Church leader stabbed by man in Santa suit

JAFFA, Israel, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Three suspects were arrested in the death of a prominent Christian leader in Jaffa in a property dispute, Israeli police said.

Gabriel Cadis, 61, chairman of the Jaffa Orthodox Church Association, was stabbed to death last month during a procession to mark Orthodox Christmas. The attacker was dressed as Santa Claus, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Police have just lifted a media ban on the investigation, the newspaper said.

Cadis had been involved in a dispute over a building purchased for the Orthodox Church Association. Three members of the Abu Maneh family, who claimed ownership of the building, have been arrested in the slaying.

Police said the family had been trying to prove in court that they lived in the $2.7 million building and Cadis had no right to evict them.

“The suspects wanted to get rid of Cadis so that the case would collapse,” a police source told the newspaper.

More targeted killings hit Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Nine people have died in a surge of targeted killings in Karachi, Pakistan, over the past 24 hours, authorities said Tuesday.

Among those killed were the wife and daughter of a local government official, a 40-year-old doctor and the manager of a fast food outlet, Pakistan’s Dawn News reported.

Karachi police cordoned off areas where the killings took place and arrested 36 suspects.

House GOP to unveil transportation funding

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — A House transportation bill would give states more authority and encourage private companies to expand the U.S. highway system by building toll roads.

The Republican bill, to be presented Tuesday, also would drastically reduce environmental review time and would require people convicted of drunken driving to use ignition interlock devices for a year, The Washington Post reported.

The House proposal would fund transportation projects near current funding levels of about $260 billion over five years, averaging about $40.6 billion for highways and $10.1 billion for transit, a review indicated, less than the annual $54 billion proposed by the Senate in its two-year bill.

Among the more controversial issues in the House bill is a provision that would raise the maximum truck weight from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 and would allow their length to grow by five feet, the Post said. Safety advocates and the rail industry indicated they’re ready to lobby against that provision.

While congressional members have little appetite for imposing tolls on existing interstate highways, the House GOP plan would encourage private investment in projects that build additional lanes on those highways and collect tolls to pay for them.

The proposal for mandatory ignition interlocks, now required in 15 states, is in the Senate bill. An interlock device is a mechanism installed to a vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver must first breathe into the device. If the breath-alcohol concentration result analyzed is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the device prevents the engine from starting.

Palestinians indicted for abusing daughter

QALQIYLA, West Bank, Jan. 31 (UPI) — A Palestinian couple has been indicted on abuse charges for locking the man’s daughter in a bathroom for more than nine years, Israeli prosecutors said.

The indictment said the couple had prevented the 20-year-old victim from attending school beginning when she was 11-years-old and isolated her from other family members, reported Tuesday.

She was only allowed to leave the bathroom to do housework.

Qalqilya police on the West Bank said the father told them he imprisoned his daughter in the bathroom after some unspecified family quarrel. said officers acting on a tip went to the home earlier this month and freed the girl who was turned over to a social worker.

The indictment states the father hit his daughter and caused contusions at the instigation of his partner who was not the girl’s mother.

It said the partner urged the girls’ father to leave a razor blade in the shower so the girl could kill herself.

Palestinian police turned the couple over to Israeli authorities.

Netanyahu votes in Likud party primary

JERUSALEM, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says low voter turnout and an activist boycott could inflate Tuesday’s party primary numbers for his opponent.

Netanyahu and rival Moshe Feiglin voted early Friday as the Likud party primary opened, The Jerusalem Post reported.

While Netanyahu remains the clear favorite, the prime minister said primary results could be skewed if voters fail to participate.

“If the inactive majority stays home, we get an inaccurate picture” of what party activists want. “If everyone comes and votes, we get a clear picture,” he told reporters in Jerusalem.

More than 125,000 people are eligible to vote.

Likud activists who have called for the boycott say they’re hoping for less than 50 percent turnout, which would give them the opportunity to question the legitimacy of the vote.

Feiglin is looking for a boost from the last Likud primary in August 2007, when he won just 23.4 percent of the vote, reported.

Nine militants die in Yemen drone strike

SANAA, Yemen, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Security officials in Yemen said Tuesday nine militants were killed in a suspected drone strike on a militant target in southern Yemen.

The strike occurred in Abyan province near areas that were taken over in May by Ansar al-Shariah, a militant group with links to al-Qaida, CNN reported.

The group had declared Abyan an Islamic emirate and called for the implementation of Shariah law.

Yemen’s efforts to wrest the province from the hands of the militants has resulted in hundreds of deaths, the country’s defense ministry said.

Two security officials told CNN Monday night’s drones belonged to the United States.

U.S. officials rarely discuss the drone program though privately they have said the covert strikes are legal and an effective tactic in the fight against extremists.

A CIA-operated drone killed American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in September.

Militants attack Pakistan outpost

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Ten security officers were killed Tuesday and 32 others injured when militants attacked a military outpost in northwestern Pakistan, a security official said.

The official told Pakistan’s The Express Tribune scores of militants stormed the security post in the Jogi area of central Kurram Agency in retaliation for a battle that occurred last week.

“The security forces had entered a zone which is considered to be a stronghold of militants. It was a counter attack,” the official said.

Tuesday’s battle lasted for hours and involved helicopter gunships.

The official said 25 militants were killed by government forces.

The Kurram Valley is along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Obama: Use of drones heavily monitored

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — U.S. President Obama defended the controversial use of drones, saying the program is tightly controlled for specific targets to avoid more invasive action.

Obama said use of unmanned aircraft in theaters of war helps keep civilian deaths down when striking at suspected terrorist sites in Pakistan and elsewhere, The New York Times reported Monday.

“We are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” Obama said during a Web-based interview session sponsored by Google Plus, the social media site of Google. “It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”

Obama confirmed the CIA drones were used by the State Department for surveillance of diplomatic facilities in Iraq, as reported by the Times. He said the drones were a key element in U.S. offensive against al-Qaida.

The CIA’s drone program, unlike the military’s use of armed unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan and previously in Iraq, is a covert operation and generally has not been addressed directly by the administration.

Italy reiterates commitment to UNIFIL

NAQOURA, Lebanon, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Italy has reiterated its commitment to South Lebanon as an Italian commander took over as chief of the 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping contingent there.

Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra was handed control Saturday of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon — UNIFIL — taking over from Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas of Spain.

Serra takes over after Italy moved to reduce its troop contingent from 1,800 to 1,100 soldiers following attacks on peacekeepers in May and July — a move Rome said was made not in response to the attacks but as part of a wider round of defense cuts.

Serra was handed command of UNIFIL at its headquarters at Naqoura, Lebanon, in a ceremony attended by the Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn, Lebanese armed forces commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi and Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola, among other dignitaries.

Serra said he is “fully committed” to working with the Lebanese armed forces to train them to take over security at the border between Israel and Lebanon and promised to further develop the strategic partnership with them.

He said peace and security for the region “lies in the continued commitment of all the parties to the cessation of hostilities and full respect of (U.N.) Resolution 1701,” which was enacted to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Part of the resolution calls for the two sides to adhere to the Blue Line, which marks the border between the countries.

“The respect for the Blue Line by the parties and their cooperation in UNIFIL’s efforts to further the visible marking of the Blue Line is a process that can support the improving of the general security for the people of southern Lebanon,” Serra said.

Di Paola told the Beirut newspaper The Daily Star Italy remains firmly committed to UNIFIL despite the troop cutbacks and last year’s attacks on peacekeepers.

Five Italian troops were wounded in an attack on a UNIFIL convoy in May, followed a month later by a roadside bomb attack on French troops in which five were also wounded.

Another attack in December near Tyre wounded a further five French peacekeepers and one Lebanese civilian.

Di Paola noted the violence of the incidents, but added, “overall, the incidents do not change the situation,” on the ground.

“When you look to the role of UNIFIL, and what they have been able to achieve, together with the Lebanese army, (it is hard to deny) the fact, we are contributing to bringing stability … in a very sensitive area.”

Di Paola noted the “Italian contribution is one of the strongest,” and added, “I am quite convinced and quite confident about the level of contribution.”

Also present in Lebanon was Italian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Staffan de Mistura, who told The Daily Star, “Lebanon is part of the Mediterranean and is a priority country for Italy.”

He said the importance of UNIFIL was evident in that “11 months after the outbreak of the crisis in Syria, and except for some small incidents, the crisis has not affected Lebanon.”

Treason trial of Papuan activists begins

JAKARTA, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Indonesia has started the trial of five pro-independence Papuans amid calls from human rights groups to cease proceedings.

The five Papuan activists are on trial in a court in Jayapura, capital of the isolated Indonesian province of Papua on the western end of the island New Guinea.

Both Papua and the neighboring province of West Papua have strong independence movements.

The five men on trial face treason charges for allegedly raising the outlawed Morning Star Papuan independence flag in October and calling for independence for the region, a report by The Jakarta Post newspaper said.

But Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said the men were peacefully demonstrating and it has called for the trial to stop.

“The Indonesian government should show its commitment to peaceful expression by dropping the charges against these five Papuan activists,” Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on the group’s Web site.

“It is appalling that a modern democratic nation such as Indonesia continues to lock people up for organizing a demonstration and expressing controversial (opinions).”

Human Rights Watch also claimed that security forces used excessive force to disperse the three-day Papuan People’s Congress gathering in Jayapura and three people died in the clashes.

Clashes between demonstrators and police began after one of the leaders read out a declaration of independence statement, Human Rights Watch said. “Police and the army fired warning shots to disperse the approximately 1,000 Papuans gathered for the peaceful demonstration,” the group said.

Witnesses said security forces used batons and firearms against demonstrators, killing at least three and injuring more than 90 others.

Local authorities gave written warnings to eight officers, including Jayapura Police Chief Imam Setiawan, for not doing enough to protect civilians.

“However, no other action was taken against police or military personnel for possible misuse of force,” Human Rights Watch said on its Web site.

Human Rights Watch also said it “takes no position on claims to self-determination in Indonesia” but upholds people’s right “to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest or other forms of reprisal.”

Papua and West Papua together are about the size of Spain and occupy the western half of the island of Papua. The state of Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half.

The two provinces have been a part of the Indonesian archipelago federation since the Dutch gave up colonial rule. A slim majority of Papuans in a controversial referendum in 1969 voted in favor of joining Indonesia but various separatist movements have been pushing for independence.

Papuans are ethnically Melanesian and closer to Australia’s aborigines than the Asians who make up most of Indonesia’s population. Papuans say their culture and identity is being eroded by an influx of Asian Indonesians.

Papua and West Papua are the poorest regions in Indonesia but are extremely rich in natural resources. Separatist Papuan leaders claim few of the region’s population get a fair share of the wealth when the resources are exploited, often by international companies.

Many demonstrations in the two provinces are peaceful but there have been bloody clashes between more extreme group separatist groups. In early December, a half-hour gun battle with rebels in the Puncak Jaya highland area of Papua province left two policemen dead.

A week before the gun battle, pro independence rallies in parts of West Papua turned violent. Activists and pro-Papuan independence groups alleged that police and paramilitaries shot four civilians after hundreds of people attended religious services in Timika, a city on the southern coast of West Papua.

The celebrations were to mark the 50th anniversary of the region’s self-declaration of independence. Hundreds of people took the streets, many in traditional dress, waving the Morning Star flag and cheering for independence, a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said at the time.

Gingrich sees Fla. win; polls say Romney

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Jan. 31 (UPI) — Newt Gingrich defiantly predicted “a decisive victory” in the Florida primary election, despite polls putting him as much as 20 points behind Mitt Romney.

“All our friends in the news media who are very excited and eager to end this race as early as possible — they all want to know what’s going to happen after Florida,” the former House speaker told an Orlando crowd Monday night.

“And I keep trying getting across to them — I am in this race where Ronald Reagan was in 1976,” Gingrich said. “We are going to tell the truth, we’re going to beat a big-lie campaign with a big-truth campaign, we’re going to beat money power with people power, we are going to go all the way to the convention and we are going to win in Tampa, and we are going to be the nominee with your help.”

Reagan lost the 1976 nomination to incumbent President Gerald Ford, who lost the November election to Jimmy Carter. Reagan won both nomination and election in 1980, defeating Carter.

The Republican National Convention is to be held in Tampa, Fla., the week of Aug. 27.

Gingrich campaigned Monday with Reagan son Michael and former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

Opinion polls indicate Gingrich is behind Romney by at least 5 percentage points to as much as 20 points.

Gingrich trounced Romney by nearly 13 points in the South Carolina primary Jan. 21.

“We are promising, with your help, we are going to communicate the truth better than the consultants can communicate falsehoods,” Gingrich told the Orlando audience.

“With your help, we are going to win a decisive victory [Tuesday],” he said. “With your help, we’re going to go on to win across the whole country, and with your help, starting in Tampa, we’re going to run a general election campaign.”

Gingrich’s campaign said Monday it planned to win enough delegates in the coming months to force a brokered convention in Tampa, where GOP delegates choose their party’s nominees for president and vice president.

A brokered convention happens when a single presidential hopeful does not get enough delegates through the presidential primary and caucus elections to have a pre-existing majority. At that point, nominations are decided through political horse-trading and multiple delegate votes.

Romney confidently told a crowd of several hundred in Dunedin, Fla., near St. Petersburg, “With a turnout like this, I’m beginning to feel we might win [Tuesday].”

He questioned Gingrich’s vow to fight for the nomination beyond Florida.

“When you say I’m going to go on no matter what happens, that’s usually not a good sign,” Romney said. “That’s usually an indication … you think you’re going to lose.”

He sought to link Gingrich’s consulting work for mortgage guarantor Freddie Mac to Florida’s housing crisis.

“I know the speaker’s not real happy,” Romney said. “Here in Florida, if you’re part of the housing crisis you’re probably not going to get elected president.”

Romney and Gingrich are the only candidates campaigning in Florida.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron. Paul of Texas campaigned in other states Monday.

Santorum had left the campaign trail when his youngest daughter had a health emergency but returned after her health began to improve. He was in Missouri and Minnesota Monday, and was to campaign in Colorado Tuesday morning and watch the Florida primary results from his Nevada campaign headquarters in Las Vegas.

Paul, who spent the weekend in Maine, was to be in Colorado Tuesday as well.

Florida Republican Party officials said they expected 1.5 million to 2 million voters to turn out Tuesday.

More than 30 percent of the expected GOP primary votes had already been cast by Monday through absentee or early balloting allowed under state law, the party said.

Florida is a closed-primary state, so only registered Republicans can take part in the election.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Florida is in the Eastern time zone, except for part of the Florida panhandle west of the Apalachicola River, which is in the Central time zone.

White House: Siding with Assad a mistake

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Siding with Bashar Assad is a mistake because he will be displaced, the White House warned as U.N. envoys were to debate an Arab plan for Syrian regime change.

“As governments make decisions about where they stand … it’s important to calculate into your considerations the fact that he will go,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the Syrian president.

“The regime has lost control of the country and will eventually fall,” Carney said.

With Syrian violence sharply escalating, and at least 95 people reported killed Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton supported the Arab League demand Assad step down.

She said she would be at the U.N. Security Council Tuesday to back the league when it presents its plan requiring Assad to hand over power to a vice president, who would create a national unity government within two months.

Assad has rejected the proposal as “foreign interference.”

“The Arab League is backing a resolution that calls on the international community to support its ongoing efforts, because the status quo is not acceptable,” Clinton said in a statement Monday. “The longer the Assad regime continues its attacks on the Syrian people and stands in the way of a peaceful transition, the greater the concern that instability will escalate and spill over throughout the region.”

The British and French foreign ministers were to be in New York to support the league plan before the council, their governments said.

At least 10 of 15 Security Council members back the Arab measure, France said. Nine are needed for it to go to a vote.

Russia will block the move as currently written because it “leaves open the possibility” of foreign military “intervention” in Syria, just as an Arab-backed U.N. measure last year led to NATO airstrikes in Libya, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Russia’s non-governmental Interfax news agency.

The Obama administration is “intensely discussing with the Russians the real deterioration on the ground in Syria,” Carney said.

“We’re discussing with the Russians and other partners how best to use all the levers at the command of the international community and the United Nations to press the Syrian government to stop its appalling and ultimately ineffective and harmful repression,” he said.

The United Nations, which has said more than 5,400 people have been killed in the nearly 11-month uprising, said last week it could no longer reliably document the death toll.

Russia Monday offered to mediate talks between the Assad regime and the opposition. The opposition Syrian National Council, based in Istanbul, Turkey, rejected the offer unless Assad stepped down first — a condition Assad and Russia have said was unacceptable.

SNC executive committee member Haitham Maleh, a former judge who is now an important opposition figure, told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph Assad had forfeited any chance of a peaceful exit.

“Assad and his family will be killed in Syria … like Gadhafi,” he said, referring to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who met a violent and vengeful death Oct. 20, 2011, at the hands of individual members of the Libyan forces that drove him from power.

Republican primaries schedule and results

The following are the dates for the 2012 Republican presidential primaries and their results. All are Tuesdays unless otherwise noted:

Jan. 3: Jan. 3: Iowa caucus: (Official — eight precincts missing) Rick Santorum 29,839, Mitt Romney 29,805, Ron Paul 26,036, Newt Gingrich 16,163, Rick Perry 12,557, Michele Bachmann 6,046, Jon Huntsman 739, No Preference 147, Other 40, Herman Cain 45.

Jan. 10: New Hampshire: (Unofficial) Romney 39 percent (97,339), Paul 23 percent (56,601), Huntsman 17 percent (41,796), Gingrich 10 percent (23,329), Santorum 9 percent (23,204), Perry 1 percent (1,762).

Jan. 21: (Saturday): South Carolina: (Unofficial) Gingrich 40 percent (242,498), Romney 28 percent (167,555), Santorum 17 percent (101,967), Paul 13 percent (77,972).

Remaining primaries and caucuses:

Jan. 31: Florida

Feb. 4 (Saturday): Nevada (caucus)

Feb. 4-10: Maine (caucus)

Feb. 7: Colorado (caucus), Minnesota (caucus), Missouri (non-delegate primary)

Feb. 28: Arizona, Michigan

March 3: (Saturday): Washington (caucus)

March 6: Super Tuesday — Alaska (caucus), Georgia, Idaho (caucus), Massachusetts, North Dakota (caucus), Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia.

March 6-10: Wyoming (caucus)

March 10 (Saturday): Kansas (caucus), Virgin Islands (caucus)

March 13: Alabama, Hawaii (caucus), Mississippi

March 17 (Saturday): Missouri (GOP caucus to determine convention delegates)

March 20: Illinois

March 24: Louisiana

April 3: District of Columbia, Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin

April 24: Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

May 8: Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia

May 15: Nebraska, Oregon

May 22: Arkansas, Kentucky

June 5: California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota

June 26: Utah
By United Press International

DC occupiers remain; Charlotte emptied

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Occupy DC protesters stayed put at their Washington sites early Tuesday, despite a camping ban, while Charlotte, N.C., police ripped up tents and made arrests.

U.S. Park Police began enforcing the Washington camping ban at noon EST Monday, but the enforcement consisted of reminding demonstrators of the regulation, spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said.

Police want voluntary compliance, Schlosser told reporters at McPherson Square, one of two plazas the protesters have occupied since early October. If that doesn’t happen, “incremental measures” will be taken, he said, refusing to explain what that meant.

A number of protesters did comply and remove camping gear, he said. No one was reported arrested as of 2 a.m. EST Tuesday.

The National Park Service, which manages the federal plazas, said protesters could remain around the clock and keep up tents, provided one side of each tent remained open at all times to show they contained no bedding or personal belongings.

Protesters Monday pulled a tarp over a statue of the park’s namesake, Civil War Union Army Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, to create what they called a “tent of dreams.” The tent still stood early Tuesday, Occupy DC said on Twitter.

White House spokesman Jay Carney spoke about the protests — blocks from the White House — in his daily press briefing Monday.

“Our position has been, and continues to be, that we need to balance First Amendment concerns of the right to demonstrate, the right to speak freely, with public-safety concerns and public-health concerns,” he said.

“And we understand that local law enforcement, as well as, in this case, the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police, are weighing those considerations when they make these decisions. And that’s appropriate,” he said.

The park service had tolerated camping, saying it would rather encourage the protesters to comply with a no-camping rule over time than make arrests that could lead to injury or property damage. But the service adjusted its position after House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week he wanted to know if “political judgments played a role” in letting the protesters camp on the parkland.

Protesters accused Issa of playing politics.

In North Carolina, Occupy Charlotte protesters vowed to regroup after police dismantled most of their protest site Monday, ripping up tents at the campsite erected in September and October.

Police arrested at least seven protesters on charges of obstructing and delaying officers, The Charlotte Observer reported.

An Occupy Charlotte attorney filed a lawsuit accusing the city of violating First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. The lawsuit, which was to be heard in court Tuesday, seeks to prevent the city from enforcing a new ordinance that was used to remove the Occupy Charlotte campsite.

Half of Marylanders support gay marriage

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Jan. 31 (UPI) — Half of Maryland residents say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, while 45 percent disagree, a poll released Monday indicated.

The Washington Post poll found a sharp racial divide in attitudes on same-sex marriage. While 71 percent of whites support it and 24 percent do not, more than half, 53 percent, of blacks are opposed and 41 percent support it.

Religiously observant people are far more likely than others to oppose gay marriage. Poll respondents who support it tend to cite the views of their friends and their personal experience as shaping their views, while opponents tend to cite religious reasons.

The Maryland Senate passed a bill last year legalizing same-sex marriage but it failed to win passage in the House of Delegates. Similar legislation has been introduced this year.

Same-sex couples can marry in six states and the District of Columbia. In California, couples who took advantage of the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal are legally married there.

The poll surveyed 1,064 adults from Jan. 23-26. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

The Fast And The Spurious VI: The Never-Ending Story

Perhaps they thought they would get away with it. After all, President Barack Obama and his henchmen have secured get-out-of-jail-free cards for every other crime against the people, the Constitution and common decency since Obama was just an ex-“community organizer” with stars in his eyes and a dog-eared copy of “Rules for Radicals” in his pocket.

Perhaps they thought that deliberately hiding the documentation of their latest misadventure with a carefully timed Friday night document dump would work, and that a Nation that prefers its politics served fresh Monday through Friday would simply miss the new revelations in the fog of grill smoke and the din of peewee hockey games.

Whatever Obama and his henchmen thought, they were wrong.

This past Friday evening, Obama’s cleaning service cleared out a few more file cabinets. Included in the latest peculiarly timed document dump was an email chain extending to the office of Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the murder of Border Agent Brian Terry. The electronic exchange began just after midnight the day after Terry was shot with an alert to the former U.S. Attorney and now waiting-for-his-guest-spot-on-MSNBC and OFF point man Dennis Burke:

On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot.

That message — which Burke forwarded to Holder’s chief of staff Monty Wilkinson — was followed shortly after by another: “Our agent has passed away.” Wilkinson responded: “Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG…”

“Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG…” Wilkinson apprised Holder of the murder of Brian Terry on Dec. 15, 2010, six months before Holder testified under oath in front of Congress that he had known about OFF for only a “few weeks.” He later retracted that testimony in front of the Senate. Holder lied, and then he lied about lying. And even that was a lie.

As if that weren’t appalling enough, a later message from Burke to Wilkinson read:

The guns found in the desert near the murder (sic) BP officer… were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store.

The latter messages prove either that Holder perjured himself in front of Congress on no fewer than two occasions or that describing him as “stupendously incompetent” is an astounding understatement. Should the former be the case, the logical progression leads to two questions:

1. Why?
2. Who told him to do it?

Given the performance of the Obama Administration so far, the answers to both are laughably obvious — and both involve the sort of nefarious deeds unseen in the White House since President Richard Nixon’s “plumbers” checked into the Watergate.

We may fairly presume that Obama will continue to behave as if the scandal surrounding OFF is, as Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) claimed, a racist attempt to smear Obama and Holder. But Friday night’s undercover document dump relegates that clichéd reaction to the same intellectual dustbin containing Johnson’s musings on the buoyancy of Guam.

The refusal of the self-described “most transparent administration in history” to acknowledge, much less address, Holder and his involvement with OFF is borderline criminal. The attempts to hide documentation revealing the extent of Holder’s (and by extension, Obama’s) mendacity are grounds for a great deal more than bad polling numbers. Former President Bill Clinton was impeached — and ultimately disbarred — for perjury, and he was lying only about an overweight intern. It’s time for Obama and his little buddy Holder to face justice — justice of their own making.

Lawrence killers to appeal

LONDON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Gary Dobson, convicted of killing Stephen Lawrence because the London high school student was black, has appealed the verdict, court officials said Monday.

Dobson’s co-defendant, David Norris, is also expected to appeal, The Daily Telegraph reported. Dobson, 36, was sentenced to a life with a minimum of 15 years and 2 months and Norris to life with at least 14 years and 3 months.

“I think British justice can be very proud of the fact that they have locked up an innocent man,” Dobson’s father, Stephen, said. “Of course we are going to appeal.”

Lawrence, who hoped to become an architect, was stabbed in 1993 as he and a friend waited for a bus in South London. An investigative report suggested racism the Metropolitan Police led to a botched investigation.

The appeal is expected to focus on whether the judge should have allowed jurors to hear recordings made secretly by police in one defendant’s apartment, The Guardian reported. Several people were recorded making racist statements.

Paula Deen Sells Her Soul

Paula Deen, the Southern chef known for creating fat- and sugar-laden dishes, has sold her soul to the devil that is Big Pharma.

Deen now admits that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago. But rather than use her bully pulpit to preach a lifestyle of making healthy eating choices, Deen is now promoting the diabetes drug liraglutide (Victoza) manufactured by Novo Nordisk.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Victoza in January 2010, but it did so amid strong evidence of a link to thyroid cancer. The FDA ordered Novo Nordisk to include a “black box” warning on the drug’s label. A black box warning is the agency’s strongest warning and is used only when grave side effects are at issue. The warning states that the drug causes thyroid C-cell tumors in rodents. If the FDA — which cares only about Big Pharma profits and not a whit for the health of Americans — requires a black box warning, the cancer risk must be enormous.

Deen would do more for the health of her fans if she would talk to them about eating healthful, whole and raw foods and avoiding trans fats and sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup. Instead, she sold her soul. Those who follow her advice to continue eating “pleasure” foods and just turn to Big Pharma for a cure are embarking on a journey in which the cure can be worse than the disease.


Congress Attempts To Police Itself On Insider Trading

Members of Congress are looking to regain some sense of trust from the American people, as they have proposed rules that would subject themselves to tougher penalties for insider trading and a requirement to disclose stock transactions within 30 days, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, a procedural vote this week would allow the Senate to pass a bill prohibiting members of Congress from using nonpublic information for their own person benefit or “tipping” others to inside information that they could use for trading.

Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) co-wrote a bill that would subject any member of Congress who violates the ban on insider trading to investigation and prosecution by the Justice Department and regulatory agencies, the AP reported.

“We can start restoring some of the faith that’s been lost in our government by taking this common-sense step of making members of Congress play by the exact same rules as everyone else,” Gillibrand said of the bill put forth by her and Brown. “We must make it unambiguous that this kind of behavior is illegal.”

The Hill reported that Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) minimum net worth skyrocketed by almost $14 million in 2010 because of smart stock plays and real estate investments by her husband.

Polls: Romney Leading In Florida As Primary Begins

Polls released Saturday and Sunday show Mitt Romney holding a strong first in the Republican race leading into the Florida primary.

In The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll released Saturday night, Romney led Gingrich 42 percent to 31 percent, while an NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday showed Romney leading 42 percent to 27 percent.

Romney has had strong organization in Florida and has been helped by the attack conservative media led on Newt Gingrich following his South Carolina win. Most pundits say that the Florida primary will be Gingrich’s last chance to strengthen his campaign.

Ron Paul has largely focused his attention outside of the Sunshine State in a strategic effort to pick up delegates in other States where his poll numbers look better.

“It’s just so expensive, and we figure, spending $9-$12 million in ads might not be worth it,” Paul campaign manager John Tate told Business Insider. “We’re spending our money more wisely….Spending half a million dollars to win all of North Dakota’s delegates is a lot more efficient than spending $12 million to maybe win some of Florida’s delegates.”