In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

White House party crashers may face criminal charges

White House party crashersThe Secret Service may pursue a criminal investigation of the Virginia couple who crashed a White House dinner, but events at the security checkpoint may determine whether the security breach is a crime or just an embarrassment.

Jim Mackin, an agency spokesman, said the possible turn toward criminal charges is one reason the Secret Service has kept mum about what happened when Michaele and Tareq Salahi arrived at the checkpoint Tuesday. They were not on the guest list for the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Federal law makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully falsify statements on matters within the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Nobody disputes that the couple, candidates for a reality TV show, were allowed through security. The Secret Service acknowledges that its procedures weren’t followed.

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Fighting the good fight

I’ve been at this for a long time, first as a journalist going back 45 years, and as the publisher of this web site, which turned 15 years of age on October 1.

Sometimes I wonder if its too long.

I get up at 4 a.m. each day to work on the current edition of Capitol Hill Blue and a hyperlocal news site/blog called Blue Ridge Muse. By 8 a.m., when most people are starting work, I’ve already put in a half-day.

And for what? Neither site makes money. I dig into my own pocket each month to cover the expenses and my resources are not unlimited.

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The illusion of reform

Sooner or later, someone in charge must realize that anytime government tries to “reform” something, it often makes it worse.

Watergate prompted massive “reform” of campaign financing laws which resulted in the system we have today — a system where monied special interests control government and the legislation that affects our lives.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, brought massive reform of our national security system, bringing us the new Gestapo-like laws that allow warrantless wiretapping of Americans, confinement without due process and the USA Patriot Act, a heinous piece of legislation that robs all Americans of core freedoms and liberties.

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Obama will reveal new Afghan plan Tuesday

US President Barack Obama will announce his new Afghan strategy in an address to the nation Tuesday from the prestigious West Point military academy, the White House said.

In a defining moment for his young presidency, Obama is widely expected to order more than 30,000 additional American troops into battle against an emboldened Taliban-led insurgency.

But the president, who vowed Tuesday to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, will also lay out an exit strategy for withdrawing forces from the war begun eight years ago in response to the September 11 attacks on the United States.

“We are in year nine of our efforts in Afghanistan. We are not going to be there another eight or nine years,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

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Health care reform: Damn the debt, full speed ahead

A U.S. debt that is topping $12 trillion is raising fresh questions about the cost of President Barack Obama’s proposed healthcare overhaul, but those concerns are unlikely to sink the legislation.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan scorekeeper of federal spending, put the first 10-year cost of the Senate healthcare bill at $849 billion and said it would reduce budget deficits by $130 billion over that period.

Republican critics of the overhaul, a top domestic priority for Obama, say those numbers reflect timing gimmicks that skew the bill’s costs and that the price tag will be closer to $2.5 trillion in the first decade the bill is fully implemented.

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Black Friday: Will retailers see black or red?

Black FridayThe nation’s retailers are ushering in the traditional start of the holiday shopping season with expanded hours and deep discounts on everything from toys to TVs to lure crowds of shoppers.

A number of stores, including Walmart and many Old Navy locations, opened on Thanksgiving, hoping to make the most of the extra hours. Toys R Us opened most of its stores at midnight Friday.

Online sellers also pushed to grab a piece of the action, pushing deals on Thursday and even earlier in the week.

After suffering the worst sales decline in several decades last holiday season, the good news is that the retail industry is heading into the Christmas selling period armed with lean inventories and more practical goods on their shelves that reflect shoppers’ new psyche.

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Claims of government misconduct in Blackwater case

Defense lawyers are alleging misconduct by Justice Department prosecutors in the case against one of five Blackwater security guards accused in the killings of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.

Recent pretrial proceedings that took place behind closed doors led the Justice Department to seek dismissal of charges against Nicholas Slatten of Sparta, Tenn., one of the five guards accused in the shootings in busy Nisoor Square in September 2007.

In a one-paragraph filing a week ago, the department disclosed that it wants to preserve the possibility of filing a new set of charges against Slatten.

On Wednesday, Slatten’s lawyers said in court papers they want to stop the Justice Department from doing so and that the issue should be aired in a public court hearing.

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Did party crashers put the President in danger?

The Secret Service maintains that President Barack Obama was never in danger at a state dinner after an uninvited Virginia couple got through security, but it wouldn’t comment on whether anyone is screened for radiological or biological weapons.

Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said Thursday the agency doesn’t discuss the levels of security screening at the White House.

Donovan had said earlier that Michaele and Tareq Salahi went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people invited to the dinner Tuesday for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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Got a light? Not much longer in Virginia eateries

The bluish haze that has hung over Richmond’s Third Street Diner’s bar and booths for decades finally lifts next month as a new anti-smoking law takes hold in Virginia, a huge shift for a state whose tobacco habit dates to the Jamestown settlement some 400 years ago.

Starting Dec. 1, Virginia will join dozens of other states that ban smoking in restaurants. Restaurants in Virginia will be allowed to have a smoking area only if they segregate smokers into rooms with ventilation systems separate from those that heat and cool nonsmoking patrons.

For most of its history dating to colonial times, tobacco was Virginia’s premier crop and economic staple. Frescoes of the golden-brown leaf adorn the ceiling of the Capitol rotunda, a short cab ride from the massive factory that supplies the world with Marlboros.

Yet this year, strict new curbs on lighting up where food and drink are sold were enacted by lawmakers in Richmond and in Raleigh, N.C., major tobacco capitals where cigarette giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have been accustomed to getting their way.

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