Sunday, November 29, 2009

They Called Him Valhalla...


Page 1 2 3 4 5 >>


They called him "Valhalla."

Hal Turner says he feels betrayed by the FBI after spying on white supremacists. He now is facing charges of making threats against judges. But it was more than a nickname.

For more than five years, Hal Turner of North Bergen lived a double life.

The public knew him as an ultra-right-wing radio talk show host and Internet blogger with an audience of neo-Nazis and white supremacists attracted to his scorched-earth racism and bare-knuckles bashing of public figures. But to the FBI, and its expanding domestic counter-terror intelligence operations in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Turner was "Valhalla" — his code name as an informant who spied on his own controversial followers....CONTINUED...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Side Hugging is the Christian Thing???

I have laughed so hard at this! Yeah...they're "Rough Riders," OMG! This is the epitome of over-the-top nuttiness! Now, everytime someone hugs me I'm gonna be wondering.

THANKSGIVING & FORGOTTEN GENOCIDE...


Now, this ought to generate some thought. I found this on  Muslim Reverie and thought it quite provocative.

Thanksgiving and Forgotten Genocide: Brainwashing of American Textbooks
George Orwell, author of “1984”, once wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”







Such holds true about the history of “Thanksgiving.” Those who are indigenous to the land we now call the “United States of America” have been long misrepresented, demonized, and effectively marginalized in American history textbooks in favor of glorifying European colonialism. Why does a democracy, such as ours, refuse to teach that 10 to 30 million Natives were unjustifiably slaughtered in the name of conquest and imperialism? Where is our “free market of ideas” when selective and biased history is being taught in our educational institutions?


There is no other way to put it, but erasing the memory of an entire race of people is systematic racism. Not only is biased history presented to us through a distorted lens, but we are also subjected to an ever-growing culture of capitalism, in which commercialization of an ambiguous holiday merely pulls us away from facts and meaning. Turkeys are associated with “Thanksgiving” in the same way Santa Clause and the Easter bunny have become synonymous with Christmas and Easter, respectively. Through the guise of innocence, capitalism is constantly telling us to consume because consumption equals “happiness.” It is no coincidence that we all rush to our favorite malls and shopping centers on “Black Friday” for “big savings.”


And as children dress up as Pilgrims and Natives to reenact the romanticized version of history, they are not only perpetuating stereotypes, but more importantly, they’re embodying racist and ethnocentric lies. What do they really know about the Pilgrims and the Natives? Consider a high school history textbook called “The American Tradition” which describes the scene quite succinctly:


After some exploring, the Pilgrims chose the land around Plymouth Harbor for their settlement. Unfortunately, they had arrived in December and were not prepared for the New England winter. However, they were aided by friendly Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. When warm weather came, the colonists planted, fished, hunted, and prepared themselves for the next winter. After harvesting their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving.


This patronizing version of history excludes many embarrassing facts of European history. As stated by James W. Loewen, author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” many college students are unaware of the horrific plague that devastated and significantly reduced the population of Natives after Columbus’ arrival in the “new world.” Most diseases, for instance, came from animals that were domesticated by Europeans. Cowpox from cows led to smallpox, which was later “spread through gifts of blankets by infected Europeans.” Of the twelve high school textbooks Professor Loewen studied and analyzed, only three offer some explanation that the plague was a factor of European colonization. The nine remaining textbooks mention almost nothing, and two of them omit the subject altogether. He writes: “Each of the other seven furnishes only a fragment of a paragraph that does not even make it into the index, let alone into students’ minds.”


Why is it important to mention the plague? Quite simply, it reinforced European ethnocentrism and hardly produced a “friendly” relationship between the Natives and Europeans. To most of the Pilgrims and Europeans, the Natives were heathens, savages, treacherous, and Satanic. Upon seeing thousands of dead Natives, the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, called the plague “miraculous.” In 1634, he wrote to a friend in England:


But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by the small pox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not fifty, have put themselves under our protect…


The ugly truth is that many Pilgrims were thankful and grateful that the Native population was decreasing. Even worse, there was the Pequot Massacre in 1637, which started after the colonists found a murdered white man in his boat. Ninety armed settlers burned a Native village, along with their crops, and then demanded the Natives to turn in the murderers. When the Natives refused, a massacre followed.


Captain John Mason and his colonist army surrounded a fortified Pequot village and reportedly shouted: “We must burn them! Such a dreadful terror let the Almighty fall upon their spirits that they would flee from us and run into the very flames. Thus did the Lord Judge the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies.” The surviving Pequot were hunted and slain.


The Governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, further elaborates:


Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them.


Perhaps most disturbing: it is strongly argued by many historians that the Pequot Massacre led to the “Thanksgiving” festivities. The day after the massacre, the aforementioned Governor Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: “A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” It was signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”


Now, one may ask: What about Squanto, the Wampanoag man who learned to speak English and helped the hungry, ill, and poor Pilgrims? As cited by Professor Loewen, an American high school textbook called “Land of Promise” reads:


Squanto had learned their language, the author explained, from English fishermen who ventured into the New England waters each summer. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn, squash, and pumpkins. Would the small band of settlers have survived without Squanto’s help? We cannot say. But by the fall of 1621, colonists and Indians could sit down to several days of feast and thanksgiving to God (later celebrated as the first Thanksgiving).


Note that this text states the first Thanksgiving was on 1621. Indeed, there was a feast on that year, but it was not called a “Thanksgiving feast” nor was it repeated until years later after the Pequot Massacre in 1637. In regards to Squanto, the correct question to ask is: How did Squanto learn English? History textbooks neglect to mention that the Europeans did not perceive Squanto as an equal, but rather as “an instrument of their God” to help the “chosen people.” It is also omitted that, as a boy, Squanto was stolen by a British captain in 1605 and taken to England. He worked for a Plymouth Merchant who eventually helped him arrange passage back to Massachusetts, but less than a year later, he was seized by a British slave raider. Along with two dozen fellow Natives, Squanto was sold into slavery in Spain. He would manage to escape slavery, journey back to England, and then talk a ship captain into taking him along on his next trip to Cape Cod in 1619.


As Squanto walked back into his home village, he was horrified to find that he was the only surviving member of his village. The rest were either killed in battle or died of illness and disease. Excluding Squanto’s enslavement is to paint an incredibly distorted version of history that suggests Natives, like Squanto, learned English for no other reason but to help the colonists. It is to glorify the Europeans and erase the struggles and experiences of the Native people.


When history is transformed into myths, tales, and bedtime stories, we ignore historical research that enables us to learn valuable and meaningful lessons about our present, as well as about our future. History is meant to be an accurate and honest account of civilizations, cultures, and events; not a one-sided narrative of ethnocentric and selective alterations.


As Professor Loewen states:


Thanksgiving is full of embarrassing facts. The Pilgrims did not introduce the Native Americans to the tradition; Eastern Indians had observed autumnal harvest celebrations for centuries. Our modern celebrations date back only to 1863; not until the 1890s did the Pilgrims get included in the tradition; no one even called them ‘Pilgrims’ until the 1870s.


I did not write this article with intentions to offend or say we shouldn’t celebrate “Thanksgiving.” None of us are responsible for the atrocities committed hundreds of years ago. None of us caused the plague or the massacres. But as human beings, I do feel that it’s important for us to approach history with honesty and integrity. Yes, we should spend time with our families and Loved ones, and yes, we should be grateful and thankful for all that we have, but not at the expense of ignoring an entire race of people, their culture, and their history. A hopeful and optimistic view comes from Jacqueline Keeler, a Native American, who writes:


I see, in the “First Thanksgiving” story, a hidden Pilgrim heart. The story of that heart is the real tale than needs to be told. What did it hold? Bigotry, hatred, greed, self-righteousness? We have seen the evil that it caused in the 350 years since. Genocide, environmental devastation, poverty, world wars, racism. Where is the hero who will destroy that heart of evil? I believe it must be each of us. Indeed, when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused. Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle. And the healing can begin.


The fact that history textbooks and schools try to glorify the Pilgrims while omitting significant facts about the Natives represents that there is a lot to improve in the United States. Let us not become blinded by super-patriotism or the blowout sales of “Black Friday.” Let us be conscious of our brothers and sisters in humanity, learn about their contributions, and embolden ourselves to stand up against racism and genocide in all forms.


Peace.


~ Jehanzeb


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Old Fashioned Shunning

Every once in awhile an article comes along that just pretty much sums it all up for me and now is the time. Some people just have the ability to put everything right into perspective.

FROM NANCE GREGGS

Kudos to Nance!
An Old Fashioned Shunning




Posted by NanceGreggs in General Discussion: Presidency



Mon Nov 23rd 2009, 01:12 AM



Allow me to be direct and to-the-point.



We, the People, no longer wish to be associated with you – and you know who you are.



We are tired of trying to engage you in any meaningful discussion, because it is pointless. You have amply demonstrated that you are incapable of intelligent discourse. You contribute nothing of value to the conversation; ergo, you won’t be missed.



We are weary of trying to educate you, or prompt you to educate yourselves. You prefer to live in ignorance – a state in which you actually take pride. We have better things to do than listen to the mindlessness of your chatter, or those whose mindless chatter you parrot at every opportunity.



We no longer have any tolerance for your intolerance. We find your bigotry against those who speak differently, love differently, worship differently to be abhorrent. We find you abhorrent in that you not only cling to your prejudices, you encourage others to be just as distrustful of their fellow citizens as you have become.



We are beyond any desire to expend further time or effort trying to enlighten you, coax you, persuade you. You have chosen your side – and we have chosen ours. You have made it clear you will not be moved – neither will we.



You choose to support those who would tear this country apart, and distance one American from another. We choose to stand behind those who would unify it, and instil a sense of community.



You choose to threaten violence towards those who disagree with you, anxious for swift retribution against anyone who dares live their lives differently than you live yours. We choose to seek justice against those who have wronged us – the warmongers, the liars, the hypocrites, the torturers – and we have the patience and fortitude to see to it that justice prevails, no matter how long it takes.



You choose to hide behind the mockery you have made of Christianity, twisting it so as to excuse your inexcusable behavior towards your fellow man. We choose to embrace our fellow man and make his fight our fight – and know we are doing God’s work, the fact of our being Christians or otherwise being of no import whatsoever. We understand the concept of as you do to the least among you – a concept which seems to have escaped your attention, along with so many other ideals you might have learned from, had you taken them half as seriously as we do.



You choose to stand still, mired in the mud of your own self-inflicted stupidity, content to be led by-the-nose by useless loud-mouths so blatantly devoid of constructive thought. We choose to move forward, unfettered by the need to memorize talking points, inspired by each others quiet-but-determined sense of purpose.



We will continue to defend your right to speak, regardless of what you have to say. We just don’t want to hear it any longer – and we assert our right to walk away, distance ourselves from your prattle, and get on with the important things that need to be done.



We are The People. We are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens. We are Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims. We are liberal, conservative, progressive, middle-of-the-road – poor/wealthy, male/female, gay/straight, young/old, highly educated/barely educated, urban/suburban/rural dwellers who will continue to recognize each other and work together to ensure that people like you never exert any control over our nation.



Yes, we are a country divided. Sadly so. But we are no longer divided along the lines of political party, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnic origins or financial means.



We are divided between those who believe in equality for all, and those who believe they are somehow more equal than others; between those who are content to propagate lies and those who are restless in their pursuit of the truth; between those that take without regard for who goes without, and those who are determined that until no one goes without, nothing taken is truly earned nor deserved.



This is not only the way things are, this is the way things were meant to be. It was always going to come down to this: the ill-informed meanderings versus the facts-on-the-ground, the do-as-I-say versus the do-as-I-do, the Bible-thumpin' I've-got-mine versus those who are in fact thy brothers'-keepers.



The lines have been drawn. We all know where we stand.



So let the shunning begin.

OBAMA QUIETLY BACKS PATRIOT ACT PROVISIONS

POLITICS-US:


Obama Quietly Backs Patriot Act Provisions

William Fisher

NEW YORK, 23 Nov (IPS) - With the health care debate preoccupying the mainstream media, it has gone virtually unreported that the Barack Obama administration is quietly supporting renewal of provisions of the George W. Bush-era USA Patriot Act that civil libertarians say infringe on basic freedoms.

And it is reportedly doing so over the objections of some prominent Democrats.

When a panicky Congress passed the act 45 days after the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, three contentious parts of the law were scheduled to expire at the end of next month, and opponents of these sections have been pushing Congress to substitute new provisions with substantially strengthened civil liberties protections.

But with the apparent approval of the Obama White House and a number of Republicans – and over the objections of liberal Senate Democrats including Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Dick Durbin of Illinois – the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to extend the three provisions with only minor changes.

Those provisions would leave unaltered the power of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to seize records and to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail in the course of counterterrorism investigations.

The parts of the act due to expire on Dec. 31 deal with:

National Security Letters (NSLs)

The FBI uses NSLs to compel Internet service providers, libraries, banks, and credit reporting companies to turn over sensitive information about their customers and patrons. Using this data, the government can compile vast dossiers about innocent people.

The 'Material Support' Statute

This provision criminalises providing "material support" to terrorists, defined as providing any tangible or intangible good, service or advice to a terrorist or designated group. As amended by the Patriot Act and other laws since Sep. 11, this section criminalises a wide array of activities, regardless of whether they actually or intentionally further terrorist goals or organisations.

FISA Amendments Act of 2008

This past summer, Congress passed a law that permits the government to conduct warrantless and suspicion-less dragnet collection of U.S. residents' international telephone calls and e-mails.

Asked by IPS why committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and other Democrats chose to make only minor changes, Chip Pitts, president of the Bill of Rights Defence Committee, referred to "the secret and hypocritical lobbying by the Obama administration against reforms – while publicly stating receptiveness to them." White House pressure, he speculated, "was undoubtedly a huge if lamentable factor".

He added that some committee members were cautious because of the recent arrests of Najibullah Zazi and others.

Zazi , a citizen of Afghanistan and a legal U.S. resident, was arrested in September as part of a group accused of planning to carry out acts of terrorism against the U.S. Zazi is said by the FBI to have attended courses and received instruction on weapons and explosives at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan.

Leahy acknowledged that, in light of these incidents, "This is no time to weaken or undermine the tools that law enforcement relies on to protect America."

Pitts told IPS, "Short-term and political considerations driven by dramatic events once again dramatically affected the need for a more sensible long-term, reasoned, rule-of-law approach."

"In the eight years since passage of the original Patriot Act, it's become clear that the escalating political competition to appear tough on terror - and avoid being accused of being "soft on terror" - brings perceived electoral benefits with few costs, with vital but fragile civil liberties being easily sacrificed," he added.

In contrast to the Senate, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved a version of the legislation containing several significant reforms. In a 16-10 party-line vote, the committee's version curbs some of the government's controversial surveillance powers.

The Patriot Act, passed by a landslide after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to provide law enforcement and intelligence agencies additional powers to thwart terrorist activities, was reauthorised in 2005.

The legislation has been criticised by many from across the ideological spectrum as a threat to civil liberties, privacy and democratic traditions. Sections of the original act have been ruled unconstitutional, with certain provisions violating protected rights.

Judiciary Chair John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, said the goal of the new legislation was to "craft a law that preserves both our national security and our national values".

The proposed new legislation would permit the so-called "lone wolf" provision to sunset. This authority removed the requirement that an individual needed to be an agent of a foreign power to be placed under surveillance by intelligence officials and permitted surveillance of individuals with a much lower evidentiary threshold than allowed under criminal surveillance procedures.

It was intended to allow the surveillance of individuals believed to be doing the bidding of foreign governments or terrorist organisations, even when the evidence of that connection was lacking.

The Justice Department maintains that the "lone wolf" authority is necessary, even though there is no evidence that it has been used. Its opponents believe that existing authorities are sufficient to achieve the goals of the lone wolf provision while more effectively protecting the rights of innocent citizens.

The proposed new House legislation would also restrict the use of national security letters. According to a Congressional Research Service report, "National security letters (NSL) are roughly comparable to administrative subpoenas. Intelligence agencies issue them for intelligence gathering purposes to telephone companies, Internet service providers, consumer credit reporting agencies, banks, and other financial institutions, directing the recipients to turn over certain customer records and similar information."

Under current law, intelligence agencies have few restrictions on the use of NSLs, and in numerous cases, have abused the authority. An FBI inspector general report in 2007 "found that the FBI used NSLs in violation of applicable NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, and internal FBI policies". The reform provisions seek to create greater judicial scrutiny of NSL use.

The bill approved in the Senate contains much more modest reforms. It would retain the lone wolf provision, and is, in general, much more in line with the wishes of the administration. Should both bills pass and go into conference to be reconciled, it is unclear which approach would prevail.

House and Senate versions still need to be voted on by each body separately and then reconciled into a single bill to send to the president for signature.

Pitts told IPS, "President Obama's flip-flop on Patriot Act issues does as much damage as did his flip-flop on the FISA Amendments Act and telecom immunity last year. But it's imperative that we fight, while we still can, to comprehensively reinsert requirements for fact-based, individualised suspicion, checks and balances, and meaningful judicial review prior to government intrusions."

In a report on the Patriot Act, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said, "More than seven years after its implementation there is little evidence that the Patriot Act has been effective in making America more secure from terrorists. However, there are many unfortunate examples that the government abused these authorities in ways that both violate the rights of innocent people and squander precious security resources."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Uh...$100,000 For Project ValHALla

Lawyer: Turner was on anti-terror payroll


Friday, November 20, 2009


TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE

By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor

HARTFORD — Hal Turner, the intermittent blogger and Internet radio host, was back in Superior Court Thursday after more than four months in jail, with his New Jersey attorney predicting federal and state charges against him will be thrown out.

Turner is charged here with inciting his followers to injure state Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, and a state worker.

In June, Turner on his Web site urged people to “take up arms” against the three men over a bill that would have given Roman Catholic lay members more control over parish finances and a lobbying issue.

He spent most of his jail time incarcerated in federal prison in Illinois, charged this summer with threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for a ruling upholding handgun bans.

The case here was pushed off to Dec. 17, while the federal charges have been transferred to federal District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., for Dec. 1 because of conflicts involving the federal judges in Illinois.

Turner’s main attorney, Michael Orozco of New Jersey, said after the brief court session that FBI documentation he has received details Turner’s alleged relationship as an informant for the FBI from 2003 through 2008.

Orozco said that, for now, he can only share the FBI documents with Connecticut prosecutors.

He said they include pay sheets showing the FBI budgeted $100,000 or more a year for Turner as part of its Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as correspondence between then-U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher Christie and the FBI detailing parameters of the project, dubbed “Vahalla.”

Christie was elected governor of New Jersey this month; he takes office Jan. 19.

Randall Sanborne, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the northern district of Illinois, would not comment Thursday on Vahalla, Christie’s alleged memos or any aspect of the Turner case.

Orozco said the material substantiates Turner’s claims he was trained as to what was acceptable speech, and while he wasn’t in the employ of the FBI when he did his Internet posts on the judges and Connecticut lawmakers, he said he followed the same guidelines.

The attorney was asked why Turner continued to make what law enforcement officials took as threatening remarks after he was no longer on the FBI payroll.

“He is a shock jock, nothing else. He gave a heated, but protected opinion as to what these (Connecticut) legislators were doing and that’s all. He didn’t ask anyone to commit any act of violence,” Orozco said.

The federal court ordered Turner not to talk on the telephone, Internet or to the media until the case is adjudicated, Orozco said.

Mr. Turner’s show was funded by his listeners and this is what he did for a living. He wasn’t trying to do anything illegal and never had committed an illegal act,” Orozco said. His main defense is that Turner’s remarks are protected speech.

Orozco, a silent Turner at his side, said it was “outrageous” the FBI arrested Turner for a kind of behavior they allegedly taught him.

he attorney said Turner “wasn’t making any of that alleged vitriolic speech — before he was approached by the FBI.”

Orozco said documents show Turner was “tasked ... to use fiery rhetoric so as to flush-out crazies before they attacked.” He said it allegedly netted more than 100 federal subjects and averted 10 acts of violence. He said they described Turner as “irreplaceable” and “crucial ... to the prevention of domestic terrorism and lone wolf attacks in the United States.”

Orozco alleges state police issued a false fugitive arrest warrant for Turner when they asked New Jersey police to arrest him in June before he could post lawmakers’ addresses. He said he is looking into possible criminal or civil charges against them.

A spokesman for the chief state’s attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.

TENSION IN KENNETT


Located in the far Southeastern corner of Missouri, Kennett is home to about 11,000 people, a Wal Mart, and a lot of racial tension as the trial of Heather Ellis is underway.

The 24-year-old school teacher from Louisiana is accused of cutting in line at the Kennett Walmart in January 2007, then becoming belligerent and refusing to leave after store managers asked her to go.

Ellis could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of assaulting officers, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace.

The case has drawn interest both from civil rights groups and organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and protestors have taken to the streets of Kennett both in support and against her. The long awaited store surveillance tapes have finally been released to the public, but have proven to be pretty inconclusive in building a case that would warrant any felony conviction.



But, the racial tension and this story doesn't end there...



And...of course, this case has brought national attention to Heather and the town of Kennett...



Fifteen years is a pretty hefty sentence for anyone to be looking at for something of this nature. The town of Kennett is also going to be looking at a rather lengthy sentence as they, at their law-enforcement agency will be faced with the scrutiny that it probably deserves.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SHANE FOSTER IS NOW COMPETENT




I've been following this one for awhile so, I thought I would bring you the update.

TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE
COVINGTON, La. (AP) — An alleged Ku Klux Klan member has been found competent to stand trial in connection with the killing of an Oklahoma woman who reportedly tried to back out of a Klan initiation ceremony last year in St. Tammany Parish.


Dr. Michelle Garriga, who works in the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System's forensic division and was appointed by the court to examine 21-year-old Shane Foster, said Tuesday that Foster now understands legal procedures well enough to proceed. He faces a charge of obstruction of justice.


Foster is the son of Raymond "Chuck" Foster, the alleged imperial wizard of the Bogalusa Sons of Dixie Knights. Chuck Foster is charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 9, 2008, shooting death of Klan recruit Cynthia Lynch. Authorities have said the slaying occurred after Lynch told him she wanted to go home.

Monday, November 16, 2009

FAIR & IMPARTIAL?


It still shocks us. We can't forget. We shouldn't forget. Remembering...all of us do. We know precisely where we were and precisely what we were doing on September 11, 2001.

While the pictures and the footage were horrendous - we couldn't take our eyes off of them. It's as if we had to watch to believe that it was really happening - to us...to America.

As the story began to unfold, we were outraged...angry...livid. We wanted revenge - an eye-for-an-eye. We demanded some sort of retaliation. And we mourned.

Now, all these years later, it would seem that America will fulfill part of its' pledge to bring some of the guilty to justice - and we intend to do so where it all took place, right in the heart of New York City. We intend to give those we believe took part in the attacks a "fair trial." Some say that's a lot more than what they deserve. Others say that it is fitting. Still others believe that it opens the door for more attacks while some wonder at the ability of a trial set in New York City to be fair and impartial. What do you think?

TEA-BAGGERS GET HAD...

Now, this is really pretty hilarious regardless of which side of the fence you are on. And...I knew these idiots would latch onto this whole immigration issue - they just need a reason for their existence. I agree with the writer...just wait.

FOR THE FULL STORY AND VIDEO

The teabaggers are getting ready for the next round of wingnuttery against the Obama administration. It sure looks like they lost on health-care reform, but they have already been organized for a long time around the issue of immigration, so they are ready and rarin' to go careening off the far-right cliff.



This weekend, the nativist right-wingers at the National Policy Institute organized a series of "Tea Parties Against Amnesty.


However, at the rally in Minneapolis, the demonstrators got punk'd by a young man who called himself "Robert Erickson".


"Erickson" got up and delivered a rant against European immigration. At first the crowd was whooping and hollering as he talked about the rights of "real Americans" -- but then it gradually tapered off as he went on and they realized they'd been had.


Here's the speech:


Hi, my name is Robert Erickson and I’m really excited to be here. Its people like all of you, and events like this that make our country great! Give yourselves a round of applause!


I just want to talk about a couple themes this afternoon because I love this country and I want to see America be the best place it can be.


Mr. Gutierrez is getting ready to propose an immigration bill in just a few short days, and we have to make sure he knows that we want a bill that's tough on immigration. Now is the time for us to stand up and make our voices heard!

In Minneapolis, where I’m from, we have a huge immigrant population that’s been causing a number of problems. With the economy in recession, and so many people getting laid off, and unable to find work, immigrants should not be competing for the few jobs that are out there. It's just not fair to the folks who have a claim to this land and the right to be here. All across America, they are contributing to the flooding of our job markets making it hard for Americans to find jobs. Well, I'm fed up, and it's time to let our politicians know that enough is enough, and we're not gonna take it any more!


We need to secure our borders to protect our country. We need to restore order and put an end to the anarchy that's sweeping the nation. We need tougher immigration laws to make sure that we send these people back where they came from. We need to protect the sovereignty of the real Americans. We need to hold our politicians accountable.


It's no secret that with an invasion of immigrants comes waves of crime. We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans. These aren't new problems, though -- they have been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.


I say it's time for us to say enough is enough! Are you with me? Are you with me? Let's send these European immigrants back where they came from! I don't care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! It's time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land!


I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let's round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep. I don’t care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!


If we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.


Thank you very much, and we'll see you in the streets!


Columbus Go Home! Columbus Go Home! Columbus Go Home!


Not surprisingly, the organizers were pissed. Sally Jo Sorensen at BlueStemPrairie was there to watch, and she reported that some of the nativists started getting violent:


Most of the MINN-SIR supporters were slow to catch the satire, and so the cheering from that side of the crowd took a while to subside. As they realized they'd been punked, they stood in a cold, stunned silence, while the 30 or so counter-protesters urged Columbus to go home.


Unfortunately, some of the pro-MINN-SIR audience made up for what they lacked in humor through the use of violence. Both Danielson and I saw middle-aged men attack young protesters, knocking one off a bike before he started throwing punches at the young man.


Just as shocking was the reaction of the state police working the rally, who pushed back those being attacked, rather than those attacking the counter protesters.


Neither of us have ever witnessed violence at rallies and events we've attended in the past. The attacks formed a sharp counterpoint to Hendrycks' shrieked claims from the podium that MINN-SIR "patriots" had "respect" while the young protesters were rude.


I've been warning for awhile that there is a violent element already involved in the immigration debate, and when they become empowered by the "tea party" types, it's going to get ugly. Looks like the debate hasn't even started yet, and it already is.


If you thought the town-hall teabaggers went nuts over health-care reform, just wait.






[H/t Matt Ortega.]


Sunday, November 15, 2009

IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL ON THE WAY...


For all those who have been screaming about immigration reform - it appears that legislation is just around the corner although it may not be precisely what you hoped for.


TO FULL STORY AND VIDEO


Dems’ immigration reform: Pay your taxes, learn the language, you can stay...

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has unveiled the Obama administration's plan to reform immigration. Key among the proposals are rules that would allow the current undocumented population to stay in the United States, provided they take a number of steps like learning English and paying back taxes, according to published reports.



"The hope is that when we get into the first part of 2010, that we will see legislation begin to move," Napolitano said, according to The Los Angeles Times.


"An immigration reform bill that includes citizenship for undocumented immigrants is expected to be filed in the House as early as next month by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he will file a bill in the Senate early next year," The San Antonio Express-News. "He favors a citizenship plan, but also wants increased border security measures."


Napolitano made the announcement during a Friday speech to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.


Under the administration's proposed rules, in order to become a citizen an undocumented person must register with the government, undergo a criminal background check, pay all back taxes and fees and learn to speak English.


The Homeland Security secretary called the process a "tough path" to becoming a U.S. citizen, but credited it as a system of immigration "that works." She added that President Obama had personally asked her to take point on this issue.


"[In] order to have fully effective law enforcement, we need Congress to create the legal foundation for bringing the millions of illegal immigrants in this country out of the shadows, require them to register and pay all taxes they owe, and enforce the penalties that they will have to pay as part of earning legal status," Napolitano added. "Let me emphasize this: we will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows."

The undocumented immigrant community is roughly 10 million strong in the United States, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates [PDF link]. The study found that while a vast majority of immigration from Mexico is illegal, Mexicans make up just 57 percent of the total undocumented population. Pew also noted that some 1.7 million of that population are under the age of 18.


According to a Los Angeles Times article...

Napolitano said the government's progress in shoring up the border with Mexico and enforcing laws at the workplace meant that more Americans and more lawmakers would support an overhaul of laws than during the last effort, in 2007.


Critics responded that immigration reform was code for a blanket amnesty, and that the strides Napolitano cited in enforcement were overstated.



They also said that economic turbulence, with 10.2% unemployment, meant the timing was bad for an effort to legalize undocumented workers.


"The substance of her case is divorced from the reality of America's economy today," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. "The arguments against amnesty are far stronger today than they were in 2007. You have a much tighter job market."

Napolitano pointed to improved border security as the strongest argument for immigration reform's better chances. Since 2007, more than 600 miles of border fence have been built in the Southwest, and there are now more than 20,000 patrol officers guarding the nation's southern boundary, she said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our Lost Children


Diane Diamond hit upon something that is of the utmost importance to me - and I hope to you, as well. While we sit around and rant and rave about health care, Obama, and the state of the economy our children are killing and maiming each other, running away from home, being molested and abused, and sold into slavery or prostitution.

As we bemoan the current state of affairs and commiserate over the economic legacy we are leaving our children, those very same children are in jeopardy - right here, right now.

You can find here article here.

OUR LOST CHILDREN

What the hell is going on with our children?


In one high school in Palo Alto, California four teenagers, acting separately, killed themselves recently by stepping in front of a train.


And who wasn't stunned by the recent reports, also from California, about a group of 20 high school kids either participating in or standing around watching the brutal 2 hour long gang rape of one of their female classmates? The attack took place outside Richmond High School during the homecoming dance. Not one person bothered to call 911. Police are still struggling to identify those involved.


Who is responsible for that ghastly crime? The rapists, of course but also responsible are those who watched, and by some reports cheered on, the attack. Legally, nothing can be done to them because the law there only mandates eyewitnesses report a crime against a child under the age of 14. This unfortunate victim is 15.


I blame faulty parenting for failing to instill the basic idea that if you see a crime in progress you call the cops! To paraphrase the old saying, evil triumphs when good men (and women) do nothing.


As a nation we fail our kids in many ways. We continue to look past all sorts of troubled children. A recent FBI sweep arrested 700 people suspected of trafficking American children into prostitution. 52 kids were saved, the youngest just 10 years old.


We've got to try harder to keep kids from being pulled into this desperate, criminal world in the first place.


Numbers are difficult to come by but it's believed police get reports of about 1.6 million children running away from home every year. Many return, voluntarily, within a short period of time but there are countless others who are chronic run-aways, children whose home life is so horrific they'd rather take their chances on the streets.


We often know who these kids are but communities haven't made it a priority to protect those minors whose parents have fallen down on the job due to drug abuse, mental illness or other of life's maladies. These kids didn't wake up one morning and decide, "Gee, I think I'll run away." Children who are loved and cared for do not leave home.


Once on the street the most popular way of earning a living is prostitution.


Case in point: 11 year old Sara Kruzan. She was raised in Riverside, California by a drug addicted, abusive mother. When a 31 year old neighborhood man named G.G. befriended Sara, plied her with attention and gifts and began grooming her for a life of prostitution she was too young to realize what was happening. By the age of 13 this honor roll student and aspiring writer had lost her virginity to G.G. and he had turned her out onto the streets. No one stopped him. Ultimately, things got so abusive Sara killed her pimp, was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. This 11 year old victim had been transformed into hard-core criminal status in just 5 short years. She's condemned to die behind bars.


This is not an isolated case. In the United States there are nearly 2300 boys and girls convicted of crimes and serving "life without" as they call it. Amnesty International reports in the rest of the world combined there are just 12 children serving such sentences. A disproportionate number of these juvenile offenders are members of a minority group.


In other words, America seems okay with condemning children, many who were victimized first, to die in prison with absolutely no chance of ever having a full, free life.


I'm not okay with that.


Currently, 42 states allow children to be sentenced to prison without the possibility of ever being released. Judges have no discretion in these states; they must sentence these kids to the max. Only eight states - New Mexico, New York, West Virginia, Maine, Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado and Alaska - and the District of Columbia have banned "life without" for juveniles. There's a bill pending in California, which imprisons 227 of these unfortunate convicts, but it's not clear it will pass.


For Sara Kruzan, who is now 29 years old, the change would be welcome but it means she'd still have to serve at least a dozen more years before it would apply to her. She's expressed true remorse for her crime, she's dedicated her time behind bars to furthering her education and she's reported to be a model prisoner. Doesn't she deserve some sort of break in her life?


If we don't deal with the needs of kids like Sara from the get-go we'll likely have to deal with them later in their scarred lives. If they are, indeed, part of our future we're all in deep trouble.






Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FIGHT OUR WARS AND DIE...

Tell me this is right?

FIND IT HERE ALONG WITH OTHER LINKS

Study: 2,200 Vets Died Last Year Because They Lacked Health Insurance
On the eve of Veterans Day, a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School has released a study finding that an estimated 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died last year because they did not have health insurance. That “translates to six preventable deaths per day” and more than twice the number killed in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.


Being uninsured raises a person’s odds of dying by 40 percent. The researchers found that 1.46 million veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 lacked insurance in 2008. While most veterans are eligible to receive excellent care from the Veterans Administration, those who were not injured in combat and whose income is above a certain threshold are often ineligible. Others are assigned low priorities, providing them with less consistent and more expensive access to care:


“Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people – too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School. [...]


Dr. David Himmelstein, the co-author of the analysis and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, commented, “On this Veterans Day we should not only honor the nearly 500 soldiers who have died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the more than 2,200 veterans who were killed by our broken health insurance system. That’s six preventable deaths a day.”


Unfortunately, health insurance is just one of many serious problems vets face. Up to one-in-five veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, while male vets face suicide rates double the national average. And, as the VA under President Obama recognized, veterans still account for up to a quarter of all homeless.


The fact that even veterans cannot receive adequate health care demonstrates that the current system is broken and in need of dramatic overhaul. A robust public option will guarantee that vets and all working-class Americans will be able to afford quality health insurance. Still, the study’s authors warn that the health care legislation “would do virtually nothing for the uninsured until 2013” and would “leave at least 17 million uninsured over the long run when reform kicks in,” leaving many veterans without care.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Oh...They're Not Racists...They're Just Conservatives...They're Just...

Noted Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel spoke out about the tea-bagger holding the sign depicting the mass grave of Jews and comparing Health Care Reform to the Holocaust saying, "This kind of political hatred is indecent and disgusting." Of course, criticising the obvious brought out what has been all too obvious in the tea-baggers.

Here are some of their responses:




The jews need to clam up and accept the fact that they are in a Chritian country.

This hollowcost thing is totally overblown by the jewish.

Eli Wiesel should just go back to Indonesia. I don't see him condemnig the terrorist shooter at Fort Hood.

Elie is a whiner. She should stop her whining. You didn't not complane when the libs were calling Bush Hitler.

You know what? The fact is that at a time in history, The Rosthchild family controlled practically everything.This is a fact. Not anti semitic. I resent the Jewish outrage at everything. I am a tea partier. obama is a Marxist and takes his orders from George Soros... it is similar and these people need to get a life., Why any Jew would support the Obama administation is a mystery anyway. He is a Muslim sympathizer and the greatest threat to Israel ever to sit in the White House. Wake up Jewish community. Take off the blinders.

Elie Wiesel: Newest, most current tool of the sick, perverted, racist, anti-semetic Democrap party. Have you no shame Democraps?

"most American jews are not very religious and many are outright unbelievers, Jews in name only." Many older Jews in America feel shame for BEING in America, rather than emigrating to Israel in the late 1940s. Many sent money to help the colonization, and a few sent Army-surplus rifles, but the majority came up with the most interesting excuses for not answering the call to gather together and forge their homeland.

Elie Weisel is disgusting PR-seeking profiteering demagogue who has made a fortune off playing on the world's guilt trips about the what happened to the Jews during WW2. Most objective WW2 researchers agree now that the beastial Nazi''s, who happened to be anti-capitalist Socialists, killed even more Slavs and Gypsies in their concentration camps than Jews, but you don't see the Slavs and Gypsies trying to profit off the "Holocaust" like some of the shameless powerful Jews in the media.

I sometimes wonder what has happened to the Jewish people?. The Bible says that they are GODs' people and Israel is their home land. I see so many Jews seem to have abandoned their faith and I think this has to sadden our Father in Heaven. I see many Jews that are homosexual-actively promoting it as a "normal" lifestyle. I see many Jews involved in the ACLU- which I call the "Anti Christian Liberal Union", this bothers me as how can one be against their Father and Son in Heaven who are for Life??. I see many Jews in Hollywood making filthy ,sinful movies-what happened to the good, Family movies??. I see many Jews full of Greed in Hollywood, Wall Street,etc. I see many Jews involved in abortion groups- how can one support the killing of human fetuses??, especially people who have suffered through the Holocaust??. I am not anti-semitic, I know many will come on here and attack me. I am simply stating what I see and I believe our Father in Heaven is wondering what is happening to his "chosen" people?. He sent his only son to Earth to die for our sins and I think He is wondering the direction our Country is taking??. I am praying for our Country and all the Jews in our Country and pray that our Father will forgive us all for our sins. I hope I have stated what GOD would have wanted me to say?. GOD Bless and Pray for our Country.

Old man should go away.


As was noted on this blog, the sponsors of this event cannot be held responsible for the sign that was displayed. However, the anti-Semitism and racism that is being exuded from the tea-bagger crowd is becoming more and more egregious. If there was ever any question as to precisely where or what these people want to "take Americaback" to - you really don't have to look far to find the answer.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Some Predicted

EMPHASIS ADDED...

TO ARTICLE

Some predicted trouble from Fort Hood's Maj. Hasan
By ANGELA K. BROWN and RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press Writers Angela K. Brown And Richard Lardner, Associated Press Writers
Sun Nov 8, 9:23 am ET

FORT HOOD, Texas – In retrospect, the signs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's growing anger over the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem unmistakable. But even people who worried his increasingly strident views were clouding his ability to serve the U.S. military could not predict the murderous rampage of which he now stands accused.

In the months leading to Thursday's shooting spree that left 13 people dead and 29 others wounded, Hasan raised eyebrows with comments that the war on terror was "a war on Islam" and wrestled with what to tell fellow Muslim solders who had their doubts about fighting in Islamic countries.

"The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," said Dr. Val Finnell, who complained to administrators at a military university about what he considered Hasan's "anti-American" rants. "He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out."

Finnell studied with Hasan from 2007-2008 in the master's program in public health at the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., where Hasan persistently complained about perceived anti-Muslim sentiment in the military and injected his politics into courses where they had no place.

"In retrospect, I'm not surprised he did it," Finnell said of the shootings. "I had real questions about what his priorities were, what his beliefs were."

Hasan, who was shot by civilian police and taken into custody, was in intensive care but breathing on his own late Saturday at an Army hospital in San Antonio. Officials refused to say if he was talking to investigators.

At least 17 victims remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds, and nine were in intensive care late Saturday. On Sunday, numerous church services honoring the victims were planned both on the post and in neighboring Killeen.

Military criminal investigators continue to refer to Hasan as the only suspect in the shootings but won't say when charges would be filed. "We have not established a motive for the shootings at this time," said Army Criminal Investigative Command spokesman Chris Grey.

A government official speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the case said an initial review of Hasan's computer use has found no evidence of links to terror groups, or anyone who might have helped plan or push him toward the shooting attack. The review of Hasan's computer is continuing and more evidence could emerge, the source said.

Hasan likely would face military justice rather than federal criminal charges if investigators determine the violence was the work of just one person.

Hasan's family described a man incapable of the attack, calling him a devoted doctor and devout Muslim who showed no signs that he might lash out.

"I've known my brother Nidal to be a peaceful, loving and compassionate person who has shown great interest in the medical field and in helping others," said his brother, Eyad Hasan, of Sterling, Va., in a statement. "He has never committed an act of violence and was always known to be a good, law-abiding citizen."

Still, in the days since authorities believe Hasan fired more than 100 rounds in a soldier processing center at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting on a military facility in the U.S., a picture has emerged of a man who was forcefully opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was trying to elude his pending deployment to Afghanistan and had struggled professionally in his work as an Army psychiatrist.

"I told him, `There's something wrong with you,'" Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."


Danquah assumed the military's chain of command knew about Hasan's doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates at the Maryland graduate military medical program. His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's "anti-American propaganda," but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal complaint.

Others recalled a pleasant neighbor who forgave a fellow soldier charged with tearing up his "Allah is Love" bumper sticker. A superior officer at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Col. Kimberly Kesling, has said Hasan was quiet with a strong work ethic who provided excellent care for his patients.

Twice this summer, Danquah said, Hasan asked him what to tell soldiers who expressed misgivings about fighting fellow Muslims. The retired Army first sergeant and Gulf War veteran said he reminded Hasan that these soldiers had volunteered to fight, and that Muslims were fighting each other in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories.

"But what if a person gets in and feels that it's just not right?" Danquah recalled Hasan asking him.

"I'd give him my response. It didn't seem settled, you know. It didn't seem to satisfy," he said. "It would be like a person playing the devil's advocate. ... I said, `Look. I'm not impressed by you.'"


Danquah said he was disturbed by Hasan's persistent questioning but never told anyone at the sprawling Army post about the talks, because Hasan never expressed anger toward the Army or indicated any plans for violence.

"If I had an inkling that he had this type of inclination or intentions, definitely I would have brought it to their attention," he said.

Hasan was promoted from captain to major in 2008, the same year he graduated from the master's program. Bernard Rostker, a military personnel expert at the Rand Corp., said a shortage of officers and psychiatrists meant Hasan's advancement was all but certain absent a serious blemish on his record, such as a DUI or a drug charge.

Hasan reportedly jumped up on a desk and shouted "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — at the start of Thursday's attack.

"Hopefully, they can put together the pieces and find out what in the world was in his mind and why he went crazy," Danquah said. "Aaaaah, it's sad. Those soldiers could have been my soldiers."

OPEN MIC NITE ON COLD SHOT

Cold Shot will air tonight at 7:00 Eastern Time. Given the events of this week, it will be Open Mic night. Anyone can call and begin a topic of discussion. Air your frustrations, talk about current events, discuss what's going on your community, or just vent.

Possible Topics of Discussion Include But Are Not Limited To:

Should Muslims Be Deployed To Fight In The Middle East?

The Current Health Care Plan

Has the Concept of America Been Successful - Or Is It A Miserable Failure?

Is Everyone A Little Bit Racist In One Way Or Another?

Is A Woman's Right To Choose A Woman's Health Issue?

LISTEN HERE

Saturday, November 07, 2009

OBAMA'S LEANING...

I am starting to wonder if there will ever be an end to all of this maddness.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Posted on Sat, Nov. 07, 2009
Obama leaning toward 34,000 more troops for Afghanistan
Jonathan S. Landay, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is nearing a decision to send more than 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year, but he may not announce it until after he consults with key allies and completes a trip to Asia later this month, administration and military officials have told McClatchy.
As it now stands, the administration's plan calls for sending three Army brigades from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. and the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. and a Marine brigade, for a total of as many as 23,000 additional combat and support troops.

Another 7,000 troops would man and support a new division headquarters for the international force's Regional Command (RC) South in Kandahar, the Taliban birthplace where the U.S. is due to take command in 2010. Some 4,000 additional U.S. trainers are likely to be sent as well, the officials said.

The first additional combat brigade probably would arrive in Afghanistan next March, the officials said, with the other three following at roughly three-month intervals, meaning that all the additional U.S. troops probably wouldn't be deployed until the end of next year. Army brigades number 3,500 to 5,000 soldiers; a Marine brigade has about 8,000 troops.

The plan would fall well short of the 80,000 troops that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, suggested as a "low-risk option" that would offer the best chance to contain the Taliban-led insurgency and stabilize Afghanistan.

It splits the difference between two other McChrystal options: a "high-risk" one that called for 20,000 additional troops and a "medium-risk" one that would add 40,000 to 45,000 troops.

The officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss internal administration planning, cautioned that Obama's decision isn't final, and won't be until after administration officials discuss it with the NATO allies at a Nov. 23 meeting of the alliance's North Atlantic Council and its Military Committee.

Coalition forces now include 67,000 U.S. and 42,000 troops from other countries. The Army's counterinsurgency manual estimates that an all-out counterinsurgency campaign in a country with Afghanistan's population would require about 600,000 troops.

Although the administration privately is holding out little hope of persuading Canada or the Netherlands to abandon their plans to withdraw combat troops, much less getting additional allied troops, it wants to avoid creating the impression — at home and abroad — that the U.S. "is going it alone" in Afghanistan, said one military official.

In an interview last week with The New York Times, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner complained that the American administration is leaving its NATO allies in the dark about its new strategy.

"What is the goal? What is the road? And in the name of what?" Kouchner asked, according to the Times. "Where are the Americans? It begins to be a problem . . . . We need to talk to each other as allies."

The officials said that Obama also wants to complete his Nov. 11-19 Asia trip and a state visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, the arch foe of Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror, before he announces his Afghanistan plan.

Administration officials also want time to launch a public relations offensive to convince an increasingly skeptical public and a wary Democratic Congress — which must agree to fund the administration's plan — that the war, now in its ninth year and inflicting rising casualties, is one of "necessity," as Obama said earlier this year.

"This is not going to be an easy sell, especially with the fight over health care and the (Democratic) party's losses" of the governors' mansions in New Jersey and Virginia last week, said one official.

Generating public, congressional and international support for a troop increase will require heavy pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to crack down on endemic corruption and drug trafficking, surrender more power to provincial and local governments and improve public services, the officials said. Karzai won a second term last week when his first-round election opponent bowed out of a run-off.

"Another reason for the president to hold off for a bit on ordering more troops to Afghanistan is that we can tell Karzai that if he doesn't act firmly now, there won't be any support for a troop increase," said one official. "That has the added advantage of being true, and it's easier to hold off on sending more troops than it is to threaten to pull them out once they're there."

U.S. allies already have begun applying pressure. On Thursday, Kouchner called Karzai "corrupt," and the next day, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that if Karzai's government didn't attack corruption, international support against the Taliban-led insurgency would evaporate.

"Sadly, the government of Afghanistan had become a byword for corruption," Brown said in a speech. "And I am not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm's way for a government that does not stand up against corruption."

As McClatchy reported last week, the Obama administration has been quietly working with U.S. allies and Afghan officials on an "Afghanistan Compact," a package of reforms and anti-corruption measures that it hopes will boost popular support for Karzai and erase the doubts about his legitimacy raised by his fraud-tainted re-election.

The officials said that as of Friday, when Obama's top military advisers met for at least the seventh time to discuss the strategy in Afghanistan, the president had spent nearly 20 hours in meetings on Afghanistan. The planned troop increase may be his best hope to balance the competing political, economic and international pressures his administration is feeling.

Republicans have pressed for a decision, and many at the Pentagon and in conservative political circles argue that Obama, who has little experience in military affairs, should back his commander and send him whatever troops he's requested. The president, they note, called McChrystal the best general the military had to tackle Afghanistan when he appointed him to his post last summer.

Other military officers, particularly in the Army, warn that committing more troops to Afghanistan could risk "breaking" the force by reducing the time soldiers can spend at home between deployments, overtaxing equipment and destroying families. Those problems could worsen if Iraq's January elections are delayed or disrupted, and with them the administration's timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from that country.

Many Democrats, meanwhile, are urging Obama not to send more troops to Afghanistan. Some in his own administration, notably Vice President Joe Biden, aren't convinced that more troops would guarantee success and advocate instead more drone attacks and more training for Afghan forces.

Training Afghan troops, police and border guards, however, is proving to be a slow and frustrating process, hampered by corruption, illiteracy, ethnic rivalries and logistical problems, and carried out in the shadow of doubts about what kind of government the troops are serving.

Finally, Obama must reckon with domestic economic pressures. The unemployment rate reached 10.2 percent in October, the highest since 1983, and there are growing fears that changes in the nation's health care system could send the federal budget deficit even higher.

Obama campaigned saying that he'd fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars from the defense budget, but Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that the Afghan war — which some administration officials privately concede could cost $700 billion to $1 trillion — might require a supplemental funding bill next year. Among the cost estimates the Pentagon is considering is $1 trillion over 10 years, two senior defense officials told McClatchy.

Because of these pressures, it's become "highly likely that the administration would send more troops," said Paul Pillar, the director of Strategic Studies at Georgetown University. "Then it is a matter of degree," particularly given the struggling U.S. economy.

For all the debate and deliberation, however, the proposed new deployments still may not answer the fundamental question about Afghanistan, Pillar said: Would a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan pose a threat to the United States?

Friday, November 06, 2009


TO SOURCE

ELDORADO, Texas — After being duped by false leads and chastised by a court for its handling of polygamist sect children, the state of Texas has won a criminal conviction in its first trial of a sect member charged with sexually assaulted an underage girl.

Raymond Jessop, 38, was convicted late Thursday for having sex with the teen with whom he had a so-called spiritual marriage. He faces up to 20 years in prison when the jury reconvenes Monday to begin deciding his sentence.

Early on, the weeklong raid of the Yearning For Zion Ranch was hounded by missteps. After scouring the ranch for days in April 2008 in search of a caller who claimed to be an abused girl, law enforcement acknowledged "Sarah Barlow" didn't exist.

Several weeks after Texas child welfare officials put all 439 sect children in foster care in one of the largest child custody cases in U.S. history, an appellate court ruled that Texas authorities had overstepped, and the children went back to their parents.

But authorities still seized documents from homes and concrete vaults in the towering limestone temple and annex building at the ranch — documents that would help convict Jessop and indict 11 other members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

BREAKING NEWS

Two dead - 6 wounded. They are looking for a 40 year old man named Jason Rodriguez who is driving a 2002 Silver Nissan.


BREAKING NEWS: A shooting has occurred in an office building in Orlando, Florida. First reports say that at least 8 people have been shot and the shooter is still at large.

MY TEARS

As the flags are at half-mast this morning, my heart is heavy and my thoughts are with all of the victims and their families. Nidal Hasan left many victims in his wake - not just those he killed or wounded.

What being in a situation like that is like is beyond the imaginations of most of us. As all of this was unfolding, I was saying goodbye to a young man who is being deployed to Afghanistan this morning. My emotions were overflowing with grief and, of course, great concern for what lies ahead.

Regardless of how we feel about these horrendous wars, we must always remember that the young men and women being sent to these far off places are putting their lives in jeopardy for this country. I guess we now need to remember that they aren't just doing so on foreign soil.