Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: 2010, Barney Fife, Department Of Homeland Security, Health Care, Health Care Reform, Homeland Security, Michael Ramirez, Transportation Security Administration, TSA | Leave a comment »
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.
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!
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: Air Safety, Air Travel, American Federation Of Government Employees, Barack Obama, Collective Bargaining, Department Of Homeland Security, Erroll Southers, Homeland Security, Intelligence Information, Janet Napolitano, Jim DeMint, John Gage, Legislative Hold, Nigerian, Nomination, Public Hearing, Republicans, South Carolina, Terrorism, Transportation Security Administration, TSA, TSA Managers, TSA Screeners, U.S. Senate, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Union Negotiators, Unionization, Unions, White House, Work Rules, Workplace Procedures | Leave a comment »
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: Barack Obama, Department Of Homeland Security, Homeland Security, IBD, Janet Napolitano, Man Caused Disaster, Michael Ramirez, Overseas Contingency Operations, Overseas Contingency Operatior, Terrorism, Transportation Security Administration, TSA, White House | Leave a comment »
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.
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”.
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.
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
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
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: 9/11 Hijackers, Abdulmutallab, Al Qaeda, Anwar Al-Awlaki, Charles Allen, Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, Department Of Homeland Security, Falls Church, Farouk Abdul Mutallab, Fort Hood, Hani Hanjour, Imam, Islam, Muslms, Nawaf Al-Hamzi, Nidal Hasan, Nigeria, Terrorists, Texas, Underwear Bomber, Virginia, Yemen | 4 Comments »
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
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.
/no [expletive deleted] way!
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.
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.
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!
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: Bagpipers, Bethlehem, Blessings, Christmas, Christmas Hymns, Christmas Mass, Church Of The Nativity, Door Of Humility, Europe, Fuad Al-Tuwal, Holy Land, Jesus, Manger Square, Marching Bands, Monks, North America, Palestinian Intifada, Peace, Phillip Well, Pilgrims, Prince Of Peace, Scout Troops, Shepherds, Tourism, Vijey Raghavan, Whirling Dervishes | Leave a comment »
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.”
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.
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: Ali Khamenei, Arrests, Ashura, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Basiji, Batons, Center For Arab And Iranian Studies, Chains, Farid Salavati, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Green Movement, Hossein Mousavi, Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Intifada, Iran, Iranian Opposition, Isfahan, London, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mehrdad Khonsari, Military, Militiamen, Mosque, Opposition Protesters, Pepper Spray, Plainclothed Forces, Protest, Quran, Reformist Clerics, Regime Opponents, Religious Commemoration, Rituals, Security Forces, State Of Emergency, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei | 1 Comment »