Looking Forward To 2010

/Michael Ramirez

And You Think The TSA Sucks Now?

No unions for air safety workers

As 2009 comes to a blessed close, let us pause and give thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who placed a legislative hold on President Obama’s nomination of Erroll Southers to head the Transportation Security Administration. DeMint won’t withdraw his hold until Southers answers a simple question — does he think TSA employees should be allowed to collectively bargain with the government on workplace rules and procedures? To date, Southers has declined to give a definitive response to DeMint’s question, even though it’s importance was highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day massacre of nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim terrorist boarded the Detroit-bound flight despite having explosives sewn into his knickers.

Southers’ silence hasn’t prevented others from greeting his nomination warmly, most notably John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. When Southers nomination was announced by the Obama White House, Gage said “the question of bargaining rights at TSA is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ We are confident that the appointment of Mr. Southers as administrator will help put that matter to bed.”

Southers’ immediate boss as TSA administrator would be Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is an enthusiastic supporter of collective bargaining for government employees in her department. When asked about this recently by DeMint during a Senate hearing, Napolitano responded “I do not think security and collective bargaining are mutually exclusive, nor do I think that collective bargaining cannot be accomplished by an agency, such as TSA, should the workers desire to be organized in such a fashion.”

These things should not have to be explained, but here are four common-sense reasons why collective bargaining would cripple the TSA:

á The TSA would lose its flexibility to move people and equipment and change protocols when it believes there is a terrorist threat to airliners.

á Collective bargaining would force TSA managers to share sensitive intelligence information with union negotiators every time new workplace procedures are needed, thus increasing the possibility of damaging leaks about those procedures.

á TSA managers would no longer be able to reward high-performing screeners or fire those unable or unwilling to perform their duties in an efficient manner. Being able to do so is critical to the TSA’s ability to defend American airline travelers against future terrorist attacks.

á Hundreds of TSA screeners would have to be diverted from the jobs they were hired to do in order to set up the negotiating infrastructure required by collective bargaining.

DeMint should keep his hold on Southers’ nomination in place until these issues are addressed in a public hearing.

See also:
DeMint blocks nomination of Obama’s TSA pick
Sen. DeMint Is Outraged That TSA Members Could Get Collective Bargaining Rights After Recent Terrorism Attempt on Airplane
Senate Democratic spokesman: Blocking of air safety chief ‘disgraceful’
Senate Majority Leader to Force Vote on Key TSA Nominee
Kristol: If Southers Matters, Recess Appoint Him
GOP Senator Says Dems Trying to Rush TSA Nominee
Sen. Harry Reid to force vote on TSA nominee
DeMint Defends Holding Up Confirmation of Erroll Southers as TSA Chief
Federal labor unions push back against senator’s TSA ‘hold’
Napolitano wants to unionize TSA employees despite safety concerns
Nomination of Southers for TSA becomes a union issue

Boy, am I sure glad I don’t need to fly regularly. I feel sorry for those of you who do.

/because, you know, TSA is so good now, you can bet they’ll be ten times better when they’re unionized with union work rules, just look at the auto industry!

Man Caused Disaster Calling

/Michael Ramirez

Meet Al Qaeda’s Lifestyle Coach

What do the 9/11 hijackers, Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the Underwear Bomber, all have in common, besides being fanatical Muslim terrorists? It turns out that they were all big fans of radical Islamic al Qaeda imam Anwar al-Awlaki, terrorist lifestyle coach, currently holed up in Yemen.

Fort Hood shooting: Texas army killer linked to September 11 terrorists

Hasan, the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas, attended the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. His mother’s funeral was held there in May that year.

The preacher at the time was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organisations.

Hasan’s eyes “lit up” when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki’s teachings, according to a fellow Muslim officer at the Fort Hood base in Texas, the scene of Thursday’s horrific shooting spree.

As investigators look at Hasan’s motives and mindset, his attendance at the mosque could be an important piece of the jigsaw. Al-Awlaki moved to Dar al-Hijrah as imam in January, 2001, from the west coast, and three months later the September 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour began attending his services. A third hijacker attended his services in California.

Hasan was praying at Dar al-Hijrah at about the same time, and the FBI will now want to investigate whether he met the two terrorists.

Charles Allen, a former under-secretary for intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security, has described al-Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen, as an “al-Qaeda supporter, and former spiritual leader to three of the September 11 hijackers… who targets US Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen”.

Investigators Recover SIM Cards During Searches of Homes Tied to Abdulmutallab

On Monday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula reportedly claimed responsibility for the attempt.

Investigators believe the suspect was radicalized before he went to Yemen, sources told Fox News. According to one source, Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen sometime near the end of last year or early this year. He was there for several weeks or months, and investigators believe Abdulmutallab was “vetted for the mission” while in Yemen.

Investigators are still working to confirm whether the suspect was trained in Yemen and received explosive material there. Of the device, one source said it’s “very likely that it did” come from Yemen.

The suspect also traveled within the last year to England, the Netherlands, and one other unnamed European country, Fox News has learned. He was also in Nigeria and Togo. One source said he “bounced around a bit.”

Evidence collected shows that Abdulmutallab also was a “big fan” of radical imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, as Web traffic shows Abdulmutallab was a follower of Awlaki’s blog and Web site.

So far no evidence has been revealed that the two exchanged e-mails or talked one-on-one. Awlaki is an American born in New Mexico, now living in Yemen, and is the same imam from whom alleged Fort Hood shooter Malik Nidal Hasan sought spiritual advice.

See also:
Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan ‘is a hero’: Imam who preached to 9/11 hijackers in Va. praises attack
‘Ticking bomb’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab kept to himself
Detroit terror attack: ‘There are many more like me,’ bomber warns
Detroit terror attack: Yemen is the true home of Al-Qaeda
New Focus on Yemen in Counter-Terror Fight
Yemeni Groups Increased Aviation Threats
Obama Aide Refuses To Comment On Anwar al-Awlaki And More
Radical cleric is said to be alive after Yemen airstrikes
Al-Awlaki’s house was not attacked, close relatives
The radical worshippers who harm liberal mosque
Anwar al-Awlaki
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group

Well, it appears someone in the U.S. government had the right idea but didn’t use the right tools. It’s pretty clear by now that Anwar al-Awlaki is a top tier worldwide al Qaeda suicide jihadi organizer, already directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans. Killing or capturing this vile Islamist dochebag, before he can do more damage, should be one of our top priorities in the “criminal investigation” of these pesky, ongoing “man caused disasters”.

However, apparently the recent airstrikes didn’t kill al-Awlaki or even come close, too blunt an instrument wielded with insufficient intelligence. They say the first question a President asks when there’s trouble somewhere in the world is “where are the carriers”? To me, that’s the wrong question, I would be asking, where’s SEAL Team Six?

/at least the terrorism dots are so damn large now in this case that maybe even Obama and Janet “Jumbo Crayons” Napolitano can figure out how to connect them

Weekly Watch List

NEU
PCLN
BUCY
RAX
MELI
ASIA
TLVT
BIDU
ISRG
SIRO
GMCR
BCSI
AAPL
SHOO
WBD
BWY
GES
GOOG

Additions:
None

Subtractions:
AM
V
VRX

Last week the market indexes all moved higher with the Nasdaq bolting 3.3%, the NYSE composite up 2.4%, the S&P 500 gaining 2.2%, and the Dow adding 1.9% These gains, along with the passage of time, were enough to knock a couple distribution days off the count and change the IBD outlook to “market in confirmed uptrend”. You are now free to move about the market and buy stocks again.

This week AAPL is in a proper buy range. Thursday it cleared a flat base with handle buy point of $208.10 on good volume for a Christmas Eve. AAPL is currently trading at $209.04 and will remain in buy range up to $218.50.

/as usual, your mileage may vary, always do your own homework

Too Cool For Origami School

Artist proves he is a cut above the rest with dainty models made using glue, a scalpel and just one sheet of A4 paper

Artist Peter Callesen proves he is a cut above the rest with these dainty models made using glue, a scalpel – and just one sheet of A4 paper.

Peter, 41, cuts intricate patterns from a white sheet of paper and uses the cutout to fold breathtaking designs such as skeletons, insects and buildings.

The precision work transforms a piece of paper worth only a few pence into a piece of art that sells for £2,800.

Each model takes up to two weeks to sketch, cut and fold.

If Peter makes a wrong cut or realises he is unable to achieve the fold he wanted he has to rethink his design and start the painstaking work again.

Peter likes his models to tell a story and believes transforming a flat piece of paper into a three-dimension model is a ‘magical process’.

He said: ‘Some of the small paper cuts relate to a universe of fairy tales and romanticism.

‘Others are small dramas in which small figures are lost within and threatened by the huge powerful nature.’

Others again are turning the inside out, or letting the front and the back of the paper meet – dealing with impossibility, illusions, and reflections.’
Peter, from Copenhagen, Denmark, likes to use A4 paper in his work because people use it widely in the home and office and can easily relate to it.

He said: ‘I find the A4 sheet of paper interesting to work with because it is probably the most common media for carrying information today.

See also:
Peter Callesen
paper art by peter callesen
PETER CALLESEN
A Single Sheet of Paper
Focus on art: Peter Callesen

/no [expletive deleted] way!

Christmas In Bethlehem

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal carries the statuette of baby Jesus during Midnight Mass ceremony which marks the beginning of Christmas Day at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Dec 24, 2009.

/AP

Pilgrims crowd Bethlehem on warm Christmas eve

Thousands of pilgrims and dignitaries crowded into Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity for a Christmas Mass, where Latin Patriarch Fuad al-Tuwal urged visitors to return home bearing a message of peace for the Holy Land.

Entertaining crowds outside, bagpipers played carols and whirling dervishes danced, unfurling giant white skirts embroidered with the word peace in various languages.

Some 15,000 visitors packed into the stone flagged square opposite the small Door of Humility where pilgrims stoop to enter the multi-denominational church, built above the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born.

While much of North America and Europe were gripped in winter’s icy embrace, visitors to Bethlehem were buying chilled fruit juice in Manger Square and stripping off sweaters in the mild weather.

“It’s about 20 degrees (68 Fahrenheit) and it’s a little hard to get that Christmas feeling I’m used to having,” said Phillip Well, 22, from Germany.

Some tourists were bemused by the scene.

“I’m not used to seeing marching bands and scout troops do the Christmas festivities, but it’s entertaining,” said 40-year-old Vijey Raghavan, of San Francisco, California.

Inside the church at midnight mass, monks kept the celebrations traditional with Christmas hymns and al-Tuwal delivered a special Christmas message in six different languages, including Arabic.

Likening modern-day pilgrims to the shepherds who harkened the angel’s message of Jesus’ birth, al-Tuwal extended blessings of reconciliation and hope to families worldwide.

“You can take back with you the desire for peace and work for peace — peace in the Holy Land where the prince of peace was born. And peace to all the world for men and women of goodwill,” he said.

Tourism in Bethlehem has picked up in the past few years, after collapsing during the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which erupted in 2000. Hotels expect a 60 to 70 percent rise in business this year.

See also:
Worshippers gather to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem
Thousands of Pilgrims Celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem
World pray for peace on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem
Hundreds mark Bethlehem Christmas
Hundreds celebrate Christmas Mass in Bethlehem
Bethlehem celebrates Christmas
Christmas at Bethlehem
Bethlehem Christmas isn’t all merry as celebrants protest Israeli presence
I vowed not to write another Bethlehem Christmas story

/Merry Christmas to all!

65 Years Ago Today

/US Army Signal Corps

CHAPTER 20 CHRISTMAS EVE

CHRISTMAS EVE WAS QUIET. The commanders and staffs took official notice of the occasion. To all of the command posts within Bastogne went a G-2 reminder from the 101st’s chief joker, Colonel Danahy. It was a sitrep overlay in red, white and green, the red outlining the enemy positions completely encircling the town and the green showing only in the words “Merry Christmas” across the position held by the defenders.1 (Map 18, page 156.)

General McAuliffe also rose to the occasion with an inspired communiqué in which he told his men about the German demand for surrender and his answer to them. The rest of his Christmas message read as follows:

What’s merry about all this, you ask? We’re fighting, it’s cold, we aren’t home. All true, but what has the proud Eagle Division accomplished with its worthy comrades of the 10th Armored Division, the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion and all the rest? Just this: We have stopped cold everything that has been thrown at us from the north, east, south and west. We have identifications from four German panzer divisions, two German infantry divisions and one German parachute division. These units, spearheading the last desperate German lunge, were heading straight west for key points when the Eagle Division was hurriedly ordered to stem the advance. How effectively this was done will be written in history; not alone in our Division’s glorious history but in world history. The Germans actually did surround us, their radios blared our doom. Allied troops are counterattacking in force. We continue to hold Bastogne. By holding Bastogne we assure the success of the Allied armies. We know that our Division commander, General Taylor, will say: “Well done!” We are giving our country and our loved ones at home a worthy Christmas present and being privileged to take part in this gallant feat of arms are truly making for ourselves a merry Christmas.2

Privately, on the phone that night to General Middleton, McAuliffe expressed his true feeling about Christmas in these words:

Map 18
“The finest Christmas present the 101st could get would be a relief tomorrow.”

But General McAuliffe’s greeting to his troops proved to be in every part a prophetic utterance though the quiet of Christmas Eve did not last for long.

That night the town was bombed twice. During the first raid, in the late evening, a bomb landed on the hospital of the 20th Armored Infantry Battalion near the intersection of the main roads from Arlon and Neufchâteau. It caved in the roof, burying 20 patients and killing a Belgian woman who was serving as a nurse. Another bomb landed on the headquarters of Combat Command B, doing heavy damage and knocking down the Christmas tree in the message center. The men set up the tree again, and in an elaborate ceremony, one of the sergeants pinned the Purple Heart on a mangled doll.2A

Except for those bombings Christmas Eve passed without unusual pressure from the enemy. (Plate 35 A and B.) The journal entries of the different regiments all use the word “quiet” in describing the period. But that is a word that simply does not record the tumult in the thoughts and emotions of the men of Bastogne. Such was their reaction to the Christmas and to the memories surrounding it, that for the first time all around the perimeter men felt fearful. It seemed to them that the end was at hand. That night many of them shook hands with their comrades. They said to one another that it would probably be their last night together. Many of the commanders saw this happening, though they knew it had little relation to the still strong tactical situation.2B (Map 19, page 158, shows the situation.)

In the 502d Parachute Infantry the officers heard Christmas Eve Mass in the tenth-century chapel of the beautiful Rolle Château (plate 34) which they were using for a command post.” It was a happy occasion, well attended by the neighboring Belgians who had rounded out the regimental messes with contributions of flour and sides of beef from their own stores.4

. . .

See also:
Bastogne: The Story Of The First Eight Days In Which The 101st Airborne Division Was Closed Within The Ring Of German Forces
Bastogne: The Story Of The First Eight Days In Which The 101st Airborne Division Was Closed Within The Ring Of German Forces (Hardcover)
Bastogne – Dec. 1944, a journal
Siege of Bastogne

And you think you have problems?

/take a few moments today to give prayers and thanks for those troops, away from home on Christmas Eve, past, present, and future, who have sacrificed and will sacrifice to defend and protect your uniquely American way of life, freedom isn’t free

Intifada At Isfahan

Iran protests intensify, prompting state of emergency in Isfahan

Iran security forces and opposition protesters stepped up clashes on Wednesday in the city of Isfahan, the birthplace of Iran’s top dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Montazeri’s death this past weekend, and the rituals marking his passing, coincide with a new push by regime opponents during a 10-day religious commemoration.

The government has responded by harassing two reformist clerics who could replace Montazeri, as well as stripping the opposition’s top political figure – Mir Hossein Mousavi – of his sole official post.

In Isfahan, pro-regime basiji militiamen used batons, chains, and stones to beat mourners who gathered at the city’s main mosque to remember Montazeri, the spiritual mentor of the Iranian opposition, whose websites reported the clashes.

“While people were reciting the Quran [in the mosque], plainclothed forces attacked them and threw tear gas into the mosque yard and sprayed those inside with pepper spray after they closed the doors,” reported the reformist Parlemannews. “They severely beat the people inside,” then doused the clerical speaker with pepper spray and arrested him.

“Tens of thousands gathered outside for the memorial but were savagely attacked by security forces and the basijis,” witness Farid Salavati told the Associated Press. He said that dozens were injured as riot police and vigilantes clubbed and kicked men and women alike – some in the face – and arrested 50 people who had gathered to mourn the grand ayatollah.

Montazeri – the chosen successor of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, until a falling out in 1989 – had been unrelenting in his criticism of the officially declared reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June, as well as of Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is invalid,” protesters shouted on Wednesday, referring to violence since June, in which severe force has been used against Iranians who marched to reverse the official result. They wanted to see the “Green Movement” presidential candidate, Mr. Mousavi, elected. Scores died in June and thousands were arrested; protests have flared repeatedly around the nation since then.

In Isfahan, the clashes on Wednesday portend more violence, as protesters and pro-government forces alike prepare for the religious peak of the Shiite calendar, Ashura, which falls on Sunday. By the end of the day on Wednesday, it was reported that the governor had announced a state of emergency and reportedly called in the military for help.

“The regime has no alternative but to try to block the commemorations of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, because it has been state policy to demote him,” says Mehrdad Khonsari of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London. “But given the events of the last six months, this only aggravates the situation [and] becomes a catalyst for more protests and is counter-productive.

“Every demonstration is a dress rehearsal for the next demonstration. Once Ashura is over next week, there will be more demonstrations,” says Mr. Khonsari. “The fact is there is no likelihood that these protests are going to come to an end anytime soon.”

See also:
Police, protesters clash in southern Iran
Iran forces clash with cleric’s mourners: websites
Iran: unrest reported in Isfahan
Iran warns that it will deal ‘fiercely’ with protesters
Iran security forces clash with protesters in Isfahan
Iranian security forces suppress new wave of opposition protests in Isfahan
Isfahan beset by violence
Iran behaves increasingly like a ‘police state’: US
Iran Beats Mourners, Signaling Harder Line
Esfahan / Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center N32°40′ E51°40′
Esfahan (Isfahan) Nuclear Technology Center
Could This Be A Tipping Point?

It looks like this coming weekend might be shaping up as the largest nationwide Iranian opposition protest yet and, judging by recent events, it could also be the bloodiest. I can only hope, especially after reading this, that all the Green Movement pain won’t be in vain and these protests eventually reach the point of no return, critical mass, the overthow of the Iranian mullahs, regime change.

/Go Green!

A Smart Rat Jumps The Sinking Ship

With Obama’s approval rating at a new low, well under 50%, Congressional job approval under 30%, the generic Congressional ballot favoring Republians, and most Americans against the Democrat Obamacare plan for socialized medicine, Parker Griffith has seen the light, smelled the coffee, and jumped from the sinking Democrat ship. Smart move.

Democratic congressman defects to the GOP

Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican on Tuesday, a startling defection from the majority party in the House that underscores the difficulties facing Democrats in midterm elections next year.

Mr. Griffith, a 67-year-old radiation oncologist, blasted the Democratic leaderships’ health care overhaul, saying the bill is bad for doctors and patients.

“I believe our nation is at a crossroads and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy and drives us further and further into debt,” said the freshman lawmaker form a conservative-leaning district in northern Alabama that includes his hometown of Huntsville.

Mr. Griffith often sided with Republicans on major votes, and his switch does little to deflate House Democrats’ overwhelming majority. But his unusual decision to join the minority party sent a strong message to Democratic leaders.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said Mr. Griffith had betrayed his Democratic colleagues and demanded that Mr. Griffith return campaign funds.

“Mr. Griffith, failing to honor our commitment to him, has a duty and responsibility to return to Democratic members and the DCCC the financial resources that were invested in him,” Mr. Van Hollen said. “His constituents will hold him accountable for failing to keep his commitments.”

Mr. Griffith’s party switch follows retirement announcement from several moderate House Democrats, fueling expectations that Republicans will pick up a significant number of seats in the midterm elections. Democrats maintain a 79-seat majority, 257 to 178. But several polls show a strong majority of Americans disapprove of the Democratic-led Congress’ performance. A Gallup Poll released last week found that 69 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress’ performance.

Republicans welcomed Mr. Griffith, who was considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, and said his conversion reflected a disconnect between Democrats and most Americans.

“From the massive stimulus bill that wasted billions of dollars and failed to create jobs, to a job-killing cap-and-trade energy tax, to a government takeover of health care – the Democrat majority has pursued an agenda far outside the mainstream,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

“Democrats are beginning to realize what most Americans did months ago,” he said, “that their priorities are not in line with what Americans want right now, which is job growth, economic security, a safe and secure nation and a fiscally sane Congress that doesn’t spend money that it doesn’t have.”

Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said Mr. Griffith’s decision should send a “deafening message” to President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, that their “agenda of borrowing, spending, bailouts and takeovers is being rejected by the American people.”

See also:
House Democrat announces switch to GOP
Rep. Griffith of Alabama leaves Democrats for Republicans
Ala. Dem defects to GOP over health care, policy
Parker Griffith’s departure forewarns Dems
Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith becomes a Republican — and a straw in the wind?
Democratic Representative Griffith to Switch Parties
Parker Griffith, Democratic Representative, Switches Parties to GOP
Griffith Switches Party
A Democrat Defects
Voters speak out on Griffith’s decision to switch political parties
Congressman Parker Griffith : Home
Parker Griffith

It’s extremely rare and takes guts for a politician to switch from the majority to the minority party, it almost exclusively happens the other way around in the form of cynical political opportunism. As a physician, Griffith isn’t stupid, he can see the writing on the wall and the damage Obama and the Democrats are doing to this country, which is making the American public increasingly angry and frustrated.

/the 2010 elections won’t be kind to Democrats, especially since they seem to be hell bent on galloping down the massive deficit spending, expanding socialist government path

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