Wildlife conservationists are livid at the Obama administration’s approval of a new rule that extends wind farms leases up to 30 years. On Friday, wildlife protection groups decried the new regulation as a “stunningly bad move” that gives wind power companies the ability to kill eagles and other birds for the next 30 years.
The Wildlife Society Bulletin approximates that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats are killed by flying into wind turbines every year. National Audubon Society President David Yarnold expressed his anger over the Obama administration’s new rule: “It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the bald eagle.”
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, however, argues that the new regulation is beneficial to wildlife and renewable energy development: “The changes in this permitting program will help the renewable energy industry and others develop projects that can operate in the longer term, while ensuring bald and golden eagles continue to thrive for generations.”
Moreover, Peter Kelley, VP of Public Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association, says that the new rule provides that wind energy companies must have accompanying wildlife protection programs to ensure more eagles are not dying than expected. Kelley explained that the Dept. of Interior demands they “document all of the different ways you’ll preserve the eagles,” and that the companies will be reviewed every five years for compliance. Kelley also contends the real number one threat to eagles and wildlife is climate change.
But Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of the American Bird Conservancy, says that the five year reviews are “almost exclusively on self-reporting by for-profit companies to tell them whether or not they’ve killed threatened or endangered species.” Hutchins thinks that profit making energy companies may need more than a self monitoring safeguard: “President Reagan used to say, ‘trust, but verify.’ … This ruling sets up a system of permitting that allows, for the first time, the legal killing of bald and golden eagles. We think it’s a bad idea.”
Hutchins added, “You can’t call it green if it’s killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats annually and if it’s killing large numbers of protected eagles.”
“That is very true, but it starts almost with the oath of office which usually ends with, ‘So help me God.’ Now, most presidents swear on a Bible before taking office, even though we have the separation between church and state. You see it again and again. You don’t have to use a Bible. Teddy Roosevelt didn’t. John Quincy Adams swore on a law book and Lyndon Johnson took the oath on a book he thought was the Bible. We don’t know what the book was… We talk about the separation between church and state and almost every president ends up saying, ‘so help me God.’”
Americans who buy health insurance through the federal Obamacare exchange website could have their personal information stolen by hackers and never even know it.
Most of the state-run health exchange websites will be covered by state laws that require notification when government databases are breached by hackers. But there is no law requiring notification when databases run by the federal government are breached, and even though the Department of Health and Human Services was asked to include a notification provision in the rules being drawn up for the new federal exchange, it declined to do so.
Other protections for individuals’ privacy, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, do not apply to the government-run exchange, only to health providers and insurance companies operating within the exchange.
Privacy advocates and cyber-security experts have had concerns about the lack of a federal notification law for years and hope the scrutiny of the Obamacare exchange will finally bringchange.
“The notification requirement is a very important part of overall security,” said Deven McGraw, director of the Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “People should be told when their information is at-risk.”
The lack of a notification requirement is particularly bad for the health insurance exchange website because of all the questions surrounding the site’s security. Poor security, coupled with the website’s high-profile problems, could make it a target for hackers either seeking to steal identities or embarrass the government.
Unfortunately, security is often an afterthought for the government, said David Kennedy, CEO of TrustedSEC, an Ohio-based cyber-security firm. Kennedy has testified before Congress about security threats in the Obamacare exchange and the need for notification laws.
“All we need is something that says if the federal government is breached, all we have to do is alert the public,” he told Watchdog.org. “Healthcare.gov is just one website of hundreds that have had these issues going back through the years.”
Together it creates a possible nightmare scenario. Without strong security on the front end, the hastily built and not fully operational website could become a treasure trove for hackers looking to steal identities. But without any laws requiring that those victims be notified by the federal government users of the Federal health exchange will be in the dark about any potential security breaches of their private data.
When the federal Obamacare exchange was being developed by HHS prior to its troubled launch on Oct. 1, experts told the department that it should include a data-breach provision in its policies for the website even though one was not required under federal law.
The department flatly declined to do so.
The final rules for the exchanges were approved on March 27, 2012, meeting of HHS officials, according to the Federal Register.
The department’s response: “We do not plan to include the specific notification procedures in the final rule. Consistent with this approach, we do not include specific policies for investigation of data breaches in this final rule.”
Since there is no federal notification requirement, breaches of any and all federal databases can occur without the public ever being informed.
But hacks that happen behind the scenes —potentially stealing everything from Social Security numbers to Department of Homeland Security watch lists — never have to be reported.
“That’s alarming because there could be a number of federal databases that are compromised already and we don’t know about it,” Kennedy said. “The exchange is part of a bigger problem.”
Federal privacy protections contained in HIPAA also do not apply to the databases created by the federal exchange website, McGraw said, even though health insurers doing business through the exchange must be HIPAA compliant.
In other words, the health plan itself is covered by HIPAA and any breaches of security that affect a consumer who has purchased a specific plan would have to be reported. But the process of choosing and purchasing a plan through the federal exchange — along with any information entered into the federal exchange as part of that process — is not subject to HIPAA protections.
“The problem with the exchanges is that they are such new entities, and they are so unique that existing laws don’t really cover them,” McGraw said.
But 48 states have laws on the books requiring that they give notification to individuals who may have had personal information stolen or leaked from a government database. Many states require that government agencies and departments alert the state attorney general so investigations can be launched.
In states that opted to run their own health insurance exchanges, those laws generally cover security breaches of the exchanges, McGraw said, though it depends on the specific wording of each state law.
Those state laws are how data breaches of several state-level health insurance exchange websites have come to light.
Even though the federal government does not have to report any breaches of security, at least a few already have occurred.
The most high-profile case so far is that of Thomas Dougall, a South Carolina lawyer who had his personal information accidentally leaked to another person after using the Obamacare exchange last month.
Dougall only found out about that breach of security because the recipient was kind enough to give him a call. Without a requirement that the exchanges report such problems — whether the result of nefarious hackers or glitches in the programming — it is impossible to tell how many other Americans have had their private information released by the federal exchange.
Kennedy said he would not recommend that anyone use the federal exchange until it is more secure and until breaches of security are reported.
“I would say think twice about it, at least until we get more details,” he said.
Kennedy says he supports universal health care and his criticisms of the website are not rooted in political motivations. But the former U.S. Marine whose firm provides computer security to several Fortune 100 companies says there have been “zero changes” to the security of the health insurance exchange website in the run-up to the much-touted Dec. 1 re-launch.
David Thaw, a law professor at the University of Connecticut who specializes in cyber-security and the legal framework around it, said data breach notification laws, combined with comprehensive data security, are an essential part of protecting consumers and businesses.
Late Friday afternoon, Politico Magazinepublished an update dismantling White House claims that President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held “dozens” of unrecorded one-on-one working meetings over the last three-and-a-half years leading up to Obamacare’s unveiling.
The update, written by Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer, refuted Friday comments by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
In a telling exchange between Carney and NBC News reporter Peter Alexander and ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, Carney claimed the GAI report showing one meeting between Obama and Sebelius since Obamacare’s signing was incorrect because it was based on spotty White House visitor logs. The problem, wrote Schweizer in the Politico Magazine update, is that the GAI report was not based on visitor logs; it was based on the White House’s own official calendar and was further verified by Politico’s comprehensive presidential calendar.
“Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday, ‘Cabinet secretaries don’t regularly get entered into the visitor logs.’ The GAI report was not based on visitor logs; it was based on the White House’s own calendar and the Politico presidential calendar,” wrote Schweizer.
Carney also claimed to reporters that Secretary Sebelius “is here a lot and meets with the President with regularity,” but he admitted he did not know how many one-on-one meetings Obama had with Sebelius.
If so, said Schweizer, “Why aren’t they listed? How many meetings took place and when did they occur?”
As Schweizer pointed out, “Obama’s calendar lists 277 one-on-one meetings between the President and his Cabinet Secretaries, including 73 with former Secretary Clinton and 57 with former Secretary Geithner.” Why not Sebelius? asked Schweizer.
The Politico Magazine update then posed the question at the heart of the controversy: “If Obama and Sebelius worked together closely and regularly, why did the President publicly state he did not know about the problems with Healthcare.gov?”
Schweizer says Obama must make good on his promises of transparency. “This is the most transparent Administration in history,” Obama said previously.
Obama must level with Americans about “how much time President Obama personally spent over three-and-a-half years leading, managing, and working alongside Secretary Sebelius on his signature achievement,” wrote Schweizer.
The growing controversy places an already beleaguered Obama White House in an untenable political position. If, as HHS spokesperson Joanne Peters claimed late Friday, Obama had “dozens” of one-on-one working meetings with Sebelius, why did he promise in his roundly criticized November 14 press conference he was unaware of the serious problems with healthcare.gov that contractors had warned Sebelius of for months?
“I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as—the way it was supposed to,” said Obama. “Clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website.”
And if, as the White House and Politico presidential calendars reveal, Obama held but one meeting with Sebelius in the three-and-a-half years of the Obamacare implementation, why was the President not “leading, managing, and working alongside Secretary Sebelius on his signature achievement,” asks Schweizer.
The Obama Administration has yet to produce a list of the “dozens” of dates and times it claims Obama and Sebelius spent working on Obamacare.
***What an idiot.. I’d boycott Nevada just because they keep electing this loon!
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., wades through reporters in October on Capitol Hill. / AP file
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv, denied a CNN report saying that he was the only top congressional leader to exempt “some of his staff from having to buy insurance through the law’s new exchanges.”
GOP House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have all directed their staffs to join the exchange, CNN has reported, citing their aides.
“What does top congressional leaders mean?” Reid asked, during an interview in his Reno office this afternoon. “Like me and McConnell?
"No, that is simply not true," Reid said. "Some of the people on my leadership team have done the same thing, following my lead. CNN is wrong.”
Reid mentioned “my leadership team.” CNN’s report focused on the No. 1 Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.
Reid said he did not read the report but noted that the Las Vegas Review-Journal has published a story about it.
“I did not see the report,” Reid said. “But they had it front page of the R-J and a lot of other people did the same thing.
“All I did was follow the law,” Reid said. “The law says that if you have committee staff, leadership staff, they stay where they are. If you have other staff, which is most everyone, they go to the exchanges.
“I followed the Affordable Care Act,” Reid said. “It is the law.”
Some Republicans have been critical of Reid because of the story.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Steve Tetreault of the Stephens News Bureau (Review-Journal) that Reid’s move “is the clearest example yet of Obamacare’s failures and Washington hypocrisy. His staff worked to pass it and continue to promote it, now they don’t want to be part of it because it’s a disaster.”
Reid mentioned Cruz during the interview in Reno.
"I was really troubled when Ted Cruz complained. That really hurt me to the core,” Reid said. “The only people complaining are those who don’t like the Obamacare. I followed the law.
"And I will also note that there are 150,000 million different families that get their health care through their employees," Reid said. "So should all federal employees, although under Obamacare, my insurance costs me about $4,500 more that it did before. Yes, because it is age-related and it wasn’t like that before.”
Friday, Reid will participate in a Combat Action Medal pinning ceremony for 8 Nevada Air National Guard members who were deployed to Afghanistan in 2002.
Americans from Buzz Aldrin to president Barack Obama say it’s a waste of time to put men back on the moon — so why are foreign countries so eager to take that one small step?
While several private American companies are planning robotic missions to the moon, China launched a man-sized robotic scout to the moon on Monday. The country’s recent manned missions and efforts to build a new space base suggest a future manned mission to the moon, though why is an open question. Speculation has run from the desire to build a military missile base — a Death Star of sorts — to national pride to simple economics.
The answer may be far simpler: The moon is “easy” to get to.
“If you’re still trying to test out your space legs, it’s a great place to do it,” said one NASA engineer familiar with the agency’s plans. NASA’s current space agenda includes a highly challenging project to tow an asteroid back to Earth, as well as transporting men to Mars within two decades — projects of vast technical complexity compared with the moon landings America ended four decades ago.
'NASA is not going to the moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime.'
- NASA administrator Charles Bolden
“Mars and the asteroid mission is just clearly not something most of them can even fathom taking a major role in, whereas going to the moon is something that they can do, as the Chinese have proven,” he said.
Others, including a chorus of ex-astronauts and policy experts, argue that NASA is making a mistake by ignoring the moon, which still fascinates the Earthbound. Only 12 men have ever set foot on the moon, Americans all of them, the last one 41 years ago.
Dennis Wingo, a space entrepreneur and author of the book “MoonRush,” thinks the Chinese mission is about supporting the world’s exploding population.
“China is spending billions on resource acquisition in Africa, South America and other places around the world,” he told FoxNews.com. “If you look at the design of their system for this mission, it is very much a mineral prospector as much as a science mission.”
Yet America will not return to the moon, NASA administrator Charlie Bolden makes clear.
“NASA is not going to the moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime,” Bolden said at an April panel in Washington. Bolden acknowledged the worldwide interest in putting men back on the moon — and said he was willing to help out any other nation in their efforts.
“They all have dreams of putting humans on the Moon,” he said. “I have told every head of agency of every partner agency that if you assume the lead in a human lunar mission, NASA will be a part of that.”
NASA echoed that sentiment today, telling FoxNews.com that it is working with international partners to plan missions to the moon and elsewhere.
"The Global Exploration Roadmap we recently released is a clear signal that the global community is committed to working together on a unified deep-space exploration strategic plan, with robotic and human missions to destinations that include near-Earth asteroids, the moon and Mars," NASA’s David Weaver said.
That’s fine with some, including legendary moonwalker Buzz Armstrong himself.
"Do not put NASA astronauts on the moon. They have other places to go," Aldrin said in his book, "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration.” Aldrin argues that NASA should strive to put humans on Mars instead. But other experts call America’s agenda a profound oversight.
“Our political system made a possibly fatal mistake in 1968 [by] shifting the entire focus of the American government from one of forward looking future-supporting projects such as the interstate highway system, advanced aerospace, and space development,” Wingo said. “We are reaping the fruits of that mistake today.”
The NASA engineer described the situation as complicated, partly due to politics.
“George Bush was going to the moon, and when the new administration came in they were looking for something to do,” he told FoxNews.com.
It’s clear that the far more scientifically challenging mission to an asteroid isn’t resonating, said Albert Carnesale, former chancellor of UCLA and chair of a recently completed National Academies Committees on NASA’s Strategic Direction.
“The asteroid mission clearly had not been accepted either within or without the NASA community as a next step,” Carnesale told FoxNews.com.
It may be time to reconsider our missions, some suggest, especially if you could find innovative ways to get to the moon. And several U.S. companies have been working on just that. The latest is Moon Express, which will unveil the MX-1 spacecraft at the Autodesk University show in Las Vegas Thursday evening — the micro-spacecraft that will in 2015 mark the first U.S. soft landing on the moon since the days of the Apollo program.
The craft looks for all the world like two stacked donuts wearing an ice cream cone, and the tiny vehicle clearly isn’t big enough for a human being. It’s just big enough to scoop up some rocks and dirt and return to Earth. Moon Express plans to mine our satellite, and NASA endorses that idea.
“NASA … supports commercial exploration of the moon,” Weaver said. “We have solicited ideas from industry to help stimulate commercial robotic lunar transportation services as the first step in assessing interest for public-private partnerships to jointly develop a robotic lander that could demonstrate technologies and enable research opportunities for government and commercial customers on the moon.”
Bigelow Aerospace’s CEO recently said he wanted to sell property on the moon, a Japanese firm suggested a solar panel ring around the moon, and China’s Chang’e 3 lander — which should touch down on the moon in mid-December — will be the first controlled landing since the Soviet Union’s Luna-24 mission in 1976.
China’s mission could serve as a wake-up call to the world, Moon Express CEO Bob Richards said.
“We’re kind of waiting to see if it’s the Sputnik of our generation,” he told FoxNews.com.
***Have always thought it was odd that Libs don’t hold 0Mama for stopping American manned space flight. I would think the “Star Trek / Science” crowd would be up in arms about it.
Can you imagine JFK depending on the Russians to get us to space? WOW how far we’ve slid. They have collected more taxes in the last 5yrs than in any other time I’ve been alive. Where does that money go? Bridges? Roads? Nope„„
Obama dismisses IRS targeting of conservatives: ‘They’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged’
President Obama rejected the notion that the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups was illegal — or even improper — during his interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Thursday.
Obama was at American University to sell his flailing health care law to the young people upon which the insurance exchanges heavily rely. As promised, Matthews allowed him to make his pitch with no tough questions or pushback.
But the interview became interesting when the Hardball host asked why Americans were growing increasingly skeptical of government. Obama noted that the media never seems interested in government success stories. “When we do things right, they don’t get a lot of attention,” he said.
OBAMA: That’s not — that’s not something that’s reported about. If, on the other hand, you’ve got an office in Cincinnati, in the IRS office that — I think, for bureaucratic reasons, is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether a nonprofit is actually a political organization, deserves a tax exempt agency. And they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged.
MATTHEWS: 501(c)(4) is tricky to begin with, how to define it.
OBAMA: To begin with.
The president even appeared annoyed that liberal commentators once dared to challenge him on the point:
OBAMA: And by the way, Chris, I’ll point out that there are some so-called progressives and, you know, perceived to be liberal commentators who during that week were just as outraged at the possibility that these folks, you know, had — had been, you know, at the direction of — the Democratic Party, in some way — discriminated against these folks.
Obama later passed blame for his failures onto his cabinet agencies — claiming that “somebody somewhere at this very moment is screwing something up” — and repeated the nauseating platitude that “government’s not somebody else. Government’s us.”
President Obama’s repeated use of presidential powers is causing a tough problem — his own supporters now expect him to use it to achieve everything they want.
From immigration to the minimum wage, congressional Democrats and liberal activists this week urged Mr. Obama to declare an end run around Capitol Hill, assert executive authority and make as much progress as he can on the expansive agenda he laid out for his second term.
A day after Mr. Obama denounced income inequality, progressive lawmakers said he should take the lead by issuing an executive order requiring all federal contractors to pay workers more than the minimum wage. A dozen lawmakers and immigration activists held a news conference outside the Capitol on Thursday asking him to halt all deportations as a down payment on an eventual immigration bill.
On immigration, Mr. Obama raised expectations when, after years of denying he had such powers, he issued a policy last year saying he no longer would deport young illegal immigrants, the “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. as minors by their parents and are considered the most sympathetic cases. He said he was using prosecutorial discretion.
More than two dozen House Democrats have written a letter to Mr. Obama saying he can expand that authority to encompass nearly all 11 million illegal immigrants.
Presidents regularly claim broad powers, and Mr. Obama’s own list of assertions is long. He committed the U.S. to military action in Libya without congressional authorization, he has tweaked interpretations to education, welfare and health care laws, and he has tested the limits of his recess appointment powers in a case that is pending before the Supreme Court.
Mr. Obama’s base, though, wants to see more — as he learned last week on a trip to the West Coast, where he was met with hecklers.
One man PLANT interrupted the president’s immigration speech to urge him to halt all deportations, just as he did for the Dreamers. Mr. Obama said he didn’t have that much power.
Hours later, as Mr. Obama ticked off his agenda at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser, a man PLANT in the audience repeatedly called out “executive order.”
“Somebody keeps on yelling, ‘Executive order.’ Well, I’m going to actually pause on this issue because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is, just sign an executive order, and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress,” the president said — immediately drawing approving applause from his audience.
“Wait, wait, wait, before everybody starts clapping — that’s not how it works,” Mr. Obama said. “We got this Constitution. We got this whole thing about separation of powers and branches.”
Furious: Anti-bankruptcy protesters rallying in front of the US Courthouse in Detroit.
‘Nothing distinguishes pension debt in a municipal bankruptcy case from any other debt.”
These thirteen words come from a ruling this week by US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes. In strictly legal terms, they’re part of a larger decision that does little more than confirm the obvious: Detroit is bankrupt.
But make no mistake. The judge has set off a seismic shock that will reverberate far outside Detroit. For he has confirmed something fairly radical in the world of public employees: the law applies to workers for a bankrupt city much the same way it does to workers for a bankrupt company.
Even for those who think this common sense has been a long time coming, it’s a tough hit for Detroit city workers at or near retirement age. Not only does it mean they’ll get less than they were promised, the news comes late in their lives, at a time when they have little way to make up for it. And they won’t be the last, given the unfunded pensions across this country.
In Detroit, much of the ire from city workers has been directed at Judge Rhodes. That’s misplaced. A far better target would be their own unions.
For years, public-workers unions have behaved as though their cities’ financial and pension crises aren’t their problem, largely because they’ve deemed their pensions as sacrosanct. In Michigan this sense of unreality was encouraged by a state constitutional amendment (similar to one in New York) which the unions and the political class took as a guarantee that pensions couldn’t be touched even if the city went belly-up.
Now, the economic solution to the pension mess isn’t that complicated. Cities need to move their workers from retirement plans that guarantee benefits to ones where benefits are based on contributions. The advantage to the city would be to eliminate the problem of unfunded liabilities, while the advantage to workers is that they’d own their plans outright — so they wouldn’t ever face the dismal prospect Detroit city retirees are now facing.
The obstacle is almost all political. The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon puts it this way: “The norm for city and state unions has been to press for maximum pension promises — even if it meant accepting unfunded liabilities.”
This was entirely rational, by the way, given the assumption that taxpayers would ultimately have to make up any shortcomings. It also made sense for the unions because part of the old deal was union representation on the boards of these great big pension funds, which gave them enormous political clout.
As for the public workers, many accept this arrangement because the deal they get is unbeatable by anything in the private sector — where, as the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas points out, “There is no way a cop or a firefighter could retire after 22 years and be confident of supporting not only himself but a surviving spouse for another 40 years.”
The hope is that younger public workers, watching what is happening in Detroit, come to realize another fact of the status quo: The defined-benefit systems for public workers really serves the lifers. Those who leave their jobs before retirement — between 40 and 50 percent of teacher do so within their first five years — lose out big-time.
Not all such contracts for VIP travel expenses are released by the government, although when they come, the releases always lag behind the trip dates for security reasons. Security concerns are also the reason for the lack of “full and open competition” that is often required on government contracts. When asked for comment regarding the requirements of posting travel-related contracts, a State Department spokesperson responded via email:
Federal acquisition requirements for posting contract awards related to Presidential and Vice Presidential Travel to FedBiz Ops are that any contract for more than $150,000 should be posted within 30 days of the contract award date.
The above contract was awarded on July 18, 2013, but was not posted until December 4, 2013, which amounts to 139 days. When asked to comment regarding the delay in posting this and other such contracts, the spokesperson replied:
The Department takes our obligations under the Transparency Act very seriously, and strives for complete, timely reporting from all of our missions worldwide.
On Friday, the White House announced that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama would travel to South Africa next weeks to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela. Obama has already announced that the White House will fly the flags at half-staff though December 9 in Mandela’s honor.
When former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died, President Obama did not lower the White House flags, nor did he attend her funeral, instead sending ex-Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker III. The Sun reported, “[Downing] Street is most angered by rejections from Obama, First Lady Michelle and Vice-President Joe Biden. And none of the four surviving ex-US leaders – Jimmy Carter, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr. – is coming either.”
***Now here’s a real hero.You can tell by how they don’t want to be one.
R.I.P. Thank you for what you did for all of us.
To the end, Edward James “Babe” Heffron insisted that he wasn’t a hero, that his service in World War II was simply part of an obligation to serve his country in a time of need.
But when fame followed him in the wake of Stephen Ambrose’s book “Band of Brothers” and its HBO miniseries, Heffron, who died Sunday at the age of 90 after a short battle with colon cancer, used it to praise the sacrifices made by countless men and women during America’s most trying times.
“He felt the heroes were the moms who sent their kids off and the guys who never came back.”
- Ed Zavrel, Heffron’s son-in-law
“He felt the heroes were the moms who sent their kids off and the guys who never came back,” Ed Zavrel, Heffron’s son-in-law, told FoxNews.com Tuesday night. “Babe didn’t consider himself a hero, just a guy who did his job.”
As a paratrooper in Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Private Heffron joined Easy Company shortly after the Normandy invasion and participated in some of the war’s fiercest battles, including the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. He received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
After the war, Heffron returned to south Philadelphia, his hometown, where he found work at a whiskey distillery and later checked cargo on the Delaware River waterfront.
Like many veterans of his era, Heffron never spoke about the war, and if it wasn’t for Ambrose’s book, his family might never have learned about his service.
But after the book — which documents Easy Company’s harrowing engagements and prominently features several soldiers, including Heffron — was published in 1992, and especially after the miniseries aired in 2001, Heffron became something of an icon for a generation that went to war. He was featured in interviews for the miniseries (in which he was portrayed by Scottish actor Robin Laing) and participated in a 2008 USO tour to the Middle East.
Along with one of his comrades, William “Wild Bill” Guarnere, and journalist Robyn Post, Heffron also wrote a 2007 memoir called “Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends.”
Walking around Philadelphia in his airborne jacket and hat, Heffron would often be stopped by people thanking him for his service, Zavrel said. Heffron made regular appearances at local schools, where he would spend hours with children telling stories about the war and general “life lessons,” Zavrel added.
As news of Heffron’s passing spread early this week, many paused to offer their condolences.
Actor Tom Hanks, who co-executive produced the miniseries, posted a photo of the 101st Airborne’s “Screaming Eagle” patch on his WhoSay account.
"In honor and memory of Babe Heffron and Earl McClung," said Hanks, the latter a sergeant who served alongside Heffron in Easy Company who passed away last month. "Farewell, Brothers. Hanx."
Heffron is survived by his wife, Dolores Heffron, and their daughter, Patricia Zavrel. Funeral arrangements will be private, and some of Heffron’s former comrades were expected to attend.
The family is “holding up as well as can be expected,” an emotional Ed Zavrel said. But in following Heffron’s example, they’re intent on making sure “Babe” is properly honored.
“Babe didn’t want any fanfare,” Zavrel said. “He was never one for tears. He said you got to do what you got to do.”
Scary. Insane. Ridiculous. Invasive. Wrong. The Washington Post reports that the FBI has had the ability to secretly activate a computer’s camera “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording” for years now. What in the hell is going on? What kind of world do we live in?
Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, told the Post that that sort of creepy spy laptop recording is "mainly" used in terrorism cases or the "most serious" of criminal investigations. That doesn’t really make it less crazy (or any better) since the very idea of the FBI being able to watch you through your computer is absolutely disturbing.
The whole Post piece about the FBI’s search for a bomb threat suspect is worth reading. It shows how far the FBI will go with its use of malware to spy on people and reveals the occasional brain dead mistakes the FBI makes to screw themselves over (like a typo of an e-mail address that the FBI wanted to keep tabs on). Good to know these completely competent folks are watching over us by any means necessary. [Washington Post]
That said, English language periodical Russia Todayain’t happy:
The US National Reconnaissance Office launched a top-secret surveillance satellite into space Thursday evening, and the official emblem for the spy agency’s latest mission is, well, certainly accurate, to say the least.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence live-tweeted Thursday’s launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and throughout the course of the ordeal made no effort to ignore the logo for the NROL-39 mission… The latest spy satellite to be sent into orbit by the NRO can be recognized by its seal: a malevolent octopus with furrowed brows that also happens to be wrapping its tentacles around all corners of the Earth…