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CBP NY: PSU (Puppy Saving Unit)

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Customs and Border Protection agents do a lot to serve our nation. They track terrorists. They stop drug traffickers. And they save puppies.

Customs and Border protected puppy!

Customs and Border protected puppy!

Or at least one lucky pooch that was found nearly frozen to death in the cargo hold of a plane at New York’s JFK Airport on Saturday.

According to the local ABC affiliate there, three CBP officers were informed that two puppies shipped from Mexico froze to death on the flight. Upon arriving on the scene, the officers noticed one puppy was clinging to life. The trio revived the pup and a vet tells ABC the dog is going just fine.

We here at FedLine think this story is a prime candidate for the Daily Squee. Don’t you?

Photo: WABC via Gothamist.

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Agencies to cut greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent

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The White House just announced that the federal government will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020, compared to 2008 benchmarks.

The ambitious federal target is the aggregate of percentage reduction targets reported by 35 federal agencies earlier this month. President Obama ordered agencies in an October executive order to begin measuring and reducing their carbon footprints, the first such comprehensive effort by the federal government.

I’ll be sitting in on a conference call at 11 a.m. with administration officials to discuss the initiative. Check back at www.federaltimes.com for a full report.

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Martha Johnson on way to GSA?

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Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, filed cloture on the nomination of Martha Johnson last night. Johnson, you’ll recall, was tapped by Pres. Obama last year to lead the General Services Administration, but her confirmation has been held up by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. Read about the flap here, here and here. And stay tuned for continuing coverage of her nomination saga.

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Brownie doing a heckuva a job on air

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Remember Michael Brown, that former FEMA director President George W. Bush nicknamed Brownie and praised for responding quickly to Hurricane Katrina? Ever wondered what he thinks of Washington now?

Well, now you can know, as Brown has just received his own talk show on KOA, Denver’s highest-rated radio station. Brown will pontificate on politics from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. weeknights on the AM station.

Kris Olinger, director of AM programming for Clear Channel Denver, told Denver Westword, a blog, that Brown was the best choice for the station. Brown’s experience in the Bush administration is also a “definite positive,” Olinger said.

He has great insight into what happened in New Orleans and how government works. He takes responsibility where he needs to, but he’s also pretty candid about other things that went wrong. I think people get the inside story from him.”

Brown told the blog that he knows most people associate him with Hurricane Katrina, but he hopes they’ll give him a chance to prove himself.

There are always a percentage of people with preconceived notions, good or bad, and I feel like the radio audience is the same way. The subject comes up occasionally, and people will ask me questions. But people can ask me anything and I’ll tell them about it. When it comes to that experience, I have nothing to hide.”

You can check out Brown’s broadcasts here.

White House highlights GSA

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The General Services Administration is getting a lot of attention from White House this week.

Last night, I reported that Pres. Obama appeared to call out Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., for holding up Martha Johnson’s nomination to lead the agency.

Today, the White House blog chose GSA to illustrate the new feature: “The President’s Cabinet Reporting to You.”

Coincidence? Or a sign of how the White House views the government’s procurement and real estate arm?

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Hackers mar U.S. House sites after SOTU

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Hackers defaced 49 U.S. House members’ Web sites hours after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address Dec. 28.

The hackers took down all of the Web sites’ material, replacing it with a vulgar string of text: “F— OBAMA!! Red Eye CREW !!!!! O RESTO E HACKER !!! by HADES; m4V3RiCk; T4ph0d4 — FROM BRASIL.”

National Journal screencapped the hacked site of Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo. Click here to see the image (strong language, may not be safe for your workplace).

Most of the hacked Web sites are still down. The hackers hit sites belonging to both Democrats and Republicans as well as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Republican Web site.

The hackers, believed to be Brazilian, took down sites administered by GovTrends, an Alexandria, Va.-based contractor. House members can either use the free services of the House information technology department to host their Web sites or go with a vendor.

Eighteen sites administered by GovTrends were hacked in August 2009 because House employees didn’t change their default passwords, which were easy for hackers to deduce. Many of those same sites were hacked again overnight, Politico reports. Carnahan’s Web site, linked above, was also hit in August.

The attacks may have happened while GovTrends was upgrading its systems, Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the House chief administrative officer, told Politico. The House is also re-evaluating its relationship with GovTrends, Ventura said.

Analysts: Obama’s freeze won’t be too painful

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Much has been written about the politics of President Obama’s call for a partial spending freeze. (In short, they’re hard to figure out: The freeze annoys liberals, it’s too small to placate conservatives, and because it exempts defense spending, it hasn’t earned many plaudits from real fiscal hawks.)

Less has been written about the policy side, partly because the details of the freeze won’t be public until Obama releases his budget on Monday. But the sense I get — and I alluded to this in a quick State of the Union story last night — is that the freeze will really have a minimal impact on federal employees, both on their priorities and their pay.

Read the rest of this entry »

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SOTU: Presidential shout-out to GSA nominee?

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Did President Obama just call out Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., for holding up the confirmation of Martha Johnson to lead GSA? You decide.

Here is what Obama said in tonight’s State of the Union address regarding the hold up of several of his nominees:

The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators.

And here are two links to our past posts about the hold Bond has on Johnson’s full Senate confirmation. Both note the hold is directly related to Bond’s desire to move a federal complex owned by GSA to downtown Kansas City, Mo.

So what do you think? Did Obama just give Johnson a shout-out of support? Discuss it in the comments section below.

Judge: No dancing at Jefferson Memorial

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Want to dance on federal property? Well, you can’t if you’re at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., a federal judge ruled Jan. 25.

U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote in a 26-page opinion that the memorial’s interior is not a public forum, ruling against a woman who was arrested along with 17 others while dancing in the Jefferson Memorial to celebrate the third president’s birthday on April 12, 2008, reported The Washington Post.

The celebrants were listening to music via headphones and danced to celebrate “the individualist spirit for which Jefferson is known,” wrote Alan Gura, the attorney for plaintiff Mary Oberwetter, in court papers.

U.S. Park Police Officer Kenneth Hilliard told the dancers to stop, and Oberwetter asked why and refused to comply. Hilliard then arrested her and charged her with demonstrating without a permit and interfering with an agency function, charges that were later dropped, the Post reported.

Oberwetter then sued the National Park Service in March 2009, saying the police actions infringed upon her rights of free expression and asking a judge to bar the government from stopping or preventing similar public gatherings in the future.

Bates disagreed, saying that Oberwetter, her friends and anyone else who wants to boogie in front of Thomas Jefferson’s statue has no right to groove.

Wrote Bates in his decision:

The purpose of the memorial is to publicize Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, so that critics and supporters alike may contemplate his place in history. The Park Service prohibits all demonstrations in the interior of the memorial, in order to maintain ‘an atmosphere of calm, tranquillity, and reverence.’ … The Memorial is akin to a temple or a shrine (both in terms of its purpose and its physical characteristics), not a place of public expression.”

As you may remember from your history classes, Jefferson was a man who believed fervently in the rights of people to freely express themselves and felt government should not restrict the ability of free people to air their grievances or speak in public. It’s curious then that a judge has ruled against people dancing at midnight — a time when surely they were alone at the memorial — to celebrate such a man, his works and his principles.

This ruling will likely be appealed, as it sets what free-speech advocates will argue as a dangerous precedent for the use of publicly-owned spaces. Many would agree that war memorials, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, are hallowed places. They honor those in uniform who died for America, and families and friends still come to pray and think of those that died. The Jefferson Monument, in contrast, celebrates the writings and principals of a civilian — and do we want to establish a public monument to an elected leader as a shrine or temple, as the judge calls the monument?

We’ll let Jefferson have the last word here, quoting from a letter he wrote in 1795:

Being myself a warm zealot for the attainment and enjoyment by all mankind of as much liberty as each may exercise without injury to the equal liberty of his fellow citizens, I have lamented that … the endeavors to obtain this should have been attended with the effusion of so much blood.”

Federal Times on the air

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For those of you in the Washington area, I’ll be appearing on News Channel 8 this evening to discuss my story about a U.S. Postal Service executive who steered sole-source contracts to his business associates, and the questions some are raising about those deals. Tune into Federal News Tonight at 7:30 p.m. to see the interview.

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