Obama extends terrorism ‘national emergency’

While we debate the extent and invasiveness of our surveillance society and the wisdom (or lack thereof) of U.S. military action in Syria, President Barack Obama on Tuesday extended – again – the official national emergency that began a dozen years ago this week with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Here’s the official notice issued by the president:


Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1622(d), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency previously declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.

Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2013. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency that was declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.



Good Samaritan drug law takes effect Jan. 1

Among California’s new laws taking effect Jan. 1 will be a “Good Samaritan” law, encouraging witnesses of suspected drug or alcohol overdoses to seek emergency aid without fear of arrest.

California is the 10th state to enact such a law; it was authored here as AB 472 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

The law neither penalizes those who don’t call for help, nor is a blanket protection against arrest – for example, those who sell drugs aren’t protected. But it does ensure that you won’t get busted for personal possession if you call 911 on behalf of an endangered friend.

“Reassuring all Californians that calling 911 is safe and the right thing to do when someone’s life is on the line is essential,” Meghan Ralston, the Drug Policy Alliance’s harm reduction manager, said in a news release today. “While people should feel confident that they won’t get in trouble for small amounts of drugs when they call for help, the range of the protections provided under the new law is very limited and very specific. This isn’t a get-out-jail-free card for people who sell or traffic large quantities of drugs. This law basically says, ‘If you have a small amount of drugs in your possession, or the person overdosing does, don’t let your fear of arrest for that be the reason you fail to call 911 to help save someone’s life.”

As in many other states, drug overdose fatalities are California’s leading cause of accidental injury-related death, beating out even motor vehicle deaths. Studies have found most people overdose in the presence of others, yet many onlookers either delay or don’t call at all for emergency services, often because they fear their own arrest.


Obama, Romney, Biden & Ryan on 9/11

President Barack Obama, at the Pentagon (excerpt):

“This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn. Today, we can come here to the Pentagon, and touch these names and kneel beside a building where a single stone still bears the scars of that fire. We can visit the field of honor in Pennsylvania and remember the heroes who made it sacred. We can see water cascading into the footprints of the Twin Towers, and gaze up at a new tower rising above the New York skyline.

“And even though we may never be able to fully lift the burden carried by those left behind, we know that somewhere, a son is growing up with his father’s eyes, and a daughter has her mother’s laugh — living reminders that those who died are with us still.

“So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy who we are. No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

“That’s the commitment that we reaffirm today. And that’s why, when the history books are written, the true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before.”

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in a statement:

“Eleven years ago, evil descended upon our country, taking thousands of lives in an unspeakable attack against innocents. America will never forget those who perished. America will never stop caring for the loved ones they left behind. And America shall remain ever vigilant against those who would do us harm. Today we again extend our most profound gratitude to our brave troops who have gone into battle, some never to return, so that we may live in peace. On this most somber day, those who would attack us should know that we are united, one nation under God, in our determination to stop them and to stand tall for peace and freedom at home and across the world.”

Vice President Joe Biden, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. (excerpt):

“My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him. For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.

“I also hope — I also hope it continues to give you some solace knowing that this nation, all these people gathered here today, who are not family members, all your neighbors, that they’ve not forgotten. They’ve not forgotten the heroism of your husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. And that what they did for this country is still etched in the minds of not only you, but millions of Americans, forever. That’s why it’s so important that this memorial be preserved and go on for our children and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and our great-great-grandchildren — because it is what makes it so exceptional. And I think they all appreciate, as I do, more than they can tell you, the incredible bravery your family members showed on that day.”

Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., in a statement:

“Eleven years ago today, from Capitol Hill, I could see the smoke rising from the fires burning in the Pentagon. Like all Americans, I will never forget the moment that our homeland came under attack. For me, this is a day to remember those who perished on that day of terror, including the first responders. It is also a day to pay tribute to all those who have worked quietly and tirelessly both on the home front and abroad to prevent a repetition of such terrible events. And it is a day to give honor to those in our military who have sacrificed so much, including their lives, for the same end. Their courage and heroism and willingness to answer the call of duty have kept America safe and strong and free. We are truly the home of the brave.”

See what some Bay Area members of Congress have been tweeting about today’s anniversary, after the jump…
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County GOP chair blasts ‘surfing rabbi’s’ tirade

The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles and Progressive Christians Uniting want Republican Party leaders to repudiate a candidate who at a Bay Area gathering this month proudly proclaimed, “I am an Islamophobe, and everything we need to know about Islam, we learned on 9/11.”

That’s Rabbi Nachum Shifren – the “surfing rabbi” from Santa Monica who’s among the 23 candidates challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the upcoming primary election – speaking at a May 3 candidates’ forum cosponsored by the San Mateo County Republican Party and the MyLiberty Tea Party group.

“There should be no place for hate speech of any kind in our nation’s political discourse. Whenever one faith or ethnicity is targeted by hate, it is our duty as Americans to challenge that hatred and to instead promote mutual understanding and tolerance,” the Muslim, Christian and Jewish organizations said in a joint statement issued Monday. “We urge GOP leaders in California and nationwide to repudiate this candidate’s hate speech and to encourage greater respect for diversity within party ranks.”

San Mateo County Republican Party Chairman Chuck McDougald agreed Tuesday.

“That’s absurd, it’s ridiculous – the guy is way out of line and he does not represent the mainstream Republican Party,” said McDougald, who said he didn’t attend the May 3 forum because he was out of town. “Anyone who espouses hatred, we don’t have room for them in our party.”

McDougald said all 24 Senate candidates including Feinstein were invited to the event, but only a handful attended, including Shifren.

I’ve emailed and left a voice mail for MyLiberty’s director, but haven’t heard back from him yet.

UPDATE @ 3:07 P.M.: “I will tell you categorically I do not agree with his statement – as an individual I don’t think that’s an appropriate perspective to have,” MyLiberty director Leonard Stone said this afternoon.

In fact, he said, he’d sort of tuned Shifren out after the rabbi told another candidate his military service didn’t really count because he’d flown airplanes and never was in harm’s way on the ground.

“We had a variety of candidates and I would not suggest I agree with all those candidates by any stretch of the imagination, but every one of those candidates got polite applause at the end of their presentation,” Stone said. “We wanted them to say what they had to say, to let the public who came to the meeting see them in the way they wanted to portray themselves. … It really wasn’t a night for making judgments.”

“Speech can get messy, and people who say things have to live with it,” he said. “Everybody should speak their mind and let the chips fall where they fall.”


Martinez 9-11 ceremony a solemn affair

The overcast gray sky and chilly breeze matched the somber mood of the small crowd who gathered this morning to remember and honor those who lost their lives in the horrific terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Click here to read the online story and see a slideshow of photos taken around the country.

I covered the simple ceremony held at Martinez’ downtown memorial erected to honor the men and women who were killed when terrorists crashed airlines into New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. The site near the Amtrak train station includes mangled steel beam segments from the World Trade Center.

The Martinez Chamber of Commerce organized the event.

Facing a uniformed formation of Martinez police officers, the hometown congressman, Rep. George Miller, spoke of how that morning a decade ago began as an ordinary day across America as people readied their children for school and headed to work.

“But it became a day when ordinary people did extraordinary things,” Miller said. “We must never forget.”

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder talked of that surreal morning a decade ago when “we couldn’t believe what we were seeing on the television.”

Martinez Councilman Mark Ross abandoned his customary humor and read a serious poem he wrote for the occasion.

“In the name only. Infamy, no Icaraus. Humans weaponized,” Ross recited.

A young woman sang the national anthem a cappella except for the unsolicited train whistles that accompanied her. Two clean-faced teenage girls wearing plain white shirts and black slacks played taps on trumpets.

But the morning’s most poignant moment came when tearful Army veteran and retired bus driver Gary Jones sang the last haunting note of “Amazing Grace,” then bent his tall frame and hugged Martinez Police Chief Gary Peterson.

The men clung to each other for a moment.

And for those few seconds, everyone seemed to cling together.

It was why they came.

Afterwards, Jones couldn’t stop his tears.

He remembers that morning. The Desert Storm veteran was driving bus for County Connection and he had parked his rig outside the Martinez train station very near where he stood today. A woman in the station had heard the news about the attack on the World Trade Center and collapsed onto the floor; her brother was believed to be in the building.

“We comforted her the best we could but we didn’t have a lot of information,” Jones recalled. “No one did.”

Click through to read Rep. George Miller’s reflections on 9-11: Continue Reading