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OBAMA TEAM DIVIDED ON TACTICS AGAINST TERRORISM

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In defending Guantánamo, the Bush administration said the president could imprison people without trial as wartime detainees.

By Charlie Savage
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senior lawyers in the Obama administration are deeply divided over some of the counterterrorism powers they inherited from former President George W. Bush, according to interviews and a review of legal briefs.

The rift has been most pronounced between top lawyers in the State Department and the Pentagon, though it has also involved conflicts among career Justice Department lawyers and political appointees throughout the national security agencies.

The discussions, which shaped classified court briefs filed this month, have centered on how broadly to define the types of terrorism suspects who may be detained without trials as wartime prisoners. The outcome of the yearlong debate could reverberate through national security policies, ranging from the number of people the United States ultimately detains to decisions about who may be lawfully selected for killing using drones.

“Beyond the technical legal issues, this debate is about the fundamental question of whom we are at war with,” said Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor who specializes in war-power issues. “The two problems most plaguing Obama in the war on terrorism are trials for terrorists and taking the fight beyond Afghanistan to places like Pakistan and Yemen. This issue of whom we are at war with defines both of them.”

In the years after the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Bush claimed virtually unlimited power as commander in chief to detain those he deemed a threat — a view so boundless that his Justice Department once told a court that it was within the president’s lawful discretion to imprison as an enemy combatant even a “little old lady in Switzerland” who had unwittingly donated to Al Qaeda.

But President Obama and his team, which criticized such claims as an overreach, have sought to demonstrate that the executive branch can wage war while also respecting limits imposed on presidential power by what they see as the rule of law.

In March 2009, the Obama legal team adopted a new position about who was detainable in the war on terrorism — one that showed greater deference to the international laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions, than Mr. Bush had. But what has not been known is that while the administration has stuck to that broad principle, it has been arguing over how to apply the body of law, which was developed for conventional armies, to a war against a terrorist organization.

An examination of that conflict offers rich insight into how the team of former law professors and campaign lawyers, nearly all veterans of the Clinton administration, is shaping important policies under Mr. Obama.

In February 2009, just weeks after the inauguration, John D. Bates, a federal judge overseeing several cases involving detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, asked a provocative question: Did the new administration want to modify Mr. Bush’s position that the president could wield sweeping powers to imprison people without trial as wartime detainees?

Career Justice Department lawyers handling Guantánamo lawsuits feared that rolling back the Bush position might make it harder to win. And the new acting head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel — David Barron, a Harvard law professor and co-author of a lengthy law review critique of Bush administration claims that the commander in chief can override statutes — worried that Judge Bates had given them too little time to devise the answer.

But the White House counsel, Greg Craig, a campaign adviser to Mr. Obama who had been a foreign policy official in the Clinton administration, saw this as an important opportunity to demonstrate a break with Mr. Bush. And at a White House meeting, Mr. Obama weighed in, declaring that he did not want to invoke unrestrained commander-in-chief powers in detention matters.

With the president’s directions in hand, Mr. Obama’s Justice Department came back on March 13, 2009, with a more modest position than Mr. Bush had advanced. It told Judge Bates that the president could detain without trial only people who were part of Al Qaeda or its affiliates, or their “substantial” supporters. The department rooted that power in the authorization granted by Congress to use military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks. And it acknowledged that the scope and limits of that power were defined by the laws of war, as translated to a conflict against terrorists.

But behind closed doors, the debate flared again that summer, when the Obama administration confronted the case of Belkacem Bensayah, an Algerian man who had been arrested in Bosnia — far from the active combat zone — and was being held without trial by the United States at Guantánamo. Mr. Bensayah was accused of facilitating the travel of people who wanted to go to Afghanistan to join Al Qaeda. A judge found that such “direct support” was enough to hold him as a wartime prisoner, and the Justice Department asked an appeals court to uphold that ruling.

The arguments over the case forced onto the table discussion of lingering discontent at the State Department over one aspect of the Obama position on detention. There was broad agreement that the law of armed conflict allowed the United States to detain as wartime prisoners anyone who was actually a part of Al Qaeda, as well as nonmembers who took positions alongside the enemy force and helped it. But some criticized the notion that the United States could also consider mere supporters, arrested far away, to be just as detainable without trial as enemy fighters.

That view was amplified after Harold Koh, a former human-rights official and Yale Law School dean who had been a leading critic of the Bush administration’s detainee policies, became the State Department’s top lawyer in late June. Mr. Koh produced a lengthy, secret memo contending that there was no support in the laws of war for the United States’ position in the Bensayah case.

Mr. Koh found himself in immediate conflict with the Pentagon’s top lawyer, Jeh C. Johnson, a former Air Force general counsel and trial lawyer who had been an adviser to Mr. Obama during the presidential campaign. Mr. Johnson produced his own secret memorandum arguing for a more flexible interpretation of who could be detained under the laws of war — now or in the future.

In September 2009, national-security officials from across the government packed into the Office of Legal Counsel’s conference room on the fifth floor of the Justice Department, lining the walls, to watch Mr. Koh and Mr. Johnson debate around a long table. It was up to Mr. Barron, who sat at the head of the table, to decide who was right.

But he did not. Instead, days later, he circulated a preliminary draft memorandum stating that while the Office of Legal Counsel had found no precedents justifying the detention of mere supporters of Al Qaeda who were picked up far away from enemy forces, it was not prepared to state any definitive conclusion.

So with no consensus, the legal team decided on a tactical approach. For as long as possible they would try to avoid that hard question. They changed the subject by instead asking courts to agree that people like Mr. Bensayah, looked at from another angle, had performed functions that made them effectively part of the terrorist organization — and so were clearly detainable.

The appeals court has not yet ruled on Mr. Bensayah’s case. But the hours and effort that high-level officials expended on wrestling over adjustments to the reasoning in his case — only to reach the same outcome, that he was detainable without trial — dovetailed with a pattern identified by critics as varied as civil libertarians and former Bush lawyers.

“I think the change in tone has been important and has helped internationally,” said John B. Bellinger III, a top Bush era National Security Council and State Department lawyer. “But the change in law has been largely cosmetic. And of course there has been no change in outcome.”

But at a recent American Bar Association event, Mr. Koh argued that the administration’s changes — including requiring strict adherence to anti-torture rules and ensuring that all detainees are being held pursuant to recognizable legal authorities — have been meaningful. The United States, he said, can now defend its national-security policies as fully compliant with domestic and international law under “common and universal standards, not double standards.”

“We are not saying that we don’t have to fight battles,” he said. “We’re just saying that we should fight those battles within the framework of law.”

Last week, in another speech, Mr. Koh also for the first time outlined portions of the administration’s legal rationale for targeted killings using drone strikes, which some scholars have criticized. His remarks, however, focused on issues like whether it was lawful to single out specific enemy figures for killing — not defining the limits of who may be deemed an enemy.

But Mr. Feldman, the Harvard professor, said the detention debate also had “serious consequences” for the targeted killings policy because, “If we’re at war with you, then we can detain you — but we can also try to kill you.”

That said, he cautioned, additional factors complicate the analysis of selecting lawful targets. Among them, it is not clear whether Mr. Obama is more willing in classified settings to assert that, as commander in chief, he can use drone strikes to defend the country against perceived threats that cannot be linked to the Congressionally authorized war against Al Qaeda.

And even in detention matters, Bush-era theories have remained attractive to some. This January, two appeals court judges appointed by Mr. Bush — Janice Rogers Brown and Brett M. Kavanaugh, both of whom had been singled out by Democrats after their nominations as too ideological — reopened the debate by unexpectedly declaring, in another Guantánamo case, that the laws of armed conflict did not limit the president’s war powers.

In the Justice Department, career litigators who defend against Guantánamo lawsuits wanted to embrace that reasoning, arguing it would help them win. Judges have sided with detainees seeking release in some 34 of 46 cases to date — though the decisions largely turned on skepticism about specific evidence, not the general legal theory about who was detainable.

But political appointees — including Mr. Barron, Mr. Koh and even Mr. Johnson — criticized the reasoning of the appeals court ruling as vulnerable to reversal and argued that the administration should not abandon its respect for the laws of war.

In classified briefs filed in several detainee cases this month, officials said, the Justice Department adopted an ambivalent stance. It cited the ruling as a precedent while also reasserting its own contradictory argument that the laws of war matter. The debate would go on.

“We’ll see how the cases develop,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an interview in February, in the midst of that latest round. But, he added, “I don’t think we are going to deviate from our argument.”

See Related: BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENCY

HAPPY PESACH 2010
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THE BAD SHEPHERD – BY RECONCILING WITH EXTREMIST BISHOPS, BENEDICT XVI EMBRACES THE FAR RIGHT-WING FRINGE

By Christopher Hitchens
Newsweek

First Published Jan 31, 2009

Ever since Pope John XXIII made history by the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, there have been believing Roman Catholics who regarded the whole thing as having been a ghastly mistake. The best known of these outside the church was probably Evelyn Waugh, who went to his death, after Easter service in 1966, convinced that Christendom had been betrayed by the capitulation of the Holy See to the fashionable heresies of modernism. The best known inside the church was the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a highly traditional French cleric who took his differences with Rome into open schism and was excommunicated, along with the four men he dared to “ordain” as bishops, in the year of our lord 1970. The most notorious (which I choose to distinguish from being merely well-known) of the extremist Catholic dissenters are the Father-Son team—if I may annex such profane imagery—of Hutton Gibson and his son Mel, whose highly lurid version of the sacrifice of Jesus was brought to the multiplex as “The Passion of the Christ.”

For decades, it has seemed that the schismatics would either end their days as lonely, cranky outsiders or else rejoin the fold. Instead, Pope Benedict XVI has now moved the Roman Catholic Church to the right in order to accommodate, and rehabilitate, those who defected.

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How a Bavarian boy, once a German army soldier,
rose to lead the Catholic Church.

Among these is a Lefebvrist “bishop” named Richard Williamson, who doubts his own version of the facts of the Nazi Holocaust and who furthermore suspects the Bush administration of having orchestrated the events of September 11, 2001, in order to afford itself a pretext for war.

The pope’s decision to apply the principle of inclusion to these decidedly eccentric elements, organized as they are under the banner of “the Society of St. Pius X,” has upset many liberal Catholics as well as some quite conservative ones, among them George Weigel. But should we consider it as an internal affair of the Roman Catholic Church? Here is why we should not.

The crucial change brought about in the everyday life of Catholics by Vatican II was the dropping of the Tridentine or “Latin” Mass and its replacement by services in the vernacular. The crucial change brought about in the relationship of Catholics to non-Catholics by Vatican II was the abandonment by the church of the charge of “deicide” against the Jewish people as a whole: in other words, the dropping of the allegation that the Jews bore a historic and collective responsibility for the torture and murder of Jesus. The two changes, perhaps unfortunately, were and are related. The old Latin form of the Mass included a specific Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews, who were in some versions of the ritual described as “perfidious.”

There may be some in the Society of St. Pius X who are merely nostalgic for the old days when the priest held up the host with his back to the congregation, and pronounced the sacred words in a Latin formula which was reassuringly the same in every church on the face of the earth. (The word “Catholic,” after all, simply means “universal.”) But it is not only Jewish critics who suspect that more may underlie the increasing restoration of the Latin service. To illustrate what underlies the misgiving itself, let me quote from Hutton Gibson’s self-published 2003 book “The Enemy Is Still Here.” Bitterly hostile to all the liturgical and doctrinal changes of the past half-century, Gibson is especially enraged by Rome’s attempts to “reach out” to Jews. Rejecting an attempt by the present pope, when he was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, to modify the charge that all Jews demanded the crucifixion of Jesus, Gibson writes: “On the contrary, Pontius Pilate refused responsibility for this Deicide, and all the Jews on hand publicly and vociferously assumed the guilt. ‘His blood be upon us, and upon our children.’ This crime certainly outranks Original Sin, and the Tower of Babel; the punishment for both sins of pride was also inflicted upon future generations. In accordance with history’s record of massive disasters suffered by the Jews, the Church has always held this position. And why may not the ‘holocaust’ have been due to the same curse which they called down upon themselves?”

I pause to note the coarse and nasty manner in which Gibson senior tries to have it both ways, first by sneering at the inverted-comma-probably-didn’t-happen “holocaust” and then by saying that the same nonevent was a divine retribution for the killing of Jesus! His next observation is almost as breathtakingly crude: replying to a sermon from Pope John Paul II to the effect that the Jewish religion is not so much “extrinsic” to Christianity as “intrinsic” to it, and that Jews are “our predilect brothers and, in a certain way, one could say our older brothers,” Gibson snorts: “Abel had an older brother.” May I recommend that you read those last four words with care? When Mel Gibson, who has funded a special Latin Mass church in Malibu, Calif., was arrested by a police officer upon whom he then up-ended a great potty of Jew-hating paranoid drivel, he tried to defend himself by saying that it was the drink talking. No, it wasn’t the drink talking: it was his revered father talking and, through him, a strain of reactionary Catholic dogma that we hoped had been left behind.

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Instead, the pope is—without any preconditions that I can discern—deciding that the breach with such people is a wound that requires “healing.” (I freely admit that the Gibson faction and its “Alliance for Catholic Tradition” is even more extreme than the Society of St. Pius X, but the principle remains the same.) How on earth can this be? I am afraid that one probable explanation can give very little comfort to those who like to think that religious differences can be settled by the papering-over of happy ecumenicism.

Ask yourself, first, why it was that the church took until 1965 to repudiate the charge of deicide against the Jews. After all, it is only in one verse of one Gospel (Matthew 27:24–25), and in the climactic scene of Mel Gibson’s movie, that the Jewish Sanhedrin demands to be held responsible for the coming crucifixion for all time and through all generations. Then there is the question, even if the rabbis did make such a demand, of whether they could claim to speak for all Jews then, let alone all those who have been born since. So why did it take until 20 years after the Nuremburg trials for the church to admit the obvious?

Christian doctrine holds that all of us were implicated in the guilt of Calvary and were, in a mystic sense, present for it. Every time we sin or fall away, we increase the pain and misery of the awful scene. Thus the principle of collective responsibility applies to everybody and not just to Jews. Now, there were no Cornishmen or Tamils or Cherokees or Slovaks present at Golgotha. But, if the greatest story ever told has any truth to it at all, and even if it doesn’t, there certainly were quite a good few Jewish people in the vicinity. Thus, if they are to be collectively excused, then it does become a bit harder to persuade others that their own sinful participation is ineffaceable. Hence the unease, ever since Vatican II, among conservative believers. Somehow, the strong heady wine of condemnation and redemption was being watered and diluted.

Jewish orthodoxy makes this difficulty no more soluble. In commenting on the Christian Bible, the greatest of the sages, Maimonides, affirmed that the rabbis of Jerusalem were to be showered with praise for their courageous rectitude in thus disposing of the foul impostor and heretic who dared claim to be the adored and long-looked-for (and still-awaited) Messiah. You can be sure that devout Catholics down the ages were as acutely aware of this awkward fact as most of today’s secular Jewish liberals are blissfully unaware of it. The old-style Easter sermons, the “Passion Plays” at Oberammergau and elsewhere, and bestselling Catholic devotional books such as the visions of the German nun Anne Catherine Emmerich, are replete with revolted depictions of Jewish mobs reveling in the sufferings of the Nazarene.

When excesses are committed by the religious (something which does indeed seem to happen from time to time), you often hear it argued that these are only perversions of the “true” or “real” or authentic teachings. What makes the present case so alarming is that concessions are being made to Holocaust-deniers and anti-Semites, and that this is not a departure from “original intent” Catholicism but rather part of a return to traditional and old-established preachments. For decades, it has seemed to many incurious outsiders that the Roman Catholic Church had at the very least made a good-faith attempt to acknowledge its historic responsibility for defaming the Jewish people. Suddenly, this achievement doesn’t look so solid. The German representative of the Society of St. Pius X recently lectured German Catholic bishops on the doctrinal need to stress the general responsibility of Jews for deicide. Last month he was an outsider. Now, his faction is back in the papal bosom. “Unity” must mean a lot to Benedict if he is willing to pay this sort of price for it.

The Christian consensus is that Jesus went to Jerusalem on that Passover in the full knowledge that he was going to his death. Ought this not to mean that the Jews and Romans did humanity a favor, by obediently fulfilling prophecy and by spilling the blood that ransomed the world? Evidently not. As a nonbeliever, this is not my problem. But the indulgence of prejudice and paranoia under the cloak of faith is my problem as a citizen. As with Cardinal Bernard Law, the enabler of child-molestation, who is now sheltered by Rome and who was able to vote in the election of Ratzinger as pope, so with those who slander the Jews with innuendo and worse, and who spread the vile libels that blame the democratic United States for the theocratic terrorist attacks upon it. One might think a responsible church would be indignantly arraigning and expelling such people rather than piously seeking reconciliation with them. Apparently, one would be wrong.

See Related: THE BAD SHEPHERD – WHY POPE BENEDICT XVI MAY NOT BE ABLE TO HEAL HIS CHURCH

See Related: CATHOLIC CHURCH SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN ARCHIVE

HAPPY PESACH 2010
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CHILEAN EARTHQUAKE MAY HAVE SHIFTED THE EARTH’S AXIS, says NASA scientist – And shortened the day

By Alex Morales
Business Week

The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet.

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This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”

The changes can be modeled, though they’re difficult to physically detect given their small size, Gross said. Some changes may be more obvious, and islands may have shifted, according to Andreas Rietbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at the U.K.’s Liverpool University who has studied the area impacted, though not since the latest temblor.

Santa Maria Island off the coast near Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, may have been raised 2 meters (6 feet) as a result of the latest quake, Rietbrock said today in a telephone interview. He said the rocks there show evidence pointing to past earthquakes shifting the island upward in the past.

‘Ice-Skater Effect’

“It’s what we call the ice-skater effect,” David Kerridge, head of Earth hazards and systems at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said today in a telephone interview. “As the ice skater puts when she’s going around in a circle, and she pulls her arms in, she gets faster and faster. It’s the same idea with the Earth going around if you change the distribution of mass, the rotation rate changes.”

Rietbrock said he hasn’t been able to get in touch with seismologists in Concepcion to discuss the quake, which registered 8.8 on the Richter scale.

“What definitely the earthquake has done is made the Earth ring like a bell,” Rietbrock said.

The magnitude 9.1 Sumatran in 2004 that generated an Indian Ocean tsunami shortened the day by 6.8 microseconds and shifted the axis by about 2.3 milliarcseconds, Gross said.

The changes happen on the day and then carry on “forever,” Benjamin Fong Chao, dean of Earth Sciences of the National Central University in Taiwan, said in an e-mail.

“This small contribution is buried in larger changes due to other causes, such as atmospheric mass moving around on Earth,” Chao said.

See Related: SECRETARY CLINTON ARRIVES As Chile sends troops to hard-hit city

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SALVATION ARMY MOBILIZES PERSONNEL, RELIEF FOR HAITI

The Salvation Army is mobilizing resources and personnel to assist with the international relief effort in Haiti following a severe earthquake Tuesday that damaged much of the country’s infrastructure, housing and commercial buildings.

The Salvation Army has had a presence in Haiti since 1950 and currently operates schools, clinics, a hospital, feeding programs, children’s homes and church-related activities spread across two major facilities in Port au Prince, close to the epicenter of the earthquake and at other locations in the country.

One of the facilities, or compounds as it is referred to, includes a home for more than 50 children; a school with a daily attendance of 1,500 children; a medical clinic caring for 150-200 people daily; and a church that on any typical Sunday welcomes nearly 1,000 people. The facility is less than 10 minutes from the National Palace and is in an area known as St. Martin that’s home to predominantly poor living in the nation’s capital.

According to reports from Salvation Army staff in Port au Prince, no one in the compound was injured during the earthquake, but the children’s home, the clinic and church suffered major damage. Several smaller buildings, including residences, have collapsed completely. People were sleeping in the parking lot overnight, while severe aftershocks continued to affect the country.

The second compound that houses Salvation Army administrative offices is being used as an emergency operations center; damage was slight to this compound, according to Salvation Army reports from Haiti.

The Salvation Army hospital in Fond-des-Negres (75 miles west of Port-au-Prince) reports some minor damage, but no injuries.

The Salvation Army’s World Services Office, based in Alexandria, VA, has committed $50,000 to the relief effort and the organization is prepared to commit more financial resources, as well as food, water and other emergency supplies, to assist in the recovery.

The organization is preparing to send more than 44,000 lbs of pre-packaged emergency rations to the country, along with emergency disaster teams. The Salvation Army is working with other agencies to identify appropriate transportation for the food. As with all such relief efforts, The Salvation Army will be a part of the initial emergency response while assessing longer term needs of the residents.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti at this time and especially our Salvation Army officers and employees throughout the country,” said Lt. Col. Dan Starrett, who directs the Salvation Army World Services Office.

The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations to assist in the effort via, salvationarmyusa.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and postal mail at: The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Disaster Relief Fund, PO Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728. Designate donations “Haiti Earthquake.”

See Related: WORLD RALLIES TO AID STRICKEN HAITI AFTER QUAKE

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MAN THREATENING JEWS TAKEN OFF FLIGHT

MIAMI — A Florida airline passenger who witnesses say proclaimed “I want to kill all the Jews” before police forced him off a Detroit-bound plane has been arrested.

Miami-Dade police said in a statement Thursday that 43-year-old Mansor Mohammad Asad of Toledo, Ohio, faces several charges including disorderly conduct.

Police say a taxiing Northwest Airlines flight was turned around at Miami International Airport late Wednesday. Witnesses told authorities Asad was loud, disruptive and claimed to be Palestinian. They believed he was sometimes speaking Arabic.

The Transportation Security Administration says three of his companions were taken off the plane and questioned. The plane departed after a search.

A phone number for Asad rang unanswered. Police didn’t return a message.

See Related: HOLOCAUST

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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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DO NOT FLY SWISS AIR – SENTINEL OPINION

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FREE MUNI RIDES NEW YEAR’S EVE

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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) today announced it will provide complimentary Municipal Railway (Muni) service on New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m., Thursday, December 31, 2009 to 6 a.m., Friday, January 1, 2010 for the tenth consecutive year.

At midnight, there will be a fireworks show sponsored by the City from a barge off of The Embarcadero, south of the Ferry Building . Motorists should anticipate delays in the area from approximately 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.

As an extra incentive for revelers to travel on transit, there will also be special Muni Metro service extended to approximately 4 a.m. between Embarcadero and West Portal stations and extra service on Muni Owl bus routes (1 a.m. – 5 a.m.). No closures or re-routes are planned. SFPD and SFMTA will monitor for any necessary re-routes.

Complimentary Muni Service:

· 8 p.m., December 31 to 6 a.m., January 1

· Muni Metro service extended to 4 a.m. between Embarcadero and West Portal stations

· Extra Owl service (1 a.m. – 5 a.m.): 5 Fulton, 14 Mission , 22 Fillmore, 24 Divisadero, 38 Geary, 90 and 91 Owl and the L and N Owl bus routes

· Service on the F Market historic streetcar line provided by buses after approximately 4 p.m.

Caltrain will depart its final New Years train from the 4th and King streets Station at 2:15 a.m., Jan. 1. All Caltrain and Samtrans service will be free after 11:00 p.m., Wednesday.

BART will provide additional service and stations will remain open until approximately 3 a.m., Jan. 1. BART service to the East Bay will be separated between Embarcadero and Montgomery stations. Pittsburg/Bay Point and Richmond trains will stop at Montgomery (not Embarcadero) and Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont trains will stop at Embarcadero (not Montgomery).

See Related: MUNI FARES INCREASE JANUARY 1 2010

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STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION DECEMBER 18, 2009

STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION
DECEMBER 18, 2009

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By Strange de Jim
Beep beep! Love from Strange

Friday, December 18 winner Jimmy Kimmel: "A 22-year-old’s virginity comes to a shrieking end this weekend when Kevin Jonas trades his purity ring for a wedding ring, an impurity ring. Monday his brothers are going to have a lot of questions for him."

December wins: O’Brien 3, Ferguson 2, Leno 2, Colbert 2, Letterman 2, Kimmel 2, Fallon 1

David Letterman: "I’ll be honest with you. Many of these jokes HAVE been regifted." "I’m setting two extra places at Christmas dinner, because I’m hoping the Salahis will show up." "I was shopping for my son and told the clerk, ‘I’d like something that would appeal to a six-year-old,’ and he said, ‘How about your show?’" "Today a judge issued an order that requires Tiger Woods to stay ninety feet away from mistletoe. Tiger’s taken an indefinite leave from golf, an indefinite leave from the sport. You know, the Knicks have done the same thing. But Tiger’ll be back next fall in the 10 p.m. slot." "’Avatar’ is about a guy who has to do a job on a toxic planet using a remote-controlled biological body. It’s based on the play by Noel Coward." Guest Tom Dreeson: "Obama signed the stimulus package on the same desk where Clinton got his package stimulated." "I took advantage of Obama’s Cash for Caucasians program."

Jay Leno: "Congress is ready to pass the Joe Lieberman Insurance Company Preservation Act." "Blackberries went dead yesterday, so instead of sexting, teens were forced to draw naked pictures of themselves and fax them to each other." "General Motors is shutting down Saab. What is it about Swedish-American marriages that just doesn’t work out?"

Conan O’Brien: "Tiger’s popularity has plummeted from 85% to 33%. Obama’s also at 33%, but Tiger had a lot more fun getting there. A friend says Tiger’s just eating cereal and watching cartoons. He’s gone from living every man’s fantasy life to living every man’s real life. His wife is divorcing him. As a single woman she’ll have a better chance at sleeping with him." "Twitter crashed last night, so there’s still no word on what Ashton Kutcher had for breakfast." "A study found that just a few doctors write most of the medical marijuana prescriptions. The leading one is Dr. Dre."

Jimmy Kimmel: "The popularity of Kwanzaa is declining. It’s the Tiger Woods of holidays." "Last night we had our Christmas party. It’s not Christmas until you’ve been dry humped by the receptionist." "Charlie Gibson retired from ABC news." Jimmy showed a clip of Charlie saying farewell and then turning around, dropping trou and mooning the camera."

Jimmy Fallon: "Tiger mistress Jamie Grubb is posing for the cover of ‘Maxim.’ His wife Elin is posing for the cover of ‘Fortune.’" "A medical marijuana store in Denver called The Ganja Gourmet has a marijuana pizza that stoners are calling The Death Spiral. The marijuana in the pizza makes you want more pizza, and the marijuana in that pizza makes you want even more pizza."

Craig Ferguson: "New York is the unhappiest state in the country. Luckily they don’t give a rat’s ass." "Queen Elizabeth rode a regular train to her winter vacation, and all the way the conductor had to listen to, ‘It’s old and rickety and smells like pee-pee.’ But the other passengers quit complaining once the Queen got off." "’Avatar’ is the most expensive movie ever made, but you don’t need $300 million to make a movie. All you need are good actors, a good script and boobies. Maybe not even actors and script."

.

See Related: STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION

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SECRET DOCUMENT REVEALS IRAN’S NUCLEAR BOMB TRIGGER

Trigger No Possible Use Other Than Nuclear Weapon

iran-dec-14

BY CATHERINE PHILIP
The London Times

Confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.

The notes, from Iran’s most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.

An Asian intelligence source last week confirmed to The Times that his country also believed that weapons work was being carried out as recently as 2007 — specifically, work on a neutron initiator.

The technical document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan’s bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.

“Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application,” said David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which has analysed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Iranian programme. “This is a very strong indicator of weapons work.”

The documents have been seen by intelligence agencies from several Western countries, including Britain. A senior source at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that they had been passed to the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said yesterday: “We do not comment on intelligence, but our concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme are clear. Obviously this document, if authentic, raises serious questions about Iran’s intentions.”

Responding to The Times’ findings, an Israeli government spokesperson said: “Israel is increasingly concerned about the state of the Iranian nuclear programme and the real intentions that may lie behind it.”

The revelation coincides with growing international concern about Iran’s nuclear programme. Tehran insists that it wants to build a civilian nuclear industry to generate power, but critics suspect that the regime is intent on diverting the technology to build an atomic bomb.

In September, Iran was forced to admit that it was constructing a secret uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom. President Ahmadinejad then claimed that he wanted to build ten such sites. Over the weekend Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, said that Iran needed up to 15 nuclear power plants to meet its energy needs, despite the country’s huge oil and gas reserves.

Publication of the nuclear documents will increase pressure for tougher UN sanctions against Iran, which are due to be discussed this week. But the latest leaks in a long series of allegations against Iran will also be seized on by hawks in Israel and the US, who support a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before the country can build its first warhead.

Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: “The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution.”

The Times had the documents, which were originally written in Farsi, translated into English and had the translation separately verified by two Farsi speakers. While much of the language is technical, it is clear that the Iranians are intent on concealing their nuclear military work behind legitimate civilian research.

The fallout could be explosive, especially in Washington, where it is likely to invite questions about President Obama’s groundbreaking outreach to Iran. The papers provide the first evidence which suggests that Iran has pursued weapons studies after 2003 and may actively be doing so today — if the four-year plan continued as envisaged.

A 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate concluded that weapons work was suspended in 2003 and officials said with “moderate confidence” that it had not resumed by mid-2007. Britain, Germany and France, however, believe that weapons work had already resumed by then.

Western intelligence sources say that by 2003 Iran had already assembled the technical know-how it needed to build a bomb, but had yet to complete the necessary testing to be sure such a device would work. Iran also lacked sufficient fissile material to fuel a bomb and still does — although it is technically capable of producing weapons-grade uranium should its leaders take the political decision to do so.

The documents detail a plan for tests to determine whether the device works — without detonating an explosion leaving traces of uranium detectable by the outside world. If such traces were found, they would be taken as irreversible evidence of Iran’s intention to become a nuclear-armed power.

Experts say that, if the 2007 date is correct, the documents are the strongest indicator yet of a continuing nuclear weapons programme in Iran. Iran has long denied a military dimension to its nuclear programme, claiming its nuclear activities are solely focused on the production of energy for civilian use.

iran-dec-14-2
An Iranian woman passes an anti-Israel poster in Tehran.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “Is this the smoking gun? That’s the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium.”

See Related: IRAN

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DO NOT FLY SWISS AIR – SENTINEL OPINION

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GREEN LEADS TO GOLD FOR SAN FRANCISCO’S TRANSAMERICA PYRAMID

Landmark Building Awarded Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design
Gold Status

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San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid, owned by Transamerica Pyramid Properties, LLC, a member of the AEGON companies (AEGON) and managed and leased by Cushman & Wakefield, has been awarded the prestigious Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in recognition of energy and environmental upgrades that now make the Financial District’s distinctive building one of the country’s most environmentally sustainable properties.

The Transamerica Pyramid joins only a handful of existing buildings in the United States to qualify for LEED Gold Certification, completing its green upgrades ahead of other iconic high-rise buildings, such as New York’s Empire State Building and Chicago’s Willis Tower that are attempting to achieve a LEED rating.

“San Franciscans now have another reason to appreciate one of our city’s most recognizable structures,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom.

“I am proud of the LEED Gold Certification achieved by the Transamerica Pyramid. This award demonstrates a serious commitment to the environment and should be an example to other properties on how they can help us create a sustainable future through green building techniques.”

The Pyramid’s LEED Gold certification is the culmination of a long standing commitment to energy efficiency. Other areas where the Pyramid has accelerated include 85% use of alternative transportation by tenants, a water use reduction program resulting in a 50% reduction over the past year, a 20% reduction of carbon footprint, purchasing of off-site renewable energy credits equivalent to 50% of purchased power, a high-efficiency co-generation plant, and the use of green cleaning products.

As a result, the Pyramid now generates up to 70 percent of its own electricity, pays 25 percent less per year for utilities and recycles or composts 70% of its ongoing consumables that otherwise would have been sent to local landfills.

“ San Francisco is a city that has long been on the forefront of being environmentally responsible. The AEGON companies ensure their properties are in keeping with that goal,” said Mark Novack, Real Estate Portfolio Manager with AEGON USA Realty Advisors, Inc. “We are grateful to the Cushman & Wakefield management and leasing team for their outstanding efforts that helped make The Pyramid Center one of the leaders in sustainability.”

Along with the Pyramid, AEGON’s 505 Sansome Street , has also received LEED Gold Certification with both towers receiving high rankings through the ENERGY STAR program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Pyramid and 505 Sansome will ultimately be joined by another AEGON green building, 555 Washington, which will also be built to LEED Gold standards and feature a reduced footprint resulting in the expansion of Redwood Park. The park will be opened for public use in the heart of the Financial District.

“The goal is to create a green island out of an entire block amidst San Francisco ’s urban landscape,” said Andrew Segal of Liberty Hill Development who is overseeing the 555 Washington project.
“The city will see three LEED Gold Certified buildings owned by the AEGON companies”.

For more information, visit thepyramidcenter.com and 555washingtonsf.com.

About AEGON N.V. (AEGON)

AEGON is an international life insurance, pension and investment company based in The Hague, the Netherlands AEGON has businesses in over twenty markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia . AEGON companies employ approximately 29,500 people and have over 40 million customers across the globe. Respect, quality, transparency and trust constitute AEGON’s core values as the company continually strives to meet the expectations of customers, shareholders, employees and business partners.

See Related: GLOBAL WARMING

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KENNEDY CENTER HONORS FIVE WITH AWARDS

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President Obama waved to the crowd as first lady Michelle Obama and honorees Mel Brooks and Bruce Springsteen, along with Vice President Joseph R. Biden, applauded during the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday in Washington.

BY BERNIE BECKER and ASHLEY SOUTHALL
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Political and entertainment luminaries gathered here over the weekend for the 32nd annual Kennedy Center Honors, a two-day celebration that brings together some of the most influential figures in Washington and Hollywood.

The recipients of the award this year were Robert De Niro, Mel Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, the mezzo-soprano and soprano Grace Bumbry and the jazz musician Dave Brubeck. A gala performance on Sunday night at the Kennedy Center capped off a busy weekend for the recipients, who also attended a dinner Saturday hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a Sunday reception with President Obama at the White House.

The performance, which was scheduled to include appearances by Meryl Streep, Aretha Franklin, Sting and Herbie Hancock, will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 29.

In remarks at the White House, Mr. Obama thanked the honorees for “the joy and the beauty” they brought to people’s lives.

“In times of war and sacrifice, the arts — and these artists — remind us to sing and to laugh and to live. In times of plenty, they challenge our conscience and implore us to remember the least among us,” Mr. Obama said. “In moments of division or doubt, they compel us to see the common values that we share; the ideals to which we aspire, even if we sometimes fall short. In days of hardship, they renew our hope that brighter days are still ahead.”

A 19-time Grammy winner firmly rooted in the Jersey Shore, Mr. Springsteen has made top-selling albums including 1975’s “Born to Run” — which, in addition to the title track, included “Thunder Road” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” — and 1984’s “Born in the U.S.A.” He has also won an Academy Award.

At the State Department dinner, which was emceed by the comedienne and 2003 honoree Carol Burnett, the violinist Itzhak Perlman spoke of how Mr. Springsteen, 60, who is known for his famously long concerts with his E Street Band, connected with his audience.

“He gives his audience what it wants, but he also lets them know what they want and helps teach them to want more,” said Mr. Perlman, also a 2003 honoree.

The dinner was also attended by Jon Stewart, Martin Short, Caroline Kennedy and Melissa Etheridge.

Mr. De Niro, 66, who was born in New York, won Oscars for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in the 1974 film “The Godfather: Part II” and 1980’s “Raging Bull,” in which he played the boxer Jake LaMotta under the direction of his longtime collaborator Martin Scorsese, a 2007 Kennedy Center Honor recipient. The two also worked together on, among other movies, “Goodfellas,” “Mean Streets” and “Taxi Driver.”

Mr. Brooks, who was born in Brooklyn, is among an elite group of performers who have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. “The Producers,” a 1968 film that was retooled as a musical and brought to Broadway more than three decades later, captured 12 Tony Awards and won Mr. Brooks an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. At the State Department dinner, Mr. Brooks said becoming an honoree at age 83 was “better late than never.”

Susan Stroman, who directed the musical version of “The Producers,” said, “I don’t know anyone who loves being themselves as much as Mel Brooks loves being Mel Brooks.”

Mr. Brubeck is perhaps best known for “Time Out,” the 1959 album he made with the Dave Brubeck Quartet that included the single “Take Five.” According to event organizers, Mr. Brubeck, who turned 89 on Sunday, is believed to be the first honoree to celebrate a birthday on the day of the gala performance.

On Saturday night, former President Bill Clinton spoke of humming a portion of Mr. Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk” to prove to the jazz pianist he was a fan.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Clinton recounted, he received a signed picture from Mr. Brubeck and the chart to the song. “It hangs in the music room of my home today,” Mr. Clinton said. “It hung in the White House every single day I was there.”

Ms. Bumbry, 72, made her debut at the Paris Opera in 1960, playing Amneris in “Aida.” She performed in honor of Marian Anderson at the first Kennedy Center Honors in 1978.

See Related: SOCIAL DIARY

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GAZA SMALL INVESTORS DUPED IN $100 MILLION TUNNEL INVESTMENT SCAM

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Underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip are reprted the only way for millions of dollars worth of essential supplies to get past Israel’s siege of the coastal territory.

But it has now emerged that at least 40,000 Gazans have lost their life savings in a scheme that promised up to 50 per cent profits in return for an investment in tunnel trading.

Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, returned a fraction of the $100m that disappeared through the scheme, and has said that is investigating the fraud.

However, with hundreds of middlemen as yet unpunished and many of them rumoured to have had links to Hamas, the duped Gazans say that more should be done.

See Related: GAZA

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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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DO NOT FLY SWISS AIR – SENTINEL OPINION

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ISRAELI KNESSET MEMBER DANIEL BEN SIMON SAYS GILAD SHALIT COULD BE FREED WITHIN TWO WEEKS

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BY YANIR YAGNA
Haaretz

Labor MK Daniel Ben Simon said Saturday that abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit could be free within the next two weeks.

Shalit was abducted by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in 2006 and has been held captive since. Hamas, the rulers of the Gaza Strip, have demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel in exchange for Shalit’s freedom.

Ben Simon praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, saying he has done what no Israeli leader has before him.

“There is no other leader who has done what Netanyahu has done, and he has done and will do what no one in the Labor Party has ever dared to do,” Ben Simon said, adding that the negotiations were stuck during the tenure of former premier Ehud Olmert because he “didn’t want to pay the price.”

Despite reports earlier Saturday that Netanyahu told Ben Simon the deal would be finalized within a week or two, the Labor MK and the Prime Minister’s Bureau issued statements Saturday denying Netanyahu had made such a remark.

Ben Simon did confirm that Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti’s name is on the list of prisoners Israel may free as part of the deal. He added that the main discussion in Israel is whether to release Barghouti to the West Bank or deport him abroad for a “cooling off period.”

However, Ben Simon added that Barghouti could also potentially become a partner in peace talks with Israel. “It is possible that Israel will sit opposite Barghouti [at the negotiating table] in two years’ time,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the London-based daily Al-Hayyat reported that the German mediators overseeing the negotiations hope to convince Hamas to reduce the number of prisoners it is demanding be released in exchange for Shalit.

According to Al-Hayyat, three major issues were delaying conclusion of deal: First, Israel is refusing to release 50 of the 450 prisoners requested by Hamas for the swap; second, Israel will not rescind its demand to exile 130 of the released prisoners; third, Israel does not want to free Israeli Arabs as part of the deal.

See Related: ISRAEL-MIDEAST

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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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DO NOT FLY SWISS AIR – SENTINEL OPINION

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STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION NOVEMBER 30 2009

STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION
NOVEMBER 30 2009

zingers-2.jpg

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By Strange de Jim
Beep beep! Love from Strange

Nov. 30 winner Jay Leno: "Did you people go shopping on African American Friday?"

November wins: Leno 6, O’Brien 5, Colbert 2, Ferguson 2, Letterman 2, Fallon 2, Kimmel 1, Handler 1

Jay Leno: "I don’t think Tiger Woods understands how things work. When his wife found out about the affair he asked if he could get a mulligan. That’s why Letterman doesn’t keep golf clubs in the house. Tiger’s wife took eight strokes but only wrote down five. They’ve already made a movie about it: ‘Crouching Tiger, Crunching Escalade.’" "Shopping was crazy. I had people pushing and shoving me, and I was shopping online." "Nancy Pelosi can’t roll her eyes without jiggling her breasts." "I fly Southwest and practically get a prostate exam, this couple sneaks into the White House with no problem." "Chelsea Clinton is engaged. Bill’s already planning the bachelor party." "A Georgia judge ruled that teachers can have sex with consenting 16-year-olds. And in Georgia a lot of those kids are home-schooled." Headlines: "Man Outlasts Madonna." Church bulletin: "Gold will lead us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death." Police blotter: "Woman found feces in her toilet, and she didn’t think she put them there." Guest Bill Maher: "Afghanistan? Once we invade a country we never leave. We still have 60,000 troops in Germany. Once we enter, we love you long time." "I’ve taken the most important step to be sure my credit card isn’t abused. I’m single." "The Vatican, against her stated wishes, released all Mother Teresa’s letters. Turns out she had a crisis of faith in 1979 and started stripping under the name Original Cindy."

Jon Stewart on the White House crashers: "Real Asswipes of Washington, D.C."

Stephen Colbert: "Our guest says our schools have become prisons. Not true. Many prisoners can read."

Conan O’Brien: "In Tiger Woods’ crash his airbags didn’t deploy. He was protected on all sides by big bags of $1,000 bills." "Sarah Palin is featured in a new children’s book. We now know who shot Bambi’s mother." "’Twilight’ has raked in $230 million, $12 of that from a guy. A psychiatrist said Bella’s affair with Edward has fifteen signs of an abusive relationship. #1, he’s a vampire. He’ll drink your blood." Andy Richter: "And then not call you the next day." "’The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever’ has opened on Broadway. ‘Cirque de Soleil’ said, ‘Is that a dare?" "A woman delivered her daughter’s baby while continuing to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Just one mistake. The daughter’s now filled with Stovetop Stuffing."

Craig Ferguson: "Christmas spending is a little below expectations so far, but that’s before the diamonds Tiger Woods is going to have to buy his wife."

Wanda Sykes: "Someone was arrested at the L.A. airport with fifteen lizards taped to their chest. Oh, Lady Gaga, what will you do next?"

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, HarperCollins 2009: [Nutt, a dreaded orc, on how he was created.] “The Igors did it. And they put in something very strange. It’s a part of you that isn’t quite a part of you. They called it the Little Brother. It’s tucked deep inside and absolutely protected and it’s like having your own hospital with you all the time. I know that I was hit very hard, but the Little Brother kept me alive and simply cured things again. There are ways to kill an orc, but there are not many of them, and anyone trying them on a living orc is not going to have very much time to get it right. Does that worry you at all?” “No, not really,” said Glenda.

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See Related: STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION

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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND NEWS MEDIA ARE AFRAID TO CONFRONT ISLAM – SAN FRANCISCO SENTINEL OPINION

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STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION – NOVEMBER 18 2009

STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION
NOVEMBER 18 2009

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By Strange de Jim
Beep beep! Love from Strange

Nov. 18 winner Craig Ferguson: On the warm-up comedian: "Is that happening to you at home too? Is a slightly desperate, slightly sweaty guy trying to get you excited?"

Jay Leno: "Joe Biden’s motorcade has been in three accidents in the last few weeks. Remember the good old days when the Vice President just shot people in the face?" "Our kids are no good at SAT’s but at STD’s they’re #1." "A sex tape has surfaced of Miss Japan and Miss Uruguay in bed with an unidentified man, who’s just known as The Luckiest Man in the World." "Carrie Prejean, Miss California, made twenty of those solo sex tapes. I guess people liked the first one so much she got picked up for the season." Guest Larry the Cable Guy: "I have a confession, Jay. I’ve been sleeping with members of my staff. The worst part is, I’m self-employed." "I love rodeo. I lost my virginity to a stick horse many years ago" "I sat next to a ventriloquist on a plane. He was so good that he went to sleep and I chatted with the dummy for over an hour." "I have 106 children. I can’t figure out why over half of them are Chinese." "My friend was trying to show me photos. I said, ‘I don’t want to see pictures of your stupid kid. He’s breast feeding? Well, I might take a look.’" "I love Halloween. It’s the only time of year when I get to clean out the refrigerator." "I hate people who give out that fun-sized candy. When I take the kids around, if I’m dressed in hooker pants and spike heels I want a whole candy bar." "This year I smeared dog poop on myself and went as a government bailout." "For his birthday my hippie cousin said he wanted incense, so that night my other cousin crawled into bed with him." "How do you ask a 300-pound grocery clerk where to find a tub of lard?" "Men can’t keep their underwear clean like a woman can. We operate underwear like long division. We always leave a remainder." "I get all my clothes at Wal-Mart, because at Wal-Mart I’m a medium." Guest Adam Carolla: "Bert & Ernie are gay, but not for each other. They’re both power bottoms." Guest Jim Norton on Carrie Prejean’s sex tape: "I watched it so much I got tennis elbow."

Jon Stewart: "The Rogue Warrior: What about Sarah Palin makes Republicans feel like they’ve been sprinkled with angel dust and Democrats like they’ve smoked it?" Jon had a mariachi plan play on guest Lou Dobbs. Since CNN still has to pay him: "You’re like a farmer being paid not to produce corn."

Stephen Colbert: "Rogue Gain: I was enchanted by Sarah Palin’s campaign to become President of John McCain’s campaign. Nothing is ever Sarah Palin’s fault. Who named her kids? To Sarah Palin fact checking is the same as opposition research, because the facts are out to get her. She’s the new head of the Grand Old Pity Party."

Conan O’Brien: "President Obama was on the Great Wall of China today, at the very same spot where a couple of years ago President Bush said, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’" "Dick Cheney was upset at President Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan. Cheney said, ‘It’s not like he’s the CEO of Exxon.’" "Chrysler cars are the safest in the country, because they never leave the dealership." "Arnold Schwarzenegger visited his homeland, but no one in Austria could understand him because of his thick American accent." "Scientists have discovered a drug that makes women want to have sex. The drugs name? Jewelry." When Conan announced that Heidi and Spencer Pratt were guests, the audience booed. Celebrity Survey: When I cook the Thanksgiving turkey I make sure … Dick Cheney: "That the turkey’s whole family is watching." When I heard that homo sapiens had sex with Neanderthals I said … Larry King: "We all did crazy things in college." In foreign countries I always ask … Ryan Seacrest: "Take me to the lady boy section." The hardest thing I’ve ever done is … Paris Hilton: "A guy named Zack. I’m sorry, I misunderstood the question. A guy named Barry."

Jimmy Kimmel: "Senators paid respects today to Robert Byrd for having served longer than anyone else in history. They were told to keep their speeches short just in case." "Because he was standing up for gay rights the other kids called a 1-year-old a gaywad. Everybody knows a gaywad is a guy who plays third base for the Yankees." "’People Magazine’ named Johnny Depp the sexiest man alive, and Hugh Hefner the sexiest man still alive." "The union of department store Santas wants them to get priority on swine flu shots. If you’re a department store Santa why would you want to prolong your life?" With "Cougar Town" such a success, Jimmy showed a clip of Cloris Leachman’s new show "Sabertooth Tiger Town."

Jimmy Fallon: "Barbara Walters asked Sarah Palin to rate President Obama on a scale of 1 to 10, and Sarah said ‘F.’ Palin also said Obama’s policies are bassackwards. Obama said she was unkin fuqualified." "Beyonce and Lady Gaga are in a hot new video. Beyonce calls their bustiers tasteful, and Lady Gaga calls them business casual."

Craig Ferguson: "Mickey Mouse is 81. All the Disney characters are ancient. All the Dwarves are Grumpy, and Pinnochio needs a blue pill to get his nose up. In honor of the anniversary I’m wearing animated shorts. They’re giving me a steamboat willy." Guest Lewis Black: "I’m in Vegas this weekend at the Mirage." Craig: "It’s really there then?"

See Related: STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION

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CIGARETTE SMOKE WAFTING ONTO NEIGHBOR’S PATIO BRINGS LAWSUIT

cigarette-smoke-patio-2
Richard and Donna Ganguet live in the Four Seasons gated development
in El Dorado Hills. They say the neighbor’s tobacco smoke settles
in their backyard and seeps in through their windows.

BY CATHY LOCKE
The Sacramento Bee

Conflict with neighbors was the last thing Donna and Richard Ganguet expected to encounter when they moved into a gated community for people age 55 and older.

“In a senior community, you think we’ll all be compatible and have the same values,” said Richard Ganguet, a retired El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy.

But three years after settling into their single-family home in El Dorado Hills’ Four Seasons development, the Ganguets are suing their next-door neighbor over cigar and cigarette smoke they say wafts into their backyard and house.

Because of the smoke, the couple say, they no longer sit on their patio. They also try to sandwich in swims in the side-yard lap pool between their neighbors’ smoking sessions.

Doug Smith, attorney for the neighboring homeowner, Florence Solone, said the issue is a trivial one that should be resolved by neighbors talking with each other, not with a lawsuit in El Dorado Superior Court.

But disputes between neighbors over secondhand smoke are increasingly making their way into courtrooms and city council chambers.

With smoking banned in workplaces, restaurants and bars, Californians are less willing to tolerate the smell of smoke in their houses or backyards, said Robin Salsburg, a staff attorney with the Oakland-based Public Health Institute’s Public Health Law and Policy program.

Nearly 87 percent of California residents are nonsmokers, she said.

“The social norm is changing faster than I can blink,” said Serena Chen, regional director of policy and tobacco control for the American Lung Association in Emeryville. In 2006, she helped persuade the East Bay city of Dublin to define secondhand smoke as a nuisance in its city code.

The majority of litigation related to secondhand smoke involves apartments and condominiums with shared walls. But Chen said the Dublin City Council’s action was prompted by a woman living in a single-family home whose health was compromised by smoke drifting from her neighbor’s yard.

When the Ganguets moved into their home in 2006, they were the first on the block. The pool was in place before there were neighbors.

They say residents and visitors at Solone’s home smoke in the backyard at all hours of the day and night. Several people puffing away at once has resulted in smoke settling in their backyard like a low fog, Richard Ganguet said.

When he or his wife open windows or operate the whole-house fan, he said, smoke is drawn into the house.

They’ve tried dispersing the smoke, first with a small fan set near the fence. When that didn’t work, they rented an industrial fan to blow the smoke up and out of the yard. But the fan is noisy and potentially disturbing to other neighbors.

The Ganguets said they rarely see Solone and tried to talk with her by phone, but they believe their calls were screened. They followed up with letters, but said they received no response, orally or in writing.

“Nothing changed,” Richard Ganguet said, until they filed the lawsuit.

A man who answered the door at the Solone home last week identified himself as Steve Solone, Florence Solone’s son. Steve Solone said he, his sister and brother-in-law live with his mother, and he and his brother-in-law smoke outside.

“My mother doesn’t allow smoking in the house,” he said.

Steve Solone said he smokes about a pack and a half of cigarettes a day, but he wasn’t aware the smoke was an issue for the Ganguets until his mother was notified of the lawsuit. Steve Solone said he didn’t think the smoke would travel outside the yard.

Florence Solone did not respond to requests for comment. Smith, her attorney, said he advised her not to discuss the lawsuit.

The smoking, Smith said, occurs in a three-walled patio area with fans.

“Florence Solone is like everybody’s grandmother,” said Smith, who said he has known the Solones for years. “She’s genuinely nice.”

The Solones want to live peacefully with their neighbors, Smith said. He characterized the Ganguets’ letters as intimidating because they threatened a lawsuit.

Smith said he sought a meeting with the Ganguets’ through their attorney, David Trapani, before the lawsuit was filed Oct. 1 but was rebuffed.

Trapani said his goal is to resolve the issue before the case goes to trial, but because the Ganguets filed a lawsuit, any settlement would be enforceable by the court.

“They have a right to smoke,” he said, “but that right ends when it impacts someone else’s property.”

Donna Ganguet said she and her husband considered selling their house and moving rather than resorting to a lawsuit, but they believe the smoke problem would hinder a sale.

“We don’t want to be controversial or confrontational,” she said, “but sometimes you have to take a stand.”

See Related: HEALTH CARE

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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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JERRY BROWN HOLDS COMMANDING LEAD OVER GAVIN NEWSOM IN CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR RACE

jerry-brown-oct-8-21

BY JACK CHANG
The Sacramento Bee

Attorney General Jerry Brown has built a commanding lead over San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, according to the latest Field Poll results released today.

On the Republican side, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman remains locked in a virtual tie with former Rep. Tom Campbell, but half of the voters are undecided. Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner continues to place a distant third in his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, the nonpartisan poll found.

While rhetoric over voting records, past support for Democrats and other non-policy matters has heated up among the Republican candidates some eight months before the June 8 primary, the Field Poll found that GOP primary voters hadn’t changed their minds much since they were last surveyed about the race in February and March.

“My take-away is voters aren’t really interested in those kinds of squabbles,” said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo. “Either that or they’re not paying much attention to this yet.”

While the GOP race remains static, Brown has improved upon his March showing among Democratic primary voters, although he hasn’t formally announced his candidacy.

In the March poll, Brown was the preference of 26 percent of Democratic primary voters when matched against Newsom and five other potential candidates.

Now, the former governor and Oakland mayor has support from 47 percent while Newsom wins 27 percent support in a poll question offering only those two Democratic choices.

The poll, however, found Newsom beating Brown by nine percentage points among respondents age 18 to 39 while Brown beat Newsom by a whopping 45 percentage points among respondents aged 65 or older.

Brown may have left the Governor’s Office in 1983 with only a 43 percent approval rating, but the 71-year-old is one of the state’s best-known politicians and has won favorable press in his current job and in Oakland, said Claremont McKenna College politics professor Jack Pitney.

“Jerry has advantages that are impossible for anyone else to replicate,” Pitney said. “He’s run for governor, he’s run for president and he currently holds statewide office. It’s difficult to beat that kind of name ID.”

His history as governor, heard secondhand, helped persuade 47-year-old Yuba City resident Tammy Massengale, a Democrat, to support Brown, whom she called honest and trustworthy.

“I heard (Brown) didn’t have a state car and that he drove an old beat-up car of the day,” said Massengale, who is a Caltrans employee. “He was a normal person and wasn’t above anybody else.”

The good news for the GOP candidates is that nearly half of state Republican primary voters have no opinion about them, Pitney said.

That’ll allow Whitman and Poizner, both wealthy, largely self-financed candidates, to fill in the blanks in voters’ minds with a barrage of political advertising, Pitney said. Campbell, who has collected a fraction of the money of his GOP rivals, will likely fall in the polls once the race heats up, Pitney added.

“The race is not set in stone,” he said. “It’s not even set in Jell-O.”

Roseville resident Jackie Watkins, a Republican, said his vote remains up for grabs � as long as no one currently in the Legislature wants it.

“I would not vote for anyone who’s been there now,” the 63-year-old retired trucking manager said. “They have shown they really don’t care what the California people vote on and it’s all about them.”

The Field Poll found Brown easily beating any of the three GOP candidates among all registered voters, with Newsom winning by a smaller margin.

The poll surveyed 1,005 registered California voters from Sept. 18 to Oct. 5, including 496 Democratic primary voters and 373 Republican primary voters.

See Related: WORLD POLITICS

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DONNA SACHET HITS HIGH C FOR HOMETOWN GIANTS – BELTING ‘OH SAY CAN YOU SEE’! FOR THE NATION – ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2009

There are still many barriers to the LGBT community to be broken, but as of September 29, there is one less. On that night Donna Sachet became the first drag queen to sing the National anthem before a major league baseball game.

It was an exciting, nerve racking, fun evening, that began with incredibly good timing.

Having gotten my press credential I entered the ballpark with no idea where I was going. I followed the signs that said media, but soon realized I should ask someone where to go.

So I asked the next person I saw with security on his shirt and an official clipboard. (Every time you go through a door or gate there is someone who writes down your credential number on a clipboard.) I told him that I wanted to go on the field to photograph the singing of the national anthem.

He told me that I wanted to go to the double doors that were down the hallway. There would be someone to escort me to the field. He said I was early enough that even staff hadn’t arrived yet.

I found the doors and when I looked through there was Donna Sachet doing a sound check.

belting-1-21
The clock on the scoreboard reads 4:23 as Donna does her sound check.
Bill Wilson © 2009

While Donna went home to change I spent an hour walking around waiting for the Donna Sachet Fan Club pre game party to start.

belting-2-2
Flags of the state, nation, ball club and city flying above ATT Park.
Bill Wilson © 2009

Gary Virginia, President of the Krewe de Kinque organized an outing in support of Donna which included tickets for the game and a pre-game reception at the Acme Chophouse at Willie Mays Plaza and an after game party at the Edge Bar in the Castro.

belting-4-2
Keeping with Mardi Gras tradition orange and black (Giants colors) beads
were handed out by Deena Dawn.

Bill Wilson © 2009

belting-3-2
Gary Virginia making last minute arrangements on his cell phone.
Bill Wilson © 2009

With shouts of “Break a Leg!” from her fans, Donna said farewell as she prepared to make her way to the ball park. Finding her seat she was able to get a few minutes of relaxation.

belting-5-2
Donna Sachet in the stands at ATT Park.
Bill Wilson © 2009

I made my way to the field still expecting at any moment that someone would challenge my right to be there.

I found a position behind home plate. The Giants were honoring sports writer Nick Peters who won the Major League’s 2009 JG Taylor Spink award by renaming their media interview room in his honor.

On the field were baseball greats, members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.

belting-6-2
Tim Lincecum (right) is acknowledged by the crowd during the pre game ceremony honoring sports writer Nick Peters. Larry Baer (left), President of the SF Giants,
Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda and others look on.

Bill Wilson © 2009

The Giants mascot Lou Seal walked through the crowd posing for photos and knocking the hat off an unsuspecting fan.

When he got to where I was I asked if he would mind posing with Donna. He said “Who do you mean?” I said the person in black standing behind you. He turns and looks and then turns to me and says, “Isn’t that the lady who does the show at the Starlight Room?”

When I said yes, he said, “I took my wife to see her. She is great.”

belting-7-2
Donna gets Lou’s Seal of Approval!
Bill Wilson © 2009

After giving Nick Peters a team jersey with the number 47 on it, the number of year Mr. Peters covered the Giants, there was an on field presentation of a check to a local Catholic church for their charitable programs.

belting-8-2
Donna Sachet nervously awaits the moment.
Bill Wilson © 2009

Then without fanfare or music the moment did arrive.

The announcer asked people to rise and remove their hats and place their hands over their hearts as Donna Sachet sings the national anthem.

belting-9-2
“What So Proudly We Hailed.”
Bill Wilson © 2009

After what Donna described as “the longest two minutes of my life” it was over.

belting-10-2
The Donna Sachet Fan Club (the good seat branch) respond to the national anthem by their favorite.
Bill Wilson © 2009

Walking back through the hallways Donna was received many congratulations from people she knew and didn’t know.

belting-11-2
Larry Baer (right) President and Chief Operating Officer of the SF Giants
poses with Donna and other staff members.

Bill Wilson © 2009

After finding a well-deserved drink, Donna had a chance to relax and watch a few innings of the baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

belting-12-2
Donna enjoys the first inning.
Bill Wilson © 2009

belting-13-3
Left Fielder Eugenio Velez makes the first score of the game after a wild pitch
ends up in the Giants’ dugout. (The white spot above the catcher’s head is the ball.)

Bill Wilson © 2009

The evening was capped with an after game party at the Edge Bar celebrating both Donna performance and the Giants’ 8 to 4 win over the Diamondbacks.

Bartenders in appropriate t-shirts commemorating Donna historical performance dispensed drinks renamed in Donna’s honor.

belting-14-2
Donna with Edge bartender
Bill Wilson © 2009

A beautiful and successful evening for all involved.

See Related: ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

bill-wilson-1-175
BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO SENTINEL
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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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GAVIN NEWSOM, BILL CLINTON AND THE ENDORSEMENT HIERARCHY

hierarchy-2
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will benefit mightily
from the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton.

BY CHRIS CILLIZZA
The Washington Post

Former President Bill Clinton’s decision to wade in on behalf of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the California Democratic primary is big news in the Golden State this morning.

But, how does it fit into the Fix’s endorsement hierarchy?

First, a quick primer — ranked in order from most to least impactful:

The Symbolic Endorsement: Ted Kennedy backing Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries.

The State-Specific Statewide Endorsement: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist throwing his support to John McCain just before the Sunshine State presidential primary.

The Celebrity Endorsement: Chuck Norris for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

The Newspaper Endorsement: Des Moines Register for John Edwards in 2004.

The State-Specific Non-Statewide Endorsement: Rep. Connie Mack IV endorsing Gov. Charlie Crist’s Senate candidacy in Florida.

The Obligatory Endorsement: Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran endorsing McCain’s presidential bid in 2008.

The Pariah Endorsement: Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris.

Clinton’s endorsement of Newsom falls somewhere between the first two categories and is, therefore, potentially powerful.

Clinton can help Newsom in ways seen and unseen to make up ground of state Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The most obvious benefit for Newsom is that Clinton is a very popular figure among Democrats — particularly Latinos — in the state, and the image of Newsom and the former president together is a powerful and appealing one to many California Democratic primary voters. Latinos are widely regarded as the swing group in the primary fight — especially since Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa decided against a much rumored gubernatorial bid earlier this year.

Less obvious, but no less important, are the deep ties that Clinton carries in the California donor community. Newsom finds himself trailing Brown badly in the chase for cash — a critical contest in a state so large and with so many media markets. Clinton is, without doubt, one of the most prolific political fundraisers in history and if he leans on his people in the state, Newsom can expect the millions to pour in over the coming months.

The simple fact is that Newsom’s campaign needed a shot of momentum as the race seemed to be settling with Brown as the clear frontrunner to Newsom’s underdog. Clinton’s endorsement doesn’t fundamentally alter that dynamic but it does strengthen Newsom where he has been weak.

The critical element in all of this, however, is how actively Clinton ultimately works for Newsom. ABC’s Teddy Davis, who broke the endorsement story, said the former President will be in California on Oct. 5 for Newsom — doing a rally in east Los Angeles as well as a high-dollar donor event.

The more Clinton does — from a public appearances and a private fundraising standpoint — the better it is for Newsom.

See Related: WORLD POLITICS

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WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS ASKS WORLD LEADERS TO BOYCOTT IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD UN SPEECH

BY SHLOMO SHAMIR
Haaretz

The World Jewish Congress on Monday launched a new global campaign on to convince world leaders to boycott Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address to the United Nations General Assembly next week.

Ahmadinejad is set to speak at the General Assembly on September 23, at a special session to be opened by United States President Barack Obama.

In a petition published Monday, WJC President Ronald Lauder urged the leaders of the UN’s member states to “show that the values and goals of the UN Charter will be upheld at this year’s General Assembly meeting.

“We ask UN leaders to send a strong message to Ahmedinejad, who regularly uses these forums to spread invective, threats and unspeakable accusations,” he said, adding that “member states have an obligation to show that the UN cannot be hijacked for the purposes of spreading the kind of racist diatribe and bigoted views which the organization was founded to combat and overcome.’

See Related: IRAN

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THE ‘ELDERS’ ARRIVE IN ISRAEL TO BOOST MIDDLE EAST PEACE

The respected delegation, headed by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, irked Israel by initially planning to meet Hamas in Gaza. That trip has been delayed.

elders-2
Brazil’s former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, front right,
and Norway’s former Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, front left,
place a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem
Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Tuesday.

BY ILENE R. PRUSHERI
The Christian Science Monitor

They’re older and wiser, and with a few hundred years of (cumulative) experience under their belts, they arrived for a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Tuesday in the hope that they might nudge along peace efforts.

The “Elders,” as they are called, are a group of prominent former heads of state, renowned activists, and global business leaders who are trying to use their clout and cachet to affect change. Included in the delegation here are former President Jimmy Carter, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Irish President Mary Robinson, and Britain’s Richard Branson, founder of the multinational Virgin Group.

The Elders describe themselves as an “independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity,” according to the group’s website. But whether they will be able to lure Israelis and Palestinians to move more quickly on Middle East peace than other international interlocutors in Washington, Cairo, or Riyadh remains to be seen.

Mission: Boost peace efforts

Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who is leading the delegation, said that the Elders had arrived not on behalf of any government, but in order to boost peace efforts, which have failed to truly get off the ground despite the intensive efforts of the Obama administration. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in London on Tuesday holding talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and is to meet with US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday amid increasing pressure to meet a compromise deal as envisioned by Mr. Obama: an expected Israeli settlement freeze in exchange for moves towards normalization from the Arab world.

“We are very supportive of current efforts to reopen negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians – and hope very much that this will happen. We also recognize that people have lost hope in the political process. We want to say to people here – peace is possible – and we will support their efforts in any way we can,” Cardoso said before a meeting at an Israeli youth center. The group also went to Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem, and met with a controversial rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas movement.

On Wednesday, the Elders are scheduled to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres before going to Ramallah to meet Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad. They were also planning to visit the Kalandiya refugee camp – inside Jerusalem boundaries – and are to attend an iftar, which marks the end of each day’s fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Israel says Elders shouldn’t visit Hamas

Israeli officials said that while they welcome the Elders, the group was making a mistake by having planned to visit the Gaza Strip and meet with Hamas officials there. A spokesman for the Elders’ visit, however, said the Gaza portion of the visit had been postponed “due to security concerns” and would not elaborate. The Elders hope to reschedule a Gaza visit in the coming weeks, the group’s spokesman said.

“We think these people, with their prestige and their will to push for peace, are a very respectable group who will always be welcome in Israel,” says Yigal Palmor, spokesman of the Israeli foreign ministry. “However, what they seem to want to do now will not promote the chances of peace, but rather the opposite. Going to Gaza and meeting Hamas officials will be very unhelpful. Hamas is still in opposition to the international Quartet’s conditions, and a move towards them will be detrimental towards peace.”

A Palestinian state in two years?

The Quartet, which includes representatives from US, the UN, the EU, and Russia, declared when Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006 that the Islamic movement would have to meet certain conditions in order to gain international legitimacy; these requirements included foreswearing violence and recognizing Israel.

The Elders’ visit has come at a time of heightened political and diplomatic intensity. In addition to Netanyahu’s trip to Europe amid a dispute between Israel and Sweden, which holds the EU presidency, Mr. Fayyad, the Palestinian premier, declared Thursday that his government would create a de facto state in two years, regardless of what happens with peace negotiations.

“The Palestinian government is struggling determinedly against a hostile occupation regime … in order to establish a de facto state apparatus within the next two years,” he said in a Ramallah press conference. “This can and must happen within two years.”

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz responded to Fayyad’s announcement by saying that there was no place for “unilateral” measures and threats. “It is clear that a Palestinian state, no matter what its form, will not see the light of day if Israel’s security concerns are not taken into account,” Steinitz said in an interview on state-run Israel Radio.

See Related: ISRAEL-MIDEAST

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SAN FRANCISCO WEEKEND TRAFFIC AND TRANSIT IMPACTS – AUGUST 21-23

muni-traffic-2

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) advises San Francisco residents and visitors of the following event-related traffic and service impacts this weekend, Friday, August 21 – Sunday, August 23.

Event participants and fun seekers should check with sfmta.com or call 311 to find out which of the 80 Muni lines will get them where they want to go.

Golden Gate Bridge Lot Construction

Construction at the parking lot for the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza will require the re-route of Muni route 28 19th Avenue from 5:30 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. The 29 Sunset Muni route may be affected throughout the weekend, beginning Friday at 6 p.m.

La Cocina Street Food Festival

The Street Food Festival will be held on Saturday and require the closure of Folsom Street between 25th and 26th streets from 8 p.m., Friday through midnight, Saturday.

The 12 Folsom and 67 Bernal Heights Muni routes will be affected.

49ers Football Game

The San Francisco 49ers will host their second home pre-season game on Saturday, against the Oakland Raiders starting at 5:15 p.m. at Candlestick Park .

Motorists should expect delays on all bridges and freeways leading into San Francisco for at least two hours before the start of the game and for at least two hours after the end of the game. Fans attending the games are encouraged to take public transportation. For more information, please visit www.sfmta.com/football.

On game days, Muni offers several ways to get to Candlestick Park from throughout San Francisco . There are four Muni Express routes and two Shuttles.

The Muni Express route is Special Event Fare Service with an adult fare of $10 roundtrip and a youth/senior/disabled fare of $7 roundtrip. The Special Event fare with a Muni or CityPass is $5.

The Candlestick Shuttles are regular fare service, $2 adult cash fare per trip and $.75 for youth/senior/disabled cash fare per trip. All Muni customers who pay cash fare should be sure to ask for a transfer as proof of payment. Please go to www.sfmta.com for fare details.

For service to and from the game, T Third customers should transfer at the Gilman/Paul station to the 87 Candlestick Shuttle, which operates directly from the station to Candlestick and returns at the end of the game.

Pre-game Service:

· 75X Candlestick Express – from Balboa Park BART

· 77X Candlestick Express – from California and Van Ness

· 78X Candlestick Express – from California and Funston

· 79X Candlestick Express – from Sutter and Sansome

· 86 Candlestick Shuttle – from Bacon and San Bruno

· 87 Candlestick Shuttle – from Third Street and Gillman, T Third Station

Post-game Service:

· 75X Candlestick Express – to Balboa Park BART

· 77X Candlestick Express – to Van Ness and North Point

· 78X Candlestick Express – to California and Funston

· 79X Candlestick Express – to Kearny and Sutter

· 86 Candlestick Shuttle – to Bacon and San Bruno

· 87 Candlestick Shuttle – to Third Street and Gillman, T Third Station

Perry’s Anniversary

Perry’s restaurant celebration on Sunday will require the closure of Union Street between Laguna and Buchanan streets from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The 45 Union-Stockton will be affected.

See Related: TRAVEL

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SUPERVISOR MIRARIMI LOOKS ASKANCE AT THOSE WHO DE-CLAW CATS – INTRODUCES LEGISLATION MAKING SUCH BEHAVIOR IMPERMISSIBLE IN SAN FRANCISCO

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Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi today introduced legislation making impermissible to de-claw cats in San Francisco

The San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare, the animal welfare advisory board to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, voted 5-1 earlier this month in favor of a city ban on feline declawing for nontherapeutic reasons.

Commissioner Philip Gerrie recommended that San Francisco adopt the language of an anti-declaw ordinance passed in West Hollywood in 2003. The West Hollywood measure, the first of its kind in the United States, makes it illegal to perform declawing within city limits, except for therapeutic purposes such as removal of infected or injured tissue.

Declawing, which involves amputating all or part of the last bone and connecting tendons and ligaments on a feline’s paw, can result in lameness and other physical problems, said Jennifer Conrad, DVM, director of The Paw Project, which sponsored the West Hollywood ordinance.

The California Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to such bans, arguing that the practice of veterinary medicine should be left to veterinarians.

The association filed suit against West Hollywood to overturn the law in 2005, stating that the city’s ordinance was unlawful, invalid and unenforceable because it conflicted with state law. However, in a 2-1 ruling in June 2007, the Court of Appeal upheld the anti-declaw ordinance. The San Francisco City Attorney’s office filed legal arguments in support of West Hollywood.

The CVMA continued by sponsoring SB 762, legislation to ensure statewide uniformity of standards for medical professionals. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill on July 2, which prevents local jurisdictions from passing bans on medical procedures, such as declawing cats. The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2010. Any bans passed before that time would stand, including the San Francisco measure.

ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO SENTINEL

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OBAMA HITS HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES ‘WHO DENY COVERAGE OR CHARGE UNAFFORDABLE RATES’

<em>Cheryl Burshett from Arvada, CO argues against Democratic Party healthcare proposals on August 8, 2009 in Brighton, Colorado. Several hundred people, both for and against healthcare reform, gathered to demonstrate as U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) met with small groups of constituents outside a grocery store.</em>

Cheryl Burshett from Arvada, CO argues against Democratic Party healthcare proposals on August 8, 2009 in Brighton, Colorado. Several hundred people, both for and against healthcare reform, gathered to demonstrate as U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) met with small groups of constituents outside a grocery store.

Barack Obama has hit out at insurance firms as he battles against the “scare tactics” being used to block his proposed $1 trillion overhaul of the US healthcare system.

The president, at a meeting in New Hampshire, said Americans are too often “held hostage” by insurers who deny them cover or charge fees they cannot afford.

The attack was part of an attempt to counter claims he wants a government takeover of the healthcare system.

<em>Mr Obama at the meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.</em>

Mr Obama at the meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

It has also been alleged his plan would create “death panels” to rule on whether older people get treatment.

Critics – including former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin – have whipped up a fierce public debate over the reforms, which top Mr Obama’s domestic agenda.

Both opponents and supporters of the proposals gathered outside the meeting in Portsmouth.

Mr Obama’s supporters chanted “Yes, we can!” and waved signs declaring “Insurance companies are enemies of change” and “All Americans deserve affordable healthcare”.

Opponents carried banners saying “Obamacare, down the chute granny” and “Hands off my healthcare”.

Mr Obama says he wants to provide health cover for nearly 46 million uninsured Americans by reining in medical costs and regulating insurers.

But Republicans insist it will be far too expensive and the scope is too far-reaching.

Mrs Palin said last week the proposals would create government “death panels” that will decide ‘end-of-life’ issues for older Americans.

<em>Daly Megan from Commerce, CO, an opponent Democratic Party healthcare proposals, makes a point to U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO,) on August 8, 2009 in Brighton, Colorado. Several hundred people, both for and against healthcare reform, gathered to demonstrate outside as Congressman Perlmutter met with small groups of constituents at a grocery store.</em>

Daly Megan from Commerce, CO, an opponent Democratic Party healthcare proposals, makes a point to U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO,) on August 8, 2009 in Brighton, Colorado. Several hundred people, both for and against healthcare reform, gathered to demonstrate outside as Congressman Perlmutter met with small groups of constituents at a grocery store.

But Mr Obama countered: “For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary is if we do nothing.”

He said his aim was to give people more information on end-of-life care, not “create death panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we decided it’s too expensive to let her live anymore”.

The president said: “Let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.”

In a new development, Mr Obama said the government may be able to get pharmaceutical companies to give back more than the $80bn already promised in prescription drug rebates.

See Related: HEALTH CARE

See Related: BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENCY

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A STRAIGHT’S PRAYER FOR YOUNG ISRAELIS SHOT FOR BEING GAY

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Lord, teach me to stand naked before you
And, in so doing, learn the meaning of modesty.

Let me stand naked, which is to say, stripped to my humanity,
And mourn these young people shot
For having chosen to practice
Their own humanity.

Cause me, Lord, to shed this defective armor,
Which we call clothing, respectability, convention,
The mask which we mistake for loyalty to tribe.
The mask which keeps me from seeing the face behind the mask of the tribe we have come to call enemy.

At the close of this dark anniversary, this time when tradition tells us, the worst of calamities were wrought by sinat hinam, hatred unbound, hatred for its own sake, teach me what I need to know about my true enemy.

Force me to see that what I am so certain that I hate, the clear, familiar targets of my fury, are already inside me.

Help me heal of this contagion, this cruel disease which scars and hardens the soul, which cores and blackens and blinds the heart, this affliction which feeds on self-righteousness and the conviction that God plays favorites, that the person whose behavior and appearance, and ways of speaking and dancing and loving are foreign to me, has less right to a true self than I.

Rock me awake, O Lord who invented the mosaic, the patchwork, the universe.
Force me to see the miracle of every life on the threshold
Of what we have come to know as
Real life.

Let me know that in the beginning, real life is created through ahavat hinam, love unbound, love unfiltered, love unselfish, love shorn of armor and unkindness and judgment and ancient rage.

Lord, whose business it is to give life, shock us, cajole us, manipulate us, bring us to heel, force us in this terrible moment to know the enormity and the necessity of chesed, lovingkindness.

Lord, whose great gift and whose most murderous creation was the human being, help us find the human in the Other, hated from habit and from afar. Help us up, the mourning, the remnant, those whom tragedy has in cruelty and in lovingkindness left alive. Teach us to honor the slain by honoring the living, their own behavior and appearance and speech, the dancing and the loving of those doing nothing more banal and nothing more extraordinary, than living a genuinely real life.

See Related: GAYS SLAIN IN TEL AVIV

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CALIFORNIA BUDGET DEBACLE HOLDS A LESSON FOR AMERICA

BY ROBERT J. SAMUELSON

Commentary

California’s budget debacle holds a lesson for America, but one we will probably ignore. It’s easy to attribute the state’s protracted budget stalemate, now temporarily resolved with about $26 billion of spending cuts and accounting gimmicks, to the deep recession and California’s peculiar politics.

Up to a point, that’s true.

arnold-muscles

Representing an eighth of the U.S. economy, California has been harder hit than most states. Unemployment, now 11.6 percent (national average: 9.5 percent), could top 13 percent in 2010, says economist Eduardo Martinez of Moody’s Economy.com. Meanwhile, the requirement that any tax increase muster a two-thirds vote in the legislature promotes paralysis. Democrats prefer tax hikes to spending cuts, and Republicans can block higher taxes.

All this produced the recent drama: plunging tax revenue and the state’s resulting huge budget deficits; endless negotiations between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders; the deadlock that led the state to issue scrip (in effect, IOUs) to pay bills; and a final agreement on a 2009-10 budget. But there is also a bigger story with national implications. California has reached a tipping point. Its government made more promises than its economy can easily support. For years, state leaders papered over the contradiction with loans and modest changes. By overwhelming these expedients, the recession triggered an inevitable reckoning.

Here’s the national lesson. There’s a collision between high and rising demands for government services and the capacity of the economy to produce the income and tax revenue to pay for those demands. That’s true of California, where poor immigrants and their children have increased pressures for more government services. It’s also true of the nation, where an aging population raises Social Security and Medicare spending. California is leading the transformation of politics into a form of collective torture: pay more (higher taxes), get less (lower services).

Make no mistake: The spending cuts and tax increases the state enacted to bridge its budget deficits are not cosmetic. In February, the Legislature agreed to a penny increase in the state sales tax, bringing the total—including local sales taxes—to about nine cents or more. Top income tax rates, already among the highest in the country, were raised. So were motor vehicle registration fees. Spending cuts approved in February and July are deep. Together, the cuts equal almost 30 percent of the general revenue fund and will affect schools, prisons, colleges and welfare.

The state’s liberal establishment is in mourning. “Reversing 40 years of progress” is how Jean Ross of the California Budget Project, a liberal research and advocacy group, put it in one blog. Some welfare benefits will be cut by half. California’s student-teacher ratio, now about a third above the national average, will probably go even higher. The University of California system lost 20 percent of its state payments. It’s raising tuition and student fees 9.3 percent, imposing salary reductions of 4 to 10 percent on more than 100,000 workers, and delaying faculty hires.

National parallels again seem apparent. Federal budget deficits—reflecting the urge to spend and not tax—predate the recession and, as baby boomers retire, will survive any recovery. Amazingly, the Obama administration would worsen the long-term outlook by expanding federal health insurance coverage. There’s much mushy thinking about how we’ll muddle through.

California has pioneered this sort of delusion. The presumption was that a dynamic economy would pay for expansive government. But California’s relative economic performance has actually deteriorated. In the 1980s, the state’s economy grew much faster than the national economy; annual growth averaged 5.1 percent vs. 3.1 percent nationally. In the present decade, the gap is smaller—2.9 percent versus 2.3 percent—and much of the state’s advantage reflects the unsustainable housing boom, of which California was the epicenter.

On paper, the state could solve its budget problems by raising taxes further. But in practice, that might backfire by weakening the economy and tax base. California scores poorly in state ratings of business climate. In a CNBC survey, it ranked 32nd overall but last in “cost of business” and 49th in “business friendliness.” Information technology (Intel, Google, Hewlett Packard) and biotechnology remain strengths, but some traditional industries are struggling. High costs, as well as tax breaks from other states, have caused movie studios to shift production from Southern California. In 1996, feature films involved 14,500 production days in the Los Angeles area, says FilmL.A.; in 2008, the figure was half that.

So California is stretched between a precarious economy and a strong popular desire for government. The state’s wrenching experience suggests that, as a nation, we should begin to pare back government’s future commitments to avoid a similar fate. But California’s experience also suggests we’ll remain in denial, prisoners of wishful thinking, until the fateful reckoning arrives in the unimagined future.

See Related: BUDGET CRISIS

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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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