Follow Barack Obama prior and during his tenure as the 44th President of the United States. Read about my personal observations along with every day facts as they happen. This blog will only submit factual information about the first black President, now in his 2nd term of office.


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U.S. Must Provide Further Assistance to Reach and Defeat Gadhafi

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There have been conflicting reports on the success of the rebels to fight Gadhafi in Libya. The No-Fly zone seems to be only the beginning to what is needed to over-through the dictator by the rebels that the United States are siding with. It is true that the interjection of the NATO forces did seem to halt the Gadhafi regime from crushing the rebellion in Libya, but the question now is whether the rebels have what it takes to actually over-through Gadhafi, who retains overwhelming military superiority over the Benghazi-based Interim National Council. It seems that unless new measures are taken to help the rebels defeat Gadhafi, he will again renew his attacks on his opposition. How long can the international community within NATO continue to enforce the no-fly zone? Unless more interjection to help the rebels has begun, Gadhafi will continue to enjoy his overwhelming military superiority over the militants.
This military unbalance was addressed in a prior war in Bosnia, by establishing  a Bosnian Federation army that was implemented by an inter-agency group based in the U.S. State Department. I can be a costly program, but it may be the only way to further balance the playing field on the ground against Gadhafi.
The longer the fighting continues, the more support for such a program may exist. President Obama has openly stated in his Libyan speech that he will not go directly after Gadhafi with ground forces, that would put American troops in danger, which had to be a relief to Gadhafi. Without the U.S. forces hunting him down, the better chance he has to concentrate on defeating the militants on the ground. So the NATO coalition must come up with another method to push him from power, which seems the only way to disengage the fighting and unrest in the country.


John McCain's Response to President Obama's Speech on Libya

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There were several comments made by Senators, both from the Democratic and Republican sides of the isle. In a recent interview of John McCain (Republican Senator from Arizona), he stated that he agreed with President Obama for the most part, especially in the first half of his speech about Libya, as it was aired last evening on 3/28/2011. But then he says that he also believed that when President Obama stated that NOT taking out Gadhafi's regime by force would be a mistake and that it sent a wront message to the dictator. He claims that this message was telling the dictator that he wasn't going to be directly attacked by the United States, and that the messsage President Obama was giving him was that his own people were going to overthrough him.  According to McCain, this is definitely the wrong approach. But if you listened to President Obama's speech on Libya, he stated that if he wanted to go directly after the dictator himself, he would have to put troops on the ground to seek out the dictator, and he promised the American people that he would not put soldiers on the ground in Libya. His reasoning was what happened so far in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama believes that the war in Libya is not like the other two wars that the United States and NATO are involved in. The President believes that this is the best way to go, which is not to get American ground troops involved and that the Libyans themselves will over-through Gadhafi, or he will eventually consede and step down from power.
Regardless of what is right here, the dictator Gadhafi has been in power over 40 years now. If he was killed for example, will the Libyan's have what it takes to move to a controlled Democracy? Has there been any names that may take leadership in Libya? Those are the questions that need to be answered now, but I do not believe that anyone is looking that far ahead.

What do you think? Respond via email and your response can be added to this site  Check out the response of John McCain immediately below.


President Obama Speech on Libya - March 28, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011


President Obama in Primetime Address to Nation about Libya Tonight

Many people would just ask why? Why did President Obama lead forces into Libya in a deliberate move of aggression against Moammar Gadhafi? Why does the United States have to lead the world in every agression to protect citizens of any country from their agressive leaders? In a speech tonight at 7:30 ET in the United States, President Obama will explain why he lead the invasion of Libya. In his speech, he most likely will explain that he wasn't there to topple Moammar Gadhafi, but instead to even the field between him and his opponents, the militants who have decided to take law into their own hands to handle Gadhafi. The United States supports the militants, and is paving the way for them to topple Moammar Gadhafi themselves. There has been lots of criticizm from both sides of the isle, but President Obama will speak tonight at the National Defense University in Washington to as he puts it "update the American people on the situation in Libya, including the actions we've taken with allies and partners to protect the Libyan people from the brutality of Moammar Gadhafi, the transition to NATO command and control, and our policy going forward," according to the White House as announced yesterday. The United States has now turned over full control of the No-Fly zone to Nato Command. According to the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan claims that the mission's goal is to give the Libyan people the political freedom to oust Gadhafi.
Future opponents of Obama in the upcoming battle for President in 2012 such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who is expected to announce his candicacy for the Republican presidential nomination believes that President Obama's approach to Libya is wrong. He also believes that sending troups to Libya would be wrong. In that point, it has been already stated by President Obama that he would not send ground troups.

The bottom line for the U.S. involvement,  to keep him from massacring his own people.


Wanda Sykes, Comedian comments about Obama, Limbaugh, and Cheney

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wanda Sykes, famed comedian delivers her message in a speech below at a dinner that was broadcast nationally on C-SPAN in 2010, remarks about Limbaugh beginning at the two-minute mark. Obama can be clearly seen laughing as Sykes delivers her line about Limbaugh's kidneys failing. "He needs a waterboarding, that's what he needs," she continued. But when she started talking about waterboarding, his laughter subsided. He liked the comment about Rush Limbaugh being hooked up to a broken dialysis machine.

On a personal note, the editor of "Obama in the White House blog" believes that jokes centered around Rush Limbaugh and other jokes mentioning 911 should not be a topic of any comedian. Critics of Obama believe that him smirking or laughing about comments made by Sykes are not of good taste. That may be so, but it was a reaction of a human being at a very funny comedian.  I do not 100% support her statements in the tone she presented them in her shtick. But at the same time, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney should realize that it was only a matter of time that critics, including comedians would comment on their actions.


Geraldine Ferraro passes away at age 75

The 1984 vice Presidential candidate who ran with Walter Mondale, died today in a Massachusetts General Hospital. She suffered from a long standing illness called myeloma, a blood cancer that she had for at least 12 years. Mondale and Ferraro ran against the incumbent President Ronald Reagan and lost by what was considered no less than a landslide. Running with Reagan as his VP at the time was George H.W. Bush who finally was elected after Ronald Reagan in 1988 as the 41st President of the United States. Geraldine Ferraro was respected across the isle, as many Rupublicans, including her rival in 1984, George H. W. Bush commented how he was saddened to hear of her passing.

She was born August 26, 1935 -- Women's Equality Day -- in Newburgh, New York, to restaurant owner Dominick and Antonetta (Corrieri) Ferraro, and later earned a bachelor's degree in English at Marymount Manhattan College in 1956 and then earned a law degree from Fordham University Law School in 1960.
Since 1960, she had been married to John Zaccaro, and during their 50-year marriage, they had three children, now adults.

She is survived by her husband, her three children and their spouses, and eight grandchildren.


Banks, Financial Institutions Support Japan Quake-Tsunami Relief Efforts

The earthquake and resulting tsunami that ravished Japan is going down in history books as one of the most destructive natural disasters to have occurred. As relief efforts are underway, global contributions are streaming in to aid the recovery process.

On March 11, 2011, Japan was struck with a record-breaking 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that left thousands dead and landscapes destroyed. As the world’s third-largest economy, the country is facing an estimated cost of $180 billion USD for recovery and reconstruction in the long term.
While Japan is struggling to control the nuclear threats posed by its power plants, organizations around the world are working to find survivors, set up shelters, offer medical assistance, and much more.
Following news of the quake, President Obama vowed to offer any assistance that Japan needed.
Banks and other financial institutions are among some of the largest financial donors to aid the emergency and long-term relief efforts. But, compared to the projected cost of the disaster, it doesn’t amount to much. Nevertheless, the Red Cross and other non-profit organizations will be receiving plenty of financial assistance with more to come.

Banks and Financial Institutions Support Relief Efforts

  • Bank of America pledged to contribute $1.22 million (100 million yen) to the victims of the catastrophe. The American Red Cross, which is partnering with the Japanese Red Cross Society, will be the recipient of 50 million yen while the remaining 50 million yen will be used towards long-term recovery in the coming weeks and months.
  • JPMorgan Chase announced a $5 million (408 million yen) commitment to support charitable and relief organizations that include the American Red Cross and World Vision.
  • U.S. Bank is donating $100,000 (8.2 million yen) to help Japan’s disaster relief efforts. The fund will go to the American Red Cross, which is providing food, water, medical supplies and other emergency services.
  • TD Bank, acknowledging the massive scale of the disaster, donated CDN$100,000 (8.4 million yen) to the Red Cross to support relief efforts.
  • First Hawaiian Bank announced the establishment of the the Japan-Hawaii Relief Fund and has donated $100,000 (8.2 million yen) to the Fund. The bank is accepting contributions to the Fund through March 31, 2011, which will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society.
  • Union Bank announced it will donate $250,000 (20.4 million yen) through its Union Bank Foundation to organizations that are assisting relief efforts for victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. Union Bank is also offering fee waivers and special rates for customers requiring banking services for Japan relief efforts.
  • Bank of the West said it will contribute up to $200,000 (16.2 million yen) to help victims in Japan. The bank will direct $100,000 to support towards relief and recovery efforts and will also match employee contributions up to an additional $100,000. Bank of the West will also waive fund transfers from the U.S. to Japan through April 30, 2011.
  • American Express Company will donate $100,000 (8.2 million yen) to the Red Cross and Save the Children. Additionally, American Express will rebate the merchant swipe fees for charitable contributions made with an AmEx card to a non-profit organizations list on the USAID website through May 15, 2011.
  • Goldman Sachs announced a financial contribution of $6.1 million (500 million yen) to assist with the emergency relief efforts.
  • Morgan Stanley said it will donate $1.22 million (100 million yen) to the Japanese Red Cross Society.
  • Visa, the world’s largest electronic payments network, will waive interchange fees on donations made through April 30, 2011 to a group of major charities that are supporting relief efforts. Also, revenue generated from eligible contributions through April 30, 2011 will be donated to the Red Cross. Finally, Visa will make a philanthropic donation.
  • MasterCard pledges a corporate donation of $250,000 (20.4 million yen) and interchange fees will be waived for eligible charities. Additionally, MasterCard will donate revenues generated by charitable contributions to these organizations through May 15, 2011.

How You Can Donate to the Red Cross

If you would like to make a charitable contribution to the American Red Cross that is dedicated towards the relief efforts of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, visit the American Red Cross donation page.
Or, you can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 and a $10 donation will be made in your name and debited under your phone bill.


Rush Limbaugh Mocks Japan Quake Refugees (VIDEO)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To me, it is absolutely amazing that the EIB network continues to have talk show host Rush Limbaugh rant and rave on his show, this time at the cost of the innocence of the Japanese during their desperate time of need. The country never before since Hiroshima, have been so paralyzed from a natural disaster, let alone any disaster. But still, Rush Limbaugh criticizes ABC's Diane Sawyer who is reporting from a shelter in Japan. But where is Rush Limbaugh these days. Of course he happens to be in his warm comfortable EIB studio, delivering his mountain of Rush garbage that he delivers on a daily basis. 

Read the following article and listen to the following video to make your own conclusions.

A caller asked Limbaugh, "If these are the people that invented the Prius, have mastered public transportation, recycling, why did Mother Earth, Gaia if you will, hit them with this disaster?"

Limbaugh called this an "interesting question," and played a clip of ABC's Diane Sawyer reporting from a shelter in Japan. In the clip, Sawyer is surprised that the refugees in the shelter have maintained a recycling program. Limbaugh first mocked Sawyer, doing an impression of her and saying that "she sounds like she saw her husband for the first time in six months." He then turned to his caller's question.
"He's right," Limbaugh said. "They've given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are recycling their garbage." Here, he began to laugh, continuing, "and yet, Gaia levels them! Just wipes them out!"
This angle has been something of a theme for Limbaugh; last week, he wondered if environmentalists would "cheer" the quake.


Warren Christopher - Former Clinton Secretary of State - Dies

Warren Christopher

By the CNN Wire Staff

March 19, 2011 12:37 p.m. EDT


Christopher served as secretary of state for President Bill Clinton.

As America's top diplomat, he oversaw the Dayton Agreement ending the Bosnian war.

He also led negotiations for the release of 52 American hostages in Iran.

Clinton describes him as a "tenacious advocate" for peace and freedom

Washington (CNN) -- Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher died Friday from complications of kidney and bladder cancer, his family said. He was 85.
As America's chief diplomat for four years during President Bill Clinton's administration, Christopher "eschewed confrontation in favor of negotiation with friend and foe alike," according to a profile posted on the State Department website.
"The cause of peace and freedom and decency have never had a more tireless or tenacious advocate," Clinton said in 1996 after Christopher announced he was stepping down from the post.
President Obama said he and the first lady were saddened to hear of the loss.
"Deeply dedicated to serving his country, Warren's career ranged from the naval reserve in World War II to a clerkship at the Supreme Court to the practice of law and politics in California and Washington," Obama said in a statement.
"And as President Clinton's Secretary of State, he was a resolute pursuer of peace, leading negotiations with regard to the Middle East and the Balkans, including the Dayton Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia. Warren Christopher was a skillful diplomat, a steadfast public servant, and a faithful American," the president said.
In 1981, Christopher received the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian award -- for his role in negotiating the release of 52 American hostages in Iran while serving as deputy secretary of state for President Jimmy Carter.
Christopher -- known as "Chris" to his friends -- also oversaw the negotiation of the 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian war.
"Literally, until the last minute the outcome was in doubt. Our negotiators had their bags packed and were ready to head home without an agreement. But Chris refused to give up," Clinton recalled in his 1996 remarks. "And the force of his will finally convinced the Balkan leaders to give in to the logic of peace."
Clinton went on to praise Christopher's efforts in the Middle East peace process and helping build democracy in Haiti.
Issuing a statement from Paris, where she is attending a summit over the crisis in Libya, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she also was deeply saddened by the passing of her predecessor.
"The longer I spend in this job, the deeper my appreciation grows for the giants who came before," she said. "Warren was a diplomat's diplomat -- talented, dedicated and exceptionally wise."
She credited Christopher helping establish diplomatic relations with China, overseeing the expansion of NATO, and working for peace in the Middle East. She said he "championed human rights around the world."
"In addition to being a great statesman, Warren was also a dear friend," she said. "I relied on his advice and experience over many years."
Christopher also played a significant leadership role on several domestic issues, particularly in the state of California, where he was chairman and later senior partner of the O'Melveny & Myers law firm.
He chaired a commission investigating the Rodney King assault and subsequent riots in Los Angeles, and served on the California Hate Crimes Task Force, according to a biography provided by the firm.
His legal career began with a clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who advised Christopher to "get out into the stream of history and swim as fast as you can," the law firm's biography said.
That idea stuck with Christopher, who later said "being Secretary of State is to take part in history's relay race" after announcing his plans to step down from the post.
Christopher was born in Scranton, North Dakota. He served as a Naval ensign in during World War II. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 1945 and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1949.
In a 2009 interview, he told the Los Angeles Times that his views about human rights were shaped by the trips he took with his father, who was a clerk for foreclosure sales in North Dakota during the Great Depression.
"On the way there, he would talk to me about the hardship the farmers faced. That certainly was the beginning of it for me. It's a constant struggle to try to improve the lot of people around the world," he said. "A lot of people live in poverty and deprivation, and we have to be constantly alert to do what we can, to always feel we have done as much as we should."
He is survived by his wife, four children and five grandchildren, the law firm's biography said. Plans for a private memorial are pending.
CNN's Leslie Tripp contributed to this report.


Special Invitations Concerning Your Faith

To be invited to what may be considered a very special occasion is a very good thing. To invite others to this occasion is also a good thing, and one of these may be for an occasion concerning your faith. Communion invitations can be very personal in nature, but at the same time, display elegance with a theme that can be as beautiful as the occasion itself. Shopping for this type of invitation or like stationery can be done online, with at least 115 designs to choose from. A toll free number is provided for assistance, and orders of at least $75 or more will give you free shipping.


Should Rush Limbaugh Run for President?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just like his fellow Republicans, Rush Limbaugh seems to want to talk about things he shouldn't be concerned about, and recently he decided to talk about Michelle Obama and criticize her eating habits. Is this what the conservative listeners of his following need to listen too? It is a no-brainer that his main topic of conversation when he gets back to work on his talk show on Monday will be centered around the attack on Libya. It is also a no brainer that he will criticize President Obama's actions again. He will accuse President Obama of starting another war. But he most likely would tell you that it was OK for President Bush to start too wars, and he most likely will put the blame for the continued wars squarely in the lap of President Obama.
You would think that he would focus his talks on President Obama and his policies, but he seems to have drifted away from his main game and now attack Michelle Obama. What you won't hear him talk about is how wrong he was as he stated in the past that President Obama was a 'weak' President, and how he believed that the President could not make difficult decisions. This was the belief of the entire Republican party, claiming that President Obama was a weak person, not capable of making difficult decisions.
It is also a no brainer that President Obama did not want to initiate war actions against another country, but it is clear that President Obama and the coalition forces would not further stand by and watch Gadhafi attack and kill his own citizens. The attacks on the military installations to help balance the level of power between Gadhafi and the militants that oppose him will be more even because of the enforced no fly zone in the north. The attacks may even convince the dictator Gadhafi to give up his power and leave the country.
Will Rush Limbaugh talk about the details on why President Obama decided to strike Libya? I highly doubt it, because in his mind, that story is too boring, and further discussion against President Obama is much more interesting to him.
I must admit that I don't waste my time listening to his show, although I caught myself in the past listening to the Rush Limbaugh show and listen to his fanatical rants against Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Only in this country can he talk so negatively against the President, just like I have the right to write this blog and talk about what I choose to talk about.
Return to read updates on this topic as I plan to listen to the Rush Limbaugh show on Monday and Tuesday to see how deep he will go to show his dissatisfaction for President Obama. In the past, he hasn't directly threatened President Obama, but he has wished that he did not succeed as President.
Now is this someone you would really like to have as your President ?


U.S. and Collation Forces Attack Libya

As reported on and CNN, in a mission named "Odyssey Dawn", a collation of American and European forced bombed Libyan targets by air and sea today in the first phase of a military campaign to drive Moammar Gadhafi from power. The Western coalition included the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and Italy. The U.S. launched Tomahawk missiles from two destroyers — USS Barry and USS Stout — and three submarines — USS Providence, USS Scranton and USS Florida. One British sub, the Westminster, also launched missiles. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested that outside powers hoped their intervention would be enough to turn the tide against Gadhafi and allow Libyans to force him out.

"It is our belief that if Mr. Gadhafi loses the capacity to enforce his will through vastly superior armed forces, he simply will not be able to sustain his grip on the country." This was the statement by he Canadian Prime Minister.

In as what is being considered "murder against his own people", was the reason why Coalition forces attacked Gadhafi's strongholds. "What we are doing is necessary, it is legal and it is right" claims Prime Minister David Cameron.

These actions are what is considered phase 1 of a multiphase operation. After the major ground positions have been softened, the next step will be to enforce a "no fly zone" with U.S. warplanes.

With all that is happening around him, Gadhafi said early on Sunday that the U.N. charter provides for Libya's right to defend itself in a "war zone."  He also said "All you people of the Islamic nations and Africa, and Latin America and Asia, stand with the Libyan people in its fight against this agression," Gadhafi said. As expected, the Libyan government spokesmans claims that the air attacks on several locations in Tripoli and Misrata have caused "real harm" to civilians.
But the facts show that Gadhafi has failed to adhere to a United Nations resolution that imposed the no-fly zone and ordered him to stop attacks on civilians.

Shortly after the inital attack, President Obama informed the American people of the efforts by a "broad coalition." "The use of force is not our first choice," the president said from Brasilia, Brazil. "It is not a choice I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his own people that there will be no mercy."

The attack comprised of more than 110 Tomahawk missles fired from American and British ships and submarines. At leaset 20 Libyan air and missle defense targets in western portions of the country were targets. Cruise missles, which fly close to the ground or sea at about 550 miles per hour, landed near Misrata and Tripoli, the capital and Gadhafi's stronghold.

In a note to Obama, Gadhafi defended his actions. He said his opponents are from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group's North African wing, and asked Obama what he would do if such an armed movement controlled American cities. "Tell me, how would you behave so I could follow your example?"

Even if what Gadhafi says is true, it is a 'day late and a dollar short'. If he needed to convince that the rebels were bad people and part of al Qaeda, he needed to prove this prior to the assult. Now, the coalation forces will not back down until he is out of power.


GOP House Plans to Cut Funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Center

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Opinion of the Editor 'James' Obama in the White House Blog....

When you think of all the devestation that has happened in Japan only a week ago, it is hard to stomach that the GOP House of Representatives plant to trim the 2011 budget that will take $454 million away from the agency running the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Before the Tsunami occurred, maybe many would have thought it was a good idea. But obviously, now with the devestation of Japan, it is not a good idea. Just one week ago amid the waves that rolled into Japan, the same agency alerted the nation to a potentially deadly wave that was felt in Hawaii and California after the Tsunami hit Japan. The Republicans seem set beyond any reasonable means to trim the 2011 federal budget, and they do not care on who is affected by it. The Republicans are in a belief that the parent agency - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has some fat to trim. The thought that these Republicans would think that they will get away from trimming ANY amount of money from this organization is absolutely ludicris. With decisions like that, it goes to show everyone how desperite they are to regain power in this country.
On another note, it always seems that the Democrats always want to spend money, when the Republicans always want to cut spending. While spending has been heightened during the Obama administration, manybe the Republicans need to admit to the real reason why the Democrats spend money. They know the answer as well as do the Democrats. In a nut shell, there have been Republican Administrations who failed the country by doing 'nothing'. It seemed to always be about balancing the budget. In a perfect world, that could be done, but with the economy that way it was given to President Obama, he didn't have much choice than to initiate spending to help the country. Now an interesting fact....
The last time the budget was balanced, it was just prior to George W. Bush, when Bill Clinton was President. It was during the Bush administration, that the budget deficit started to grow. President George W. Bush grew on the country like a cancer, as he did 'nothing' as president to help the economy of this country. Now the same people that supported him, the Republicans that supported him then are now in favor of cutting spending for the agency running the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
  Now in their defense, the Republicans did not know the Tsunami was going to hit Japan. Noone realized how it would effect such an industrialized country like Japan if it were to hit. But it is just the thought that the Republicans are going out of their way to devise means to cut money from the budget when they obviously do not know what the heck they are doing. These are the same people that dictate laws that you and I must follow, and the same people with the fat paychecks and great insurance, it is the same people who do not have to worry about surviving in todays economy. Is there a bill out there that they want to pass that would cut their salaries? I hardly think so. My wish is that the present House of Representitives led by the Republicans come to their senses and realize that their days of no spending are at an end, and just like we have to put up with the cost of 2 wars initiated by President Bush, the people of this country must now accept the costs of putting back together a country that was destroyed by a prior administration.


Possible Military Action in Libya

Sunday, March 13, 2011

President Obama may be one of the most cautious Presidents of all time, unlike former President Bush,  as he wieghs the pros and cons with options for responding to the crisis in Libya. High in the list of options are to declare a no-fly zone in Libya. What exactly would this mean? It would mean to the Libyan's that the United States for all intensive purposes will be declaring war on Libya. The United States would then attack all ground to air missile installations from the air using special guided missiles to eliminate the targets. It would be costly and it is not President Obama's first desired option regarding the crisis.  His hopes are that Moammar Gadhafi would "step down" and "relinquish power immediately," At the same time, the country of France is embracing the Libyan opposition leadership.
All assets to Gadhafi and his children have been frozen in the United States. The United States has innitiated sanctions against Kadhafi and Libya and has begun talks with the NATO allies on the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone over Libya.
Hilary Clinton plans to meet with the Libyan opposition leaders shortly during a trip to Egypt and Tunisia, and Obama's government has assigned "a representative whose specific job is to interact with the opposition and determine ways that we can further help them."  France now only recognizes the opposition council as the sole representative of the country, and the British are following suit. Germany at this time is being very cautious in choosing sides. Ties to the Libyan Embassy have been "suspended" and now the President is reaching out to the opposition leaders "inside and outside of Libya."  What this means is the the U.S. Libyan Embassy is now officially closed. but diplomatic relations are still open.  It looks as if the only thing the United States would be willing to accept is the removal of Moammar Gadhafi from power.


Nuclear Power Plant Disaster Extremely Serious - Two Reactors in Grave Danger

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It appears that a nuclear disaster may be playing out in Japan, as the country is struggling with 2 of its nuclear reactors. A possible meltdown of at least one of the reactors affected from the earthquake, and now a possibility of a second according to Yukio Edano, who is the country's chief cabinet secretary. Still, Mr. Edano cannot confirm that any meltdown has occurred, as he spoke of the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. Another reactor known as #3, it is safe to assume that the possibility of a meltdown exists. So why is a meltdown considered bad? The answer is very simple, as it would be a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, that undoubtedly would be a high potential of radiation release. So how can they really know since they are unable to get close to the core to know what is actually happening? Another way to know is to measure radioactive isotopes in the air. Various reports claim that plant officials have injected sea water and boron in an effort to cool its nuclear fuel to stop any reactions, but the Country's chief cabinet secretary now claims that all they have used is clean water, not salt water. Three reactors at the same site have shutdown safely and are safe, but 2 still have some colling system issues, as they still do not have enough cooling capacity to shutdown the reactors safely.

Japan Nuclear Reactor Locations
A physicist named Ken Bergeron, who was also a former scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, claims that there has been a detection on a cesium isotope that indicates that a nuclear fuel cladding has failed.  Cesium 137 if truly discovered can remain dangerous for 600 years and is associated with a number of cancers.  If this is truly the case, the only thing left holding the radiation is the containment building, and if cesium is discovered, most likely the building will be permanently sealed.  If it fails, there would then be a good chance of deadly radiation escaping into the atmosphere. Nobody seems certain what may happen in the next few days, but one thing is certain. The core temperature must drop down considerably before they could even think it may be under control. The news about the nuclear reactor most likely will be up front and center for reporters for at least the next couple of weeks, considering that no amounts of radiation escape from the facility.
In the past, there were only two other nuclear disasters that were worse. The 1979 partial meltdown of a reactor core at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union were worse.


Japan Video - Tsusami Engulfing Japan Coastline

Friday, March 11, 2011

A major earthquake, one of the largest to hit Japan followed by a Tsunami hitting the West Coast, magnitude 8.4-8.9 has washed away houses and farms.. Below is the following video of the Tsunami as it hits the coast and destroys farms, homes, cars, and trucks. 


Obama prepared to tap oil reserves

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- President Obama said Friday that he is prepared to tap the nation's strategic oil reserves to deal with any supply disruptions as part of his effort to keep gas prices under control.
Obama attributed the recent run-up in oil and gas prices to increased global demand, combined with uncertainty in the oil market due to political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East.
"Here at home, everybody should know that, should the situation demand it, we are prepared to tap the significant stockpile of oil that we have in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Obama said during a press conference in Washington.
Obama would not specify what price level would trigger a release form the strategic reserve. But, in a pointed message to the oil market, he said the United States and its allies will do what ever it takes "to make sure that oil supplies remain stable and that economic growth will continue."
Gas prices have risen nationwide for the last 17 days, with the national average price up 37 cents to $3.542 per gallon on Friday, according to motorist group AAA.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that it now expects the average price for a gallon of regular gas to average $3.56 this year. That is about 77 cents more than the average cost in 2010, and 40 cents more than the previous forecast.
Based on current market prices, the EIA said there is a 25% probability that retail gas prices will spike above $4 a gallon this summer. During peak driving season, from April through September, gas prices are expected to average $3.70 a gallon, the EIA said.
Obama acknowledged that the spike in gas prices is a major burden for American households and businesses alike. But he said gas price shocks are nothing new, underscoring the need to develop domestic oil sources and increase the use of alternative energy.
"The hard truth is, is that as long as our economy depends on foreign oil, we'll always be subject to price spikes," he said. "So we've got to get moving on a comprehensive energy strategy that pursues both more energy production and more energy conservation."
Oil prices surged above $100 a barrel last month as protesters in Egypt and Tunisia pushed out unpopular leaders. Prices rose even further as the unrest devolved into civil war in Libya, which has curtailed output in the Africa's third largest oil producer.But oil prices were down sharply Friday, following a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Obama said he told Japanese prime minister Kan that the United States is prepared to help in the recovery efforts.
"Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region, and we're going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy," he said.
Meanwhile, Obama said the government is also on the lookout for potential manipulation of the oil market. He directed the U.S. Attorney General and state regulators "to monitor for price gouging to make sure Americans are not taken advantage of at the pump." To top of page


Earthquake and Tsunami hits Japan

A preview of 2012? Maybe, or maybe not. Today was a disasterous day in the country of Japan, as a strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake on the wester Honshu island. This earthquake which triggered a Tsunami was the strongest on record in Japan's history. Flood waters reached as far as 6.2 miles inland. There are at least several hundred people killed and hundreds more missing. As reported in Tokya by CNN, walls of water reaching 30 feet high hit Japan's north coast. Not much in the path of the Tsunami wave survived. The waves ran across rice fields, engulfed towns, and dragged houses onto highways. Cars and boats were tossed around liketoys. The water reached as fara s about 6 miles (10 kilometrs) inland in Miyagi. Tens of thousands of people are now displaced, according to Japan's Kyodo News agency.

Aftershocks continued to hit Japan Saturday, along with a pair of strong earthquakes in the early morning. The epicenter of the earthquake was a a depth of 3,280 feet (1 kilometer) beneath westen Honshu island. Almost 60 aftershocks have rocked Japan since the main quake on Friday morning that occured off the island's east coast. It was located offshore of Miyagi Prefecture, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) from Tokyo. Aftershocks were measured at 7.1.

As expected, there were collapsed buildings, and power outages and transportation disruptions throughout Japan. Rail service has been suspended, and elevated highways were shutdown. Extensive fires raged thoughout the damaged areas.

 One of Japan's nuclear power plants located at the Fukushima nuclear plant has been affected, as all the reactors except one, shut down as expected, but one of the reactors failed to go down, even with emergency measures in place. Japan issued warnings to the areas around the plant and started evacuations of people from around the plant. It has also been reported that a small radiation leak from a reactor containment could occur.

  An oil refinery located in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo was also on fire, but the flames could not be tended to originally by firefighters because the heat from the flames was just too hot to get emergency equipment within range to fight the fire. Fires also have been identified in areas of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture.

In the area, a train had derailed and authorities lost contact with a 2nd train.

In Fukushima Prefecture, a dam had failed which washed away homes. There were no word of casualties, but at least 1,800 homes have been destroyed. At least 4 million homes are now without power.

The wave originally washed away hundreds of cars off of roads.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled as at least 13,000 people were stranded at the Narita airport, and another 10,000 stranded at the Haneda airport.

The Japan's busiest subway known as Tokyo Station was also affected, and hundreds of thousands of people at their homes were flooding on the streets hoping they could flee into safety from their shaking homes. Many people in Japan are familiar with these types of tragedies, but many were suprised that the strength of earthquake and the amount of damage caused by the Tsunami.


Doctors to provide update on Giffords' condition

Thursday, March 10, 2011

By the CNN Wire Staff

March 10, 2011 7:27 a.m. EST
Doctors say U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in January, is continuing to make progress.
Doctors say U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in January, is continuing to make progress.


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recuperating at a rehabilitation hospital in Houston
  • Giffords was shot in the head outside an Arizona supermarket in January
  • A judge has entered not guilty pleas on behalf of the shooting suspect
  • He also ordered a competency hearing for Jared Lee Loughner
(CNN) -- Doctors treating U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,
 D-Arizona, have scheduled a Friday morning news
conference to provide an update on her progress.
Giffords, who was shot in the head in an attack outside
a Tucson, Arizona, supermarket on January 8, has been recuperating at TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation
 hospital in Houston. She was moved there in late
January from the University Medical Center in Tucson,
"Two months after her injury, the congresswoman
continues to improve," the Houston hospital said in a
statement Wednesday night.
Six people were killed in the incident; Giffords was
among 13 injured. Authorities have said they believe
Giffords was targeted.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Arizona
entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Jared
Lee Loughner, 22, the Arizona man facing
49 counts, including murder and attempted
murder, related to the shooting.
Judge Larry Burns also scheduled a May 25
 competency hearing for Loughner, and
attorneys on both sides will be allowed to hire their
own experts to evaluate Loughner's competency to
stand trial.


U.S. Supreme Court

Friday, March 4, 2011

                  The Term at a Glance

March 2.  The court ruled unanimously that corporations have no personal privacy rights for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.
March 2. The court found that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount anti-gay protestsoutside military funerals, despite the pain they cause grieving families, ruling 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.
Feb. 23. The court unanimously ruled that the family of a woman killed in a head-on collision may sue the maker of the minivan she was riding in for failing to install lap-and-shoulder belts.
Paul J. Richards/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images
Feb. 22. The court heard arguments in a case that touched on the most pressing constitutional question of the day: just how much power does Congress have to regulate matters ordinarily left up to the states? The fate of President Obama’s health care law will turn on how that question is answered.
Feb. 22. People injured by vaccines that they say were improperly designed must rely solely on a compensation system created by a 1986 law and may not sue vaccine manufacturers, the court ruledin a 6-2 decision.
Jan. 19. The court ruled in a unanimous decision that scientists and engineers who work on government space programs and other employees of government contractors must submit to intrusive background checks if they want to keep their jobs.
Jan. 18. The state secrets privilege, which enables the government to shut down litigation by invoking national security, was at the center of an argument.
The 2010-2011 term of the Supreme Court, which began Oct. 4, includes cases on some of the most contested issues of the day, including protests at military funerals, illegal immigration, support for religious schools, violent video games, DNA evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.
The term’s arguments and decisions will be scrutinized for insights into the thinking of the court’s newest member, Justice Elena Kagan, and for hints about how the court will rule when even more highly charged cases reach it, probably in a year or two, on federal health care legislation, same-sex marriage, the treatment of gay members of the armed services and the recent Arizona law giving the police there greater authority to check the immigration status of people they stop.
In her confirmation hearings, the then solicitor general said she would recuse herself “from any case in which I served as counsel of record” and “any case in which I played a substantial role.” Because she worked on both pre-emption cases while solicitor general, she has recused herself. Her old job will prevent her from participating in about half of the 54 cases on the docket so far, raising the possibility of 4-to-4 deadlocks. But her participation in the court’s work will rise as the term progresses and the aftereffects of her last job start to recede.
In early November, Justice Kagan gave some strong hints about how she would apply her recusal standard in cases concerning two major social issues. The hints came in two terse and routine orders from the court saying only that the justices would not intervene in proceedings under way in the lower courts.
One concerned the recent health care legislation. There Justice Kagan indicated that she would not recuse herself. The other was about the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy restricting openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving in the military. There she stepped aside.
How is this known? The order in the second case but not the first said: “Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of this application.”
That is the court’s stock formula. Justices Stephen G. Breyer andSonia Sotomayor used essentially the same language in noting their own recusals from other cases in early November. There was no indication, on the other hand, that Justice Clarence Thomas had disqualified himself from the case involving the health care law. His wife, Virginia Thomas, has been affiliated with a group that opposes the law and has not disclosed its contributors. None of these justices explained why.
The following are among the most significant cases the court will be hearing in the 2010-2011 term:
In a second major First Amendment case, Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, No. 08-1448, the court will decide whether states may restrict the sale of violent video games to minors. The lower courts in the case and many courts considering similar questions have uniformly said no.
The Supreme Court has never extended to violent materials the principles that allow the regulation of sexual materials. But the justices agreed to hear the video games case in April 2010, just days after striking down a federal law making it a crime to sell dogfight videos and other depictions of animal cruelty.
Protection for Prisoners

In a pair of cases involving death row inmates, the justices will consider what an inmate may do to try to establish his innocence and what legal recourse is available to exonerated prisoners.
The first question is presented in Skinner v. Switzer, No. 09-9000, an appeal from Hank Skinner, an inmate in Texas who is seeking access to DNA evidence that he says could prove his innocence. In March, the court granted a stay of execution less than an hour before Mr. Skinner was to be put to death in the murder of his girlfriend and her two sons.
Mr. Skinner seeks to test blood, fingernail scrapings and hair found at the scene of the killings. He maintains that he was sleeping on a sofa in a stupor induced by vodka and codeine when the killings took place on Dec. 31, 1993. Prosecutors say he is making his request too late, adding that testing would be pointless because “no item of evidence exists that would conclusively prove that Skinner did not commit the murder.”
The case concerning a prisoner’s exoneration is Connick v. Thompson, 09-571, which arose from a $14 million jury award in favor of a former inmate who was freed after prosecutorial misconduct came to light.
The former inmate, John Thompson, sued officials in the district attorney’s office in New Orleans, saying they had not trained prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. A prosecutor there failed to give Mr. Thompson’s lawyers a report showing that blood at a crime scene was not his.
Mr. Thompson spent 18 years in prison, 14 in solitary confinement. He once came within weeks of being executed.
Material Witnesses
The material witness law is typically used to hold people who have information about crimes committed by others when there is reason to think they would otherwise not appear at trial to give testimony. Critics say the Bush administration radically reinterpreted the law after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, using it as a preventive-detention tool.
Laws allowing the preventive detention of suspected terrorists are common in Europe. The United States does not have such a law, but the plaintiff in the case, Abdullah al-Kidd, who was born in Kansas, contends that a policy set by Mr. Ashcroft allowed federal prosecutors to use the material witness law to the same end.
Mr. Kidd, who described himself in a 2004 interview as “anti-bin Laden, anti-Taliban, anti-suicide bombing, anti-terrorism,” was never called to testify as a witness or charged with a crime. He was detained after F.B.I. agents wrongly concluded that he had bought a  one-way ticket to Saudi Arabia, where he was going to work on doctoral studies. He then spent 16 days in federal detention in three states in 2003, sometimes naked and sometimes shackled hand and foot.
The Obama administration had urged the justices to reverse a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, that had allowed Mr. Kidd’s lawsuit to proceed. “If permitted to stand,” Acting Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal wrote, “the decision below would seriously limit the circumstances in which prosecutors could invoke the material witness statute without fear of personal liability.”
Compensation for a Vaccination
On Oct. 12, the Supreme Court struggled to divine the balance Congress had meant to strike in a 1986 law that established a system to compensate people injured by vaccines while barring some, but not all, lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.
Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, No. 09-152, the case before the justices, involved Hannah Bruesewitz, who received a vaccine known as D.T.P. as an infant in 1992. The vaccine, made by Wyeth, offers protection against diphtheriatetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough. Ms. Bruesewitz suffered intense seizures and has experienced developmental problems and seizure disorders ever since.
Her parents filed a petition for compensation in the vaccine court, which ruled against them, saying they had not proved that the vaccine caused their daughter’s injuries. They then sued in state court in Pennsylvania. The case was moved to federal court, where Wyeth has so far won.
The question in the case is whether the 1986 law displaced — or pre-empted, in the legal jargon — ordinary injury suits brought under state law. The Roberts court has been much engaged with the limits of the pre-emption doctrine, and it will also hear cases in the 2010-2011 term involving arbitration, immigration and seat belts that raise pre-emption questions.
Ms. Bruesewitz’s case turns on the text of the federal law, which bars ordinary lawsuits “if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.” Much of the argument concerned the meaning of the word “unavoidable.”
A Case From Death Row
On Oct. 13, in an argument about a death row inmate’s quest to testDNA evidence, the justices asked neither of the questions that people without legal training might have thought crucial: Why won’t Texas prosecutors consent to the testing? And could the results show that the inmate, Henry W. Skinner, is innocent of the triple murder that sent him to death row?
The justices focused instead on whether Mr. Skinner had located a path through a thicket of legal doctrines meant to limit postconviction challenges.
In 2009, the court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that inmates have no freestanding right under the Constitution’s due process clause to test evidence that could prove their innocence in states without laws on DNA testing. The court and Congress have, moreover, severely limited habeas corpus challenges to convictions and sentences.
Mr. Skinner chose a third route, suing under a federal civil rights law known as Section 1983 and saying a Texas law that allows DNA testing in only some circumstances violated his rights.
That position required Mr. Skinner’s lawyer, Robert C. Owen, to maintain that his client’s goal, at least for now, was not to challenge his conviction or death sentence, as such challenges would have to be brought through a habeas petition, but simply to test the evidence.
Prosecutors said in their briefs that Mr. Skinner was playing games with the system, dragging out his case and seeking to impose unacceptable burdens on government resources and the victims’ dignity. They added that testing would be pointless because “no item of evidence exists that would conclusively prove that Skinner did not commit the murder.”
Holding a Material Witness
The court agreed on Oct. 18 to decide whether the former United States attorney general, John Ashcroft, may be sued over a law that allows for the holding of a “material witnesses.” The plaintiff, Abdullah al-Kidd, spent more than two weeks in federal detention in three states in 2003. He was never charged. Mr. Kidd argues that the law used to detain him on suspicion of terrorist activities.
In 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco allowed Mr. Kidd’s suit to proceed, rejecting Mr. Ashcroft’s claim that he was entitled to prosecutorial immunity. 
Violent Video Games
On Nov. 2, the justices struggled to define how the First Amendment applied to the sale of violent video games to minors.
They worried about whether it made sense to extend, for the first time, principles allowing the government to regulate depictions of sex to depictions of violence. They considered conflicting studies on the effects of violent video games on young people. And they expressed doubt about whether the law at issue, from California, drew sensible distinctions among the games it covered.
The law would impose $1,000 fines on stores that sell violent video games to people under 18. It defined violent games as those “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being” in a way that is “patently offensive,” appeals to minors’ “deviant or morbid interests” and lacks “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
Most of the justices seemed to agree that a ruling in favor of the California law would require a novel extension of First Amendment principles to expressions concerning violence.
Religious Schools and Tax Credits
In 2002, in a 5-to-4 ruling, the court upheld a school voucher system in Cleveland that parents used almost exclusively to pay for religious schools. Since then, four new justices have joined the court, but nothing in arguments heard on Nov 3, 2010, suggested that the issue has become any less polarizing.
The program at issue before the court gives Arizona taxpayers a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit of up to $500 for donations to private “student tuition organizations.” The contributors may not designate their dependents as beneficiaries. The organizations are permitted to limit the scholarships they offer to schools of a given religion, and many do.
The program was challenged by Arizona taxpayers who said it effectively used state money to finance religious education and so violated the First Amendment’s prohibition on the official establishment of religion. The program was novel and complicated enough that the court’s decision on the merits might not be particularly consequential. But a threshold question, about whether the challengers have legal standing to sue, could give rise to an important ruling.
Working Students and Taxes
On Nov. 8 , justices heard a case — Mayo Foundation v. United States, No. 09-837 — concerning medical residents, who work long hours as part of their studies and often earn more than $50,000 a year. Under a 2005 Treasury Department regulation, they are subject to Social Security taxes, in spite of an exemption for work performed. But students who would otherwise qualify for the exemption lose it if they work more than 40 hour per week, even if they learn from what they do. 
Under a 2005 Treasury Department regulation, residents are subject to Social Security taxes, notwithstanding a statutory exemption for work performed by students who regularly attend classes, as residents do. The regulation says that students who would otherwise qualify for the exemption lose it if they work more than 40 hour per week, even if they learn from what they do. According to a brief filed by residency programs that are seeking tax refunds, there are about 100,000 residents in 8,000 programs nationwide. According to a government brief, medical residents are subject to about $700 million in Social Security taxes each year.
Theodore B. Olson, a lawyer representing the programs seeking refunds, told the justices that they are fundamentally educational, including “a rigorous core curriculum” with “hundreds of classes, conferences, lectures, laboratory research, written exams, grades and intensive, hands-on clinical patient training under the supervision of faculty members.”
But Matthew D. Roberts, a lawyer for the government, said residents were “workers who are working between 50 and 80 hours a week over many years for substantial salaries” and so “are precisely the kind of workers whose employers should be supporting the Social Security system and who should be earning credit towards disability and survivor benefits.”
The argument in the case  also included questions about Supreme Court clinics at law schools, architectural apprentices and work-study programs.
A Class-Action Suit Against AT&T Mobility
A mobile-phone contract agreed to by a couple, Vincent and Liza Concepcion, required them to resolve their disputes through the informal mechanism of arbitration and barred them from banding together with others to seek class-action treatment, whether in arbitration or in traditional litigation in court. The Concepcions sued over a $30 charge, charging fraud. Applying the California Supreme Court’s decision, federal courts in California allowed the couple's lawsuit to proceed as a class action in court.
The phone company, At&T Mobility, appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the effect of the class-action ruling was to discriminate against arbitrations in violation of the Federal Arbitration Act, which generally overrides state laws unfavorable to arbitration and requires courts to enforce arbitration agreements unless a given state law limitation applies to all kinds of contracts.
At the court hearing on Nov. 9, 2010, the Concepcions' lawyer said a ruling for the company would spell the end of class actions in all sorts of cases. AT&T's lawyer said a ruling against his client would sound a different sort of death knell, this one for the arbitration provisions that were common in many standard-form contracts.
Recent Supreme Court decisions have generally favored the enforcement of arbitration agreements and have been wary of aspects of class-action litigations. But it was hardly clear at the arguments on Nov. 10 that those two trends would continue in the latest case.
That was because it included a third, confounding element. To rule for the company, the justices would have to reject a decision of the California Supreme Court. That court said that class-action waivers in standard-form contracts, whether applicable to arbitration or litigation, were unconscionable under state law.
Much of the argument before the bench revolved around a semantic point: Is a state law prohibiting class-action waivers one that applies to all contracts or one that specially disfavors arbitration contracts?
California's Prison Conditions
Hearing arguments in Schwarzenegger v. Plata, No. 09-1233 on Nov. 30, most of the justices appeared to believe that conditions in California's prisons were unconstitutional. But they did not seem poised to endorse a lower court order that would remedy the problem.
The order by a special three-judge federal court in California would require state officials to reduce the prison population by as many as 45,000 inmates over two years, to address what it called longstanding constitutional violations in medical and mental health treatment.
Justice Breyer said the conditions documented papers were horrendous. He referred, for instance, to a passage in one brief describing prisoners “found hanged to death in holding tanks where observation windows are obscured with smeared feces, and discovered catatonic in pools of their own urine after spending nights locked in small cages.”
But Justice Kennedy, whose vote may determine the case, said the special court’s math seemed arbitrary, and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said he feared a rise in crime should large numbers of prisoners be released.
The court heard 80 minutes of arguments in the case, rather than the usual hour.
A Disability Bungles a Deadline
In December, the justices heard arguments in Henderson v. Shinseki, No.09-1036, which sparred over whether a 2009 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit meant to bar the courthouse door to David L. Henderson, who served on the front lines in the Korean War and was discharged after receiving a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. That disability, his lawyers said, caused him to bungle a deadline.
The appeals court said its ruling was required by a 2007 decision of the Supreme Court that said deadlines for filing appeals must be applied strictly. But the ruling in the Henderson case, according to a dissent from three of its judges, created “a Kafkaesque adjudicatory process in which those veterans who are most deserving of service-connected benefits will frequently be those least likely to obtain them.”
Mr. Henderson, who died while his Supreme Court case was pending, had sought additional government help for his condition in 2001. He was turned down in 2004. A federal law gave him 120 days to appeal that determination to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, but it took him 135 days.
But the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision, Bowles v. Russell, said that deadlines for filing appeals were “jurisdictional,” meaning they are not subject to exceptions or excuses. The Bowles case concerned an inmate who missed a deadline because he had been given erroneous instructions by a federal judge.
At the Dec. 6 hearing, Justice Ginsburg, one of three justices who signed a dissent on Bowles, said the Bowles decision was “a substantial hurdle to contend with.” Justice Antonin Scalia went further, saying approvingly that “Bowles was a nice, clear case.”
Stiff Fines for Hiring Illegal Aliens
The questioning on Dec. 8 suggested that challengers to an Arizona law imposing imposes harsh penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants face an uphill battle in trying to capture the five votes they need to prevail. Justice Kagan, who had worked on the case as United States solicitor general, had recused herself, and so only eight justices heard the case.
A coalition of business and civil liberties groups, supported by the Obama administration, has said that the law should be struck down because it conflicts with federal immigration policy. 
The argument was simultaneously a policy debate and an extended exegesis of a crucial phrase in a 1986 federal law that regulates the hiring procedures. The question in the case was whether Arizona was entitled to supplement the penalties in the 1986 law with much tougher ones.
The debate, primarily between Justices Scalia and Breyer, concerned dueling conceptions of the role that federal and state governments should play in enforcing immigration laws. Justice Scalia said the state law was a necessary response to federal inaction. Justice Breyer, on the other hand, said the federal law had struck a careful balance between enforcing immigration laws and avoiding employment discrimination, a balance the Arizona law could undermine.
Justice Kennedy's vote would most likely have been decisive had nine justices heard the case. With an eight-member court, his vote seemed necessary but not sufficient for a victory for the challengers, and it was in any event hard to tell which way he was leaning.
Reports of a Loss of Smell
On Jan. 10, 2011, the justices heard arguments in Matrixx Initiatives v. Siracusano, No. 09-1156, a class action against Matrixx Initiatives. The Arizona company is accused of committing securities fraud by failing to tell investors of reports that its main product, a nasal spray and gel called Zicam, might have caused some users to lose their sense of smell. The condition is known asanosmia.
Justice Scalia approached it from a novel angle, asking the government lawyer, “What do you think about Satan?”
Satan came into the case by way of analogy. Matrixx contended that it should not have been required to disclose small numbers of unreliable reports of adverse effects, which were all it said were available in 2004. A link between Zicam and anosmia was reported on “Good Morning America” in 2004, and the company’s stock dropped 24 percent.
“For years many consumers would not purchase products fromProcter & Gamble because of a ridiculous rumor that the company was Satanic,” Matrixx said in a recent brief.
The Supreme Court has said that companies may be sued under the securities law for making statements that omit material information, and it has defined material information as the sort of thing that reasonable investors would believe significantly alters the “total mix” of available information.
Much of the argument revolved around whether reasonable investors would want to know about false and outlandish assertions like the one about Satanism so long as the assertions might affect the price of securities.
How Police May Search Homes
More than 60 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the police were not entitled to enter a residence without a warrant merely because they smelled burning opium. On Jan. 12, 2011, at theargument of a case about what the police were entitled to do on smelling marijuana outside a Kentucky apartment, two justices voiced concerns that the court may be poised to eviscerate the older ruling.
The old ruling, Johnson v. United States in 1948, involved the search of a hotel room in Seattle. The smell of drugs could provide probable cause for a warrant, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote for the majority, but it did not entitle the police to enter without one.
In the new case, police officers in Kentucky were looking for a suspect who had sold cocaine to an informant. They smelled burning marijuana coming from an apartment, knocked loudly and announced themselves. Then they heard sounds from inside the apartment that they said made them fear evidence was being destroyed. They kicked the door in and found marijuana and cocaine but not the original suspect, who was in a different apartment.
The Kentucky Supreme Court suppressed the evidence, saying that any risk of drugs’ being destroyed was the result of the decision by the police to knock and announce themselves rather than to obtain a warrant.
Lawyers for Kentucky and the federal government told the justices on Jan. 12 that the lower court had erred. There had been no violation of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches, they said, because the police had acted lawfully every step of the way.
Justice Kagan expressed doubts about that approach. A standard that looks only at the lawfulness of police behavior, she said, “is going to enable the police to penetrate the home, to search the home, without a warrant, without going to see a magistrate, in a very wide variety of cases.”
A Kentucky assistant attorney general said that nothing the police had done in this case had violated the Fourth Amendment. Police could theoretically break in to a residence if they smelled drugs outside, he said.
Other justices appeared untroubled by the standard the government lawyers proposed.
“There are a lot of constraints on law enforcement,” Justice Scaliasaid, “and the one thing that it has going for it is that criminals are stupid.”
State Secrets Privilege
Almost 60 years have passed since the court last had a hard look at the state secrets privilege, which can allow the government to shut down litigation by invoking national security. The privilege was at the center of an argument at the court on Jan. 18, but the justices did not seem inclined to use the opportunity to give the lower courts guidance about its contours.
The case arose from a 1988 contract between the Navy and two companies, General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas, to develop a stealth aircraft called the A-12 Avenger. Three years later, dissatisfied with the contractors’ progress, the Navy declared them in default and demanded the return of $1.35 billion.
The contractors sued, asking to keep the money and seeking $1.2 billion more. They said their work had been frustrated by the government’s failure to share classified technology. The government disputed that, but would not explain why, invoking the state secrets privilege.
Justice Scalia proposed to resolve the case based on what he called “the ‘go away’ principle of our jurisprudence.” That principle means, he explained, that the courts should do nothing when they cannot determine which side is right because of the state-secrets privilege.
“So to say ‘go away’ means everybody keeps the money he has,” Justice Scalia said.
But Justice Kagan expressed doubts about having multibillion-dollar disputes turn on the happenstance of which side was holding the other’s money.
Weighing the Power of Congress
On Feb. 23, the court heard arguments in a case touching on whether the Congress could regulate matters usually left up to the states. The outcome of the recent health care law may hang in the balance. But based on the justices’ comments, the lurid facts of the case and the odd posture in which it reached the court, the eventual decision will probably offer only limited guidance on the health care law’s prospects.
The case heard, Bond v. United States, No. 09-1227, arose from a domestic dispute. Carol A. Bond, a Pennsylvania woman, did not take it well when she learned that her husband was the father of her best friend’s child. She promised to make her former friend’s life “a living hell,” and she drew on her skills as a microbiologist to do so. Ms. Bond spread harmful chemicals on her friend’s car, mailbox and doorknob. The friend suffered only a minor injury.
Federal prosecutors charged Ms. Bond with using unconventional weapons in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, a treaty concerned with terrorists and rogue states. 
In her appeal to the federal appeals court in Philadelphia, Ms. Bond argued that Congress did not have the constitutional power to use a chemical weapons treaty to address a matter of a sort routinely handled by state authorities. She cited the 10th Amendment, which says that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
The appeals court ruled that Ms. Bond did not have standing to raise a 10th Amendment defense. Only states, it said, can invoke the amendment.
Federal prosecutors initially embraced that line of argument, but the Justice Department abandoned it in the Supreme Court, saying that Ms. Bond was free to try to mount a defense based on the amendment. Since Ms. Bond and her nominal adversary agreed on the central issue in the case, the court appointed a lawyer, Stephen R. McAllister, to argue for the position the government had disowned. The outcome of the case on the standing point did not seem in much doubt at the hearing.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., for instance, said it would be “pretty harsh” to forbid Ms. Bond from challenging her conviction on the ground that the law under which she was convicted exceeded Congressional authority.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
On Nov. 12, in an unsigned, two-paragraph order, the justicesdenied a request by the Log Cabin Republicans, the group trying to overturn the law, to reinstate an order by a federal district judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, that prohibited enforcement during the appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had ruled, however, that the military could continue enforcement during the appeal, and  the Supreme Court agreed. The decision did not address the merits of the case.
The Mandatory Minimum
In its first signed decision of the term, the court ruled on Nov. 15, 2010, that people convicted of possessing a gun while selling drugsare subject to five-year mandatory minimum sentences on top of most of other sentences. The decision was unanimous. But Justice Kagan did not participate, having disqualified herself in light of her work as United States solicitor general.
The decision involved two defendants whose cases had been consolidated. One of them, Kevin Abbott of Philadelphia, was convicted of drug trafficking, of a related gun charge with the 5-year minimum and under a law requiring a 15-year minimum sentence for career criminals. Only the latter two charges figured in his sentence, and the trial judge added them together for a total of 20 years.
The second defendant, Carlos R. Gould of Wichita Falls, Tex., pleaded guilty to a drug charge involving cocaine with a 10-year minimum sentence and the related gun charge with a five-year minimum. The trial court gave him a little more than the minimum on the drug charge — 11 years and five months — and then added five years for the gun charge.
The question in the case was what Congress meant when it revised a 1968 federal gun control law in 1998 by, among other things, adding a new preface saying the five-year minimum for having or using guns while selling drugs applied “except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided.” Mr. Abbott argued that his 15-year-sentence for being a career criminal was such a greater minimum sentence and that it should cancel out the additional five years for the gun charge. Mr. Gould said the same about his 10-year sentence.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court, said it was implausible to think Congress had altered the law in 1998 in the direction of leniency. All Congress meant to say in 1998 was that defendants subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of more than five years for a particular crime — that of having or using a gun in connection with a drug crime — need only serve the longer sentence.
Congress did not mean to say, Justice Ginsburg went on, that any longer minimum sentence for unrelated crimes also canceled out the five-year gun sentence.
Medical Students and Taxes
The court ruled on Jan. 11, 2011, that medical residents must paySocial Security taxes. The case concerning medical residents considered a federal law that exempts students from paying such taxes. Allowing residents to take the exemption would cost the federal government $700 million a year, the Justice Department said.
In announcing the decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the question it presented boiled down to whether residents were “workers who study or students who work.”
Residents often work 50 to 80 hours a week, the chief justice wrote. They can make $50,000, and they often receive health insurance and paid vacations. But they work under the supervision of more senior doctors who also instruct them, and they attend lectures and take exams.
Chief Justice Roberts, writing for a unanimous eight-member court, said the law itself did not clearly answer whether residents were mainly workers or students. But he said a 2004 Treasury Department regulation had drawn a reasonable line.
A Ruling on Debtors
In a second decision on Jan. 11, this one featuring the first opinion from Justice Kagan, the court ruled that some bankrupt debtorswho own their cars outright are not entitled to shield a standard monthly amount for the “ownership costs” of their vehicles.
Like the decision involving Social Security taxes, the dispute in that case also concerned the meaning of a federal law, this one allowing some debtors a standard monthly allowance for car-ownership costs.
Jason M. Ransom, a Nevada man, claimed the applicable $471 allowance for a 2004 Toyota he owned outright. A credit card company seeking repayment objected, saying that only people making loan or lease payments should qualify for the deduction.
Over the course of his five-year repayment plan, the deduction would have allowed Mr. Ransom to shield $28,000 from creditors.
Justice Kagan, writing for the eight-justice majority, said “a debtor who does not make loan or lease payments may not take the car-ownership deduction.”
She acknowledged that the ruling could give rise to occasional curious outcomes. For instance, a debtor with only a single loan payment remaining would be entitled to the entire deduction.
Background Checks Upheld
Federal employees have long been required to submit to background checks. In 2004, following a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, the requirement was extended to employees of government contractors.
Twenty-eight employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a NASAcenter operated by the California Institute of Technology, sued, saying the checks would violate their constitutional right to “informational privacy.” The employees worked on civilian space missions and research.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit provisionally agreed in 2008, ordering parts of the background checks halted while the employees' case went forward. The court said that two kinds of questions in the government forms raised constitutional concerns. The employees were asked about drug use and counseling, and they were required to sign a form authorizing the government to collect information from schools, landlords, employers and others.
In an opinion for six justices, Justice Alito said he assumed for purposes of the decision that a constitutional right to avoid disclosing personal information exists, but he did not say what part of the Constitution it was grounded in or what kinds of information it covered. He did say that the information sought here did not violate whatever such right may exist. 
Justice Scalia, writing a dissenting opinion for himself and Justice Thomas, aimed harsh criticism at the majority, returning to a theme he pressed in 2009 — that the court is violating its duty and harming its reputation in issuing vague decisions.
Justice Kagan did not participate in the case.
Suit Faulting a Vaccine Rejected
In February 2011, the court ruled that people harmed by vaccines that they argued were wrongly designed must rely solely on a compensation system devised by a 1986 law and may not sue themakers of the vaccine. The vote was 6 to 2, with Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself because of her work on the case as United States solicitor general. 
The issue in the case was whether the compensation system created by the 1986 law displaced, or pre-empted, ordinary injury suits brought under state law. The Roberts court has been hearing many pre-emption cases under other laws, and decisions on ones concerning immigration, arbitration and seat belts are expected this term.
The case before the court, Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, No. 09-152, was brought by the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who received a vaccine known as D.T.P. as an infant in 1992. The vaccine offers protection against diphtheriatetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough. She suffered seizures and has had developmental problems and seizure disorders since.
Justice Sotomayor, who was joined by Justice Ginsburg in dissent, said the majority opinion “disturbs the careful balance Congress struck between compensating vaccine-injured children and stabilizing the childhood vaccine market.”
First Amendement and Funerals
The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son's funeral.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. JusticeSamuel Alito dissented.
Justice Roberts said the First Amendment shields the funeral protesters, noting that they obeyed police directions and were 1,000 feet from the church. Matthew Snyder died in Iraq in 2006 and his body was returned to the United States for burial. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who have picketed military funerals for several years, decided to protest outside the Westminster, Md., church where his funeral was to be held.
The Rev. Fred Phelps and his family members who make up most of the Westboro Baptist Church have picketed many military funerals in their quest to draw attention to their incendiary view that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.


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