Saturday, February 28, 2009
United Arab Emirates officials blocked a YouTube cartoon from Israel, featuring two Muslim boys who deflect their father's efforts to make them suicide bombers. Officials said the cartoon is anti-Islam and racist toward Arabs, al-Arabiya reported. In one episode, the two boys, Salim and Ahmed make a detour to get ice cream on their way to place an explosive on an Israeli bus. Then they put the bomb on a UAE bus. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said it had gotten complaints about the cartoons, which are subtitled in Hebrew and English. A spokesman for the TRA said the agency has resisted calls to block YouTube completely. Adult content on the site is automatically blocked, he said.
Friday, February 27, 2009
'Missing Trunk Ballots' Witness Allowed In Senate Trial
Republican Norm Coleman caught a break Thursday in his Minnesota Senate election trial related to his allegation that some Minneapolis residents got two votes. The three judges in the case have reversed their ruling from a day earlier that excluded a Republican poll worker's testimony. The woman had testified to having direct knowledge of an error that could have caused some voters to have two ballots included in the race. In court Wednesday, Pamela Howell's testimony was struck after it was discovered she supplied written materials to Coleman's campaign that was not also given to that of Democrat Al Franken. The judges said then it was grounds to toss out her testimony entirely under civil trial rules. But in a written order Thursday, the judges said the "inadvertent" error wasn't in bad faith and shouldn't cost Howell the right to testify. If Howell's testimony had stayed out, it could have had big ramifications. Howell, an acknowledged Republican who served as an election judge in Minneapolis, is the only Coleman witness who said she was present when duplicated ballots without proper markings were fed through counting machines.Ballots that are torn, smudged, crumpled or contain votes only for federal offices are sometimes spit out by vote-counting machines, prompting local elections officials to fill out an identical ballot that can be fed through. They're supposed to be marked with corresponding tags, such as "Original 7" and "Duplicate 7," with the original versions placed in a sealed envelope. The statewide recount gave preference to original ballots because they were a truer reflection of a voter's intent. But the number of duplicates and originals for some precincts didn't match up. By counting originals without lining them up with corresponding duplicates, Coleman alleges some voters got two votes. The double-counting argument is an important element of Coleman's case. He said Franken benefited from more than 100 votes from people who had two ballots counted. Coleman's lawyers want the court to subtract the votes from Franken's tally and reduce the 225-vote lead he had after the recount.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Puerto Rico To Ship Pesky Monkeys To Iraq
Puerto Rico has found an unlikely solution to ease its surplus of pesky wild monkeys: ship them to Iraq. About a dozen patas monkeys will fly across the Atlantic on a commercial carrier in upcoming weeks, courtesy of the Baghdad Zoo, according to the Caribbean island's Department of Natural Resources. Puerto Rico is eager to rid itself of the estimated 2,000 patas and rhesus monkeys that have taken a toll on wildlife and agriculture in the Lajas Valley since escaping from nearby research centers 30 years ago. ''We will give them all the monkeys they want,'' said Sgt. Angel Atienza, a ranger with the department. ''We don't have a problem with that.'' Unlike rhesus monkeys, patas are not considered desirable for research, and there has been little demand for either from zoos - until now. The U.S. military recently has spent more than $2.15 million to revive the Baghdad Zoo, which collapsed after the 2003 invasion when looters stole or freed almost every animal. Three lions were killed when they tried to attack U.S. soldiers.The military rebuilt exhibits and trained Iraqi zookeepers. Last year, the zoo reported average weekly visits of between 8,000 to 10,000 Iraqis. But animal welfare activists say the animals are not necessarily safe in Iraq. ''In the middle of the war, animals are the least of anyone's concern,'' said Lisa Wathne, spokeswoman for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. ''It's just reckless and insensitive to send these monkeys, who will be caged, helpless and completely dependent on humans to survive, to such a hazardous area.'' Puerto Rico Natural Resources Secretary Daniel Galan said he believes the Baghdad Zoo is stable and has qualified zookeepers to care for the monkeys. In Puerto Rico, officials already have been shooting some nonnative monkeys - a method they consider more humane than lethal injection - to control the population. Other monkeys are captured, but finding adoptive homes has proven difficult. Galan said officials have been pleading with zoos in the U.S. and across the world. But of the roughly 90 zoos contacted, only a handful have accepted and agreed to pay the shipping costs.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Bobby Jindal Calls Obama's Plan Irresponsible
Republican leaders are calling President Barack Obama's handling of the economy irresponsible and wrongheaded, saying it will increase taxes and government debt. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who may challenge Obama in 2012, said Tuesday that the Obama-backed stimulus package will "grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt." Although he said Republicans are willing to work with Obama and congressional Democrats, his remarks continued the generally harsh GOP reactions to Obama's bid to boost the economy with billions of dollars in spending. The Republican Party chose Jindal to give its official response to the president's speech to Congress on Tuesday night. In excerpts released early, Jindal suggested that Obama would raise taxes, although the Democratic-backed stimulus bill includes hefty tax cuts."The way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians," Jindal said. The plan will "grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt." "It's irresponsible," Jindal said. Taking advantage of his moment in the national spotlight, Jindal publicized a Web link Tuesday (http://www.bobbyjindal.com/sotu/) allowing respondents to receive early excerpts of his planned response, and to donate to his political organization. Jindal also collected their e-mail and postal addresses, which could prove handy in a presidential race. Other Republicans also criticized Obama and congressional Democrats' response to the economic crisis. In light of the $787 billion stimulus bill and Congress's plans to vote on a large budget bill this week, struggling families and small businesses wonder if Obama's calls for fiscal responsibility is "all talk and no action," said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Soldier Doubts Eligibility, Defies President's Orders
A U.S. soldier on active duty in Iraq has called President Obama an "impostor" in a statement in which he affirmed plans to join as plaintiff in a challenge to Obama's eligibility to be commander in chief. The statement was publicized by California attorney Orly Taitz who, along with her Defend Our Freedom Foundation, is working on a series of legal cases seeking to uncover Obama's birth records and other documents that would reveal whether he meets the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. "As an active-duty officer in the United States Army, I have grave concerns about the constitutional eligibility of Barack Hussein Obama to hold the office of president of the United States," wrote Scott Easterling in a "to-whom-it-may-concern" letter. Obama "has absolutely refused to provide to the American public his original birth certificate, as well as other documents which may prove or disprove his eligibility," Easterling wrote. "In fact, he has fought every attempt made by concerned citizens in their effort to force him to do so." Taitz told reporters she had advised Easterling to obtain legal counsel before making any statements regarding the commander-in-chief, but he insisted on moving forward. His contention is that as an active member of the U.S. military, he is required to follow orders from a sitting president, and he needs – on pain of court-martial – to know that Obama is eligible. Taitz said other legal cases questioning Obama's eligibility filed by members of the military mostly have included retired officers, and courts several times have ruled they don't have standing to issue their challenge. Easterling, however, is subject to enemy fire and certainly would have a reason to need to know the legitimacy of his orders, she argued. "Until Mr. Obama releases a 'vault copy' of his original birth certificate for public review, I will consider him neither my Commander in Chief nor my President, but rather, a usurper to the Office – an impostor," his statement said. Easterling said he joined the Army at age 40 after working in Iraq as a contractor. "I chose to work … to support my troops and then left that lucrative position when the Army raised its maximum enlistment age to 40. Upon completion of basic training, I entered Officer Candidate School and commissioned as a 2LT in August 2007. After completing the subsequent basic officer leadership courses, I was assigned to Ft. Knox and shortly thereafter deployed to Balad, Iraq," he wrote. "I implore all service-members and citizens to contact their senators and representatives and demand that they require Mr. Obama prove his eligibility. Our Constitution and our great nation must not be allowed to be disgraced," he wrote.
Scott EasterlingTaitz said Easterling is among the plaintoffs she is assembling for a new legal action over Obama's eligibility. Others include a list of state lawmakers who also would be required in their official position to follow orders of the president. "My conviction is such that I am compelled to join Dr. Orly Taitz's lawsuit, as a plaintiff, against Mr. Obama. As a citizen, it pains me to do this, but as an officer, my sworn oath to support and defend our Constitution requires this action," he said. Easterling was "saluted" in a forum on Taitz' website. "Lt. Easterling, As a retired US Army SFC, I salute you sir as a true American patriot and hero! Thank you for your unselfish service to our country. It is rare to find someone today with such moral courage to do the right thing regardless of repercussions," said one contributor. Said another, "For your voluntary service to our country, we owe you a debt we can never pay." As reported yesterday, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said during a meeting with constituents in Cullman County he has never seen proof the new president was born in Hawaii. "Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven't seen any birth certificate," Shelby said. "You have to be born in America to be president." Shelby's office later stated the senator is confident of Obama's vetting process, although it did not elaborate. There are multiple legal challenges to Obama's status as a "natural born citizen." The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President." Some of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama's American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time. Other challenges have focused on Obama's citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Bobby Jindal Refuses Obama’s Payout For Louisiana
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has announced that he will decline stimulus money specifically targeted at expanding state unemployment insurance coverage, becoming the first state executive to officially refuse any part of the federal government’s payout to states. In a statement, Jindal, who is slated to give the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s message to Congress on Tuesday, expressed concern that expanding unemployment insurance coverage would lead to increased unemployment insurance taxes later on. “The federal money in this bill will run out in less than three years for this benefit and our businesses would then be stuck paying the bill,” Jindal said.
Jindal expressed concern that expanding unemployment insurance coverage would lead to increased unemployment insurance taxes later on.“We must be careful and thoughtful as we examine all the strings attached to the funding in this package. We cannot grow Government in an unsustainable way.” Jindal is one of a small group of Republican governors, which includes South Carolina’s Mark Sanford and Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, who have said they might refuse some or all of the stimulus money targeted to their states. In an interview Friday, Barbour said he, too, would likely decline funds for broadening access to unemployment insurance.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Former Presidential Candidate Visits Hastings, NE
He is a Republican who has run for President 3 times - the latest just this past year. Thursday night Alan Keyes was a featured speaker at a fundraiser for the Triple A Crisis Pregnancy Center. The fundraiser is an annual event. It supports the pregnancy center which is a Christian organization that counsels woman before and after giving birth. Keyes said he is putting politics aside Thursday night and here to support his pro–life belief. "What is involved is the heart and conscious of a woman. What is involved is the life of a child.
Alan KeyesAnd what is involved above all is the simple preside that of all our liberty and dignity that we are created equal and endowed by God, not by human choice with our inalienable rights," said Keyes. Keyes also has some very strong opinions about President Obama. He ran against Obama for U.S Senate in Illinois back in 2004. Keyes doubts Obama is a U.S citizen and said he will ruin the country. "Obama is a radical communist and I think it is becoming clear. That is what I told people in Illinois and now everybody realizes it is coming true. He is going to destroy this country and we are either going to stop him or the United States of America is going to cease to exist," said Keyes.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Rick Santelli Calls For "Chicago Tea Party"
The markets are not reacting very well to Barack Obama's latest spending plan, which is to spend about seventy five billion dollars to rescue people who can't pay their mortgages. CNBC host Rick Santelli believes he knows why.Rick Santelli, who also an experienced investment strategist and trader, put it simply that the government would be promoting bad behavior by subsidizing mortgages given to people who ought not to have had them to start with. "Because we certainly don't want to put stimulus forth and give people a whopping $8 or $10 in their check, and think that they ought to save it, and in terms of modifications... I'll tell you what, I have an idea. "You know, the new administration's big on computers and technology-- How about this, President and new administration? Why don't you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages; or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road, and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water?"
Rick Santelli went on to compare what is happening to America under Barack Obama to Castro's Cuba and to suggest a kind of "Boston Tea Party" anti spending revolt. Rick Santelli's impassionate speech on CNBC brought cheers on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, from where he was reporting, Rick Santelli's "rant" has gotten a lot of favorable coverage, on Drudge, and on conservative talk radio like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. More importantly, Rick Santelli's attack on the Obama mortgage bailout scheme seems to reflect a growing disquiet over President Obama's spending schemes, which started with the stimulus package, and will now not only include a bailout for mortgages but also a new bailout for the car companies and perhaps even a second stimulus. That disquiet has been manifest in recent days by protest rallies in Seattle, Denver, and most recently in Mesa, Arizona.
Man With Pro-Life Anti-Obama Sign Sign Pulled Over, Faces Police, Secret Service
The Oklahoma City Police Department admits one of its officers made a mistake in pulling over a man last week for carrying an anti-President Obama sign in his car. According to The Oklahoman newspaper, an officer pulled over Chip Harrison last week because he had in his car a sign that said, "Abort Obama, not the unborn." The officer confiscated the sign and handed Harrison a slip telling him he was under investigation, even though Harrison argued that the sign only meant he wanted Obama removed from office.The officer thought Harrison was threatening to kill the president, according to the article. But the department later explained that the officer misinterpreted the sign. That didn't stop Harrison from getting a visit from the Secret Service. They interviewed him at his house and determined he was not a threat to the president, according to the report.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sharpton Enraged Over Chimp Cartoon
The Rev. Al Sharpton says a New York Post cartoon that appears to link President Obama to a violent chimpanzee is "troubling at best." The cartoon in Wednesday's Post by Sean Delonas shows a dead chimp and two police officers, one with a smoking gun. The caption reads, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."The cartoon refers to Travis the chimp, who was shot to death by police in Stamford, Conn., on Monday after it mauled a friend of its owner. It links the chimp to Obama, who signed his administration's economic stimulus plan on Tuesday. Sharpton called the cartoon offensive and divisive. The Post had no immediate comment.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
There are a lot of Twin Cities businesses, but this one is kind of delicate. Minnetonka's Go-Girl.com sells a device that lets women to go to the bathroom standing up -- or, as they would say, just "Go Girl." Sarah Dillon draws plenty of attention when she drives around town. It's hard to miss the pink car and its Go Girl logos. "I'll have people yell out to me, 'What's a Go Girl?" she said. "And in a nutshell, it's a product that allows a woman to stand up and go to the bathroom."Still, it usually takes more than just one line to explain how it works. "It's an edgy product," she explained. "There's no question about it. It's one that women are not even used to thinking about doing, but you have to have some fun with it." The device was invented by a doctor to help women who couldn't sit because of hip or knee replacements. Now, they're targeting a larger market, active women. "Women who travel or who go to a lot of concerts where there's a lot of port-a-potties around, or germaphobics," she said. Reporters took a Go Girl to French Park to see how people would react."Like the closest thing it looks to is what you put oil in the car, but I know that's not right," said one woman. "Something for covering your mouth, or plugging something with," guessed another. Finally, somebody had the right answer. "Is it if you have to urinate? Yeah, that's what it is," she said. And would they actually buy one? "Thanks anyway, no way," said one woman. "Depending on the cost, maybe," said another. Go Girls go for $4.99 apiece or $11.99 for three. They are available directly from the website.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Top Christian Author Challenges Vatican
The current No. 1 best-selling Christian author in the nation says the Vatican is believing Charles Darwin over Jesus in accepting evolution. In challenging a report by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, saying Darwin's theory is compatible with Christianity, Ray Comfort, author of the hottest Christian book on Amazon, "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence But You Can't Make Him Think," points out Jesus himself backed up the Genesis account of Creation when he said, "In the beginning God created them male and female." "But the Vatican has chosen to officially believe Darwin rather than Jesus," added Comfort. "That belief reveals a shallow understanding of the claims of atheistic evolution. God gave us six senses, and the sixth one is common sense. That one doesn't get used when it comes to Darwin's theory. And that's the problem – its devoted believers don't think too deeply. That's why I wrote the book. It shows that Darwin's theory is a fantasy – a ridiculous and unscientific fairy tale for grownups." Alluding to statistics that show nearly one in four professors in U.S. colleges and universities is either atheistic or agnostic, Comfort said, "They are turning out atheists like there's no tomorrow.Most young people don't know that they are just embracing the theory of a man with an over-ripe imagination, who had lost his faith in God. It's no wonder that so many young people are losing their own faith in God and turning to atheism." "The Vatican, in essence, is saying, 'Don't believe Jesus or Genesis. Believe Darwin instead,'" Comfort said. "God made man in his own image, and God is not a primate. In the name of diversity, the Vatican is encouraging atheism, and that's a terrible betrayal of Christianity." "It seems strange that the Vatican can stand without wavering on the subject of abortion, and cave in on the subject of evolution," added Comfort. "They know the issues when it comes to abortion, but my guess is that they don't understand the issues when it comes to Darwinian evolution. I hope they rethink their decision, because atheists will no doubt use it to further their own godless agenda." Comfort is the author of 60 books and the co-host of "The Way of the Master," a weekly television show about personal evangelism with actor Kirk Cameron, star of the hit movie "Fireproof." "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can't Make Him Think," rocketed up the Amazon.com rankings on its first day of release, moving from No. 69,572 to No. 38 in 24 hours. The book was also the No. 1 book in the categories of religion and atheism on "Darwin Day" – the 150th anniversary of the release of "On the Origin of the Species." The book was No. 1 in both atheism and apologetics categories under religion. It ranked No. 2 in spirituality and No. 6 in Christianity.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sheriff's Has Valentine's Deadbeat Parent Roundup
Dozens of people received a Valentine's Day surprise: A sheriff's deputy on their doorstep with a warrant for their arrest. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office arrested 72 people on warrants Saturday as part of a deadbeat-parent roundup called "Operation Tough Love." Out of that total, only 17 were deadbeat parents. The others were arrested for drug charges and other charges, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Despite the other charges, Arpaio said their main goal was to find deadbeat mothers and fathers. They targeted parents who have warrants out for their arrests for refusing a court order to pay child support. "You have to take care of the children," he said. "That's the main objective. It's also economic problems - food stamps and dependent children, medical care of the children. . . . It's a budget issue, also."The top 15 offenders together owe more than $1 million to their children, according to the Sheriff's Office. Teams of deputies and posse members began their search at about 8 a.m., Arpaio said. Those who were arrested were taken to a support building at 3325 W. Durango St., in Phoenix, for booking. Arpaio said one challenge they faced was that more than 60 percent of deadbeat parents have skipped town to avoid paying child support. In one search today, a team went to the home of a deadbeat mother. Arpaio said they could not find the mother and instead discovered 13 illegal immigrants at the home, in the 3100 block of North 86th Drive in Phoenix. Arpaio said the Sheriff's Office has about 500 warrants for deadbeat parents. "The bottom line is they should have respect and surrender," Arpaio said.
Obama's Picture Removed From Sign
President Obama's picture was removed this week from a Presidents Day sign at the Peterson Air Force Base commissary after customers complained that the image did not fit the holiday commemorating the birthdays of past presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The head of the local NAACP and a commissary employee say it was blatant racism. The picture of the first black president accompanied a sign near the entrance saying the government-run military grocery store would be closed for Presidents Day. Employees took it down after customers complained that the holiday wasn't about the current president, according to the Defense Commissary Agency, which oversees the base grocery stores. Rosemary Harris, president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said something more sinister was afoot. "It bodes poorly for the progress that we hoped we would see in this country, we might have taken one step forward but we see many steps being taken backwards," she said.A cashier at the commissary who did not want her name used, said pictures of past presidents that accompanied the Presidents Day closure sign, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. One customer, a military retiree, objected this year because of Obama's race, the cashier said. "He said they're not going to have no black man on the window where he shops," the cashier said. The commissary agency disputed the cashier's story, saying no past presidents have had their picture displayed with the holiday closure message. They said four customers had complained that Presidents Day is to honor Washington and Lincoln, not Obama, causing the agency to remove the Obama image. "The customers stated it is inaccurate to associate other presidents with this holiday and asked that we remove President Obama's photo from the flier," the agency said in a statement. The commissary came up with a new, less controversial notice. "The one presently posted is titled Washington's Birthday and has no photos," the agency said. Harris isn't buying it, and wants Obama to again greet shoppers. "To me it doesn't matter if its racism or politics," Harris said. "It's probably some of both."
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Czech President Rips Gore's Climate Campaign
Czech President Vaclav Klaus took aim at climate change campaigner Al Gore on Saturday in Davos in a frontal attack on the science of global warming. "I don't think that there is any global warming," said the 67-year-old liberal, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. "I don't see the statistical data for that." Referring to the former U.S. vice president, who attended Davos this year, he added: "I'm very sorry that some people like Al Gore are not ready to listen to the competing theories. I do listen to them. "Environmentalism and the global warming alarmism is challenging our freedom. Al Gore is an important person in this movement."Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, he said that he was more worried about the reaction to the perceived dangers than the consequences. "I'm afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy all around the world," he said. "I'm more afraid of the consequences of the crisis than the crisis itself." Klaus makes no secret of his climate change scepticism -- he is also a fierce critic of the European Union -- and has branded the world's top panel of climate experts, the UN's IPCC, a smug monopoly.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tennessee Legislators Want Obama To Prove Citizenship
Two Knox County legislators have joined House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada in signing up as supporters of a lawsuit trying to force President Obama to turn over a copy of his birth certificate. Reps. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville and Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains say they agreed to be listed as plaintiffs in hopes of resolving contentions that Obama may actually have been born outside of the United States, which would mean he cannot serve as president under a provision of the U.S. Constitution. Casada and Rep. Eric Swafford, R-Pikeville, also acknowledged they will back Defend Our Freedoms Foundation in the lawsuit, one of several expected to be filed. The U.S. Supreme Court already has refused to hear one such lawsuit and Democratic legislators suggest the whole thing is an unfounded conspiracy theory."I want to end the controversy," Campfield said. "Obama claims he wants to be a very open person and this is the perfect way to show that - by turning over the birth certificate to get over all the questions and concerns." Obama's campaign last year provided copies of a certificate indicating the president was born in Hawaii to various media outlets, but Campfield said there were questions about whether the document was "a certification, not a certificate - and there's a difference." Democratic legislators made jokes about the lawsuit and one of the supporting Republicans at a news conference on Thursday when Swafford's involvement was noted by a reporter. Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, asked, "Who is Eric Swafford? Where's he from?" Replied House Democratic Leader Gary Odom of Nashville: "From Mars."
Friday, February 13, 2009
Russia Sending More Ships to Arctic
Russia will modernize its icebreaker fleet and station more researchers in the Arctic as part of its push to stake its claim to the vast resources of the disputed polar region, a presidential envoy said Thursday. Artur Chilingarov, a famed polar scientist who was recently appointed to the post, said that Russia's sizable icebreaker fleet gives the nation a strong edge in Arctic exploration. He said that Russia would build a new Arctic research ship to supplement the Akademik Fyodorov, which conducted a 2007 expedition in which Russian mini-submarines put a capsule with Russian flag on the Arctic seabed. Chilingarov told reporters that Russia is also preparing to send a team of some 50 polar scientists to the island of Spitsbergen, where Norway claims exclusive rights. He said an advance team will leave Saturday to chose the place for the station. "The Arctic has a special geopolitical importance for Russia," Chilingarov said at a news conference. Chilingarov said that the government's policy guidelines on the Arctic envisage "expanding the Russian presence there, intensifying research and rebuilding a network of polar stations." In 2007, Chilingarov led two Russian mini-submarines on a mission to stake Russia's claim to the region that is believed to contain huge oil and gas reserves. The two subs descended some 2.5 miles (4 kilometers ) to the Arctic seabed, where they collected geologic and water samples, and dropped a titanium canister containing the Russian flag.The Russian mission exacerbated the controversy over an area which is believed to contain as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Russia, the United States, Canada and other northern countries are trying to assert jurisdiction over the Arctic, whose oil, gas and minerals until recently have been considered too difficult to recover. The dispute has intensified with growing evidence that global warming is shrinking polar ice, opening up new shipping lanes and resource development possibilities. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev said last fall that Russia's long-term development and competitive place in world markets is dependent on developing Arctic resources. Chilingarov said that Russia is preparing to resubmit its claim that an underwater mountain range crossing the polar region is part of Russia's continental shelf. Moscow first submitted the claim in 2001 to the United Nations, but it was rejected for lack of evidence. Chilingarov said that Russia took notice of NATO officials' meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, last month at which they said the alliance will need a military presence in the Arctic as major powers rush to lay claim to lucrative energy reserves. "We aren't going to wage a new Cold War in the Arctic," Chilingarov said, adding, however, that Russia will look to protect its interests.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Terrorist Recruitment Center Denies Link To Missing Somali Men
The leaders of a south Minneapolis mosque on Tuesday renewed their denials that the mosque is connected to the disappearance of young Somali men from Minnesota. For the second time in recent weeks, the leaders of the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque said they have been unfairly accused. Some Somali families have said they're concerned their teenage sons or nephews may have been brainwashed to return to Somalia to fight in that country's civil war. Abdirashid Abdi, a board member and former executive director of the mosque, said officials there "share the pain and grief that the families of the youth who went to Somalia are experiencing." But he added: "It is unfortunate that some individuals in the Somali community unfairly accused Abubakar Center to have links to the disappearance of the Somali young men. We strongly deny these unsubstantiated allegations. Abubakar Center didn't recruit, finance or otherwise facilitate in any way, shape or form the travel of these youth." The trigger for Tuesday's news conference was a report in Sunday's Star Tribune on the disappearance six months ago of Mustafa Ali, an 18-year-old St. Paul man who had been active in the mosque.Minneapolis is home to one of the largest Somali communities in the U.S. Another man, Shirwa Ahmed, disappeared from Minneapolis last October and is believed to have killed himself in a suicide bombing in northern Somalia, according to federal officials. They also believe he was a recruiter in the Twin Cities for a terrorist network. FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson has said the agency is aware of people from throughout the U.S. and Minneapolis traveling to Somali to "potentially fight for terrorist groups." But Wilson would neither confirm nor deny that the FBI and the Justice Department were investigating. Tuesday's news conference at the mosque included testimonials from several speakers, including Farah Mahamud, a young man from Minneapolis who said the center helped him turn his life around. "It means everything to me," Mahamud said. "It helped me change my life for the better." Kashif Saroya, outreach director for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, called on law enforcement to investigate and resolve the appearances as soon as possible. The mosque plans to hold an open house soon. Abdi, the board member, said he wants people to know that Somalis are grateful to be citizens in Minnesota. "This is our new home," he said.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Franken Lawyer Hits Coleman Team For Trial Tedium
The judges in Minnesota's Senate trial rejected a complaint from Democrat Al Franken on Monday over the time-consuming way Republican Norm Coleman is pursuing his case, but said they would meet with both sides to explore ways to go faster. Coleman's attorneys are working through about 4,700 rejected absentee ballots one by one, presenting evidence they hope will convince the three-judge panel that the ballots should be added to a race that Franken leads by 225 votes. It's a tedious process expected to take weeks. Before attorney Joe Friedberg could begin questioning Dakota County's elections manager, Franken attorney David Lillehaug objected that Friedberg wasn't following trial rules. Lillehaug said Coleman has failed to provide his opponent with specific arguments in advance for why individual ballots should be accepted. "We don't find out until direct examination - and they don't seem to, either," Lillehaug said. He called it a violation of standard trial procedure in which Franken's attorneys would find out beforehand what Coleman plans to argue. Lillehaug pointed out that as Friedberg has questioned county election officials, he has often withdrawn some ballots on the fly if it'ss obvious the rejection was valid. He said Coleman should have to weed out those ballots in advance, and that doing so would make the trial proceed faster.The judges have set out two categories where they'll consider counting rejected absentees: those where it appeared the voter met the legal requirements, and those where they might have run afoul of the law through no fault of their own. Coleman's attorneys say about 3,100 of their ballots fall in the first category, and about 1,600 fall in the second. But Lillehaug complained that Coleman's attorneys aren't saying in detail why the ballots qualify for one of those classifications. "It's why, after two weeks, we're only through part of Ramsey, Washington, Anoka, and little Pine County," Lillehaug argued. That leaves Coleman's attorneys 83 more counties to get through. Friedberg countered that Coleman had wanted to argue for ballots in several broad categories. That plan fell apart when, in the trial's first week, Franken objected to Coleman using pen-marked photocopies of the ballots as evidence. "I would still like to go back and do this category by category - we could do it in 10 percent of the time," Friedberg said. "I do not have any great desire to go county by county." After meeting privately, the judges overruled the objection. But Judge Kurt Marben said they would meet privately with lawyers from both sides later today to talk about to "see if there is a more expedient way to proceed with the evidence in this case." After that, Friedberg began the ballot-by-ballot review with Dakota County's Kevin Boyle.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Republican Defectors Facing Backlash For Stimulus Support
The three Republican senators supporting President Barack Obama’s $827 billion stimulus bill are drawing the wrath of many conservatives who say the massive spending in the plan could tip the country into depression. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Pennsylvania's Sen. Arlen Specter were lambasted on conservative Web sites throughout the weekend, and were the subjects of angry calls by many of their constituents, according to reports. “Arlen Specter is DONE,” wrote a blogger named steelfish on the FreeRepublic Web site. “He won his last primary by less than 1 percent against a real conservative of Pat Toomey. And only because the President Bush came to PA and campaigned for him.He is DONE.” “They are frauds. RINOS (Republicans in Name Only),’’ wrote a blogger named Croupier101 on the Fox News blog site. On TV news shows Sunday, their Republican colleagues distanced themselves and downplayed their significance as Republicans in helping the president pass his package. "This agreement is not bipartisan," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told CBS' "Face the Nation." "I've been in bipartisan agreements, many. This is three Republican senators. Every Republican congressman voted against it in the House, plus Democrats. And all but three Republicans stayed together on this. That's not bipartisanship. That's just picking off a couple of senators," McCain said. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the trio’s support must have been disappointing to Obama, who has staked much on his ostensible ability to transcend the partisan divide. "Having three Republicans, potentially, support it in the Senate out of 535 members of Congress is hardly a bipartisan effort. I think it's a disappointment -- surely must be for President Obama," Cornyn told "FOX News Sunday." He added he fully expects the bill to pass "with almost exclusively Democratic support."
Collins, Specter, Snowe: Phone calls and emails to their offices were running heavily against the three Republicans’ support for the stimulus package.The three were the target of a furious national campaign by liberal groups, who besieged their offices with phone calls and emails urging them to support the stimulus plan. Without Democrats controlling a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate, the trio's support was essential in advancing the contentious plan to a final vote next week. Their help more than likely will result in pushing the stimulus over the finish line. In a video posted on YouTube, Republican Rep. Ron Paul said the three “caved in and went with the Democrats.” The former presidential candidate, who has a sizeable following on the Internet, especially among college students, praised his fellow House Republicans for unanimously opposing the stimulus. But he lamented that after eight years of the massive spending done under the Bush administration, Republican opposition was too little, too late. "It is like they're born-again budget conservatives," Paul said. "Where were we in the past eight years, when we could have done something? And you see our last eight years that has set this situation up. So we can't blame the Democrats for the conditions we have. "We have to blame both parties and presidents of the last several decades to have generated this huge government." The stimulus package, which is expected to come in at about $827 billion when the Senate votes, includes tax cuts and credits and spending on infrastructure, education and other projects that supporters say will create and save jobs. Collins said she broke ranks with her party because of the progress congressional negotiators had made on the bill. "Well, I know that some of my Republican colleagues are unhappy with the position that I've taken," Collins told reporters Saturday. "I hope they will look at the fact that we were able to cut $110 billion of unnecessary spending from this bill. I think that's a good accomplishment. I also think that it's important that we do pass a stimulus bill to help turn the economy around." But Snowe and Specter have kept a low profile since the deal was struck. Despite their huge role, none made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. Specter said Friday night that the agreement wasn't perfect but it was necessary. That assertion was greeted with wild derision on the Internet and with veiled scorn by other Republican leaders. Julie Ann O'Brien, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, said she already has received plenty of e-mails from people across the country, the majority scolding the two Senators for their support of the bill. "We have heard from both sides," she told FOXNews.com. "We've heard from those who are pleased that Sen. Collins, in particular, has been willing to play and negotiate. And there are others who feel strongly that they are not acting like Republicans are supposed to act."O'Brien doesn't anticipate any local political fallout for Snowe or Collins, noting that both won't face re-election for several years and that voters are familiar with them. "People know what they're getting when they vote for them," she said. "They lean conservative on most issues -- that's why they're Republicans. But they really do, I feel, do what is right -- not politically right but morally right." But Specter is up for re-election in 2010. On Sunday, a liberal, union-supported issue advocacy group initially founded in 2005 to rally against President Bush’s Social Security reform plan was praising the three in ads in Maine and Pennsylvania. "Senators Snowe and Collins have worked with President Obama and other senators to reach agreement on a plan that has support from a broad range of groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce and organized labor," says the version of the ad in Maine. "Call Senators Snowe and Collins today at 202-224-3121. Thank them for their leadership and tell them to keep fighting for a plan to get our economy moving again." But Collins, at least, has left herself some wiggle room on the final bill that emerges after House-Senate negotiations. "Well, I know that some of my Republican colleagues are unhappy with the position that I've taken," Collins told FOX News. "I hope they will look at the fact that we were able to cut $110 billion of unnecessary spending from this bill. I think that's a good accomplishment.” Yet she conceded that if a bill comes back from the conference committee with the House "once again bloated with wasteful spending and it's too expensive, then I'll vote against it."
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Fort Snelling Army Reserve Unit Honored
The 88th Regional Readiness Command will be honored Sunday at Fort Snelling for its work on the war on terrorism. The Army Reserve unit will be awarded the Army Superior Unit Award for outstanding and meritorious service.From October 2005 through September 2006, the unit supported more than 18,500 soldiers and civilians in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. It also executed a month long exercise with limited resources that trained soldiers in real world scenarios to prepare them for deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Sgt. 1st Class Chris Farley says 700 invitations were sent to civilians and soldiers affiliated with the unit. The unit reports to the 88th Regional Support Command based in Fort McCoy, Wis.
Sgt. 1st Class Chris Farley says 700 invitations were sent to civilians and soldiers affiliated with the unit. The unit reports to the 88th Regional Support Command based in Fort McCoy, Wis.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Al Gore Tells Kids "Don't Listen To Your Parents"
Former Vice President Al Gore has been tape-recorded telling a conference of young people in Washington, D.C., just before President Barack Obama's inauguration that they know more than their parents. The story appeared via Glenn Beck's television show on the Fox News Channel, where he had Caitlin Glenn and her father, Andy, discussing the speech today. A video of the program segment was posted on Beck's The Hope For America website. On the tape, Gore states: "When I was your age and the civil rights revolution was unfolding, and we kids asked our parents and their generation, 'Explain to me again why it's okay for the law to officially discriminate against people because of their skin color?' "And when our parents' generation couldn't answer that question, that's when the law started to change. There are some things about our world that you know that older people don't know," he continued. Former Vice President Al Gore has been tape-recorded telling a conference of young people in Washington, D.C., just before President Barack Obama's inauguration that they know more than their parents. The story appeared via Glenn Beck's television show on the Fox News Channel, where he had Caitlin Glenn and her father, Andy, discussing the speech today. A video of the program segment was posted on Beck's The Hope For America website. On the tape, Gore states: "When I was your age and the civil rights revolution was unfolding, and we kids asked our parents and their generation, 'Explain to me again why it's okay for the law to officially discriminate against people because of their skin color?'"And when our parents' generation couldn't answer that question, that's when the law started to change. There are some things about our world that you know that older people don't know," he continued. "Why would that be? Well in a period of rapid change, the old assumptions sometimes just don’t work anymore because they're out of date," Gore said. Caitlin had been invited months before the election to the event that featured Gore as a speaker, and she was excited to attend the invitation-only event. Her father said the family thought it an "incredible opportunity" for her. The discussion about taping the speech came up late in the fall when Obama had won the election and was headed toward the White House, Andy Glenn said. "We realized what she would be facing … Caitlin and I started having a lot of discussions," Andy Glenn said. The talks focused on what Gore would say. "I wanted to hear what he has to say to you," Andy Glenn recalled telling his daughter. Caitlin Glenn said she was shocked by the instructions essentially to ignore her parents. "We're only teens and preteens and he was telling us to do these things," she said. Andy Glenn said when he picked up his daughter, he popped the tape into the player in his car. "That section you just played actually was one of the first sections," he told Beck. "Right after [I heard] that I stopped it. I was so upset. I was yelling … he just told my daughter not to listen to me. "Even coming from Al Gore I was absolutely shocked to hear that," he said. Gore could not be reached for a comment.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Schoolteacher Suspended For Facebook Photo
A Beaver Dam Middle School teacher is on administrative leave after school officials discovered a photo of her with a gun on Facebook. In the photo, Betsy Ramsdale was training a rifle at the camera. In an e-mail to reporters in Madison, Ramsdale said she removed the photo immediately and that she is not "interested in any controversy."Schools superintendent Donald Childs says a concerned staff member brought the photo to the district's attention. Childs says the use of the photo "appears to be poor judgment" and is unaware of any sinister intent. Ramsdale's biography on the district Web site states she is in her first year at the school. Department of Public Instruction records show Ramsdale has been licensed to teach since 1996.