Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Prepare For A Capital Shutdown

According to House Speaker John Boehner, a meeting between congressional leaders at the White House this morning produced nothing in terms of a budget compromise that would avoid a government shutdown.

Boehner reportedly told President Obama that his the House Republicans will not be "forced to choose between two options that are bad for the country (accepting a bad deal that fails to make real spending cuts, or accepting a government shutdown due to Senate inaction)."

"That this is why House Republicans — in lieu of an agreement in which the White House and Senate agree to real spending cuts — are rallying behind a potential third option: a CR that funds our troops through September while cutting an additional $12 billion in spending and keeps the government running for another week."

This is a classic example of how the two parties think.

Boehner, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor see a government that spent 8 times more money in March than it took in from revenue and are horrified at the practical implications. Obama and the Democrats are only concerned about the political implications of continuing the age-old Tammany Hall model of bribing interest groups for votes at the taxpayer's expense and how to spin the blame for a government shutdown on the Republicans.

For that matter, Boehner may have trouble getting the votes for that third option. The House, particularly the new, incoming freshmen with Tea Party backing know exactly why they were sent to Washington and are in a rebellious mood.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor was particularly forthright about pinning the blame on President Barack Obama for any government shutdown because of the president's rejecting a Republican proposal that would have pushed the deadline back by one week.

"The White House now has increased the likelihood of a shutdown in just dismissing out of hand a vehicle that we have put forward to say, 'Look, we do not want a shutdown,'" Cantor told reporters.

He's fairly correct about that one.

What Obama is doing is attempting to lay the PR groundwork to blame the GOP when funds run out on Friday, and in this there's an odd symmetry between the President and the more conservative GOP congressmen. They both want to bring things to a head, although in the president's case he obviously expects the GOP establishment to cave in and reduce the spending cuts according to the president's wishes. Obama may be overplaying his hand.

The president, of course has another agenda entirely in mind.

Rep. Paul Ryan came out with his 2012 budget proposal today, which he describes in detail in today's WSJ. It calls for cutting a record $$6.2 trillion in spending from the National budget over the next 10 years and puts the nation on track to actually pay off our national debt.

It would also involve major cuts in Obama's projected budget, and the president obviously sees the current budget war as an opening battle on th efar deeper cuts Ryan has planned.

This cuts to the heart of the Tammany Hall model that keeps the Democrats alive.

They need tax payer funds to bribe their constituencies and survive just like Dracula needs blood, and they will fight just as hard and be just as ruthless to keep the flow hemorrhaging..no matter what.

Video: Deadly Clashes in Yemen As Saleh Clings to Power

By the CNN Wire Staff (CNN) -- Clashes between Yemeni protesters and military and pro-government gangs continued Tuesday, claiming at least one life, as the future of President Ali Abdullah Saleh remained uncertain.

Trailer Watch: Animated Arnold as the Governator

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s launch of a Stan Lee comic book, internet program and 2012 3-D animated feature starring himself as high-tech superhero The Governator is no April Fool’s hoax, as Schwarzenegger confirmed to Entertainment Weekly:
“The word Governator combined two worlds: the world of politics and the movie world. And [this cartoon] brings everything together. It combines the governor [and the] the Terminator.”
See the trailer for yourself:

The Kennedys

No doubt you have heard about the miniseries called "The Kennedys" that was supposed to air on the History Channel, but was canceled in response to pressure from the Kennedy family. It is, instead, appearing on the less well-known ReelzChannel. My wife VCRed the first two hours, and we watched them after dinner last night. Having done so, I think we know why the Kennedy family tried to squelch the series.

It isn't because the series contains any new revelations--so far, anyway--or, as far as I could tell, any particular historical inaccuracies. On the contrary, the content of the first two hours was generally familiar to anyone who is knowledgeable about our recent history.

What makes "The Kennedys" dangerous is that it is marvelously entertaining. The story is lurid but compelling. The villainous but likable Joseph P. Kennedy, the almost inhumanly lecherous Jack, the loyal little brother Bobby, the wronged wife Jacqueline, the larger-than-life oldest brother Joe Jr., who reminds me of Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, may be comic-strip characters, but they spring vigorously to life in this production. Someone invested a lot of money and a lot of skill to make this series. It is the entertainment value of "The Kennedys" that makes it a threat. Many millions of people would enjoy watching it, and most of them would learn quite a bit that they don't already know in the process.

The major weakness of the series so far is that the actor who plays John Kennedy (actually, there are two) can't begin to match the real man's charisma. For the plot to work, you have to take it as a given that JFK exerted a magnetic attraction, and not only for women; but you don't really see it. Maybe that isn't a fair standard, though--if the actor had that much charisma he could be President.

So if you want to do something subversive and enjoy a guilty pleasure at the same time, check out "The Kennedys" on ReelzChannel.

Posted by John

Muslim Brotherhood Advocates "Modesty Police" ... in EGYPT

Freedom go to hell

I hope the American neocons are taking off their rose-colored glasses to read today's JPost:

Officials of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's leading Islamic group, have called for the establishment of a Saudi-style modesty police to combat "immoral" behavior in public areas in what observers say in another sign  of a growing Islamic self-confidence in the post-Mubarak era.
In the political sphere, the Brotherhood led a successful drive to get voters to approve a package of constitutional amendments. On the street level, at least 20 attacks were perpetrated against the tombs of Muslim mystics (suffis), who are the subject of popular veneration but disparaged by Islamic fundamentalists, or salafis. After some initial hesitation, Islamic leaders have publicly praised the revolution.
"This is incredibly worrying to many Egyptians," Maye Kassem, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo (AUC), told The Media Line. "The salafis were always undercover in Egypt and now they are emerging as a political force. They are getting too vocal."
Newly freed from the political strictures of the Mubarak era, Egypt has turned into a battleground between those who envision a liberal, secular state and those who advocate various shades if Islam. The conflict mirrors those taking place elsewhere in the region. In Bahrain, unrest has evolved into a conflict between Sunni- and Shiite Muslims and the US has pulled back from supporting Libyan rebels over concerns they are dominated by Islamists....

US Army Report Reveals Discipline Breakdown In "Kill Team Brigade"

In this image, soldier Jeremy Morlock poses with the same corpse. The US Army apologized last Monday for the behavior of the soldiers involved in the "kill team." A week ago, a US military tribunal convicted the 22-year-old army specialist to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to being part of the "kill team." Morlock is testifying against his fellow soldiers as part of a plea bargain.

Report Reveals Discipline Breakdown in Kill Team Brigade -- Spiegel Online

A secret US Army investigative report has revealed a breakdown of discipline in the 5th Stryker Brigade, home to the "kill team" that allegedly murdered Afghan civilians. According to the report, which has been obtained by SPIEGEL, the commander helped to create an environment where misconduct could occur.

The case of the so-called "kill team," a group of US soldiers who allegedly murdered innocent civilians in Afghanistan, has made headlines around the world. So far, the focus has been on the individual troops and the question of how they could have committed such brutal acts, which have been compared to the abuses perpetrated at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a story that begs for more investigation and reporting. Unfortunately .... for their own reasons the press has gone completely AWOL on this story.

What is my take .... no one wants to dwell too deep in this story .... and those who made a bone about Abu Ghraib a few years ago, are choosing to stay quiet in this case because their 'man" is in the White House. The only one who has come out publicly on this double standard from the media is former U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld ... but no one is listening to him.

Al Qaeda is exploiting Libya arms depots

Flag of Libya between 1951-69Image via Wikipedia
The Libyan bombing campaign has allowed terrorist groups free access to some of Col Muammar Gaddafi's arms dumps and an Algerian official said that monitored shipments had made their way from Libya to al-Qaeda strongholds in the Sahara.

Eight Toyota pickup trucks crossed into Chad, across Niger and into northern Mali from desert armouries in eastern Libya. Algeria warned that al-Qaeda's North African wing, al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), had seized shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles in Libya.

Intelligence reports said Russian-made anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades, Kalashnikov heavy machine guns, Kalashnikov rifles, explosives and ammunition were stacked on the pickups.

"A convoy of eight Toyotas full of weapons travelled a few days ago through Chad and Niger and reached northern Mali," the official said.

"We know that this is not the first convoy and that it is still ongoing. Several military barracks have been pillaged in this region [eastern Libya] with their arsenals and weapons stores and the elements of AQIM who were present could not have failed to profit from this opportunity."

It is not clear why we are not bombing these convoys of al Qaeda. One of the problems of the air only strategy is that there is no one on the ground to secure the weapons depots. Our commanders should have come up with a way to defend them, even with just air power.

Yemen police injure over 400 protesters

Thousands of demonstrators had planned a 2 a.m. march to protest Sunday’s crackdown on protesters in Taiz, south of capital Sana’a, that killed two people and injured over a hundred others.

Police fired live rounds and tear gas against the crowd that wounded at least 409 people.

The protesters are demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Salah who has often signaled that he has no intention of resigning soon.

“A successful revolution in Yemen could mean the whole Persian Gulf region erupting into revolution,” Chris Bambery, a Middle East expert, told Press TV on Sunday.

“Yemen has been an important staging post for the Americans … It is one of the major centers of the CIA in the region,” he said.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is an important ally for the US and the Saudis and they are trying to keep him in power to maintain their control over the Persian Gulf region, the analyst underlined.

Therefore, “There is no attempt [by the West] to reveal the realities of the Saleh regime: the torture, the repression, or the record of the Saudis constantly intervening in Yemen, carrying out bombing missions, etc.” he argued.

Inspired by the protests of Tunisia and Egypt, Yemen has witnessed daily anti-government protest rallies since mid-February, which demand crucial economic and political reforms, including an immediate end to President Saleh’s 33-year rule
Several opposition members argue that his long-promised political and economic reforms have not materialized.

Massive Kaddafi Bombardment Sends Rebels Reeling

April 5th, 2011 (2) Posted By Pat Dollard.

BREGA, Libya (AP) – Libyan government forces on Tuesday unleashed a withering bombardment of the rebels outside a key oil town, pushing them back despite NATO reports that nearly a third of Moammar Gadhafi’s heavy weapons have been destroyed.

The rebels managed to take part of the oil town of Brega the day before, aided by an international air campaign, but the rocket and artillery salvos unleashed on the rebels indicates the government’s offensive capabilities remain very much intact.

“When you see this, the situation is very bad. We cannot match their weapons,” said Kamal Mughrabi, 64, a retired soldier who joined the rebel army. “If the planes don’t come back and hit them we’ll have to keep pulling back.”

Rebel attempts to fire rockets and mortars against the government forces were met with aggressive counter bombardments that sent many of the rebel forces scrambling back all the way to the town of Ajdabiya, dozens of miles (kilometers) away. There did not appear to be any immediate response from the international aircraft patrolling the skies that have aided the rebels in the past.

Early on Tuesday, however, there was an airstrike against a convoy of eight government vehicles advancing toward rebel positions, rebel officer Abdel-Basset Abibi said, citing surveillance teams.

Brig. Gen. Mark Van Uhm of NATO said Tuesday its aerial onslaught has so far destroyed 30 percent of the Gadhafi’s weapons. On Monday alone, the alliance carried out 14 attacks on ground targets across the country, destroying radars, munitions dumps, armored vehicles and a rocket launcher
Rebel forces have been helped by the arrival on the front of more trained soldiers and heavier weapons, but they are still struggling to match the more experienced and better equipped government troops, even with the aid of airstrikes.

The government has softened its public stance against any compromise that would end the fighting, but government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said late Monday that any changes must be led by Gadhafi, who has ruled the country for more than four decades.

“We could have any political system, any changes: constitution, election, anything, but the leader has to lead this forward,” he said in Tripoli.

“Don’t decide our future from abroad, give us a proposal for change from within,” Ibrahim said, chastising Western powers who have a “personal problem with the leader” and economic interests they believe would be better served if Gadhafi’s government collapsed.

The comments were unlikely to appease the rebels fighting to oust the Libyan leader who has a legacy of brutality. Any long-term settlement poses tough questions about the fate of Gadhafi’s family and the new leader of a post-Gadhafi nation, and the opposition has rejected any solution that would involved one of his sons taking power.

The head of the African Union, meanwhile, voiced his support for Gadhafi, calling for the end to foreign interference into what he called an internal Libyan problem.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema 69-year-old president of Equatorial Guinea described Western military efforts to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya as a “so-called humanitarian intervention.”

But elsewhere in the world, the rebels saw success in their efforts to establish an internationally recognized government in eastern Libya, forging tighter links with Britain and Italy, both potentially major markets for Libyan oil. Italy offered diplomatic recognition to the Libyan opposition council on Monday, becoming the third country to do so after France and Qatar.

Shipping data provider Lloyd’s Intelligence, meanwhile, confirmed that a Greek-owned tanker is on its way to Libya pick up an oil shipment, the first in almost three weeks.

The delivery would be only a tiny fraction of Libya’s pre-crisis exports of around 1.6 million barrels a day, but is viewed by analysts as a symbolic step forward.

The tanker, capable of carrying around 1 million barrels of crude oil, is currently off Port Said in Egypt and expected to arrive at the Libyan port of Marsa al-Hariga, near the eastern city of Tobruk, later in the day.
The conflict in Libya caused crude exports from the country, 17th among the world oil producers, to dwindle to a trickle, sparking a surge in global oil prices. Benchmark crude was trading at around $108 a barrel on Tuesday.

Gadhafi’s British-educated son Seif al-Islam, on Tuesday, dismissed reports that his father’s inner circle of advisers was crumbling following the defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa.

He said “of course” there would be defections among senior members of the regime because some of them are old and tired and “not young like us.”

He also dismissed the idea that Koussa might have new information to offer British authorities about the Lockerbie bombing in which he was a key negotiator.

“The British and the Americans … they know everything about Lockerbie so there are no secrets” Koussa can reveal, Seif said.

Civil War In Ivory Coast -- News Updates April 5, 2011

Gbagbo Hides in Bunker as His Army Chief Calls for Cease-Fire -- Voice Of America

The army chief for Ivory Coast's defiant leader, Laurent Gbagbo, has called for a cease-fire as Gbagbo takes cover in a bunker inside his Abidjan home.

General Philippe Mangou called for the cease-fire on Tuesday, as forces loyal to internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara attacked Gbagbo's last few strongholds.

Heavy gunfire continued in Abidjan Tuesday, six days after Ouattara's forces entered the city as part of a rapid offensive to force Gbagbo from power.

Read more ....

Long Island Serial Killer Death Toll at 8

Long Island Serial Killer Death Toll at 8

LONG ISLAND (LALATE) – The Long Island serial killer’s alleged death toll stands at 8 victims. The Long Island serial killer has put sections of Oak Beach, Cedar Beach and Gilgo Beach on heightened alert, and has prompted searches of Jones Beach. But it all began after Shannon Gilbert investigations commenced last fall.

Shannon Gilbert has been missing since May 2010. But in December, when search efforts for Gilbert commenced, bodies of other victims began to be found. Police, without much specificity, suggest the serial killer’s crime spree started in mid to late 2010 and could be continuing.
His victims share sometimes common traits – small framed, local prostitutes that offered services via Craigslist. Victims have allegedly been identified as Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer confirmed to news Tuesday that he has dispatched search investigators yet again today. But with nearly twenty police officers struck with poison ivy and deer ticks, the investigation has been difficult.

Police have yet to confirm if they believe the serial killer murdered his victims in the same region where their bodies were found. In most cases, their bodies were hidden due to sea grass reaching four feet in height.

Reason.tv: The Tea Party vs. John Boehner

The Tea Party held a rally outside the Capitol Building last week to demand that congressional Republicans demand significant cuts in federal spending. The outlook is bad. House Republicans are fighting to hold on to the $61 billion in spending cuts they approved in February, a mere rounding error in a budget totaling about $3.8 trillion.

This most recent rally shows how the Tea Party has continued the fight to make itself heard in Washington. But in Ohio there’s a new focus: local politics.

“I have no expectation of anything coming out of congress that’s going to be very close to what I’d like to see happen,” says Chris Littleton, president of both the Cincinnati Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council, which is an umbrella group of 65 Tea Party and other activist groups in the buckeye state. “But we can have a greater degree of effect at the state level.”

The Ohio Liberty Council is appointing a designated representative in every congressional and state senate district; Tea Party groups across Ohio are throwing support behind mayoral, city council, and school board candidates, with the intention of effecting policy but also building a farm team for higher office; and city and county Tea Party organizations are breaking apart into more localized groups comprised of precinct and block captains who regularly go door-to-door to court the votes of their neighbors.

However, the Ohio Tea Party is attempting to influence one local politician with outsized influence on the national stage: House GOP Majority Speaker John Boehner. As house minority leader from 2007-2011, Boehner rubber stamped practically every Bush-era initiative to expand the scope and size of the federal government.

More recently, Boehner has stated his support for increasing the federal debt ceiling, which will allow Washington to continue borrowing money to meet its obligations after it hits the limit (which is expected to happen before the end of May). The West Chester Tea Party, which is opposed to increasing the debt limit, has been contacting the Speaker’s donors, asking them to influence him to take a harder line on the issue.
Approximately 6 minutes.

Produced, shot, and edited by Jim Epstein, with help from Joshua Swain.

Obama administration moving forward with government shutdown plans

By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

The process of shutting down the federal government is underway.

With the clock ticking towards Friday’s federal budget deadline and President Obama hosting congressional leaders for budget talks at the White House on Tuesday, top administration officials have instructed agency officials to begin sharing details of shutdown contingency plans with top managers. This marks the next step toward both curtailing government operations if a budget impasse occurs and informing federal workers whether they are considered “essential” personnel who would stay on the job despite a shutdown.

Though Obama and congressional leaders remain committed to avoiding a shutdown, “given the realities of the calendar, good management requires that we continue contingency planning for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed by” Friday at midnight, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients said in a memo. The message was sent to the government’s deputy secretaries and chiefs of staff, who handle day-to-day management issues for agencies and departments.

OMB confirmed the authenticity of the memo, which was obtained from a senior government official who provided it on condition of anonymity.

To read more, visit:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/obama-administration-moving-forward-with-government-shutdown-plans/2011/04/04/AFodFdfC_blog.html