Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Wishes, From Me to You

Good Evening Everyone,
While I have a moment from the holiday mayhem, I just wanted to wish
all of you a very Merry Christmas. For me personally, it is going to
be awkward because of my Dad's passing at the end of October. However,
the show must go on!

Thank you for stopping by and reading the Phillips Philes. We are looking forward to 2008, which could wind up being a pivotal year in history, only time holds the answer to that. Can somebody save me some figgy pudding? (LOL) Take care everybody,
and I will catch up to y'all soon!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Impending Thompson Surge By JB Williams


Dec 20, 07

Shake-Up Coming Soon
Seven major pollsters issued new national numbers for mid-December, after the last Republican debate in Iowa, which was hosted by the hostile Des Moines Register which is for the record, endorsing the Hillary Clinton campaign...

An overall average of these seven polls

Giuliani – 23%
Huckabee – 19.1%
Romney – 16%
McCain – 13.3%
Thompson – 11.3%
Undecided – 10.4%
Paul – 4.6%
Hunter – 1.3%
Tancredo - .6%
Keyes - .4%

Running 5th with only 11.3% support nationally, can Thompson really win the RNC nomination and if so, how?

The "front-runners"

Mayor Giuliani has been running the longest. He has peaked in the 20’s several times now, only to slide in the polls immediately after. He should be running strongest in the north, yet he is showing poorly in both Iowa and New Hampshire. His campaign is currently in a free-fall that he is unlikely to survive long term.

The message from Iowa voters is hard to mistake. Republican voters are looking for a social conservative, as well as a national security and fiscal conservative. This was always going to be a major problem for the Giuliani campaign and it’s showing up in early primaries already.

Mike Huckabee is enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity in Iowa and to some degree, nationally. But once again, some of his past liberal social policies haunt him and his current liberal social positions, in particular concerning illegal immigration, will soon cause his star to fade. He is likely to fall from grace faster than he rose from obscurity. The current “compassionate conservative” residing in the White House is unpopular with almost 70% of Republicans. Huckabee is even more compassionate towards leftist notions than Bush. That spells trouble ahead for the Huckabee campaign.

McCain is as far as he can go. His push for amnesty will not be forgotten or forgiven among conservative voters and his rhetoric demanding civil rights for terrorists might resonate with Code Pink types, but it will never buy a single conservative vote.

I'll get to Romney in a minute…

The bottom tier

Tancredo is about to drop out of the race today due to a lack of money and support. Hunter can't be far behind. Although both men represent strong conservative values and principles, you can’t run a national campaign on empty for very long. This is a financial reality that can’t be overcome.

Keyes recent entry is completely rhetorical. He wants to make a point and his point is well taken. But his campaign is nothing more and a non-factor in the big picture.

Ron Paul continues to raise money from across the political aisle on the basis of his anti-war rhetoric alone. But the money continues to not translate into votes. He remains at or below 5% support nationally, most of it coming from outside of the Republican Party. He will stay in the race so long as people are sending money. But his campaign remains dead in the water. By the convention, his “republican” supporters will have to choose between helping the Democrat nominee or the Republican nominee.

10.4% Undecided

Nobody knows for certain what these folks are looking for. But whatever it is, they have yet to see it in any of the Republican candidates. I suspect that many are simply waiting for the over-crowded field to narrow so that they can get a closer look at the real candidates. These folks can decide the ultimate nominee.

Coming endorsements that can make a huge difference

Tom Tancredo is expected to announce his withdrawal from the race today. Even though he has only .6% support nationally, who he decides to endorse can make a big difference. The same goes for Hunter and his 1.3%.

In looking at who these two conservatives are most likely to endorse, Thompson is the most logical answer.

Both of these men are running on very strong border security. This alone makes it all but impossible for either of them to ever endorse Giuliani, Huckabee or Romney due to their past records on illegal immigration issues. McCain’s position on amnesty for illegals and civil rights for terrorists, make it equally unlikely that either of these men could endorse him.

This leaves the only true conservative in the race, Fred Thompson. If both men endorse Thompson, look for their supporters and some of those undecided voters to shift behind the Thompson campaign in short order.

If and when McCain pulls the plug on his campaign, he is also most likely to endorse his long time friend Fred Thompson.

These three endorsements alone have the power to make Thompson the new front-runner nationally, even if Rudy and Romney hold their current positions, which is increasingly unlikely.

If these men decide to withhold their endorsements for a bit, they can keep the picture murky. But in the end, it is hard to imagine them endorsing anyone but Thompson, based upon their own policy positions and their alignment with Thompson.

Mitt Romney

Romney has raised and spent more money than any other Republican candidate and until very recently, he was stuck at or below 10% support nationally. Much of his new support is coming from people who once supported Giuliani. Yet some of his early supporters have already defected to Huckabee.

In short, Romney’s support is very volatile. In fact, main stream Republicans, even those who have polled for the top tier candidates for months, continue to shift around from perceived “front-runner” to the “front-runner” of the week. The top four are secure as only the top four. But who in the top four will ultimately emerge as the nominee remains totally fluid.

The question is this - will social conservatives continue to hold their ground? If they do, Thompson wins.

Thompson in Iowa

A third place finish in Iowa has always been seen as a major victory for Thompson, by both the Thompson campaign and political experts. But if his current campaign blitz across Iowa is even moderately successful over the next two weeks, he could actually surprise many of those experts with a stronger Iowa finish.

If this happens, those three key endorsements come even easier.

A Four Man Race

The Republican race has always a four man race and it very much remains so today. One of four men will be the RNC nominee, Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee or Thompson.

The press is at least 70% behind Democrats. When reporting on the Republican race, they lean heavily in favor of the moderates, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee. Even FOX News, which I refer to as the RINO Network, has repeatedly demonstrated hostility towards the candidate Rush Limbaugh calls “the only conservative in the race,” Fred Thompson. Thompson himself openly accused FOX of ignoring his campaign in favor of the moderates.

Based on all the facts at hand, it is inconceivable that Thompson won’t experience a major surge over the next six to eight weeks, as the campaign field begins to thin and voters begin to look closely at the four major contenders.

In the end, a Two Man Race

I predict that the Republican race will ultimately narrow to only a two man race between Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. Romney "looks" Presidential. But Thompson "is" Presidential. That’s not only my opinion, it’s a fact…

Romney calls himself a conservative, but Thompson is a conservative. This is also fact, not opinion.

So, if conservatives are working to nominate the most Presidential conservative in the Republican race, Thompson is the likely winner.

Can it happen? Thompson seems to be counting on it!
Watch Iowa closely…

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

None Of The Above: GOP Heading To A Brokered Convention By Tony Blankley


December 19, 2007

The Republican Party primary so far has been an exercise in none of the above. In their turns, Sen. McCain, former Mayor Giuliani, former Sen. Thompson and former Gov. Romney seemed to be or seemed about to be front-runners -- only to fall back as the party's likely voters got a sharper look at each of them. Even my old boss Newt Gingrich, without even announcing, had a handsome surge from 4-5 percent to 18-20 percent in February -- before falling back to single digits.

Now former Gov. Huckabee -- for the moment surging to the front -- is on the receiving end of withering intraparty fire applied with a rhetorical violence usually reserved by Republican polemicists for a Clinton or a Kennedy. Just as social conservatives earlier this fall threatened (for a couple of weeks) to run a third-party candidate if Giuliani got the nomination, so Washington GOP elites are willing to misrepresent parts of what Huckabee has said and written in a savage effort to destroy any chance he might have of being elected.

It is as if each faction of the Grand Old Party feels a stronger passion to defeat its intraparty rival factions than to defeat the Democrats in November. This maximum instinct to deny victory within the party may be a sign of a philosophical rebirth (as in the Goldwater nomination and campaign of 1964), but it is also a sign of a party likely to lose the next general election.

The alleged Huckabee shocker of the week (for the GOP D.C. regulars in journalism and blogland) is his description of President Bush's foreign policy as plagued by an "arrogant bunker mentality." This phrase, according to Romney and his journalistic coat holders, is disloyal to President Bush and is right out of the Democratic talking points.

There is just a touch of insincerity in that charge. During the past year or two, one couldn't have lunch at The Capital Grille (preferred dining spot for big-time D.C. Republican politicians and journalists) or other similar locations without hearing the constant complaint that the Bush White House was arrogant and wouldn't listen to their friends about Iraq or about domestic matters. Until Eddie Gillespie came in as counselor recently (and started reaching out), the word "bunker" was a plausible and often-used word to describe the White House -- even on Iraq policy before the surge this spring.

Perhaps the more honest charge against Huckabee on this point is that it is not politique to say such rude things in public about your own party's president. On the other hand, criticizing a president whose job approval rating is between 30 percent and 35 percent may not be the least useful thing his aspiring replacement could do with his time and syllables.

There has been some fair criticism of Huckabee's foreign policy statements. His use of homely schoolyard parables to explain foreign policy hit wide and short of the mark. In supporting the idea of diplomacy, he fails to point out its limitations and risks. And his sometimes-harsh assessment of American intentions is unfounded. In short, it sounds in places a little squishy and insufficiently "nuanced."

On the other hand, he is for a rapid major increase in the size of the military. He is in favor of military action, if necessary, to deny Iran a nuclear bomb. He demands that we stay and fight and win in Iraq. And his discussion of the risk from radical Islam is as tough and realistic as I have heard. In fact, as the author of a book that was judged alarmist by some on the topic of radical Islam ("The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?"), I could find little to complain about in his long discussion of the topic.

Of course, the track record for foreign policy campaign promises is not great. Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt promised to keep us out of World War I in 1916 and World War II in 1940, respectively. Kennedy would fix a missile gap that didn't exist. LBJ would not get us into a major war in Vietnam. Nixon had a secret plan to get us out of that war. Clinton promised not to parley with Communist Chinese dictators. And George W. Bush promised a humble foreign policy and no nation building.

In a dangerous world such as ours, I would like to hear more (and more careful) words from Huckabee. But basically he seems to be a hawk -- and thus not beyond the Republican pale (although his hawkish ways come with a perhaps-rhetorical bow to the current nervousness of needed independent and suburban Republican voters). I also would like to hear more (and more thoughtful words) than the mere GOP boilerplate we are getting from the other candidates, with the exception of McCain and sometimes of Giuliani.

I don't have a candidate yet. I either disagree with each on important points or have doubts about the electability of each. But most of all, I fear our intraparty fury will destroy all leaders and send us off to a brokered convention -- and from thence, probably to defeat. If the Democrats have their candidate by February and we are campaigning harshly until August, we surely would start in a deep hole.

Liberals and Conservatives By Dark Chapter


Joyce Comments: This post is inspired by Phillips Philes newest contributor, Dan. This article in general talks about liberals and conseratives. Not all liberals agree with everything stated here a liberal thinks, nor all conservatives (as lately is common hearing there various kinds of conservatives like "fiscal conservatives" - also known as RINOs, those who are sharp with keeping government budgets balanced, but are not in line with "social conservaties"; "social conservatives" are those who care most about life issues from conception to death; "hawkish conservatives" are those who are strong on national security by the United States having an intimidating size military and Department of Defense, formally called Department of War) Personally, I think there is only one kind of conservative and that is a conservative who follows all of the above, any person who is a combination or just one of the above is not a conservative, but just a Republican or a center-right person.

February 8, 2003
By Dark Chapter

Many, especially on the far right, the far left, and in the apathetic middle, have long and loudly proclaimed, "there is no difference between the mainstream right and the mainstream left, between Democrats and Republicans!" They use it as an excuse to opt out of the democratic system, or to deride and denigrate those who are brave enough to take a stand. The differences, though, are real and as stark as that between the darkness of a freezing winter night on the left, and the middle of a bright, spring day on the right. Here are a few of them:

1. Liberals think with their hearts. Conservatives think with their heads.

2. Conservatives go in with their eyes and minds open, but ready to roll up their sleeves and start shoveling. Liberals duck under the covers, close their eyes tightly and wish for bad things to go away.

3. Liberals are cynical, always look for the lead lining in every cloud, and expect the worst. Conservatives are optimistic, like happy endings, and know that tomorrow is another day.

4. Conservatives fear government and respect individuals. Liberals fear liberty and respect nothing.

5. Liberals believe mankind is irredeemably bad. Conservatives believe humanity is destined to do ever-greater things; and though some of us are truly terrible, most of us are ultimately good. Liberals believe animals are better than are humans. Conservatives wonder how one applies to the great dolphin universities, where the elephant hospitals are, where the chimp charities are headquartered.

6. Conservatives believe in hard work, sacrifice, and risk-taking. Liberals believe in equal distribution of labor, abhor the very idea of any sort of want, and cringe at the idea of anything that doesn’t offer absolute safety. Liberals bedeck themselves in loud, expensive Spandex and ride road bikes through town in big packs made up of vague acquaintances and co-workers tying up traffic for miles, offering anyone who honks at them the collective finger, before finally arriving at a Starbucks for $7 lattes and making fun of all those idiots who were pissed off at them blocking traffic. Conservatives ride off-road either alone or with one or two friends, pushing themselves, but bothering no one else; they muscle their way up high peaks where they sip ordinary tap water and look back with pride on what they’ve accomplished.

7. Liberals view "the poor" as noble victims who, because of their race or gender or ethnicity or "diseases" like drunkeness, have been "held down" by an inherently and inescapably racist and sexist "system," through which "the rich" (Conservatives) steal their wealth from "the poor." No Liberal can explain how this happens--it should just be taken as a matter of faith, dammit! Conservatives know that some of "the poor," are a lost cause; they have no intention of helping themselves. Liberals believe with all their hearts that all material "poverty" can be "solved" by simply throwing more of someone else’s money at it. Conservatives give generously and voluntarily to charities that responsibly help those temporarily down on their luck. Liberals want to force "the rich" to give through ever-more onerous taxation, to state-sponsored programs to "help" the needy. The rat holes of government programs like methadone clinics and midnight basketball don’t work, but at least no private charity is involved! Conservatives know from experience and history that you help the truly needy through encouragement of self-reliance--you teach them to stop whining, roll up their sleeves and work, sacrifice, and take risks.

8. Liberals believe any and all of humanity’s problems should be solved BEFORE any advancements are made. We should have "solved" poverty before going to the moon! Conservatives believe we will always have problems that need to be addressed and, through hard work, sacrifice, and risk, mitigated where possible. Conservatives know that certain things are simply a part of the human condition, and that stagnation is the result of the Liberal plan.

9. Conservatives believe that all possible barriers by social, governmental, and bureaucratic means to individual success should be removed from everybody’s path. Liberals loathe and despise the successful, and "celebrate" those "brave enough" to live under bridges while whining that others are not giving them enough. Conservatives laud and venerate those who make themselves into successes through hard work, sacrifice, and taking risks.

10. Liberals believe in equality of outcome. Conservatives believe in equality of opportunity. Liberals believe that government should erect unscaleable barricades around those who have or might prove themselves to be more ambitious and hard-working, more skilled and experienced, more able and smarter and willing to sacrifice, bust their humps and take their lumps, and rise even slightly above the lowest common denominator.

11. Conservatives are pragmatists; they want to know what’s do-able. Liberals compare everything to perfection; they’ll settle for nothing less than what’s conceivable. Conservatives are happy with an imperfect missile defense system that may let one or two through--better we should lose Salt Lake than the entire nation--and can be improved over time. Liberals believe that any plan that cannot guarantee perfection *now* should be scrapped because, after all, "one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day."

12. Liberals wear blinders and think every problem has a solution if we just throw more money at it. Conservatives observe the past and present broadly, and learn from them, recognizing that if something has failed in the past, simply ignoring the failure will not make it better; they point to the public schools for their proof.

13. Conservatives believe in shutting the hell up and getting to work. Liberals prefer sloganeering and platitudes.

14. Liberals think the so-called "rights" those nitwits in their powdered wigs enumerated on those tired, dusty documents from 1776, are silly things that certainly don’t apply today, but that they nevertheless make handy-dandy carrots and sticks, with which they can gain more power and control over every aspect of the American citizen’s life, and things which can and should be altered or even deleted upon the political whim of the moment. Conservatives believe these liberties are just what the Founders said they are--unalienable. Liberals hold that these rights are nothing special; any kindergartner coulda come up with them. Conservatives recognize the brilliance of the Founders and their words, and know that these rights are what give our form of government practical, material, and even moral primacy over every other. Liberals pooh-pooh such overtly patriotic maunderings and roll their eyes in cynical dismissal of the American who venerates these ideals. Conservatives couldn’t give a rat’s ass. They still love their country and they honor the men who made it possible.

15. Conservatives believe that words and ideas have express and precise meanings. Liberals believe it all depends upon what your personal definition of “is,” is.

16. Liberals blanch at the sheer arrogance of people who love America and believe we should all hate and blame America first. Conservatives believe in the primacy (not perfection) of the American society including our government and economy. Liberals believe that since our system is not perfect, it should be dumped in favor of the perfection of, say, what they have in Sweden, or Denmark. Or Cuba. Conservatives know that our imperfect system is still far better for the individual than anything else in place today, or ever in history. Liberals look at the Kung of the Kalihari and wonder why we can’t model the social, cultural, government, and economy of a huge, technologically-advanced, resource-rich nation of nearly 300 million souls, on that of a stone age tribe that occupies a strip of empty desert, and hunts rodents and digs roots and grubs for a living. Conservatives realistically assess the ways in which large nations and large economies work and shake their heads in dismay at the sort of quixotic dreams Liberals want to turn into policy.

17. Conservatives admire and emulate the successful. Liberals loathe the successful. Conservatives know successful people get and stay there through work, sacrifice and risk, and that through their success, they are able to provide jobs and give back to the community. Liberals tell themselves that rich, powerful people are dull-witted thieves who were born rich, and maintain their wealth and power on the backs of “the poor.” Um, that is, unless they are rich, powerful Liberals, who are geniuses who got rich by a completely different route: through work, sacrifice and risk . . . or maybe like a Kennedy, by picking the right parents.

18. Liberals hold quavering, rickety opinions that blow away in the slightest breeze of serious contemplation, or worse, if someone raises questions on the basis of the always-shifting scale of political correctness. Conservatives hold strong, absolutist opinions, but are open to change when their ideas and ideals are proven wrong.

19. Conservatives honor those who are and have been brave enough to serve America in uniform, and especially those who died doing so. Liberals hate the military and believe those who died defending our rights are all baby-killers anyway, and that US soldiers who survive a war should be dragged to the Hague and tried as war criminals.

20. Liberals have always depended upon the kindness of strangers. Conservatives know the world is a dangerous place filled with those who envy or hate us and who would do anything in their power to destroy us. Liberals believe 9/11 was our fault for not being “sensitive” to the needs of our Muslim brothers and that now that we know how they feel, we should do everything in our power to change ourselves so that we don’t threaten them so much. Conservatives know this is utter horse**** -- cowardly appeasement that didn’t work in the 1930s and won’t work now, and that only a weak-kneed, empty-headed Liberal would believe it. Most Liberals DO believe it. There are other things that set Conservatives apart from Liberals. Many other things. Some of these, above, are the big ones; some are not. All, however, are important distinctions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Flashback: Report: No WMD stockpiles in Iraq

Dan's pre-comment: We can go back and forth on this issue. The bottom line is this: Saddam had weapons. I'll go so far as to even say that he had very dangerous and highly-destructive weapons. But the American people were led to believe his weapons posed a far greater threat than they really did.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and had not begun any program to produce them, a CIA report concludes.

In fact, the long-awaited report, authored by Charles Duelfer, who advises the director of central intelligence on Iraqi weapons, says Iraq's WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991 and Saddam ended Iraq's nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf War.

The Iraq Survey Group report, released Wednesday, is 1,200 to 1,500 pages long.

The massive report does say, however, that Iraq worked hard to cheat on United Nations-imposed sanctions and retain the capability to resume production of weapons of mass destruction at some time in the future.

"[Saddam] wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when sanctions were lifted," a summary of the report says.

Duelfer, testifying at a Senate hearing on the report, said his account attempts to describe Iraq's weapons programs "not in isolation but in the context of the aims and objectives of the regime that created and used them."

"I also have insisted that the report include as much basic data as reasonable and that it be unclassified, since the tragedy that has been Iraq has exacted such a huge cost for so many for so long," Duelfer said.

The report was released nearly two years ago to the day that President Bush strode onto a stage in Cincinnati and told the audience that Saddam Hussein's Iraq "possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons" and "is seeking nuclear weapons."

"The danger is already significant and it only grows worse with time," Bush said in the speech delivered October 7, 2002. "If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"

Speaking on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, Bush maintained Wednesday that the war was the right thing to do and that Iraq stood out as a place where terrorists might get weapons of mass destruction.

"There was a risk, a real risk, that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or materials or information to terrorist networks, and in the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take," Bush said.

But Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, seized on the report as political ammunition against the Bush administration.

"Despite the efforts to focus on Saddam's desires and intentions, the bottom line is Iraq did not have either weapon stockpiles or active production capabilities at the time of the war," Rockefeller said in a press release.

"The report does further document Saddam's attempts to deceive the world and get out from under the sanctions, but the fact remains, the sanctions combined with inspections were working and Saddam was restrained."

But British Prime Minister Tony Blair had just the opposite take on the information in the report, saying it demonstrated the U.N. sanctions were not working and Saddam was "doing his best" to get around them.

He said the report made clear that there was "every intention" on Saddam's part to develop WMD and he "never had any intention of complying with U.N. resolutions."

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday, panel Chairman John Warner, R-Virginia, called the findings "significant."

"While the ISG has not found stockpiles of WMD, the ISG and other coalition elements have developed a body of fact that shows that Saddam Hussein had, first, the strategic intention to continue to pursue WMD capabilities; two, created ambiguity about his WMD capabilities that he used to extract concessions in the international world of disclosure and discussion and negotiation.

"He used it as a bargaining tactic and as a strategic deterrent against his neighbors and others."

"As we speak, over 1,700 individuals -- military and civilian -- are in Iraq and Qatar, continuing to search for facts about Iraq's WMD programs," Warner said.

But Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the committee, said 1,750 experts have visited 1,200 potential WMD sites and have come up empty-handed.

"It is important to emphasize that central fact because the administration's case for going to war against Iraq rested on the twin arguments that Saddam Hussein had existing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and that he might give weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda to attack us -- as al Qaeda had attacked us on 9/11," Levin said.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, asked Duelfer about the future likelihood of finding weapons of mass destruction, to which Duelfer replied, "The chance of finding a significant stockpile is less than 5 percent."

Based in part on interviews with Saddam, the report concludes that the deposed Iraqi president wanted to acquire weapons of mass destruction because he believed they kept the United States from going all the way to Baghdad during the first Gulf War and stopped an Iranian ground offensive during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, senior administration officials said.

U.S. officials said the Duelfer report is "comprehensive," but they are not calling it a "final report" because there are still some loose ends to tie up.

One outstanding issue, an official said, is whether Iraq shipped any stockpiles of weapons outside of the country. Another issue, he said, is mobile biological weapons labs, a matter on which he said "there is still useful work to do."

Duelfer said Wednesday his teams found no evidence of a mobile biological weapons capability.

The U.S. official said he believes Saddam decided to give up his weapons in 1991, but tried to conceal his nuclear and biological programs for as long as possible. Then in 1995, when his son-in-law Hussain Kamal defected with information about the programs, he gave those up, too.

Iraq's nuclear program, which in 1991 was well-advanced, "was decaying" by 2001, the official said, to the point where Iraq was -- if it even could restart the program -- "many years from a bomb."

FLASHBACK: Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction Found Already


Sarin, Mustard Gas Discovered Separately in Iraq

Monday, May 17, 2004


BAGHDAD, Iraq — 

A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent (search) recently exploded near a U.S. military convoy, the U.S. military said Monday.

Bush administration officials told Fox News that mustard gas (search) was also recently discovered.

Two people were treated for "minor exposure" after the sarin incident but no serious injuries were reported. Soldiers transporting the shell for inspection suffered symptoms consistent with low-level chemical exposure, which is what led to the discovery, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search), the chief military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy."

The round detonated before it would be rendered inoperable, Kimmitt said, which caused a "very small dispersal of agent."

However, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the results were from a field test, which can be imperfect, and said more analysis was needed. If confirmed, it would be the first finding of a banned weapon upon which the United States based its case for war.

Click to Read the Weapons of Mass Destruction Handbook

A senior Bush administration official told Fox News that the sarin gas shell is the second chemical weapon discovered recently.

Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group (search) — a U.S. organization searching for weapons of mass destruction — and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective."

They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 projectiles for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year. Iraq also failed to then account for 450 aerial bombs with mustard gas. That, combined with the shells, totaled about 80 tons of unaccounted for mustard gas.

It also appears some top Pentagon officials were surprised by the sarin news; they thought the matter was classified, administration officials told Fox News.

An official at the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) headquarters in New York said the commission is surprised to hear news of the mustard gas.

"If that's the case, why didn't they announce it earlier?" the official asked.

The UNMOVIC official said the group needs to know more from the Bush administration before it's possible to determine if this is "old or new stuff. It is known that Iraq used sarin during the Iraq-Iran war, however.

Kimmitt said the shell belonged to a class of ordnance that Saddam's government said was destroyed before the 1991 Gulf war (search). Experts believe both the sarin and mustard gas weapons date back to that time.

"It was a weapon that we believe was stocked from the ex-regime time and it had been thought to be an ordinary artillery shell set up to explode like an ordinary IED and basically from the detection of that and when it exploded, it indicated that it actually had some sarin in it," Kimmitt said.

The incident occurred "a couple of days ago," he added. The discovery reportedly occurred near Baghdad International Airport.

Washington officials say the significance of the find is that some chemical shells do still exist in Iraq, and it's thought that fighters there may be upping their attacks on U.S. forces by using such weapons.

The round was an old "binary-type" shell in which two chemicals held in separate sections are mixed after firing to produce sarin, Kimmitt said.

He said he believed that insurgents who rigged the artillery shell as a bomb didn't know it contained the nerve agent, and that the dispersal of the nerve agent from such a rigged device was very limited.

The shell had no markings. It appears the binary sarin agents didn't mix, which is why there weren't serious injuries from the initial explosion, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"Everybody knew Saddam had chemical weapons, the question was, where did they go. Unfortunately, everybody jumped on the offramp and said 'well, because we didn't find them, he didn't have them,'" said Fox News military analyst Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney.

"I doubt if it's the tip of the iceberg but it does confirm what we've known ... that he [Saddam] had weapons of mass destruction that he used on his own people," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Fox News. "This does show that the fear we had is very real. Now whether there is much more of this we don't know, Iraq is the size of the state of California."

But there were more reasons than weapons to get rid of Saddam, he added. "We considered Saddam Hussein a threat not just because of weapons of mass destruction," Grassley said.

Iraqi Scientist: You Will Find More

Gazi George, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist under Saddam's regime, told Fox News he believes many similar weapons stockpiled by the former regime were either buried underground or transported to Syria. He noted that the airport where the device was detonated is on the way to Baghdad from the Syrian border.

George said the finding likely will be the first in a series of discoveries of such weapons.

"Saddam is the type who will not store those materials in a military warehouse. He's gonna store them either underground, or, as I said, lots of them have gone west to Syria and are being brought back with the insurgencies," George told Fox News. "It is difficult to look in areas that are not obvious to the military's eyes.

"I'm sure they're going to find more once time passes," he continued, saying one year is not enough for the survey group or the military to find the weapons.

Saddam, when he was in power, had declared that he did in fact possess mustard-gas filled artilleries but none that included sarin.

"I think what we found today, the sarin in some ways, although it's a nerve gas, it's a lucky situation sarin detonated in the way it did ... it's not as dangerous as the cocktails Saddam used to make, mixing blister" agents with other gases and substances, George said.

Officials: Discovery Is 'Significant'

U.S. officials told Fox News that the shell discovery is a "significant" event.

Artillery shells of the 155-mm size are as big as it gets when it comes to the ordnance lobbed by infantry-based artillery units. The 155 howitzer can launch high capacity shells over several miles; current models used by the United States can fire shells as far as 14 miles. One official told Fox News that a conventional 155-mm shell could hold as much as "two to five" liters of sarin, which is capable of killing thousands of people under the right conditions in highly populated areas.

The Iraqis were very capable of producing such shells in the 1980s but it's not as clear that they continued after the first Gulf War.

In 1995, Japan's Aum Shinrikyo (search) cult unleashed sarin gas in Tokyo's subways, killing 12 people and sickening thousands. In February of this year, Japanese courts convicted the cult's former leader, Shoko Asahara, and sentence him to be executed.

Developed in the mid-1930s by Nazi scientists, a single drop of sarin can cause quick, agonizing choking death. There are no known instances of the Nazis actually using the gas.

Nerve gases work by inhibiting key enzymes in the nervous system, blocking their transmission. Small exposures can be treated with antidotes, if administered quickly.

Antidotes to nerve gases similar to sarin are so effective that top poison gas researchers predict they eventually will cease to be a war threat.

Fox News' Wendell Goler, Steve Harrigan, Ian McCaleb, Liza Porteus, James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq

Thursday, June 22, 2006



The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

Click here to read the declassified portion of the NGIC report.

He added that the report warns about the hazards that the chemical weapons could still pose to coalition troops in Iraq.

"The purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," Santorum read from the document.

"This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.

Hoekstra said the report, completed in April but only declassified now, shows that "there is still a lot about Iraq that we don't fully understand."

Asked why the Bush administration, if it had known about the information since April or earlier, didn't advertise it, Hoekstra conjectured that the president has been forward-looking and concentrating on the development of a secure government in Iraq.

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."

The official said the findings did raise questions about the years of weapons inspections that had not resulted in locating the fairly sizeable stash of chemical weapons. And he noted that it may say something about Hussein's intent and desire. The report does suggest that some of the weapons were likely put on the black market and may have been used outside Iraq.

He also said that the Defense Department statement shortly after the March 2003 invasion saying that "we had all known weapons facilities secured," has proven itself to be untrue.

"It turned out the whole country was an ammo dump," he said, adding that on more than one occasion, a conventional weapons site has been uncovered and chemical weapons have been discovered mixed within them.

Hoekstra and Santorum lamented that Americans were given the impression after a 16-month search conducted by the Iraq Survey Group that the evidence of continuing research and development of weapons of mass destruction was insignificant. But the National Ground Intelligence Center took up where the ISG left off when it completed its report in November 2004, and in the process of collecting intelligence for the purpose of force protection for soldiers and sailors still on the ground in Iraq, has shown that the weapons inspections were incomplete, they and others have said.

"We know it was there, in place, it just wasn't operative when inspectors got there after the war, but we know what the inspectors found from talking with the scientists in Iraq that it could have been cranked up immediately, and that's what Saddam had planned to do if the sanctions against Iraq had halted and they were certainly headed in that direction," said Fred Barnes, editor of The Weekly Standard and a FOX News contributor.

"It is significant. Perhaps, the administration just, they think they weathered the debate over WMD being found there immediately and don't want to return to it again because things are otherwise going better for them, and then, I think, there's mindless resistance to releasing any classified documents from Iraq," Barnes said.

The release of the declassified materials comes as the Senate debates Democratic proposals to create a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. The debate has had the effect of creating disunity among Democrats, a majority of whom shrunk Wednesday from an amendment proposed by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to have troops to be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the middle of next year.

At the same time, congressional Republicans have stayed highly united, rallying around a White House that has seen successes in the last couple weeks, first with the death of terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then the completion of the formation of Iraq's Cabinet and then the announcement Tuesday that another key Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, "religious emir" Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, was also killed in a U.S. airstrike.

Santorum pointed out that during Wednesday's debate, several Senate Democrats said that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, a claim, he said, that the declassified document proves is untrue.

"This is an incredibly — in my mind — significant finding. The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction, is in fact false," he said.

As a result of this new information, under the aegis of his chairmanship, Hoekstra said he is going to ask for more reporting by the various intelligence agencies about weapons of mass destruction.

"We are working on the declassification of the report. We are going to do a thorough search of what additional reports exist in the intelligence community. And we are going to put additional pressure on the Department of Defense and the folks in Iraq to more fully pursue a complete investigation of what existed in Iraq before the war," Hoekstra said.

FOX News' Jim Angle and Sharon Kehnemui Liss contributed to this report.

Americans' view of the war

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poll finds Jerseyans split on death penalty repeal


Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Star-Ledger Staff

One day after the state Senate voted to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey, a poll showed voters oppose that move by a margin of 53 percent to 39 percent.

However, the Quinnipiac University poll also found voters prefer the penalty of life in prison without parole for most people convicted of murder -- by nearly the same margin, 52 percent to 39 percent.

"New Jersey voters are sharply divided over the death penalty," said Clay Richards, assistant director of the poll. "There is no doubt, however, when it comes to the most violent crimes: Most voters want death for serial murders and child killers."

When asked if they would support keeping the death penalty for the most violent cases, 78 percent said yes.

On Monday, the Senate voted 21-16 to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Assembly is slated to vote on the issue tomorrow, and Gov. Jon Corzine supports the bill.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Corzine noted that when vot ers were "asked the straight-up question of life imprisonment without parole, they support that ...

"The public is very divided on this issue and I'm very clear about where I stand. I have been since I ran for political office and I'm not changing it," the governor said.

Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), who voted in favor of abolishing the death penalty, said: "Clearly society has evolved on the issue."

The Quinnipiac survey also found that Corzine's approval rating has fallen to 46 percent, down from 49 percent in September. The percentage of respondents who said they disapprove of the job he's doing has risen from 40 to 43. Vot ers split evenly (44 percent to 43 percent) on whether Corzine de serves to be re-elected in 2009.

"Midway in his first term, voters are lukewarm about Gov. Jon Corzine and give his performance a mediocre rating. Most just think things have stayed about the same since he took over in Trenton," Richards said.

Corzine dismissed his softening approval ratings.

"I guess I'll have a sleepless night," the governor said. "Poll numbers are all over the place."

The poll was taken between Dec. 5 and 9, surveying 1,085 voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

New Jersey bans death penalty

Great news from my former home state, which has, in the words of George W. Bush, chosen to "err on the side of life."

By Tom Hester Jr., Associated Press Writer | December 17, 2007

TRENTON, N.J. --Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed into law Monday a measure that abolishes the death penalty, making New Jersey the first state in more than four decades to reject capital punishment.

The bill, approved last week by the state's Assembly and Senate, replaces the death sentence with life in prison without parole.

"This is a day of progress for us and for the millions of people across our nation and around the globe who reject the death penalty as a moral or practical response to the grievous, even heinous, crime of murder," Corzine said.

The measure spares eight men on the state's death row. On Sunday, Corzine signed orders commuting the sentences of those eight to life in prison without parole.

Among the eight spared is Jesse Timmendequas, a sex offender who murdered 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. The case inspired Megan's Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living in their communities.

New Jersey reinstated the death penalty in 1982 -- six years after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to resume executions -- but it hasn't executed anyone since 1963.

The state's move is being hailed across the world as a historic victory against capital punishment. Rome plans to shine golden light on the Colosseum in support. Once the arena for deadly gladiator combat and executions, the Colosseum is now a symbol of the fight against the death penalty.

"The rest of America, and for that matter the entire world, is watching what we are doing here today," said Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a Democrat. "New Jersey is setting a precedent that I'm confident other states will follow."

The bill passed the Legislature largely along party lines, with controlling Democrats supporting the abolition and minority Republicans opposed. Republicans had sought to retain the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officials, rape and murder children, and terrorists, but Democrats rejected that.

"It's simply a specious argument to say that, somehow, after six millennia of recorded history, the punishment no longer fits the crime," said Assemblyman Joseph Malone, a Republican.

Members of victims' families fought against the law.

"I will never forget how I've been abused by a state and a governor that was supposed to protect the innocent and enforce the laws," said Marilyn Flax, whose husband Irving was abducted and murdered in 1989 by death row inmate John Martini Sr.

Richard Kanka, Megan's father, noted Corzine signed the bill exactly 15 years to day that death row inmate Ambrose Harris kidnapped, raped and murdered 22-year-old artist Kristin Huggins of Lower Makefield, Pa..

"Just another slap in the face to the victims," Kanka said.

The last states to eliminate the death penalty were Iowa and West Virginia in 1965, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

The nation has executed 1,099 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976. In 1999, 98 people were executed, the most since 1976; last year 53 people were executed, the lowest since 1996.

Other states have considered abolishing the death penalty recently, but none has advanced as far as New Jersey.

The nation's last execution was Sept. 25 in Texas. Since then, executions have been delayed pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether execution through lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.


On the Net:

Amnesty International USA:

Death Penalty Information Center:

Dan's comment: I understand the appeal of the death penalty. When a violent criminal commits an awful crime, he must be brought to justice, and death is the ultimate justice. But there are two major problems with capital punishment:

1. It's barbaric.

2. An innocent person could die.

The Lieberman endorsement of McCain

A quick thought: it will have about as much impact as Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean had in 2004. McCain and Lieberman represent the ever-shrinking pro-war portion of the electorate. This will not attract the independents that flocked to McCain in 2000, because independents hate this war as much as Democrats.

So, who would listen to Lieberman? Republicans? Maybe. But because Republicans generally don't like McCain, I don't think so.

Fred Thompson For POTUS By Joyce Kavitsky

The crop of Republican candidates running for President of the United States have been good respresentatives of what a big tent the Republican Party really is. For the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) there is Rudy Giuliani; for the "go along to get along" crowd there is John McCain and Mike Huckabee; and for conservatives the majority or base of the party there are Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson; we even have a dove in Ron Paul. For candidates we don't quite know what to make of there are Mitt Romney and Alan Keyes. Of the candidates who have dropped out are two former Governors, Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and Jim Gilmore of Virginia, and one senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.

As for me, I was trying to decide whether to vote for Duncan Hunter or Fred Thompson. Both are conservatives with good credentials who are thoughtful and articulate who I wouldn't mind seeing on each others presidential ticket or in a lead cabinet position in the others administration like Hunter as Secretary of Homeland Security or Thompson as Attorney General. Hunter is a very appealing candidate for his spunk and dependable conservative votes and positions, the one big down for him is that he is not well known or registering any sizable support or showing any traction in early surveys of the candidates.

I have decided to vote in the New Jersey primary for Fred Thompson because for years I have been impressed with his work in Congress as a pork buster and his dependable votes as an all around conservative, except for a few strays here and there. Thompson's White Papers on Border Security and Immigration and Israel are excellent proposals. His demeanor is that of a real person, not a conniving power-hungry politican like the Democrat's frontrunner. Thompson entered the presidental race at the urging of successful Draft Fred Thompson drives. He comes across as somebody who would be the strong leader our country needs in this post-September 11, 2001 era. Thompson's intellect and stature dwarf that of any candidate the Democrats can put up. Come together behind Fred!

For further reading:

Excerpts From: Why Fred Thompson Will Win by Peter Mulhern October 1, 2007

Fred Thompson 101 by Josh Painter

Guess Who?


Hint: It was nine years ago today. Long before the September 11th attacks:

I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq, why we have acted now and what we aim to accomplish.

Six weeks ago, Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors, called UNSCOM. ...The inspectors undertook this mission, first, seven and a half years ago, at the end of the Gulf War, when Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its arsenal as a condition of the cease-fire.

The international community had good reason to set this requirement. Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there's one big difference: he has used them, not once but repeatedly -- unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war, not only against soldiers, but against civilians; firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Iran -- not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.

The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.
I made it very clear at that time what "unconditional cooperation" meant, based on existing U.N. resolutions and Iraq's own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.

Now, over the past three weeks, the U.N. weapons inspectors have carried out their plan for testing Iraq's cooperation. The testing period ended this weekend, and last night, UNSCOM's Chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to U.N. Secretary General Annan. The conclusions are stark, sobering and profoundly disturbing.
So Iraq has abused its final chance. As the UNSCOM report concludes -- and again I quote -- "Iraq's conduct ensured that no progress was able to be made in the fields of disarmament. In light of this experience, and in the absence of full cooperation by Iraq, it must, regrettably, be recorded again that the Commission is not able to conduct the work mandated to it by the Security Council with respect to Iraq's prohibited weapons program."

In short, the inspectors are saying that, even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham. Saddam's deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.

This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance.
The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world. The best way to end that threat once and for all is with the new Iraqi government, a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people.
Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors; he will make war on his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them. Because we are acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.

December 16, 1998

I'm sure you've guessed by now. Here's the link to the full statement in the Clinton Library and National Archives. Perhaps we have a better idea of why Hillary wants to keep as much of that archive off limits? Too many reminders.

If you're a liberal reading the above, perhaps for the first time, you might be having some difficulty now. Maybe a slight headache in the left temporal lobe of your brain? How can this be? You thought it was Bush who lied to us about Saddam Hussein being a threat to the world with weapons of mass destruction. Did the then Governor of Texas and then Halliburton President Dick Cheney have some secret power over Bill Clinton? Another Monica perhaps?

Or was President Clinton just trying to appease all those nasty Republicans in the U.S. Congress who were busy impeaching him?

If it's easy to forget or dismiss the words of President Clinton above, it's probably easier to forget that senior Senate Democrats from Daschle, John Kerry and Carl Levin also sent President Clinton a letter in October, 1998 demanding that the U.S. "respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."

And of course let's not forget that Democrats in the House voted overwhelmingly for the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act and the Senate passed it unanimously.

It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime. Iraq Liberation Act of 1998
It Took a Bush To Get the Job Done

Despite all the Democrat chest thumping and Bill Clinton bomb dropping Saddam still remained a threat with weapons of mass destruction well into the Bush Administration. It took the resolve of President Bush leading our allies in the successful effort to remove Saddam and place Iraq on the path to democracy long demanded by both Democrat and Republican elected officials.

Reading Clinton's statement today, it seems lost in a time warp. With Democrats who previously clamored for the removal of Saddam Hussein continuing to oppose the successful effort to do just that and bring Iraq back into the family of nations.

My how time flies when you are having fun! And how easy it is for some to forget what is no longer convenient to remember.

Fla. woman has 10 husbands, charges say

Fla. woman has 10 husbands, charges say

Sun Dec 16, 1:11 AM ET

MIAMI - The honeymoons are over for a 26-year-old woman who authorities say has at least 10 husbands.

Eunice Lopez has been charged with bigamy, accused of marrying 10 men between 2002 and 2006 without divorcing any of them, federal immigration authorities say. The Miami Herald reported Saturday that a records search by the newspaper found seven additional marriages under the bride's name and birth date.

Lopez arrived in South Florida from Cuba in 2002 and was a legal U.S. resident.

"I can tell you that none of the individuals she married had any type of residency," said Terry Chavez, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade office of the state attorney.

Prosecutors say she charged her husbands an unspecified amount to help them secure immigration status and continued asking the men for money long after the wedding, threatening to expose them if they didn't pay.

Chavez said the state attorney's office began investigating after being tipped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Lopez was released on $18,000 bond. Her last known address was in Hialeah, just north of Miami. A telephone listing for her could not be located, and it was not known whether she had an attorney.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paris Hilton is looking for 'a nice boy'

Paris Hilton is looking for 'a nice boy'

Wed Dec 12, 11:00 AM ET

Paris Hilton is looking for a boyfriend and knows exactly what qualities Mr. Right should possess.

"Right now I'm single but I am looking for a nice boy," she told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday. "He should be funny, smart and loyal."

The celebrity heiress, author, singer, perfume designer and reality TV star was in the German capital to take part in an advertising campaign for Rich Prosecco — a sparkling wine that is to be sold in cans.

Hilton said she was planning to visit one of Berlin's Christmas markets, the city's famous museums and had already been partying at Berlin's trendy Cookies club.

Hilton, wearing a black glittering dress and a golden chain and cross around her neck, also told reporters that she is making an effort to personally contribute to protecting the environment.

"I changed all the light bulbs to energy safe light bulbs and I'm buying a hybrid car right now," Hilton said, adding she also turned off the lights at home, didn't leave the TV on or the water running when she left the home.

"Little things that people can do every day to make a huge difference."

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Singer Dan Fogelberg, 56, dies of cancer

Singer Dan Fogelberg, 56, dies of cancer

36 minutes ago

NEW YORK - Dan Fogelberg, the singer and songwriter whose hits "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne" helped define the soft-rock era, died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56.

His death was announced in a statement by Anna Loynes of the Solters & Digney public relations agency, and it was also posted on the singer's Web site.

"Dan left us this morning at 6:00 a.m. He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side," it read. "His strength, dignity and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him."

Fogelberg discovered he had advanced prostate cancer in 2004. In a statement then, he thanked fans for their support.

"It is truly overwhelming and humbling to realize how many lives my music has touched so deeply all these years," he said.

Fogelberg's music was powerful in its simplicity. He didn't rely on the volume of his voice to convey his emotions; instead, they came through in the soft, tender delivery and his poignant lyrics. Songs like "Same Old Lang Syne" — in which a man reminisces after meeting an old girlfriend by chance during the holidays — became classics not only because of his performance, but for the engaging storyline, as well.

Fogelberg's heyday was in the 1970s and early 80s, when he scored several platinum and multiplatinum records, fueled by such hits as "The Power of Gold" and "Leader of the Band," a touching tribute he wrote to his father, a bandleader. Fogelberg put out his first album in 1972.

Fogelberg's songs tended to have a weighty tone, reflecting on emotional issues in a serious way. But in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 1997, he said it did not represent his personality.

"That came from my singles in the early '80s," he reflects. "I think it probably really started on the radio. I'm not a dour person in the least. I'm actually kind of a happy person. Music doesn't really reflect the whole person.

"One of my dearest friends is Jimmy Buffett. From his music, people have this perception that he's up all the time, and, of course, he's not. Jimmy has a serious side, too."

Later in his career, he wrote material that focused on the state of the environment, an issue close to his heart. His last album was 2003's "Full Circle," his first album of original material in a decade.

A year later he would receive his cancer diagnosis, forcing him to forgo a planned fall tour. After his diagnosis, he urged others to get tested.

Survivors include his wife, Jean.


On the Net:

Dan Fogelberg:

Why am I here?

I'm a card-carrying liberal. I will vote for Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States when Massachusetts voters go to the polls on February 6. I think the best president of the 20th century was Franklin Roosevelt. I opposed going to war in Iraq.

So, what the heck am I doing on a blog that features two staunch conservatives?

The idea is not to change the political perspective of Mr. Phillips, Ms. Kavitsky, or their conservative readers; I realize that would be an exercise in futility. The idea is to present my point-of-view to people who otherwise are not presented with the liberal perspective. I feel strongly today that one reason for the current polarization in our country is a lack of understanding. The liberal ideology is twisted and misrepresented by conservative leaders such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter.

By getting the liberal perspective directly from a liberal, I believe that while Mr. Phillips, Ms. Kavitsky, and all their readers may find that liberals aren't necessarily nuts. While they may disagree with my political approach toward a problem, they will understand that I wish to make this country a better place. And that, I think we can all agree, is a worthy objective.

End of the Year Is Prime for Job Hunting

End of the Year Is Prime for Job Hunting

Robert McCauley, Robert Half International

According to conventional wisdom, there's no worse time to search for a job than when the year is winding down. But sometimes conventional wisdom isn't entirely accurate.

The truth is that the end of the year may be the best time to find a new job. Here are five reasons:

1. You face less competition. Buying into popular theory, many job seekers halt their quests for employment in November and December, choosing to save their efforts for when the calendar changes. But take a glimpse at the want ads, and you'll see that employers haven't stopped looking for talent. With fewer candidates vying for the same number of positions, you may have an edge over the competition, unlike no other time during the year.

2. More employers are hiring. Many firms, especially retail companies, increase their hiring efforts in winter to meet rising demand for their products and services. Even though seasonal jobs are often temporary, many hiring managers view these positions as extended, on-the-job interviews and offer full-time employment to promising hires.

3. Companies have budget surpluses. Some employers hire new workers at the end of the year because they have not yet used all of the funds they set aside earlier for adding new personnel. If the hiring managers don't increase headcount during the final two months, they may lose that portion of their budgets and be unable to bring aboard new employees at all.

4. It may be easier to secure an interview. Things often slow down at the end of the year due to vacations and the winter holidays. As a result, hiring managers may be less busy than usual and have more time to review your resume or call you in for an employment interview.

5. You'll get a jump on things. Even if some firms wait until the beginning of the year to add headcount, that doesn't mean they've stopped collecting resumes and considering candidates. By submitting your application materials now, you'll be first in line when the hiring process gets in full swing again.

As 2007 comes to a close, remember that employers are always on the lookout for strong professionals, especially in fields such as accounting and finance and information technology, where skilled workers are in short supply. That means there's no wrong time to look for your next job, no matter what conventional wisdom says.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. For more information about our professional services, please visit

Lieberman to endorse McCain

Lieberman to endorse McCain

By GLEN JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 1 minute ago

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Sen. John McCain, trying to build momentum toward a reprise of his 2000 New Hampshire primary victory, is piling up high-profile endorsements, including one from another political maverick, Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

The Connecticut senator, an independent who was the Democrats' 2000 vice presidential nominee, was scheduled to announce his support for McCain at a town hall meeting Monday morning in Hillsborough.

A Lieberman adviser said the senator decided to back McCain despite being a Republican because he believes his colleague from Arizona "has the best chance of uniting the country in its fight against Islamic terrorism."

The adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement, said Lieberman would continue to caucus with Senate Democrats, and said his decision was not a reflection of any lingering tension with his old party after high-profile Democrats abandoned him when he lost the Democratic primary during his 2006 Senate re-election campaign.

One 2008 White House contender, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, supported Lieberman in the primary, but said after he lost, "I'm going to just hope Senator Lieberman will take a hard look at this and do what is best for Connecticut and the Democratic Party."

Another leading Democratic candidate, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, donated $5,000 to the Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, and sent an e-mail just before the general election saying, "Please join me in supporting Ned Lamont with your hard work on-the-ground in these closing weeks of the campaign."

Lieberman subsequently won re-election with an independent candidacy and has since been the darling of many prominent Republicans, including former White House adviser Karl Rove, for pushing a hard line in support of the country's war in Iraq. McCain also supports the war, calling it a critical battlefront in the fight against terrorism.

A top McCain aide said: "They are obviously very good friends. McCain helped him in his re-elect, and the significance of the support he will help attract to McCain cannot be overstated."

The aide also spoke on the condition of anonymity prior to the Monday event, which the campaign generically advertised as "a major new endorsement."

Word of the endorsement follows several other high-profile announcements for McCain, including weekend endorsements by The Des Moines Register and The Boston Globe.

McCain has largely ceded the Iowa caucuses to front-runners Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, but the Register said, "McCain is most ready to lead America in a complex and dangerous world and to rebuild trust at home and abroad by inspiring confidence in his leadership."

The Globe, while not based in New Hampshire, circulates in New Hampshire's vote-rich southern tier. McCain has focused his campaign on the Granite State, hoping to repeat his 2000 victory over George W. Bush.

"The iconoclastic senator from Arizona has earned his reputation for straight talk by actually leveling with voters, even at significant political expense," the Globe wrote.

McCain has also picked up endorsements from The New Hampshire Union Leader, the state's largest newspaper, and The Portsmouth Herald.

"U.S. Sen. John McCain will tell you the truth, even if it costs him the election," the Herald wrote.

McCain, campaigning Sunday in Florida, said he expected the endorsements would help him with undecided voters, especially registered Republicans.

"All of them say the same thing — that I have the experience and the judgment to lead this country and that I have been the one who is presidential," the senator said. "Obviously that will help me as we get down in the last few weeks before the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary, Michigan and South Carolina primaries and the Florida primary."


Associated Press Writers Andrew Miga in Washington and Brendan Farrington in Fort Myers, Fla., contributed to this report.