No one was home when the FBI began visiting the Mayfield residence in Aloha, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, early in the spring of 2004. The agents did, however, see plenty of Brandon Mayfield, a Portland lawyer, his Egyptian-born wife, Mona, and their three children. According to court records, the agents had been following the Muslim family to and from their mosque, at the children’s schools, and at various family activities. They obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court what is commonly called a “sneak and peek” warrant that permits the search of property without notifying the suspect party until six months later. Investigators planted electronic listening devices in the “shared and intimate” rooms of the Mayfield home and in Mayfield’s law offices. They photographed files and downloaded hard drives. They placed wiretaps on both home and office phones. The application for the FISC order was personally approved by John Ashcroft, then the Attorney General of the United States. Why was our government so interested Mayfield’s files, activities, and conversations? A U.S. citizen born in Kansas, Mayfield is a convert to the Muslim faith. He was aware that the FBI had been investigating Muslims in the Portland area, particularly a group that became known as “The Portland Six,” whose members were convicted on money-laundering and weapons charges related to their efforts in support of the Taliban fighting U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. One of them, Jeffrey Battles, had retained Mayfield as his lawyer in a child custody case.
When Wolfgang Wagner resigned from Remote Sensing last week regarding controversial climate change research, it provoked curiosity amongst analysts. According to Wagner, there were issues related to the peer review process of published material and as a result, the material “should not have been published.” The research in question reportedly “cast doubt on man-made global warming,” a finding with which Wagner does not seem to agree. The research, which had been published in July by the University of Alabama, included work by scientists Roy Spencer and William Braswell, which ultimately refuted the climate change models used by the United Nations. The research asserted that the U.N. overestimated how much global warming will occur in the future. Wagner contends that the review process for the material was questionable, since those who reviewed the work were philosophically skeptical of the notion of manmade climate change. Wagner believes that the selection of such reviewers could have impacted the fairness of the review, but also asserts that it does not necessarily mean that anything unethical took place during the review process, or that any of the published material is necessarily wrong.
Information cited in a leaked 2009 diplomatic cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing shows the Chinese regime knew about American and European suppression of gold prices to maintain dollar hegemony, but that it was buying more of the precious metal anyway. The purpose of increasing its gold reserves, according to report cited in the document, was to encourage other nations to do likewise while making China’s currency more appealing internationally. Another effect of the strategy, analysts noted, would be to weaken the U.S. dollar’s status internationally. Gold-price manipulation by Western central banks — and the Federal Reserve in particular — has been somewhat of an open secret for decades. But the cable released by WikiLeaks triggered significant interest among metals investors and analysts, some of whom expected the news to cause another surge in gold prices.
Politicians seem to have little trouble understanding how the basic Law of Demand works when it comes to things they want to discourage, like cigarettes — or when it comes to things they want to encourage, like education. The Law of Demand says that price increases will generally produce lower sales, so the politicians raise the price of cigarettes via more taxation so that more people quit. “The price of a pack of cigarettes has skyrocketed to $14.50 at some New York City stores thanks to a hefty new tax, leaving even the most nicotine-addicted buttheads considering nixing their fix,” the New York Post reported last year after an extra $1.60 state sales tax was slapped on every pack. The $1.60 hike raised the total taxes on a single pack to $4.35 at the state level in New York. Additionally, there’s a municipal cigarette tax in the city of $1.50 a pack, producing a combined state and local tax of $5.85 a pack.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker told Reuters that American forces must continue the fight against the Taliban and for a stable Afghanistan as "the ultimate guarantee that there will not be another 9/11." "It is going to require more resources, its going to require time," said Crocker, a career diplomat who also served as Ambassador to Iraq. "I hope we can bring all those to bear, because as hard, painful, as expensive as this has been in blood and treasure, it has cost a lot less than 9/11 did."
With New York City seeing an increase in gun-related violence in recent weeks, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now calling for more stringent federal gun control laws to address the problem. The legislation Bloomberg is calling for is reported to be some of the strictest in the country. Much of Bloomberg’s inspirations came after Labor Day weekend, after a series of shootings took place in New York. The Wall Street Journal reports: The shooting of a police officer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Monday night punctuated a Labor Day weekend burst of violence that left at least 10 dead and more than 50 injured since Friday morning. An innocent woman sitting on her stoop and two men with guns were killed in the Monday evening shootout, officials said. One police officer was shot in the arm, another was wounded by bullet fragments.
Recent reports suggest that Libya is poised to become the third Islamic state established in the last decade with the help of the United States. On August 26 The New American reported that a draft constitution released by the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC), the rebel group that has taken charge since the ouster of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, declares: “Islam is the religion of the state and the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence (sharia).” This wording is very similar to the post-U.S. invasion constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan. There are, apparently, those in Libya not convinced that the TNC is serious about its commitment to Islam. The Washington Times’ Bill Gertz writes: U.S. officials said spy agencies are stepping up surveillance of Islamist-oriented elements among Libyan rebels. A government report circulated Tuesday said extremists were observed “strategizing” on Internet forums about how to set up an Islamist state in Libya after the regime of Col. Gadhafi is defeated.
Officials in Scotland have decided it is fit and proper to take obese children away from their parents. In particular, parents of four obese children had received warnings from officials regarding the weight of their children. As those warnings were not heeded, those officials proceeded to remove the children from their parent’s home.
Last week’s jobs report could spur further anxiety for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, as the President’s core constituencies continue to struggle with high unemployment. The Labor Department reported dismal jobs numbers for August, with unemployment continuing to hover around 9 percent — a grave concern for Obama’s approval ratings. Young workers, aged 18 to 24, are now burdened with 16.4 percent unemployment, while many more are underemployed. Such affliction for America’s youth could prove fatal for Obama’s 2012 presidential aspirations, as he garnered nearly 70 percent of 18 to 29 aged voters in 2008.
Ideological clashes over particular laws, policies and programs often go far deeper. Those with opposing views of what is desirable for the future also tend to differ equally sharply as to what the reality of the present is. In other words, they envision two very different worlds. A small but revealing example was a recent New York Times criticism of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs for not contributing to charity as much as the New York Times writer thought he should. The media in general are full of praise for business people and their companies for giving away substantial amounts of their wealth. Indeed, that is one of the few things for which many in the media praise businesses and the wealthy.