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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why I will never vote for Mitt Romney

I've often said if the choice this November is between B Hussein Obama and the kid on the eTrade commercial, I'll send in the kid. He is light years more qualified in terms of economics and budget.

But in all seriousness if the choice is between Santorum or Newt, I will give those men my vote plus money and other support. This election is just too damned serious not to sit out.

Now if the Republican Party nominates the former governor of Massachusetts, I will save some money in the short term He's not getting a donation from me and God knows I won't work a phone bank or anything else. Why you ask? If anything shows why this man belongs in the Democratic Party (alone with his buddy, Jon Huntsman) this is it. From Mother Jones:

First, anyone who praises the efforts of Ted Kennedy in health care is not a conservative or really a Republican. But the article puts it suscinctly:
It's no secret that Mitt Romney has an albatross around his neck: Romneycare, the Massachusetts health care overhaul he enacted while governor of the Bay State. The plan, which included a mandate compelling state residents to obtain health insurance, was a model in part for President Barack Obama's health care reform, which is much-despised by conservatives and Republican voters.

So far, Romney has deftly navigated this potential land mine of a campaign issue. Defending his health care program, he has argued that it was significantly different from Obama's measure—while calling for repeal of the Obama initiative. His foes in the GOP presidential primary have jabbed Romney for imposing a mandate on Massachusetts residents. But none of these blows have floored the candidate. That's partly due to his opponents' ineptitude.

At a September 12 debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry did exclaim that Romneycare is "the model for Obamacare." Yet Romney slyly replied, "I'd be careful about trusting what President Obama says as to what the source was to his plan." Perry's assault fizzled. But according to a story broken on Tuesday by NBC News' Michael Isikoff, White House visitors logs reveal that Romney's health care advisers and experts repeatedly met with senior Obama administration officials in 2009, while Obama's health care plan was being drafted...

Now Mother Jones is not a leftist rag like the NY Times, WP, USA Today, etc. Unlike those waste of paper this magazine is proudly leftist and I can respect that. And unlike those rags who are trying to push the weakest candidate (with the possible exception of Ron Paul) for the Republican nomination, Mother Jones has a good look at what this means.

This Ted Kennedy lovefest footage from the 2006 bill-signing ceremony for the health care law is probably not what Romney wants GOP primary voters to have in mind when they enter a polling place or caucus meeting. When he has discussed his health care law on the presidential campaign trail—in 2007 and this past year—Romney has occasionally noted that it demonstrated his ability to work with the opposition, including the late Sen. Kennedy. But in these settings he doesn't describe Kennedy as his "collaborator" whose work "behind the scenes" was "absolutely essential" for passage of the health care plan. Nor does he call Kennedy, whom Romney praised for winning crucial federal support for the Massachusetts bill, a "parent" of Romneycare.

Yet on the day his health care plan became state law, an excited Romney joyously shared credit with the liberal lion of the US Senate.

As of Tuesday, only 2,016 people have viewed this video, which was posted during Romney's 2007 presidential campaign. It would not be surprising if Romney's opponents in the current campaign find a way to direct a bit more traffic in its direction.

I asks anyone who sees this video to spread it to anyone who is thinking of voting for Romney in the Republican nomination fight. This is what you are supporting and he's not a conservative. I don't argue if Romney is nominated vote for him against Obama. But we have to do better than this. And lets keep this vetting process on till the convention.

And I know Governor Romney's campaign doesn't want this shown so I will do what I can to push it out. Thank you Mother Jones for putting this out and for Mark Levine for linking it up. Hopefully other campaigns are getting ready to show what the most electable candidate really stands for.

Kinda puts it in perspective....

The Conservative Movement, led by the TEA Party in 2010 gave Republicans the House of Representatives, broke the 60 vote majority in the Senate and a clear pattern to the White House in 2012.

Oh well....

Geopolitical Weekly: Germany's Role in Europe and the European Debt Crisis, January 31, 2012

By George Friedman

The German government proposed last week that a European commissioner be appointed to supplant the Greek government. While phrasing the German proposal this way might seem extreme, it is not unreasonable. Under the German proposal, this commissioner would hold power over the Greek national budget and taxation. Since the European Central Bank already controls the Greek currency, the euro, this would effectively transfer control of the Greek government to the European Union, since whoever controls a country's government expenditures, tax rates and monetary policy effectively controls that country. The German proposal therefore would suspend Greek sovereignty and the democratic process as the price of financial aid to Greece.

Though the European Commission rejected the proposal, the concept is far from dead, as it flows directly from the logic of the situation. The Greeks are in the midst of a financial crisis that has made Greece unable to repay money Athens borrowed. Their options are to default on the debt or to negotiate a settlement with their creditors. The International Monetary Fund and European Union are managing these negotiations.

Any settlement will have three parts. The first is an agreement by creditors to forego repayment on part of the debt. The second is financial help from the IMF and the European Union to help pay back the remaining debt. The third is an agreement by the Greek government to curtail government spending and increase taxes so that it can avoid future sovereign debt crises and repay at least part of the debt.

Bankruptcy and the Nation State

The Germans don't trust the Greeks to keep any bargain, which is not unreasonable given that the Greeks haven't been willing to enforce past agreements. Given this lack of trust, Germany proposed suspending Greek sovereignty by transferring it to a European receiver. This would be a fairly normal process if Greece were a corporation or an individual. In such cases, someone is appointed after bankruptcy or debt restructuring to ensure that a corporation or individual will behave prudently in future.

A nation state is different. It rests on two assumptions. The first is that the nation represents a uniquely legitimate community whose members share a range of interests and values. The second is that the state arises in some way from the popular will and that only that popular will has the right to determine the state's actions. There is no question that for Europe, the principle of national self-determination is a fundamental moral value. There is no question that Greece is a nation and that its government, according to this principle, is representative of and responsible to the Greek people.

The Germans thus are proposing that Greece, a sovereign country, transfer its right to national self-determination to an overseer. The Germans argue that given the failure of the Greek state, and by extension the Greek public, creditors have the power and moral right to suspend the principle of national self-determination. Given that this argument is being made in Europe, this is a profoundly radical concept. It is important to understand how we got here.

Germany's Part in the Debt Crisis

There were two causes. The first was that Greek democracy, like many democracies, demands benefits for the people from the state, and politicians wishing to be elected must grant these benefits. There is accordingly an inherent pressure on the system to spend excessively. The second cause relates to Germany's status as the world's second-largest exporter. About 40 percent of German gross domestic product comes from exports, much of them to the European Union. For all their discussion of fiscal prudence and care, the Germans have an interest in facilitating consumption and demand for their exports across Europe. Without these exports, Germany would plunge into depression.

Therefore, the Germans have used the institutions and practices of the European Union to maintain demand for their products. Through the currency union, Germany has enabled other eurozone states to access credit at rates their economies didn't merit in their own right. In this sense, Germany encouraged demand for its exports by facilitating irresponsible lending practices across Europe. The degree to which German actions encouraged such imprudent practices -- since German industrial production vastly outstrips its domestic market, making sustained consumption in markets outside Germany critical to German economic prosperity -- is not fully realized.

True austerity within the European Union would have been disastrous for the German economy, since declines in consumption would have come at the expense of German exports. While demand from Greece is only a small portion of these exports, Greece is part of the larger system -- and the proper functioning of that system is very much in Germany's strategic interests. The Germans claim the Greeks deceived their creditors and the European Union. A more comprehensive explanation would include the fact that the Germans willingly turned a blind eye. Though Greece is an extreme case, Germany's overall interest has been to maintain European demand -- and thus avoid prudent austerity -- as long as possible.

Germany certainly was complicit in the lending practices that led to Greece's predicament. It is possible that the Greeks kept the whole truth about the Greek economy from their creditors, but even so, the German demand for suspension of Greek national self-determination is particularly striking.

In a sense, the German proposal merely makes very public what has always been the reality. For Greece to have its debt restructured, it must impose significant austerity measures, which Athens has agreed to. The Germans now want a commissioner appointed to ensure the Greek government fulfills its promise. In the process, the debt crisis will profoundly circumscribe Greek democracy by transferring fundamental elements of Greek sovereignty into the hands of commissioners whose primary interest is the repayment of debt, not Greek national interests.

The Judgment of Athens

The Greeks have two choices. First, they can accept responsibility for the debts on the terms negotiated and accede to the constraints on their budget and tax discretion whether imposed by a commissioner or by a less formal structure. Second, they can default on all debts. As we have learned from corporate behavior, bankruptcy has become a respectable strategic option. Therefore, the Greeks must consider the consequences of simply defaulting.

Default might see them frozen out of world financial markets. But even if they don't default, they will be present in those markets only under the most constrained circumstances, and to the primary benefit of creditors at that. Moreover, as many corporations have found, borrowing becomes more attractive after default, as it clears the way to new post-default debt. It is not clear that no one would lend to Greece after a default. In fact, Greece has defaulted on its debt several times and managed to regain access to international lending.

More significantly, defaulting would allow Greece to avoid fueling its internal political crisis by forfeiting its national sovereignty. Much of the political crisis inside of Greece stems from the Greek public's antipathy to austerity. But another part, which would come to the fore under the German proposal, is that the Greeks do not want to lose national sovereignty. In their long history, the Greeks have lost their sovereignty to invaders such as the Romans, the Ottomans and, most recently, the Nazis. The brutal German occupation still lives in Greek memories. The concept of national self-determination is thus not an abstract concept to the Greeks. Its loss plus austerity imposed by foreign powers would create a domestic crisis in which the Greek state would be seen as an economic and political enemy of Greek national interests along with the commissioner or some other mechanism. The political result could be explosive.

It is unclear if the Greeks will opt not to default. The certain price of default -- being forced to use their national currency instead of the euro -- actually would increase national sovereignty. There will be economic pain if the Greeks continue with the euro, and there will be economic pain if the Greeks leave the euro; the political consequences of losing sovereignty in the face of such pain could easily be overwhelming. Default, while painful to Greece, might well be less painful than the alternative.

The German Dilemma

The Germans are caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, Germany is the last country in Europe that could afford general austerity in troubled states and the resulting decline in demand. On the other hand, it cannot simply tolerate Greek-style indifference to fiscal prudence. Germany must have a structured solution that to some degree maintains demand in countries such as Spain or Italy; Germans must show there are consequences to not complying with the orderly handling of debt without default. Above all, the Germans must preserve the European Union so they can enjoy a European free-trade zone. There is thus an inherent tension between preserving the system and imposing discipline.

Germany has decided to make an example of the Greeks. The German public largely has bought into Berlin's narrative of Greek duplicity and German innocence. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has needed to frame the discussion this way, and she has succeeded. The degree to which the German public is aware of the complexities or the consequences of a generalized austerity for Germany is less clear. Merkel must now satisfy a German public that questions bailouts and sees Greece as simply irresponsible. Capitulation from Greece is necessary for her as a matter of domestic politics.

The German move into questions of sovereignty has raised the stakes in the debt crisis dramatically. Even if the Germans simply back off this demand, the Greek public has been reminded that Greek democracy is effectively at stake. While Greece may have borrowed irresponsibly, if the price of that behavior is yielding sovereignty to an unelected commissioner, that price not only would challenge Greek principles, it would bring Europe to a new crisis.

That crisis would be political, as the ongoing crisis always has been. In the new crisis, sovereign debt issues turn into threats to national independence and sovereignty. If you owe too much money and your creditors distrust you, you lose the right to national-self determination on the most important matters. Given that Germany was the historic nightmare for most of Europe, and it is Germany that is pushing this doctrine, the outcome could well be explosive. It could also be the opposite of what Germany needs.

Germany must have a free-trade zone in Europe. Germany also needs robust demand in Europe. Germany also wants prudence in borrowing practices. And Germany must not see a return to the anti-German feeling of previous epochs. Those are several needs, and some of them are mutually exclusive. In one way, the issue is Greece. But more and more, it is the Germans that are the question mark. How far are they willing to go, and do they fully understand their national interests? Increasingly, this crisis is ceasing to be a Greek or Italian crisis. It is a crisis of the role Germany will play in Europe in the future. The Germans hold many cards, and that's their problem: With so many options, they must make hard decisions -- and that does not come easily for postwar Germany.

Germany's Role in Europe and the European Debt Crisis Copyright STRATFOR.COM

Monday, January 30, 2012

Questions on threats against Obama

Now I don't knock the Secret Service for their work. Having to defend people they may not like can sound like a challenge while your being rational. But this is an example of overreaction if you ask me.

Now threats against a president are nothing new and they will continue as long as their is a president. Now I wonder if the Secret Service got really concerned by these.

Now for some reason this image is really getting the Secret Service upset.

Now if the Secret Service got upset enough to investigate the previous examples of threats against the president, so be it.  But se we can insure future viewers can observe this photo, I'll leave it up for all to see.

Officer Down

Master Corporal Sandra E. "Sandy" Rogers
Aiken Department of Public Safety, South Carolina
End of Watch: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Age: 49
Tour: 27 years

Master Corporal Sandy Rogers was shot and killed while responding to a call for a suspicious vehicle at Eustis Park at approximately 7:50 am. Master Corporal Rogers arrived on scene and radioed that she was approaching a blue vehicle. Another officer called for her one minute later and did not receive a response.

Master Corporal Rogers was transported to Aiken Regional Medical Centers where she succumbed to her wounds.

The subject was linked to another shooting in Richmond County, Georgia, earlier in the day. He was apprehended in Batesville-Leesville several hours later.

Master Corporal Rogers was a 27 year veteran of the Aiken Department of Public Safety and a lifelong resident of Aiken County.

Rest in Peace Sis…We’ll Continue The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kinda like a big dog to me....

I've often said you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the open, such as walking in the street. For that reason I cannot object when people video tape officers working on the street. So turn about is fair play. Call it the Peacemaker.
Police roll out video surveillance truck called The Peacemaker

FORT LAUDERDALE— Tania Ouaknine is convinced the police are watching her.

She's not paranoid — it says as much on the red sign painted along the side on the hulking armored truck that's been parked in front of her eight-room Parisian Motel for several days.

"Warning: You are under video surveillance," reads the bold message on the side of the truck.

From the front bumper of the menacing vehicle, another sign taunts: "Whatcha gonna do when we come for you?"

The truck is a new weapon for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in the fight against drugs and neighborhood nuisances, and it looks like a Winnebago on steroids. They call it "The Peacemaker," and it may be a first in South Florida.

Mixing high tech with simplicity, the in-your-face strategy is straightforward: load an out-of-service armored truck with some of the latest surveillance equipment available and decorate it with police emblems. Then, simply leave it parked in front of trouble spots...

...In August, police got the first of their two Peacemakers after paying the Brinks company $10 for a discontinued armored bank truck. They retrofitted the vehicle with cameras that can stream live video back to headquarters. With its cameras hoisted on each bullet-proof window, the truck can gather panoramic footage for up to 700 hours.

Last month the department added a second truck to its arsenal, converting a former SWAT vehicle into the second Peacemaker. Police park the unmanned trucks in front of the homes of suspected drug dealers and at crime-plagued street corners.
Ten bucks for an armored car...damned I thought I was cheap!
On a recent afternoon, a Peacemaker had at least one of its eight cameras trained on Ouaknine's one-story establishment...

...Some neighbors surrounding the Parisian Motel say the truck is another form of constant police harassment.

On a recent afternoon, Leo Cooper watched as two undercover street-crime officers jumped out of an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria just yards from the Peacemaker. They began questioning a group of men gathered at the corner. Within minutes, one of the men ran away. A second man was charged with loitering.

"This is what happens here every day. We can't sit outside without being harassed," said Cooper, 27. "Now we have that truck. Most of us are not doing anything wrong. We can't be outside?"

The police department has met the allegations of harassment with skepticism.

"People who are abiding by the law should have no problems with this," said Mandell. "People may feel that their privacy is being infringed on, but when you think about it, every day you walk down the street you are being watched by 20 to 30 cameras from private businesses and homes."

The feedback is much different in a neighborhood less than a mile east of the motel, close to where Sistrunk Boulevard is undergoing a major refurbishing project. In December, residents rallied at city meetings to get more police presence after a rash of daytime home burglaries, including one on New Year's Day, said Anthony Lucicero, a neighborhood leader.

"We had all sorts of people walking up and down this street at all hours," he said. "Prostitutes, junkies, everyone."

In early January, police parked the Peacemaker at an empty lot on Northwest Fifth Court between 10th and 11th avenues. Neighbors say it's already making a difference.

"Before the truck, we were afraid to go to work knowing your house might be robbed in the middle of the afternoon," said Lucicero's neighbor, Tangerine Davis. "Now we go to work in peace."

Their biggest worry now, they say, is what happens when the Peacemaker drives away and the police are no longer watching.

"I wish they had another one out here," Lucicero said. "I have an empty lot right there they can use."

A check with the region's major law enforcement agencies indicate Fort Lauderdale's Peacemakers may be the first in South Florida, but not the first in the nation. News reports show that agencies in Green Bay, Wis., Lafayette, La. and St. Louis, Mo., have been using them for at least a year.

"We are definitely not doing something like that right now," said Deputy Eric Davis, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. "I would love to see this for myself. Sounds pretty novel."

Again, this is no more than a new form of high tech patrol. And if it deters a crime it's worth the money. There is no issue of privacy as it is just recording things happening on the street. Fort Lauderdale, great work. Hope this catches on.

Reckless Driving, to Wit "....

After seeing this on TV Beth asked if I could give the idiot girls a ticket for something like this and I said yes. There is a generic citation I can issue if I can articulate the hazardous driving action. I think this qualifies.

ROCKWALL — A sheriff's deputy is being hailed a hero after pulling two young women from a sinking car early Saturday morning — moments before it slipped beneath the surface of Lake Ray Hubbard.

"I saw the two females in the back seat," said Deputy Keven Rowan of the Rockwall County Sheriff's Office. "I was like, 'I got to get them out!'"

Rowan spotted the submerged Honda Civic shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday while he was patrolling the shoreline.

Moments earlier, the car's driver, Ngac Do of Garland, had mistaken a boat ramp for a road at Robertson Park in Dallas and drove into the lake. She and her cousin got lost while driving home from dinner.

Rowan, a five-year deputy, never saw the car until he happened to glance down the ramp and notice headlights thirty feet from the shore.

"I don't know what it is," Rowan said of the timing. "I guess it wasn’t those girls' time, and I guess I was at the right place at the right time."...

...He pulled both women to safety seconds before the car disappeared into the lake.

Kids, learn to keep an idea where the hell you are. Deputy Rowan, good work.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Security Weekly: Nigeria's Boko Haram Militants Remain a Regional Threat, January 26, 2012

By Scott Stewart

The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram conducted a series of bombing attacks and armed assaults Jan. 20 in the northern city of Kano, the capital of Kano state and second-largest city in Nigeria. The attacks, which reportedly included the employment of at least two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), targeted a series of police facilities in Kano. These included the regional police headquarters, which directs police operations in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states, as well as the State Security Service office and the Nigerian Immigration Service office. At least 211 people died in the Kano attacks, according to media reports.

The group carried out a second wave of attacks in Bauchi state on Jan. 22, bombing two unoccupied churches in the Bauchi metropolitan area and attacking a police station in the Tafawa Balewa local government area. Militants reportedly also tried to rob a bank in Tafawa Balewa the same day. Though security forces thwarted the robbery attempt, 10 people reportedly died in the clash, including two soldiers and a deputy police superintendent.

In a third attack, Boko Haram militants attacked a police sub-station in Kano on Jan. 24 with small arms and improvised hand grenades. A tally of causalities in the assault, which reportedly lasted some 25 minutes, was not available. This armed assault stands out tactically from the Jan. 20 suicide attacks against police stations in Kano. The operation could have been an attempt to liberate some of the Boko Haram militants the government arrested following the Jan. 20 and Jan. 22 attacks.

Stratfor has followed Boko Haram carefully to assess its intent -- and ability -- to become more transnational. As we noted after the U.S. State Department issued warnings in early November 2011 about Boko Haram's alleged plans to strike Western-owned hotels in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, the group made significant leaps in its operational capability during 2011. During that time, it transitioned from very simple attacks to successfully employing suicide VBIEDS. An examination of the recent attacks in Kano and Bauchi states, however, does not reveal further advances in the group's operational tradecraft and does not display any new ability or intent to project power beyond its traditional areas of operation.

Boko Haram's Tactical Evolution

Boko Haram, Hausa for "Western Education is Sinful," is an Islamist militant group established in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state. It has since spread to several other northern and central Nigerian states. It is officially known as "Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad," Arabic for "Group Committed to Propagating the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad."

At first, Boko Haram was involved mostly in fomenting sectarian violence. Its adherents participated in simple attacks on Christians using clubs, machetes and small arms. Boko Haram came to international attention following serious outbreaks of inter-communal violence in 2008 and 2009 that resulted in thousands of deaths.

By late 2010, Boko Haram had added Molotov cocktails and simple improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to its tactical repertoire. This tactical advancement was reflected in the series of small IEDs deployed against Christian targets in Jos, Plateau state, on Christmas Eve 2010.

Boko Haram conducted a number of other armed assaults and small IED attacks in early 2011. The IEDs involved in these attacks were either improvised hand grenades constructed by filling soft drink cans with explosives -- which were frequently thrown from motorcycles -- or slightly larger devices left at the target.

This attack paradigm was shattered June 16, 2011, when Boko Haram launched a suicide VBIED attack against the headquarters of the Nigerian national police in Abuja. Though not overly spectacular (security measures kept the device away from the headquarters building and it exploded in a parking lot), the successful deployment of a large VBIED and a suicide operative represented a dramatic leap in Boko Haram's capability. An organization does not normally develop such a capability internally without some signs of progressive advancement in its bombmaking capability. For example, a group would be expected to employ medium-sized IEDs before it employed large VBIEDS. That it skipped a step prompted us to believe reports of Boko Haram members receiving training from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in northern Africa or from al Shabaab in Somalia (or some other outside group).

Boko Haram conducted its second suicide VBIED attack in Abuja on Aug. 26, 2011, this time targeting a U.N. compound in the city's diplomatic district. This attack proved far more deadly because the driver was able to enter the compound and reach a parking garage before detonating his device near the building's entrance. The attack against the U.N. compound also marked a break from Boko Haram's traditional target set of government and Christian facilities.

If the intelligence that triggered the warnings of hotel attacks in November 2011 is accurate, it appears the group may also have considered transnational targets -- at least to the extent of seeking to eliminate involvement by the international community in Nigeria in order to undercut Abuja. This shift in targeting raised concerns that the group's contacts with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and/or al Shabaab had influenced it. It also raised fears that due to its rapidly evolving attack capability, Boko Haram now was on a trajectory to become the next jihadist franchise group to become a transnational terrorist threat, following in the steps of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based al Qaeda franchise group. The January attacks provide us an opportunity to evaluate this theory.

What the January Attacks Tell Us

First, the group appears to have no shortage of explosive material. In addition to the devices the group employed in the attacks, the police reportedly seized some 300 improvised grenades and 10 VBIEDs. It also appears Boko Haram has access to large quantities of commercial explosives, rather than being forced to rely on less reliable and less stable improvised explosive mixtures. A good deal of mining occurs in central Nigeria, and it seems that the group is either stealing commercial explosives from mining companies, extorting mining companies for explosives or has somehow been able to purchase commercial explosives using a front company or companies. The Nigerian government has sought to tighten controls on commercial explosives in response, but its efforts so far do not seem to have affected the group's ability to procure large quantities of explosives.

Boko Haram also appears to have competent bombmakers. While the improvised hand grenades the group is issuing are quite rudimentary, being made by inserting a non-electric detonator with a short piece of time fuse in a soda can filled with high explosives, their devices are functioning as designed. The same can be said for their suicide vests and VBIEDS: They are simple yet functional. This stands out, since IEDs commonly malfunction. Bombmaking is an art that normally follows a significant learning curve absent outside instruction from a more experienced bombmaker. Boko Haram's proficiency suggests the group's bombmaker(s) indeed received training from experienced militants elsewhere.

The group also appears to have had no problems recruiting militants, including suicide bombers. The Jan. 20 attacks alone involved dozens of militants. Two people served as suicide bombers for the VBIEDs while perhaps two other suicide bombers worked on foot; others threw IEDs from motorcycles and conducted armed assaults.

That said, the group's operational planners do not appear to be as advanced as their bombmakers and recruiters. Though they have proved fairly successful in attacking soft targets, they have not had much success in their attacks against harder targets. For example, the attacker in the Jan. 20 strike on the State Security Service office in Kano was shot and killed before he could approach the building. Likewise, security forces were able to repel the attackers in the Jan. 22 attempted bank robbery in Tafawa Balewa.

All three January attacks also occurred in Boko Haram's traditional area of operations in the northern and central regions of Nigeria. These areas are both familiar and accessible to the group and it has strong support there. (It also has significant support in the area around Abuja.) The group has yet to display an ability to project power outside its traditional operational area into less familiar and more hostile environments.

Some ask whether Boko Haram is merely a political tool used by northern politicians to pressure the Nigerian federal government in much the same way politicians from the Niger Delta have used militant groups such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta to ensure what they believe is their fair share of Nigeria's oil revenue. While undoubtedly some connections between some northern politicians and Boko Haram exist, it would be simplistic to suggest such politicians completely control Boko Haram. Indeed, the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard reported Jan. 24 that senior Boko Haram figures said Jan. 21 that they were retaliating against northern governors who had refused to pay the group previously agreed-upon monthly sums of cash not to conduct operations in their state and for allowing security forces to arrest groups of their members, as they did Jan. 18 when six Boko Haram leaders were detained in Maiduguri. (One of the arrested leaders, Kabiru Sokoto, escaped later when gunmen likely affiliated with Boko Haram attacked the police vehicles transporting him.)

At the very least, however, these recent attacks tell us that before the group can become an existential threat to the Nigerian government -- or a legitimate transnational threat -- it will need to develop the ability to deploy its IEDs and suicide operatives to the point that it successfully can attack hardened targets. It will also need to develop the ability to work beyond its traditional areas of operation. Until it can master those skills (and display an intent to use such skills), it will remain a regional, albeit deadly, threat.

Nigeria's Boko Haram Militants Remain a Regional Threat Copyright STRATFOR.COM.

Northern Lights Over Tepees, Yellowknife Canada

My friend Linda T. sent me these...beautiful

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Officer Down

Senior Police Officer Gail Thomas
Atlanta Georgia Police Department
End of Watch: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Age: 46
Tour: 15 years

Senior Police Officer Gail Thomas was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver while assisting other officers with a traffic incident on the exit ramp from southbound I-75 to northbound I-85.

She had just exited her vehicle when she was struck. The drunk driver was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, DUI, and reckless driving.

Officer Thomas had served with the Atlanta Police Department for 15 years.

Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Guns and Hoses!

Cool stuff....

WARNING:  adult language!

I know there are firefighters out there who can relate to these!

Slip sliding away....slip sliding away....

I've sometimes gotten into discussions with friends from Texas and Louisiana on weather. Occasionally I get someone saying "I'd rather have the cold, I can always put on more cloths.." My first question is "Have you ever lived where it's cold like North Dakota?" Usually I get a "no".

Things like this explain why I like it down here....

Those who forget history...

Pat at And So it Goes in Shreveport last week posted on a Holocaust survivor's speech and I mentioned Eisenhower's comment after seeing the camps, "Some day some son of a bitch will say this never happened."

This is a disturbing stat.
EUROPE - One in five young Germans unaware of Auschwitz: poll

One in five young Germans has no idea that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp, a poll released Wednesday showed, two days ahead of Holocaust memorial day.

Although 90 percent of those asked did know it was a concentration camp, the poll for Thursday's edition of Stern news magazine revealed that Auschwitz meant nothing to 21 percent of 18-29 year olds.

And nearly a third of the 1,002 people questioned last Thursday and Friday for the poll were unaware that Auschwitz was in today's Poland.

The poll comes ahead of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945, which Germany has marked since 1996 with official memorial ceremonies for Holocaust victims.

According to a report by independent experts commissioned by the German parliament and published earlier this week, about one in five Germans is latently anti-Semitic.

Charlotte getting ready for Democratic Convention

Good to know Charlotte is gonna take nothing from these occupy punks. Now the question is why didn't they do this before the Dems made it down.

Charlotte City Council OKs expanding police power during DNC

Rules changes also outlaw camps on city land, sparking outcry.

In preparation for the Democratic National Convention, the Charlotte City Council voted 10-1 Monday night to approve new ordinances that will give police more power to stop and search people during the convention.

In addition, the new rules will prohibit camping on city property, a change that will keep Occupy Charlotte protesters from sleeping on the lawn at old City Hall.

The vote was met with shouts of "Shame!" from a packed council chamber, which prompted most of the council and Mayor Anthony Foxx to temporarily leave the dais. Protesters upset at the vote continued to shout chants, such as "Evict us, we multiply ... Occupy will never die," in the lobby of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center...

...The city has said the changes protect the First Amendment, though the American Civil Liberties Union has said some of the measures go too far, including giving the police power to arrest people carrying backpacks, satchels or coolers if they believe the items are being used to carry weapons.

Large protests - and some violence - have been common at political conventions, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they are trying to ensure they have enough power to keep people and property safe...

...Michael J. Zytkow, who was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge during the public hearing for the ordinances two weeks ago, said Charlotteans will be "harassed for expressing themselves." He added the ordinances would "criminalize homelessness" because it will be illegal to sleep on city property...

...Since the fall, protesters have been staying on the old City Hall lawn, pitching tents and even creating a makeshift kitchen.

Under the new rules, protesters can stay on the site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But they won't be allowed to sleep, or create any semi-permanent structures used for cooking food, sleeping or other living arrangements...

...People won't be allowed to carry items such as helmets and body armor; noxious substances; barricades, locks; pipes; mace or pepper spray; or other weapons.

In addition, the new ordinance prohibits people from carrying backpacks, satchels or coolers if police believe they are being used to carry weapons.

"They are frequently used to carry rocks and weapons," said CMPD Deputy Chief Harold Medlock, who is coordinating the police department's DNC response.

Medlock said during the 2008 DNC in Denver, some protesters would enter portable toilets and fill backpacks with feces, which were thrown at police...

Hopefully they keep these after the convention. These punks needed to be handled.

Questions the feds don't ask when they run a car company

Is there a market? Does it cost too much? The stats in this article answer the questions.

Some Chevy dealers spurn Volt allocation

DETROIT -- Some Chevrolet dealers are turning down Volts that General Motors wants to ship to them, a potential stumbling block as GM looks to accelerate sales of the plug-in hybrid.

For example, consider the New York City market. Last month, GM allocated 104 Volts to 14 dealerships in the area, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Dealers took just 31 of them, the lowest take rate for any Chevy model in that market last month. That group of dealers ordered more than 90 percent of the other vehicles they were eligible to take, the source said.

In Clovis, Calif., meanwhile, Brett Hedrick, dealer principal at Hedrick's Chevrolet, sold 10 Volts last year. But in December and January he turned down all six Volts allocated to him under GM's "turn-and-earn" system, which distributes vehicles based on past sales volumes and inventory levels.

GM's "thinking we need six more Volts is just crazy," Hedrick says. "We've never sold more than two in a month." Hedrick says he usually takes just about every vehicle that GM allocates to him.

GM spokesman Rob Peterson confirmed that "dealer ordering is down" for the Volt...

...Industry insiders are closely watching sales of the Volt and Nissan Leaf as barometers of market demand for electric vehicles. Several other automakers are set to launch EVs this year.

At the Detroit auto show this month, GM executives said they wouldn't chase a previous Volt production target set for 2012 -- 60,000 units, three-quarters of which would be for U.S. sales -- and vowed simply to build as many as customers want.

GM sold 7,671 Volts in the United States in 2011, short of its 10,000-unit target. It launched the car in seven key markets starting in late 2010, but didn't begin a national rollout until this past autumn.

"We haven't satisfied demand," GM North America President Mark Reuss said on the sidelines of the Detroit show. He said GM will be able to gauge Volt demand by sometime in the second quarter.

Many dealers say they no longer have customers waiting in the wings...

Again, an expensive POS that has no market. Now I found this comment interesting.

Gas will be aproaching record levels as early as May. I would wait untill the end of summer before ordering Volt's tombstone. The car is a little overpriced but the last time we had a gas spike I witnessed dealers paying $33,000 for a used Prius at auction. That dealer might be a fool, but he probably had a willing buyer for more money back at the store. We are rapidly aproaching the end of the era for cheap gas. When the economy comes back (and it will) we will live in a time of cheap Gold and expensive gas.

And expensive everything else. This moron seems to now comprehend high fuel costs will inflate the prices of other items (food, housing, etc) that will keep the economy depressed. And if B Hussein Obama is not thrown the hell out of officer in November out economy is shot.

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff James I. Thacker
Pike County Kentucky Sheriff's Department
End of Watch: Monday, January 23, 2012
Age: 53
Badge # 71
Incident Date: 1/23/2012

Deputy Sheriff James Thacker was killed in an automobile accident on U.S. 460, just past Marrowbone Creek Road, at approximately 9:00 pm.

He was returning to Elkhorn City from Pikeville at the end of his shift when an SUV crossed the center line and struck his patrol car head-on. The SUV then collided with another vehicle. Deputy Thacker succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Drones in New York...and we're not talking about HIZORORDAMAER

Interesting look at NYPD's use of drones in intelligence. Now I personally have no major issues with it. The usual suspects, e.g. ACLU (see below) are screeching but that is to be expected. Then again as someone said years ago "It's the 21st Century, there is no privacy, get over it!"

Is The NYPD Experimenting With Drones Over The City? Evidence Points To Yes « CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They’re used in war zones for surveillance and military strikes. But are there plans to deploy drones in the Big Apple to keep an eye on New Yorkers?

Surveillance cameras already dot the city’s streets, but is the NYPD exploring the use of even more eyes in the skies, in the form of drones? Some evidence points to yes.

A website named Gay City News posted an e-mail it says it acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. It’s purportedly from a detective in the NYPD counterterrorism division, asking the Federal Aviation Administration about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as a law enforcement tool...

...Drones are already being used by law enforcement in other cities. CBS 2 has obtained footage of a huge protest in Poland a few months ago, shot by a small drone that could fly a few dozen feet right over the heads of the crowd and the police. High-resolution cameras can capture every detail, including faces and license plate numbers. In this country, Miami and several cities in Texas are experimenting with such aircraft.

“We’re always looking at technology,” said NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne. “Drones aren’t that exotic anymore. Brookstone sells them. We’ve looked at them but haven’t tested or deployed any.”...

...But some are concerned about the invasion of privacy. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a 16-page report citing the growth of the use of drones and the lack of laws protecting citizens from airborne intrusions.

Just the mere possibility that the city could be looking into the use of drone surveillance aircraft prompted one anonymous New Yorker to post official looking NYPD warning signs all over the city.

Some say: “Attention, authorized drone strike zone.”

One Dahler found on Mercer Street said: “Local statutes enforced by drone.”...

Now I checked out the ACLU initial report on its website and the actual PDF. Most of it's boring history of drones, methods of surveillance, etc but they raise their issues towards the end. Now they put out a statement from an officer of the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association (AOPA) from 20006 on lack of guidance from the FAA on UAV use in civilian air space. Sorry, six years is a bit old for a current issue. They also claim that a couple making love (for those of you from Chalmette that means doing the nasty) on top of a high rise apartment have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Sorry guys, get a room. Kinda like the young ladies who flash themselves on Bourbon Street for beads and then sue Girls Gone Wild Mardi Gras for showing it. Sorry, you've shown modesty is not an issue for you so spare us your pretensions of being shy.

I do agree with them there needs to be guidance from the FAA and the Congress on how to use these in airspace. Now that may be an issue for a Congress that can't pass a budget in almost three years and is conceded with major issues like steroid use in baseball.

New York, please keep this up. Now on this salt enforcement crap you got going....

Geopolitical Weekly: Considering a U.S.-Iranian Deal, January 24, 2012

Last week, I wrote on the strategic challenge Iran faces in its bid to shape a sphere of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to Beirut on the eastern Mediterranean coast. I also pointed out the limited options available to the United States and other Western powers to counter Iran.

One was increased efforts to block Iranian influence in Syria. The other was to consider a strategy of negotiation with Iran. In the past few days, we have seen hints of both.

Rebel Gains in Syria

The city of Zabadani in southwestern Syria reportedly has fallen into the hands of anti-regime forces. Though the city does not have much tactical value for the rebels, and the regime could well retake it, the event could have real significance. Up to this point, apart from media attention, the resistance to the regime of President Bashar al Assad has not proven particularly effective. It was certainly not able to take and hold territory, which is critical for any insurgency to have significance.

Now that the rebels have taken Zabadani amid much fanfare -- even though it is not clear to what extent the city was ceded to their control, much less whether they will be able to hold it against Syrian military action -- a small bit of Syria now appears to be under rebel control. The longer they can hold it, the weaker al Assad will look and the more likely it becomes that regime opponents can create a provisional government on Syrian soil to rally around.

Zabadani also gives outside powers something to help defend, should they choose to do so. Intervening in a civil war against weak and diffused rebels is one thing. Attacking Syrian tanks moving to retake Zabadani is quite another. There are no indications that this is under consideration, but for the first time, there is the potential for a militarily viable target set for outside players acting on behalf of the rebels. The existence of that possibility might change the dynamic in Syria. When we take into account the atmospherics of the Arab League demands for a provisional government, some meaningful pressure might actually emerge.

From the Iranian point of view, this raises the risk that the sphere of influence Tehran is pursuing will be blocked by the fall of the al Assad regime. This would not pose a fundamental challenge to Iran, so long as its influence in Iraq remains intact, but it would represent a potential high-water mark in Iranian ambitions. It could open the door to recalculations in Tehran as to the limits of Iranian influence and the threat to their national security. I must not overstate this: Events in Syria have not gone that far, and Iran is hardly backed into a corner. Still, it is a reminder to Tehran that all might not go the Iranians' way.

A Possibility of Negotiations

It is in this context that the possibility of negotiations has arisen. The Iranians have claimed that the letter the U.S. administration sent to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that defined Iran's threats to Strait of Hormuz as a red line contained a second paragraph offering direct talks with Iran. After hesitation, the United States denied the offer of talks, but it did not deny it had sent a message to the Iranian leadership. The Iranians then claimed such an offer was made verbally to Tehran and not in the letter. Washington again was not categorical in its denial. On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a meeting with the German foreign minister, "We do not seek conflict. We strongly believe the people of Iran deserve a better future. They can have that future, the country can be reintegrated into the global community ... when their government definitively turns away from pursuing nuclear weapons."

From our perspective, this is a critical idea. As we have said for several years, we do not see Iran as close to having a nuclear weapon. They may be close to being able to test a crude nuclear device under controlled circumstances (and we don't know this either), but the development of a deliverable nuclear weapon poses major challenges for Iran.

Moreover, while the Iranians may aspire to a deterrent via a viable nuclear weapons capability, we do not believe the Iranians see nuclear weapons as militarily useful. A few such weapons could devastate Israel, but Iran would be annihilated in retaliation. While the Iranians talk aggressively, historically they have acted cautiously. For Iran, nuclear weapons are far more valuable as a notional threat and bargaining chip than as something to be deployed. Indeed, the ideal situation is not quite having a weapon, and therefore not forcing anyone to act against them, but seeming close enough to be taken seriously. They certainly have achieved that.

The important question, therefore, is this: What would the United States offer if Iran made meaningful concessions on its nuclear program, and what would Iran want in return? In other words, forgetting the nuclear part of the equation, what did Hillary Clinton mean when she said that Iran can be reintegrated into the international community, and what would Iran actually want?

Recall that in our view, nuclear weapons never have been the issue. Instead, the issue has been the development of an Iranian sphere of influence following the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq, and the pressure Iran could place on oil-producing states on the Arabian Peninsula. Iran has long felt that its natural role as leader in the Persian Gulf has been thwarted, first by the Ottomans, then the British and now by the Americans, and they have wanted to create what they regard as the natural state of things.

The United States and its allies do not want Iran to get nuclear weapons. But more than that, they do not want to see Iran as the dominant conventional force in the area able to use its influence to undermine the Saudis. With or without nuclear weapons, the United States must contain the Iranians to protect their Saudi allies. But the problem is that Iran is not contained in Syria yet, and even were it contained in Syria, it is not contained in Iraq. Iran has broken out of its containment in a decisive fashion, and its ability to exert pressure in Arabia is substantial.

Assume for the moment that Iran was willing to abandon its nuclear program. What would the United States give in return? Obviously, Clinton would like to offer an end to the sanctions. But the sanctions on Iran are simply not that onerous with the Russians and Chinese not cooperating and the United States being forced to allow the Japanese and others not to participate fully. But it goes deeper.

Iran's Historic Opportunity

This is a historic opportunity for Iran. It is the first moment in which no outside power is in a direct position to block Iran militarily or politically. Whatever the pain of sanctions, trading that moment for lifting the sanctions would not be rational. The threat of Iranian influence is the problem, and Iran would not trade that influence for an end to sanctions. So assuming the nuclear issue was to go away, what exactly is the United States prepared to offer?

The United States has assured access to oil from the Persian Gulf -- not only for itself, but also for the global industrial world -- since World War II. It does not want to face a potential interruption of oil for any reason, like the one that occurred in 1973. Certainly, as Iran expands its influence, the possibility of conflict increases, along with the possibility that the United States would intervene to protect its allies in Arabia from Iranian-sponsored subversion or even direct attack. The United States does not want to intervene in the region. It does not want an interruption of oil. It also does not want an extension of Iranian power. It is not clear that Washington can have all three.

Iran wants three things, too.

First, it wants the United States to reduce its presence in the Persian Gulf dramatically. Having seen two U.S. interventions against Iraq and one against Afghanistan, Iran is aware of U.S. power and the way American political sentiment can shift. It experienced the shift from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, so it knows how fast things can change. Tehran sees the United States in the Persian Gulf coupled with U.S. and Israeli covert operations and destabilization campaigns as an unpredictable danger to Iranian national security.

Second, the Iranians want to be recognized as the leading power in the region. This does not mean they intend to occupy any nation directly. It does mean that Iran doesn't want Saudi Arabia, for example, to pose a military threat against it.

Third, Iran wants a restructuring of oil revenue in the region. How this is formally achieved -- whether by allowing Iranian investment in Arabian oil companies (possibly financed by the host country) or some other means -- is unimportant. What does matter is that the Iranians want a bigger share of the region's vast financial resources.

The United States doesn't want a conflict with Iran. Iran doesn't want one with the United States. Neither can be sure how such a conflict would play out. The Iranians want to sell oil. The Americans want the West to be able to buy oil. The issue really comes down to whether the United States wants to guarantee the flow of oil militarily or via a political accommodation with the country that could disrupt the flow of oil -- namely, Iran. That in turn raises two questions. First, could the United States trust Iran? And second, could it live with withdrawing the American protectorate on the Arabian Peninsula, casting old allies adrift?

When we listen to the rhetoric of American and Iranian politicians, it is difficult to imagine trust between them. But when we recall the U.S. alliance with Stalin and Mao or the Islamic republic's collaboration with the Soviet Union, we find rhetoric is a very poor guide. Nations pursue their national interest, and while those interests are never eternal, they can be substantial. From a purely rhetorical point of view it is not always easy to tell which sides' politicians are more colorful. It will be difficult to sell an alliance between the Great Satan and a founding member of the Axis of Evil to the respective public of each country, but harder things have been managed.

Iran's ultimate interest is security against the United States and the ability to sell oil at a more substantial profit. (This would entail an easing of sanctions and a redefinition of how oil revenues in the region are distributed.) The United States' ultimate interest is access to oil and manageable prices that do not require American military intervention. On that basis, Iranian and American interests are not that far apart.

The Arabian Factor and a Possible Accommodation

The key point in this scenario is the future of U.S. relations with the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Any deal between Iran and the United States affects them two ways. First, the reduction of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf requires them to reach an accommodation with the Iranians, something difficult and potentially destabilizing for them. Second, the shift in the financial flow will hurt them and probably will not be the final deal. Over time, the Iranians will use their strengthened position in the region to continue pushing for additional concessions from them.

There is always danger in abandoning allies. Other allies might be made uncomfortable, for example. But these things have happened before. Abandoning old allies for the national interest is not something the United States invented. The idea that the United States should find money flowing to the Saudis inherently more attractive than money flowing to the Iranians is not obvious.

The main question for the United States is how Iran might be contained. The flow of money will strengthen Iran, and it might seek to extend its power beyond what is tolerable to the United States. There are potential answers. First, the United States can always return to the region. The Iranians do not see the Americans as weak, but rather as unpredictable. Challenging the United States after Iran has achieved its historic goal is not likely. Second, no matter how Iran grows, it is far behind Turkey by every measure. Turkey is not ready to play an active role balancing Iran now, but in the time it takes Iran to consolidate its position, Turkey will be a force that will balance and eventually contain Iran. In the end, a deal will come down to one that profits both sides and clearly defines the limits of Iranian power -- limits that it is in Iran's interest to respect given that it is profiting mightily from the deal.

Geopolitics leads in one direction. Ideology leads in another direction. The ability to trust one another is yet a third. At the same time, the Iranians cannot be sure of what the United States is prepared to do. The Americans do not want to go to war with Iran. Both want oil flowing, and neither cares about nuclear weapons as much as they pretend. Finally, no one else really matters in this deal. The Israelis are not as hardline on Iran as they appear, nor will the United States listen to Israel on a matter fundamental to the global economy. In the end, absent nuclear weapons, Israel does not have that much of a problem with Iran.

It would not surprise me to find out that the United States offered direct talks, nor to discover that Clinton's comments could not be extended to a more extensive accommodation. Nor do I think that Iran would miss a chance for an historic transformation of its strategic and financial position in favor of ideology. They are much too cynical for that. The great losers would be the Saudis, but even they could come around to a deal that, while less satisfactory than they have now, is still quite satisfactory.

There are many blocks in the way of such a deal, from ideology to distrust to domestic politics. But given the knot that is being tied in the region, rumors that negotiations are being floated come as no surprise. Syria might not go the way Iran wants, and Iraq is certainly not going the way the United States wants. Marriages have been built on less.


Sometimes you go out for business, sometimes the business comes to you!

Gotta love it...technology at it's best!
Sorry, Wrong Number! Drug-Sale Text Message Goes To Police Instead

MERIDEN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – A recent Pew Research study found 73 percent of cell phone owners send text message and those who do, send an average of more than 40 messages each day. With all those text messages coming and going, it’s not surprising that some reach the wrong recipients.

In Meriden recently, police say officers received a text from an unknown sender, offering black market sale of Percoset tablets, the prescription combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. He notified the drug unit, continued communication with the texter, and set up a “buy.”

Police say the two people who showed up to sell the drugs grew suspicious, separated and tried to run, but police were able to take both into custody and seized 100 Percoset tablets...

Monday, January 23, 2012

I agree with the man is some points and disagree in others.

From USA Today, a surprisingly good article on the GPS tracking case.

Supreme Court rules warrant needed for GPS tracking

The opinion was unanimous, although the justices split in their views of how the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to such high-tech tracking...

...The court reversed the cocaine-trafficking conviction of a Washington, D.C., nightclub owner. In 2005, police secretly attached a GPS device to a Jeep owned by Antoine Jones while it was parked in a public lot. Agents then used evidence of Jones' travels over four weeks to help win the conviction on conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

"The government's physical intrusion on the Jeep for the purpose of obtaining information constitutes a search," Justice Antonin Scalia said for the court as he read portions of his opinion from the bench Monday.

Scalia based his decision on the roots of the Fourth Amendment and wrote, "Where, as here, the government obtains information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area, such a search has undoubtedly occurred." He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor.

The four other justices, led by Samuel Alito, concurred only in the judgment for Jones. Alito said the case would be better analyzed by asking whether Jones' "reasonable expectations of privacy were violated by the long-term monitoring of the movements of the vehicle he drove."
Alito contended the attachment of the GPS device was not itself an illegal "search." Rather, he argued, what matters is a driver's expectation of privacy.

"We need not identify with precision the point at which the tracking of this vehicle became a search, for the line was surely crossed before the 4-week mark," Alito wrote, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

Sotomayor, who fully joined Scalia's opinion, suggested in a separate concurring statement that she agreed with parts of Alito's analysis, which would cover privacy expectations not only when police affix a device but when there's no physical invasion. That could cover when police access signals from a GPS-enabled smartphone.

The Justice Department had argued that drivers do not expect their movements on public streets to be kept private, no matter the duration, so GPS tracking should not fall under the Fourth Amendment protections regarding searches and seizures...

I am more of the mine of the Chief Justice. I agree that is a suspect is being tracked by GPS for a month there is a need for judicial oversight, i.e. a warrant. I just don't agree The Constitution says that. It is not in there. I believe the legislatures should write law on this matter and have it signed by the governors. Something reasonable would be a GPS of less than 48 hours is OK without a warrant, more than 48 hours would require it.

Gotta see how this plays out but it shows a problem with the way we are being governed. The elected branches are deferring their duties to the courts and this has led to major abuses of the Constitution. The greatest one of recent memory is when a federal judge ordered a city to raise taxes to pay for schools. If Obamacare is held Constitutional the document is worthless. And God help us all.

What South Carolina means....

From this morning's Red State, Erick Erickson puts the SC primary, and the Republican nomination itself in good context. Here are the highlights, the full article is worth a few minutes.
Newt Gingrich Wins. What It Means.
Mitt and Newt will both have trouble beating Barack Obama. Mitt's trouble will come from Obama. Newt's trouble from himself. But right now, the base doesn't care.

“The base is revolting because they swept the GOP back into relevance in Washington just under two years ago and they have been thanked with contempt ever since.”...

We’re now confronted with a designated front runner, Mitt Romney, who got less votes in Iowa in 2012 than he got in 2008 and who lost South Carolina. His reason for being somehow remains that he is “electable.”

If you read a lot of the Republican commentary coming out of Washington even before the polls closed, suddenly South Carolina is irrelevant and the hick rubes of the Palmetto state are just petulant children.

Actually, like with Iowa, it is a rather desperate scream to get another player on the field. It is a red flag. It is the giant “Danger” sign ahead for the general election.

Newt Gingrich’s rise has a lot to do with Newt Gingrich’s debate performance. But it has just as much to do with a party base in revolt against its thought and party leaders in Washington, DC. The base is revolting because they swept the GOP back into relevance in Washington just under two years ago and they have been thanked with contempt ever since.

Adding insult to injury, the party and thought leaders now try to foist on the base a milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich can thank Mitt Romney and more for the second look he is getting. Base hostility will now be exacerbated by Mitt Romney’s backers now undoubtedly making a conscious effort to prop up Rick Santorum to shut down Newt Gingrich...

...People are mad as hell they are about to be stuck with another boring, moderate, uninspiring choice that has at best a 50/50 shot at losing to the worst president since Carter. They are flocking to Newt not because they think he’s a great guy, but because right now, he’s the only one fighting for conservatism and GOP voters are looking for a vessel to channel their anger with Obama and their complete disappointment with the GOP establishment which is now embodied perfectly by Romney. They want a conservative fighter because most conservatives look back at Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, and McCain and see only the ones taking a conservative path against the Democrats actually winning.

Trump was a flash in the pan last year, but it was because he took the fight to Obama. And all of the others (Bachmann, Perry, Cain, etc) got their rise because at the time voters sensed they would fight back with them. If nothing else, in the last year, Newt has proven he won’t wilt like Mitt did yesterday under pretty basic questioning from Laura Ingraham or a month ago under routine questioning from Brett Baier.

Newt has taken the worst the media, Romney and the left can dish out, and he’s still standing and fighting with passion and eloquence. Sure, he’d probably be an erratic President, but right now Republican voters don’t care about his Presidency. They care about the fight with the left both Mitt Romney, and the Washington Republican leaders like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell don’t seem inclined to engage in...

...And while few of the Romney advocates of the past four years will admit it, it is because they have tried to foist onto the base a milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts as energizing to conservatives as a dead battery.

Officer Down

Officer Garret Davis
Honolulu Hawaii Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, January 21, 2012
Age: 28

Tour: 3 years

Officer Garret Davis was killed in an automobile accident when his patrol car was rear-ended on H-1, near the Kaonohi Street overpass, at approximately 8:20 pm.

He had stopped his marked patrol car behind a stalled vehicle on the left shoulder. Before he was able to exit his car it was struck from behind by another vehicle and burst into flames.

Officer Davis suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. Two civilians were also injured in the crash.

Officer Davis had served with the Honolulu Police Department for three years.
Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Alec Baldwin has been dethroned!

I never thought anyone would take Alec Baldwin's title of Father of the Year from him. After first calling his then 11 year old girl Ireland a thoughtless pig in 2007, he followed up with saying he would throw her in a volcano in 09 and just last year said to her he would kill himself.

As if we would be that lucky.

But I gotta say this turd may just do it.

Threat to electrify dog cage with girl inside just ’horseplay’

A man accused of punishing his 12-year-old daughter by binding her hands and feet with duct tape and sticking her in a dog cage, then threatening to electrify the crate, was just engaging in "some horseplay" that "got out of control," his lawyer says...

...The Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Office said James Tapke restrained his 12-year-old daughter's hands and feet using duct tape before placing her in a dog cage on Jan. 10. Then, while his daughter was in the cage, investigators said, Tapke dropped small amounts of water on her face.

According to court papers, the victim was in the cage for about 20 minutes before her 13-year-old brother let her out. When she got out, authorities said, the victim poured water on her father's head and in his ear.

Tapke then bound his daughter again with duct tape and put her back in the dog cage, investigators said, and while she was in the cage, Tapke told his son to go to the garage and retrieve an electrical jump pack so that he could electrify the cage. The girl's brother brought the jump pack and placed it in front of the cage, so his sister could see it.

Tapke never attempted to electrify the cage, but investigators said he told his daughter several times he would.

Tapke then let her out of the cage, and her grandmother helped her with taking off the duct tape, authorities said. During the entire incident, authorities said the girl's brother and her father took pictures of her in the cage.

Her brother posted the pictures on Facebook, investigators said, but the pictures were deleted.
In court on Thursday, Tapke's attorney, Christopher Jackson, said that the entire incident was a joke.

"We believe the evidence will eventually show that this was simply some horseplay that ended up, you know, taking pictures." Jackson said. "It just doesn't look that funny when you see it in pictures ... Maybe not the best joke in the world, but I believe that's what is going to come out later at trial."

"Judge, if this is a joke, it's about the most unfunny joke I've ever heard," said assistant prosecutor Matt Broo.

Tapke, 41, was charged with child endangering. Bond was set at $50,000.

As many of you know I'm new to fathering. Can I understand the aggravation of a kid and what they can do with talking back, not doing their choirs, etc, yes. But in my worst I would never cover a kid's mouth with duct tape, place her in a cage and pretend your going to put an electric charge on the metal. Then you put picture of your girl like this on Facebook.

I pray your children have good foster parents. God knows they deserve better than you.

Another good stupid criminal

Sometimes it's too easy!!!!

Accused carjacker arrested after parking between 2 police cars

A 23-year-old man was arrested by Bell Gardens police after allegedly carjacking a car from a Burbank woman and later parking it between two police cars, officials said.

...At about 4 p.m., officials got a call from Bell Gardens police who said they located the suspect — Jorge Martinez, 23, of Atwater in Central California — after he allegedly parked the stolen car between two double-parked patrol cars.

Two Bell Gardens police officers had parked their cars to respond to an unrelated call, Ryburn said.

“One officer comes back to the car, and this guy had parked the stolen car between the patrol cars,” Ryburn said. “It turns out that the in-dash camera captured it all on video.
It's even better than this story let's on. He double parked between two police vehicles. Driving a stolen vehicle.

Man this is too good sometimes....