“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Who is Desiree Rogers? She says Obama wants her to make White House, the house for all people. She sure did!

The woman in charge of supervising the guest list for state dinners quit in June after she was stripped of most of her responsibilities. Cathy Hargraves, the former assistant for arrangements, says that Obama’s social secretary, Desiree Rogers, took away her responsibilities and that, had she been present, she’d have likely been at the entrance supervising the guest list.

Chicago's Own Desiree Rogers to Blame for Crashergate?
Security lapse may be due to Rogers' forcing out the guest list manager
Updated 10:45 AM CST, Mon, Nov 30, 2009

Fingers are starting to point to Chicagoan Desiree Rogers, President Obama's social secretary, for letting Michele and Tareq Salahi slip by security at the front gate of the White House last week.

The couple, who were seen mugging with Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel – not to mention shaking the President's hand – might never have gotten into the party if Rogers hadn’t stripped the woman whose job it was to vet such people of her power.

Cathy Hargraves, who resigned last June, was personally responsible for overseeing the invitations of state dinner guests and keeping track of their RSVPs. She also physically stood at the gate during functions and cross-checked names against a master list.

The Salahis gained entry to the White House despite not being on such a list.

When Rogers came to the White House last, she stripped Hargraves, a Bush-era holdover, of those responsibilities. "In these economic times," Hargraves told Newsweek, I don't think we're going to have very many lavish expensive dinners. It wouldn't look very good."

The Secret Service has since apologized for the security lapse, possibly removing some of the burden from Rogers' shoulders. But at least one Republican lawmaker wants the social office to endure its share of scrutiny.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee has called for a congressional investigation into what happened -- and he wants the social office, and, by association Rogers, included.

Goodbye Mike Huckabee

Remember Mike Huckabee going after Mitt Romney on the law and order issues? Is the Washington cop massacre another result of a Huckabee pardon?

Speculation on political futures you say?

Huckabee is a bit of a prognosticator himself. Here is a recent quote and prediction from Mike Huckabee, while on a trip to Orlando, Florida ten days ago:

"Well, I think it's absurd, and I think the Obama administration will be as much on trail as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," said Huckabee.

He says the terror suspects will use their trials as a platform to spout anti-American venom.

"And God help us if they get off on a technicality because of the way the evidence was gathered," said Huckabee. "I would tell you not only is the Obama administration finished, I think the Democratic Party is finished."

Man linked to Washington shootings had long sentence commuted
Ed Pilkington, Matthew Weaver and agencies,
Monday 30 November 2009 08.27 GMT

Police name Maurice Clemmons as 'person of interest' who had sentence commuted by Republican Mike Huckabee

A man wanted in connection with the gunning down of four US police officers in a cafe yesterday had a long prison sentence commuted by the former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, it was revealed today .

The officers – three men and a woman, all from the local police force in Lakewood, Washington state – were preparing paperwork for their morning duties and working on laptops at the Forza cafe when they were shot dead by a lone gunman.

Police named Maurice Clemmons, 37, as "a person of interest", although not yet a suspect, in their inquiry. Clemmons has an extensive criminal record and was recently charged for third-degree assault on a police officer, and second-degree rape of a child.

In 1989, Clemmons, then 17, was convicted for aggravated robbery. He was paroled in 2000 after Huckabee, then the governor of Arkansas, and now a Fox News presenter, commuted Clemmons's 95-year prison sentence.

Huckabee, who was criticised during his run for the presidential nomination in 2008 for the number of clemencies he granted, cited Clemmons's age at the time of the sentence.

After his release, Clemmons broke his parole and was returned to prison in July 2001. He was released on 18 March 2004, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

The four dead officers have been named as Mark Renninger, 39; Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Greg Richards, 42.

The police spokesman Ed Troyer said one of the officers fought with the gunman and may have wounded him before the officer died just outside the door.

He said investigators were asking medics in the area to report any people wounded by gunshots. "We believe there was a struggle, a commotion, a fight ... that he fought the guy all the way out the door. We hope that he hit him," Troyer said.

"It's carnage out front everywhere," Troyer said, describing the front of the cafe. "It's like a bad horror movie. It's horrible." The officers were all in uniform, including bulletproof vests, he said.

The attack was clearly targeted at the officers; not a robbery that went wrong, he said.

"This was more of an execution. Walk in with the specific mindset to shoot police officers."

Around 200 police descended on the area, searching for their colleagues' killer. A helicopter and dog teams were used to scour houses, parking areas and open spaces, but no one was found.

"I have never seen this many scramble to a particular spot, ever," said David Gabrielson, 27, a worker at a petrol station near the cafe.

Investigators were baffled by the killings and the absence of a motive. There were no indications that any of the officers had received previous threats.

Police will be seeking to rule out any link between the murders and the death of police officer Timothy Brenton in Seattle last month. Brenton was shot as he was sitting in a police vehicle on the night of Halloween.

"We won't know if it's a copycat effect or what it was until we get the case solved," Troyer said.

Police questioned two cafe staff and a few customers who were in the shop at the time of the shootings. Though none of them were physically hurt they were described as stunned.

"As you can imagine, they are traumatised, they are in shock," said Troyer.

The Forza cafe is owned by a former police officer, Brad Carpenter. "I'm a retired police officer, so this really hits close to home for me," he said.

A $10,000 (£6,000) reward has been offered for information about the killings.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Iran 'planning 10 new uranium enrichment sites'

Iran 'planning 10 new uranium enrichment sites'

Iran's government has approved plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants, according to state TV.
The government told the Iranian nuclear agency to begin work on five sites, with five more to be located over the next two months, the report said.

It comes days after the UN nuclear watchdog rebuked Iran for covering up a uranium enrichment plant.
Western powers say Iran is trying to develop nuclear arms. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.
On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution that was heavily critical of Iran for covering up a uranium enrichment plant near the town of Qom.

Earlier on Sunday it was reported that the Iranian parliament had urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government to reduce co-operation with the IAEA.

Execution in Iran - Allahu Akbar

Shocking, simply shocking, Kerry Report: Osama bin Laden was within reach of US troops in Afghanistan

It is obvious that the US missed capturing bin Laden at Tora Bora. It is also obvious that this report , by the most amazing of coincidences, appears the weekend before Obama makes his big move in Afghanistan, eight years after the deed.

The architect of the report is John Kerry, a man who has no credibility whatsoever. If Ted Kennedy was the "lion of the senate" then John Kerry is the "liar of the senate."

The entire purpose of the timing and the report is to give cover to Obama, and allow Obama to once again claim it is all the fault of George W. Bush.

It can be argued with equal vehemence that Bill Clinton had many more opportunities to kill Osama, before 911 ever started.

There is no evidence that US air and ground troops, available at the time, would have captured or killed Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora. Kerry has no more proof that we would have found bin Laden than Kerry could prove he was in Cambodia, which he also has claimed, and was not.

At the time of Tora Bora, there was cause and reason to use tactical nuclear weapons, but no guarantee that they would have 100% guaranteed success. Neither Clinton, Bush, Obama and certainly not John Kerry would have ever made that call.

I have personal experience with the testimony of John Kerry on the contra affair. During the Contra Hearings, John Kerry misrepresented facts and lied. He ruined reputations and caused loyal Americans to lose their personal fortunes.

Kerry is not a serious man. He is a serious politician and an opportunist. Take the report for what it is, not much more than a political document from a documented liar.


Published: 10:00AM GMT 29 Nov 2009

Osama bin Laden was within reach of US troops in Afghanistan when military leaders made the decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report has said.

The document says the failure to kill or capture the al-Qaeda leader in the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences.

Bin Laden's escape laid the foundation for the reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority prepared the report at the request of the chairman, Sen John Kerry, as President Barack Obama prepares to boost U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Mr Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, has long argued the Bush administration missed a chance to get the al-Qaeda leader and top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan only three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The report puts part of the blame for the state of the war today on military leaders under former President George W Bush, specifically Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary and his top military commander, Tommy Franks.
"Removing the al-Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat," the report said. "But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide.

"The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism."

The report states categorically that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops at least.

It says that a review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants "removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora."

On or about Dec 16, 2001, Bin Laden and bodyguards "walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area," where he is still believed to be based, the report says.

Instead of a massive attack, fewer than 100 US commandos, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalise on air strikes and track down their prey.

"The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines," the report said.

At the time, Mr Rumsfeld expressed concern that a large US troop presence might fuel a backlash and he and some others said the evidence was not conclusive about bin Laden's location.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Afghanistan needs an army: Let's subcontract the Taliban.

Outsourcing baby. We are the outsourcing champions of the world. Let's get it on, so to speak. Outsource the war and be home for the next Hajj, for Christ's sake if not our own.

Flip the Taliban. We have thousand of unemployed real estate flippers in Florida and Nevada alone. Whats' the difference really, between a condominium and mohammadinium? It's all semantics and politics. Flip the Taliban.

Well the math is compelling. Let's go big and hire 500,000 of them. The average wage in Afghanistan is $400 a year, so going big time we pay them a princely $1000 per year. We should be able to outfit one soldier for $2000. Therefore for probably no more than twelve seconds interest on our national debt, $1.5 Billion, we have a battle hardened army, proven winners all, 500,000 believers.

Seems to me when we had about 1200 special oops riding around on mules we outsourced the entire country. We got a little carried away at Tora Bora and probably got stiffed by going light on supervision but these things happen.


Afghans Offer Jobs to Taliban Rank and File if They Defect
New York Times

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — The American-backed campaign to persuade legions of Taliban gunmen to stop fighting got under way here recently, in an ornate palace filled with Afghan tribal leaders and one very large former warlord leading the way.

Majid/Getty Images
Guns laid down by former Taliban fighters lined a wall at a reconciliation meeting. Many were promised paid work.

“O.K., I want you guys to go out there and persuade the Taliban to sit down and talk,” Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of Jalalabad, told a group of 25 tribal leaders from four eastern provinces. In a previous incarnation, Mr. Shirzai was the American-picked governor of Kandahar Province after the Taliban fell in 2001.

“Do whatever you have to do,” the rotund Mr. Shirzai told the assembled elders. “I’ll back you up.”

After about two hours of talking, Mr. Shirzai and the tribal elders rose, left for their respective provinces and promised to start turning the enemy.

The meeting is part of a battlefield push to lure local fighters and commanders away from the Taliban by offering them jobs in development projects that Afghan tribal leaders help select, paid by the American military and the Afghan government.

By enlisting the tribal leaders to help choose the development projects, the Americans also hope to help strengthen both the Afghan government and the Pashtun tribal networks.

These efforts are focusing on rank-and-file Taliban; while there are some efforts under way to negotiate with the leaders of the main insurgent groups, neither American nor Afghan officials have much faith that those talks will succeed soon.

Afghanistan has a long history of fighters switching sides — sometimes more than once. Still, efforts so far to persuade large numbers of Taliban fighters to give up have been less than a complete success. To date, about 9,000 insurgents have turned in their weapons and agreed to abide by the Afghan Constitution, said Muhammad Akram Khapalwak, the chief administrator for the Peace and Reconciliation Commission in Kabul.

But in an impoverished country ruined by 30 years of war, tribal leaders said that many more insurgents would happily put down their guns if there was something more worthwhile to do.

“Most of the Taliban in my area are young men who need jobs,” said Hajji Fazul Rahim, a leader of the Abdulrahimzai tribe, which spans three eastern provinces. “We just need to make them busy. If we give them work, we can weaken the Taliban.”

In the Jalalabad program, tribal elders would reach out to Taliban commanders to press them to change sides. The commanders and their fighters then would be offered jobs created by local development programs.

The Pashtuns, who form the core of the Taliban, make up a largely tribal society, with families connected to one another by kinship and led by groups of elders. Over the years, the Pashtun tribes have been substantially weakened, with elders singled out by three groups: Taliban fighters, the rebels who fought the former Soviet Union and the soldiers of the former Soviet Union itself. The decimation of the tribes has left Afghan society largely atomized.

Afghan and American officials hope that the plan to make peace with groups of Taliban fighters will complement an American-led effort to set up anti-Taliban militias in many parts of the country: the Pashtun tribes will help fight the Taliban, and they will make deals with the Taliban. And, by so doing, Afghan tribal society can be reinvigorated.

“We’re trying to put pressure on the leaders, and at the same time peel away their young fighters,” said an American military official in Kabul involved in the reconciliation effort. “This is not about handing bags of money to an insurgent.”

The Afghan reconciliation plan is intended to duplicate the Awakening movement in Iraq, where Sunni tribal leaders, many of them insurgents, agreed to stop fighting and in many cases were paid to do so. The Awakening contributed to the remarkable decline in violence in Iraq.

In the autumn of 2001, during the opening phase of the American-led war in Afghanistan, dozens of warlords fighting for the Taliban agreed to defect to the American-backed rebels. As in Iraq, the defectors were often enticed by cash, sometimes handed out by American Army Special Forces officers.

At a ceremony earlier this month in Kabul, about 70 insurgents laid down their guns before the commissioners and agreed to accept the Afghan Constitution. Some of the men had fought for the Taliban, some for Hezb-i-Islami, another insurgent group. The fighters’ motives ranged from disillusion to exhaustion.

“How long should we fight the government? How many more years?” said Molawi Fazullah, a Taliban lieutenant who surrendered with nine others. “Our leaders misled us, and we destroyed our country.”

Like many fighters who gave up at the ceremony, he shrouded his face with a scarf and sunglasses, for fear of being identified by his erstwhile comrades.

The Americans say they have no plans to give cash to local Taliban commanders. They say they would rather give them jobs.

In a defense appropriations bill recently approved by Congress, lawmakers set aside $1.3 billion for a program known by its acronym, CERP, a discretionary fund for American officers. Ordinarily, CERP money is used for development projects, but the language in the bill says officers can use the money to support the “reintegration into Afghan society” of those who have given up fighting.

For all the efforts under way to entice Taliban fighters to change sides, there will always be the old-fashioned approach: deadly force. American commanders also want to squeeze them; such is the rationale behind Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for tens of thousands of additional American troops.

Indeed, sometimes force alone does the trick. On Oct. 9, American Special Forces soldiers killed Ghulam Yahia, an insurgent commander believed responsible for, among other things, sending several suicide bombers into the western city of Herat. Mr. Yahia had changed sides himself in the past: earlier in the decade, he was Herat’s mayor.

When the Americans killed Mr. Yahia, in a mountain village called Bedak, 120 of his fighters defected to the Afghan government. Others went into hiding. Abdul Wahab, a former lieutenant of Mr. Yahia’s who led the defectors, said that the Afghan government had so far done nothing to protect them or offer them jobs. But he said he was glad he had made the jump anyway.

“We are tired of war,” he said. “We don’t want it anymore.”

Sangar Rahimi and Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.

How is your Hajj going?

Our most American of presidents, ends his Hajj message with "Eid Mubarak". Mubarak means 'Blessed'. Barack of course, is the blessed one and we are indeed blessed to have the one. Barack and Michelle wished all "may you enjoy a blessed festival."

Rumor has it that 34,000 more American troops will be having less than a blessed festival in the coming year. More on that next week.


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 25, 2009

Statement by the President on Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha

Michelle and I would like to send our best wishes to all those performing Hajj this year, and to Muslims in America and around the world who are celebrating Eid-ul-Adha. The rituals of Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha both serve as reminders of the shared Abrahamic roots of three of the world’s major religions.

During Hajj, the world’s largest and most diverse gathering, three million Muslims from all walks of life – including thousands of American Muslims – will stand in prayer on Mount Arafat. The following day, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha and distribute food to the less fortunate to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son out of obedience to God.

This year, I am pleased that the Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with the Saudi Health Ministry to prevent and limit the spread of H1N1 during Hajj. Cooperating on combating H1N1 is one of the ways we are implementing my administration's commitment to partnership in areas of mutual interest.

On behalf of the American people, we would like to extend our greetings during this Hajj season – Eid Mubarak.

Multi-culturalism does have its limits.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Northwest Airline Flight 188

What happened on Northwest Airlines Flight 188
1:40 PM Fri, Nov 27, 2009 | Aviation Blog
Terry Maxon/Reporter

We have two interesting items Friday about the Northwest Airlines flight last month that alarmed people after it didn't have radio contact for more than an hour, and it overflew Minneapolis-St. Paul.

We have the Associated Press story that talks about the Federal Aviation Administration transcript of the conversations between air traffic controllers and the pilots on the flight. Click here to go to the FAA transcripts and listen to a recording of the air traffic controllers.

And more interesting, we have what purports to be a thrice-forwarded email from a friend of Capt. Tim Cheney who discusses what happened on the flight.

According to the friend, Cheney said that the session with the laptops lasted no more than five minutes as the first officer was showing Cheney how to build a schedule that could get Cheney some desired days off in December.

What went wrong on the flight? According to this account, when Denver handed the flight off to the Minneapolis-St. Paul air traffic control, the first officer accidently tuned into the wrong frequency -- for Winnepeg, Canada, not MSP.

Secondly, the first officer didn't brief the captain on the frequency change when the captain returned from a visit to the restroom.

The flight also had a tailwind of 100 knots, or about 115 miles per hour, which meant they got there faster.

For both items, keep reading.
First, the Associated Press story:

FAA transcripts show efforts to reach Flight 188
FAA transcripts show controllers trying to reach Northwest flight that overflew Minneapolis

By Joshua Freed, AP Airlines Writer
On 12:20 pm EST, Friday November 27, 2009

Air traffic controllers asked the Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew Minneapolis repeatedly about what had happened on the plane, according to transcripts released Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Oct. 21 flight had been out of contact for 77 minutes before controllers re-established contact. the pilots told them right away that they had been distracted, but didn't give details.

After almost 90 seconds of conversation about the route they should take to Minneapolis, the controllers said, "I just have to verify that the cockpit is secure."

"It is secure, we got distracted," one of the pilots responded. The transcript says the pilot then said that they never heard a call from the ground.

A different controller took over and, after five more minutes of directions about routes and altitudes, asked, "Do you have time to give a brief explanation on what happened?"

"Cockpit distractions that's all I can say," was the response from Northwest Flight 188.

About 12 minutes after contact had been re-established, the same controller asked, "is there any way you can elaborate on the distraction?"

The pilot said that they were dealing with some company issues, and "that's all all I can tell you right now at this time," according to the transcript.

Air traffic controllers ultimately had the pilots perform several turns to verify that they were in control of the plane. It landed safely in Minneapolis, and was met at the gate by police.

The transcripts also show controllers checking that the flight had enough fuel. The pilot responded that they had about two hours' worth of fuel on board and that it wasn't a concern.

The pilots have told the National Transportation Safety Board that they were discussing their company's complicated new crew-scheduling program over their laptop computers as their plane flew past Minneapolis by 150 miles. Northwest was bought by Delta Air Lines Inc. last year and the company has been working to integrate its computer systems.

And the email from the friend:

Hi All,
I had a one hour conversation with Tim Cheney yesterday and would like to shed some light on what happened to cause the over flight of their destination, MSP.

Before I begin with details, I wanted to say right up front that although there are many events that helped to cause this, Tim takes full responsibility and places no blame on anyone but himself. He is very humbled by what has happened and fully understands that as captain, he was responsible for the a/c, crew and passengers. That said, he wanted me to know how it all happened. Secondly, he has the full support of his neighbors in Gig Harbor, WA, as well has his church parishioners. One of his neighbors wrote a letter to the Star & Tribune in Minneapolis saying how great a family the Cheney's were, I agree.

On their flight from San Diego to Minneapolis, after passing Denver, the f/a called the cockpit to let them know Tim's crew meal was ready. Tim was the "flying pilot" on this leg, so he told his F/O that when the f/a brings the meal up, he will step back to use the restroom. When Tim returned, the F/A left the cockpit and he began to eat his crew meal. When a pilot leaves to use the restroom, it is customary for the other pilot to brief him on his return on "any changes", such as altitude, heading, course changes or atc center frequency changes, etc. In this instance, nothing was said....even though the f/o had received a frequency change. The problem that occurred was that the f/o never got a response on the new was not the correct was a Winnipeg Canada Center Freq.

Now, Denver Center is trying to get a hold of them because they never checked in, because the f/o had dialed in the wrong freq......that is who called them so many times....but, then there was a shift change at Denver Center and no one briefed the new controller that there was a NORDO A/C (non communications) in their, in actuality, atc basically "lost" this a/c.....see Wall Street Journal article below.

Tim told me he heard atc chatter on the speaker and so never thought they were out of radio range.....but, of course, they were hearing pilots talk on Winnipeg Center. For non-pilots.....when we don't hear anything for a long while...we ask atc if they are still there....sometimes they are and sometimes you are out of their area and need to find a new frequency. With this chatter going on, there was no concern that they were not being controlled.

Then Tim told the f/o that the new bidding system was horrible and that his November schedule was not what he hoped for. He mentioned that his son was going into the Army in Dec. and he wanted certain days off so he could see him off.....the f/o said he could help him, he knew more about the new bidding system. Tim got his lap top out and put it on his left leg and showed the f/o how he bid. He told me he had his lap top out for maybe 2 minutes. Then the f/o said that he would show him how to do it on his laptop. He had his laptop out maximum of 5 minutes.

Let's also add the 100 kt tail wind that they had to the discussion, not helping matters.

The f/a's called the cockpit on the interphone(no they did not kick the door, no, no one was sleeping, no, no one was fighting) and asked when they will get there. They looked at their nav screens and were directly over MSP. Because they had their screens set on the max, 320 kt setting, when the f/o called on the frequency, which of course was Winnipeg Center, he saw Eau Claire and Duluth on his screen. They asked where they were and the f/o told them over Eau Claire, which was not even close, but MSP had disappeared from the screen even though they were right over the city.

They were, as you all know, vectored all over the sky to determine if they had control of the a/c and Tim kept telling the f/o to tell them they have control they want to land at MSP, etc. They landed with 11,000 pounds of fuel (no they did not come in on fumes, but had 2 hours in an A320) and not but 15 minutes past schedule, even though they left San Diego 35 minutes late due to an atc flow restriction.

In the jet-way awaiting them were FBI and every other authority you can imagine.

Aftermath and tidbits:

Although these pilots filed an NASAP Report, which was designed to have pilots tell the truth about events, so the FAA could learn from them, they had their licenses revoked by the ATL F.A.A. even before they came out of their meeting with NTSB and NASAP meetings.

ATL FAA is really big on this new regulation which will allow pilots to take a short nap in flight so they will be rested for the approach...they were insistent that they were sleeping.

MSP FAA, Vance (do not know last name) was the person who handed Tim his revocation letter(which was leaked to the entire world by the ATL FAA). Tim said Vance had tears in his eyes and walked away, said nothing. It was later learned that the entire MSP FAA office did not agree at all with revoking their pilot's licenses, but had no jurisdiction over the matter, since ATL FAA had control because of Delta.

The pilots have been to Wash. D.C., ATL and MSP for several meetings. In ATL, they met with the chief pilots and Tim said they could not have been nicer. They are working to resolve this, not to try and fire them. But of course, they will have to get their license back for Delta to consider allowing them to continue flying. The appeal has been files for the FAA to reinstate their licenses or to settle on some form of punishment, etc.

When Tim and his wife were in MSP for a meeting with the NTSB, they happen to be staying at the same hotel as the NTSB was. The next morning in the lobby, the NTSB official came over to Tim and said he did not know why they even called them in for this event. There was no safety issue. Also, MSP Center informed Delta that there never was a problem and no aircraft were near their plane. Even though no radio communications, they had been followed and separated.

Yes, the company tried to contact them on ACARS, but the 320 does not have a has a 30 second light which then extinguishes.
Tim always has 121.5 tuned, but as we all know as pilots, it can get very noisy at times and we turn it down and sometimes forget to turn it back on. He told me this may have been the case.

So there were so many factors which helped to cause this episode. Anyone would have likely prevented it.....properly checking in on the new frequency would have been the first one.....

A note about NWA's A.O.M (I think it stands for airman's operation manual), it does not say we can't use a laptop, however in Delta's A.O.M., it does, we are transitioning now and we actually have pages from both airlines. When our union showed this to the attorney's, they could not believe the confusion put on our pilot group. But, D.C. F.A.A. put out a new possible ruling which will disallow all stupid, don't they know Jet Blue has laptops on every aircraft and soon all airliners will for the electronic Jepp charts.

These are the facts and again, Tim said he feels very bad for the company and the pilots and is hoping for a positive outcome on their appeal. With 24 years at NWA, 21,000 blemish free hours, it would be a mistake to ruin his career over this in my opinion.

Thank you,


Oh My, Dubai. Hold your breath. How big the fraud?

Tokyo Shares End Down On Strong Yen, Dubai Debt Worries

  • TOKYO (Dow Jones)--The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped to a fresh four-month closing low Friday on continuing yen strength and worries that unfolding financial troubles in Dubai may sink U.S. stocks later in the global trading day.
  • The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 301.72 points, or 3.2%, to 9081.52, closing just a few points off its intraday low. The dismal finish was the biggest point decline for the index since Aug. 17, and its lowest closing level since July 13.
  • The Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues lost 18.55 points, or 2.2%, to 811.01, its lowest closing level since April 1.
  • Trading volume was relatively robust at over 2.25 billion shares.
  • Stocks got off to a weak start after the dollar briefly fell below Y85, setting a fresh 14-year low against the yen early in the morning. As of the close of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the U.S. currency was seen trading at 86.14 against the Japanese unit, down from 86.65 at Thursday's market close.
  • Thirty-one of 33 Topix subindexes ended in negative territory, with steel, nonferrous metal, and machinery making sectors absorbing the biggest percent losses.
  • A Nikkei report that mining giant BHP Billiton has asked major Japanese steelmakers to accept a change in their pricing mechanism for coking coal to one linked to market prices hurt the sector. Nippon Steel lost 4.0% to Y310 and JFE Holdings sank 5.8% to Y2,765 on concerns that the new method could mean higher procurement costs.
  • Stronger yen concerns hit major exporters hard, sending Honda Motor shares down 3.8% to Y2,660, and Sony shares down 4.4% to Y2,265. Canon fell 2.7% to Y3,200.
  • "The yen strengthening trend will continue," said Nikko Cordial senior strategist Tsuyoshi Kawata. "Speculative traders are assuming that the government won't take any immediate action."
  • The Nikkei sharply extended its losses late in the session on a decline in Globex U.S. stock futures. Wall Street trading resumes for a shorted session after yesterday's Thanksgiving Day holiday.
  • "After European stocks fell on Dubai debt exposure concerns, hedge selling is kicking in on worries that Wall Street may face a similar selloff," said Daiwa Securities SMBC market analyst Yumi Nishimura. Dubai World, the city state's largest corporate entity, asked creditors Wednesday for a six-month moratorium on debt repayments.
  • General contractors and other development project-related stocks were some of the biggest victims of Dubai-related speculative selling. The Nikkei newspaper reported that large builders would be among the first to be hit by the Dubai debt crisis because of major contracts tendered by Nakheel, Dubai World's property development unit. Taisei sank 7.1% to Y145, while Obayashi tumbled 8.7% to Y284.
  • December Nikkei 225 futures ended down 320 points, or 3.4%, at 9070 on the Osaka Securities Exchange.
  • For the holiday-shortened week, the Nikkei dropped 4.4%, and is off 9.5% for the month with one trading day to go. Year-to-date, it is still up 2.5%.

By Juro Osawa, Dow Jones Newswires; 813-6895-7569;

Thursday, November 26, 2009

All Banks and Thrifts earn only $2.8B in Q3 and that is not from loans

FDIC Problem Bank List Surges to 552
November 25th, 2009
American Banking News

In a report from the FDIC that the Deposit Insurance Fund has been operating in the red since the third quarter, down by $8.2 billion, there was other bad news, as the number of banks on the problem list of the FDIC has now risen to 552, which in reality is probably much worse than it seems.

The reason for it being much worse is in connection to the 50 banks that have folded since the middle of 2009. We have to assume those banks were on the past list of 416 problem banks identified by the FDIC. With that having to be the case (at least the majority of them), it means the number of problem banks added to the list are in reality 186 when taking that into consideration.

Other concerns are the combined profit of $2.8 billion for the third quarter of all banks and thrifts. It’s not the relatively low number which is the problem, but that the profits aren’t coming form loans, which has been part of the problem for some time.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair stated on those concerns: “There is no question that credit availability is an important issue for the economic recovery. We need to see banks making more loans to their business customers.”

This comment from Bair sounds right, but really isn’t that meaningful in the current economic and credit crisis. Banks have rightly tightened up their credit standards, something that should never have been allowed to lapse in the first place. So there’s no way that they’re going to just loan out money to businesses based on the idea that they’re part of a movement to restore the economy.

Loans have to be worked out on an individual basis, and if the businesses are creditworthy, that will determine whether they receive a loan or not, and nothing else.

The other problem is the existing commercial loans on the books of banks are disasters. The fallout from them hasn’t really kicked in yet, as the second half of 2010 is expected to reveal how bad those really are.

When you sift through all the chatter on the subject, the truth seems to be that there is a much higher focus on avoiding risk with commercial loans rather than a move to extend credit.

So with the number of problem banks rising so much and banks in a defensive loan mode, the idea that a recovery is on the way continues to baffle everyone that thinks it through. Just taking a few of the giant bailed out banks and using them as an example of a recovery doesn’t cut it.

Problem bank numbers will continue to rise, along with failures. Alt-A loans are going to be due for mandated re-sets in the first half of 2010, with commercial loans projected to crash in the latter half.

Add to that the fact that money isn’t being made through loans but through investments the banks are making, and you see how there won’t be any jobs added in that economic environment, and few banks have the will or resources to take make the types of loans which government officials assert will be needed to help the economy recover.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Afghan National Army: 1 in 4 quit, 9% AWOL, 19% absentee rate.

POLITICS: Afghan Army Turnover Rate Threatens U.S. War Plans
By Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Nov 24 (IPS) - One in every four combat soldiers quit the Afghan National Army (ANA) during the year ending in September, published data by the U.S. Defence Department and the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan reveals.

That high rate of turnover in the ANA, driven by extremely high rates of desertion, spells trouble for the strategy that President Barack Obama has reportedly decided on, which is said to include the dispatch of thousands of additional U.S. military trainers in order to rapidly increase the size of the ANA.

The ANA has been touted by U.S. officials for years as a success story. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal called in his August 2009 strategy paper for increasing the ANA to 134,000 troops by October 2010 and eventually to 240,000.

But an administration source, who insisted on speaking without attribution because of the sensitivity of the subject, confirmed to IPS that 25 percent has been used as the turnover rate for the ANA in internal discussions, and that it is regarded by some officials as a serious problem.

The 35,000 troops recruited in the year ending Sep. 1 is the highest by the ANA in any year thus far, but the net increase of 19,000 troops for the year is 33 percent less than the 26,000 net increases during both of the previous two years.

Those figures indicate that the rate of turnover in the ANA is accelerating rather than slowing down. That acceleration could increase further, as the number of troops whose three-year enlistment contracts end rises rapidly in the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, the Defence Department sought to obscure the problem of the high ANA turnover rate in its reports to Congress on Afghanistan in January and June 2009, which avoided the issues of attrition and desertion entirely.

Instead they referred to what DOD calls the "AWOL" (Absent without Leave) rate in the ANA, which measures those unavailable for duty but still in the army. It claimed in June that the AWOL rate was nine percent through May 2009, compared with seven percent in 2008.

The reports also confused the question of turnover in the ANA by using questionable accounting methods in DOD's reporting on monthly changes in personnel. It provided figures for total ANA personnel in 2009 showing an increase from 66,000 in September 2008 to 94,000 in September 2009.

Those figures have made it appear that ANA manpower increased by 28,000 during the year. But nearly half the increase turns out to be accounted for by a decision on the part of the U.S. command responsible for tracking ANA manpower to change what was being measured.

Previously the total had included only those who had been trained and assigned to a military unit. But in late September 2008, CSTC-A started counting 12,000 men who had not previously been considered as part of the ANA.

In response to a query from IPS, Sgt. Grady L. Epperly, chief of media relations for CSTC-A, acknowledged that the U.S. command had abruptly changed what it included in its overall strength figures for the Afghan Army in late September 2008.

"The way numbers were reported was switched from reporting only Operational Forces to including all Soldiers, Officers and civilians, regardless of training status and command," Epperly wrote in an e-mail.

The graphs in the DOD reports of January and June 2009 are still identified as "Afghan National Army Trained and Assigned". But the text of the report reveals that the personnel totals shown on the graph were no longer for the Afghan National Army but for the Ministry of Defence.

That meant that the totals included for the first time those still in training, including even high school cadets, and others not assigned to any unit.

That deceptive accounting change obscured the fact that the total number of personnel assigned to ANA units in September 2009 was actually 82,000 rather than the 94,000 shown, and that the increase in ANA personnel over the year was only 16,000 rather than 28,000.

Using the corrected totals for changes in personnel during the year, the 25 percent turnover rate for ANA combat troops can be calculated from the available data on recruitment and the breakdown between combat and non-combat troops

Calculating the ANA Combat Troop Turnover Rate
The turnover rate in any organisation in a given time period is the total number of personnel who quit the organisation divided by the total number who belonged to the organisation during that period.

The ANA recruited 35,000 men from September 2008 through August 2009, according to quarterly reports issued by the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan and semi-annual DOD reports. With 66,000 as the personnel base for the year beginning September 2008, the total number of personnel in the organisation for the year was 101,000.

The difference of 19,000 between the 35,000 recruited and the 16,000 net increase in personnel during the period represents total turnover from a combination of attrition – soldiers who do not reenlist after their three-year contracts have expired – and desertion.

The 19,000 turnover is 19 percent of the total of 101,000 men who belonged to the ANA during the year ending September 2009.

However, the more meaningful measure of turnover is the percentage of combat troops who left the ANA.

The total number of combat troops increased only from 46,000 to 58,000 during the year ending in September for an increase of 12,000, according to the official published data.

Four thousand of the new 35,000 new recruits either went into non-combat units or were not assigned, leaving 31,000 recruits who were assigned to combat units.

The difference between the 31,000 recruits assigned to combat units and the 12,000 increase in combat troops, representing the turnover of ANA combat troops, is 19,000. That 19,000-man total turnover was 25 percent of the 77,000 total ANA troops assigned to combat units during the year (46,000 plus 31,000).

ANA turnover as a proportion of ANA combat troops is a more significant indicator of instability than turnover as a proportion of all personnel, because there is little or no desertion and far higher reenlistment rates in non-combat jobs. ANA non-combat personnel totals also include thousands of civilians.

The impact of the 25-percent combat troop turnover rate on the ANA is actually more acute than it would appear, because of the high absenteeism rate in the ANA. The GAO report revealed that, as of February 2008, out of 32,000 combat troops on the rolls, only 26,000 were available for duty – a 19 percent absenteeism rate.

Assuming that same rate of absenteeism remained during the past year, the number of ANA combat troops actually available for duty increased only by about 9,000 from 37,000 to 46,000.

As serious as the turnover rate was in 2009-2009, turnover in the first two or three years of the ANA was much worse. ANA recruitment and reenlistment figures show that 18,000 of the first 25,000 troops recruited from 2003 to 2005 deserted.

That desertion rate prompted analysts at the U.S. Army Center for Lessons Learned at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to conclude that the ANA would not be able to grow beyond 100,000, according to an article in the current issue of "Military Review", published at the same Army base.

The authors, Chris Mason and Thomas Johnson, both of whom have had extensive experience in Afghanistan, write that that the analysts at the Army Center concluded that by the time the ANA got to 100,000 troops, its annual losses from desertions and attrition would roughly equal its gains from recruitment.

The Center for Lessons Learned refused to confirm or deny those assertions. When asked about the assertion in the Military Review article, an official of the Center for Lessons Learned, operations officer Randy Cole, refused to comment except to refer IPS to the authors of the article.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.

1963 Thanksgiving Walton's Family Reunion

US Military Brass shafting the US military fighting man once again.

Ahmed Hashim Abed is the alleged mastermind of the killing and mutilation of four American security guards in Fallujah in 2004. Navy SEALS captured Ahmed Hashim Abed.

Ahmed Hashim Abed told US military investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

This picture is of the mutilated body of an American, the handy work of Ahmed Hashim Abed. The US Military is trying US fighting men, who captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, for giving Ahmed Hashim Abed a bloody lip


Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
By Rowan Scarborough FOX

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

Matthew McCabe, a Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class (SO-2), is facing three charges: dereliction of performance of duty for willfully failing to safeguard a detainee, making a false official statement, and assault.

Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe, SO-2, is facing charges of dereliction of performance of duty and making a false official statement.

Petty Officer Julio Huertas, SO-1, faces those same charges and an additional charge of impediment of an investigation.

The three SEALs will be arraigned separately on Dec. 7. Another three SEALs — two officers and an enlisted sailor — have been identified by investigators as witnesses but have not been charged. obtained the official handwritten statement from one of the three witnesses given on Sept. 3, hours after Abed was captured and still being held at the SEAL base at Camp Baharia. He was later taken to a cell in the U.S.-operated Green Zone in Baghdad.

The SEAL told investigators he had showered after the mission, gone to the kitchen and then decided to look in on the detainee.

"I gave the detainee a glance over and then left," the SEAL wrote. "I did not notice anything wrong with the detainee and he appeared in good health."

Lt. Col. Holly Silkman, spokeswoman for the special operations component of U.S. Central Command, confirmed Tuesday to that three SEALs have been charged in connection with the capture of a detainee. She said their court martial is scheduled for January.

United States Central Command declined to discuss the detainee, but a legal source told that the detainee was turned over to Iraqi authorities, to whom he made the abuse complaints. He was then returned to American custody. The SEAL leader reported the charge up the chain of command, and an investigation ensued.

The source said intelligence briefings provided to the SEALs stated that "Objective Amber" planned the 2004 Fallujah ambush, and "they had been tracking this guy for some time."

The Fallujah atrocity came to symbolize the brutality of the enemy in Iraq and the degree to which a homegrown insurgency was extending its grip over Iraq.

The four Blackwater agents were transporting supplies for a catering company when they were ambushed and killed by gunfire and grenades. Insurgents burned the bodies and dragged them through the city. They hanged two of the bodies on a bridge over the Euphrates River for the world press to photograph.

Intelligence sources identified Abed as the ringleader, but he had evaded capture until September.

The military is sensitive to charges of detainee abuse highlighted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The Navy charged four SEALs with abuse in 2004 in connection with detainee treatment.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hackers Say Scientists Manipulating Data to Prove Global Warming

On December 7, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen to save planet Earth. President Hu Jintao of China and Barack Obama may not be there for the salvation effort. To the true believers there is only one man who can truly save the planet and of course that is Barack Obama.

The tension mounts.

Will Obama be able to hold himself off stage or will he relent and soothe the masses yearning for his leadership? What do you think? Is the lad capable of staying off that big carbon spewing 747?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Damn Good 'Merican Music

US Amateur-Hour Continues in Latin America

While we destroyed our economy fighting our two Islamic wars, our perpetual nemesis, Iran, has been smartly and methodically generating economic ties and broad support in (would you guess?) Latin America.

They have been joined by the Russians and the Chinese, who have been happily investing their US dollars in Latin America as well. The latest host is Brazil. Our efforts to isolate Iran have been laughable.

Iran is supported by economic ties with Russia and China. Russia and China have been picking up support for Iran in China and Africa. Care to count the countries in Latin America that have extended substantial and political ties with Iran, Russia and China over the last ten years?

It would be easier to count those that have not.

Two countries left in our column would be Colombia and Honduras.

What has the US done in those two countries?

We recently shafted Honduras as they tried to stop their president from breaking their constitution and we have failed to extend a simple trade agreement with Colombia.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Germany to Hinder Obama/Holden Trial Conviction of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed



Obama has hoisted his own petard and it seems to have been made in Germany. Remember, several members of the al Qaeda cell that planned and executed the attacks of September 11 were previously based in the northern German city of Hamburg. The Germans provided intelligence and evidence to the United States. That was then this is now:

In this case we will observe very closely that the given assurances are kept," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said.

However it was unclear exactly how evidence from Germany would be distinguished from evidence procured from elsewhere.

The defense lawyer for one of the accused, Ramzi Binalshibh, said that a conviction of his client would "scarcely be possible without evidence from Germany."


TERRORISM | 21.11.2009
Berlin wants no part in potential 9/11 execution


A legal team is going to New York to prevent the use of evidence provided by Germany in seeking a death penalty. Berlin wants to ensure that promises made by the US are kept if the suspects are found guilty.

A team of observers from the German government is going to New York to oversee the trial of five suspects accused of orchestrating the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

The federal trial of the suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants was announced on November 13 by the US Justice Department. The government also asserted that it intends to seek the death penalty if the accused are found guilty.

Germany, which does not have a death penalty, provided evidence for the trial on the condition that it could not be used to support a death sentence. Several members of the al Qaeda cell that planned and executed the attacks of September 11 were previously based in the northern German city of Hamburg.

"In this case we will observe very closely that the given assurances are kept," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said.

However it was unclear exactly how evidence from Germany would be distinguished from evidence procured from elsewhere.

The defense lawyer for one of the accused, Ramzi Binalshibh, said that a conviction of his client would "scarcely be possible without evidence from Germany."

Editor: Andreas Illmer

Burqua Barbie

One of the world’s most famous children’s toys, Barbie, has been given a makeover – wearing a burkha.

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s for Save The Children.

More than 500 Barbies went on show yesterday at the Salone dei Cinquecento, in Florence, Italy.

Makers Mattel are backing the exhibition which is the work of Italian designer Eliana Lorena.

The auction is part of Barbie celebrations for her 50th anniversary this year. The UK’s biggest Barbie fan Angela Ellis, 35, has a collection of more than 250 dolls.

I suppose little Muslim boys can practice being Jihadis when they grow up by pulling the heads off their sister's Burqua Barbies.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My friend John Hull

I haven't seen John Hull or Rob Owen since 1984. We thought it best to part company at that time. Rob Owen had to burn through $1,000,000 to protect himself from the US Senate. I held my breath and lowered my profile. It worked.

I did have an amusing incident when I was invited to a party at the Vice President's House and met Dan Quayle. I knew Rob Owen worked for Quayle because one of the numbers I used to contact Owen was in the Indiana Senator's office. Several years later when introduced to the then Vice President I said we had a mutual friend in Rob Owen. VP Quayle smiled and asked as to how I knew Rob, and when I mentioned through John Hull, a concerned look rose across his face.

I chuckled and told him it was cool. John Hull was my friend and I knew what Hull did and did not do.

I had no idea John was still alive. I have posted several times about him and how he was railroaded by the "Liar of the Senate", John Kerry. Here is what he has been doing the last 25 years and here is a previous post I did on John Hull.


Don John: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Photos by Sonny Brown and
Kristen K. Tucker Evansvilleliving

At his Yucatan ranch, John Hull talks to Kristen K. tucker about growing up in Southern Indiana, the Contra war, and a life spent aiding native Indians.

“Don John” is up to his old tricks.

It could also be said, and it would be true, he’s never stopped doing what he does.

We — editors of this magazine and most people in Evansville — just didn’t know.

For nearly 20 years, the name John Hull hasn’t been heard much around Evansville. But for the decade of the 1980s and into the 1990s, “Don John,” as the Gibson County farmer was called throughout Central America, dominated local news reporting and captured the interest of national news organizations, politicians, presidents, the native Indians of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the FBI, and the CIA.

The man who for a decade regaled reporters and anyone who would listen about his wartime adventures was keeping a low profile.

Pam Martin, an executive at Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, who in 1989 interviewed and reported on Hull for the Sunday Courier & Press, even speculated recently as she drove up U.S. Highway 41 past the Patoka exit (where the Hull family farm sits less than a quarter-mile off the highway) if Hull still was alive.

John Floyd Hull Jr., 88, is indeed alive and talking at his 1,200-acre ranch in a remote area of the Mexican state of Yucatan, in the municipality of Tizimin, where he and his wife of 20 years, Emelia, 42, raise 800 Brahman cattle and have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of the native Mayan people who inhabit that region.

Two Evansville residents, John Whinrey, an attorney at Frick Powell LLP, and Ron Huffman, a retired Whirlpool engineer, both members of the Rotary Club of Evansville, recently traveled to the Yucatan to visit with Hull and Emelia (“Emie”).

Soon after their visit, I received a phone call in my office on a Friday afternoon. The strong, clear, congenial voice on the phone said, “Mrs. Tucker, this is John Hull. I want to invite you down to my ranch in Mexico.”

John Hull is up to his old tricks. Those who know him — including his grandson Joe Bammer, who owns and operates GrassMasters Sod Farm on part of the Hull family property in Patoka — say that Hull is doing the same thing in Mexico that he began doing in Costa Rica 40 years ago: carving a ranch out of the jungle and working intently to improve the natives’ lives, chiefly through better medical care.

Martin is not surprised. “It sounds just like John Hull. He’ll have one cause after another — humanitarian. Whether it’s on the political fringes or by himself, he’s going to try to improve lives. It’s his brand of assistance. He’ll always be doing what helps people.”

I took Hull’s invitation to visit his ranch seriously and in early January extended a business trip to San Antonio, Texas, to fly to Cancun, Mexico, where Hull said he and Emie would pick me up. Because the Hulls were in El Salvador when they phoned, I had not been able to reach them again until I was in the airport.

“We’re so pleased you’re coming,” Hull said. “We’ll try not to get you kidnapped.”

A few days later I was greeted by Emie Hull in Cancun. Because my flight was a few hours late and people picking up arriving passengers must wait outside, Hull was resting in the leather-seated Chrysler van. I spotted Emie, a pretty Costa Rican woman with strong features and a bright smile, and we began the 100-mile drive through Cancun and into the interior to the Hull ranch. While the roads in this ancient area of Mexico have been improved in recent years, due largely to the tourism industry centering around Cancun and the ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum, still the drive takes nearly three hours, giving us plenty of time to get acquainted as we stopped several times to see the beach, to eat, and to buy fruit, Mexican pastries, and tortillas.

Early Adventures

John Floyd Hull Jr. learned about adventure early in his life. He was born Oct. 20, 1920, in Princeton, Ind., the second of two sons. Both parents had college degrees; his mother taught school, and his father was a county agricul-tural extension agent.

Hull’s father was outspoken against the Ku Klux Klan and, as a result, had a hard time finding a job in Southern Indiana. But he was able to find a job in Dubois County, where John Jr. started school at age 4.

When Hull’s father landed a job as the Vanderburgh County extension agent, the family moved to 715 Washington Ave., and Hull attended Stanley Hall and Bosse High School before enrolling in Evansville College at the age of 17. Always popular, he told me he beat out Vance Hartke, who would later become a U.S. senator, for senior class president.

Hull studied at Evansville College before enrolling in the federal government’s civil pilot training program. He took pilot courses in Evansville and Indianapolis and was selected to take instructor and acrobatic courses.

In 1940, he joined his older brother, J.D., in California where he trained pilots for the U.S. Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the Air Force. There, Hull taught flying for a year before he was drafted by the Army for occupational duty in Germany. Demonstrating the willfulness and resourcefulness that define him, he persuaded the Army to release him and went to Canada to join the Royal Air Force. Hull says he wanted to fly planes instead of being stationed in Germany.

Soon he was flying B-24 bombers from Canada to India. He claims to have held the Guinness World Record for the fastest halfway-around-the-world flight in 1941.

At the expansive Yucatan ranch home he and Emie built six years ago, Hull displays on the walls framed photographs of the pilots he taught in California, a handsome photo of himself flying a B-24, and a framed newspaper clipping from the Evansville Courier Journal, dated Jan. 26, 1936, that featured his mother, Anna Clark Hull. In the story, on the occasion of the death of King George V of England, Hull’s mother recalled 25 years earlier when she was presented at the court of the king and Queen Mary.

Also on the wall of the ranch home is a widescreen high-definition television. A satellite dish, borrowed from their Gibson County property, receives programs broadcast from the U.S. While Emie manages the daily operations of the ranch and its employees — including cowboys, Portofirio and Ruben, and maid, Helda — Hull takes care of business from his recliner and watches Fox News. While his wit is wry and he is quick with a quip, Hull has Parkinson’s disease and a history of heart disease and isn’t as active as he was even at age 70, when, I learned that first night sitting at their dining room table, Hull and Emie fled Nicaragua (prompted by numerous threats on Hull’s life) on foot, climbing over a 4,000- foot mountain in the middle of the night.

Farming Paradise

About 1949, Hull’s father had left his job in Vanderburgh County to work for the Ford Foundation as a foreign agricultural specialist, which led the Hull family to consider making farming investments in other countries. Hull had become interested in the tropics earlier in the war when he flew bombers from Canada to Central America.

During the 1950s, Hull and his father flew to Central America in their own airplane with soil testing kits to test throughout Central America and into South America. They looked for a location with fertile, mineralized soil; a friendly, pro-American culture; and a stable government. They found that in Costa Rica.

In 1969, Hull was the first American rancher to take up residence in northern Costa Rica. At the peak of his farming operations there, Hull amassed a total of about 12,000 acres under management, nearly all of it in ranches bordering the San Juan River along the Nicaraguan border.

Over the years, Hull, and other Americans he persuaded to follow him to Costa Rica (like wealthy Henderson, Ky., farmer and former Army officer, the late George P. Whittington), tamed Costa Rica’s wild frontier, dotting it with cattle, lumber, and citrus industries. Hull became a Costa Rican citizen (today, he holds dual citizenship with the U.S.) and earned the titles of respect: “Don John” or “El Patron” among the locals.

In the Yucatan, Hull still is called “Don John.” At a recent party Emie hosted at the ranch for the schoolchildren of the tiny neighboring village of San Pilar, a little girl asked if she could kiss “Don John.”

“I’ve not had a woman ask to kiss me in 50 years,” Hull joked.

I had read newspaper accounts from the early 1980s suggesting Hull was the most powerful man in Costa Rica. “Was he?” I asked Emie.

“He was. He was a fantastic asset for North America,” Emie says. “John first got very well known for flying in medical supplies.”

Just as his father had an airstrip on their Gibson County property (Evansville residents may remember the sign, “Hull Airport,” along U.S. Highway 41), Hull established grass runways on many of his Costa Rican farms. When neighboring Nicaragua tipped into a full-scale civil war in 1978, Hull began assisting Costa Rican officials by flying in medical supplies and flying out the wounded.

“I’ve grown very fond of the Indians, in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and now here,” Hull says.

Warring in Nicaragua were the Sandinistas and the Contras. The Sandinistas had taken over a repressive regime in 1979, and within a few months, had made known their ties with Cuba and the Soviet Union and vowed to spread communism across Central America. The Contras were formed from dozens of anti-Sandinista battle groups that staged assaults on the new Nicaraguan government from enclaves deep in the eastern Nicaraguan jungle and from neighboring Honduras and Costa Rica, the area of Hull’s ranches.

“The Costa Rican (National) guard were as much against the communists as anyone; so were the El Salvadorans and the Hondurans,” says Hull. “Luckily, there was an awful lot of help from everywhere, especially over in our area — rural people are anti-communist. Your communist agitation comes from people in the big cities, and out there in the North where I was, and the valley rural area, the people donated rice to me and food that I could give to the Contras. The police offered to close any roads I wanted, where they were going to air drop that night. When everyone cooperated, we felt we were stopping the communist movement...”

Three Million More Foreclosed Homes to Come to Market

As President, Obama is a failure. To judge for yourself, compare his jobs speech of one year ago in Ohio, with what he is doing and not doing today.

Obama can't help himself. Trying to get his international ego boost, he jets and bows his way across the planet. His travels have not saved one job, one business or one more home from foreclosure.

Thirteen states reported unemployment rates above the national average of 10.2%, according to a government report released on Friday. Michigan is at 15%. California is at 12.5%.

Overall, jobless rates increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia during October, while they fell in 13 states.

Obama announced he will hold a jobs summit on Dec. 3. Obama will meet with financial experts and business leaders to discuss strategies to deal with the nation's labor problem. The man has never held a real job, so as POTUS, he has to have someone explain to him how it is done.


Even the good die young? High-quality mortgages approaching foreclosure
Posted Nov 20th 2009 2:30PM by Tom Johansmeyer

The loans that got us into this mess were generally the first to fall. Variable rate mortgages written without documentation for people with sketchy credit histories shocked nobody as their slide became an avalanche. But, the good stuff is starting to follow. An increasing amount of fixed rate mortgages offered to borrowers with solid credit histories are feeling their ways to foreclosure. Blame unemployment for this one. When people can't work, it gets pretty hard to pay the mortgage.

Fixed rate, high quality mortgages had a foreclosure a year ago. Last quarter, it jumped to 33%, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association report. As this happened, the amount of homeowners behind on their payments or in foreclosure just set another record high ... for the ninth month in a row. Subprime mortgages are headed in the other direction. Low quality adjustable rate mortgages are now 16% of new foreclosures -- compared to 35% last year. And, more than 18% of Federal Housing Administration loans are anywhere from one payment behind to in foreclosure, with California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida worst off: together, they accounted for 44% of new foreclosures.

The fact that the job market is now to blame for the foreclosure rate does mark a turn in the financial crisis. Until this point, the loans themselves were blamed, especially those involving insane amounts of risk with little verification and (sometimes temporarily) low interest rates. Lending practices have tightened, but the looseness unleashed a contagion on global financial markets which has found its way to the labor market and has revisited housing, though in a different form.

Some are hopeful, but the situation could worsen. Jay Brinkman, chief economist with the Mortgage Bankers Association, notes to The Associated Press that if only a quarter of the 4 million homeowners either three months behind on their payments or in foreclosure are able to stay their homes, "there's a lot of potential inventory coming into the market next year." The foreclosures and subsequent inventory increases would drive prices down, pushing some borrowers into negative equity situations and threatening even more loans.

So, it looks like we're in a footrace. If the job market can recover faster than the foreclosure rate can worsen, it will stabilize the housing market and probably kick us into a virtuous cycle of job growth and home value increases. But, if foreclosures move more swiftly than jobs, the spiral could accelerate.

Mark Levin at The Federalist Society

The Rights of the Colonists

by Samuel Adams

The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting.

November 20, 1772

Benjamin Franklin's Preface to the English Edition and Editor's Notes and Comments

I. Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men.

Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.

All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.

When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such conditions and previous limitations as form an equitable original compact.

Every natural right not expressly given up, or, from the nature of a social compact, necessarily ceded, remains.

All positive and civil laws should conform, as far as possible, to the law of natural reason and equity.

As neither reason requires nor religion permits the contrary, every man living in or out of a state of civil society has a right peaceably and quietly to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience.

"Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty," in matters spiritual and temporal, is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to by the eternal and immutable laws of God and nature, [418]as well as by the law of nations and all well-grounded municipal laws, which must have their foundation in the former.

In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practised, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live. The Roman Catholics or Papists are excluded by reason of such doctrines as these, that princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those that they call heretics may be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a manner, in subversion of government, by introducing, as far as possible into the states under whose protection they enjoy life, liberty, and property, that solecism in politics, imperium in imperio, leading directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil discord, war, and bloodshed.

The natural liberty of man, by entering into society, is abridged or restrained, so far only as is necessary for the great end of society, the best good of the whole.

In the state of nature every man is, under God, judge and sole judge of his own rights and of the injuries done him. By entering into society he agrees to an arbiter or indifferent judge between him and his neighbors; but he no more renounces his original right than by taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law, and leaving the decision to referees or indifferent arbitrators.

In the last case, he must pay the referees for time and trouble. He should also be willing to pay his just quota for the support of government, the law, and the constitution; the end of which is to furnish indifferent and impartial judges in all cases that may happen, whether civil, ecclesiastical, marine, or military.

[419] The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.

In the state of nature men may, as the patriarchs did, employ hired servants for the defence of their lives, liberties, and property; and they should pay them reasonable wages. Government was instituted for the purposes of common defence, and those who hold the reins of government have an equitable, natural right to an honorable support from the same principle that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." But then the same community which they serve ought to be the assessors of their pay. Governors have no right to seek and take what they please; by this, instead of being content with the station assigned them, that of honorable servants of the society, they would soon become absolute masters, despots, and tyrants. Hence, as a private man has a right to say what wages he will give in his private affairs, so has a community to determine what they will give and grant of their substance for the administration of public affairs. And, in both cases, more are ready to offer their service at the proposed and stipulated price than are able and willing to perform their duty.

In short, it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.