FUBAR

March budget defict sets record

The Treasury Department said Friday that the budget deficit increased by $192.3 billion in March, and is near $1 trillion just halfway through the budget year, as costs of the financial bailout and recession mount.

Last month’s deficit, a record for March, was significantly higher than the $150 billion that economists expected.

The deficit already totals $956.8 billion for the first six months of the budget year, also a record for that period. The Obama administration projects the deficit for the entire year will hit $1.75 trillion.

Panetta: No more secret CIA prisons

The CIA is "no longer" operating secret prisons used by the intelligence agency to interrogate terror suspects, and plans to shut all remaining "black sites," the spy agency’s director said Thursday.

The statement by the Central Intelligence Agency provided confirmation the spy service was carrying out an order from President Barack Obama to shut down the secret prisons that have been condemned at home and abroad as a flagrant violation of human rights.

Lawyers, judges fed up with Obama’s Gitmo delays

Lawyers and judges working on Guantanamo Bay legal cases are showing signs of exasperation at President Barack Obama’s administration, which they accuse of slowing federal judicial procedures for detainees.

Two federal judges tasked with examining cases by five Guantanamo prisoners contesting their detention — a right to habeas corpus granted by the Supreme Court in June 2008 — have made a rare public row of their impatience with government prosecutors.

US military might no match for pirates

The seizure of an American crew and cargo demonstrates the limits of U.S. military power in an international cops-and-robbers chase along a huge, lawless stretch of African coastline.

The outcome for the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama and its crew off the coast of Somalia was still unclear early Thursday. The crew had retaken control of the cargo ship from a band of pirates, but the captain was still held by the attackers in one of the ship’s lifeboats.

Making necessary changes in the defense budget

More important than the weapons systems he might cut or modify in his new military budget is Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ determination to reform the Pentagon’s woefully expensive and inefficient procurement process.

The urgency of this was underscored by a Government Accountability Office report that said 96 of the Defense Department’s biggest weapons systems were over budget by $296 billion — which is well over half the $534 billion Gates is proposing for the entire department for all of 2010.

Sometimes, pressure actually works

Bravo to the human rights activists around the world who muscled up in unison to obliterate one of the most backward laws passed by any country in recent times.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai recently signed into law a bill that approved of marital rape, stipulated that the wife "is bound to preen for her husband as and when he desires," barred wives from "leaving the house without the permission of the husband" unless in a medical or other emergency and approved child marriage with girls legally able to marry once they began to menstruate.

The killing of a cop is an attack on us all

As flags fly at half-staff and Pittsburgh’s spirits dip as low as the sullen clouds, it is necessary to take the unusual step of saying something nice about the government.

This is important because the flags have been lowered for three city police officers cut down Saturday by yet another armed, paranoid hater, this one harboring anti-government fantasies colored by anti-Semitism.

Those brave officers were just answering another domestic disturbance call. To the killer, it seems they were hated symbols of the government.

Proposed defense budget sets off war with Congress

It is perhaps no accident that Defense secretary Robert Gates announced plans to drastically reshape the defense budget while President Obama was out of the country. His plans to kill or curtail several costly weapons systems have set off a furor among their constituencies in Congress.

The dark side of Special Olympics jokes

Americans with mental retardation have been in the news recently.

First, President Obama committed a regrettable indiscretion on the Jay Leno Show by comparing his own bowling ineptitude with the level of skill on display — so the joke goes — at the Special Olympics.

But honest people may feel a little uncomfortable with excessive sanctimony about this incident. In fact, at some point most of us have probably been guilty of making or being amused by similar digs at our fellow citizens with mental retardation.