I am a veteran. I spent 4 months in 1990 in Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield, then after Desert Storm spent another 4 months inside of Iraq in the northern Kurdish region. I separated from the Air Force in 1996, landing a job in civilian law enforcement. In 2002, I went back to my specialty, being a bomb tech, and went into private contracting. In August 2006, I went back to Iraq, this time as a civilian contractor. That lasted 2 whole months… why?
Six of the eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department ranked in the top third among their peers for the number of prosecutions filed last year, according to an analysis of federal records.
In addition, five of the eight were among the government’s top performers in winning convictions.
The analysis undercuts Justice Department claims that the prosecutors were dismissed because of lackluster job performance. Democrats contend the firings were politically motivated, and calls are increasing for the resignation or ouster of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Meanwhile in the White House:
President George W. Bush Tuesday vowed to resist any attempt by Congress to force top aides to testify under oath about a row over fired prosecutors, warning against a “partisan fishing expedition.”
In his boldest political language since Democrats seized Congress in November, Bush accused his opponents of using the escalating showdown to “score political points” and refused to back down.
So you cannot hold hearings to see if the firings would be politically motivated because doing so would be… ehm… politically motivated and doing things because of political motivations is wrong? What?
El Hierro, one of the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, is to receive 100 percent of its electricity supply from renewable energy sources, the Madrid government said Tuesday.
As part of a plan through to 2009, El Hierro will soon be able to rely on a combination of hydroelectricity and wind power to generate its electricity, the industry ministry said.
“El Hierro will be the first island in the world totally supplied by renewable energy,” the ministry said, without specifying when the scheme would actually be up and running.
The island will rely on a system involving two reservoirs to power hydroelectic stations, a wind farm and a pumping system.
“The bulk of the energy injected into the distribution network will emanate from the hydroelectric plant” with capacity of 10 megawatts, the ministry said.
The wind farm will generate electricity for the pumping station that will pump water to the two reservoirs that feed the hydroelectric stations, the ministry explained.
Excess wind energy will be used to power two desalination plants.
An existing diesel-powered plant on the island, population 10,500, will be maintained for emergencies if water and wind supplies run short.
The FBI, which has been criticized for improperly gathering telephone records in terrorism cases, has told its agents they may still ask phone companies to voluntarily hand over toll records in emergencies by using a new set of procedures, officials said yesterday. In the most dire emergencies, requests can be submitted to the companies verbally, officials said.
New rules from the FBI general counsel’s office tell agents they are to limit emergency requests for phone records to the most dire situations, in which the loss of life or bodily harm is believed to be imminent. They are to document carefully the circumstances surrounding the request.
Document carefully? The next sentence in the article:
Agents also have been relieved of a paperwork burden that was at the heart of past problems, officials said.
Perhaps I’m using a different dictionary, but that doesn’t sound like careful documentation to me.
Under past procedures, agents sent “exigent circumstances letters” to phone companies, seeking toll records by asserting there was an emergency. Then they were expected to issue a grand jury subpoena or a “national security letter,” which legally authorized the collection after the fact. Agents often did not follow up with that paperwork, the inspector general’s investigation found.
The new instructions tell agents there is no need to follow up with national security letters or subpoenas. The agents are also told that the new letter template is the preferred method in emergencies but that they may make requests orally, with no paperwork sent to phone companies. Such oral requests have been made over the years in terrorism and kidnapping cases, officials said.
I’m not too worried about the child abduction cases where this authority is used – many FBI agents are good guys. I am, however, worried about the abuses. After all, the cockroaches among them can now safely occupy the middle of the room: the lights have been turned off. No need to worry about having to scurry for cover should any noxious Inspector General or reporter show up asking “What the hell?”
How long before they pick up some local “unlawful enemy combatant” in your neighborhood, and don’t have to bother with the paperwork?
Microsoft is making key communications protocols available for license, so that third parties, including competitors, can link into the company’s newest enterprise products. Some are available immediately.
The list of available protocols, XML schemas and application programming interfaces (APIs) include transport protocols for communications between Office Outlook 2007 and Exchange Server 2007.
“[With the license,] other companies can implement the Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol specification in their own products or use it to enhance their existing products,” company statements said.
The Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol supports personal information management features such as e-mail, calendar, contacts and task functionality in Office Outlook 2007, including shared calendars and scheduling capabilities. The protocol is available for licensing now, although Microsoft will continue to tinker with the specifications until June or so.
Microsoft will begin that effort by providing early adopter licensees initial documentation in April, the statements said.
Of course, the licenses are not free. And, to a large extent, Microsoft is bowing to the European Commission, which decreed the company must make the interfaces public so rivals can compete on what they claim will be a more level playing field.
“The licensing is part of the settlement with the EU to interoperate,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for market researcher Enderle Group.
I wonder if the EU will consider the statement “you must pay a gazillion $$” good enough to qualify as “making interfaces public”. In theory, “making public” should be just that, publishing them with a “use this to connect to our services and good luck with them” license
In practice the dollar amount on the license fee will play a role in the decision by the EU. We’ll see.