August 23rd, 2014
Everything from streets to a parasitic hairworm have been named in honor of President Obama, but the effort to immortalize him is causing a backlash in one New Jersey town, whose elected leaders are reconsidering their vote to place the president’s name on a recreation center.
The Willingboro council has scheduled a second vote on renaming a township building the Barack Obama Center amid complaints that its initial move was premature and unjustified.
Mayor Eddie Campbell Jr. said the council’s first vote this month was rushed and that most residents in the overwhelmingly Democratic town oppose changing the building’s name from the current “John F. Kennedy Center.”
“He hasn’t finished his job yet,” Mr. Campbell said of Mr. Obama. “If we’re going to name a building, I think we should wait until after the president finishes his tour of duty.”
For someone who hasn’t left office yet, Mr. Obama already has a significant number of schools, streets and other things named after him. There are at least 18 roads and schools named in honor of Mr. Obama in the U.S., with more to come.
For example, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Mr. Obama’s ex-chief of staff) has announced that a new $60 million high school will be named the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School when it opens in 2017.
Elsewhere in the world, there is a Barack Obama Drive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; a Mount Obama on the island of Antigua; a Barack Obama petrol station in Ireland; and a parasitic hairworm, “paragordius obamai,” an all-female species that is able to reproduce without a male. It was discovered in Kenya, the land of Mr. Obama’s father.
Efforts to plaster Mr. Obama’s name across the public square aren’t scaring political advocate Grover Norquist, who has led an effort to honor the legacy of President Ronald Reagan by putting the Republican’s name on parks, buildings and roads. There are about 100 places in the U.S. named for Mr. Reagan, and Mr. Norquist said he isn’t concerned about Mr. Obama someday equaling Mr. Reagan’s status.
“I have not lost any sleep on that concept, nor do I intend to,” Mr. Norquist said. “The effort to name things after Obama strengthens the case for naming more things after Reagan, who has accomplishments way beyond anything Obama has done to date. His place in history is secure.”
Mr. Norquist said it’s probably “safer” to name things for a president after he’s left office. But he added, “I think it’s fine for people who are enthusiastic for Obama’s legacy to make their case.”
In Willingboro, town leaders say they weren’t expecting the furor created when the council voted 3-1 on Aug. 5 to rename the recreation center in honor of Mr. Obama as part of the building’s $4.9 million renovation.
Deputy Mayor Jacqueline Jennings, who proposed the idea, said it was meant to express the “sense of pride” about the country’s first black president in the predominantly black community, including a surge in new voter registration in 2008.
But the council’s move spawned a public outcry against the proposal. One resident told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Mr. Obama “has never done anything for this town.”
The mayor said his phone calls have been running at least 75 to 80 percent in opposition.
August 23rd, 2014
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August 22nd, 2014
As they say...timing is everything....don't discount the US Attorney General's race-baiting in Ferguson, as not being operative in this sudden document demand....
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to provide Congress with a list of documents that are at the center of a long-running battle over a failed law enforcement program called Operation Fast and Furious.
In a court proceeding Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson set an Oct. 1 deadline for producing the list to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The Justice Department says the documents should remain confidential and President Barack Obama has invoked executive privilege in an effort to protect them from public disclosure.
The House panel says the Justice Department documents might explain why the department took nearly a year to admit that federal agents had engaged in a controversial law enforcement tactic known as gun-walking.
The Justice Department has long prohibited the risky practice. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used it with disastrous results in a federal law enforcement probe in Arizona, Operation Fast and Furious.
In the operation, federal agents permitted illicitly purchased weapons to be transported unimpeded in an effort to track them to high-level arms traffickers.
Federal agents lost control of some 2,000 weapons and many of them wound up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Two of the guns were found at the scene of the December 2010 slaying of border agent Brian Terry near the Arizona border city of Nogales.
After Wednesday's court proceeding, Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said that "we are pleased the judge recognized that executive privilege includes a deliberative process beyond presidential communications" — a point the department has been arguing in its dispute with Congress.
In court papers, the Justice Department has said that if the courts were to reject a confidentiality claim, Congress could have unfettered access to all information from the executive branch of government aside from presidential communications.
Such a development would be in contravention of the constitutional separation of powers and over two centuries of dealings between the legislative and executive branches, the department said.
The need for some confidentiality in the executive branch is particularly strong in the current case, which involves a congressional demand for information that would reveal the process by which the executive responds to congressional inquiries, the Obama administration added.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House panel, said that the privilege log "will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of border patrol agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens."
August 22nd, 2014
US P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft
Washington Free Beacon
The Pentagon on Friday called a Chinese jet’s encounter with a U.S. anti-submarine warfare aircraft an “aggressive” and “dangerous” act and said it has protested the action with Beijing.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that the incident took place Tuesday in international airspace.
“We have registered our strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept, which posed a risk to the safety and the well-being of the air crew and was inconsistent with customary international law,” Kirby said, adding that the incident was “very, very close, very dangerous.”
“Also—and we’ve made this clear—that it undermines efforts to continue developing military-to-military relations with the Chinese military.”
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool said the aerial incident took place 135 miles east of Hainan Island when a Chinese J-11, a version of the Russian Su-27, came within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Chinese SU-27 fighter/interceptor
“The intercept was aggressive and demonstrated a lack of due regard for the safety and well-being of the U.S. and Chinese aircrews and aircraft,” Pool said in a statement, noting it was one of the most dangerous aerial encounters with the Chinese since the April 2001 EP-3 mid-air collision with a Chinese J-8.
Pool called the encounter with the armed Chinese fighter “a dangerous intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon that was on a routine mission.”
“On three different occasions, the Chinese J-11 crossed directly under the U.S. aircraft with one pass having only 50 to 100 feet separation between the two aircraft,” the spokesman said.
“The Chinese jet also passed the nose of the P-8 at 90 degrees with its belly toward the P-8 to show its weapons loadout,” he added.
“In doing so, the pilot was unable to see the P-8, further increasing the potential for a collision,” Pool said. “The Chinese pilot then flew directly under and alongside the P-8 bringing their wingtips within 20 feet and then before he stabilized his fighter he conducted a roll over the P-8 passing within 45 feet.”
According to the Pentagon, the latest encounter is part of a rising trend of “nonstandard, unprofessional and unsafe intercepts of US aircraft” that began in late 2013.
The Chinese jet originated from the same PLA air force unit in Hainan that was responsible for other close intercepts in March, April and May, Pool said.
“We are concerned that the intercepting crews from that unit are acting aggressively and demonstrating a lack of regard for the regard for the safety of our aircrews,” he said. “We have raised our concerns over this unsafe behavior to the PRC.”
At Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama is vacationing, Deputy White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes also criticized the Chinese for the incident that he described as a “provocation.”
“It’s obviously a deeply concerning provocation, and we have communicated directly to the Chinese government our objection to this type of action,” Rhodes said.
The incident could further complicate efforts to develop closer military relations. “What we’ve encouraged is constructive military-to-military ties with China, and this type of action clearly violates the spirit of that engagement, and we’ve made our concerns known directly to Beijing,” Rhodes said.
Defense officials said the latest encounter highlights China’s continued aggressiveness in the region.
The P-8, a new, militarized Boeing-737 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, was conducting routine surveillance of the Chinese coast over the South China Sea, not the East China Sea as initially reported by the Free Beacon.
Other defense officials said the Chinese Su-27 interceptor carried out a barrel roll over the top of the aircraft—a move described by officials as dangerous and meant to threaten the surveillance aircraft.
It was the second threatening encounter of a U.S. surveillance aircraft....
August 22nd, 2014
While national news media continue to focus on race in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, they apparently don’t think a similar case in Utah with the races reversed is that newsworthy.
Police in Salt Lake City are continuing their probe into an Aug. 11 shooting outside a 7-Eleven convenience store, when a black police officer, whom local media are referring to as “not white,” shot and killed 20-year-old Dillon Taylor, who was unarmed at the time, according to his supporters.
Police Chief Chris Burbank said the entire incident was captured on the body camera of the officer who shot Taylor.
“You will see on camera … the actions of everyone involved, including up to the point where our officer utilizes deadly force and his response thereafter,” Burbank told reporters.
He said the video, along with the officer’s identity, will be released at the “appropriate” time, adding it could be days, weeks or months.
“It would be wholly inappropriate to take the most vital piece of evidence that we have and put it out to the public prior to the officer having some due process,” he said.
The chief indicated he has personally viewed the footage, but would not comment on whether he believed the shooting was justified.
“I do not send officers out to use deadly force. That’s never our intention. In fact, our policy specifically says that is the last resort,” he said. “The officer in this circumstance did not set out to use deadly force. We have an unfortunate incident where Dillon Taylor lost his life.”
Burbank also refused to say whether Taylor had a gun, but the victim’s family and friends maintain he was unarmed.
“It didn’t make sense to me when I first heard everything, and they tried to say he had a gun,” Taylor’s friend, Aaron Swanenberg, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I knew Dillon. He never packed a gun.”
Police said officers were responding to a report of a man “waving a gun around.”
When officers arrived, they found three men leaving the convenience store, with one, later identified as Taylor, reportedly matching the description of the person reported in a 9-1-1 call.
Witnesses say Taylor was wearing headphones at the time and may have been trying to pull his pants up when he was gunned down.