June 28, 2009
A pastor in the US state of Kentucky told his flock to bring handguns to church in what he said was an effort to promote safe gun ownership.
Pastor Ken Pagano told parishioners to bring their unloaded guns to New Bethel Church in Louisville for a service celebrating the right to bear arms. He said he acted after church members voiced fears the Obama administration could tighten gun control laws.
When the service began, some 200 people were present, AP news agency said. “We are wanting to send a message that there are legal, civil, intelligent and law-abiding citizens who also own guns,” Mr Pagano told the congregation. “If it were not for a deep-seated belief in the right to bear arms, this country would not be here today,” he said.
The pastor also held a handgun raffle, as well as providing information on gun safety.
- BBC News
And if it were not for a deep-seated belief in the right to bear arms, Dr George Tiller would be here today.
June 12, 2009
From Little Green Footballs:
As we noted last Sunday, when murder suspect Scott Roeder was arrested [for the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller], the phone number of Operation Rescue was discovered on a Post-It note in his car.
Now it turns out that this wasn’t just the phone number of the Operation Rescue office, but of a specific person: Cheryl Sullenger, the senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue — who was herself convicted in 1988 of conspiring to bomb a California abortion clinic, and served two years in prison.
Sullenger’s name even appears on the Operation Rescue press release about the murder of Dr. George Tiller.
So now we learn that one of the senior officials for Operation Rescue (who are spinning like crazy to portray themselves as a non-extremist group with no connections to violence or to Scott Roeder) is a convicted felon in an abortion clinic bombing plot. Isn’t that lovely?
It’s going to be a little harder to convince people that the perp is a lone gunman when one of your organisation’s three authorised spokespeople has been acting as a spotter for the sniper.
June 2, 2009
A prominent US abortion doctor has been shot dead at a church in the city of Wichita, Kansas.
Dr George Tiller, one of the few US doctors who performed late-term abortions, had been vilified by anti-abortionists in the US. The gunman fled in a car, but officials say a suspect is now in custody. US Attorney General Eric Holder said the US would offer protection to “appropriate people and facilities” in the wake of Dr Tillers’ killing.
Dr Tiller’s clinic – called Women’s Health Care Services – had often been the site of demonstrations, and he had been shot and wounded by an assailant 16 years ago. Questioning of the suspect, a 51 year-old man, is continuing. Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said he was likely to face one charge of murder and two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly pointing a gun at two other men.
Dr Tiller, who was 67, was shot just after 1000 (1500 GMT) at the Reformation Lutheran Church. His lawyer, Dan Monnat, said his client was killed while serving as an usher during a morning church service. His wife was in the choir at the time.
- BBC News
March 28, 2009
The US has announced details of a plan to buy up to $1 trillion (£686bn) worth of toxic assets to help repair banks’ balance sheets.
The “Public-Private Investment Programme” will purchase the troubled mortgages and securities that have been at the root of the credit crunch.
The Treasury has committed $75bn to $100bn to the programme and said the private sector would also contribute…
To encourage private investors to take part in the scheme, low-interest loans and guarantees will be offered to private investors via the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp – a government agency that backs bank deposits.
This means that the private investors, which the US hopes will include private equity, individual investors, pension plans and insurance companies, will shoulder relatively little risk, with 93% borne by the government.
- BBC News
March 25, 2009
Amid a furor over corporate spending, JPMorgan Chase is considering spending $138 million to buy new corporate jets and a hangar to house them, ABC News reported Monday.
The firm has received $25 billion in money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, money it has said it doesn’t need. A spokesman for JPMorgan told DealBook: “We will not purchase any replacement plane or make any related expenditure until after we have repaid TARP funds in full.”
The banking giant, one of the few firms to hold steady so far in the financial turmoil, plans to spend nearly $120 million for two Gulfstream 650 planes and an $18 million renovation for a hangar at Westchester Airport outside New York City, according to ABC News.
March 23, 2009
US First Lady Michelle Obama is set to break the ground for an organic garden on a patch of the south lawn to grow produce for the White House kitchen. Local primary school pupils will help her with the planting and harvesting of the vegetables, herbs and salad crops.
Promoting healthy eating for American families has become a part of the first lady’s agenda. She has promised her whole family will be getting involved, and even President Barack Obama will help with weeding.
Mrs Obama hopes that inspiring children will help spread the healthy eating message to others.
“My hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities,” she said in an interview in her East Wing office.
The plot of land given over to the new kitchen garden, which will measure about 1,100 sq ft (102.2 sq m), will be visible from the street.
- BBC News
Ah, but where’s he putting the dope patch?
March 21, 2009
US President Barack Obama has apologised for joking on a TV chat show that a poor bowling performance was “like the Special Olympics”.
He made the comment during an appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, and later phoned the chairman of the Special Olympics to apologise.
Responding, Tim Shriver said Mr Obama’s remarks could be seen as “humiliating” to people with special needs…
Reacting to Mr Obama’s comments, Mr Shriver said the president had apologised for his remark.
“He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate [the disabled] population,” said Mr Shriver. But he stressed that the president’s comments should not be dismissed out of hand.
“I think it’s important to see that words hurt and words do matter,” he added. “And these words that in some respect can be seen as humiliating or a put down to people with special needs do cause pain and they do result in stereotypes.”
- BBC News
February 20, 2009
A Channel4 news report [9min 40sec into the clip] has highlighted worries that the Obama administration may not be moving as far away from Bush-era anti-terror excesses as hoped for (or even suggested). Sworn in yesterday as new head of the CIA, Leon Panetta seems to have been offered the job on the strength of his anti-torture statements made while Bush was still in office.
“We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances,” he said.
He repeated this during his grilling before the Senate Intelligence Committee but with qualifications detailed by BBC News.
US President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, Leon Panetta, has condemned the interrogation technique “waterboarding” as “torture”.
But he made it clear that agents who had carried out waterboarding in the past should not be prosecuted if they believed they were following the law.
He also made it clear that should more ‘effective’ techniques be required in future, he’d seek further presidential authority. So torture is wrong … unless absolutely necessary. (And what, the Bush administration was doing it for FUN?)
Mr Panetta also spoke about the Bush White House’s “rendition” of prisoners to other countries.
He made it clear that the Obama administration would not make use of “that kind of extraordinary rendition – when we send someone for the purpose of torture or actions by another country that violate our human values”.
But he drew a distinction between the “rendition” of prisoners to another government to be prosecuted by its judicial system, and the “rendition” of suspects to be interrogated by foreign governments known to practise torture.
“I think renditions where we return individuals to another country where they prosecute them under their laws, I think that is an appropriate use of rendition,” he said.
Not so much “We’ll do good things” as “We’ll also do bad things, but for BETTER reasons”… (how very New Labour).
February 16, 2009
The public relations firm representing the California woman who gave birth to octuplets says it is stepping down after getting death threats.
The Killeen Furtney Group has received dozens of threats, the head of the Los Angeles agency, Joann Killeen, told the Associated Press (AP) news agency…
“We’ve never had a public reaction to us representing a client pro bono like this, ever.”
Ms Suleman hired the agency shortly after the octuplets were born. Ms Killeen made a flurry of TV appearances, saying her client had been deluged with offers to tell her story.
But public reaction to the story soured after it was revealed that Ms Suleman was a single-mother receiving state aid to help her raise her other six children, aged two to seven.
- BBC News
February 13, 2009
President Barack Obama’s wife Michelle is the cover girl for the March edition of fashion magazine Vogue.
It is only the second time an American First Lady has taken the place of a model on a Vogue cover – the other was Hillary Clinton in 1998.
Mrs Obama, who was photographed wearing outfits she chose herself, says she is aware her wardrobe is under scrutiny.
“I’m not going to pretend that I don’t care about it. But I also have to be practical,” she told Vogue magazine.
Annie Leibovitz photographed Mrs Obama wearing a magenta silk dress designed by Jason Wu for the cover portrait.
- BBC News