Colorado's wildfire has exploded into an "epic firestorm," in the words of Colorado Springs fire chief Richard Brown. Over 30,000 people have evacuated, and already hundreds of homes have been consumed. Ironically, the U.S. Air Force Academy has also been evacuated, at the very time that Colorado desperately needs more Air Force C-130s to fight the massive fire.
A C-130 fitted with the Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) can drop 3,000 gallons of fire-retardant material in 5 seconds, and reload in just 15 minutes. This tempo is crucial to containing wildfires like the one devastating Colorado Springs. However, of a current fleet of nearly 380 C-130s, only eight can be fitted with the MAFFS—and four of them are already in the skies over Colorado. With another fire looming in the north of the state, there is no excess capacity to help protect civilian areas. That means thousands of exhausted firefighters on the ground are without enough of the crucial support they need to control the fires.
All this raises concerns about President Obama’s defense budget, which cuts 65 C-130s from the fleet over the next four years. While that will leave 318 C-130s, the demands on the fleet are not shrinking in Afghanistan or other places. Nor did the Air Force have much choice in the matter. More!
The Pentagon on Tuesday saluted open gays in the ranks, with a civilian lawyer calling on fellow homosexuals to “stretch a little” and become more visible inside the military in the drive for benefits for same-sex couples.
“We need to be as visible as we can be,” Gordon Tanner, principal deputy general counsel of the Air Force, said at the Defense Department’s first gay pride event. “Let us be a bridge to our straight allies.”
The Pentagon is not providing benefits to spouses of gay service members because federal law defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The Pentagon chose Mr. Tanner and two other gays — a Marine officer and a West Point graduate — to talk about the military during the ban on open gays, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and about the months since its official repeal on Sept. 20.
“I happen to be gay, but more importantly, I’m a Marine,” said Capt. Matthew Phelps. Video!
A former U.S. president is accusing the current president of sanctioning the "widespread abuse of human rights" by authorizing drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists.
Jimmy Carter, America's 39 th president, denounced the Obama administration for "clearly violating" 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, writing in a New York Times op-ed on Monday that the "United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights."
"Instead of making the world safer, America's violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends," Carter wrote.
While the total number of attacks from unmanned aircraft, or drones, and the resulting casualties are murky, the New America Foundation estimates that in Pakistan alone 265 drone strikes have been executed since January 2009 . Those strikes have killed at least 1,488 people, at least 1,343 of them considered militants, the foundation estimates based on news reports and other sources.
In addition to the drone strikes, Carter criticized the current president for keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention center open, where prisoners "have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers." Source!
Does a fork or dinner knife pose an unacceptable danger to President Barack Obama?
One wouldn’t think so, given the hundreds of lunches and dinners he’s attended ranging from state dinners to political fundraisers to run-of-the-mill stops on the rubber-chicken circuit.
However, at one such lunch Friday afternoon, guests heard an unusual announcement that they needed to hand over their silverware for security reasons.
“It’s very important that you use your utensils as soon as possible,” National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials board member Raquel Regalado told about 1000 delegates at the group’s annual conference.
Regalado hurried the diners to finish up their salads and pre-cut chicken breasts, saying that the Secret Service required that there be no knives at the tables and that the forks be rounded up before Obama entered the room. More!
An Egyptian plumber in Alexandria beat his pregnant wife to death upon learning that she had not voted for Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi, reported the Egyptian daily al-Wafd on Sunday.
According to police reports, the initial argument between the couple who was not named escalated into violence, despite her pleas. Battered and bruised, she was reported to have died at the hospital from injuries sustained.
Domestic fights have dominated Egyptian news headlines when the bid fell on the two most feared and most controversial candidates, Mursi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq. Source photos!
The all-consuming hunt for donors has led President Barack Obama’s campaign to England.
Obama is tapping the network of American citizens living outside the 50 states more than any other presidential campaign has before, with more than a dozen bundlers who have pledged to raise as much as $4.5 million. More!
For the past seven years Pastor Terry Sartain has ministered to police officers and their families in Charlotte, N.C. Whenever the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept. invited him to deliver an invocation, he prayed in “the name of Jesus.”
But not anymore.
Volunteer chaplains in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept. will no longer be allowed to invoke the name of Jesus in prayers at public events held on government property.
Major John Diggs, who oversees the chaplain program, told television station WSOC that the policy is a “matter of respecting that people may have different faiths and that it is not aimed at any one religion or denomination.” More on the "war"!
President Obama's Department of Justice recently released new regulations to prevent prison rape. "Sexual violence, against any victim, is an assault on human dignity and an affront to American values," Obama said when announcing the new initiative. "The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) was enacted with bipartisan support and established a 'zero-tolerance standard' for rape in prisons in the United States."
But the new regulations won't be cheap; it's expected to cost nearly $7 billion. Released today by the Federal Register, the cost more precisely will be $6.9 billion. The paperwork burden is expected to be 148,455 hours.
The costs, according to analysis produced by the American Action Forum, will be passed down to the states. "Despite an admirable goal, this 'landmark rule' imposes a costly, complicated regulatory framework on states currently battling recurring budget deficits, offers little assurance of success, and fails to explain this new burden to the states as required by the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act," the AAF analysis states. Source/More!
The Pennsylvania House approved a bill Monday, by a vote of 114-83, outlawing “secret compartments” in all vehicles, CBS Philly reports.
Why? Because the compartments could be used for crime.
“Cocaine is being transported via the Pennsylvania Turnpike in secret compartments to be distributed in Philadelphia all over the city, and in New Jersey,” says the bill’s sponsor Rep. Kate Harper (R-PA). “The district attorneys’ association has endorsed this bill as another tool that they need.”
Well, that’s good. Because now that the state is one step closer to outlawing “secret compartments,” the type of people who traffic cocaine, weapons, and humans will stop using them, right?
“The bill would make it a crime to have a ‘false or secret’ compartment in a vehicle with the intent to use the compartment criminally,” CBS Philly reports. “A false or secret compartment is defined as an enclosure integrated into a vehicle that represents a modification of the vehicle as originally built by the manufacturer.” More!
Thank you fellow Wisconsin patriots! What an election!
We couldn't have done it without you. Without your tantrums, outbursts and boorish behavior we might have stayed home for this election. Without your filthy, pot smoking hemp -headed minions occupying, dirtying and damaging our Capitol we might have been complacent. Without your obnoxious protests, boycotts and other actions from your union playbook, we might have sat this one out.
But you couldn't hold back. You couldn't restrain yourselves and behave like adults. You couldn't accept the 2010 election results. We sat and watched as you erupted in a juvenile hissy fit that embarrassed Wisconsin. The spectacle you created is what motivated us. And thanks to your pathetic behavior, we won. We turned out. Big time!
And now we are organized and energized. Committed. "All in". And we aren't going away. We now have our own organizations (no dues required), an army of volunteers and the means to communicate. And countless new sources of funding, including a donor base from all 50 states. And we have "I verify the recall" to ferret out your infiltrators in our future local elections.
So thank you little boy Tate, Graeme Zielinski, Fred "Loonie" Levenhagen, Ismael Ozanne, Maryanne Sumi, Noble Ray, Charles Tubbs, Joanne Kloppenberg, Segway Boy, John Chisolm, public employee union members, UW TA's, WEAC, SEIU, MTI, AFSCME Council 24 in Union Grove and WI prison guards,. Thanks for the death threats, the intimidation, the bullying, belligerence, thuggery and goonish behavior. The lack of ethics and the failure to enforce rules and laws. Thank you for putting your selfish, greedy motives on display for all taxpayers to see.
Your antics might have made you feel good but they didn't make you look good. They sickened the rest of us.
Thank you Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley. Your petty politics woke us up. Thanks you Miles Kristan for dumping the beer on Robin Vos's head. Thank you University doctors for writing the phony excuses; Madison teachers for calling in sick or dragging your students to the protests without permission. Thank you Katherine Windels for making death threats against the Governor. The noontime capitol singers who taunted Sheboygan high school students. Thank you WEA Trust for raping Wisconsin taxpayers. Thank you Gwen Moore for your embarrassing minstrel show. And thanks all of you for harassing the Walker family at their private home.
You have all been exposed. Your tactics have been rejected. Your bad behavior has been forever captured on You Tube.
Thank you Peter Barca and fellow Assembly members for donning your foolish orange T-shirts and screaming "shame" at legislators just doing their jobs.
Thank you Mark Miller and all 14 senators for fleeing the state and making fools of yourselves in the process. Your combination of childishness and ignorance fits in very well in Illinois. I’m sure you felt right at home. Thanks for showing us what democracy doesn't look like.
And Mayor Barrett. How grateful we are that you chose one low road after another in your issue-less campaign against the Governor. This was your strike three. You are out. Take a seat on the bench and stay there. I have a hunch this was your final at-bat.
All of you helped turn Wisconsin permanently red. Your Governor, Scott Walker, will not just complete his first term, he is all but assured as many future terms as he seeks. He will be your governor for a long, long time. Get used to it. And his national "rock star" status just might lead him to be your President some day.
Just think, it couldn't have happened without you! So to all of you blue fisters, thank you from the bottom of my happy, red heart.
A Wisconsin taxpayer
Ed: We would identify the author, but he doesn't want Mayor Barrett's sycophants to poop in his front yard!
The local media in Rockford, Illinois, have been virtually silent about a firebomb attack on a Catholic school bus belonging to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy. While the details and fuzzy, here’s what we know: There’s extensive damage to a pro-life bus — a vehicle that is widely-known in the community for showcasing messages on its exterior that defend unborn babies and stand in opposition to abortion.
A blog called Pro-life Corner claims that the bus was firebombed on Friday evening (an employee at the Rockford Fire Department confirmed that authorities arrived at the scene around 3 a.m.). In a description of the damage, the blog reports that the attack’s impact was substantial, leaving broken windows, burned and charred seats and a plethora of other major blemishes. Photos!
Lawmakers are working to block an unprecedented power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency to use the Clean Water Act (CWA) and control land alongside ditches, gullies and other ephemeral spots by claiming the sources are part of navigable waterways.
These temporary water sources are often created by rain or snowmelt, and would make it harder for private property owners to build in their own backyards, grow crops, raise livestock and conduct other activities on their own land, lawmakers say.
“Never in the history of the CWA has federal regulation defined ditches and other upland features as ‘waters of the United States,’” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking committee member, and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
“This is without a doubt an expansion of federal jurisdiction,” the lawmakers said in a May 31 letter to House colleagues. Source!
Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, the Federal Reserve’s holdings of U.S. government debt have quintupled, according to the Fed’s official monthly balance sheet.
On Jan. 28, 2009, a week after Obama’s nomination, the Fed owned $302 billion in U.S. Treasury securities. On April 25, 2012, the latest date reported, the Fed owned five and a half time that much in U.S. Treasury securities--$1.668 trillion.
That is an increase from January 2009 of $1.366 trillion—or 452 percent.
Under Obama, the Federal Reserve has become the single largest owner of U.S. government debt. When Obama entered office, entities in the People’s Republic of China were the largest holders, followed by entities in Japan. At the end of January 2009, China owned $739.6 billion in U.S. government debt and Japan owned $634.8 billion. Source!
The Obama administration, despite the nation’s economic woes, effectively killed the job-producing Keystone Pipeline. The Arab Spring is turning the oil production of Libya and other Arab nations over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Iraq is distancing itself from the U.S. And everyone recognizes that Iran, whose crude supplies are critical to the European economy, will do anything it can to frustrate America’s strategic interests. In the face of all of this, Obama insists on cutting back U.S. oil potential with outrageous restrictions.
Part of Obama’s apparent war against U.S. energy independence includes a foreign-aid program that directly threatens my Alaska's sovereign territory. Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Putin regime in the Kremlin.
The seven endangered islands in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea include one the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The Russians are also to get the tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich seabeds surrounding the islands. The Department of Interior estimates billions of barrels of oil are at stake. Source (although the UFO stories generate skepticism)!
On the sixth floor of a sleek office building here, more than 150 techies are quietly peeling back the layers of your life. They know what you read and where you shop, what kind of work you do and who you count as friends. They also know who your mother voted for in the last election.
The depth and breadth of the Obama campaign’s 2012 digital operation — from data mining to online organizing — reaches so far beyond anything politics has ever seen, experts maintain, that it could impact the outcome of a close presidential election. It makes the president’s much-heralded 2008 social media juggernaut — which raised half billion dollars and revolutionized politics — look like cavemen with stone tablets. More!
Public sector unions have reached their high water mark. Let the cleanup begin as the red ink recedes.
Despite a last-minute smear campaign accusing Scott Walker of fathering an illegitimate love child, the governor’s recall election victory sends a clear message that should resonate around the nation: The fiscal cancer devouring state budgets has a cure, and he has found it.
The costly defeat for the entrenched union interests that tried to oust Walker in retribution for challenging their power was marked by President Obama’s refusal to lend his weight to the campaign for fear of being stained by defeat. We’ll see how well this strategy of opportunistic detachment serves in the fall as Obama reaches out to unions for support. More from Forbes!
Gawker is reporting that Mitt Romney’s personal email account has been compromised. The anonymous hacker, who says he or she is not part of THE Anonymous, told Gawker about breaking into “firstname.lastname@example.org” using the site’s password recovery option.
“The tipster claims to have hacked into it by guessing Romney’s favorite pet in response to a ‘security’ question,” writes Max Read at Gawker. My guess for that would be Seamus, the famously terrified dog Romney likes to let ride on the roof of his car. More!
Everyday, we hear some pretty grim predictions about the markets and the economy. But this is one of the more comprehensive and most gloomy outlooks we've ever seen.
Raoul Pal expects a series of sovereign defaults, the "biggest banking crisis in world history", and asserts that we don't have many options to stop it.
Pal previously co-managed the GLG Global Macro Fund. He is also a Goldman Sachs alum. He currently writes for The Global Macro Investor, a research publication for large and institutional investors.
A note on the presentation; the last slide is not meant to suggest that we're going back to the economic activity of 3000 years ago. It refers to the 3000 year old trade links between the nations along the Indian Ocean, which Mr. Pal believes will be the center of world's opportunities. Just like the West 50 years ago, they have "...low debts, high savings and a young population".
The tower housing Big Ben will be renamed in honour of the Queen under plans supported by the majority of MPs.David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are among senior figures from all parties who have backed the proposal to call it the Elizabeth Tower. A total of 331 MPs have now signed up to the campaign.
It mirrors a tribute bestowed on Queen Victoria, the only other monarch in British history to have a Diamond Jubilee.
The House of Commons Commission, Parliament’s governing body, will meet by the end of this month and, given the degree of cross-party support, is expected to agree that the 316ft Clock Tower should be renamed. MPs accept it will continue to be known colloquially as Big Ben, the name of the bell it houses, but say the tower itself should carry the present Queen’s name in perpetuity.
Both the Cabinet Office and Buckingham Palace are understood to support the proposal.