Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jamaica: Conference president injured in American Airlines crash

Libna Stevens
Dec 23, 2009

Pastor Adrian Cotterell, president of the East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is among the more than 40 persons who were reported to be injured when American Airlines Flight # 331 crashed while landing...

image by Nigel Cioke/IAD
Pastor Adrian Cotterell, president of the Adventist Church in East Jamaica is among those injured in yesterday's American Airlines crash in Kingston, Jamaica.
December 23, 2009 - Kingston, Jamaica...[Nigel Coke/IAD]

Pastor Adrian Cotterell, president of the East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is among the more than 40 persons who were reported to be injured when American Airlines Flight # 331 crashed while landing at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica at approximately 10:25 p.m. last night. There were 148 passengers and crew on board. Pastor Cotterell received injuries to his mouth and forehead. He was treated at hospital and is now resting at home.

"I have to give God thanks in spite of everything," said, Pastor Cotterell. "I have nothing that I had brought on the flight, but I have life. It was a rough trip from Miami with turbulences for most part of it. It's a miracle of God that everyone who was aboard the flight is alive."

"We are giving God thanks this morning that lives were spared and there were no lives lost," said Pastor Derek Bignall, president of the Adventist Church in the West Indies. Our prayers are with those who were badly injured are still in pain and will be immobile during this festive season."

Heavy rains have been reported during the time of the incident yet investigators are still studying the cause of the accident.


The Blame Game

It's been a week since the Christmas Day JIHADIST bomber affair;

Now all types of investigations are being conducted.

Soon a fall guy will be found to blame for the snafu....

Meanwhile, the Blame Game begins:
Hillary, hillary, bobillary,
Banana fana, popillary,
Fee, fi, fofillary,
Janet, Janet, bobonet,
Banana fana, popanet,
Fee, fi, Fofanet,
Jesuits, Jesuits, bobesuits,
banana fana, popesuits,
Fee, fi, fofesuits,
Gates, Gate, bobates........


By Michael Cutler
December 31, 2009

Why is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton silent on this issue?

I was interviewed by Reporter Josh Meyers of the Los Angeles Times yesterday about the attempted destruction of a Delta Airliner preparing to land in Detroit this past Friday. The news report was picked up by a number of other newspapers. Here is a version of the story that appeared in today's edition of the News Tribune.

As I noted in an earlier commentary, the failures of our government to prevent the attack nearly leave me at a loss for words.

Over the past couple of decades, our nation has been attacked on numerous occasions both within our nation's borders as well as outside our nation's borders by adherents to radical Islam. In the name of "national security," we have witnessed and been subjected to, a continual erosion of our expectations of privacy and freedom.

Yet the most commonsense measures that would require our government to do a more effective job of administering the program by which our government provides aliens with visas to enter the United States and make certain that credible information concerning terror suspects is transmitted quickly to appropriate personnel is still not being done.

What is particularly disturbing about all of this is the simple fact that the 9/11 Commission identified visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud as major areas of concern where the entry and embedding of terrorists in our country are involved, yet virtually nothing has been done to address these major holes in the fence that is supposed to keep those individuals out of our country who are determined to do us such harm!

Yesterday, Janet Napolitano had the chutzpah to make the assertion that the system had worked the way it should! She focused on the fact that after the terrorist attempted to destroy the airliner as it prepared to land in Detroit, that notification was sent to other airliners heading for the United States. The fact that the airliner landed safely and no one, other than the terrorist was injured was not attributable to the actions of our government's officials but rather to the whims of fate- the bomb failed to properly detonate!

It has been said that "Hope is not a strategy" I would add that "Dumb luck is not a success!"

The news has now reported that in order to combat future attempts of terrorists to destroy airliners as they prepare to land in the United States, passengers will not be allowed to get out of their seats for one hour prior to landing. Furthermore, passengers will not be allowed to keep blankets or articles of clothing on their laps for one hour prior to landing either.

This means that any passenger including the elderly and/or the infirm, who has a kidney or bladder problem should probably wear Depends or some other adult diaper because use of bathrooms is going to be more restrictive! No doubt Ms Napolitano will find some jazzy way of justifying the ruling about blankets on laps, perhaps calling these blankets, security blankets!

It has been reported that the suspect had hidden the explosives in his underwear or, perhaps, a body cavity. I hate to think where this may lead! Will we now be subjected to "wedgies" by the TSA as we seek to board airliners or made to take off our clothes altogether?

Of course I am being facetious, but the point is that there is so little commonsense and little in the way of true leadership where our government is concerned.

The goal of our government should be to keep the terrorists off of the airliners in the first place!

No foreign national has an absolute right to enter the United States! The issuance of visas is discretionary.

I have seen reports that indicate that Great Britain had refused issuing a visa to the terror suspect but the United States had no such qualms about providing him with a key to our nation's front door that a visa represents. I would love to know how much time was spent reviewing his visa application and how much effort was made to determine if he was or was not a threat to our nation's security before the visa was issued to him.

I would also love to know how many other terrorists are now walking around with visas to the United States stamped in their passports as they await instructions to head for the airport and a flight to the United States.

As I have noted on ever so many occasions, the requirements that must be met before an alien is provided with a visa to enter the United States is not a formality but is supposed to provide a layer of security for our nation and our citizens.

What is also extremely disturbing about this incident and Ms. Napolitano's statements is the fact that the first step in problem solving is identifying the problems that need to be solved. It is possible that Secretary Napolitano understands the problems and was simply attempting to engage in a bit of public relations in minimizing the nature of the dangers we face. On the other hand, I find it far more likely that the administration is ignoring the issue of the visa screening process. After all, we have heard nothing from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on this issue, and as the Secretary of State, it is her agency that is in charge of the visa issuing process.

A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

Any politician who refuses to work to secure our borders and create an immigration system that has integrity is either corrupt or too dumb to keep his (her) job. Any politician, irrespective of party affiliation who favors health care for illegal aliens and/or Comprehensive Immigration Reform should be shown the door at the next election!

If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.

Next year each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Next year more than one third of the members of the United States Senate will have to face their constituents. They need to be reminded that they work for us, We the People!

However, the practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!

The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.

I implore you to get involved! Any American who has lost his job certainly has enough time on his (her) hands to get involved!

Any American who fears the loss of his job must make effective use of his spare time to make certain he keeps his job! (Remember, the job save may be your own!)

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional "Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your family. You can also forward this commentary to them.

© 2009 - Michael Cutler


DA cashes out with $268M for city & state


Last Updated: 6:21 AM, December 31, 2009

Posted: 3:17 AM, December 31, 2009

Leaving office today after 34 years as Manhattan's DA, Robert Morgenthau had a heck of a farewell present for the city and state -- $268 million.

The cash was from a $536 million settlement his office and the Justice Department had worked out with Credit Suisse for handling illegal Iranian, Libyan and Sudanese transactions, and had been the source of some strife between Morgenthau and Mayor Bloomberg, who had accused the DA of controlling hidden accounts.

Morgenthau noted the cash had been held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "They haven't been accredited yet by the city, but maybe they will be," he quipped. The feds get the other half of the $536 million.

The city might have gotten a bigger percentage of the $268 million if not for Bloomberg's feud with Morgenthau.

A temporary state law, which is believed to have been passed at the DA's urging, calls for the cash from such deals to be split 50-50 between the city and state. Morgenthau said the city previously would get up to 60 percent of the cash before the law was passed, while the Bloomberg administration maintains they'd typically get less than the state.

Jason Post, a spokesman for the mayor, said, "We continue to believe that the city should receive all of the money recovered in deferred prosecution agreements, but the amount we received in this instance is set by the newly passed state law."


In Bomb Plot Probe, Spotlight Falls On Yemeni Cleric

by Dina Temple-Raston
December 30, 2009

December 30, 2009

Investigators have fanned out across the globe to piece together the life of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian student at the center of an alleged al-Qaida plot to blow up an American airliner on Christmas Day.

They know that Abdulmutallab went to an elite British boarding school in the African nation of Togo, studied engineering at the prestigious University College London, and was president of the student Islamic society there. They know he spent some time in Yemen and was enrolled at an Arabic language school in San'a from August until early December of this year.

After that, the details get fuzzier. Abdulmutallab allegedly claims he picked up the explosives used in the attack on the Northwest flight, bound from Amsterdam to Detroit, from an al-Qaida branch in Yemen. Investigators are trying to establish how he contacted them, and they are looking into his connection with a controversial U.S.-born imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, who, most recently, was linked to the November attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

Road Map For Jihadists

The FBI has been tracking Awlaki for some time. Born in New Mexico, he was an imam at several different mosques in the U.S. before he moved to Yemen. He emerged as a prominent figure last month when agents discovered that the accused shooter in the Fort Hood attack, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, e-mailed the imam in Yemen 18 times to ask his advice. Not long after that, Hasan allegedly went on the rampage that killed 13 people.

At first blush, listening to Awlaki's sermons on the Internet, one could be forgiven for thinking there must be some mistake. The speeches don't sound all that fiery. He speaks unaccented English and is soft-spoken. In fact, his tone of voice is actually rather sweet. But his demeanor belies a violent message. His most influential lecture is called "Constants on the Path to Jihad," or "44 Ways to Jihad," and it has become a road map for lone wolf jihadists.

"Wherever you see the word terrorist, replace it with the word jihad," he says in one of his Internet sermons. "Wherever you see the word terrorism, replace it with the word jihad."

What Awlaki is intonating is that attacks and killings that the rest of the world considers terrorism, he sees as perfectly legitimate.

Typically, in his Internet sermons, Awlaki reads from the Quran in Arabic, and because many of his followers don't speak Arabic, he interprets passages for them. The favored passages tend to be about fighting.

"When the forbidden months are passed, then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them," he says in one. "Seize them, beleaguer them and lie and wait for them in every stratagem of war."

Targeting Young Men

Sam Rascoff, formerly in charge of terrorism intelligence analysis at the New York Police Department, says Awlaki "has an unusual ability to interlace an appealing, familiar American preacher style with a fairly vitriolic message.

"And Awlaki is targeting young men searching for guidance."

Young men like bombing suspect Abdulmutallab.

"To listen to Awlaki is to feel like one is in the company of someone who understands you, understands your social predicament and literally and figuratively speaks your language," Rascoff says.

Law enforcement officials won't say definitively and on the record that the two men met, but they will say privately that the two were in contact.

NPR has learned that just before Abdulmutallab cut off all ties to his family in Nigeria, he apparently asked his father if he could go to Yemen to study Shariah (law). His father said no. Officials say Awlaki runs study sessions in Yemen that focus on Shariah. The question is whether Abdulmutallab decided to go to Yemen in August to see Awlaki.

Investigators are looking for clues in Nigeria, London and Yemen. They are also poring through hundreds of Internet postings that they believe were written by Abdulmutallab over the past four years. The postings are from a young man who had the username Farouk1986. That matches Abdulmutallab's middle name and birth year. And investigators say that some of the timing and details in the writings track Abdulmutallab's movements at the time.

The Internet postings begin in 2005 and are clearly written by a lonely young man. One post in 2005 read: "I am in a situation where I do not have a friend, I have no one to speak to ... I do not know what to do." That would have been about the time Abdulmutallab was alone at boarding school in Togo. Investigators say Abdulmutallab was young, didn't speak Arabic very well and was looking for religious guidance on the Internet. In other words, he was Awlaki's target audience.

Linked To Other Plots

"His facility with English has given him the kind of link that he's become the favored source" for English-speaking would-be jihadists, says Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. Partly because of that, Awlaki's list of followers reads like a who's who in the jihadist world.

He is linked to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers; a group of Canadian Muslims who were charged with plotting attacks on the Parliament building in Ottawa; the six men convicted of planning an attack on Fort Dix, N.J.; and the London subway bombers, just to name a few. Hoffman says it is still unclear whether Awlaki was "doing this on his own or following the direction or guidance of others."

The sense among intelligence officials has been that Awlaki talks a big game and is not as closely affiliated to al-Qaida as he would like his followers to believe. That said, he is thought to be part of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the same group that claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day attack.

In Web postings, the group claimed to have trained Abdulmutallab and provided him with the explosives he carried onto the plane. Abdulmutallab allegedly told police that when he was arrested.

Awlaki moved to Yemen in 2002, and from his post there, he has sent out laudatory messages on his Facebook and YouTube sites after attacks. He called the alleged Fort Hood shooter a "hero." After the Somali Islamist militia group al-Shabab launched suicide attacks against the United Nations in Somalia, Awlaki also put out a congratulatory e-mail to the group.

Now investigators are trying to determine just how closely Awlaki is tied to this latest incident. They are trying to figure out if Abdulmutallab went to Yemen specifically to visit the cleric — and whether Awlaki played any role in introducing him to the people who may have provided the explosives for Northwest Flight 253.



NPR's experts on geopolitical issues (Go to guys) are frequently from Georgetown University.

I wonder why?.

Robert Morgenthau, Manhattan DA, Retires After 35 Years

JENNIFER PELTZ 12/30/09 03:40 PM

NEW YORK — Robert Morgenthau has been cast in many roles during his decades in office.

The inspiration for the district attorney on TV's "Law & Order." A taker-on of mobsters, misbehaving celebrities and corrupt CEOs. A Democratic powerbroker who grew up among Roosevelts and Kennedys and helped launmanhch careers, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's.

A local prosecutor who used his office's prominence to stretch the long arm of the law where he saw fit. A savvy, wry and indefatigable New York institution who happens to be 90.

In short, "DA for life."

But Morgenthau closes the curtain Thursday on his 35 years as Manhattan district attorney with little time for reminiscing. In the last week of his term, he was still holding news conferences to announce a flurry of prosecutions and guilty pleas.

"You think I'm going to go quietly?" he joked.

Morgenthau is stepping down from one of the nation's biggest and most prestigious prosecutor's offices, with about 500 lawyers handling 100,000 cases a year. As Manhattan's top federal prosecutor for eight years before being elected as the borough's DA in 1974, he symbolized the criminal justice system for generations of New Yorkers, not to mention TV viewers.

"Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf calls Morgenthau "the greatest district attorney in the history of New York" and used him as the template for pragmatic-but-principled DA Adam Schiff, played by actor Steven Hill in the series' first decade.

Sotomayor, one of Morgenthau's former assistant prosecutors, said in videotaped remarks for a recent event honoring him that he "set a standard of unparalleled prosecutorial excellence and integrity."

Morgenthau quipped in a recent interview with The Associated Press that he's retiring because, "I looked at my birth certificate, and I said, 'It's about time.'"

In other words, his departure, like his tenure, is very much on his own terms.

Morgenthau is hard of hearing and walks slowly but otherwise shows few symptoms of his age. He also remains a key player in the city's legal and political scenes. After handily defeating a former judge who tried to unseat him in 2005, Morgenthau helped his chosen successor, defense lawyer Cy Vance, beat the same jurist and a third contender this year. Vance, one of Morgenthau's assistant prosecutors in the 1980s, has pledged to build on Morgenthau's "outstanding legacy," though he already has shaken up the office's top staff.

The caseload reads at times like an awards-show guest list: A single morning in 2007 brought rappers Busta Rhymes, Ja Rule and Remy Ma to court in separate cases.

In the last four months, Morgenthau's office charged a TV producer with trying to blackmail David Letterman, reached a plea deal with rapper Lil Wayne in a gun-possession case and put "Spider-Man" actress Kirsten Dunst on the witness stand in a trial involving the theft of her $2,000 handbag.

Over the years, Morgenthau's office also prosecuted mob boss John Gotti, acquitted on state charges of ordering a hit on a union official; former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski, convicted of fraud and larceny in a case seen as an emblem of corporate excess; and vigilante subway shooter Bernhard Goetz, acquitted of the shooting charges. The office also produced guilty pleas from "Preppie Killer" Robert Chambers Jr. and John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman.

Meanwhile, Morgenthau became known for pursuing sweeping financial crimes and other cases outside the purview of many other local prosecutors. He even once measured the distance from Yankee Stadium's home plate to the Bronx-Manhattan border to pursue a ticket-scalping probe under a state law giving district attorneys limited jurisdiction in neighboring counties.

Federal officials and others have suggested he overreached at times. But Morgenthau says he makes cases only when others don't, and he casts his pursuit of white-collar crime as a social imperative in the nation's financial capital.

"If you want to have a fair and impartial system, and you want people to respect the law, you have to investigate people who have positions of trust in the society and the economy," he said. "I think (financial) crimes are every bit as serious as the man with a gun."

Morgenthau's image – and influence – are such that it's hard to find critics, even among his natural adversaries: The state Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is honoring him at its annual dinner next month.

He faced questions about diversity in his office and attention to minority communities in the 1980s, culminating with public complaints in 1990 from a group of black legislators that included then-state Sen. David Paterson, now New York's governor.

In response, Morgenthau noted a rising number of minority prosecutors – 125 today, up from 11 when he took office. These days, Paterson praises him for "a life of great accomplishment and service that many of us can only hope to one day achieve in our own lives."

Defense lawyer Ron Kuby says Morgenthau's stature and tenure make his staff overconfident and says the office is loath to consider evidence of wrongful convictions.

"He's become the victim of his own myth, and the myth is that the (Manhattan) district attorney's office is special," Kuby said.

One of Morgenthau's former assistant DAs, Daniel Bibb, told The New York Times last year he felt prosecutors were so slow to acknowledge questions about the convictions of two men in the 1990 killing of a Palladium nightclub bouncer that he tacitly worked to help defense lawyers. The men spent more than a dozen years in prison before prosecutors dropped charges against one; the other was acquitted after a judge ordered a new trial.

In one of Morgenthau's most notorious cases, five men spent years in prison for the 1989 rape of a woman jogger in a Central Park "wilding" spree before DNA evidence and another man's confession prompted him to ask a judge to throw out the convictions in 2002.

Morgenthau says he regrets such cases.

"You just have to be alert, constantly alert, to perjury, to mistaken identity, but the system's not foolproof," he said. But, he said, "it's the best system around."

Morgenthau came from a prominent political family. His grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Sr., was an ambassador to Turkey; his father, Henry Morgenthau Jr., was secretary of the treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A decorated World War II veteran, Robert Morgenthau was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1962, losing to Republican Nelson Rockefeller; he unsuccessfully sought the nomination again in 1970.

Morgenthau says he hasn't decided what he'll do next. His interests include pressing for immunity from deportation for illegal immigrants who help in immigration-fraud cases.

Simply retiring, however, is out.

"I don't intend to sit on a park bench and vegetate," he said. "New York's been good to me and my family. I'm still in the payback stage."



Who is Ronald K. Noble?

Born in 1957; son of a cleaning-company owner; married a Spanish professor, c. 2001; children: one son
Education: University of New Hampshire, BA (cum laude), 1979; Stanford University School of Law, JD, 1982.


Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, U. S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, law clerk, c. 1981; U. S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, assistant U.S. attorney, 1984-88; U.S. Department of Justice, attorney, 1988-93; New York University, associate professor, c. 1988-93, and professor, 1996-; U.S. Treasury Department, assistant secretary for enforcement, 1993-94; U.S. Treasury Department, Treasury Undersecretary for enforcement, 1994-96; Interpol, Lyon, France, secretary-general, October 2000-.

Life's Work

Ronald K. Noble is the first American citizen ever to head Interpol, the prestigious international law-enforcement agency. A former Clinton Administration appointee in the Treasury Department, he authored the official report on what went wrong in the 1993 Waco, Texas, conflagration between U.S. federal law-enforcement personnel and a well-armed doomsday cult. For a time in the 1990s, Noble was the highest-ranking African-American law-enforcement official in the United States.

Noble was born in 1957 and grew up in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He grew up in a mixed-race household; his German-born mother had met his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army, when he was stationed overseas. Back home, his father worked two jobs--one at the military base nearby, and another as the owner and principal employee of a janitorial services company. As a youngster, Noble sometimes accompanied his father to work on the latter shift. His father had high hopes for him, Noble recalled in an interview with the New York Times's Joyce Wadler. When they cleaned offices together, "my father would point at the degrees on the wall and say: 'Look. As soon as you have one of those, you will have someone like me working for you.'"

Dismayed by Job Offers

Noble and his brother attended local Roman Catholic schools. He went on to the University of New Hampshire, where he studied economics and business administration. After he graduated in 1979, he entered the Stanford University School of Law. Though he earned good grades and even served as the articles editor for the school's Law Review, job offers were scarce as he neared his 1982 graduation date. His father decided to take matters into his own hand, and went to the Philadelphia home of a prominent federal judge and respected civil-rights figure, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. The elder Noble asked Higginbotham to hire his son as a clerk--a type of internship undertaken by law-school students around the time of graduation--and the judge agreed. Noble said that his father had promised the federal judge that his son was "going to make your career," as Noble recalled in the interview with Wadler. The son was mortified when he learned what his father had done, but Higginbotham agreed to hire him

The months that he spent working for Higginbotham certainly changed the direction of Noble's career. As his clerkship neared an end, Noble planned to enter private practice. Higginbotham recommended otherwise, advising Noble to enter public service. "My dream was to be able to pay the bills," Noble recalled in the New York Times interview. "I left Stanford with the idea of making as much money as I could make. The judge kept telling me, 'Ron, you do not want that kind of life.' I said, 'Yes, I do!'"

In the end, Noble acquiesced and took a job in the U. S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He was a federal prosecuting attorney, and he quickly made his name with a famous drug-ring bust that was known as the "Yuppie Conspiracy," as he explained to American Banker writer Robyn Meredith. The bust involved several University of Pennsylvania dental students who began selling cocaine as a way to finance their own drug use. It evolved into a $50 million cartel that operated in 13 states. "We ended up indicting and convicting a number of dentists and lawyers and stockbrokers and pilots," Noble told Meredith by the time the case went to court. "It was a very wealthy, upper-class group who made tremendous amounts of money." Noble also prosecuted one of the largest public-corruption cases in history during his years as a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia, and earned high marks from his mentor. As Higginbotham told Jet a number of years later, Noble proved "a whiz. He's the smartest lawyer I've ever had in my courtroom."

Became Top Cop in United States

In 1988, Noble took a post with the U.S. Department of Justice, and also began teaching at New York University Law School. In 1993, newly elected President Bill Clinton nominated him to serve as assistant Treasury Secretary. It made him the highest-ranking law-enforcement official at the Treasury Department. Within a year, he was made Undersecretary of the Treasury, a newly created position. This gave him supervision of several agencies, including the Secret Service, Customs, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). It also made him the highest-ranking African American in federal law enforcement.

President Clinton named Noble as the lead investigator of the disastrous BATF raid in Waco, Texas, that occurred in April of 1993. BATF agents had laid siege to a compound where a cult group known as the Branch Davidians lived. Noble had originally cautioned against storming it, but his advice was not heeded. His report on what went wrong cited several internal problems with the BATF and other law-enforcement agencies, and several resignations of Treasury Department officials followed.

Noble was an early advocate for investigating money-laundering trails in order to track down criminals, and headed a Financial Action Task Force within the Treasury Department to track down shadowy criminal groups via their bank transactions. He left the Treasury Department in 1996, returning to his teaching post at NYU. In 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno nominated him to head Interpol, an international agency dedicated to coordinating the law-enforcement efforts of different national agencies. He was officially elected secretary-general by its General Assembly and arrived on the job in the fall of 2000.

Headed Interpol

Interpol is an acronym for the "International Criminal Police Organization," a Lyon, France-based agency that dates back to 1923. Its original mission was to serve as a cooperative agency of police officials that would help track criminal rings that worked the casinos in Monte Carlo. In the years following World War II, its leadership had been dominated by French law-enforcement professionals. Noble was the first American to ever hold the post.

By the time Noble took over at Interpol, it had evolved into an international organization of some 181 member nations. Its internal mechanisms, however, were famously slow, and Noble believed that bureaucratic roadblocks kept it from reaching its full potential. He already had some experience with the ponderous bureaucracy for which Interpol had become somewhat infamous: back in 1998, he served on an executive committee for Interpol, where he authored a study that recommended its richer member-nations should pay added dues to offset the financial shortfalls when poorer countries could not meet their obligations. Some of this money would enable Interpol to provide the same advanced-technology tools used by countries like the United States to cash-strapped law enforcement agencies in other parts of the globe. The plan it was approved and implemented.

When he took over at Interpol in late 2000, Noble immediately began studying its remaining flaws and enacting changes. He recommended, for example, that the Interpol information clearinghouse become a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week office, instead of operating during standard business hours. He also instituted a practice whereby international alerts on suspected terrorists went out to law-enforcement personnel around the world within 24 hours. These new policies were scheduled to begin on September 17, 2001. Instead it began operating under the new plan in the hours immediately following the devastating September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon Building in Washington.

At the Forefront of Anti-Terrorism Battle

Four days after September 11, Noble wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times that outlined his goals as Interpol chief. "It's fine to talk about fighting terrorism, but the United States and other countries must invest more in law enforcement agencies outside their own countries," he wrote. "Investing in the world's police forces and Interpol is the only way to ensure that valuable intelligence can be gathered, analyzed, and shared internationally."

Noble also made Arabic one of the agency's official languages, along with English, French, and Spanish, and worked to rebut criticisms of Interpol. In 2002, Iraq and Libya belonged to the agency, and some critics argued that allowing rogue nations to participate was unconscionable. But Noble countered such talk by pointing out that it was an international cooperative agency, and the more members it had, the more effective it could be. He also noted that Libyan officials were the first to issue an Interpol red notice for Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden back in 1998. "If you're looking for dangerous people," he explained to Fast Company writer Chuck Salter, "you don't care whether it's your enemy or your friend who tells you, as long as you find out."

In 2003, Noble sounded a warning about fake consumer goods after an Interpol investigation linked them to shadowy political organizations such as Al Qaeda. He called the illegal trade in counterfeit designer wear such as shoes and purses "the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist groups," according to an International Herald Tribune article by David Johnston.

Thanks to his mother, German is one of the languages that Noble speaks fluently, which is crucial for an Interpol chief. In earlier interviews, he claimed that the 16-hour days he regularly put in at his job made having a steady personal relationship impossible, but after becoming Interpol head, he began dating the professor who had been assigned to improve his Spanish. They had become parents in 2002, by the time Salter interviewed him for Fast Company. He recalled the important advice his father gave him and his brother early in life. "My father used to tell us, 'You're going to meet people who are better off than you. You can't change that,'" he told the magazine. "'But you don't have to meet anybody who works harder than you.'" It's a lesson Noble lives out every day.


U.S. Department of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton Award, 1996.

Further Reading


World of Criminal Justice, Gale, 2002.

American Banker, November 18, 1993, p. 6; June 21, 1994, p. 2.
Bond Buyer, April 29, 1993, p. 3.
Fast Company, October 2002, p. 96.
International Herald Tribune, July 18, 2003, p. 1.
Jet, May 31, 1993, p. 8; August 1, 1994, p. 36; January 8, 1996, p. 7; July 26, 1999, p. 4.
New York Times, July 13, 1999; September 15, 2001, p. A23.

— Carol Brennan


Interpol and U.N. Back ‘Global Policing Doctrine’

Photo (Courtesy)
Published: October 11, 2009

PARIS — Interpol and the United Nations are poised to become partners in fighting crime by jointly grooming a global police force that would be deployed as peacekeepers among rogue nations riven by war and organized crime, officials from both organizations say.

On Monday, justice and foreign ministers from more than 60 countries, including the United States and China, are gathering in Singapore for a meeting hosted by the two international organizations.

It is the first step toward creating what Interpol calls a “global policing doctrine” that would enable Interpol and the United Nations to improve the skills of police peacekeepers, largely by sharing a secure communications network and a vast electronic trove of criminal information, including DNA records, fingerprints, photographs and fugitive notices.

“We have a visionary model,” said Ronald K. Noble, secretary general of Interpol and the first American to head the international police organization, which is based in Lyon. More than 187 member nations finance the organization.

“The police will be trained and equipped differently with resources,” Mr. Noble said. “When they stop someone, they will be consulting global databases to determine who they are stopping.”

Modern peacekeeping has evolved dramatically since the blue-helmeted U.N. military force won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. Since 2005, the number of police officers within the total force of 95,400 peacekeepers has more than doubled from about 6,000 to 12,200 in 17 countries.

U.N. police are already battling kidnappings and drug crime in Haiti and illicit lumber trading in Liberia. The aim of the joint effort is to increase the ability to track the movement of criminals around the world by sharing resources and common standards, according to Mr. Noble. He is also pressing ahead with plans for special electronic passports for the agency’s staff of more than 600 Interpol investigators to speed border crossings.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is contributing more than $2 million to finance the development of international global policing standards, according to Andrew Hughes, an Australian who currently heads the U.N.’s force of police officers.

The ambition is to create a series of networks to counter borderless organized criminal operations, Mr. Hughes said. Women, in particular, are being recruited, with a goal of reaching 20 percent of the U.N. force and the development of all-female units like the group of 140 peacekeepers from Bangladesh that is about to be deployed.

“We’re working with refugees,” Mr. Hughes said. “Many of the victims of atrocities are women, and they’ve had enough of men with guns and uniforms.”

He said that among the most critical tasks for a global police force were combating illegal arms and drug trafficking. His own officers in West Africa have watched the growth of cocaine smuggling by Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels through weakened countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia to the lucrative consumer markets in Europe.

The United States remains the biggest market for cocaine, according to the U.N.’s annual report on drugs and crime. But in the past three years, South American cartels have moved more drugs to Europe using transit points like Guinea Bissau, where the president and the head of the military were killed in sophisticated bombing attacks in March. Each year, at least 50 tons of cocaine from Andean countries passes through West Africa to the streets of Europe, where the drugs are worth almost $2 billion, according to the U.N. report.

“Organized crime is a business that looks for opportunity to expand their market enterprise,” Mr. Hughes said. “When you have a breakdown in police and courts and corrections, organized crime is ripe. We also see the toxic effect of corruption, because they are able to corrupt officials, which makes it difficult to build a functioning society.”

In Afghanistan, where heroin and hashish trafficking is also a thorny issue, NATO announced plans this month to start training the local police — a move it has avoided in the past to concentrate on military responsibilities.

But Mr. Noble of Interpol says he takes a dim view of transforming warriors into beat cops, because the mind-sets are so different.

“We caution on making the delegation of civil police development tasks to military structures,” Mr. Noble said, citing the example of an attack that freed hundreds of Taliban from a prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, last year. Although Interpol immediately asked for information about the missing prisoners, he said, “we were really shocked and dismayed to learn there were no fingerprints and photographs despite billions spent to train police there.”

With the meeting of justice ministers on Monday, which coincides with a general assembly of Interpol police members, the group is expected to debate the global police issue and to craft a declaration that would lead to an action plan for international police peacekeeping within 12 months.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Order on Interpol Work Inside U.S. Irks Conservatives

U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, and President Barack H. Obama

Interpol's secretary general, Ronald K. Noble By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: December 30, 2009

WASHINGTON — Conservative bloggers and opinion outlets in recent days have expressed mounting alarm about an executive order by President Obama that extended certain privileges and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol.

Bloggers have accused Mr. Obama of ceding American sovereignty, painting a portrait of an international police force operating on United States soil without legal restraints. They have also argued that the order is part of a plot to allow international courts to arrest and prosecute American officials for war crimes.

That theme is making its way from the blogosphere to more mainstream news outlets.
In a Web post for the conservative National Review last week, the commentator Andrew C. McCarthy declared that an “international police force” could now operate inside the United States “unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law.” He also suggested that the order created in the Justice Department “a repository for stashing government files” beyond the reach of Congress and the public.

And an editorial in The Washington Examiner this week declared that “this new directive from Obama may be the most destructive blow ever struck against American constitutional civil liberties.”

Obama administration and Interpol officials say the fears and accusations are based on ignorance about how Interpol works and about the context and impact of the order, which was issued on Dec. 17 without any statement.

“There is nothing newsworthy here,” said Christina Reynolds, a White House spokeswoman.
Contrary to its portrayal in some movies, Interpol has no police force that conducts investigations and makes arrests. Rather, it serves its 188 member countries by working as a clearinghouse for police departments in different nations to share law enforcement information — like files on wanted criminals and terrorists, stolen cars and passports, and notices that a law enforcement agency has issued an arrest warrant for a fugitive.

In the United States, a bureau at the Justice Department staffed by American officials transmits information between law enforcement agencies and Interpol. If a foreign country issues an arrest warrant for a person inside the United States, it is up to the United States government, based on its own laws, to decide whether to apprehend the suspect.

“We don’t send officers into the field to arrest people; we don’t have agents that go investigate crimes,” said Rachel Billington, an Interpol spokeswoman. “This is always done by the national police in the member country under their national laws.”

When public international organizations are operating on United States soil, a law allows the president to grant them certain rights and immunities, just as foreign embassies receive privileges. More than 70 organizations — including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Bank and the International Pacific Halibut Commission — receive those rights.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan extended some rights — including immunity from lawsuits or prosecution for official acts — to Interpol, which was holding its annual meeting in the United States. But Mr. Reagan’s order did not include other standard privileges — like immunity from certain tax requirements and from having its property or records subject to search and seizure — because at the time, Interpol had no permanent office or employees on United States soil.

That changed in 2004, when Interpol opened a liaison office at the United Nations in New York City. The office consists of five staff members, Ms. Billington said, and they have access to law enforcement information submitted by other countries with restrictions on who may receive it.

“When the office opened in 2004, we said look, we’d like to have the Interpol staff working in the office in New York afforded the same immunities as other international organizations,” Ms. Billington said. “It’s only for the New York office.”

The State Department recommended approving the request, but the Bush White House did not complete the matter before its term ended, and so it rolled over.

The White House said it put out no statement with Mr. Obama’s order because it viewed the matter as uninteresting.

LaTonya Miller, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s Interpol bureau, said the order would have no effect on the bureau. It routinely receives and responds to Freedom of Information Act requests, she said, and will continue to do so.

“Nothing has changed,” she said. “We’ve been really concerned about all the misinformation that has been out there on the blogs.”

Times Topics: Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization)


Total Recall (Not the Movie) Flying in 2010

With the current shake-up following, yet, another (failed) terrorist attack:
{First, the shoe bomber; Now, the underpants bomber}.
Along with the could've, should've, would've(s), etc.,
come new security procedures for flying on airplanes.
The movie Total Recall (1990) showed a scene at an airport, which now seems as having been a harbinger of things to come.
Life imitating art?
Or, was it the way it was programmed?
What could be required next for boarding a commercial plane:
Brain Scans
Breath-o-lizer tests
Lie Detectors
The use of pilot activated seatbelts (flight restraints)

Limbaugh rushed to hospital in Hawaii

Conservative Radio Talk Show Host, Rush Limbaugh has been takien to the hospital in Honolulu Hawaii, complaining of chest pains. Limbaugh was visiting at a Hawaii Resort when the incident occurred.

Source: In the news, On the internet.....

P.S. President Obama and his entourage is also in Hawaii on vacation.

Heads to Roll, Feet to the fire? The Inquisition's back?

Recently a couple of cliches, or euphemisms have resurfaced from the medieval past.

Heads to roll: Which brings to mind beheadings, decapitations, and guillotines.

Feet to the fire: Reminds me of the burning of "heretics" or martyrs.

The hyperbole of these expressions are "bone chilling", and a reminder that the past sometimes "rears its ugly head", all over again.

I. "Heads to roll"

Someone's head should roll, but whose?
Foreign Policy - Peter Feaver - ‎8 hours ago‎If it is the latter, then President Obama should acknowledge this forthrightly and take whatever steps are necessary, changing policy and perhaps personnel.

DeMint: Obama "Has Downplayed Terrorism"
CBS News (blog) - Daniel Carty - ‎12 hours ago‎
HEAD SHOULD ROLL ASAP. There is absolutely no excuse for the Xmas day bomber. Obama needed to come home days ago as well. The fact that the bomb failed ...

Hows' that 9/11 Commission reorganization working?Hot Air (blog) - Ed Morrissey - ‎11 hours ago‎If her head should roll, it should be because she has utterly destroyed her credibility with the American public — but even that depends on whether she did ...

Mitchell Predicts: Head To Roll
NewsBusters (blog) - Mark Finkelstein - ‎12 hours ago
‎Not a surprise, but still noteworthy: a heavy MSM hitter is now strongly suggesting that, post-NWA 253, a senior Obama ...

II. "Feet to the fire"

Obama Starting to Open Up White House Visitor Logs
ABC News (blog) -
Jon Garcia - ‎2 hours ago‎I am thankful to the advocacy groups who held the administrations feet to the fire to make this happen. Liberals are often lampooned for not pulling ...

Remembering Rockland notablesThe Journal News - ‎Dec 28, 2009‎In 2009, Rockland lost many who helped shape our communities, kept our history alive and held our elected officials' collective feet to the fire. ...

Anxious Democrats divide over path forward
Politico -
Jonathan Martin - ‎15 hours ago‎... who has no southern roots and little experience with racism, failed to respond to his enemies and hold other democrats feet to the fire. ...

Bold moves for gold in record-breaking yearGlobe and Mail - ‎18 hours ago‎Mr. Regent, to his credit, put the dealers' feet to the fire. By pushing for the largest bought deal in Canadian history, a $3.5-billion financing, ...

Government Technologist: Holding The Fed CIO's Feet To The FireInformationWeek - John Foley - ‎Dec 18, 2009‎... US deputy CTO and director of the White House's open government initiative, invites the public to hold the administration's "feet to the fire" by coming ...

6 Steps to Making New Year's Resolutions That Work -
John M. Grohol - ‎Dec 29, 2009‎Such an informal pact can help hold your feet to the fire when you feel discouraged or want to give up — they can offer you some encouragement and support ...
Scapegoats vs. accountability
True/Slant - ‎7 hours ago‎If we want responsible government we have to hold their feet to the fire – and having them root out scapegoats does just the opposite. ...
INTERVIEW: Morelle predicts 'chaos' in 2010
Rochester City Newspaper -
Jeremy Moule - ‎4 hours ago‎
What's got to happen is taxpayers have to hold legislators' feet to the fire when it comes to voting on budgets, when it comes to making statements about ...

Knocking Down Excuses for Reid & Obama on Kos
Firedoglake (blog) - ‎Dec 28, 2009‎That is a pretty damaging scenario half of this community who enabled this failure (unlike the activist half holding feet to the fire) have gotten us into, ...

Between the Lines: Breathtaking audacity by Democrats in Washington in full ...Fulton Valley News (subscription) - ‎Dec 25, 2009‎This behavior is, of course, aided and abetted by the left-leaning mainstream news media who hardly ever hold left feet to the fire. ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Condemnation (OMEGA)

God has ever called upon His people to condemn sin. Unless this is accomplished, souls will be lost. Today the Omega of Apostasy leads men to rather condemn those who shoulder this God-given responsibility. We, as a people, even dare to do so before unbelievers.

First a word to those Roman Catholics who will read this editorial. Some Seventh- day Adventists, with more zeal than charity, have seized upon the death of the pope to launch a virulent anti-Catholic attacks. They represent a tiny but vocal element of the Adventist Church that sees its mission as taking out newspaper advertisements and erecting signs denouncing Catholics. In so doing they dismay and wound adherents of the faith they oppose.

((Dr. William G. Johnsson, Editor, Adventist Review, South Pacific Record, 7 May 2005)

.....The editor of the Adventist Review appears to find it easier to condemn faithful Seventh day- Adventist seeking to rescue Roman Catholics from the antichrist faith, than to condemn that faith which will lead to the loss of eternal life of Roman Catholics who are not rescued from their false Christianity.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world...........Revelation 13:8


Half a Century of Apostasy By Russell R. Standish, Colin D. Standish, pp.301-302.

* Read it on line:



The sins of Babylon will be laid open.

In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them, and the pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible-- doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the truth and the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning.
Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power--all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord," the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it.
As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God's downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: "Show us from the word of God our error"--the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.

The Great Controversy, E. G White, pp.606-607.

*Bolds and Highlights added.

Monday, December 28, 2009

True godliness will be clearly distinguished

In the closing work of God in the earth, the standard of His law will be again exalted. False religion may prevail, iniquity may abound, the love of many may wax cold, the cross of Calvary may be lost sight of, and darkness, like the pall of death, may spread over the world; the whole force of the popular current may be turned against the truth; plot after plot may be formed to overthrow the people of God; but in the hour of greatest peril the God of Elijah will raise up human instrumentalities to bear a message that will not be silenced. In the populous cities of the land, and in the places where men have gone to the greatest lengths in speaking against the Most High, the voice of stern rebuke will be heard. Boldly will men of God's appointment denounce the union of the church with the world. Earnestly will they call upon men and women to turn from the observance of a man-made institution to the observance of the true Sabbath. "Fear God, and give glory to Him," they will proclaim to every nation; "for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. . . . If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation." Revelation 14:7-10.

God will not break His covenant, nor alter the thing that has gone out of His lips. His word will stand fast forever as unalterable as His throne. At the judgment this covenant will be brought forth, plainly written with the finger of God, and the world will be arraigned before the bar of Infinite Justice to receive sentence.

Today, as in the days of Elijah, the line of demarcation between God's commandment-keeping people and the worshipers of false gods is clearly drawn. "How long halt ye between two opinions?" Elijah cried; "if the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him." 1 Kings 18:21. And the message for today is: "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. . . . Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Revelation 18:2, 4, 5.

The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The observance of the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. At that time the gold will be separated from the dross. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness.

Prophets and Kings, E. G. White, pp.186-188.
Bolds and Highlights added.


Confusion fills skies after attempted bombing

Mon Dec 28, 5:27 PM ET

Passengers at O'Hare International Airport prepare to go through security Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, in Chicago. Various levels of elevated security and restrictions at airports and aboard airliners led to confusion Monday about what passengers could or couldn't do during flights in the wake of an attempted Christmas Day terror attack when a Nigerian man attempted to ignite an explosive as the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight prepared to land. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer Michael Tarm, Associated Press Writer – Mon Dec 28, 9:25 pm ET

CHICAGO – You are now free to move about the cabin. Or not. After a two-day security clampdown prompted by a thwarted attempt to bomb a jetliner, some airline officials told The Associated Press that the in-flight restrictions had been eased. And it was now up to captains on each flight to decide whether passengers can have blankets and other items on their laps or can move around during the final phase of flight.

Confused? So were scores of passengers who flew Monday on one of the busiest travel days of the year. On some flights, passengers were told to keep their hands visible and not to listen to iPods. Even babies were frisked. But on other planes, security appeared no tighter than usual.

The Transportation Security Administration did little to explain the rules. And that inconsistency might well have been deliberate: What's confusing to passengers is also confusing to potential terrorists.

"It keeps them guessing," transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said.

By not making public a point-by-point list of new security rules, federal officials also retain more flexibility, the DePaul University professor added, enabling them to target responses to certain airports or flights seen as more vulnerable.

"There was criticism after 9-11 that rules could be way too cookbook — not allowing authorities to adapt them to different settings, to different airports," Schwieterman said.

If the objective was to befuddle, then on Monday it was mission accomplished.

On one Air Canada flight from Toronto to New York's LaGuardia Airport, crew members told passengers before departure that they were not allowed to use any electronic devices — even iPods — and would not be able to access their personal belongings during the one-hour flight.

The questions came as President Barack Obama ordered a review of air-safety regulations. TSA spokeswoman Sterling Payne declined to offer details other than to say the agency would "continually review and update these measures to ensure the highest level of security."

An hour before a US Air flight from Manchester, England, to Philadelphia landed, flight attendants removed passengers' blankets and told them to keep their "hands visible," said passenger Walt Swanson of Cumbria, England.

Even bathroom visits were affected on some flights.

On Continental Flight 1788 from Cancun, Mexico, to Newark, three airport security agents frisked everyone at the gate, including babies, prompting one to scream loudly in protest. On the plane, crew announced that the toilets would be shut down the last hour of the flight and passengers would not be able eat, drink, or use electronic devices.

The warning that the bathrooms would be shut down led to lines 10 people deep at each lavatory. A demand by one attendant that no one could read anything either elicited gasps of disbelief and howls of laughter.

In-cabin screens normally showing the plane's location and flight path were switched off on an Air France flight Saturday from San Francisco to Paris. Flight attendants said they were turned off as a security measure.

One of the Transportation Security Administration restrictions that most annoyed the airlines was an order to shut off in-flight entertainment systems on international flights. Airlines objected, and on Sunday night, the TSA apparently relented and left it to the discretion of airline crews to decide whether to turn off the systems.

"It was a hardship on our customers," said Mateo Lleras, a spokesman for JetBlue Airways, which touts its seatback entertainment systems and operates international flights to the Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica. "We're not in a position to challenge the TSA security directives, and we do the best we can to comply."

The TSA also relaxed rules that had prohibited passengers from leaving their seats, opening carry-on bags and keeping blankets or babies on their laps during the last hour of international flights entering the U.S., according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the TSA had not publicly disclosed the change.

Crews were given the authority to impose restrictions for shorter periods or not at all, said the official.

Holiday traveler Sharen Rayburn, of Trion, Ga., said it took two hours to get through security in Denver because guards were checking every bag multiple times.

"You're a little more apprehensive to fly. You kind of pay attention to everybody," she said after landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.

At Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Monday morning, every U.S.-bound passenger was subjected to a pat-down and luggage was inspected by hand. It took about three hours to get through the checks, with some information boards citing the security measures for several delays and cancelations.

Elsewhere, especially on domestic flights, passengers said they had not detected security upgrades.

"I honestly didn't notice a difference, and we didn't receive any special instructions from the crew," said James Merling, a 68-year-old doctor who flew from Marquette, Mich., to Boston's Logan International Airport on Monday.

Lexi Wirthlin, 22, who arrived at Philadelphia International Airport on Monday from St. Louis, Mo., said she was warned by friends to expect long lines at airport screening points or other hassles onboard.

"I was expecting it to be intense," she said. "But it was totally fine."

But just because authorities imposed and then pulled back on in-flight rules in the last couple of days does not mean they will never be reinstated.

Schwieterman said new safety procedures have a tendency to become permanent, citing how attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid's attack in 2001 ushered in footwear checks.

"I would say it is hard to imagine going back to a more lax security process given the persistence of these attempts," he said. "This is now a part of everyday life."


Associated Press writers Mark Pratt in Boston, David Koenig in Dallas, Dorie Turner in Atlanta, Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, Adam Goldman in New York City, John Heilprin and Rob Gillies in Toronto, and Sheila Norman-Culp in London also contributed to this report.


New Year set to bring a chill as snowy weather hits home

Dec 28 2009 by Robin Turner, Western Mail

WALES is bracing itself for further heavy snow as forecasters said it could arrive as soon as tomorrow.

There could be up to a foot of snow on higher ground across Wales as a cold weather system moves in from the Atlantic.

It is feared that fresh snowfall and icy conditions could see a return of the widespread traffic problems seen in the run up to Christmas.

Paul Knightley, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: “Across higher ground in central and South Wales, we can expect to see heavy snow – 20cm to 30cm, or up to a foot, by Tuesday lunchtime, with strong winds pushing it higher in drifts.

“Tuesday is going to be a nasty day across much of Wales.”

He warned drivers to be on their guard against the new falls.

“It’s quite a big snowfall, probably the biggest fall of this cold spell in Wales,” he said.

“It’s particularly badly timed because people will going back to work after the weekend break.

“There could be problems anywhere in Wales and large parts of central and southern England in the next 48 hours to 72 hours – people should check forecasts before going out.”

Forecasters have already warned that there will be freezing weather for the New Year.

Temperatures are expected to plunge to minus 3ºC in most of England and Wales on Thursday night, New Year’s Eve, and minus 8ºC in Scotland, with widespread snow showers also predicted.

New Year’s Day will also be chilly, with the northern half of Britain struggling to get above freezing during the day.

The forecast follows a spell of snow, sleet and ice which has gripped the UK for more than a week but relented in most parts over recent days.

Mr Knightley said: “It looks like it will be remaining cold until at least next weekend.”

The Met Office’s forecast for the next few days predicts snow and sleet for many areas with Rhyl, Porthmadog, Conwy, Holyhead, Anglesey and Welshpool expected to receive some of the heaviest snowfall.

Temperatures are also expected to drop sharply during New Year’s Eve when there is also a possibility of snowfall in parts of Wales.

The return of the cold weather to Wales and the rest of the UK follows the big freeze in the run up to Christmas, which caused traffic chaos as a result of ice and snow.

The snow and ice had thawed across most of Wales on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day as daytime temperatures reached 7ºC.

Jordan Trowsdale, 13, who was found dead in an icy river at the weekend, is thought to have been a victim of the pre-Christmas cold spell.

He is believed to have fallen in as he walked home from a skate park in Bishop’s Stortford, in Hertfordshire, on Christmas Eve.

Francis Wilson, head of weather at Sky News, believes said the UK will still be in the grip of icy Arctic weather next weekend.

He said: “During Monday and Tuesday less colds winds from the south west will bring rain into the south of England and Ireland.

“This will try to spread north but the freezing cold weather over Scotland and Northern England will not give way.

“The battle for territory will be over Wales and the Midlands. It will snow over Wales and the Midlands late Tuesday and all of Wednesday.

“The snow will be pushed back south on Thursday by Arctic winds.”