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!

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