Mini Gets Maxed

How many folks do you think would fit in a Mini Cooper? If you guessed 25 your are right.
Getting into a Mini with 25 other people would not be top of my list of things to do. You can see the group, seemingly pleased with this ordeal, accepting their prize below, as well as a link to more Guinness Record images.

Quiet announcement opens door to more Cuba travel

With little fanfare Jan. 14, the White House announced a presidential directive that will make travel and financial assistance to Cuba easier, especially for religious organizations. The changes revert some policies to those of the Clinton administration -- which were reversed under President George W. Bush -- but expands others. Once the regulations governing the changes have been published in the Federal Register -- expected within weeks -- they will make it possible for certain groups and individuals to get the necessary U.S. government licenses for more "purposeful travel." The order explained that "purposeful travel" includes allowing religious organizations to sponsor religious travel as well as educational exchanges for coursework, seminars and "people-to-people" programs, and a greater scope of journalistic activities. "These needed new policies are modest but important steps towards advancing our hopes for a better relationship between our people and the people of Cuba, a relationship which holds great promise of fostering positive and real change in Cuba," said a statement by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. The changes also will permit any U.S. citizen to send remittances of up to $500 a quarter to non-family members in Cuba to support private economic activities, and will allow remittances to religious institutions for religious activities in Cuba. Another change will allow charter flights to Cuba from any U.S. international airport, instead of just the handful now authorized to manage such trips.

Chinese For Dinner

Wednesday's opulent, black-tie affair with President Barack Obama - the grandest of White House soirees - will mark the first such event in China's honor in 13 years and could help smooth tensions between the world's two largest economies.

Some big questions remain: Who will cook? Who is coming to dinner? Can the White House avoid mistakes like those that marred the reception when a protocol-conscious Hu arrived for an April 2006 summit?

For starters, Hu was unhappy that President George W. Bush opted for lunch over a state dinner.

Wednesday's affair will return the hospitality that Obama was shown at a state dinner in Beijing on his November 2009 visit.

A personal relationship between the two leaders is important for cooperation on several pressing issues in the time left on both of their terms in office, Asia watchers say. The visit is probably the last to Washington as president for Hu, a hydroelectric engineer who has ruled since 2002. He is expected to relinquish his leadership of the Communist Party next year and the presidency the year after.

Born in the USA???? Hawaii governor can't find Obama birth certificate

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie suggested in an interviewthat a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star Advertiser he was searching within the Hawaii Department of Health to find definitive vital records that would prove Obama was born in Hawaii, because the continuing eligibility controversy could hurt the president's chances of re-election in 2012.

What did he find? Nada!

So far, the only birth document available on Obama is a Hawaii Certification of Live Birth that first appeared on the Internet during the 2008 presidential campaign. It was posted by two purportedly independent websites that have displayed a strong partisan bias for Obama – released the COLB in June 2008, and published photographs of the document in August 2008.

You would think a person would have to prove eligibility BEFORE getting elected.

Check Please: Final Pelosi Tab

Nancy PelosiIn the 1,461 days that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) served as speaker of the House, thefull story national debt increased by a total of $5.343 trillion ($5,343,452,800,321.37) or $3.66 billion per day ($3.657,394,113.84), according to official debt numbers published by the U.S. Treasury.
Pelosi was the 52nd speaker of the House. During her tenure, she amassed more debt than the first 49 speakers combined.
The total national debt did not climb above $5.343 trillion (the amount amassed during Pelosi’s four years as speaker) until Feb. 26, 1997, when Rep. Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) was serving as the nation’s 50th House speaker.
When Pelosi was sworn in on Jan. 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04. At the close of business on Jan. 4, 2011, her last full day in the speakership, it stood at 14,014,049,043,294.41--an increase of $5,343,452,800,321.37.
Pelosi served as speaker for four full years, including one leap year, making her time in that office 1,461 days. On average, the federal government added $3.66 billion ($3,657,394,113.84) in new debt for each of those days.
Pelosi not only outstripped her predecessors in the total volume of debt added to the national debt during her tenure as speaker, but also in the rate at which new debt was added. In fact, Pelosi added debt at a rate more than three times faster than her nearest competitor.

Obama mouthpiece Robert Gibbs was forced out by new henchman William Daley

I wondered yesterday whether Robert Gibbs jumped or was pushed and noted that President Barack Obama’s words indicated that it was “not an entirely voluntary departure”.

It’s being reported by John King on CNN right now that Gibbs wanted to be a presidential counsellor – something he’s been putting about for quite a while – but William Daley, the new chief of staff, nixed this because he believed that too many cooks would spoil the presidential broth. So that’s why Gibbs is out.
Additionally, King reports that Valerie Jarrett, whose sole qualification to being a senior counsellor seems to be that she’s a long-time Chicago buddy of Barack and Michelle Obama, will have her wings clipped. Daley, not Jarrett, will be the person speaking to the business community.
It’s no secret that Rahm Emanuel, a Daley protege, clashed with Jarrett. Or that David Plouffe, about to join the White House, was often at odds with her when he was the 2008 Obama campaign manager. Obama is nothing if not ruthless. He dropped Jane Dystel, the agent who approached him to write “Dreams from my Father”, and has previously cut loose long-time advisers. One aide described him as “the most unsentimental man I’ve ever met”.
full story
So the next question is: with Gibbs and David Axelrod gone, how much longer will Valerie Jarrett last?

Sarkozy: Mideast Christians victims of 'cleansing'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that Christian minorities in the Middle East are victims of "religious cleansing", following deadly attacks on churches in the region.

"We cannot accept and thereby facilitate what looks more and more like a particularly wicked programme of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing," he said in an annual New Year's address to religious leaders.

An attack on a Coptic church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on January 1 killed 21 people.

Army chaplain from Ohio named auxiliary bishop for US military

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has named a military chaplain from the Diocese of Cleveland as an auxiliary bishop of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. The appointment of Father Neal Buckon, 57, was announced in Washington Jan. 3 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Buckon has served as an Army chaplain around the world since 1998. His assignments have included posts in South Korea; Fort Sill, Okla.; Germany; Iraq; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Saudi Arabia. He also served in the Army from 1975 to 1982. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the military archdiocese welcomed the appointment as a "very concrete sign of the paternal care of our Holy Father for all of us." Archbishop Broglio said in a statement: "There is no doubt that (Bishop-designate Buckon) has been an effective shepherd, served well as a chaplain and also knew the experience of prior service. That experience will certainly contribute to the richness of the episcopal ministry to which he is now called." Bishop-designate Buckon told Catholic News Service that his episcopal ordination is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. He said he retired from active duty as a lieutenant colonel Dec. 31 and moved to St. John Bosco Parish in Parma Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, just after Christmas. The bishop-designate had expected to be assigned to a parish in Cleveland when he was asked to become an auxiliary bishop. He said he discussed his new role with Archbishop Broglio and it appears that his primary responsibility will be overseeing ministry efforts on military bases in the western United States.