You’d think with a four-hour documentary, there wouldn’t be much on the cutting room floor. But the producers of The Presidents’ Gatekeepers had 90 hours of footage to cull, and they likened the editing process to using a meat cleaver. In a way it shows -- the opening scenes of this ambitious documentary jump around among the 20 living chiefs of staff interviewed irrespective of when they served and without a narrative timeline that seems to make sense. “I was 29; I felt 59,” says Jim Jones, pictured at LBJ’s side, the youngest person to hold the job and a
More than 40,000 federal employees expecting direct-deposit paychecks Friday did not receive their funds because of an error at one of the government’s payroll processing centers, officials said. The Interior Department’s Interior Business Center, which was responsible for the mistake, said in a statement Friday that workers would receive their money Tuesday. The official pay date for the affected employees is the first Tuesday after a pay period ends, meaning their next checks are technically due Sept. 17. But employees whose checks are deposited directly into bank accounts normally receive their funds early, on the Friday before the official payday. The mistake
What was it about Vladimir Putin’s extraordinary op-ed in The New York Times last week that so infuriated the Washington establishment? Oh, how they hated it! The whole lot of them: the White House stammered that it was “irrelevant.” Intermittent conservative John Boehner said he was “insulted” by it. Speaking from the other side of the aisle, Robert Menendez told CNN that it made him “almost want to vomit.” And the great Nowhere Man, Col. Gaddafi’s good buddy, the Madcap Maverick himself, John McCain said that the op-ed was “an insult to the intelligence of every American.” Well, John, that’s certainly
It’s really turning out to be an Obamacare kind of weekend, even in the midst of all the Syria news. First, Erika reported that labor unions were out of luck when it comes to getting an exemption from Obamacare, and Ed reminded us that the system is fraught with security problems. Well, the administration will need to keep an eye on how many horses are getting out of the pen, because virtually all Federal Employees would prefer not to be enrolled, thank you very much. From Merrill Matthews at Forbes: Who knew that when President Obama promised, “If you like your health
The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal agencies – including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law enforcement -- have armed divisions. The agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report. Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers might come as a surprise. The incident that sparked the
United Airlines said on Friday that it will honor the tickets it accidentally gave away for free. The decision is good news for people who snapped up the tickets on Thursday after United listed airfares at $0. Many customers got tickets for $5 or $10, paying only the cost of the Sept. 11 security fee. The mistake was an especially good deal for any passengers who bought tickets for travel within the next week. For instance, a Houston-to-Washington Dulles flight for next weekend would have cost $877, according to United´s website on Friday. Airlines have posted so-called mistake fares before. They generally decide
Despite its purported cleansing properties, holy water could actually be more harmful than healing, according to a new Austrian study on "holy" springs. Researchers at the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna tested water from 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna and found samples contained up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, none of it safe to drink. Tests indicated 86 percent of the holy water, commonly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet congregants´ lips, was infected with common bacteria found in fecal matter such as E. coli, enterococci and
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says an agreement between the U.S. and Russia offers a chance to destroy Syria´s huge stockpile of chemical weapons and promises to end the threat the weapons pose to the region and the world as well as the Syrian people. Obama says the international community expects Syria to live up to its public commitments to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile. Warning that the U.S. remains prepared to act if Syria falls short, he also cautions that more work remains even after the progress the deal represents. "The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the
Watching Hillary get a Liberty Medal on September 10, the day before the anniversary of the attack on the United States soil and the more recent murder of our ambassador and others in Benghazi, I think it´s time to review the record of a woman whose life is marked by deceit and professional failure and ask about the sanity and judgment of her ardent supporters.
Can we even talk anymore? Maybe not, discovered Cliff Mass. Mass is an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington. He has been troubled for years by the way the subject of global warming can turn typically even-headed scientists into politicized, tribal warriors. As he sees it, there are the vast majority of scientists, including himself, who think human-caused global warming is a reality. But some in this group, frustrated at political inaction, have begun hyping the effects of climate change beyond what the science supports.
Improving health while holding down health care costs is the kind of having-your-cake-and-eating-it combination that most people can get behind. In fact, both ideas are embedded in the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. But an uprising among faculty members at Pennsylvania State University over a new employee wellness plan is challenging at least some of the methods designed to achieve those aims. (Snip) The plan requires nonunion employees, like professors and clerical staff members, to visit their doctors for a checkup, undergo several biometric tests and submit to an extensive online health risk questionnaire that asks, among other questions, whether
The first sign that Republican leaders could not control their new majority came on a vote to help Americans who lose their jobs to foreign workers. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) considered the measure routine and in February 2011 put it on a list of bills expected to pass without objection. Enter the Club for Growth. Flush with power after helping to elect 13 House members and defeat two veterans in the Senate, the conservative campaign-finance machine blasted out an e-mail declaring its opposition to extending the 40-year-old retraining program, which it called “inappropriate for a country devoted to
When Moammar Gaddafi renounced chemical weapons in 2003, the Libyan dictator surprised skeptics by moving quickly to eliminate his country’s toxic arsenal. He signed international treaties, built a disposal facility and allowed inspectors to oversee the destruction of tons of mustard gas. But Gaddafi’s public break with weapons of mass destruction was not all that it seemed. Only after his death in 2011 did investigators learn that he had retained a large stash of chemical weapons. In a hillside bunker deep in Libya’s southeastern desert, Gaddafi had tucked away hundreds of battle-ready warheads loaded with deadly sulfur mustard. The story
The court that oversees US surveillance has ordered the government to review for declassification a set of secret rulings about the National Security Agency´s bulk trawls of Americans´ phone records, acknowledging that disclosures by the whistleblower Edward Snowden had triggered an important public debate. (Snip) On Thursday, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, conceded that the NSA is likely to lose at least some of its broad powers to collect data on Americans. He acknowledged that Snowden´s disclosures had prompted a necessary debate: "As loath as I am to give any credit to what´s happened here, I think it´s clear
A confirmed atheist when he was 15, C.S. Lewis came around to believing in God when he was 31. "I knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England," he wrote in his autobiography, "Surprised by Joy." Soon he embraced Christianity. A lecturer at English universities, Lewis became a superstar author by explaining his faith and weaving it creatively into novels. Books including "Mere Christianity," "The Screwtape Letters," "That Hideous Strength" and the series "The Chronicles of Narnia" have sold a total of 200 million copies, but he wasn´t always popular.
A leaked copy of the world’s most authoritative climate study reveals scientific forecasts of imminent doom were drastically wrong. The Mail on Sunday has obtained the final draft of a report to be published later this month by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ultimate watchdog whose massive, six-yearly ‘assessments’ are accepted by environmentalists, politicians and experts as the gospel of climate science. They are cited worldwide to justify swingeing fossil fuel taxes and subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy. Yet the leaked report makes the extraordinary concession that the world has been warming at only just over half
Two worlds of Hillary Rodham Clinton intersected this past week. Together they underscored not only why the former secretary of state is seen as perhaps the dominant unelected politician in the country today but also the concerns among some of her Democratic supporters as she considers a return to the political arena in 2016. As President Obama and Clinton’s successor at State, John F. Kerry, grappled with the how best to respond to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons during a dizzying week of diplomacy and threats of military action, Clinton was enjoying a fresh round of accolades and honors.
Johnny Manziel again authored moments of offensive brilliance, and Texas A&M again built a surprising first-quarter double-digit lead against the national champions. But Alabama rewrote the rest of the script Saturday, proving to be the more opportunistic, balanced team in a 49-42 victory that earned the No. 1 Crimson Tide a measure of revenge against the sixth-ranked Aggies. After months of hype surrounding this rematch between Manziel, the sport´s most polarizing player who also has a Heisman Trophy in his name, and the two-time defending national champions, the Crimson Tide appeared to suck all the drama out of the SEC
Houston — Don’t mess with Texas. In fact, don’t even mess with “Don’t Mess With Texas.” The trademarked slogan started out nearly 30 years ago as the clarion call of a campaign to reduce highway littering. But over the years it has become something far bigger: an identity statement, a declaration of Texas swagger — from barrooms to sports arenas to political conventions. And Texas is touchy about who uses it and how. In July, a Montana company that makes Western-themed accessories stopped selling a “Don’t Mess With Texas” belt buckle after the Texas Department of Transportation, which owns the
Moscow — First, Vladimir Putin accused Hillary Rodham Clinton of inciting protests against him at the end of 2011. The next fall, the Russian president threw the U.S. Agency for International Development out of his country. Then he decided civic groups that get U.S. financing must be foreign agents. By the end of last year, Putin decided Americans had become unfit to adopt Russian children. This summer he decided to harbor Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency document leaker, despite strenuous U.S. objections. And ever since the Syrian conflict began, Putin has thwarted President Obama’s attempts to get the United
Battling gang violence has been one of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top priorities. But one of Emanuel’s top appointees, CTA Chairman Terry Peterson, appears to have taken a different tack in the mid-1990s: Lobbying for the early release of the imprisoned leader of the Gangster Disciples — one of the largest and deadliest street gangs in Chicago, the Better Government Association has learned.
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham criticized the U.S.-Russia agreement Saturday to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons, calling it “meaningless” and saying the agreement sends the wrong signal to Iran, which is suspected of building a nuclear weapon. The Republican senators said the framework agreement reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is toothless without the U.N. Security Council Resolution that threatens the use of force should Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fail to comply. “Assad will use the months and months afforded to him to delay and deceive the world using every trick
In a recent Salon article, “The conservative crackup: How the Republican Party lost its mind,” Kim Messick claims the Republican Party has lurched to the right, bipartisanship has been lost, and that “our government isn’t designed to function in these conditions.” Messick then compared the Tea Party-infused GOP to tyrannical regimes, writing, “The Republican Party, particularly in the House, has turned into the legislative equivalent of North Korea — a political outlier so extreme it has lost the ability to achieve its objectives through normal political means.” Though Messick at least gives conservatives some credit for the Republican Party’s long-term success,
Almost everything you think you know about the Matthew Shepard narrative is false. Matthew Shepard was the winsome young homosexual in Laramie, Wyoming who in October 1998 was tortured, killed, and left hanging grotesquely from a fence. He was discovered almost a day later and later died in the hospital from his horrific wounds. On the night of October 6, Shepard met “two strangers” in the Fireside Lounge in Laramie. The two men offered Shepard a ride home but instead drove him to a remote area, robbed him, beat him with pistols, and left him splayed on a fence.
Sex-crazed former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is set to become an economic adviser to the Serbian government. Strauss-Khan - who is due to stand trial in France for pimping and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted - is set to be announced in the role next week, according to an official in the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister´s. ´The exact details still have to be worked out, but we will have more information on Tuesday,´ the official told CNN. ´Mr Strauss-Kahn will come to Serbia from time to time, but I don´t think he will live