January 17th, 2011
President Obama has “learned from experience” that some of the Bush administration’s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office.
"I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election."
Cheney also asserted that Obama has learned that the prison at Guantanamo Bay simply cannot be closed, despite the promises he made while campaigning for the White House.
"I think he's learned that he's not going to be able to close Guantanamo," Cheney said. "That it's — if you didn't have it, you'd have to create one like that. You've got to have some place to put terrorists who are combatants who are bound and determined to try to kill Americans."
Cheney made the comments about Obama in an interview that is set to air Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.” The interview was Cheney's first since before he underwent heart surgery in July. Doctors introduced a device into his heart that pumps blood from the ventricle chamber to his aorta.
The former vice president cited the Obama administration’s expanded use of drones in Pakistan as more evidence of continuity from the policies of the Bush White House.
"As I say, I think he's found it necessary to be more sympathetic to the kinds of things we did," Cheney said. "They've gotten active, for example, with the drone program, using Predator and the Reaper to launch strikes against identified terrorist targets in the various places in the world."
Cheney also weighed in during the interview on the Arizona shooting that left six people dead and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Cheney was cautious about what role heated political rhetoric played in the shooting.
"I think the event was caused by a deranged individual. And — that's where we ought to look in terms of trying to assess guilt," Cheney said.
But Cheney also said that it was important not to squelch spirited political debate in the shooting’s aftermath.
"I don't think we should anticipate that we can somehow take a system that was designed for political combat, if you will, between the parties, between ideas, between principles and set that aside. I wouldn't want to do that," Cheney said. "That's the heart and soul of our political system. And that's basically a good thing."
Cheney also confirmed an account from President George W. Bush's recently released memoir, “Decision Points,” that he had offered to resign multiple times during his administration.
"I didn't wanna stand in the way if, in fact, that kind of decision would enhance the president's prospects of winning reelection in 2004 when he was up against John Kerry," Cheney said. "And I thought he ought to have the freedom to change anybody he wanted, including me."
More From The Hill
January 17th, 2011
Tucson, Arizona (CNN) -- Arizona shooting victim James Eric Fuller sent his apologies Monday for telling a Tea Party leader, "you are dead."
Dorothy DeRuyter, a companion of Fuller's, provided CNN with a statement.
"I would like to tender my sincerest apologies to Mr. (Trent) Humphries for my misplaced outrage on Saturday at the St. Odelia's town meeting," Fuller said in the statement. "It was not in the spirit of our allegiance and warm feelings to each other as citizens of our great country."
Fuller, 63, was involuntarily committed to a county mental health facility after he photographed Tucson Tea Party founder Humphries and said, "You are dead" when Humphries began speaking at the event.
Fuller "is apologetic and very sad" about his outburst, DeRuyter said. "He wishes he could go back and do things differently," she said.
Humphries said Fuller's comment came when the town hall discussion turned to gun control.
"I was asked to give my thoughts on gun control laws and perhaps the passage of new laws," Humphries said of the incident. "I said something to the effect that although gun rights and laws are not necessarily the primary focus of the Tucson Tea Party, our community needs to be given the opportunity to allow some time to pass and people to heal before we start this type of political dialogue."
Fuller, one of 13 people wounded in the January 8 shooting that left six people dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition, is a disabled veteran and former volunteer for Giffords' campaign.
Giffords is still hospitalized, but her condition has been improved to serious.
Fuller, who was shot in the knee, had been very vocal since the incident, blaming rhetoric from the right for the shooting. Jared Loughner, 22, has been charged in the shooting, but no evidence has been found that could link a motive to incendiary rhetoric.
From CNN's Tom Laabs.
January 17th, 2011
By Liz Goodwin
A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the state's homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.
It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic action movie, but scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey warned federal and state emergency officials that California's geological history shows such "superstorms" have happened in the past, and should be added to the long list of natural disasters to worry about in the Golden State.
The threat of a cataclysmic California storm has been dormant for the past 150 years. Geological Survey director Marcia K. McNutt told the New York Times that a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley was inundated from 1861-62. The floods were so bad that the state capital had to be moved to San Francisco, and Governor Leland Stanford had to take a rowboat to his own inauguration, the report notes. Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.
The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.
The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state. The storm would be goaded on by an "atmospheric river" that would move water "at the same rate as 50 Mississippis discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico," according to the AP. Winds could reach 125 miles per hour, and landslides could compound the damage, the report notes.
Such a superstorm is hypothetical but not improbable, climate researchers warn. "We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes," Geological Survey scientist Lucy Jones said in a press release.
Featured Yahoo Stories
January 17th, 2011
While many Americans were enjoying a brief weekend break from the tedium of a typical work week, Tucson, Arizona saw a tragic drama unfold that would shock the entire country. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, while conducting a neighborhood meeting at a grocery store in Tucson, was shot in the head by a lone assassin along with 19 others at the meeting. A Federal District Judge, John Roll, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, was killed along with a nine year old girl who was born on 9/11/2001. The total number of people killed has been reported at 6, including a staffer for Giffords. Amidst all of this carnage were conflicting reports of the lone gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, and consternatingly, his "seeming" political affiliations.
The Associated Press Spin
In fact, when reports first came out from the Mainstream Media, the initial buzz seemed pinned to the fact that Loughner, who actually survived his mass killing spree, was ex-military and an anti-Government Tea Party "radical," which quickly proved to be totally wrong despite continuing attempts to imply those same connections throughout the night and into the early morning hours. For example, in an article from the Associated Press, Reporters Terry Tang, Amanda Lee Myers and David Espo were maddeningly adamant to display a right-wing connection that simply did not exist. In fact, interjecting a bit of spin started early-on in the article when the reporters wrote the following:
"some politicians expressed hope that the killing spree serves as a wakeup call at a time when the political climate has become so emotionally charged."
We wondered initially, upon reading this "quotation," exactly, who these Politicans were and why they would opportunistically desire "strong political debate" to be altered by a killing spree? Our second thought turned to the next most obvious question, that being "are the politicians that the reporters are referring to actually the reporters themselves?" Maybe--maybe not--but this was just a warm-up for our intrepid reporters as the spin-fest would become dizzying from here on out.
The next injurious entry--edging ever closer to slander--would follow only a few sentences later as the reporters indicated the following:
"Giffords, 40, is a three-term Moderate Democrat who narrowly won re-election against a Tea Party candidate as Conservatives across the Country sought to throw her from office over her support of the healthcare law."
In this particular passage, one can actually see a Liberal vengeance being parlayed towards the extremities of outragiousness as the reporters have just now set-up a fault-manufacturing scenario. First, bringing in the fact that this particular Democrat ran against a Tea Party candidate after the most recent election is much like explaining that rain is, indeed, wet. But then the reporters actually hooked violence into the thread by saying that the entire Country of Conservatives "sought to throw her from office." Throw? First of all, the entire Country did not vote in Arizona, well at least not on the Conservative side--only Arizonans can accomplish that task. Secondly, we could say the same for virtually any election or defeat by any running Democrat "gunning for office" against an incumbent Republican, as well. Artful implication does have its rewards it would seem.
The Violence of Words
The word "throw" establishes a violent connotation and then successfully sets up an aggressive connection with Conservatives that simply does not pass the litmus test of truth, all the while pulling the reader along and gently manipulating a certain thoughtfulness muted against Conservatives as if were all their fault. Even worse, the next line establishes a connection with our now vilified Conservatives, where the reporters then stated:
"Her office was vandalized in the hours after the House passed the overhaul last March, as anger over the law spread across the Country."
So, in this story, which deals with a so-far lone gunman who appears to have no connections whatsoever to anyone in the right-wing, the reporters have managed to bring in violence from Conservatives, the Tea Party, the Healthcare overhaul and vandalism from opposition all within less than four column inches of each other-- as if a certain connectivity exists--when in fact , quite the opposite is true, as will be revealed.
Further down within the article, the reporters do a bit of extreme editing concerning the few facts which were known about Loughner at the time, when they state the following Loughner quote, "Nearly all of the people, who don't know this information of a new currency, aren't aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn't happen."
In this quote the reporters seem to be making another Tea Party connection in speaking of Civil or Constitutional Rights when so many other affiliations and facts of interest were simply left out in their entirety. But then, after quoting President Obama in his praise for Giffords, the reporters drop into their "pin the Conservative tail on the assassin" yet again by frog-leaping all the way to one of the figureheads of the Tea Party itself.
Using Sarah...When All Else Fails
In a seeming attempt at explaining a connection that simply does not exist the reporters implicate the following:
"Giffords had drawn the ire of the right in the last year, especially from politicians like Sarah Palin over her support of the healthcare bill. It's still not clear whether the gunman had the healthcare debate in mind or was focused on his own unique set of political beliefs as witnessed in the internet videos. "
So here we have another wildly-assumed supposed link, manufactured, yet again, and yet at no time do we see the possibility of an extreme left-leaning radical who is venting rage against a politician who is described as "moderate," thereby possibly setting up a sense of betrayal by the shooter against one of his ideological associates being Giffords. So, why is this?
But only a few more lines down, and yet again, the reporters mindlessly repeat a fact that has already been repeated two other times in this report by dredging up the vandalism incident and Sarah Palin's "targeting" of various candidates. This repetition is an intentional move to make absolutely certain that the reader now knows both why this incident happened and who is to blame--such is the reporters' now obviously stunted and slanted line of reasoning in abeyance to the actual facts. Is this not enough for you? No? Well...Ok, next line down, and yet one more time (we hope) Palin is repeated again but in differing words--that Gifford's district was targeted by Palin:
"with red cross hairs of a gunsight over our district. . .when people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action."
So, now the reporters have actually indicated to us the how, the why and the who as far as where the actual blame lies despite absolutely no evidence whatsoever--one need not look any further than Conservatives and Sarah Palin, Ladies and Gentlemen, as far as the AP and the Mainstream Media--in large part--is concerned, when the actual facts bear something altogether different at play.
The available facts, as reported by no less than a number of smaller and local news outlets, but including the NY Times, layed out a scenario that should indeed shame our left-leaning reporters with an obvious agenda.
The New York Times Reporting
Believe it or not, the NY Times actually gets it right in this story, and it is about as far away from the AP's story as it can be. In this case, Eric Lipton, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane give us an actual glimpse into what motivated Loughner's rage. Loughner, the article states, hints at his alienation from society, confusion, anger and even a foreboding that life would soon end. The article further states that Loughner was suspended from his Community College due to the school's becoming aware of a YouTube video posted by Loughner as being "disturbing."
The article further states that Loughner's politics were left of center, and that he may have actually met with Giffords some time before the attack. A friend stated the following of Loughner: "As I knew him he was left-wing, quite liberal and oddly obsessed with 2012 prophecy." This friend of Loughner's, Catie Parker, wrote in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday the following: "He was a political radical and met with Giffords once before in '07, asked her a question and he told me she was stupid and unintelligent," she wrote.
More information continues, even now, to leak out which actually bolsters the radical left-wing connection. An even more recent article disclosed the fact that Occultism in the form of an alter or a shrine, a skull, ceremonial candles and other artifacts of occult worship were found behind Loughner's home. Shall we now concoct a connection between the occult and the Tea Party, as well? We can help! The Tea Partiers tend to be religious, and the occult is a form of religion, so we have bravely helped to craft another connection, albeit ridiculous, for our intrepid Mainstream Media.
Amazing, huh? So after the presumptive ravings of some AP reporters in need of a few more years of journalism class, apparently, we get the real story from professional reporters of the New York Times, no less. Where we find the actual facts, corroborated by other news sources, bearing no resemblance to the concocted AP story.
"Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto" Are Not Tea Party Favorites
The AP, in actuality, conveniently left out the facts concerning two of Loughner's favorite books, "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto," facts which would blow their "report-by-vilification" attempts at Conservatives out of the water while casting aspersions at their own ideological identities.
CNN, in fact, was no less guilty as that network also jumped into the "Conservative Blame Game" by also imputing connections that simply did not exist. In fact, what we do know concerning "Palin hating Liberals" is that even had Palin painted a target over a district such Liberals would scoff in irritation at Palin assuming they might actually read anything that Palin had written. CNN also wrote:
"She (Giffords) won her third term against a Tea Party sponsored candidate and was one of three Legislators who reported vandalism at their offices following the March vote on Healthcare reform"
So once again a Tea-Party connection is established along with a healthcare connection that does not exist, although the CNN article did not actually take steps at connecting Palin and Conservatives in general as did the AP article.
In fact, the range of articles we have seen from numerous outlets would seem to simplistically suggest that we should all "just shut-up" if we disagree on what is happening within the nation "or else." And yet, who can forget the calls of activism from the usual suspects during George W. Bush's time in office?
The Authorities Weigh In
In fact, no less than the Pima County Sheriff could be heard also displaying unusual amounts of ignorance for those in positions of authority by blaming the level of vitriol surrounding Arizona on "political conversations." Our question to the Sheriff would be, "When has political conversation not been vitriolic?" No doubt, a certain Freedom of Speech has the Sheriff both in a tizzy and blaming anyone who questions the actions of their governance for the shooting. But the fun doesn't stop here; oh no, it gets better indeed.
New York Liberal politician Carolyn McCarthy(D) has already made knee-jerk liberal preparations for opportunistically dealing with this issue by crafting a "Gun Control" law in order to help deal with this problem. To this we would simply state that while the assassination was a horrid thing that should be condemned from now on, crafting yet another law which increasingly exploits the liberties of the Government can only make the situation worse. No one has, as of yet, addressed the simple possibility that even more Government inspired meddling in society will serve to actually worsen the timbre of rhetoric spewing from all areas --which will become worse than even now. I personally, find it no less interesting that no reporter sought to blame the election of a Republican Congress on Loughner's killing spree. Is that not also a possible conclusion? No doubt, only if you are NOT of the Left.
But the Politico's have been in full bloom in continually condemning "language and words" as needful of being used with care or more accurately "limited."
Meanwhile, even a number of misguided bloggers and members of the Right and, of course, the left have come out and indicated that "now is not the time" to take on these wrongful accounts of the ideologies and dis-information flowing around. To this we would only state "If not now then when?" When fire breaks out you attack it immediately or you can wait until the house burns down....but then it's too late, isn't it? In fact, we should note that the media and politico's, to a lesser degree, have been vilifying the right repeatedly on the one hand, while telling us that we should not speak up and adjudicate the truth on the other, which makes sense only as far as the leftward are concerned when logic is accounted for.
Apparently, support of political activism seems to run only one way in the New World Order and it should, apparently, be in tune with the powers-that-be.
At least until those powers shift...again.
Interestingly, certain members of Congress are already moving to address the problem as a first indication of effort, as stated earlier, will seek to limit guns.
A second effort at mitigation, from the hints that we have been hearing from the left, might look to the other main culprit of this violence which the left is calling "vitriol" or what others might call:
"Freedom of Speech."
January 17th, 2011
Class sizes also would swell under proposal filed with the state
Detroit — Detroit Public Schools would close nearly half of its schools in the next two years, and increase high school class sizes to 62 by the following year, under a deficit-reduction plan filed with the state.
The plan, part of a monthly update Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb gives the Department of Education, was filed late Monday to provide insight into Bobb's progress in his attempt to slash a $327 million deficit in the district to zero over the next several years. Under it, the district would slim down from 142 schools now to 72 during 2012-13.
Bobb has said school closures, bigger classes and other measures would be needed if he cannot get help from lawmakers to restructure finances in the state's largest school district.
DPS considered but declined to file for bankruptcy in 2009. In the past year, debt in the district has increased by more than $100 million, brought on by a mix of revenue declines in property taxes, reduced state aid, declining enrollment and an unplanned staffing surge this past fall.
Starting this fall, the district plans to boost class sizes in grades 4-12 and at all grade levels by fiscal 2012, which begins July 1, to save $16.8 million. The plan would hike class sizes for: Grades K-3 from 17-25 students to 29 in 2012-13 and 31 in 2013-14.
Grades 4-5 from 30 students to 37 in 2012-13 and 39 in 2013-14.
Grades 6-8 from 35 students to 45 in 2012-13 and 47 in 2013-14.
Grades 9-12 from 35 students to 60 in 2012-13 and 62 in 2013-14.
Because the district's contract with the Detroit Federation of Teachers requires payments to teachers for class sizes that exceed specified maximums, the district estimates it would spend $10 million in oversize class pay over four years.
Keith Johnson, president of the teachers union, said the proposed class size increases won't work and will never happen.
"I will never agree to any class-size increases," Johnson said. "These increases are antithetical to learning. Secondly, our classrooms aren't even built to accommodate those numbers.
"Johnson said the teachers' contract does not let the district exceed contracted class sizes through 2012. DFT filed an unfair labor practice charge in July to restore class sizes for the upcoming school year.
Parent Petrina Johnson said swelling high school classrooms to 60 students or more will only leave them uneducated.
"There is one teacher and she can barely get to each of the 36 kids now. That makes no sense," said Johnson, who has three children at Mumford High School.
School officials said the plan would create a "lecture hall" model similar to a university.
Johnson said teenagers aren't ready for that.
"This gives more opportunity for them to slip through the cracks," she said.
The proposal calls for closing 40 schools in fiscal 2012 and 30 schools in fiscal 2013. That would leave DPS with 72 schools for a projected 58,570 students, down from about 74,000 now. The district closed 30 schools this fiscal year, which is expected to save $23 million. The planned closings in fiscal 2012-14 would save more than $33 million.
Bobb said the district could save another $12.4 million from the school closures if it "simply abandons" the closed buildings. Past policy has been to keep the closed schools clean and secure, officials said, but the district could cut costs by eliminating storage, board-up and security.
DPS spokesman Steve Wasko said the district has laid out the path it must take to eliminate the deficit, and Bobb remains focused on working with lawmakers to pass one of three plans to restructure DPS' finances.
Those plans include splitting the district in two to put its debt obligation with an "old district," covering about 9,000 students. State revenue would pay off the debt, allowing the "new district" to move forward debt-free with undetermined start-up funds.
Such a plan would need approval by state lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder.
District officials said they are
pursuing "renaissance" legislation to free up $400 million in future tobacco settlement funds that could help mend DPS' deficit and those of 40 other districts statewide. In return, the districts would make dramatic reforms based on the federal Race to the Top initiative, such as eliminating teacher seniority.
That proposal died last month in the state Legislature's lame duck session. A third plan would look at new systems and agencies used in New Orleans, which has converted more than half of its public schools into charter schools in the past several years.
Besides closing schools and increasing class sizes, Bobb's plan calls for the district to abolish its divisions of finance, legal services, human services and public safety and contract with either Wayne County or the city of Detroit for those services.
"This is the route that we'd need to take if the other larger solutions are not found," Wasko said. "It is in fact the route that we continue to take until alternatives are approved."
There was no mention of any of these plans in the documents Bobb filed with the state, Wasko said, because the plans are still being researched and fleshed out in and outside DPS.
"There is a lot of work going on," he said.
Joseph Johnson, executive director for the National Center for Urban School Transformation, said almost every urban school district in the country is struggling, but perhaps none as severely as Detroit.
"I haven't heard of an urban district taking such drastic of steps," Joseph Johnson said. "Certainly every urban district is engaging in some serious belt-tightening as they are dealing with smaller budgets and at the same time often higher expectation from the public in terms of student achievement."