylor in February 2009 but reopened it to call Campbell to testify after learning in June of that year that Taylor had given the supermodel a diamond.
He has testified that he never handled the precious stones.
Campbell shared the story of receiving the stones with White and Farrow at breakfast, she testified Thursday.
“Well, that’s obviously Charles Taylor,” one of them said. Campbell didn’t recall who said it. Then, one of them added, “Well, obviously, they are diamonds.”
Campbell said she assumed the stones came from Taylor.

Obama's Basketball Sunday With LeBron, Magic and Others

Obama playing last year at Martha's Vineyard
Obama,who turned 49 on Wednesday, took to the court for a game with astunning list of all-stars, including Grant Hill, Shane Battier,Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, LeBron James, Earvin"Magic" Johnson, Maya Moore, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose,Bill Russell, Etan Thomas, Dwyane Wade and David West. The game wasclosed to the media.

Kobe Bryant was there but didn't play,according to the White House, and aides provided no details about thegame, which took place at Fort McNair in the District, where Obamaoften plays basketball with friends. More at WaPo

U.S. troops were also there:

Van Gundy: Heat will win 72+ games, could break Lakers record win streak

The Heat not only will be great, but historically great. So predicts the co-lead NBA analyst for ABC/ESPN. “They will break the single-season win record [of 72],” Jeff Van Gundy said. “And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers’ 33-game [winning] streak [in 1971-72], as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year. “They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected,” Van Gundy added. “There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will. “And with Erik Spoelstra coaching, they will be in the top three defensive teams in the league, as well. The other 29 teams better hope the lockout gets moved up a year.” Michael Jordan’s Bulls set the regular-season victory mark at 72-10 in 1995-96. — Miami Herald

By Ben Maller

Source: Two NBA owners rip Isiah Thomas contract

At least two NBA owners have complained to the league about the Knicks’ new arrangement with Isiah Thomas, who became their part-time consultant Friday while also remaining at FIU, according to a source. One potential owner who might have complained is new Charlotte owner Michael Jordan, who likely is not a fan of Thomas because Larry Brown is his coach with the Bobcats. The NBA is investigating whether Thomas’ contract conforms with NBA bylaws. — NY Post

Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadow

By David Reilly, Bloomberg Opinion

Theidea of secret banking cabals that control the country and globaleconomy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo,bottled water and peanut butter. After this week’s congressionalhearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.
Wednesday’shearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars tofavored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or electedofficials.

We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system-- apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout -- deserves furthercongressional scrutiny.
The New York Fed is in the hot seat forits decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion,insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks,including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG,among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-doorbailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar forcontracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed tofail.

That move came a few weeks after the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department propped up AIG in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s own mid-September bankruptcy filing.

Saving the System
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithnerwas head of the New York Fed at the time of the AIG moves. Hemaintained during Wednesday’s hearing that the New York bank had to buythe insurance contracts, known as credit default swaps, to keep AIGfrom failing, which would have threatened the financial system.
The hearing before the House Committeeon Oversight and Government Reform also focused on what many inCongress believe was the New York Fed’s subsequent attempt to cover upbuyout details and who benefited.

By pursuing this line ofinquiry, the hearing revealed some of the inner workings of the NewYork Fed and the outsized role it plays in banking. This insight isespecially valuable given that the New York Fed is a quasi-governmentalinstitution that isn’t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom ofinformation requests, unlike the Federal Reserve.

Thisimpenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehiclefor many of the Fed’s bailout programs. It’s as though the New York Fedwas a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.

Geithner’s Bosses
TheNew York Fed is one of 12 Federal Reserve Banks that operate under thesupervision of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, chaired by Ben Bernanke. Member-bank presidents are appointed by nine-member boards, who themselves are appointed largely by other bankers.

As Representative Marcy Kapturtold Geithner at the hearing: “A lot of people think that the presidentof the New York Fed works for the U.S. government. But in fact you workfor the private banks that elected you.”
And yet the New York Fedplayed an integral role in the government’s bailout of banks, oftenreceiving surprisingly free rein to act as it saw fit.

ConsiderAIG. Let’s take Geithner at his word that a failure to resolve theinsurer’s default swaps would have led to financial Armageddon. Giventhe stakes, you might think Geithner would have coordinated actionswith then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Yet Paulson testified that he wasn’t in the loop.
“I had no involvement at all, in the payment to the counterparties, no involvement whatsoever,” Paulson said.

Bernanke’s Denials

Fed Chairman Bernanke also wasn’t involved. In a written response to questions from Representative Darrell Issa, Bernanke said he “was not directly involved in the negotiations” with AIG’s counterparty banks.
Youhave to wonder then who really was in charge of our nation’s financialfuture if AIG posed as grave a threat as Geithner claimed.

Questions about the New York Fed’s accountability grew after Geithner on Nov. 24, 2008, was named by then-President- elect Barack Obamato be Treasury Secretary. Geither said he recused himself from thebank’s day-to-day activities, even though he never actually signed aformal letter of recusal.

That left issues related to disclosuresabout the deal in the hands of the bank’s lawyers and staff, ratherthan a top executive. Those staffers didn’t want details of the swapspurchase to become public.

New York Fed staff and outside lawyers from Davis Polk & Wardell edited AIG communications to investors and intervened with the Securities and Exchange Commission to shield details about the buyout transactions, according to a report by Issa.

Thatthe New York Fed, a quasi-governmental body, was able to push aroundthe SEC, an executive-branch agency, deserves a congressional hearingall by itself.

Later, when it became clear information would be disclosed, New York Fed legal group staffer James Bergine-mailed colleagues saying: “I have to think this train is probablygoing to leave the station soon and we need to focus our efforts onexplaining the story as best we can. There were too many peopleinvolved in the deals -- too many counterparties, too many lawyers andadvisors, too many people from AIG -- to keep a determined Congressfrom the information.”

Think of the enormity of that statement. Astaffer at a body with little public accountability and that exists toserve bankers is lamenting the inability to keep Congress in the dark.

This belies the culture of secrecy obviously pervasive within the New York Fed. Committee Chairman Edolphus Townsnoted during the hearing that the bank initially refused to discloseeven the names of other banks that benefited from its actions, arguingthis information would somehow harm AIG.

‘Penchant for Secrecy’
“Infact, when the information was finally released, under pressure fromCongress, nothing happened,” Towns said. “It had absolutely no effecton AIG’s business or financial condition. But it did have an effect onthe credibility of the Federal Reserve, and it called into question theFed’s penchant for secrecy.”

Now, I’m not saying Congress shouldbe meddling in interest-rate decisions, or micro-managing bankregulation. Nor do I think we should all don tin-foil hats and startranting about the Trilateral Commission.
Yetwhen unelected and unaccountable agencies pick banking winners whiletrying to end-run Congress, even as taxpayers are forced to lend, spendand guarantee about $8 trillion to prop up the financial system, ourcollective blood should boil.

BP Says Tests Show Well Is Plugged

August 8th, 2010 Posted By Pat Dollard.
Wall Street Journal:

Oil giant BP PLC announced Sunday that a test on the cementing operation needed to plug its troubled well in the Gulf of Mexico was successful.

In an announcement on its website Sunday, the company said that the pressure testing following the cementing operations indicates an effective cement plug in the pipe, “which was the desired outcome.” The announcement was expected as the process known as “static kill” appeared to have worked after a string of failures in getting control of the blown-out well.

The blowout on April 20 on a well attached to the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig took 11 workers’ lives and caused 4.9 million barrels of oil to flow from the well, making it the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

BP started injecting cement into the well Thursday, the latest stage in its static kill process, which began when the company’s engineers used hundreds of barrels of heavy drilling mud to push the oil back into its reservoir. It completed the cementing operation Thursday afternoon, much earlier than expected.

The company said it still will complete its efforts to drill a relief well as a precautionary measure.

Freddie Mac requests $1.8B in aid after 2Q loss


WASHINGTON (AP) — Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac is asking for $1.8 billion in additional federal aid after posting a larger loss in the second quarter.

Freddie Mac said Monday it lost $6 billion, or $1.85 per share, in the April-to-June period. That takes into account $1.3 billion in dividends paid to the Treasury Department. It compares with a loss of $840 million, or 26 cents a share, in the second quarter a year ago.

The government rescued McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae from the brink of failure nearly two years ago. The new request means they have needed $148.2 billion to stay afloat, about $63.1 billion of which is being used by Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac is losing money from bad loans it backed, many of them before the housing market went bust. It had $118 billion in bad loans at the end of June, up from $103.4 billion at the end of last year. It owned more than 62,000 foreclosed properties in June, up from about 35,000 a year earlier.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both lost tens of billions of dollars during the past two years and both are asking the government to prop them up. Last week, Fannie Mae requested $1.5 billion after posting a loss of $3.13 billion, or 55 cents per share, in the second quarter.

Still, the two companies are taking different approaches to their situations. Fannie Mae sounded optimistic about its future. Freddie Mac offered a more tempered view.

“We recognize that high unemployment and other factors still pose very real challenges for the housing market,” CEO Charles Haldeman said in a statement. “With that in mind, we continue to focus on the quality of the new business we are adding to our book to be responsible stewards of taxpayer funds.”

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, or nearly 31 million home loans worth more than $5 trillion. They buy home loans from lenders, package them into bonds with a guarantee against default and sell them to investors.

During the housing boom, Fannie and Freddie faced political pressure to expand homeownership and competitive pressure from Wall Street to back ever-riskier loans. When the market went bust, defaults and foreclosures piled up, and the government had to take them over.

Over the next year, lawmakers plan to review the nation’s mortgage-lending system and consider a potential replacement for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The financial overhaul signed by President Barack Obama didn’t address that issue, despite protests from Republicans that it was incomplete without a such a plan. The administration is holding a public conference on Aug. 17 in Washington to discuss the mortgage system.

Moscow deaths double amid smog to 700 people a day

MOSCOW — Deaths in Moscow have doubled to an average of 700 people aday as the Russian capital is engulfed by poisonous smog from wildfiresand a sweltering heat wave, a top health official said Monday.

Moscowhealth chief Andrei Seltsovky blamed weeks of unprecedented heat andsuffocating smog for the rise in mortality compared to the same timelast year, Russian news agencies reported. He said city morgues werenearly overflowing, filled with 1,300 bodies, close to their capacity.

Acridsmog blanketed Moscow for a six straight day Monday, withconcentrations of carbon monoxide and other poisonous substances two tothree times higher than what is considered safe. Those airbornepollutants reached a record over the weekend — exceeding the safe limitby nearly seven times.

About 550 separate blazes were burningnationwide Monday, mainly across western Russia, including about 40around Moscow, according to the Emergencies Ministry. Forest and peatbog fires have been triggered by the most intense heat wave in 130years of record keeping.

Alexander Frolov, head of Russia'sweather service, said judging by historic documents, this heat wavecould be the worst in up to 1,000 years.

"Our ancestors haven'tobserved or registered a heat like that within 1,000 years," Frolovsaid at a news conference. "This phenomenon is absolutely unique."

He said the heat in Moscow reflects the global climate's increased volatility.

Dailyhighs have reached up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), comparedto the usual summer average of 75 F (24 C). And, according to theforecast, there will be no respite this week.

DiarmidCampbell-Lendrum, a climate change and health expert at the WorldHealth Organization in Geneva, said deaths could certainly double withhigher temperatures alone — a phenomenon seen during Europe's 2003 heatwave.

"The impacts tend to be more severe in places that are notused to these kinds of temperatures," he told The Associated Press."These temperatures wouldn't be out of place in the southern U.S. orAustralia, but in Russia, the infrastructure is not used to thesetemperatures and the risk of death will increase."

Read More

China "concerned" about sailors said taken by North Korea

(Reuters) - Chinese diplomats voiced "concern" about reports that three Chinese were among the crew of a South Korean fishing boat held by North Korea after it entered the North's exclusive economic waters, official media said on Monday.

The South Korean coast guard said on Sunday that the fishing boat radioed it was being taken by a North Korean patrol to a port in the communist country.

South Korean news reports said three Chinese nationals were among the seven people seized onboard.
The incident could prompt a rare note of Chinese public irritation with Pyongyang, regarded by Beijing as a communist ally and buffer against U.S. allies in the region.

Chinese diplomats in North Korea were trying to check the reports, said China's official Xinhua news agency.
"If the report is confirmed, the DPRK should treat the Chinese crew members well with humanitarianism, guarantee their rights and interests, and inform the Chinese side of their conditions, the (Chinese) officials said," according to Xinhua.

South Korea has been holding exercises near a tense maritime border off the west coast, the site of the sinking of one of the South's naval ships in March. The South, with the backing of Washington, blamed the North for the sinking, which killed 46 sailors.

North Korea has repeatedly denied torpedoing the ship, and its ally China did not join in regional condemnation of Pyongyang, saying that it wanted to reach its own conclusions.

In June, Beijing took a public swipe at Pyongyang after North Korean border guards shot and killed three Chinese suspected of smuggling and wounded a fourth. North Korea apologised and told China it would punish those responsible.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Spike Lee Says US Government Is Lying About The Clean Up Of The Oil Spill

Filmmaker Spike Lee is calling a “lie” a U.S. government report that 75 percent of the spilled Gulf Coast oil is gone.

Speaking to a meeting of the Television Critics Association onSaturday, Lee said journalists should expose what he called the realstory. He argued that it’s unlikely that “abracadabra, presto chango”the vast majority of the oil has vanished from Gulf of Mexico watersand coastal wetlands.

Federal scientists said last week that nearly three-quarters of theoil has been removed by various artificial or natural means, but thatthe spill’s effect on wildlife will long continue.

Lee was promoting his new documentary about New Orleans afterHurricane Katrina. “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” afollow-up to his 2006 film about the hurricane, debuts Aug. 23 and 24 on HBO.

Tainted pet food can also sicken children, report says

Think pet food won’t harm your children?
Think again.

Several brands of dog chow have been recalled in recent years because of potential salmonella contamination. At first, inspectors thought only animals were at risk. But now, a new report says that humans can be sickened by tainted pet food, too.

“Dry pet foods are an under-recognized source of salmonella infections in humans, and it’s likely other illnesses since then were unknowingly caused by tainted pet food,” said Casey Barton Behravesh, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the report, 79 people (mostly children) were sickened by contaminated pet food between 2006 and 2008.

There’s no proof that they got sick by actually eating the pet food, Behravesh said. Instead, they probably just touched dirty pet food dishes and then put their hands in their mouths, she said.
* * *
To reduce your family’s salmonella risk, Behravesh says you should:
1. Wash your hands after touching pets, pet food and pet bowls.
2. Keep pet food bowls and feeding areas clean.
3. Keep young children away from feeding areas.
4. Clean pets’ food and water dishes in a separate sink (not in the kitchen or bathtub.)
5. Do not bathe infants in the kitchen sink.

US Prepares for Guantanamo Trial of Youngest Detainee

Final preparations were under way Sunday for the first war crimes trial under U.S. President Barack Obama.

Canadiancitizen Omar Khadr, the youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cubadetention center, was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was just15.

Khadr, now 23, is accused of

lobbing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier, Army Sgt. 1st ClassChristopher Speer of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Khadr faces a maximumlife sentence if convicted of charges including murder, conspiracy andspying. His trial could begin Tuesday after pre-trial hearings.

Aseparate military commission will begin deliberations Monday on asentence for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, a Sudanese detainee whopleaded guilty last month to one count each of conspiracy and providingmaterial support for terrorism.

Al-Qosi was accused of acting asaccountant, paymaster, supply chief and cook for al-Qaida during the1990s. He allegedly worked later as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

Texas Birthright: 60,000 Babies Born to Illegals: 74% of Parkland Total Deliveries are Birthright Babies

Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas delivers more birthright babiesthan any other hospital in Texas. Last year at Parkland alone 11,071children were born to illegal alien mothers. At least 60,000, maybe asmany as 65,000 babies receive birthrights in Texas every year.

Mexican Baby and Mom

Republicans are discussing correcting the incorrect interpretations ofthe 14th Amendment which supposedly grants U.S. citizenship to anyoneborn on American soil. Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) iscountering by accusing Republicans of attacking babies in the womb. Ironic- Democrats believe an in-womb baby is nothing more than a fetus. Thehypocrisy is rank. Hispanics vote for them anyway.

Republicans are accused of trying to shift the voting demographic. Ibelieve that is true, and why not, but that is not the only impetus tostop the invasion of illegal alien mother's dropping their babies inAmerica. The cost to the American people is intolerable and...ofcourse, it is a matter of law. Yes, we ignored that law for a very longtime, but that is no excuse for declaring it now.

Democrats and fine with keeping things as they are, because their onlyconsideration is voters. Amnesty will bring millions to the pollsvoting for Democrats, who haven't given a thought to the Rule of Law inyears, if ever:

"The next 10 years will be an even more transformative decade demographically for Texas," said Dr. Roberto Calderon, an associate history professor at the University of North Texas and a Latin American expert following the debate.
He speculated that the Republicans probably were aware of this ongoing demographic shift and how it might threaten their party since Hispanic voters tend to support Democrats.
"Manipulating the status ... the rights and the opportunities for Latinos is the only avenue many on the conservative right see as a solution to remaining viable electorally," he said. "They're expecting what used to be safe Republican seats on the state and federal level will no longer be so safe."

Most Americans welcome our South of the Border neighbors tocitizenship, but we would really like for it to be done legally. Weneed you for more than the jobs you fill. We need you to preserve ourChristian heritage - to have your babies in America because withoutyou, our Muslim population will overtake our birthrate. It has alreadyhappened in most of Europe. We have maintained only due to the rapidHispanic birth rate. In other words, we will be a Muslim nation withoutHispanic births...but please, come legally and have your deservingchildren be a part of the American dream. For background on the information in this paragraph, see view this video.

How can the iconic Parkland Memorial Hospital, where President John F.Kennedy died, keep it's doors open with 74% of their births beingillegal migrant mother's. Is the government reimbursing the hospital?Are the illegals paying? Read the article here. Also read The 14th Amendment Gone Wrong, explaining the history behind the amendment.

By Maggies Notebook

Rwandans Go To The Polls Today

Doubts Rise in Rwanda as Election Is Held -- New York Times

KIGALI, Rwanda — President Paul Kagame uses Twitter. He has lunched at Google. He started out as a skinny rebel fighter in the bush, marched into Rwanda’s capital in the midst of a genocide and then rose to make his country one of the developing world’s most orderly and crime-free societies.

There is no question that Mr. Kagame, 52, will be re-elected as Rwandans vote on Monday. The real question is how broad — and genuine — the support is for Mr. Kagame, one of Africa’s more incongruous strongmen.

Read more ....

Conservatives believe media should force judge to admit if he’s gay

     Conservatives believe media should force judge to admit if hes gay

In wake of gay marriage decision, debate rages over judge's personal life, ability to rule.
The federal judge who overturned California's same-sex marriage ban this week is a Republican who once came under fire for his membership to a powerful all-male club that had only recently allowed blacks to join.
But after Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker struck down the voter-approved ban known as Proposition 8, he became something else in the minds of some: a gay activist.
Rumors have circulated for months that Walker is gay, fueled by the blogosphere and a San Francisco Chronicle column that stated his sexual orientation was an "open secret" in legal and gay activism circles.
Walker himself hasn't addressed the speculation, and he did not respond to a request for comment by The Associated Press on Thursday. Lawyers in the case, including those defending the ban, say the judge's sexuality — gay or straight — was not an issue at trial and will not be a factor on appeal.

But that hasn't stopped a public debate that exploded in the wake of the 66-year-old jurist's ruling. Most of the criticism has come from opponents of same-sex marriage.

"Here we have an openly gay federal judge, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, substituting his views for those of the American people and of our Founding Fathers who, I promise you, would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution," said Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of The National Organization for Marriage, a group that helped fund Proposition 8.
In response, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a political action committee for gay candidates, launched an online petition accusing Gallagher's group of "gay-baiting."

But the debate raises the question: Why is sexuality different from other personal characteristics judges posses? Can a female judge rule on abortion issues? A black judge on civil rights?

"The evidence shows that, by every available metric, opposite-sex couples are not better than their same-sex counterparts; instead, as partners, parents and citizens, opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples are equal," Walker wrote in his exacting, 136-page opinion.

Gerard Bradley, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, published a Fox News column in the hours before Walker filed his opinion faulting the media for not forcing Walker to address his sexual orientation.
And Byran Fischer, issues director for the American Family Association, urged the group's members to contact their congressional representatives about launching impeachment proceedings because Walker had not recused himself from a case in which "his own personal sexual proclivities utterly compromised his ability to make an impartial ruling."

William G. Ross, an expert on judicial ethics and law professor at Samford University in Alabama, said that a judge's sexual orientation has no more relevance to his or her ability to rule fairly on a case involving gay marriage than it would for a deeply religious judge or a judge who had been divorced multiple times.
"Under the logic of the people challenging the judge's fitness to rule on a case involving gay rights because he or she was gay, one would have to find a eunuch to serve on the case, because one could just as easily argue that a heterosexual judge couldn't rule on it either," Ross said.

Months before Walker struck down Proposition 8 as an unconstitutional violation of gay Americans' civil rights, members of the team defending the ban in court had complained about what they perceived as judicial bias.

Over their vigorous objections, Walker pushed to have the proceedings televised live, a plan the U.S. Supreme Court quashed at the last minute. Then, he refused to excuse as a witness a Proposition 8 supporter who had compared gays to child molesters during the 2008 campaign. Lawyers for the two same-sex couples who sued to invalidate the ban had called him as a witness to try to prove the measure was fueled by anti-gay prejudice.

Nevertheless, the defense does not plan to raise the specter of the judge's sexual orientation as they appeal his ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Jim Campbell, a lawyer with the defense team.
"The bottom line is this case, from our perspective, is and always will be about the law and not about the judge who decides it," Campbell said. "It's just something that collectively as a legal team we have decided and going up, that's what this case is. The appellate courts are going to focus on the law."

Walker has ruled in at least two other cases involving gay rights issues during his two decades as a judge. In 1999, he rejected arguments from the parents of a San Leandro boy who claimed their religious rights were violated by pro-gay comments their son's teacher had made in the classroom.

In the other case, he dismissed a free speech claim by two Oakland city employees whose managers had confiscated a bulletin board flier for a religious group that promoted "natural family, marriage and family values." The city had "significant interests in restricting discriminatory speech about homosexuals," Walker wrote in his 2005 ruling.

Until this week, though, Walker had come under more criticism for representing the U.S. Olympic Committee in a lawsuit against a gay ex-Olympian who had created the so-called Gay Olympics. Walker won, forcing the Gay Olympics to become the Gay Games. He also aggressively pursued legal fees by attaching a $97,000 lien to the home of the organization's founder while he was dying of AIDS.

Gay activists cried foul, and his appointment to a federal judgeship was delayed for two years in the waning days of Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Civil rights groups also opposed Walker's nomination because of his 15-year membership in the Olympic Club, an all-male athletic club that had only recently admitted its first black members. California's senior senator at the time, Democrat Alan Cranston, used the club issue to question Walker's fitness for the bench.
Observers usually describe him as a maverick who delights in keeping people guessing. They still are.
On the day of closing arguments in the gay marriage ban case, Walker said it was appropriate that the case was wrapping up in June.

"June, after all, is the month for ... " He let his deep voice trail off, and smiled at the predominantly gay courtroom.

Many froze, wondering if he would refer to the month in which San Francisco celebrates gay pride like Mardi Gras. Would that be a nod to rumors he was gay?

Walker waited a beat longer, savoring the pregnant pause.
"... weddings."