title>Lady Liberty Defended: March 2010
Gunmen broke into the boy's home Tuesday morning and announced that they would take whatever they wanted, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Steve Kenny said.What appears to have happened here is a home invasion. Drug related? It wasn't mentioned.
The boy and his 6-year-old sister hid unnoticed in the locked bathroom while the suspects threatened his mother and father at gunpoint.
"There's some guy who's going to kill my mom and dad," he said breathlessly. "Bring cops. A lot of them! ... And soldiers, too."
The suspects eventually broke into the bathroom and someone screamed. The 911 operator sounded shaken as she explained what happened to her colleagues.
Kenny said the suspects grabbed the boy and asked who he called. He responded, "911." The gunmen fled without taking anything or injuring the family.
"If not for the brave and educated actions of the 7-year-old boy, this might have ended tragically," said sheriff's Capt. Pat Maxwell.
The three men remain at large.
“Thank you, President Valerie Brown [of Sonoma County, Calif.] Don’t we all take pride in Valerie Brown recently being named County Official of the Year for her advocacy on behalf of all of America’s counties? Thank you, Valerie. Her wealth of experience – as a mayor, a state legislator, and an educator and a county executive - makes her an innovative and effective leader for the future. At this time of great challenges, her understanding of the different needs of NACo’s diverse counties is essential.Mrs. Pelosi, there is no "fog of controversy". It is clear what the Senate or House bills will do and that is fundamentally change the country. It is NOT what we want. It is not what we deserve. It will help only to destroy this nation.
“I understand many other county officials are here from California. Any Californians to be heard from here? Thank you for coming the distance to Washington and for going the distance for our constituents. And I want to acknowledge all of you who are here.
“I had the privilege last year to acknowledge the work of the Executive Committee of NACo by welcoming them to the Speaker’s office in the Capitol. This year, I have the even greater privilege to come to you to speak to all of the members of NACo.
“On the 75th anniversary of the National Association of Counties, your leadership is more vital and more necessary than ever. You know that. I just want you to know that we in Congress do too.
“The diversity of America’s counties represents the diversity of America. And yet, you share common responsibilities, whatever the diversity. America’s counties are leading on the issues most important to Americans: the education of our children, the health of their families, and the security of our communities.
“Your common responsibilities bring you to Washington with a common cause: to strengthen the partnership between America’s counties and the federal government. It is in that spirit that I have come here today. It’s in that spirit that we will work together to, as your theme says, to ‘find solutions in tough times.’
“I noticed as I was reading your program, it is pretty intense what you have been through this weekend and the beginning of this week, that you have one workshop that was ‘Influencing Congress from Home’—the cyber influence, very, very important but let me say how important your presence here in Washington is, too. It is very important you have come to all the distance, all the diversity, to make your cumulative impact on the Congress. Please don’t underestimate how important your visit is to us.
“I know that you sometimes have felt that your partnership with Washington has not been a balanced one – that burdens have been put on you that you simply cannot fulfill. These difficult economic times have made your challenges even greater. We all know that.
“Together, here in this room, we have the opportunity to ensure that the partnership between America’s counties and the federal government is strong, productive, and balanced.
“Just a little more than a year ago, our President Barack Obama stood on the steps of the Capitol, just a little more than a year ago and called for swift, bold action now to restore our economic growth. In his budget, he set out a blueprint founded on three pillars for our prosperity: a highly-educated workforce, the future, a clean energy economy, good-paying jobs, and quality, affordable health care for all Americans. And he saw these critical building blocks as engines of job creation and economic growth.
“Answering that call, and responding to the needs of America’s counties, we passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, creating and saving up to 2 million jobs so far, and more to come.
“You know best what the Recovery Act means to American’s counties. I have traveled the country, visited many counties to dedicate, groundbreak, observe funding coming into counties, tens of millions of dollars in some counties, over $100 million in some counties, hundreds of millions of dollars. For the Port of Houston, for a highway in Colorado, whether it is keeping teachers on the job, cops on the street, we believe that the Recovery Act was essential to keep us from an even worse recession. But in fact, it has created or saved 2 million jobs.
“Of particular interest to America’s counties – we increased FMAP, providing immediate relief to counties in the 27 states that contribute to Medicaid, and shored up the safety net for families in difficult times. We provided $624 million for counties in Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants—and I know that is important to many of you, you have told me—to promote energy efficiency and conservation while creating jobs and lowering energy costs. I am committed to ensuring that this initiative is strong and ongoing. We have $178 million in Community Development Block Grants that helped you to expand community services, and modernize housing and wastewater systems. Transportation investments and broadband access that have strengthened business opportunities close to home.
“You’ve seen the results, many of you, you have told me about them and again, as I say, you have told me on the site right in your own counties. But I want to just tell you, give you a perspective from here as to what the difference the Recovery Act has made nationally to our economy. Consider this:
“In the last quarter of the Bush Administration, what was reported in the first quarter of last year, America’s GDP, the rate of growth of GDP was a minus 6.4 percent. Minus 6.4 percent. In the equivalent quarter of the Obama Administration one year later, it is at plus 5.9 percent. A swing of over 12 percent in the GDP. This is the fastest rate that we have seen in a long time.
“When we were debating the recovery bill a year ago, a year and a month ago, the stock market was about 6,500. Yesterday it closed 10,500—a swing of 4,000 points.
“Just last week, we learned that America’s manufacturing base grew for the seventh straight month – and is now at its second highest level in years.
“And think of this – jobs. In the first three months of 2009, but let me just state one month so that we can compare them. In January of 2009, the last month of the Bush Administration before we passed the Recovery Act, 779,000 Americans lost their jobs. 779,000 for January of 2009. This January 2010, 20,000 Americans lost their jobs—far too many, we want to move to the plus side of course—but a difference of over three quarters of a million people in just that one month. Thank you, American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
“But our work is far from complete. We know that. Congress will stay focused on our top priority: putting Americans to work. And I said putting Americans to work, I didn’t say putting Americans back to work. Because we have far too people who will have no job, never had a job that they would go back too.
“So we must invest in training, apprenticeships, and vocational education for the chronically unemployed so we put all of America back to work—some back to work, some newly to work. I think you see this in your counties where we have some young people who have not had the opportunity that America must afford them so that as our economy grows with training and vocational training that many more people will participate in the economic prosperity that we see for our country.
“Just last week, we passed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, that’s HIRE—Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, we write these acronyms—another step forward in our fight to put more Americans back to work.
“With $15 billion in critical investments, this bill includes: extension of the Highway Trust Fund. And though the investment is $15 billion and that is paid for, it will unleash tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment in your communities. And for small business, we can never do enough and more needs to be done but in this particular bill: a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers, to create some 300,000 jobs and an income tax credit of $1,000 for businesses that retain these employees. It’s very specific and targeted. And then we have specific support to small businesses with tax credits and accelerated write-offs.
“This bill is one key element, just one step of our broader agenda to expand lending to small businesses, build the infrastructure of the future, support job training, keep police, firefighters, and teachers on the job.
“Tomorrow, Congressman George Miller will introduce his local jobs bill, which allows for county governments and municipalities to retain workers. I think Valerie had a hand in this. I know he is grateful to the input of NACo in crafting this significant legislation. We believe at this time that nothing is more critical to the long-term economic security of American families and to our economy than comprehensive health care reform, health insurance reform.
“As you are in Washington this week, we stand at the doorstep of history, ready to realize a centuries old dream, started by a Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt. He was the one who started this country thinking in this direction, and we are deeply in his debt. But, we are a hundred years late. A century old dream of health care for all, and we will be prepared to send the bill to President Obama’s desk that ensures affordability for the middle class, accountability for the insurance companies, and access for millions more Americans, tens of millions more.
“Nobody knows better than you the strain on hospitals that never turned a patient away, and health care providers grappling with the challenges of the uninsured and shrinking reimbursement. You know as well as anyone, that our current system is unsustainable. It’s unsustainable to individuals and their families. It’s unsustainable for small businesses. It’s unsustainable for your communities. It’s unsustainable for our state, local, and national budgets.
“President Obama said, one year ago, when he called the first bipartisan, on March 5th of last year, the first bipartisan House and Senate meeting together with many outside stakeholders together at the White House, to find a way for us to come together. And at that time, he said: ‘Health care reform is entitlement reform.’ We cannot sustain the upward spiral of the increases in health care and what that means in Medicare and what it means in Medicaid. So from the standpoint of our national budget, and for your budgets, the current system, as I said, is unsustainable.
“Again, it’s unaffordable for families, individuals and families, for businesses of any size, and it is a cost to our economy. Imagine an economy where people could follow their aspirations, where they could be entrepreneurial, where they could take risks professionally because personally their families health care needs are being met. Where they could be self-employed or start a business, not be job-locked in a job because they have health care there, and if they went out on their own it would be unaffordable to them, but especially true, if someone has a child with a pre-existing condition. So when we pass our bill, never again will people be denied coverage because they have a pre-existing condition.
“We have to do this in partnership, and I wanted to bring up to date on where we see it from here. The final health care legislation that will soon be passed by Congress will deliver successful reform at the local level. It will offer paid for investments that will improve health care services and coverage for millions more Americans. It will make significant investments in innovation, prevention, wellness and offer robust support for public health infrastructure. It will dramatically expand investments into community health centers. That means a dramatic expansion in the number of patients community health centers can see and ultimately healthier communities. Our bill will significantly reduce uncompensated care for hospitals.
“You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.
“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy. Furthermore, we believe that health care reform, again I said at the beginning of my remarks, that we sent the three pillars that the President’s economic stabilization and job creation initiatives were education and innovation—innovation begins in the classroom—clean energy and climate, addressing the climate issues in an innovative way to keep us number one and competitive in the world with the new technology, and the third, first among equals I may say, is health care, health insurance reform. Health insurance reform is about jobs. This legislation alone will create 4 million jobs, about 400,000 jobs very soon.
“We must have the courage, though, to get the job done. We have the ideas. We have the commitment. We have the dedication. We know the urgency. Now we have to have the courage to get the job done. So proud that President Obama is taking the message so forcefully to the American people! This is long overdue, a hundred years.
“The challenges we face, the health, the education, the education of our children, the economic well-being of their families, the safety of neighborhoods, all of this, all roads lead to you. The challenges we all face are too great though for each of us to face them alone. We need to form the partnerships, strengthen partnerships at every level of government and with committed and compassionate leaders to understand that the need to focus on the next generation, we need to focus on the next generation, not the next election.
“With that in mind and with great enthusiasm and a sense of history that we have of this responsibility to ensure that health care in America is a right not a privilege; let us move forward in the spirit of restoring and strengthening our partnership, and finding solutions in difficult times. In so doing, we will realize the dream of a brighter future. Thank you for all that you do to make that so.
“Thank you NACo, for the opportunity to be with you. On behalf of my colleagues in the Congress, I welcome you to Washington, D.C. I hope we will see you on Capitol Hill. We want your advocacy either here or from home.
“Thank you, Valerie Brown, for the invitation to be here. Thank you all.”
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Homeland Security and the National Security Agency may be taking a closer look at Internet communications in the future.Of course the great goal of security is the rationale used to justify the program. Not that they don't see that any such activity will raise questions about the current or future application.
The Department of Homeland Security's top cybersecurity official told CNET on Wednesday that the department may eventually extend its Einstein technology, which is designed to detect and prevent electronic attacks, to networks operated by the private sector. The technology was created for federal networks.
Greg Schaffer, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, said in an interview that the department is evaluating whether Einstein "makes sense for expansion to critical infrastructure spaces" over time.
Not much is known about how Einstein works, and the House Intelligence Committee once charged that descriptions were overly "vague" because of "excessive classification." The White House did confirm this week that the latest version, called Einstein 3, involves attempting to thwart in-progress cyberattacks by sharing information with the National Security Agency.
Greater federal involvement in privately operated networks may spark privacy or surveillance concerns, not least because of the NSA's central involvement in the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping scandal. Earlier reports have said that Einstein 3 has the ability to read the content of emails and other messages, and that AT&T has been asked to test the system. (The Obama administration says the "contents" of communications are not shared with the NSA.)
If Einstein 3 does perform as well as Homeland Security hopes, it could help less-prepared companies fend off cyberattacks, including worms sent through e-mail, phishing attempts, and even denial of service attacks.and more...
On the other hand, civil libertarians are sure to raise questions about privacy, access, and how Einstein could be used in the future. If it can perform deep packet inspection to prevent botnets from accessing certain Web pages, for instance, could it also be used to prevent a human from accessing illegal pornography, copyright-infringing music, or offshore gambling sites?
Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher and programmer for the Tor anonymity project, said that expanding Einstein 3 to the private sector would amount to a partial outsourcing of security. "It's clearly a win for people without the security know-how to protect their own networks," Appelbaum said. "It's also a clear loss of control. And anyone with access to that monitoring system, legitimate or otherwise, would be able to monitor amazing amounts of traffic."
Einstein grew out of a still-classified executive order, called National Security Presidential Directive 54, that President Bush signed in 2008.
While little information is available, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff once likened it to a new "Manhattan Project," and the Washington Post reported that the accompanying cybersecurity initiative represented the "single largest request for funds" in last year's classified intelligence budget. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a lawsuit (PDF) to obtain the text of the order.
Homeland Security has published (PDF) a privacy impact assessment for a less capable system called Einstein 2--which aimed to do intrusion detection and not prevention--but has not done so for Einstein 3.
The department did, however, prepare a general set of guidelines (PDF) for privacy and civil liberties in June 2009. In addition, the Bush Justice Department wrote a memo (PDF) saying Einstein 2 "complies with" the U.S. Constitution and federal wiretap laws.
That justification for Einstein 2 "turned on the consent of employees in the government that are being communicated with, and on the notion that a person who communicates with the government can't then complain that the government read the communication," said CDT's Nojeim. "How does that legal justification work should Einstein be extended to the private sector?"
Democratic Rep. Eric Massa will resign from Congress on Monday, only days after reports first surfaced that the freshman New York lawmaker was under investigation by the House ethics committee for allegedly sexually harassing a male staffer.You'd a thought he could have gotten some advice from Barney Frank!
Labels: Criminals in Power
UCLA professor Sara Melzer joined her students in a walkout from their French culture and writing course because she said she wants to stop what she described as the privatization of public higher education. "It's not just about student fee hikes," she said. "That's the tip of the iceberg."Professor Melzer apparently doesn't realize that both PRIVATE and STATE colleges (higher education) have coexisted almost since the beginning of higher education on this continent. All of it has to be paid for. The PRIVATE institutions are going concerns. The STATE institutions might not be. Why? Differences in financial management. The STATE institutions depend on subsidization to provide lower cost education. What Prof. Melzer also doesn't realize is that many STATE institutions have endowment funds similar to those of the PRIVATE institutions. However, being firmly attached to the tax payers' teat they spend their endowments on expansion so that the deans can claim more on their resumes.
...Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.and to continue
Consider Congressman Matheson's record on the health care bill. He voted against the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee back in July and again when it passed the House in November. But now he's "undecided" on ramming the bill through Congress. "The Congressman is looking for development of bipartisan consensus," Matheson's press secretary Alyson Heyrend wrote to THE WEEKLY STANDARD on February 22. "It’s too early to know if that will occur." Asked if one could infer that if no Republican votes in favor of the bill (i.e. if a bipartisan consensus is not reached) then Rep. Matheson would vote no, Heyrend replied: "I would not infer anything. I’d wait to see what develops, starting with the health care summit on Thursday."
The timing of this nomination looks suspicious, especially in light Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's claim that he was offered a federal job not to run against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. Many speculated that Sestak, a former admiral, was offered the Secretary of the Navy job.
Labels: Criminals in Power
President Barack Obama urged Congress Wednesday to vote "up or down" on sweeping health care legislation in the next few weeks, endorsing a plan that denies Senate Republicans the right to kill the bill by stalling with a filibuster.The Dem/S have had the absolute majority in the Congress and been unable to even bring their own party members to an agreement. The people when polled are absolutely against any of the existing bills. What is it about "no" that the President doesn't understand.
"I don't see how another year of negotiations would help. Moreover, the insurance companies aren't starting over," Obama said, rejecting Republican calls to begin anew on an effort to remake the health care system.
Labels: Criminals in Power
A number of House of Delegates bills that would make it easier to purchase, carry and use guns have been routed to a newly created Senate subcommittee loaded with legislators opposed to expanding gun rights.I don't know why Senator Obenshain is so naive about the probable outcome. This is the sort of denial of public opinion that Democrats in the Commonwealth and nationally are becoming known for. These people don't care about constituent opinion, they don't care about parliamentary procedure, and they sure as heck don't care about the constitutionality of their actions.
Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, chairman of the Democrat-controlled Senate Courts of Justice Committee, announced the shift.
The new panel appears to be an attempt to defeat firearms legislation that would stand a better chance in the full committee, on which several rural Democrats have voted with Republicans in the past to expand gun rights.
Among House legislation likely to be taken up by the new subcommittee is House Bill 49, which seeks to repeal the state law limiting handgun purchases to one a month. Gov. Bob McDonnell has indicated he would sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.
The subcommittee also could hear House Bill 1070, a measure to allow guns to be carried into emergency shelters; and House Bill 69, a measure that would exempt from federal law guns and ammunition made and kept in Virginia.
Marsh appointed Sen. Linda T. "Toddy" Puller, D-Fairfax, chairwoman of the unnamed subcommittee, which also includes Democratic Sens. Janet D. Howell of Fairfax County, L. Louise Lucas of Norfolk, and Marsh.
Frederick M. Quayle of Chesapeake, a centrist Republican, rounds out the subcommittee, which is expected to meet Thursday.
Marsh said the subcommittee will be authorized to give bills a full hearing. As for bills that are not recommended for approval, he said: "It won't be necessary for them to come before the full committee."
The process is similar to that employed by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates to derail legislation the majority party does not favor.
Gun-rights advocate Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League labeled the panel a "death-star committee" and called Marsh a "gun hater."
Given the positions of a majority of the committee members, it appears unlikely that the more-contentious gun bills will survive.
"My district overwhelmingly supports reasonable gun-control measures," Howell said. "And one-gun-a-month is very popular in the 32nd District."
"I would agree with that," Puller said. "And I see no reason that we need to go back and try to be the gun-running state that we were before that bill passed."
Republicans on the full Courts of Justice Committee said they still should have a say on all the bills in subcommittee.
"We have, so far, not been killing bills in subcommittee in Senate Courts," said Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg. "I see no reason why those bills should be singled out for different treatment from every other bill that we've handled during the session. I hope they won't be."
Labels: Criminals in Power