Friday, June 30, 2006
"The FBI said in a statement from its Baltimore field office that it appeared that the data had not been copied or misused. "A preliminary review of the equipment by computer forensic teams has determined that the database remains intact and has not been accessed since it was stolen," the statement said."
Hopefully, that will prove to be true, so that all of us who were possibly affected can breathe a little easier.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
If the movie's makers - and by extension, Gore - had done their research properly, they would have discovered that "global warming" is in fact, not caused by anthropogenic (man made) emissions, as protagonists of "global warming" love to assert, but that, by and large, I believe that "global warming" is in fact, a myth of (dare I say it?) global proportions that is being foisted upon us by extremists, and their media enablers.
While I believe that "global warming" is a myth, I firmly believe that climate change is not, and that, yes indeed, the world's climate is changing. But, guess what? The world's climate is constantly changing - always has, always will. It is not a static thing, as the "global warming" alarmist crowd want you to believe. The only way for the climate of our world to become static, is if the world stopped rotating, at which point, everything would become moot, as there wouldn't be a climate - or us either.
In this impassioned piece by Louis J. Freeh, FBI Director from 1993 to 2001, he details his efforts at bringing the perpetrators to justice, and excoriates former President Clinton and former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger for their utter failure to press the issue with the Iranians.
When will the last of the stones be turned over to bring justice to the families of the 19 U.S. airmen killed in an overt act of war perpetrated by the Iranians?
Why is this finding of chemical weapon munitions significant? Because it shows that Saddam was actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and that he was in violation of these specific UN Security Council Resolutions:
- UNSCR 687 - April 3, 1991
Iraq must "unconditionally accept" the destruction, removal or rendering harmless "under international supervision" of all "chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities."
- UNSCR 707 - August 15, 1991
Iraq must make a full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects of its weapons of mass destruction and missile programs.
- UNSCR 1154 - March 2, 1998
Iraq must cooperate fully with UN and IAEA weapons inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access, and notes that any violation would have the "severest consequences for Iraq."
- UNSCR 1441 - November 8, 2002
...immediate and complete disarmament of Iraq and its prohibited weapons.
Just a reminder, folks - violation of any one of these resolutions (let alone all of these) carried with it the consequence of possible military action against Iraq, pre-approved by the UN Security Council, which is exactly what happened.
Still think the war in Iraq is "illegal" and "unjustified"? Think again, folks (and that includes you, too, Koffi!).
Hat Tip: Hollie-is-Right
The other thing I like is that, "[u]nbidden, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel rose with an impassioned defense that seemed to surprise the president. "I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries," Schuessel said. "Europe would not enjoy peace and prosperity if not for U.S. help after World War II, he said.", adding, ""We should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic," Schuessel said. "We should understand what Sept. 11th meant to the American people.""
Thank you, Chancellor Schuessel, for saying what should have been said some time ago, although the fact that it needed to be said at all speaks volumes on the attitude of the Europeans, EU support on North Korea and Iran notwithstanding.
"The Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that it would provide a year of free credit monitoring for people whose personal information might have been compromised in the recent theft of department computer data." Well, that's a half-step in the right direction I guess.
"Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said his department would solicit bids from monitoring companies and send letters by mid-August to those who might have been affected by the data loss, which occurred May 3 when the home of a data analyst at the agency was burglarized." After the VA employee took the laptop computer home without authorization - just a reminder, folks.
"Nicholson said the credit monitoring was part of his agency's effort to atone for the "terrible, unfortunate, regrettable" data loss that appears certain to cost taxpayers well over $20 million. "Free credit monitoring will help safeguard those who may be affected and will provide them with the peace of mind they deserve," he said."
Some other ways that you could 'atone' for the "terrible, unfortunate, regrettable" data loss, Mr. Nicholson, would be to fire the idiot who is responsible for this for taking the laptop home in the first place, and his immediate supervisor not ensuring that all of his subordinates were made aware of the fact that it is against Agency rules to take work home with them, and finally, catch the burglar or burglars who stole the laptop, and recover it. That would go a long way to providing us with some "peace of mind".
Well, Col. Wright, I beg to differ with your statement that Lt. Watada is free to disobey his orders to deploy, and that Iraq "did nothing to the United States of America", on the following grounds:
- Saddam ordered a "hit" on former President Bush, which in and of itself, is an act of war, which makes the Iraq War a legal enterprise all by itself;
- Several UN Resolutions, established at the end of the first Gulf War, were either not complied with in full, or were totally ignored (UNSCR 687 - April 3, 1991, which states in part that "Iraq must "unconditionally accept" the destruction, removal or rendering harmless "under international supervision" of all "chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities."; UNSCR 707 - August 15, 1991, which states in part that, "Iraq must make a full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects of its weapons of mass destruction and missile programs."; UNSCR 1154 - March 2, 1998, which states in part that "Iraq must cooperate fully with UN and IAEA weapons inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access, and notes that any violation would have the "severest consequences for Iraq."; and UNSCR 1441 - November 8, 2002, which makes demands in part for an "immediate and complete disarmament of Iraq and its prohibited weapons."), with the penalty of non-compliance with those resolutions being that military action could be resumed at any time.
So, Col. Wright, how is it that a) the deployment orders to Iraq are "illegal", and b) that Lt. Watada has the right to disobey those deployment orders? The deployment orders to Iraq are completely legal, and Lt. Watada has an obligation to fulfill those orders, whether he likes them or not.
"While Watada, 28, has said he is not a conscientious objector and that he would serve in Afghanistan, he focused on the war in Iraq in his Monday comments." Well, isn't that nice? Lt. Watada says he would go to Afghanistan, but doesn't want to go to Iraq. Lt. Watada does not have the right to pick and choose which orders he will or will not obey.
"Because of his public comments, he is under an administrative investigation by the Army. " and " faces a potential court-martial, imprisonment and possibly hard labor.", which is what I hope happens!
As reported here, the King County Council - voting along party lines (5 Dems, 4 Reps) as expected - has approved all mail-in voting for King County. It seems the main rationale for this is that most of the other counties in the state do it, so King County should too, hidden behind the words "efficiency" and "cost effectiveness", which is malarkey.
The Council did vote unanimously to delay the implementation until certain "to do" items get checked off their list, which could push this out to 2009. Items on the "to do" list include:
- Hiring a new elections director and superintendent of elections (that would be a really good idea, and what would be even better is if the two new hires had at least some experience in the positions);
- The new director and the elections staff must complete the cultural change and management training (those are good ideas too - change the culture from "We don't care if the ballots are counted correctly, since the election is rigged anyway!", to one where there's at least some integrity; it's also a good idea if the two new hires actually know what their jobs are and how to do them);
- The cost estimates for the proposed regional voting centers and ballot drop-off centers must be approved by the council (it would be nice if they could figure out how to pay for this without raising our taxes, too, but I don't hold out much hope there);
"The county can begin voter information and other preparations for the switch, "but the actual implementation of vote by mail cannot happen until these requirements are met," said Councilman Bob Ferguson, a Democrat who proposed the amendment that was passed unanimously." It appears that at least one Democrat is thinking reasonably. Too bad the others can't, or won't.
Republican Council member Kathy Lambert says that we need to take a little time because of all of the changes needed to be made in the KC Elections office, and she's correct. I say take all the time you need. Maybe that way, the whole idea will be shelved, even though Ron "King" Sims still wants this whole thing implemented by next year if at all possible.
"Council Chairman Larry Phillips said the authorization was a well thought-out response to an issue that has become a political lightning rod.
"We cannot control the rhetoric of individual members, of political parties, of newspapers or bloggers," Phillips said. "So I want to point out the collaborative nature of this effort, regardless of the white-hot rhetoric which has surrounded it from time to time."
Councilmember Julia Patterson said the idea that an all-mail system provides a partisan advantage for her Democratic Party is "insulting."
"Charges that this is partisan or that it provides some sort of advantage to Democrats is baseless, and it is not supported by voting patterns and by facts," Patterson said."
Sound Politics has been saying about this, where he shows unequivocally that all mail-in voting does give your party an unfair advantage. The idea that you don't seem to think that the rest of us know that is insulting.
Oh, really? Obviously, Ms. Patterson, you have not been following what Stefan Sharkansky over at
In the article, the erosion is attributed to her stance on the Iraq war (voted for), and that she voted against blocking the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, both of which are anathema to the party extremists, but what I think has eroded her lead is the fact that she really has no coherent message, while McGavik has been putting out a very coherent message of effective change that resonates with the electorate.
Of course, the poll was limited in scope, with only 500 people responding, which hardly constitutes a consensus among the total electorate, and I don't particularly ascribe to poll results being very accurate barometers of how people really feel about issues or candidates, but I believe that this poll at least gives a fairly accurate indication that the Washington voters desire change.
We'll see just how accurate this poll really was, come November.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Catherine Davis, a human resources manager who has never held elected office, said she is running because McKinney's "dismal legislative record and her outrageous behavior are an embarrassment to the hard-working folks in my district." McKinney represents Georgia's 4th Congressional District."
"Jim Sedlak, executive director of the conservative American Life League's STOPP International, called Richards' comments "outrageous."
"Planned Parenthood just released its latest annual report showing it received $272.7 million in taxpayer money, and now, its president exclaims that she is going to use the 'power' of the organization to get people she likes elected to office," Sedlak said. "It appears then that our tax money is going to be used to elect public officials."
Sedlak said the Internal Revenue Service should immediately revoke Planned Parenthood's tax-exempt status.
"Planned Parenthood has always tried to hide its political activity behind its lobbying group -- the Planned Parenthood Action Fund," Sedlak noted. "But when its president clearly states that Planned Parenthood will use its 860 health centers and all its employees and staff to do political work, it has clearly positioned itself as a political organization and violated the basic rules of a 501 C-3 organization.
"Now that Ms. Richards has said, in her own words, 'Planned Parenthood has got to become more political,' people all across the country should bring any PP political activity to the attention of the IRS and to the attention of elected officials," he added.
"It is time we cut off its tax-exempt status and stopped giving it our tax money.""
I agree with Mr. Sedlak, and you should too. Using tax payer funds to help get pro-abortion liberals elected is beyond outrageous, is illegal, and needs to be stopped now.
First of all, just who does he think he is, calling conservative talk radio hosts "right wing nuts"? Secondly, local media is saturated with "progressive points of view", with an even higher percentage of national media being "progressive" (read liberal), yet he wants liberals to "demand" that even more liberal points of view be heard. But Mr. Sanders wasn't content to just call conservative talk radio hosts "right wing nuts". He goes on to add this little nugget:
""If you have a right-wing station in your community, you've got to go up to those people and say, 'You've got to give us alternative points of view,'" he stated. "If you have a newspaper in your community that does not allow columnists from a progressive perspective, you've got to go challenge those people."" The last time I looked, Mr. Sanders, people in this country were allowed to run their companies in whatever way they see fit to, as long as it's within the law, so why should a conservative media outlet be made to provide a liberal alternative to existing programming? If that is the case, then wouldn't liberal media outlets have to allow conservative points of view to be heard as well? I mean, fair is fair, right? But that is not what Mr. Sanders wants at all, of course.
Mr. Sanders also goes on to decry "corporate control" of the media, but as Tim Carney with the free market-based Competitive Enterprise Institute says, ""It's fine for the congressman to worry about corporate ownership of the media, but it's dishonest of him to equate 'corporate' with 'right-wing,'"", adding, ""Sanders knows very well that big businesses are no free market swashbucklers or conservative crusaders - or maybe he's never heard of Ted Turner and George Soros.""
Also, " Michael Harrison, publisher of "Talkers magazine," disagreed with many of Sanders' other points.
"What he's saying doesn't fit within the First Amendment," Harrison told Cybercast News Service. "First of all, he's characterizing people he doesn't agree with as nuts, but they have legitimate points of view, just as the left has a legitimate point of view.
"And even nuts have the right to speak in this country," Harrison added.
Regarding conservative talk radio, Harrison said that "there's nothing wrong with somebody being successful and having a following. There's nothing illegal about it, either.
"There are other kinds of radio, too, as evidenced by the fact that Air America is out there, and we have National Public Radio" plus a wide variety of other formats, Harrison said.
In addition, "I think newspapers have the right to be whatever they want to be," Harrison said. "If you don't like it, start your own newspaper or don't frequent the advertisers.""
The fact that there is a certain segment of media pundits out there who happen to disagree with Mr. Sanders point of view - and are getting more attention than he is - doesn't make them "nuts". What is does make them is, Americans citizens exercising their rights to speak freely, just as Mr. Sanders felt free to express his "nutty" opinions.
Which is only getting worse, as American and Iraqi forces continue their raids against the terrorists. "American and Iraqi forces have killed 104 insurgents in 452 raids nationwide since al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed last week, the U.S. military said.", with the Iraqi's making 143 raids by themselves. Good for them!
The terrorists know they are on the losing side, and if these documents are authenticated, what will the "quit now", defeatist crowd have to say, I wonder?
Hat tip: Reality Hammer
For a translation of the captured documents, go here.
Hat tip: Hollie_is_Right
In case you haven't been paying attention, Rep. McKinney (D-GA) tried to enter a House office building without walking through a metal detector or wearing the lapel pin that identifies members of Congress, and was stopped by Officer Paul McKenna - who was simply doing his job - allegedly by grabbing her arm, at which time she struck him. She was subsequently allowed entry after she provided the DC Police with proper identification.
After the incident, though, McKinney then went on a PR blitz, saying how she was assaulted (but she hit him, remember) by a cop using Gestapo-type tactics (he grabbed her by the arm, as she tried to brush past him, remember), and pulling out the race card at every turn ("I'm just a poor little black - oh, excuse me - African-American woman, who was assaulted by a mean old white, card-carrying member of the Gestapo, male cop! Oh, poor me!"), claiming that the DC Police Department is racist to the core, and that they never, ever show proper decorum towards African-Americans - which of course is a crock of ... well, you know what.
I guess if you're a black woman Member of Congress, you automatically get a free pass for everything, including assaulting a police officer in the performance of his duties.
Shame on the grand jury for bailing on this, and shame especially on Rep. McKinney for not following the rules, and then making false claims about what happened.
After years of having a liberal government in power that basically did nothing to protect its citizens (and by extension, its neighbor to the south), Canada now has a PM that gets it, in the global war on terror. This is very good news, indeed, and most welcome.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
After the total fiasco of the 2004 gubernatorial race, where so many problems arose, that were both partially and directly attributable to Logan's mismanagement of the Elections office, this comes as extremely good news, with the added bonus that there will be a further delay in the implementation of the vote by mail program (boy, do I ever want to say "scheme") that Sims so desperately wants to see happen here, even though the County is not prepared for it, both from a security standpoint, and a cost effectiveness standpoint - not to mention that VBM makes it even easier to commit vote fraud.
As to who Sims will name to replace Logan remains to be seen, but I'm guessing that it will more than likely be another Sims political crony.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Fast forward nearly forty years later, to the war in Iraq. On November 19th, 2005, " ... it has been claimed that a squad of Marines killed 24 Iraqi non-combatants after their convoy was attacked by Iraqi insurgents using an improvised explosive device, resulting in the death of Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas.""
Some in positions of power, such as Rep. Murtha (D-PA), and in the MSM, have made the claim that this was murder - invoking the memory of My Lai - and that those responsible need to be punished. Rep. Murtha has even gone so far as to claim that there is a "cover up". If - and this is a very large if - murder was committed in Haditha, I agree that those responsible should be punished.
But, this country has a precept of law that states that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that precept is found in both civilian and military law, and to date, no charges have been officially presented in this case. Yet, Rep. Murtha, and the anti-troop MSM have not only accused US Marines of murder - even before an investigation had started (which has since started) - but have also convicted them, and now want them punished with long prison sentences, or even the death penalty! What about due process, hmmm?
Andrew Walden, of the Hawaii Reporter, in this excellent piece states that, "The liberal media is chiming in to make sure that Haditha is used to wear down support for our troops in Iraq—just as they did with abu-Ghraib. Peering through the media smokescreen few have noticed that all of the actual shooting eye-witnesses in the media’s kangaroo court are local Iraqis--witnesses who are under constant threat from terrorists and whose motivations may be suspect. All the US witnesses currently quoted in the media saw events before or after the alleged shootings—but not the shootings themselves."
Mr. Walden goes on to further state that, "Only now—two and a half months after the story broke in the March 19 issue of Time magazine-- are the voices of soldiers who question the charges beginning to be heard."
Prior to the Time Magazine story of the alleged "massacre" at Haditha, according to Marine Captain James Kimber, "... he first learned about the shootings in February when he heard that a Time magazine reporter was asking questions about civilian deaths ...", but that, " ... he heard nothing about a civilian massacre during weekly meetings with the Haditha City Council and talks with local leaders.""
Not all in the MSM are making accusatory remarks, however. "CNN reporter, Arwa Damon, writes:
“I know the Marines that were operating in western al Anbar, from Husayba all the way to Haditha. I went on countless operations in 2005 up and down the Euphrates River Valley. I was pinned on rooftops with them in Ubeydi for hours taking incoming fire, and I've seen them not fire a shot back because they did not have positive identification on a target. I saw their horror when they thought that they finally had identified their target, fired a tank round that went through a wall and into a house filled with civilians. They then rushed to help the wounded -- remarkably no one was killed.
“I was with them in Husayba as they went house to house in an area where insurgents would booby-trap doors, or lie in wait behind closed doors with an AK-47, basically on suicide missions, just waiting for the Marines to come through and open fire. There were civilians in the city as well, and the Marines were always keenly aware of that fact. How they didn't fire at shadows, not knowing what was waiting in each house, I don't know. But they didn't….”"
"A key point in dispute is whether the 24 who died in Haditha November 19 were gunned down, as Murtha says, “in cold blood” or were 15 civilians killed by the IED and nine hostiles then killed in a firefight as the Marines claim. The families refuse to allow an exhumation which could possibly answer this key question. According to the June 2 Washington Post, those exhumations may occur soon."
So, 24 people are killed, and most in the MSM and in the Democrat Party are claiming that they are all civilians - a claim that is in dispute and made by people who weren't there at the time of the incident, and are likening this with My Lai - while the Marines who were there say that 15 of the 24 were civilians who were killed by the IED, with the other 9 that were killed being armed, and firing upon the Marines.
I suggest that Rep. Murtha, and the anti-troop MSM, who are making unsubstantiated accusations against US Marines and likening what happened at Haditha to that which happened at My Lai, shut their mouths, let the investigation proceed unhindered by politicking and biased reporting.
IF it turns out that there was indeed a "massacre", let those who are guilty be proven they are guilty according to law, and not through "public opinion".
Hat tip: PowerLine
Victor Davis Hanson also has something to say about the comparison of Haditha to My Lai, here.
Erin Texeira of the AP starts her article with this forebodingly toned sentence, "As the fight over immigration reform drags on, an ominous undercurrent to the debate -- racism -- is becoming more pronounced." Perhaps it is with the fringe-hate groups, but not among thinking Americans and legal immigrants, who see illegal immigration as a threat to our National security, and our way of life.
"From muttered ethnic slurs to violent attacks, activists say an anti-immigrant backlash seems to be growing in America's neighborhoods and workplaces." Which absolutely proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that those opposed to illegal immigration are - gasp! - 'racists', rather than people who are concerned about the welfare of the our Nation. I don't think so.
"Some activists say the House of Representatives started it." Did not. Did too. Did too. Did too! Sounds like little kids on the playground, arguing over who did what to whom, with the attendant finger pointing. What the House of Representatives did was iterate what has been on the minds of the American people for a long time, namely, that those who are here illegally ought to be punished for breaking the law!
"When lawmakers passed a bill in December that would make illegal immigrants felons, many believed that was a swipe at Latinos, who make up 80 percent of the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Former President Carter has said the bill had "racist overtones," and that feeling helped push more than 1 million demonstrators to attend street rallies in recent months." No, that wasn't a "swipe at Latinos", even though Latinos do make up the vast majority of those who are here illegally (probably due to the fact that Mexico and the US share a rather long border, making it easy for Latinos to enter illegally, don't you think?). What it aims at is ALL of the people here illegally, no matter what the peanut farmer from Georgia says it is, and those people demonstrated against the bill because, if signed into law, they knew they would be branded as criminals, and to gain 'sympathy for their plight', they threw out the race card.
"Some reacted the same way after the Senate passed an amendment to its immigration bill last month that declared English the national language. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, called that "racist" and "divisive."" No, Senator, making English the National Language isn't 'racist' or 'divisive', it's pragmatic and practical. Look at China. They have several different dialects that people speak there, but their government knew that if they didn't declare one to be their national language, things would degenerate into an impossible mess, with people being unable to communicate freely and efficiently, and at the time, that move was hailed as being pragmatic and practical. But when we do the same thing here, it is called 'racist' and 'divisive'? "The amendment's sponsor, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, called Reid's statements "ridiculous."" I agree.
"Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who wrote much of the House bill, issued a study on six countries' immigration policies and found that five -- including Mexico -- make illegal entry into their nation a criminal offense." Which is as it should be, and is here, but only at the misdemeanor level, and rarely, if ever enforced except in the 'catch and release' manner; the House bill would elevate that to felony status, with provisions for prosecution.
Why is that wrong? Because " ... Luis Valenzuela, of the Long Island Immigration Alliance in New York, said the measures feel hostile to many immigrants. The bills "set (an) overall climate which is quite racist," he said. "That elicits action by extremists."" The measures should feel 'hostile' to those who are here illegally, because they are already breaking existing laws, which the House bill will strengthen.
To further bolster the 'racist' angle, Ms. Texeira cites a few random, isolated incidents of whites assaulting Latinos near Houston and on Long Island, NY. While I do not condone any assaults on anyone, these were made by extremist wing-nuts, not by your average American who is concerned about border security, and yet that is the very impression that Ms. Texeira wants you to have.
"Sociologist Gonzalo Santos of California State University-Bakersfield said immigration is just the latest example of social policy issues taking on racial overtones in America.
"People talk about immigration as if race doesn't matter, saying, 'No, I don't have anything against immigrants or Mexicans, it's just the illegal part of it I don't like.' But those are code words," he said. "We experience race in this country through issues like welfare policy, anti-poverty programs and now immigration."" Code words? Code words? When it comes to immigration, I have absolutely nothing against those who wants to come here legally. In fact, I welcome them with open arms. But I do take exception to those who come here illegally, Mr. Santos. Race has nothing to do with it! Basically, it appears that Mr. Santos sees no distinction between 'legal' and 'illegal', just that it mainly involves Latinos.
"Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza said it's important for immigration advocates not to slip into bias themselves.", and says, ""The assumption is that we believe everybody who disagrees with us in this debate must be a racist but that's absolutely false," Munoz said. "But we are feeling the effects of what can only be described as racism and hatred."" [Emphasis mine] Ms. Munoz is correct when she states that immigration advocates must not slip into bias themselves and make the assumption that everyone who disagrees with them is a racist. Ms. Munoz also said that in the past two months, they have received letters containing ethnic slurs, and that she has come under personal attack, being called a 'wetback' and the 'N' word, which is unfortunate and disgraceful. But, again, this has been done by the extremist wing-nuts out there, and not by your average American who is concerned about people coming here illegally.
Policy designed to stem the tide of people coming here illegally may seem, on the face of it, to be racist in nature, aimed specifically against Latinos, but if you look at it dispassionately, you will see that is hardly the case. It isn't aimed at a specific ethnic group, but rather, at a specific group engaged in criminal behavior, and that group happens to be those people who are here illegally.
And what is the government doing about this? "... Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., the top Democrat on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee ... called on the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, to launch an investigation and get a full accounting." of the information about the loss of data coming out in dribs and drabs. Yes, let's launch an investigation into why the VA didn't immediately come clean about this data theft! By all means, lets! (end sarcasm)
But at the same time, are we going to address the central issue here - the loss of data - or are we going to hide that loss behind a bunch of fluff and bluster over why the VA didn't immediately come clean about the theft?
Two lawsuits have been filed against the VA over this, with the latest lawsuit, filed Tuesday demanding "that the VA fully disclose which military personnel are affected by the data theft and seeks $1,000 in damages for each person -- up to $26.5 billion total. The veterans are also seeking a court order barring VA employees from using sensitive data until independent experts determine proper safeguards." (Hey, I could use $1,000.00 right about now, but I would forego that if I knew that I wasn't personally affected by the VA's apparent disdain for data security.) The complaint further states that the "VA arrogantly compounded its disregard for veterans' privacy rights by recklessly failing to make even the most rudimentary effort to safeguard this trove of the personally identifiable information from unauthorized disclosure[.]""
Businesses routinely initiate safeguard protocols for their data, whether it's customer information, employee information, what have you. Is it too much to ask government agencies to do the same?
I think not.
"Critics, including the libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice, called last summer's ruling by Thurston County Superior Court a stunning blow against free speech and an unfettered press. But lawyers for San Juan County, Seattle, Kent and Auburn, who pressed the original complaint, said the disclosure was essential information for voters." I was, and still am, among those critics, and posted about this here, here and here.
My question to the lawyers is, how can this stifling of free speech be good for the voters? It isn't. "William Maurer, representing the Institute for Justice, said the reporting requirement gives government power to regulate free speech by squelching campaign debate that regulators don't like.
"It would give the government power to decide who gets to speak on the radio and to decide what may be said," he said." Just as happens in China, Iran, and other dictatorships.
Exactly when the WSSC will hear this case is up in the air, but it may be later this year, which would be good. On the other hand, the WSSC is notoriously liberal in its outlook, so what they may decide remains to be seen. Hopefully reason will prevail, otherwise this may end up before the Supreme Court of the US.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
With help from Iraqi citizens and Jordanian intelligence operatives in Iraq, the US has struck a major blow against the terrorist organization al-Qaida in Iraq, killing one of the most brutal terrorist thugs this world has ever seen.
Although I don't glory in the death of a human being, the death of this man is very good news, both for Iraq and the general global war on terrorism.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
From this foothold, Allied forces pushed their way into, and through, the Bocage, an area of farmland inland from the beaches of Normandy, with fields surrounded with hedgerows - some as thick as 6 to 10 feet - that the Germans had fortified and booby-trapped, in an effort to stop the advance of the Allied forces.
In less than a year after the invasion of Normandy, Allied forces had utterly destroyed the German war machine, and after Hitler's suicide, achieved the unconditional surrender of German forces, ending the war in Europe.
As this struggle for freedom was happening in Europe, Allied forces were also pitted in bitter struggle against the military forces of the Empire of Japan. Many of the island names where Allied forces fought and died are etched in the annals of history - Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa, among others.
Then, in August of 1945, the war was brought to an abrupt end with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Free civilization was able to take a deep breath, knowing that the war of world domination by evil had come to an end - at least temporarily.
At the beginning of the war, young men and women made a decision to make a stand, fight for freedom, and oppose those who would subjugate others for evil purposes. Those young men and women have come to be called the Greatest Generation, an appelation richly deserved through much sacrifice, tears, pain and death.
It has been estimated that we are losing between 1,000 to 2,000 of these members of the Greatest Generation per day now, as old age, infirmity and illness takes its inevitable toll, and it is for that reason that I want to add my voice, to say a thank you and well done to those of the Greatest Generation that are still with us, and who may read this.
Without you, and your sacrifice and struggles against an implacable foe, I would not enjoy the freedoms I do today, and I am forever in your debt. Thank you so much.
As we commemorate this day, I want you to know that, in the struggle against terrorism, another Greatest Generation is being forged in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and in other places where terrorism rears its ugly, evil head.
As the first Greatest Generation fades into the annals of history, I am heartened by the fact that there is another Greatest Generation made up of young men and women that are willing to take up the torch of freedom, that have made the decision to make a stand, fight for freedom, and oppose those who would subjugate others for evil purposes.
To those of you who belong to this next Greatest Generation, I want to also say a thank you and well done. I am very grateful for the sacrifice, the pain and tears, that you are so willingly making to ensure that freedom does not die.
I will never forget.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Even after 17 years, I can still vividly picture in my mind that brave young man who stood defiantly in front of the Chinese tank that was threatening the people who were protesting against their oppressive governments policies.
We need to remember this date, to stand with those who favor a democratic form of government in China.
We also need more young men and women of courage, such as the young man mentioned above, to stand for democracy in this country.
Well, isn't that just peachy.
"Meanwhile, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said Wednesday that he had named former Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley of Arizona as a special adviser for information security, a new three-month post that will pinpoint security problems at the VA and develop recommendations for improvements."
You'd think that in these days of rampant identity theft, that someone would have thought about this, and had the intelligence to do something before something like this had happened. This sounds like a case of closing the barn doors after the cows had left. But, we are talking about a government agency here.
"The three pages of memos by the VA, written by privacy officer Mark Whitney and distributed to high-level officials shortly after the May 3 burglary, offer new details on the scope of one of the nation's largest security breaches. The memos were obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
They show that a file containing 6,744 records pertaining to "mustard gas veterans" -- or those who participated in chemical testing programs during World War II -- was breached, and that a "short file" with as many as 10 diagnostic codes indicating a veteran's disability also was stolen.
At the same time, however, the memos suggest that the data might be difficult to retrieve by thieves.
"Given the file format used to store the data, the data may not be easily accessible," stated one memo dated May 5 and distributed internally May 8."
Mr. Whitney is obviously living in the land of wishful thinking if he believes that someone out there who may now have access to the laptop won't be able to de-code the information, or know someone who can. Mr. Whitney, this is the technology age. People know how to do things with computers. Just because you apparently can't figure that out, doesn't make it not so.
"On Wednesday, the VA did not say why it didn't immediately reveal that personal information such as addresses and phone numbers had been disclosed."
Let's see ... after admitting that they, the VA, got stupid for allowing a person to take a laptop home with them that contain sensitive information which was then subsequently stolen, the VA also doesn't add that personal addresses and phone numbers were part of the data. The VA got "stuck on stupid", and apparently so did AP "reporter" Hope Yen, since she couldn't seem to figure out why the VA didn't own up to that little tidbit of information. Oh, and Hope? The information, according to Mr. Whitney, hasn't been "disclosed" yet, although that should happen any day now, when the thieves manage to figure out how to retrieve the data.
"The House Veterans' Affairs Committee is planning to hold several additional hearings on data security and veterans' benefits later this summer."
We need some concrete solutions to come out of those hearings, to prevent the VA from being "stuck on stupid".
Here's a further update on what veterans can do to protect their credit information.
Of course, as soon as these men were rounded up - all of whom, by the way, have Muslim names - "Aly Hindy, an imam of an Islamic center that houses a school and a mosque and has been monitored by security agencies for years, said [that} ... "We are the ones always accused. Somebody fakes a document and they are an international terrorist forging documents for al Qaeda,"".
There might be a really good reason for that, Imam Hindy. It might be that the vast majority of terrorists operating in the world today are Muslims.
Kudos to Canadian authorities who acted to prevent a major terrorist attack in Canada. It's nice to know that people are awake north of the boder.
UPDATE: As reported here, a Toronto mosque was vandalized soon after the arrests were made, giving rise to fears in the Muslim community of a backlash against them.
"Mohammad Alam, the president Islamic Foundation of Toronto, said the incident may be the beginning of religiously motivated reprisals against the country's Muslim population, estimated at more than 600,000.
While he said he backed the government's efforts at stamping out terrorism, Alam noted that nothing has been proven thus far in the case, which has gripped the country.
"Like everybody knows, this is so far all allegation," Alam said. "To us, it doesn't matter what religion they belong to -- if they're a terrorist, they're a terrorist, they should be punished according to the law."
Tarek Fatah, spokesman for the Muslim Canadian Congress, said he felt "a mixture of shock and relief" following the arrests, which began late Friday. "It's too close to home," he said."
Too close to home, is right.
As I said in the title of this, Ken, you're only half right. What you got right is your attitude towards those people. However, what you didn't get right, Ken, is when you say that the government has banned them from protesting. That's not factual, Ken. What the government has done is to restrict them from getting to within 500 feet of any military funeral. If they approach closer than that, they are subject to arrest. That's hardly a "ban".
While I, too, despise what they are doing - like you, Ken - as their actions are vile and despicable, they do have the right to spout their bile, regardless of what my opinion is of what they are saying.
What I also despise, Ken, is when people make false statements, based on their political bias, which is patently obvious in your opinion piece.
You're smarter than that, Ken, and you could have done better - IF you had really wanted to. Apparently, you didn't, though.
"The grim finding, announced in a report by the ombudsman charged with monitoring outcomes at the state Children's Administration, prompted officials to point out that child fatalities have been higher in previous years and that many of the deaths were because of natural, medical, accidental or undetermined causes."
First of all, the title of this article is beyond ridiculous. "When children die, it's too late." Really?
Then, officials at the Children's Administration say, in effect, "Hey! You can't blame all of the deaths of children in our care on us! And look! There weren't as many child fatalities in 2004, as there were in previous years, so we must be doing something right!"
Maybe we can't blame all of the deaths on the CA, as many children did have medical problems, or were involved in various types of accidents, that resulted in their deaths, but there were far too many deaths that can be directly attributed to the failure of the CA's caseworkers. The fact that officials at the CA want to avoid responsibility for any deaths at all is despicable, but oh so typical of anyone associated with any of our state agencies that are involved in caring for children.
""We deal with the highest-risk children in the state so the fatality rate is going to be higher," said Tom Stokes, child-fatality program manager at the Children's Administration.
But Mary Meinig, ombudsman for the Office of Family and Children, found little comfort in that rationale.
"What we're asking is: 'Are these preventable deaths? Can we be doing more?' " she said. "All these kids were known to the Children's Administration -- or their families were -- so what does that mean?""
It means, Ms. Meinig, that the CA isn't doing what it is supposed to be doing; that Mr. Stokes and his staff have no clue on how to prevent children fatalities, and that he is trying to rationalize that failure.
"Meinig's 108-page report details several troubling statistics: Of the 87 deaths reviewed, 61 percent involved children younger than 2. In 63 percent of all cases, the child's family had been the subject of at least three referrals to state abuse investigators."
So. let me get this right. Sixty three percent of all cases had been referred to state abuse investigators, and yet those cases ended with a child fatality. How were those cases investigated? By a phone call? Did anyone get off their rear ends and actually go visit the homes that were referred to them? Why weren't these at-risk children removed from the environment that put them at risk?
The CA has some serious questions that they must be made to answer, and a serious review of policies and procedures must also be made, if this situation is to be rectified.
Rationalizing about the death of a child is basically saying that nothing could be done to prevent that, and that is an outright fallacy.
Note: There is a link to the report at the bottom of the article, for anyone interested.