‘The politics of hysteria’: The much-anticipated Nunes memo left experts underwhelmed

Sonam Sheth, provided by Published 7:30 am, Saturday, February 3, 2018 Getty Images/Pool The highly-anticipated release of Rep. Devin Nunes' memo, which claims to show the Department of Justice and FBI abusing their surveillance power, seemed more like a list of Republican talking points, experts said Friday. The memo did not alter the facts of the Russia investigation, they said, and it did not have any information indicating that law enforcement officials bypassed protocol at any point. But the memo will still likely be weaponized by allies of President Donald Trump, many of whom have urged him to clean house at the DOJ and the FBI. Local Channel Now Playing: Now Playing Police responding to shooting at S.A. intersection San Antonio Express-News Man gunned down in driveway at S.A. home, police say San Antonio Express-News SAPD: 2 suspects caught breaking into truck, open fire on owner San Antonio Express-News Galveston PD releases image of 'Little Jacob' Galveston Police Department Man found covered in blood after crashing car into ditch San Antonio Express-News Pickup truck T-bones sedan on rural S.A.-area road, killing woman San Antonio Express-News Man+killed+by+police+after+stealing+bike%2C+riding+onto+Loop+410 Jacob Beltran Police: Drive-by gunman fires 30+ rounds into home, strikes man San Antonio Express-News Woman killed as firefighters battle flames for hours San Antonio Express-News SAPD: Man catches 2 suspect breaking into car on West Side, opens fire Caleb Downs While Republicans say the document, which was compiled by embattled House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, is clear evidence of partisan bias at the DOJ and the FBI, Democrats say it contains significant omissions and inaccuracies that mischaracterize the intelligence community's work. Addressing the memo's release on Friday, President Donald Trump said, "I think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country." But as far as Continue Reading

Families of 9/11 victims pen letter urging Obama to sign anti-terrorism bill; ‘Mr. President, don’t slam the door shut and abandon us’

Dear Mr. President: We are all mothers, fathers, wives, husbands or children who lost loved ones in the cruel and devastating attack on America 15 years ago Sunday. We miss them. And we grieve at what they have missed in lives cut short by terrorists whose immediate targets were innocents and whose ongoing target is everything America has stood for, fought for and promised to protect and defend since our union was formed. And we anguish especially as we witness the spread of the poisonous ideology that is determined to ensure that 9/11 was only the beginning. It is a hard day for all of us. But, as we are sure you must know, they are all hard, not just the anniversaries. For some of us, though, this anniversary is harder than any since the attack and we want you to understand why. We and so many other families have fought for years to know all of the truth about 9/11. We have fought to ensure that anyone and any entity that may have had a responsible role in the murder of 3,000 people in New York, at the Pentagon and across a field in Pennsylvania is held to account for their actions. And, we have struggled to make sure that our laws — and those who are sworn to uphold them — leave nothing undone in our battle against terrorism. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act addresses a missing piece of America's anti-terrorism campaign — a piece that is missing because of grievously errant misconstructions of earlier laws meant to ensure that the families of Americans harmed or killed as a result of terrorist attacks with respect to which foreign governments may be complicit will be able to seek justice in our courts. That right is important for our nation, because it will help to deter state-sponsored terrorism. It will help uncover truth — such as the mysteries surrounding the ability of 19 hijackers — barely educated, not speaking much English and without visible resources Continue Reading

US government to air-drop toxic mice on Guam snakes

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam's jungle canopy. They are scientists' prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake. Most of Guam's native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island's thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines. More than 3,000 miles away, environmental officials in Hawaii have long feared a similar invasion — which in their case likely would be a "snakes on a plane" scenario. That would cost the state many vulnerable species and billions of dollars, but the risk will fall if Guam's air-drop strategy succeeds. "We are taking this to a new phase," said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands. "There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam." Brown tree snakes are generally a few feet (1 meter) long but can grow to be more than 10 feet (3 meters) in length. Most of Guam's native birds were defenseless against the nocturnal, tree-based predators, and within a few decades of the reptile's arrival, nearly all of them were wiped out. The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies; they use venom on their prey but it is not lethal to humans. The infestation and the toll it has taken on native wildlife have tarnished Guam's image as a tourism haven, though the snakes are rarely seen outside their jungle habitat. The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol. The strategy Continue Reading

Full text of Christie’s final budget address

This is the ninth time I’ve come before a joint session to address our state’s budget. Each time I’ve had specific goals in mind; guiding principles to follow. Government should get smaller. Taxes shall not be increased. Our core commitments must be met. Each time, with varying degrees of struggle, harmony and acrimony, we have reached these goals – I have stuck to those principles. Let me assure you that today will be no different.The journey to greater fiscal health over the last eight years, from the depths of the recession to our economic growth of today, has taken many twists and turns. In 2010, New Jersey was in the middle of a fiscal crisis created by the great recession and a history of reckless taxing and spending by state government.When I entered office, the State faced an immediate $2.2 billion mid-year fiscal deficit.  Even far worse was the breathtakingly large $10.7 billion projected budget shortfall for FY 2011. We faced a staggering $13 billion two-year budget gap.Welcome to the old days in Trenton. EDUCATION: Christie will not revamp school funding in new budget, sources say WATCH LIVE: Gov. Christie's final budget speech I was elected in 2009, and reelected in 2013, to sweep away the practices and the policies that brought us to the fiscal brink in 2010. Regular tax increases that dragged our state to zero net private sector job growth from 2001-2009. Exploding state spending and government employment that grew not only our expenses for the present but an unsustainable set of obligations for the future. A regulatory scheme that choked businesses, acted as a hidden tax on all of us and frustrated our citizens simply trying to get a permit.The budget was also propped up with endless gimmicks. Billions of temporary federal stimulus funds, and the fantasy of temporary income tax hikes, corporate surtaxes, temporary employee furloughs.  One shots used in a desperate attempt to make New Jerseyeans Continue Reading

Residents back government buyouts to save land

There are precious few large open spaces left in the Newark area and a group of residents want to make sure they don't vanish.They are asking state and local governments for millions of dollars to preserve the space from development.Two tracts in particular are in danger of becoming subdivisions.The grassroots efforts have coalesced around the development rights for the Newark Country Club property as well as an initiative to stymie pending plans to build hundreds of homes on land that housed the now-defunct Our Lady of Grace Home for Children in Ogletown.Residents are worried that the developments will overload local roadways with traffic, destroy open space and alter the quality of life in the area."An opportunity like this will not come back around. Surely (government) can find a way to help," said Frank Warnock, an Ogletown resident who helps run a Facebook group trying to save the orphanage property.The pricetag is $6.5 million for the country club property and about $5 million for the childrens' home.The groups have caught the ear of local politicians, but at this point it is unclear if their efforts will amount to anything more than election year talk.Delaware state Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, who is running for Congress and has been involved with the Ogletown discussions, said it is cynical to view the effort in a campaign context."This is about a multi-generational investment in a hard-hit corridor in south Newark. That is what this is," Townsend said.New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon, who is currently pushing his own controversial, multi-million-dollar buyout of two farms in Port Penn, would not signal whether he'd be willing to advocate for the county's requested contribution in the efforts. It is also unclear how local legislators would wrangle money from the state, though Delaware has a history of last-minute deals with little public input to contribute money for open space purchases.In the waning Continue Reading

If only presidential candidates would tell us the truth

All modern presidents of both parties have been too much with us. Talking incessantly, they have put politics unhealthily at the center of America's consciousness. Promising promiscuously, they have exaggerated government's proper scope and actual competence, making the public perpetually disappointed and surly. Inflating executive power, they have severed it from constitutional constraints. So, sensible voters might embrace someone who announced his 2016 candidacy this way: Ted Kaufman: The best argument against term limits? The voters"I am ambling – running suggests unseemly ardor – for president. It is axiomatic that anyone who nowadays will do what is necessary in order to become president thereby reveals character traits, including delusions of adequacy and obsessive compulsive disorder, that should disqualify him or her from proximity to powers concentrated in the executive branch. Therefore, my campaign will initially consist of driving around the Obnoxiously Entitled Four – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada – trying to interest their 3.8 percent of America's population in a minimalist president."Candidates are constantly asked, 'Where will you take the country?' My answer is: 'Nowhere.' The country is not a parcel to be 'taken' anywhere. It is the spontaneous order of 316 million people making billions of daily decisions, cooperatively contracting together, moving the country in gloriously unplanned directions."To another inane question, 'How will you create jobs?' my answer will be: 'I won't.' Other than by doing whatever the chief executive can to reduce the regulatory state's impediments to industriousness. I will administer no major economic regulations – those with $100 million economic impacts – that Congress has not voted on. Legislators' should be explicitly complicit in burdens they mandate."Congress, defined by the Constitution's Article I, is properly the first, the initiating branch of Continue Reading

70+ fun things for week of April 13-19

Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic. Freedom Hall, Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane, 7 p.m. Saturday. Basketball Classic ticket will get you free admission to the Night of the Future Stars. $18, $50 VIP (courtside). Parking $8, $20 bus. 502-367-5000.Disney on Ice: Passport to Adventure. KFC Yum! Center, One Arena Plaza, 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy and Daisy on a journey to the timeless worlds of Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and Frozen. $18-$101. 800-745-3000.Apple Patch’s 3rd Annual Big Hats & Bow Ties. Kentucky Derby Museum, 704 Central Ave., 6 p.m. Saturday. A variety of bow ties and hats for sale, a cocktail reception, dinner and live and silent auctions. Renee Murphy, WHAS 11 News Anchor is master of ceremonies. $100 includes 2 drink tickets. Tickets: Cindy Harbin, 502-297-2899.25th Annual Frankfort Avenue Easter Parade. From Stilz Avenue to Haldeman Ave., 11 a.m. Saturday. Neighborhood parade with floats of all shapes and sizes, an appearance by the Easter Bunny and candy. The “Good Ears” awards will be presented to the most creative float and the most outrageous Easter bonnet.GonzoFest. Louisville Free Public Library, Main Branch, 301 York St., noon-8 p.m. Saturday. The festival honors the life and legacy of the late Hunter S. Thompson, a Louisville native and journalist with spoken word, poetry, music and art. Performers include Nellie Pearl, Otis Junior, Brooks Ritter, Sativa Gumbo, Satellite Twin and Brother Wolves.www.GonzoFestLou.com.Disney on Ice: Passport to Adventure. KFC Yum! Center, One Arena Plaza, 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy and Daisy on a journey to the timeless worlds of Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and Frozen. $18-$101. 800-745-3000.University of Louisville Author Forum. Bomhard Continue Reading

50+ fun things for week of May 4-10

Republic Bank First Friday Hop. 5-11 p.m. Friday. The hop covers the two downtown ZeroBus routes, on Main and Market streets between Campbell and Tenth streets, and also along the Fourth Street corridor between the Galt House and Breckenridge St. (bus run until 7 p.m.). All rides are free. www.firstfridayhop.com.Historic Homes Foundation 39th Annual Derby Breakfast and Bourbon & Biscuits. Farmington Historic Plantation, 3033 Bardstown Road, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. A traditional brunch with an open bar, live band, Southern cuisine, silent auction and access to Bourbon & Biscuits. Bourbon & Biscuits, 9 a.m.-noon. Features an open bourbon bar, mimosas and Bloody Marys, an assortment of Southern-style biscuits and silent auction. Proceeds to benefit the Historic Homes Foundation. Breakfast, $150; biscuits, $60. 502-452-9920.Hillbilly Outfield 17th Annual Derby Party. 12202 Old Shelbyville Road, Friday and Saturday. Starts at 6 p.m. Friday. Family friendly weekend backyard party features games, food, drinks, silent auction, live music, camping, corn hole tournament, Derby coverage and more. Proceeds benefit the Kentucky region of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tickets: advance, $55 online; $50 cash; day of party, $70 credit card, $65 cash; $30 for ages 11-20; $10 for ages 6-10; free for ages 5 and younger. hillbillyoutfield.org.Republic Bank Pegasus Parade: Louisville on the Move. West on Broadway from Campbell to 9th Street, 5 p.m. Thursday. Grand Marshalls, Linkin’ Bridge. Colorful floats, marching bands, giant inflatables and equestrians. Bleacher tickets $10, chair seating $12, VIP seating $30. Tickets: 502-584-3378 or www.kdf.org.The Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Annual Hometown Tourist Celebration. Monday through May 31. The celebration encourages Kentucky and Indiana residents to be a tourist in their own hometown. At this year’s celebration, the city’s eclectic neighborhoods are in the spotlight, where nearly 100 of Continue Reading

US drones outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting begin patrol on Somali pirates

NAIROBI, Kenya — For the first time, sophisticated U.S. military surveillance drones capable of carrying missiles have begun patrolling waters off Somalia in hopes of stemming rising piracy.Three ships have been seized in a week off Africa's lawless eastern coast and Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, the deputy commander for the U.S. Africa Command, said pirates continue to pose a significant challenge.With the monsoon season now ended, there have been a rash of attacks as pirates return to the open seas. More than 130 crew members from seven ships are currently being held, including about 70 from the latest attacks.In an effort to stem the surge, unmanned U.S. military surveillance planes called MQ-9 Reapers stationed on the island nation of Seychelles are being deployed to patrol the Indian Ocean in search of pirates, Moeller told The Associated Press in an interview at command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The patrols began this week, military officials said.The 36-foot(11-meter)-long Reapers are the size of a jet fighter, can fly about 16 hours and are capable of carrying a dozen guided bombs and missiles. They are outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting.Military officials said Friday the drones would not immediately be fitted with weaponry, but they did not rule out doing so in the future.Analysts said they expected the Reapers would also be used to hunt al-Qaida and other Islamist militants in Somalia. While Moeller said the aircraft would "primarily" be used against pirates, he acknowledged they could also be used for other missions.Even the drones and the presence of an international naval armada are unlikely to deter pirates, Moeller said. Pirates are "prepared to take their chances against the warships that are patrolling the area, simply because the potential for big financial gain is significant," he said.Cyrus Mody, an expert on piracy at the London branch of the International Maritime Bureau, said he expects the drones will help ward off Continue Reading

Voice of the People for Nov. 21, 2008

The more things change ...Staten Island: I thought Obama was going to bring change to his administration. All I have seen so far are retreads from the Clinton administration. Where is the new blood? Angela Gonsowski ... the more they stay the same Edison, N.J.: Hillary Clinton backers didn't get the Presidency but they should be happy. Apparently they're getting an administration that's Son of Clinton. Ron Perri Double standard Peekskill, N.Y.: Sen. Hillary Clinton was one step away in the primaries from becoming the Democratic Party's nominee for President. Now that her name has come up as a possible secretary of state, there seem to be some serious questions about her husband's international financial dealings and associations. So she could have been elected President but she does not qualify for secretary of state? Alan Michitsch Sticking to the unions I Bronx: Re Voicer Irene Goldsmith's letter about unions having nothing to contribute anymore: She might need a history lesson on the subject. Without unions, we wouldn't have weekends off. Without unions, there would be no such thing as overtime. Without unions, there wouldn't be paid sick time or paid vacations or any kind of benefits. If companies treated their workers as decent human beings, we probably wouldn't need unions. Having said that - thank God for unions! Bruce Farina Sticking to the unions II Brooklyn: To voicer Irene Goldmith: I have been a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local #3 for the last 24 years. It's apparent to me that you couldn't care less about union workers or their families. Unions are the backbone that helped build this great nation of ours. So don't knock union labor, and always look for the union label. Nick Pappagallo Off with their perks Mount Vernon, N.Y.: It made me very angry to hear the top honchos of the automobile industry insisting their private-jet perks were nonnegotiable as they laid off thousands of workers. Continue Reading