Monday, January 30, 2012

The Occupy Movement: It's a Federal Case

Gary Fouse

With this weekend's violence in Oakland, it is time to look into the national aspect of this phenomena from a law enforcement point of view. Can anyone seriously say that there is no national coordination going on here with these disruptions? From New York to Oakland to Los Angeles and beyond, it is one case of violence, public disorder, destruction and disruption after another. The question is will our Justice Department under Eric Holder seriously investigate it?

First of all, there is every reason to suspect that there is a link between the activists and the Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi has publicly stated that she supports the protesters "when they speak truth to power". She also made her infamous, "God bless them" statement. President Obama, no less, said that he "can empathize with the protests". Nowhere do you see posters or chants attacking Obama or the Democratic Party.

In addition, I can name right off the top of my head three national organizations that have jumped into the Occupy Movement; SEIU, CAIR and the National Lawyers Guild, the latter of which was created in the 1930s as a legal arm of the Communist Party USA. Its Los Angeles director, James Lafferty, has not only taken a leading role in the LA protests, but was arrested in New York.

The point of the matter is this; if Occupy leaders are coordinating across state lines to cause disruption and violence, that is where federal law enforcement should step in. Let me note that I do not see a dangerous parallel with the civil rights protests of the 1960s when the FBI was wiretapping Martin Luther King under orders from J. Edgar Hoover. King's protests resulted in local arrests because he was engaging in civil disobedience of unconstitutional laws, but nowhere did King and his followers engage in violence. They did not throw rocks at police. They did not forcibly take over buildings. They never tried to shut down a sea port by forcibly occupying it. They did not assault people or cause property damage.

As for what is happening today, local law enforcement does not have the tools to go beyond making arrests at the local level. When it comes to any form of national coordination of violence , it requires a federal agency to effectively coordinate across state lines to investigate it.

That is why we have federal agencies to begin with. For example, if a local drug dealer is standing on an Oakland street corner selling drugs to addicts, that is a case for the Oakland police. But when that seller is connected to a larger dealer who is obtaining his heroin supplies from another dealer in New York, now you need a federal agency like DEA, which can coordinate together effectively to take down what is a national trafficking organization,.

Can anyone seriously argue that the Occupy movement, which has long ago crossed from peaceful protest to violence and disruption, is a spontaneous, local phenomena with no national coordination?  Hardly.

It is past time that the Department of Justice started to investigate this movement on a national level. The RICO statute may be the appropriate tool. It is possible that the FBI is already looking into it, but if so, are they on a tight leash with this politically-oriented Justice Department under Eric Holder?

Final comment on Oakland: It is time for some serious charges that carry some serious prison time for those who were arrested.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Convictions in Canadian Honor-Killing

Gary Fouse

A Canadian court has convicted three members of an Afghan immigrant family for first-degree murder, a case in which four female members of the family were murdered. The below report from CNN tells the story.

This case has aroused wide publicity in Canada. It is a classic case of honor-killing. The husband was infuriated at his three daughters, who were rebellious and embracing a freer Western life style. Mr Shafia's first wife was also killed because it was believed she was facilitating the daughters' rebellious behavior.

The verdict sends an important message to the rest of the country. That is that certain traditions, customs and beliefs are not acceptable in a free country that demands equality for all.

It is also a reason why shariah law must not be allowed to gain any kind of foothold in Western countries. The US and Europe have also experienced "honor-killings". It is one aspect of shariah that has no place in Western society. The point is this: Murder is murder and will be treated as such. There can be no allowances made for any religious beliefs that immigrants may bring with them from their countries of origin. In many of their previous countries, great consideration is given to the idea of honor-killing. This results in lenient sentences for the offenders. That cannot happen here.

If we allow shariah law to gain a foothold in our country, it will only grow. It is unacceptable for us to leave Muslim immigrants to the mercy of shariah within their own families or communities when it is in direct violation of our own laws and constitution. In Great Britain, local shariah courts have been allowed to operate in civil property matters. At the same time, there are loud demands from people like Anjem Choudary and his radical groups that shariah become the law of the land. In Choudary's own words, that means honor-killings, stonings, death to homosexuals, and apostates from Islam. Great Britain has allowed the camel to get his nose under the proverbial tent.

I absolutely do not mean to imply that all or even most Muslim immigrants want to practice these things in America. Many came here to escape that type of oppresion. I am of the opinion that most Muslims realize that these things are not part of American culture, are contrary to American law, and are conducting their lives accordingly. Yet, honor-killings have, indeed, occurred in the US- in Buffalo, St Louis, Phoenix, and other places. They are isolated incidents,and the victims themselves are Muslims, but the justice must be sure. Everyone in this country is guaranteed certain rights to life. That includes rebellious wives and daughters, gays, and people deciding to change religions or just abandon a religion. We cannot turn a blind eye to these practices and allow people to be victimized in the name of multi-culturalism.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Malmo: 1945 and 2012

Gary Fouse

Hat tip to Jihad i Sverige (Jihad in Sweden)

From the Swedish-language site Jihad i  Sverige, I am cross-posting (and translating) an announcement of a feature film that is showing this weekend in Sweden about the arrival in Malmo, Sweden of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. A 2-minute trailer is also available in English at the below link (Hoppets Hamn) The film is appearing as part of Europe's observation of Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27).

Idag antisemitismens huvudstad
i Sverige. Då: Hoppets hamn för tusentals

Today the capital of anti-Semitism in Sweden
Then: harbor of Hope for thousands of survivors
Våren och sommaren 1945 anländer
nästan 30 000 överlevare från de
tyska koncentrationslägren till Sverige.
På kajen i Malmö hamn upplever de
sina första ögonblick av frihet.
Det är där livet börjar igen.

In the spring and summer of 1945, almost 30,000 survivors of German concentration camps arrived in Sweden. On the quais of Malmo's harbor, they experienced their first view of freedom. It was there that life began again.
Filmfotograferna är på plats och i en
journalfilm ser vi den leende, tioåriga
flickan Irene, som precis stigit av
färjan. I samma film möter vi nyfödda Ewa
när hon bärs iland av sin utmattade
mamma, stöttad av en Röda Kors-syster.

Film photographers were at the scene, and in a news film we see the smiling, ten-year-old girl, Irene, just when she gets off the ferry. In the same film, we meet the new-born Ewa as she is carried by her exhausted mother, supported by a Red Cross nurse.  
Hoppets hamn lär vi också känna ton-
åringen Joe, som anländer till Sverige
efter att ha förlorat sin familj.
Han blir god vän med den 15-årige Röda
Kors-volontären Stig från Malmö och
deras möte kommer att förändra Joes liv.

In Hope's Harbor, we also meet the teenager, Joe, who arrives in Sweden after losing his family. He becomes good friends with 15-year-old Red Cross volunteer Stig from Malmo, and their meeting will change Joe's life.
Magnus Gerttens nya långfilms-
dokumentär berättar dessa överlevare
om frihetens ögonblick och om frågorna
de burit med sig ända sedan kriget.
Samtidigt är det en film om den hjälpande
hand som Malmö och Sverige räckte fram
till dom som kom levande ur koncen-

Magnus Gertten's new feature film documentary tells us about the survivors at freedom's moment and about questions they carry since the war. At the same time, this is a film about the helping hand that Malmo and Sweden extended to those who came as survivors from concentration camps.
Hoppets Hamn visas denna helgen i SvT2
SVT2 fre 27 jan kl 15.50
SVT2 lör 28 jan kl 14.30
SVT2 sön 29 jan kl 00.55

Hope's Harbor will be shown this holiday on SvT2
SVT2 Friday, 27 January. 15:50 
SVT2@ Saturday, 28 January 14:30
SVT2, Sunday, 29 January 00:55

As Jihad i Sverige points out at the top, Malmo today is no longer hope's harbor, rather it is the capital of Swedish anti-Semitism. The Jewish community is leaving Malmo as fast as it can get out, unable to deal with the harassment, assaults and vandalism it suffers from Malmo's Muslim immigrant population, which makes up some 25% of the city's population, and has turned the Rosengard section into a "no-go zone."

And what support do the Jews get from Malmo's mayor, Ilmar Reepalu? None. His attitude is that the Jews are welcome to leave since he identifies them with Israel, a nation he despises. He is a disgrace.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ohio State University Newspaper Ad

Gary Fouse

Hat tip to Frontpage Magazine

David Horowitz's Freedom Center has placed an ad in THE Ohio State University newspaper (The Lantern) that has the little rascals all riled up. It lists former Muslim Student Association leaders of various college campuses who have gone on to join the ("lesser") jihad.  Frontpage Magazine also has a report about the controversy.

Again, I invite my Muslim readers, especially those who are involved with the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine, to weigh in. I think we can have a respectful discussion on this topic. Does the ad stigmatize all Muslims on college campuses or even all MSU/MSA members?

What about the statement that there is a fine line between freedom of  speech and hate speech? How does this compare with statements made at UCI over the years by Amir Abdel Malik Ali, Mohammed al Asi, and others?

C'mon! It's all about dialogue.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Leopard Will Change His Spots

Book of Obama Chapter 13

And the Holy One, anointed by Holy Chief of Justice, John of Roberts, returned to the Dome of the Capital, dressed in the Holy suit and tie and addressed the assembled chapter of the Congress, the Holy Justices of the land, the members of the anointed Cabinet and guests from near and far, the Anointed One, Wearer of the Mantle of Power, spoke:
I ended the war in Iraq, I killed the evil bin Laden, and personally I welcomed all the soldiers home from Iraq. I am the Holy One, the President and I can do everything.  I have brought peace to the world, the world respects us better now than at any time, I will end the war in Afghanistan too.  For I am the Messiah of the World.

I want all of you, My slaves oops My people to remember what I did for you after World War 2.  My Grandfather who fought with Patton (and liberated Auschwitz) and My Grandmother who built the entire US Navy by herself, got to go to college for nothing.  They built the US to its greatness all by themselves.

But now I see that you have done everything to destroy Me.  You have overspent, you have destroyed My credit (and yours), you have bought homes that you could not afford.  But I am here.  I will pay your mortgages.  I will refinance your mortgages.  I will make it all better.  I am your Savior.

I will prevent jobs from going overseas.  I will investigate businesses who outsource their jobs to China.  (That is until Warren Buffet tells Me to stop.)  There will be no more bailouts for banks, for Wall Street, for anyone, except for Unions.  I saved the auto industry.  No one helped Me.  And they are stronger now than before.  (Sorry about the Volt thing.)  I will make other nations have an equal playing field with Me I am the equalizer.

I will tax the rich higher.  And I will tax everyone else higher too.  I will change the tax code.  I am Omnipotent I can and will do all.

I salute America's teachers.  I stand by your unions.  I will throw more money to you so you can indoctrinate the children.  I want a law saying that a child must stay in school until either he or she graduates or turns 18.  That way I can have them indoctrinated to be our slaves.  I will find a way to destroy the home schools, the private schools (But not the ones My daughters attend.), and the religious schools.  Everyone will learn the same, think the same, live the same.  Everyone will get free college under Me.  (Except to the "good" schools.)

I will give citizenship to every immigrant to the United States.  It matters not to Me if they are legally here or not.  And I demand that this be done before the November elections (I need the votes.).

I will create jobs in energy.  I will have the oil fields opened up.  (Until the environmentalists either go to court or demand that I stop.)  I demand that we develop alternate energy (The people who created Solyndra have given Me more money.  I need to give them more government funds.)  Under Me the United States has imported less oil than in the last 16 years.  (Not really but if you tell a lie long and loud enough the sheeple will believe it.)

I will clear away all the Red Tape, all the government regulations that hold business down.  But only until I am re-elected.  Then not only will it all return but I will impose stricter restrictions upon the land.

Under My leadership the Muslim world has undergone transformations.  I was the cause of the Arab Spring, the Arab renewal, the Muslim revival.  This is all good in My eye.  I will remove Assad from Syria, nukes from Iran and Jews from Palestine.  I will defeat the evil Netanyahu and replace him with the moderate Abbas.  There will be peace through out the land, for under Me all will drink the Kool-Aid and sing the Kumbaya.  Under Me all men, all women will live in peace.  There will be peace, the peace of Islam and the joy of the jizya.  This I will demand of the world.
Upon listening to this the people turned to each other and wondered why the Anointed One didn't do any of these things when He first came into office.  They saw what He had done and shook their heads.  In a loud voice they shouted:


Monday, January 23, 2012

It's 2012!

We are experiencing Solar Activity on a scale we haven't seen in decades.  The Sun has come to life and is throwing a fit.
RADIATION STORM IN PROGRESS: Solar protons accelerated by this morning's M9-class solar flare are streaming past Earth. On the NOAA scale of radiation storms, this one ranks S3, which means it could, e.g., cause isolated reboots of computers onboard Earth-orbiting satellites and interfere with polar radio communications. An example of satellite effects: The "snow" in this SOHO coronagraph movie is caused by protons hitting the observatory's onboard camera.

ALMOST-X FLARE AND CME (UPDATED): This morning, Jan. 23rd around 0359 UT, big sunspot 1402 erupted, producing a long-duration M9-class solar flare. The explosion's M9-ranking puts it on the threshold of being an X-flare, the most powerful kind. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the flare's extreme ultraviolet flash:

"This was amazing," he says. "It was a wonderful experience to see these stunning auroras."

NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% - 25% chance of continued geomagnetic storms tonight as effects from the CME impact subside. The odds will increase again on Jan. 24-25 as a new CME (from today's M9-clare) approaches Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.
We could experience blackouts, loss of satellite signals, even loss of television (cable) systems.
A powerful solar eruption is expected to blast a stream of charged particles toward Earth tomorrow (Jan. 24), as the strongest radiation storm since 2005 rages on the sun.

Early this morning (0359 GMT Jan. 23, which corresponds to late Sunday, Jan. 22 at 10:59 p.m. EST), NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught an extreme ultraviolet flash from a huge eruption on the sun, according to the skywatching website

According to NOAA, this is the strongest solar radiation storm since May 2005, and as a precaution, polar flights on Earth are expected to be re-routed within the next few hours, Kathy Sullivan, deputy administrator of NOAA, said today at the 92nd annual American Meteorological Society meeting in New Orleans, La.

The solar flare spewed from sunspot 1402, a region of the sun that has become increasingly active lately. Several NASA satellites, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and the Stereo spacecraft observed the massive sun storm.

A barrage of charged particles triggered by this morning's solar flare is expected to hit Earth tomorrow at around 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), according to experts at the Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Scientists call these electromagnetic bursts "coronal mass ejections" (CMEs), and they are closely studied because they can produce potentially harmful geomagnetic storms when the charged particles rain down Earth's magnetic field lines.

In addition to generating stronger than normal displays of Earth's auroras (also known as the northern and southern lights), geomagnetic storms aimed directly at our planet can also disrupt satellites in orbit, cause widespread communications interference and damage other electronic infrastructures.

"There is little doubt that the cloud is heading in the general direction of Earth," announced in an alert. "A preliminary inspection of SOHO/STEREO imagery suggests that the CME will deliver a strong glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 24-25 as it sails mostly north of our planet."

Sunday's solar flare was rated an M9-class eruption, which placed it just on the verge of being an X-class flare, the most powerful type of solar storm. M-class sun storms are powerful but mid-range, while C-class flares are weaker.

NASA routinely monitors space weather conditions to determine any potential hazards to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Based on the agency's assessment, the six spaceflyers currently living and working on the orbiting outpost are not in any danger, said NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries.

"The flight surgeons have reviewed the space weather forecasts for the flare and determined that there are no expected adverse effects or actions required to protect the on-orbit crew," Humphries told in an email.

Finish reading here
The year is 2012 and perhaps the Disaster Gods don't wish to wait until December 21st.

By Findalis of Monkey in the Middle

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hate Groups on Campus

Gary Fouse

"One person's hate speech is another person's education."

Hat tip to Frontpage

Daniel Greenfield has just published a pamphlet entitled "Muslim Hate Groups on Campus". It describes how various Muslim Student Associations, in concert with chapters for Students for Justice in Palestine, have teamed up to bring tension, hate, anti-Semitism, and violent hate speech to many university campuses.

Sadly, most of the information in Greenfield's pamphlet describes the disgraceful situation within the University of California system, particularly Berkeley and Irvine (where I teach part-time and have personally witnessed many of the incidents and hateful rhetoric over the past several years).

Frontpage Magazine has posted the text of this pamphlet, which I am cross-posting here. It is a must read

Hatem Bazian, who is mentioned prominently in the pamphlet, has also cast his odious shadow over the Irvine campus, where he has come to speak at the MSU annual hate-Israel events in May. He is an embarrassment to the University of California at Berkeley and the entire UC system. A couple of years ago, I confronted him about some of his alleged quotes, and he tap-danced around them.

How is it that the UC system and so many other universities in the US and Canada can allow this kind of intimidation and hate to flourish on their campuses? UC President Mark Yudof, who is also Jewish, has refused time and time again to confront this atmosphere of hate on his campuses. He only says he deplores it, but it is free speech. Similarly, his administrators at the UC campuses decry the voices of off-campus groups whose complaints are "exacerbating the situation".

Several of the incidents at Irvine mentioned in the text I have seen and heard first hand. Not only did the UCI Cross Cultural Center give an award to the MSU in spite of their numerous hateful speakers and disruption of the Oren event, but they have neglected to address anti-Semitism even when reportedly asked by Jewish students. It was after the UC San Diego event involving the Compton Cookout and a noose discovered in the UCSD  library that the head of the CCC at Irvine put out a letter expressing concern about any kind of hate crime or expression. Fair enough, but when I sent him a letter (faxed from my UCI office to his) asking him to address anti-Semitism at UC Irvine, I never received a response.

Greenfield also touches on another aspect of the problem. That is the unwillingness of most of the Jewish organizations to admit there is a problem on campus. That is certainly true of the UCI campus and the Orange County Jewish Federation. Not only are they much too embedded with the administration,which they are covering for, they are also funding the insidious Olive Tree Initiative through their shadowy financial arm, the Rose Project.  The ADL? Never see them around. And our illustrious law school dean, Erwin Chemerinsky? He is in total denial.

It is easy for me to wish that the whole lot of the UC administrators be canned, but they will only be replaced with like-minded empty suits who are too timid to confront certain forms of hate. What is needed is an institutional change within academia. It took several decades to create this sewer. It will take decades more to clean it up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Obama To The American People:

By Findalis of Monkey in the Middle

F**k You!

Once again the Obama regime fails to provide sound energy and job programs.  Instead of looking to our neighbor to the north, Canada and their oil sands for some energy independence (From Muslim oil), he will be cancelling the Keystone Pipeline.  A project that will bring 100,000 jobs (20,000 Shovel-ready.).
The State Department will announce the decision on Keystone XL pipeline is "no," as early as Wednesday, an industry source told Fox News, suggesting that the department will say 60 days is inadequate time to do the required environmental impact assessment on the path of the coveted pipeline.

For three years, the State Department has been reviewing the initial proposal to run a pipeline from Canada down to Texas through a sensitive Nebraska aquifer -- authority it has because of the transnational path the route takes. The pipeline had been through several other federal, state and local approvals, but the department backed away from signing off on the plan last year after environmentalists complained.

Industry workers and Republicans contend the project would create thousands of jobs, and Canada's prime minister has warned if the U.S. can't get on board, the North American nation will look to team with China.

"Unfortunately Prime Minister Harper of Canada just this week said because of the volatile indecisiveness on the part of this president, that they feel they are being held hostage and they will take their energy elsewhere specifically to Asia and China," Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, told Fox News Radio.

In December, Congress attached to the payroll tax cut a deadline of 60 days for the State Department to determine approval for an alternative route. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner pointed out that the legislation doesn't permit the State Department to reject the plan, only President Obama. The language says if he rejects the pipeline, Obama must then issue a report to Congress "that provides a justification for determination, including consideration of economic, employment, energy security, foreign policy, trade and environmental factors."

On Tuesday, Obama's own jobs council suggested that it agrees with the pipeline concept. While not specifically mentioning Keystone in a report out Tuesday about improving competitiveness, the council said that when it comes to energy projects in general, the government needs to "expeditiously, though cautiously, move forward on projects that can support hundreds of thousands of jobs."

"We think this all-in energy strategy can create significant economic growths and significant job creation," said Lewis Hay, NextEra Energy CEO and a member of the president's job council.

Obama has noted his environmental concerns when it comes to energy exploration but insisted Tuesday that a balance could be found.

"I think the recommendations are sound. We see enormous potential in production of traditional fossil fuels," he said without mentioning Keystone.

As oil prices rose Wednesday on fresh signs the U.S. economy was improving, which could lead to stronger demand for gasoline and other energy products, the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, argued that the pipeline doesn't make the U.S. anymore energy secure just because it would get oil from a close neighbor and friend.

Instead of carrying common crude oil, the Keystone XL pipeline would carry thick, toxic bitumen for refining in the Gulf states, effectively transporting pollution from Canada to the United States," reads the NRDC report..

"It is not in the national interest to lock the United States into supporting an expensive and dirty form of oil for many years to come. Also, additional capacity for tar sands oil perpetuates America's addiction to oil, and undermines the clean energy alternatives that would bring genuine energy security," the NRDC report continues.

But Gerard said the president's refusal to approve the pipeline is a "clear abdication of leadership." House Speaker John Boehner also accused the president of trying to put off a politically difficult decision until after the election.

"This is not good for our country," Boehner said. "The president wants to put this off until it's convenient for him to make a decision. ... The president's got an opportunity to create 100,000 new jobs almost immediately. The president should say yes."

Barack Hussein Obama has given into the extreme Environmental Moonbats.  These are the kooks that want the world to go back to the time we lived without electricity, modern medicine, cars, etc...  And Sheik Obama agrees with them.  But instead of Sheik Obama assuming the blame on this disastrous decision, he will now be able to blame the State Department (Hillary Clinton) for the decision.  Just like he tries to do every time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

CAIR Attacks Tampa Case

Gary Fouse

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has predictably attacked the FBI for its latest undercover operation that resulted in the arrest of a Kosovar Muslim who was planning to set off bombs in Florida. They are calling it a case of entrapment. Below is the latest report on CAIR's accusations from Steven Emerson at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Below the link, I will explain (according to what has been reported) why this does not appear to me to be a case of entrapment.

(A check of CAIR's national and Florida websites reveal no mention of the case as of this morning.)

Now to the entrapment issue. I think I am entitled to comment of this since I did engage in undercover roles on several occasions in my DEA career.

When an undercover government agent is involved in direct negotiations with a suspect, and an arrest occurs, entrapment is generally the only legal defense available to the defendant and his or her attorney. The principle argument then becomes one of predisposition. In other words, did the defendant already have the predisposition to commit the crime prior to being in contact with the undercover agent (UC) or government informant. What the defense attempts to show a jury is that the defendant would have had no intention of committing the crime absent the role of the informant or UC.

Therefore, when preparing to launch an undercover contact, it is important for the government to be able to demonstrate that the defendant already was predisposed to commit the crime. In the case of drug cases, it is useful to show that the suspect was already involved in drug trafficking prior to meeting the UC or informant. That can be done in a variety of ways. A previous conviction for drug offenses is a start, but taped conversations as to prior activity, surveillance, testimony of other witnesses all go to show that the suspect was involved in drug dealing and that he or she was not being pressured into anything.

The fact that the government may or may not have provided requested materials to the suspect (such as bomb-making materials) does not in itself constitute entrapmant. Government or police may "afford the opportunity" for the suspect to carry out a crime as long as predisposition exists. For example, if an undercover cop poses as a passed out drunk in a New York subway, it is not entrapment if a mugger attempts to rob him and then is arrested. A person such as you or I, who is not predisposed to steal, would not try to rob an unconscious drunk.  Accordingly, if someone plotting a terrorist attack is attempting to procure explosives, it is not entrapment for an informant or UC to fill that role.

Again, predisposition is the key, and it must be documented in such a way as to convince a jury.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Imperial Obamas

For years we have experienced the antics of the Obama Family and their over-the-top spending sprees.  From multimillion dollar vacations (The last one to Hawaii cost the taxpayer over $4 million.), to the menus of Kobe beef and lobster, to the clothing bill for Michelle Obama (Her sundress cost $2000.), but that is nothing compared to what has emerged in a recent book about Michelle Obama.  Their over-the-top Halloween Party.
Right as the economy was going down the rabbit hole, the Obamas decided to host an Alice in Wonderland themed Halloween party, complete with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Tim Burton-arranged decorations.

They even talked to Star Wars director George Lucas and convinced him to lend them the original Chewbacca costume for the entertainment of their guests.

The extravagant fantasy world that they created, however, was kept very much under wraps because at the time of Halloween 2009, the economy was in the slumps and the national unemployment rate was still at a dismal 10 per cent.

The details about the lavish affair come from the pages of a new book about the relationship of the first couple during Mr Obama's presidency.

'White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans — or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care — that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton’s and Depp’s contributions went unacknowledged,' recounts Jodi Kantor in her book, 'The Obamas'.

As is tradition, the Obamas handed out treats to Washington, D.C. school children earlier in the day, and while that event was covered heavily by the press, their later festivities were very actively kept secret.

Instead of chowing down on the presidential M&Ms, sugar cookies, and dried fruit that Mrs Obama traditionally hands out in her trick-or-treat bags, the guests at the invitation-only party had bone-shaped meringue cookies and fruit punch served in blood vials.

In keeping with her dedication to military families, the invitees were the children of military service men and women along with the children of White House employees.

Mrs Obama has invited the children of military families to many of the events she has hosted while first lady, including more recent Halloween trick-or-treating sessions and the unveiling of the White House Christmas decorations- which even had a Gold Star Families tree dedicated to the group.

The Halloween party took place five months before Mr Burton's Alice in Wonderland film was released, so the kids served as informal taste-testers and gave an indication of how his spooky take on the Disney classic would be received.

As the children walked into the State Dining Room, they were greeted by a fully-costumed Johnny Depp standing on a table decorated with vintage-inspired table cloths and surrounded by giant stuffed animals.

First daughters Malia and Sasha, who were respectively 11 and 8 at the time, were able to invite their close friends to share in the activities, which also included a magic show in the East Room.
It is beyond comprehension that the Main Lame Stream Media was ignorant of a party this size in the White House.  The fact that this was NOT reported by the media only demonstrates the close relationship the media has with the Obamas.  A relationship that has put the media into the Obama's re-election campaign working as their propaganda mill.  Is it no wonder that this was not reported on.  Could you imagine the Bush family (Either George H W or George W) having a party of this magnitude without the media crying about it.  In fact they would have complained about the party (which looked like a promo for Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland) for years.  And they scream that they are impartial.  Right!

By Findalis of Monkey in the Middle

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kodak Bankrupt!

For generations of Americans Kodak was the only brand of film that they used.  Kodak was the only brand of Camera that was allowed in the house.  It was Iconic Americana.  A part of American culture, history, society.  And now it is about to go forever.
Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America's corporate titans.

The 131-year-old company is still making last-ditch efforts to sell off some of its patent portfolio and could avoid Chapter 11 if it succeeds, one of the people said. But the company has started making preparations for a filing in case those efforts fail, including talking to banks about some $1 billion in financing to keep it afloat during bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

A Kodak spokesman said the company "does not comment on market rumor or speculation."

A filing could come as soon as this month or early February, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Kodak would continue to pay its bills and operate normally while under bankruptcy protection, the people said. But the company's focus would then be the sale of some 1,100 patents through a court-supervised auction, the people said.

That Kodak is even contemplating a bankruptcy filing represents a final reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated its industry, drawing engineering talent from around the country to its Rochester, N.Y., headquarters and plowing money into research that produced thousands of breakthroughs in imaging and other technologies.

The company, for instance, invented the digital camera—in 1975—but never managed to capitalize on the new technology.

Casting about for alternatives to its lucrative but shrinking film business, Kodak toyed with chemicals, bathroom cleaners and medical-testing devices in the 1980s and 1990s, before deciding to focus on consumer and commercial printers in the past half-decade under Chief Executive Antonio Perez.

None of the new pursuits generated the cash needed to fund the change in course and cover the company's big obligations to its retirees. A Chapter 11 filing could help Kodak shed some of those obligations, but the viability of the company's printer strategy has yet to be demonstrated, raising questions about the fate of the company's 19,000 employees.

Such uncertainty was once unthinkable at Kodak, whose near-monopoly on film produced high margins that the company shared with its workers. On "wage dividend days," a tradition started by Kodak founder George Eastman, the company would pay out bonuses to all workers based on its results, and employees would use the checks to buy cars and celebrate at fancy restaurants.

Former employees say the company was the Apple Inc. or Google Inc. of its time. Robert Shanebrook, 64 years old, who started at the company in 1967 and was most recently world-wide product manager for professional photographic film, recalls young talent traipsing through Kodak's sprawling corporate campus. At lunch, they would crowd the auditorium to watch a daily movie at an on-site theater. Other employees would play basketball on the company courts.

"We had this self-imposed opinion of ourselves that we could do anything, that we were undefeatable," Mr. Shanebrook said.

Kodak's troubles date back to the 1980s, when the company struggled with foreign competitors that stole its market share in film. The company later had to cope with the rise of digital photography and smartphones.

It wasn't until 10 years ago that the mood began to sour, said Mr. Shanebrook. By 2003, Kodak announced it would stop making investments in film. "I didn't want to stick around for the demise," he said.

Kodak shares closed Wednesday at 47 cents, down 28% after The Wall Street Journal reported the company was preparing a Chapter 11 filing.

Kodak has lost money each year but one since Mr. Perez, who previously headed the printer business at Hewlett-Packard Co., took over in 2005. The company's problems came to a head in 2011, as Mr. Perez's strategy of using patent lawsuits and licensing deals to raise cash ran dry.

Hoping to plug the hole, Kodak put some of its digital patents up for sale in August. Efforts to sell the portfolio have been slowed by bidders' concerns that Kodak might seek bankruptcy protection. The company has talked to hedge funds about borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to bridge its finances until the patents sell, but the talks have faltered, people familiar with the matter said.

The first sign of acute cash pressure came in late September, when Kodak drew $160 million from its credit line at a time when it had told investors it would be building cash. The move sent Kodak's stock tumbling and raised fresh concerns about the company's viability.

Soon after, Kodak hired restructuring lawyers and advisers to help shore up its finances.

The company and its board have weighed a potential bankruptcy filing for months. Advisers told Kodak a filing would make its patent sale easier and likely allow the company to command a higher price, people familiar with the matter have said. The obligation to cover pension and health-care costs for retirees could also be purged through bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

Those obligations—which run to hundreds of millions of dollars a year—as well as the unprofitable state of Kodak's new businesses, have made the company undesirable as a takeover target, people familiar with the matter said.

During a two-day meeting of the company's board, management and advisers in mid-December, executives were briefed on how Kodak would fund itself during bankruptcy proceedings should efforts to sell its patents fall short, a person familiar with the matter said.

Kodak is in discussions with large banks including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. for so-called debtor-in-possession financing to keep the company operating in bankruptcy court, people familiar with the matter said.

Kodak has also held discussions with bondholders and a group led by investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP about a bankruptcy financing package, the people said.

Should it seek bankruptcy protection, Kodak would follow other well-known companies that have failed to adapt to rapidly changing business models. They included Polaroid Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection a second time in December 2008; Borders Group Inc., which liquidated itself last year; and Blockbuster Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was later bought by Dish Network Corp. A bankruptcy filing would kick off what is expected to be a busier year in restructuring circles, as economic growth continues to drag and fears about European sovereign debt woes threaten to make credit markets less inviting for companies that need to refinance their debts.

Mr. Perez decided to base the company's future on consumer and commercial inkjet printing. But the saturated market has proved tough to penetrate, and Kodak is paying heavily to subsidize sales as it builds a base of users for its ink.

The company remains a bit player in a printer market dominated by giants like H-P. Kodak ranks fifth world-wide, according to technology data firm IDC, with a market share of 2.6% in the first nine months of 2011.

As the company works on a restructuring plan, a key issue for creditors is whether the printer operations are worth supporting, or whether the bulk of the company's value is in its patents.

Nortel Networks Corp., a company that also had fallen behind the technology curve, opted to liquidate itself in bankruptcy court rather than reorganize, raising a greater than expected $4.5 billion for its patent trove.

Kodak's founder, Mr. Eastman, took his life at the age of 77 in what is now a museum celebrating the founder and Kodak's impact on photography. His suicide note read: "To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?"

I have so many memories of Kodak.  The first Instamatic Camera I received one Chanukah.  It came with a flash cube.  No more touching of hot bulbs.  And how fascinating it was to watch the cube rotate each time the film was wound.  The film cartridge that meant you never had to worry if your loaded your camera correctly.  I remember my father loading the camera (His Brownie) with film.  Black and White film, color was too expensive.  Or going down to the camera store to have your film developed.

There are companies that still make and develop film.  But the industry will never be the same now.  For the inventor of mass photography will be gone, but not forgotten.

Kodachrome - Paul Simon

By Findalis of Monkey in the Middle

Monday, January 2, 2012

Will Santorum be the New Flavor of the Day?

Gary Fouse

All of a sudden, Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, is surging in the Iowa polls. In fact, he may even win the Iowa caucus. I suppose that would mean that the mad-hatters at MSNBC will be looking for dirt on him as they did with previous front-runners. Unfortunately for them, Santorum has no obvious skeletons in his closet. My question is whether Santorum can take a strong showing in Iowa and become a serious candidate as a real conservative.

This morning, Santorum was interviewed by Fox's Shepherd Smith, who grilled him on his opposition to gay marriage. Santorum's answer was based on his religious opposition. That would not have been my answer, but I am not Santorum. Could that hurt him with independent voters in a general election? I don't have the answer for that, but, on the other hand, I don't view it as one of the major issues.

As a conservative, I think Santorum is in many ways, the most attractive candidate. Come the California primary, I won't be able to vote for anyone since I am not a registered Republican. I guess at this stage, I would have to weigh my preference on the one I like the most and who can beat Obama. I guess that means I am leaning toward Romney and Santorum. Whoever it is, I hope the VP pick will be Marco Rubio.

At any rate, I expect the little rascals at MSNBC will be talking a lot about Rick Santorum and what a bad guy he is by the end of the week.