Great News! Mosab Yousef Was Granted Asylum
To everyone who joined in the effort to save Yousef from certain death, thank you. Mosab Yousef was granted asylum at his deportation hearing this morning.
The son of a Hamas founder who became a Christian and an Israeli spy will be granted U.S. asylum after he passes a routine background check, an immigration judge ruled Wednesday.
Mosab Hassan Yousef got the news during a 15-minute deportation hearing after a U.S. Department of Homeland Security attorney said the government was dropping its objections.
The agency denied Yousef’s asylum request in February 2009, arguing that he had been involved in terrorism and was a threat to the United States.
Attorney Kerri Calcador gave no explanation for the government’s change of heart.
The immigration judge, Rico Bartolomei, ruled that Yousef will be allowed to remain in the United States after he is fingerprinted and passes a routine background check.
Finally some sanity in this new Bizarro World we find ourselves in.
This surely is great news.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Although the proceedings in such cases are not disclosed, speculation was that the immigration court may have granted her Asylum petition on medical and unspecified fears of politically motivated retribution in some future Kenyan election cycle.
If Zeituni even just barely cleared the political asylum hurdle (which is typically set quite high) then Mosab Hassan Yousef certainly sails over that barrier with several feet to spare. Yet, Department of Homeland Security has already denied Mosab Yousef asylum on the grounds that he provided material support to a Terrorist Organization (Hamas) even though DHS knows that (a) Yousef was an Israeli penetration agent within the organization and (b) Yousef is subject to a death sentence in Gaza as a traitor and apostate Muslim. We all now know too well just how grizzly Islamist beheading executions are.
Ran at SiVisPacem, Bob Belvedere at The Camp of the Saints, Maggie Thornton at Maggie's Notebook, and James at Reaganite Republican are all discussing this compelling story in greater depth at their blogs. Save Mosab Yousef has great detail and history links to follow.
Mosab Yousef's Extradition Hearing is tomorrow, June 30 in San Diego. I'm hoping that those of you who live within reasonable driving distance can make it there to show Yousef that you support his courage.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
H/T Becky Chandler
Police State Spying Powers Increase under Obama, Napolitano
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 20:43
By Elliot Cohen
According to a June 18 AP article, Obama’s Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano has defended monitoring Internet communications as a "civil liberties trade-off the US must make to beef up national security." In addition, she said "it is wrong to believe that if security is embraced, liberty is sacrificed." Unfortunately, it is incomprehensible how "beefing up" national security can be both a civil liberties trade-off and not a sacrifice of liberty.
This contradiction betrays the sad reality that the Obama administration has followed the lead of the Bush administration in escalating the abridgment of civil liberties in the US to protect "national security."
According to Napolitano, there have been an increasing number of homegrown terrorists who have used the Internet to "reached out" to Islamic extremists for training and inspiration; and the AP article points to the recent Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and accused Fort Hood Texas shooter Major Nadal Hasan as possible examples.
It is not clear, however, how a relatively few instances of homegrown terrorists who may have been influenced by their online activities to become radicalized can warrant government abridgment of the privacy of millions of Americans. However, it is not hard to see how easily such a principle could be expanded to include any private activities that may possibly be linked to radicalization. Thus, the communications that may occur inside a mosque may be deemed grist for the mill of government monitoring. And the same logic could well be applied to private communications in the homes of Americans because there may possibly be plans afoot by a few homegrown, would-be terrorists.
It should be emphasized that the Internet monitoring that Napolitano is defending is mass warrantless surveillance of millions of Americans. This is significantly different from the FBI's obtaining a warrant to spy on the conversations of specific individuals where probable cause exists to suggest that they are planning a terrorist attack.
During the Bush administration, the justification for such mass warrantless surveillance had been to gather foreign intelligence. This meant that the government would not intentionally attempt to spy on American citizens. In fact, so-called minimization standards of the FISA Act, including the amendments to it passed in 2008 require the government to make all reasonable accommodations so as not to target American citizens.
What Napolitano is saying is therefore illegal because it directly advocates mass surveillance sweeps for the specific purpose of targeting American citizens who may be involved or contemplating involvement in terrorist activities.
This is a chilling expansion of the Bush warrantless surveillance program that was exposed in 2005. It suggests that the Obama administration, far from being more interested than the Bush administration in preserving the civil liberties of Americans, is actually more vigilant in undermining these rights.
Napolitano has now boldly announced that the Obama administration will be engaging in mass warrantless spying targeting Americans, not just Al Qaeda or other organized groups of terrorists. Will it also soon announce that Americans may be labeled "unlawful enemy combatants" (the Obama administration now uses the label "unprivileged enemy belligerents")? Will such individuals be whisked off to an undisclosed location and be denied their constitutional rights to a fair trial?
The Obama administration has lost the faith of many of its liberals, democratic constituents and according to the AP article, Napolitano's comments were intended to reach out to this group to try to assuage their fears that the administration's concern for stopping terrorist attacks would erode civil liberties. Her remarks however should only increase these concerns. In fact, they should underscore the grave danger the Obama administration poses to the survival of Americans' civil liberties.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Click the linked text below to go to Peter's contribution page. I've contributed before, and I'll be doing it again as often and as much as I can.
From Peter Schiff's Campaign:
Let the smackdown begin.
Help us raise $500,000
by June 30th.
Let the smackdown begin.
Linda McMahon thought securing the nomination would be a cakewalk. But the more Connecticut voters learn about her, the further her favorable rating plummets. You and I both know that allowing McMahon to buy the Republican nomination ultimately means handing the open Senate seat to Dick Blumenthal.
And we cannot allow that to happen.
That's why my team worked so hard to make sure voters have a choice on August 10th. Wrestling promoter or businessman and economist? The answer may be clear to you and me, but we need to convince every registered Republican in Connecticut that I'm the right choice to face off with Blumenthal in November.
Can I count on you to help?
Our campaign must raise $500,000 before our final end of quarter reporting deadline next Wednesday and another $2 million over the next month to make sure we have the resources to flood the airwaves with my message. Follow this link right away to make a contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250 or whatever you can afford to my campaign today. Then make sure to forward this message on to everyone you know. America needs every one of us to step up and chip in.
If Connecticut voters send Linda McMahon or Dick Blumenthal to Washington, every American will suffer. Blumenthal has spent his entire life in politics and is the epitome of a career politician; McMahon is the darling of the Republican establishment and will undoubtedly be their puppet.
I'm the best candidate in this race for three reasons:
I'm running because I have the skill set necessary to restore freedom and help save our economy, not because I have spent my entire life dreaming of becoming a Senator;
I'm a successful businessman and economist who understands how the economy really works and how misguided government policy actually undermines it.
I have no ties to the political establishment or special interest. I will be accountable only to the voters and the American public I serve.
So I'll ask you again -- who do you want to be the next U.S. Senator from Connecticut? A wrestling promoter or me.
Do your part to help save America and make a contribution to my campaign without delay. And don't forget to forward this message to everyone you know. Together we can raise $2.5 million in the next 5 weeks and make sure every voter in Connecticut knows who I am.
America is counting on you and so am I.
Republican U.S. Senate Candidate
P.S. The end of quarter deadline is quickly approaching. We have just 7 days to raise $500,000 before midnight on June 30th. Follow this link right away to make the most generous contribution you can and then forward this message to all of your friends.
Schiff for Senate
P.O. Box 3647
Milford, CT 06460
Take note: "Clint" makes no claim to a party affiliation whatsoever, which further brings to mind Rory Reid's campaign strategy for the governorship of Nevada. He's tossed papa Harry unda de Bus by dropping any reference to the name Reid in his campaign ads. Visit Sister Toldjah for more on this story.
Politicians; shameless critters all.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The Commerce Department says new home sales fell in May from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 300,000. That was the slowest sales pace on records dating back to 1963.
It indicates that buyers left the market as federal tax credits of up to $8,000 expired at the end of April.
Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a May sales pace of 410,000. April’s sales pace was revised downward to 446,000.
[Chris' thoughts on this: ]
These are experts? No, buyers didn’t “leave the market” when tax credits expired – it’s a simple matter of front-loading. You offer an incentive and the people who were intending to buy bought, and grabbed $8,000 of our money. But having captured future sales with this gimmick, where’s the surprise that there are fewer sales now? I’m no genius, so if I could see this coming, what’s wrong with the experts?
Monday, June 21, 2010
UPDATE II June 22, 10:40 PM Pitbull Patriots has a great post up on Peter here. (H/T LeftCoastRebel)
Mon, Jun 21, 2010
Best-selling Author Lauds Volunteers for Successful Statewide Efforts
MILFORD, CT - U.S. Senate candidate and economy expert Peter Schiff today announced he earned a spot on the August 10th Republican primary ballot. Schiff exceeded the 8,268 signatures required by state law and received confirmation from Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.
"We are thrilled to hear the news that our efforts have proved successful," said Peter Schiff. "Connecticut Republicans now have a alternative: a wrestling promoter or a businessman and economist. Given the state of our economy, I think the choice is clear."
"I look forward to waging a competitive campaign and defeating Linda McMahon August 10th," Schiff added. "I am confident as voters learn more about me, they will like what they see and hear. From fighting to remove the government roadblocks preventing employers from creating jobs to keeping taxes low, I am the only one in the race with the skill-set necessary to help get our economy back on track."
A staunch believer that America can no longer borrow to live beyond its means, Schiff pledges to use expertise garnered from building a successful investment company to stop growing the government and start growing our economy.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
BARACK'S SOROS PAYBACK ? ? ? ? Did Barack Obama Shut Down Gulf Drilling as a Payoff to George Soros?
This is interesting ... especially in light of the BP oil spill.
You read that headline correctly. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is financing oil exploration off Brazil.
The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a "preliminary commitment" letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas.
But look on the bright side. If President Obama has embraced offshore drilling in Brazil, why not in the old U.S.A.?
That was from August 2009. Here's more coverage from then.
Team Obama Funds Oil Drilling Project in Brazil… Nixes Offshore Drilling In US …Update: Soros Invested Heavily in Petrobras
Team Obama approved a nuclear energy program for the UAE in May.
But, Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Democrats will not allow nuclear energy expansion in the United States.
Already this year democrats banned offshore drilling, scrapped oil and gas leases in Utah and opened the 111th Congress by introducing a bill to permanently prohibit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
But, Team Obama is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil to finance exploration of its huge offshore oil field discovery.
Over the past 30 years:
Democrats have blocked the development of new sources of petroleum.
Democrats have blocked drilling in ANWR.
Democrats have blocked drilling off the coast of Florida.
Democrats have blocked drilling off of the east coast.
Democrats have blocked drilling off of the west coast.
Democrats have blocked drilling off the Alaskan coast.
Democrats have blocked building oil refineries.
Democrats have blocked clean nuclear energy production.
Democrats have blocked clean coal production.
But, they’re funding projects in Brazil.
The loan is equal in value to a similar credit line agreed to with the China Development Bank, also for exploiting Brazils pre-salt area, so-named because the estimated 80 billion barrels of high-quality crude in that new oil frontier lie far beneath the ocean floor under layers of rock and an unstable salt formation.
Under the agreement with the Chinese state bank, finalized during Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvas visit to Beijing in May, Brazil can repay the loan facility with oil as opposed to cash.
Petrobras plans to invest close to $29 billion through 2013 to develop the pre-salt deposits in which the company already holds concession rights.
Petrobras is projecting that some 1.3 million barrels per day can be extracted by 2013 from the pre-salt fields and 1.8 million bpd by 2020.
But Brazil has been forced to seek external financing because the fields pose an enormous technical and financial challenge due to the depth and thickness of the salt and the drastic changes in temperature as the oil is brought to the surface.
The government has absolutely no conception of risk. But here's the crazy part. I mean, there's no way George Soros is involved with this. Right?
As reported at Bloomberg.com, George Soros purchased an $811 million stake in Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), (better known as Petrobras) in Q2. The Brazilian oil company is now the largest holding in his fund, amounting to 22 percent of the total $3.68 billion of stocks and American depositary receipts held by Soros Fund Management LLC.
Oops. Soros did it again.
Barack Obama has chipped in $2 billion in loans to exploit offshore oil resources in hopes of extracting a major new source of petroleum…in South America.
Corporatism. It's a scam.
Friday, June 18, 2010
From ABCNews.com (via Drudge)
Tim at Left Coast Rebel has much more discussion on this story here
59 Days Into Oil Crisis, Gulf Coast Governors Say Feds Are Failing Them
By DAVID MUIR and BRADLEY BLACKBURN
June 17, 2010—
Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state's oil-soaked waters. Today, against the governor's wishes, those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.
"It's the most frustrating thing," the Republican governor said today in Buras, La. "Literally, yesterday morning we found out that they were halting all of these barges."
Watch "World News" for David Muir's report from Louisiana tonight.
Sixteen barges sat stationary today, although they were sucking up thousands of gallons of BP's oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.
"These barges work. You've seen them work. You've seen them suck oil out of the water," said Jindal.
Coast Guard Orders Barges to Stop
So why stop now?
"The Coast Guard came and shut them down," Jindal said. "You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, 'Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil.'"
A Coast Guard representative told ABC News today that it shares the same goal as the governor.
"We are all in this together. The enemy is the oil," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dan Lauer.
But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.
Louisiana Governor Couldn't Overrule Coast Guard
The governor said he didn't have the authority to overrule the Coast Guard's decision, though he said he tried to reach the White House to raise his concerns.
"They promised us they were going to get it done as quickly as possible," he said. But "every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer."
After Jindal strenuously made his case, the barges finally got the go-ahead today to return to the Gulf and get back to work, after more than 24 hours of sitting idle.
Along Gulf Coast, Governors Ask, 'Who's In Charge?'
Fifty-nine days into the crisis, it still can be tough to figure out who is in charge in Louisiana, and the problem appears to be the same in other Gulf Coast states.
In Alabama today, Gov. Bob Riley said that he's had problems with the Coast Guard, too.
Riley, R-Ala., asked the Coast Guard to find ocean boom tall enough to handle strong waves and protect his shoreline.
The Coast Guard went all the way to Bahrain to find it, but when it came time to deploy it?
"It was picked up and moved to Louisiana," Riley said today.
The governor said the problem is there's still no single person giving a "yes" or "no." While the Gulf Coast governors have developed plans with the Coast Guard's command center in the Gulf, things begin to shift when other agencies start weighing in, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"It's like this huge committee down there," Riley said, "and every decision that we try to implement, any one person on that committee has absolute veto power."
What is perhaps more instructive of the public mood is that Obama has just hit a new overall deficit of general approval of his on the job performance.
Overall, 41% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. That’s the lowest level of approval yet recorded for this president. Fifty-eight percent (58%) now disapprove. [That's a -17% overall approval rating]
Seventy-six percent (76%) of Democrats approve of the president’s performance. Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans disapprove along with 72% of unaffiliated voters.
I remain somewhat baffled (though I really shouldn't be) that so many artists who imagine themselves as thoughtful, critical, daring and in the Avant-Garde are in fact little more than deeply insecure people who so crave the approval of their cliques, that they are completely averse to express any opinion outside the approved theme of the moment.
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - A concert by Elton John has given Israelis a boost after a string of cancellations by other world-famous artists.
The British rocker performed late Thursday in front of a screaming crowd of nearly 50,000 fans at a Tel Aviv stadium.
John, who wore blue-tinted sunglasses, told the audience those cancellations "ain't gonna stop me from playing here, baby."
Recent cancellations by the Pixies and Elvis Costello, who cited Israeli government policies, have added to Israel's growing sense of isolation.
John swiped at those artists, saying, "We do not cherry-pick our consciences," before hitting the opening chords of his 1972 hit "Crocodile Rock."
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I've already posted on Linda McMahon's CT GOP convention nod and expressed my displeasure with the state party's singular stupidity in endorsing McMahon to run against Dick Blumenthal for the seat soon to be vacated by un-indicted Corruptocrat Chris Dodd. My own view is that Linda McMahon is just more of the same 'ole same 'ole as evidenced by her indisputable history of political contributions.
See my post "Is Linda McMahon a Secret Democrat? - I Think So."
Anyway, the Stamford Advocate's story confirms what any thinking and concerned citizen has already internalized. Linda McMahon is anything but a political outsider.
McMahon's wealth turns politics inside out
Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer
Published: 05:51 p.m., Monday, June 14, 2010(Page 2 of 2)
How many political insiders does it take to elect a self-described political outsider like Republican Linda McMahon to the U.S. Senate?
A review by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers of McMahon's campaign finance filings shows the Greenwich businesswoman and millionaire has so far spent about $11 million on accomplished consultants with close ties to national and state Republican politics.
"She can call herself whatever she wants, but clearly, there's a difference between a campaign that is kind of outside the political establishment and one that is using that rhetoric but using the very conventional and mainstream and established political resources," said Howard Reiter, professor emeritus of political science with the University of Connecticut.
When McMahon, whose family owns Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment, won the party's endorsement May 21, her website crowed: "Linda wins! Connecticut Republicans sent a clear and resounding message that they intend to challenge the Washington establishment and its hand-picked candidate with a political outsider."
McMahon defeated former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons for the endorsement and faces Democratic nominee and long-time Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
Topping McMahon's list of establishment talent are Texas-based Scott Howell & Co. and Majority Strategies, of Florida.
Howell has worked under GOP strategist Karl Rove and Lee Atwater, the late adviser to Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The McMahon campaign has so far paid about $6.5 million for Howell's media expertise, ad production and placement.
Majority Strategies, a direct mail firm whose website boasts clients such as the Republican National Committee, Republican State Party Victory Committee, and the national Republican congressional and senatorial committees, has been paid about $3.7 million for design, printing and mailing costs.
"I guess the main idea here is if you're an outsider with money, you can afford to purchase the best political communications team money can buy to tell everyone how you're such an outsider," said Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University.
McMahon spokesman Ed Patru said it is obvious a serious candidate would seek experienced campaign support.
"Linda interviewed many prospective candidates for campaign positions, including a shepherd, several skiing instructors and an astronaut," Patru said. "But in the end, she decided to staff her campaign with people who have campaign experience."
That includes Patru, former deputy communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
McMahon's roster of political talent also includes GOP strategist Mike Slanker's three Nevada-based companies: Autumn Productions, Autumn E-Media and November Inc. Slanker is former political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and his past clients include President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and the Republican Governors Association.
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call has called Slanker "clearly the most feared consultant on the Republican side."
Bob Moore runs Moore Information, an opinions research and strategic analysis firm in Oregon hired by McMahon. As executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 1977 to 1980, Moore helped the GOP capture control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in nearly three decades.
Strategic Direction, a Florida-based telemarketing firm used by McMahon, was co-founded by former Florida GOP head Randy Enwright, national political director for Republican Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential bid.
McMahon's campaign has also worked with 2nd Six, a California-based grass-roots marketing company, and TargetPoint consulting in Virginia.
The 2nd Six firm was founded by Mark Ross, former GOP political director for Orange County whose resume boasts he managed a 20,000-person campaign rally for Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2008.
TargetPoint founder Alexander Gage's bio states that since 1976, he has worked on almost every Republican presidential campaign, beginning with Gerald Ford's up through his role as senior strategist for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid.
In Connecticut, the McMahon camp has spent more than $374,000 for the services of Sullivan and LeShane, a renowned lobbying and governmental relations firm that already had WWE as a client.
Her filings show that McMahon also paid $8,000 for the services of the Prince Group, of Danbury, founded by former Connecticut Republican Chairman and state Rep. Richard Foley.
And her well-compensated campaign manager is David Cappiello, a former Connecticut Republican state senator who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008.
Even some of McMahon's campaign materials, such as bumper stickers, have been produced by a company that is as insider as one can get. The Spalding Group, out of Kentucky, boasts that it has been "the principal supplier to the last six Republican presidential campaigns" and also founded georgewbushstore.com.
"She's an outsider only to the extent of her lack of knowledge of how government works. She is not an outsider when it comes to who is running her campaign," said Ben Davol, a contributing columnist to The Day of New London who has worked for numerous Republican campaigns, including Simmons' 2000 race.
Now an independent, Davol said the one thing he likes about McMahon is her economic plan. But even that proposal has establishment ties. The McMahon campaign spent $20,000 seeking economic policy advice from John Rutledge, of Nevada, who advertises himself as "one of the principal architects" of President Ronald Reagan's economic plan and an adviser to the Bush White House on tax policy.
"The idea of `Ms. Outsider' using an economic plan put forth by a two-term president? That's not outsider," Davol said.
"Linda is a political outsider, and she will never be a political insider because she spent her entire life in the real world where she emerged from bankruptcy to build a global publicly traded Connecticut company that today employs nearly 600 people," Patru said. "The real-life perspective she brings to this race is refreshing, and it is in clear contrast to Richard Blumenthal's 26-year record as an entrenched career politician."
Patru added that her decision to turn down special interest money "that typically turns people into insiders" will keep McMahon better connected to constituents.
Reiter acknowledged it would be difficult for any candidate to run for U.S. Senate without an experienced team.
"We've seen plenty of candidates like her crash and burn because they didn't get good advice about how to position themselves and appeal to voters," he said.
But, Davol argued, then you are no longer an outsider.
"If she really cared about shaking up the system ... she would run as an independent. She would have gotten consultants (who are) independent, Democratic and Republican," he said. "But she needed the system and the people who set the system up to get where she wants to go."
Davol said the true outsider in the race is economist Peter Schiff, who is hoping to mount a primary against McMahon.
McLean said, "I really think this whole idea of being an outsider is kind of silly" because it can be twisted to fit any candidate. He argued that Blumenthal could just as easily claim that while he is a fixture of public life in Connecticut, he is a Washington outsider.
"Face it. Linda McMahon's wealth has made her a lot of insider friends. ... If she's not an insider, she's been knocking on the door for 20 years," McClean said. "I don't like the insider-outsider idea. The campaigns like it because they think it somehow resonates with voters. ... I think it really is becoming stale. Everyone wants to be it."
From the National Law Journal:
June 14, 2010LOS ANGELES — A federal appeals court has reinstated criminal charges against plaintiffs' attorney Pierce O'Donnell after concluding that the section of the Federal Election Campaign Act on which he was charged applied to conduit, or indirect, campaign contributions, not just to contributions made under false names.
O'Donnell of O'Donnell & Associates in Los Angeles was indicted on charges that he reimbursed 13 employees of his law firm and others who had contributed $26,000 in 2003 to the presidential campaign of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. See The American Lawyer's article, "The Trials of Pierce O'Donnell."
Last year, a federal judge dismissed two of the three counts against him, prompting the federal government to petition the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) and several good-government groups filed amicus briefs blasting the lower court's decision as "novel" and "unprecedented."
On June 14, the 9th Circuit reversed that decision.
"We hold that this law prohibits a person from providing money to others to donate to a candidate for federal office in their own names, when in reality they are merely 'straw donors,' " wrote 9th Circuit Judge Raymond C. Fisher, for the three-judge panel.
Amicus groups in the case praised the ruling.
"Today the 9th Circuit corrected one of the most incomprehensible district court decisions in recent memory," said Paul S. Ryan, associate legal counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization in Washington that focuses on campaign finance issues, in a prepared statement. The Campaign Legal Center filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. government along with another Washington organization, Democracy 21, which focuses on election issues. "The district court decision overturned today was at odds with decades of settled law and made a mockery of campaign contribution limits," Ryan said.
Also filing briefs in the case supporting the U.S. government were the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram declined to comment. CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan, issued a statement: "By reversing the lower court's decision, the 9th Circuit has helped ensure that our elections are not bought and sold by the wealthy. Mr. O'Donnell's scheme was a brazen violation of election law — and CREW praises the 9th Circuit for recognizing this fact."
"We're very pleased that the circuit has reinstated the illegal campaign finance charges," said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. "Once this matter returns to the trial court, we look forward to continuing with the prosecution."
O'Donnell's attorney, George J. Terwilliger III, a partner at White & Case in Washington, issued a statement: "We are reviewing today's decision and considering our next steps. One option is to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 9th Circuit. We will be looking at that possibility."
O'Donnell had been supported by the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) in Alexandria, Va., which filed an amicus brief in the case. A call to Peter Ferrara, general counsel of ACRU, which is a conservative legal group, was not returned.
In the case, federal prosecutors had argued that O'Donnell had violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) even though the section under which he was charged does not specifically address "conduit" or "indirect" contributions. Section 441f of the FECA states: "No person shall make a contribution in the name of another person or knowingly permit his name to be used to effect such a contribution, and no person shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person." O'Donnell had argued that Section 441f applied to cases in which a donor used a false name to make a contribution.
In last year's decision, U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero agreed that Section 441f applied only to contributions made under false names, in part relying on the fact that the language of that section did not include the words "conduit" or "indirect."
But the 9th Circuit said that interpretation wasn't based on common sense.
"In ordinary usage, when Friend B delivers a gift that was provided by Friend A, we say that it was Friend A who gave that gift. In the context of gifts, the word 'giving' connotes the idea of providing from one's own resources rather than simply conveying, and thus we refer to the original source rather than the intermediary as the one who gave," the panel wrote.
The panel also found that the "text, purpose and structure" of the section indicates it was to be applied to straw donor contributions.
In their case against O'Donnell, prosecutors had brought three counts, alleging conspiracy to contribute in the names of others; contributing more than $10,000 in the names of others; and causing the campaign committee receiving the donations to make false statements to the FEC. The lower court ruling pertained only to the first two counts; federal prosecutors voluntarily dismissed the third count, citing concerns about a potential duplicate trial in the event the 9th Circuit reversed dismissal of the first two counts.
Monday, June 14, 2010
In this undignified hack-authored schlock piece, the Huff Ho suggests in its headline that Rand Paul is not a qualified Ophthamologist simply because he is not "Board Certified" by the American Board of Ophthalmology ("ABO").
Participation in the ABO's re-certification program is entirely voluntary and means nothing more than that the Board considers a particular practitioner meets its professional standards. From the ABO's own website comes its mission statement and disclaimer.
About the ABO
Founded in 1916, the American Board of Ophthalmology is an independent, nonprofit organization responsible for certifying ophthalmologists (eye physicians and surgeons) in the United States. The ABO was the first American Board established to certify medical specialists and is one of 24 specialty Boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association.
The mission of the American Board of Ophthalmology is to serve the public by improving the quality of ophthalmic practice through a certification and maintenance of certification process that fosters excellence and encourages continual learning.
Board certification intends to provide assurance to the public and the medical profession that a physician has successfully completed an evaluation designed to assess the knowledge, experience and skills requisite to the delivery of high standards of patient care in ophthalmology.
Continued maintenance of Board certification is meant to assure that members of the profession continue their education, keep current in information and skills, and practice in a contemporary manner.
It is not the purpose of the Board to define the requirements for membership to hospital staffs or to gain special recognition or privileges for its diplomates in the practice of ophthalmology. Neither is its purpose to state who may or may not practice ophthalmology, nor to define the scope of ophthalmic practice. The Board does not seek to obtain special privileges for its diplomates over other qualified physicians. The certificate of the Board does not confer any academic degree, legal qualifications, privilege, or license to practice ophthalmology.
The libertarian-leaning Republican helped create a rival certification group more than a decade ago. He said the group has since recertified (sic) several hundred ophthalmologists, despite not being recognized the American Board of Medical Specialties – the governing group for two dozen medical specialty boards.
In the late 1990s, Paul was a driving force behind forming the National Board of Ophthalmology to protest the ABO's exemption policy.
"I don't think that some people should recertify and others shouldn't," he said. "And I don't choose to give my money to a private group that discriminates."
Paul has been certified through the National Board of Ophthalmology since 2005. He is listed as the group's president; his wife, Kelley, is listed as vice president; and his father-in-law is listed as secretary. Paul and his relatives receive no salaries from the organization, his campaign said.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Barack: You're just not up to the task. Its time to step aside and let the adults take over.
June 2nd, 2010 Filed Under : Critical Comments
The bloodshed resulting from a clash between Israeli Defense Forces and pro-Palestine activists in international waters is nothing short of a diplomatic miracle for Iran.
The violence, which left at least 9 activists dead, immediately precipitated unprecedented tension between former allies Israel and Turkey, as the majority of activists killed or arrested in the altercation are Turkish citizens. Turkish-Israeli tension is also further straining relationships between the two nations and the United States, which has had numerous diplomatic disagreements with both Turkey and Israel in recent weeks regarding the Peace Process, nuclear proliferation, and Iran.
Iran, the sole beneficiary of the fiasco, has much to gain and little to lose by using the incident as diplomatic leverage for gaining even closer ties to Turkey, allowing to fallout to serve as a delay to forestall U.N. sanctions and discussions of the nuclear program, and propaganda capital to spend on winning hearts and minds in the Middle East and abroad..
The most immediate result of the Gaza blockade fiasco is the ever-widening rift between Turkey and its Western allies, as well as the increasing appeal of reorienting its interest in partners eastward, to Iran and other states nearby. The reaction of the United States to the Israeli raid greatly disappointed Turkey, with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan responding, “Dry statements of condemnation are not enough [...] There should be results.” Erdogan continued in an even stronger vein, saying Israel would not behave so rashly if it didn’t have the protection of a powerful nation–a thinly veiled reference to the United States.
Turkey’s NATO membership also puts the United States in a very difficult position. Paul Wachter of Politics Daily asks, “ Does the United States Have an Obligation to Declare War on Israel?” Under Article V of the NATO charter, any NATO member that is attacked in Europe or North America may call on all other NATO members to declare war on the attacking nation. At present, Wachter points out, Turkey is threatening to provide naval escorts to any ships attempting to break through the Gaza blockade, an act that would likely lead to military confrontation between Turkey and Israel and potentially escalate the crisis into outright war.
This would leave the United States in the unenviable position of either deciding to declare war on its longtime ally Israel, or essentially invalidating the practical purpose of NATO by refusing to heed the call of one of its members. NATO has already issued a statement calling on Israel to release all of the activists, and citing the need for an impartial investigation.
Either option will be a victory for Iran. If the United States tacitly supports Israel by refusing to condemn its actions, Turkey will be alienated and NATO’s reputation will suffer. If the United States, unlikely though it is, were to condemn Israel, the recent tension between Israel and the U.S. would become wider than ever. If Turkey is alienated from its Western allies, Iran will certainly step in to fill the void, as the two nations have already been strengthening relations to levels unprecedented since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.
An Israeli/American fallout would also serve Iran, as it would be an opportunity for Iran to tout its long anti-Israeli stance and actions, as well as providing momentum for greater pressure on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and distracting from Iran’s nuclear program. Pressuring Iran while shoring up the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed state will prove extremely unpopular in the region, as has already been shown by the wrangling over the Brazilian and Turkish-brokered nuclear fuel exchange agreed to by Iran.
Meir Javedanfar , an Iranian-Israeli political analyst, points out that the flotilla incident will likely galvanize greater pressure from Arab states for focusing on Israel’s nuclear weapons rather than singling out Iran. TodaysZaman, a Turkish daily with close ties to the AKP, agrees with this assessment fully: “Obama must make one thing clear: if the US is to confront Iran with sanctions or a military threat, both which will require international cooperation, there must be significant progress, if not a full agreement, on the Arab-Israeli track.”
Iran welcomes the flotilla crisis for another reason: it distracts from the Iranian nuclear issue. As InsideIRAN’s Arash Aramesh points out, a report from the IAEA describing numerous instances of Iranian opacity in expanding nuclear operations slipped under the media radar yesterday amidst the coverage of the ongoing Gaza blockade crisis. Iran featured the IAEA report in only one article in its state-affiliated press services, whereas literally dozens of articles on the Gaza aid flotilla raid were published. The lone article showed little concern with the IAEA report, saying only that it was invalid because it failed to discuss the Tehran Fuel Swap Declaration.
Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post agrees that the crisis will delay any action against Iran’s nuclear program. The Security Council, he points out, will likely be more than busy dealing with the massive diplomatic fallout from the flotilla raid. Iran’s nuclear program, scheduled to have been the primary concern of the Council’s meetings in coming weeks, will take second stage.
Less quantifiable, however, is how Israel’s actions will lead to greater popularity for Iranian leaders in their near-abroad, the Arab world and Turkey. Iran’s anti-Israeli stance, the most unwavering and publicized anti-Israeli government in the Middle East, has won it many supporters in neighboring states with populations angry at their leaders’ perceived complacency in the face of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The latest incident will provide Iran with ample propaganda ammunition to trumpet “Told you so!” at every opportunity. Just two weeks ago, Iran proposed to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a large body of predominantly Islamic nations, an independent body for investigating Israeli war crimes. The OIC has already passed a resolution condemning Israel’s raid on the flotilla–another propaganda victory for Iran amongst Islamic nations.
Iran’s political capital in the region for taking the hardest stance against Israel, and for the longest time, is soaring. And whether the United States reprimands Israel, or ignores Turkey’s rage over the flotilla bloodshed, Iran will be celebrating.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
In the Name of God, The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful....
This traditional flowery language belies an entirely different reality of the faith.
With H/T to InfidelsAreCool comes this bit of news on the "Mercy" prescribed for a Muslim apostate in the Maldive Islands. Merciful indeed...
Maldives: Man Attacked, Threatened with Death, for Freedom of Conscience
In the Muslim-majority nation of Maldives, a man stunned an audience during questions and answers period in a lecture given by an Islamic cleric, by stating that he had chosen freedom of conscience not to follow Islam. The man, Mohamed Nazim, was promptly attacked, taken into custody, and has been threatened with death and beheading, or other punishments for choosing his freedom of conscience. Maldives media are reporting that it is the first time in many hundreds of years that a Maldivian has publicly renounced Islam, since Sultan King Hassan IX converted to Christianity in 1552 and was deposed.
The Maldives constitution mandates that all citizens of Maldives must be Muslims. A December 2009 study showed the Maldives (with a 99 percent literacy rate) to be in the top 5 percent of the worst nations for religious freedom. It is a nation that has been building its criminal law based on Sharia law, and whose Parliament bans non-Islamic houses of worship. There have been repeated reports on Maldives government publicly whipping of women and the Maldives is in the bottom rankings of nations with a global gender gap.
The Maldives is also a nation that, on May 13, 2010, was elected to be part of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).....
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