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Obama’s Former Bodyguard Seeks to Unseat Democratic Senator October 5, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

A former Secret Service agent who vowed to take a bullet for Presidents Obama and Bush is now trying to take Benjamin Cardin’s Senate seat.

Daniel Bongino spent 12 years with the Secret Service before he resigned in May to launch a Senate campaign to challenge the Maryland Democrat.

Bongino, 36, who is running as a Republican, told Fox News this week that his Secret Service experience qualifies him to handle the rough-and-tumble of the upper chamber.

“That job is high stress, high octane all the time and they force leadership on you,” he explained. “They don’t tolerate fools…If you don’t make it, you’re broken pretty quickly.”

Bongino spent three years protecting Bush and two years for Obama. He says Obama was a “wonderful guy” and that his political ideological differences with him aren’t personal.

But Bongino’s mission to defeat Cardin won’t be easy.

The freshman senator had a 48 percent overall approval rating in May 2010, according to the Washington Post. But congressional approval hit a new low at 12 percent, according to an Associated Press-GFK poll last month – a figure that Bongino will likely try to seize on.

Cardin’s camp, however, isn’t showing any signs of worry.

“The senator looks forward to having a debate about the issues with whoever the Republican nominee will be in 2012,” Cardin campaign spokeswoman Shelly Hettleman told FoxNews.com.

One of the issues that most certainly will be debated is Maryland’s new law offering in-state tuition breaks to certain illegal immigrants. The law was suspended last summer after opponents collected tens of thousands of signatures to force the issue onto the 2012 ballot for a referendum.

Bongino, whose wife legally emigrated from Colombia to the United States, said it’s not an immigration issue.

“It’s an issue about the law,” he said, comparing the process of obtaining citizenship to joining a club.

“We have rules,” he said. “Is citizenship worth something or is it now? Well it is worth something. It’s worth fighting for.”

Bongino said his grandfather fought in World War II and his uncle, who died fighting in the Vietnam War, was awarded the Bronze Star for valor.

“People fought and died for this country. It’s worth something,” he said. “This is our club. All we’re asking, just follow the rules. My wife did. It’s not complicated. It was a touching moment to watch her pledge allegiance to our flag.”

Source By Stephen Clark

Documents Suggest Holder Knew About ‘Fast and Furious’ Earlier Than He Claimed October 3, 2011

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Source: Fox News

For the first time, documents appear to show Attorney General Eric Holder was made aware of the Operation Fast and Furious earlier than he claimed — up to 9 nine months earlier.

The documents seem to contradict what Holder told a House Judiciary Committee on May 3, when he said he could not recall the exact date, but he’d “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
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New Documents in ‘Fast and Furious’ Scandal

However, in a July 2010 memo, Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, told Holder straw buyers in the Operation Fast and Furious case “are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels.”

Also, on October 18, 2010, one of Holder’s chief deputies, Lanny Breuer, chief of the department’s Criminal Division, told Holder in a memo that prosecutors were ready to issue indictments in Operation Fast and Furious.

Documents also show, contrary to earlier reports, the Justice Department was aware that ATF agents under the department’s direction were involved in the controversial practice known as “gun walking” — allowing illicit gun sales to proceed to track the traffickers to higher-ups. The department has said it did not allow guns to “walk.”

When agents “let guns walk,” they stop surveillance and allow criminals to transfer weapons to others. In this case, that meant allowing the guns to cross the border into Mexico. It is a highly controversial practice agents typically are taught not to do.

However, in an October 17, 2010 memo, Deputy Attorney General Jason Weinstein asks another attorney in the Criminal Division if Breuer should do a press conference when Fast and Furious is announced, but says, “It’s a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked.”

His associate, James Trusty writes back, “It’s not going to be any big surprise that a bunch of US guns are being used in MX (Mexico), so I’m not sure how much grief we’ll get for ‘gun walking.'”

Until now, there’s been an attempt to portray Operation Fast and Furious as a rogue operation by ATF agents in Phoenix and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office. But insiders claim these documents show the Department of Justice in Washington was intimately aware of the case almost from the beginning.

In response to the documents released today, the Justice Department said Holder’s response referred to when he first learned of the “troubling tactics” of the program. A Justice spokesperson also says that the “gun walking” referred to in the October 2010 email exchange is about another case initiated before Operation Fast and Furious.

Controversial Bake Sale Highlights Debate on Bill Allowing California Colleges to Consider Race, Gender October 2, 2011

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Despite allegations of being “purposefully offensive,” a Republican student group in California held a controversial bake sale on Tuesday in opposition of pending legislation that would allow universities to consider race, gender and ethnicity in the admissions process.

California Senate Bill 185, which was passed by the state Legislature and now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, would authorize the University of California and the California State University to consider those and “other relevant factors” during the admissions process.

If signed into law, S.B. 185 would be in direct opposition to Proposition 209, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot proposition approved in 1996 that amended the state’s constitution to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity during the admissions process.

Though Proposition 209 bans awarding admissions decisions based on race and ethnicity alone, S.B. 185 would allow admissions officials to view ethnicity as part of the student’s background as a whole, Jesse Choper, a UC Berkeley law professor told The Daily Californian.

The bill would only authorize UC and CSU to consider race, gender, ethnicity and other factors in admissions decisions, but will not mandate them to do so, the newspaper reported.

Shawn Lewis, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, which hosted the “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” at a campus plaza, said the event was intended to oppose any policy that treats one racial group different from another. 

The bake sale, which was held just yards away from a phone bank event urging people to call Brown’s office in support of the S.B. 185, charged all white men $2 for cookies and other baked goods, while Asian men were charged $1.50, Latino men paid $1, black men 75 cents and Native Americans 25 cents. All women received 25 cents off those prices.

“After the UC Berkeley student government endorsed the bill, we decided a response was needed,” Lewis wrote on the group’s website. “Thus this bake sale was formulated … If preferences based on skin color are ok  for college admissions, they should be ok [sic] for other aspects of life. We agree that the event is inherently racist, but that is the point.”

Lewis said the bake sale, which has led to threats and intimidation, is in direct response to the Associated Students of the University of California’s sponsoring of a phone bank with a goal of more than 1,100 calls to Brown’s office. It is scheduled to be held until 2 p.m. local time.

According to The Daily Californian’s live blog of the event, roughly 300 people participated in a silent protest of the bake sale. Several campus police officers monitored the event, the newspaper reported.

Earlier, political science professor Wendy Brown told the newspaper that she tried to buy all of the group’s baked goods but was not allowed to do so.

“I thought the Republicans were free enterprise, but they won’t let me buy all the cupcakes,” she told the newspaper.

Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Gov. Brown, told FoxNews.com that the governor has not taken a stance on the bill and generally does not comment prior to taking action. He has until Oct. 9 to sign or veto the bill, Westrup said.

Meanwhile, University of California Student Association President Claudia Magana said having knowledge of an applicant’s racial or ethnic background will allow university officials to make a “more informed” admission decision.

“UC students strongly support this bill, and we will be taking action to let the Governor know that we expect him to sign it,” Magana said in a statement released on Monday.

S.B. 185 does not mandate quotas nor allows individuals of different ethnic groups to be held to different standards, said Magana, adding that it will also not repeal Proposition 209.

“SB 185 is an important step in the right direction,” her statement continued. “In part because of the extensive institutional racism that persists in our state and nation, it is critical that our University is aware of the race of applicants, in order to fully understand and contextualize an individual’s background and experiences.”

Joey Freeman, external affairs vice president at UC Berkeley, said the bake sale does not further a “productive dialogue” and instead harms the campus climate.

“We welcome all students to participate in dialogue about the best ways for us to increase diversity and ensure that our University is accessible to all Californians,” Freeman said in a statement. “Still, we hope that such dialogue can occur without purposefully offensive to specific groups on our campuses.”

Neal McCluskey, an education analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, said a “reasonable reading” of S.B. 185 would find it unconstitutional since the state bans discrimination to any individual or groups on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the “normal operation” of public employment, public education or public contracting.

“It certainly looks like it would be in violation of the state’s constitution,” McCluskey told FoxNews.com. “That said, I’m familiar enough with affirmative action and you can guess what their argument will be — that this is part of ‘normal and necessary’ operations of public colleges and universities.”

McCluskey said he’s not surprised at the charged reactions on both sides of the issue.

“This has been a problem in this country for decades, centuries I should say, where distinctions made by government based on race, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity, when a government sides one way or another based on one of their group identities, then it is hugely controversial because this is the government choosing winners and losers and not on merit,” he said.

“And that completely flies in the face of the idea of the United States where individuals succeed or fail based on their own merits,” he continued. “We shouldn’t be shocked at all when this leads to constant conflict because nobody wants to end up on the losing side because they weren’t born with the characteristics the government decides to favor.”

Source By Joshua Rhett Miller

Solyndra’s Creditors Include California Democratic Party October 1, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

Among the roughly 5,000 creditors named by Solyndra, a bankrupt solar energy company that is under investigation for losing a half billion dollars in federal loans, is the California Democratic Party, which says it doesn’t know why.

The bankruptcy filing doesn’t say why the organization is listed as one of the creditors or how much money it is owed. The filing contains about 200 pages of creditors listed in alphabetical order with their address but not the amount owed.

Tenoch Flores, the communications director for the California Democratic Party, told FoxNews.com that he wasn’t sure why the organization was named a creditor since the California-based company didn’t owe it any money. 

But he said there’s likely a procedural explanation, such as Solyndra providing a list of all potential creditors, including organizations and companies that ever received a payment or contribution for any purpose.

Solyndra did not respond to requests for comment.

Solyndra gave $7,500 to the party last October, according to campaign-finance records reviewed by The Washington Times, which first reported the listing. Solyndra employees also donated $20,800 to federal candidates and committees since 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that amount, 72 percent went to Democrats, 27 percent to Republicans and 1 percent to Libertarians.

President Obama was the top beneficiary of that campaign cash, receiving $2,800, CRP said.

Solyndra has come under investigations by the FBI and Congress since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1,100 employees.

Congressional Republicans are investigating the $528 million loan Solyndra received from the Energy Department in 2009. Solyndra’s top executives pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than a dozen times Friday in a congressional hearing.

Solyndra was back in bankruptcy court in Delaware Tuesday morning to reportedly seek permission to sell its state-of-the-art factory that was built with the federal loan.

Solyndra was the first renewable energy company to receive a loan guarantee — before the direct loans — under a stimulus-law program to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model of success. President Obama visited the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters last year, and Vice President Biden spoke by satellite at its groundbreaking ceremony.

Since then, the company’s implosion and revelations that the administration rushed Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment and headache for Obama as he tries to pitch his new $450 billion jobs plan.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other top economic advisers raised red flags to the president in late October 2010 about the selection process for the federal loan guarantees, arguing that the lack of rigor increased the risk that fund could be going to the wrong companies, including ones that didn’t need the help.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the president needs to explain himself.

“The president’s been silent about this debacle so far but with this news, I think that it’s time for President Obama to do what he does best, which is to start talking,” Priebus said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters.

“He owes the American people an explanation of how he’s going to get their money back and how he’ll prevent it from happening again in yet another failed Stimulus 2.0 attempt that he’s trying to sell in Denver today,” he said.

Source by Fox News

Saudi Woman to Receive 10 Lashes for Driving Car September 29, 2011

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Saudi activists say a court has sentenced a Saudi woman with 10 lashes for defying the kingdom’s ban on women driving.

Activist Samar Badawi says Shaima Ghassaniya was found guilty Tuesday of driving without the government’s permission.

No laws prohibit women from driving, but conservative religious edicts have banned it.

The ruling comes just two days after Saudi King Abdullah announced that, for the first time, women have the right to vote and run in the country’s 2015 local elections.

Najalaa Harriri, who is also facing court for driving, told The Associated Press she needed to drive to take better care of her children.

Tuesday’s verdict is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia. Other women were detained for several days, but had not been sentenced by a court.