Sunday, October 31, 2010

UN: Worlds Joke

A joke or a horror show.

US faces first scrutiny by UN rights council

Oct 31, 2010

The United States will come under the spotlight at the UN's top human rights assembly's for the first time over the coming week along with other countries that face scrutiny by the Human Rights Council.

The 12-day session of the 47 member council starting on Monday will include regular "universal periodic reviews" of 16 members of the United Nations, including the United States on November 5.

Several dozen non governmental organisation are expected to lobby the debate on the US human rights record, while Washington will also defend its record.

Some 300 US civil liberties and community groups in the US Human Rights Network on Monday called on the Obama administration to bring "substandard human rights practices" in the United States into line with international standards.

The United States only agreed to join the Council in May 2009, after the Bush administration had shunned the body which replaced its similar though discredited predecessor, the UN human rights commission, in 2006.

The Network produced a 400-page report criticising "glaring inadequacies in the United States? human rights record," including the "discriminatory impact" of foreclosures, "widespread" racial profiling and "draconian" immigration policies.

"Advocates across America have not only documented substandard human rights practices which have persisted in the US for years, but also those that reflect the precipitous erosion of human rights protections in the US since 9/11," said Sarah Paoletti of the Network.

The United States has also faced widespread criticism by UN rights monitors in recent years over its handling of terror suspects and suspected torture, while concern over the conduct of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been revived in recent months with "Wikileak" reports on leaked confidential documents.

The other UN member states scheduled for review in this Council session will be Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Lebanon Malawi, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mongolia, and Panama.

Each public, four-year, review is based on a report by the country, a compilation of non governmental organisation assessments and a one day debate with comments by its peers. No action is taken.


Open Letter to Republicans

Dear Republican Lawmakers (especially those just elected in on Tuesday Nov 5, 2010):

Tuesday November 5, 2010, is a day that will live in infamy - if you fail to act on the opportunity provided to you by the American people.  It is also President Arthur's birthday if you were unaware.

It is a day to be ever so happy and work to bring everyone together and hug and sing kumbaya ... but you will be given eviction papers in two years if that is the path you take.  I promise.

It is a day to turn to the left and follow the plan Obama has laid out for us ... and if you do, the Republican party will self-destruct, and you will be evicted in 2012.

You have been given a solemn responsibility, and no matter what Keith Obermann, Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, the NPR staff, or the Huffington woman say, it is a political earthquake.  Given the fact that Obama won by an amazing percent, with a majority of Americans solidly behind him - this election will show they have left him standing with the 32% who think he is too moderate, and have returned to a party they know will not abandon them to a world run amok.  Yet just as fleeting as Obama's charisma, will be your jobs if you fail to act - use the political power the people have given you to drive a stake through Obama's medical plan.  Provide your own version, one that allows for no government clearinghouse, does not force anyone to do anything they do not wish to do, and does not tax us (fine, penalize, punish) if we do not subscribe to his offer.  Drive a stake through Obamacare, and then do the best you can to drive a stake through his other financial plans, all the while, offering a reasonable plan to replace what he has injected into the system.  Keep your word when you tell us you will make the bills available online, make a promise and keep it.  If you don't, in 2012 you will all lose your jobs, and Obama's minions will be back to drive a stake through your hearts - and dear Republicans, it will be entirely your fault we will fail, for you have been given this responsibility - do not mess up.

Weed out your numbers - eliminate those with serious problems in their personal lives, and do so now, or you will lose in 2012 and what follows will be your responsibility.

Keep your word, don't lie, don't obfuscate, don't manipulate, and don't capitulate - the reigns of power are being turned over to you.  A House (tax branch) under your control, a Senate that will either be divided down the center (with 1-2 Democrats who will stand with Republicans on any military issue requiring you to convince 1-2 others and you have the majority) or a Senate that would only need 1 Democrat to flip and or side with Republicans.  Great power and great responsibility.  Do not mess up.

Do not start shaking hands with Democrats.  For nearly a year what we heard from Obama was 'get over it, we won' ... it does not mean you should be as crass and juvenile, but it does not mean you allow Democrats to retain their chairmanships until January.  The election is the change, and they did it to you in 2008 - it is time to take back the reigns. If you fail to do so - it will be noted. 

We are living in two Americas and while many Democrats are as patriotic and impassioned about our future as any Republican, there is a sizable minority who do not care for our country, our future, or what we have done for the world - they look at what they want to do, not what we have done ... they are a problem and you better recognize it because they will work every second to destroying you, the power you hold, and our future, and if they succeed, it will be because you messed it up.  If you mess it up, you will not be given another chance.  

We sit today on a precipice and what happens in the next 28 months will decide which we we go.


Al Qaida: Making Moves Again

The Daily Telegraph
October 30, 2010
By Richard Edwards, Duncan Gardham and Gordon Rayner

MI6 tip-off foils al-Qaeda ink cartridge bomb plot

AN INTERNATIONAL terrorist alert over an al-Qaeda parcel bomb plot was triggered yesterday following the discovery of a package containing explosive material at a British airport.

Police load a parcel removed from a UPS container at East Midlands airport on to a helicopter. It contained a suspicious device, inset

The plot — described as a “credible threat” originating in Yemen — was uncovered by MI6 after a tip-off to one of its officers based in the Middle East.

Last night, airports in the United States were on high alert after parcels containing explosive material, and addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were discovered on cargo aircraft at East Midlands airport and in Dubai.

The “sinister” parcel at East Midlands, which was found in a UPS container, comprised what police described as a “manipulated” computer printer cartridge that was covered in white powder and had wires protruding from it.

The device initially tested negative for traces of explosives but it was understood that a further search uncovered a second suspect package containing a “cleverly hidden” device in a printer, which included a mobile phone as one of its components.

There were reports that up to 20 similar suspect packages had been sent from Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, targeting synagogues in the US.

Last night, President Barack Obama said: “Initial examination of these packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material.”

He said the authorities were investigating a “credible terrorist threat” against America.

But while Mr Obama praised the actions of intelligence agents, there were question marks over the response of British police, who missed the explosives during their initial search, carried out by officers from Leicestershire.

It was only after explosives were found in the device discovered in Dubai that the second search uncovered explosives and specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command took over the investigation.

The confusion meant that it was not until 4pm that David Cameron was briefed, more than 12 hours after the initial find and more than 18 hours after Mr Obama had been informed about the threat.

Sources in the US said that the devices had tested positive for PETN, the same explosive as that used by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the al-Qaeda terrorist caught trying to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on a flight to Detroit last Christmas.

Significantly, Abdulmutallab said he had been trained in Yemen, and US officials said the Yemeni-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) would be at the top of the list of suspects if any terrorism links were confirmed.

John Brennan, Mr Obama’s national security adviser, said the devices were “intended to do harm” but would not speculate on “how much damage they could do”.

Mr Obama ordered a security clampdown across the US after the discovery of the parcel at East Midlands airport. Aircraft were grounded in Philadelphia and New York to be searched for possible devices, but no others were found.

Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, pinpointed Yemen as a security concern in his first public speech on Thursday. There is particular concern over Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda leader and US national who is based there and uses the internet to broadcast propaganda and terrorist instruction in fluent English.

MI6 is understood to have triggered the security operation after receiving information from a source in Saudi Arabia.

Following the tip-off, Leicestershire police found the package at East Midlands airport at about 3.30am.

US intelligence officials warned last month that terrorists wanted to send chemical and biological materials through the post as part of an attack against the country. It was not until after midnight, that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, confirmed that the package at East Midlands airport did contain explosive material. She said it was not yet clear whether it was a “viable explosive device” but there was nothing to suggest that any location in Britain was being targeted.

She said earlier: “The package originated in Yemen and was addressed to a US destination. We are considering what steps need to be put in place regarding security of freight originating from Yemen. There are currently no direct flights from Yemen to the UK.”

The terrorism alert prompted a frantic search in the US for packages sent from Yemen via UPS and FedEx. Using the tracking numbers of all packages sent in a consignment from Sana’a, which had been split as it made its way to the US, authorities began checking all other possible suspect packages.

Two UPS jets in Philadelphia that had flown in from Germany and France were moved away from terminal buildings. No explosives were found.

The East Midlands plane, which had been allowed to fly on to Newark, New Jersey, was also rechecked before being given the allclear. In Brooklyn, New York, police examined a package from a UPS lorry, but found nothing suspicious.

A spokesman for the Jewish Federation of Chicago said it was alerted early yesterday and had advised local synagogues to take security precautions.

There was a dispute over airline security earlier this week when senior figures in the industry said Britain should stop “kowtowing” to excessive US security demands.

The latest developments will only increase security measures, especially surrounding cargo planes. The threat level in Britain was raised from substantial to “severe” in March partly as a result of an increased threat from Yemen.

al qaida

The Elites on Tuesday's Election

He has it right.  Amazing they were falling all over themselves when a man who held federal office for less than 18 months was miraculously elected to the highest office in the United States and Free World, and that they had no problem with.

Clipped from Newsbusters

NPR's Nina Totenberg said Friday that she's very afraid of the upcoming elections.

Newsweek's Evan Thomas, her co-panelist on "Inside Washington," said historians might look upon November 2, 2010 "as kind of a joke...obviously the political system’s a mess"

GORDON PETERSON: Nina, columnist Paul Krugman says if the election goes as expected, his advice is be afraid, be very afraid. Should we take his advice?

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: I am already afraid, very afraid. I mean, it’s not like governance has been going great. I think we’ll, I don't know whether I should be afraid, but there will be gridlock.

PETERSON: Evan, Krugman also says that future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America. You are a historian. You agree with that?

EVAN THOMAS, NEWSWEEK: No, but they might look on it as kind of a joke. There is sort of a circus aspect to it that people, it’s become comic and a kind of a dark way. You know, Krugman is a professional doomsayer. So, you have to take that with a grain of salt. But obviously the political system’s a mess.

Isn't it amazing how these same people that were thrilled by the idea of America electing as president a junior senator from Illinois with little qualifications for the most important office in the land are now scared to death about who may be going to Congress next January?

Oozes with hypocrisy, doesn't it?


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Terrorism: AL Qaida on trhe Attack: We are under Attack Yet Again.

There are quite a few questions we may ask after reading the below article -
1) have they made it clear where the UPS plane was about to head off to?
2) the nationality, ethnicity, and religion of the perpetrators was?  or was most likely?
3) how many other such attempts have been made in the very recent past (the article indicates a possible number).  I have also posted part of a 2nd article by the Los Angeles Times.
4) England (and Europe less specifically) is at the highest state of readiness and alert.  The US is ...
5) All targets known have been against ?

Theresa May's statement on cargo plane bomb

Full text of the home secretary's speech on the explosive device found on a UPS plane at East Midlands airport
Saturday 30 October 2010

"Earlier today, I chaired a meeting of Cobra to review the progress of our investigation following the discovery yesterday of a suspect package at East Midlands airport.

Our preliminary examination of the device is now complete. I can confirm the device was viable and could have exploded.

The target of the device may have been an aircraft and, had it detonated, the aircraft could have been brought down.

But we do not believe that the perpetrators of the attack would have known the location of the device when they planned for it to explode.

Our investigation remains sensitive. We will continue to work very closely with international colleagues to develop our understanding of what was planned and of course to bring to justice those responsible.

I will be speaking again to my US counterpart, secretary for homeland security Janet Napolitano.

At this stage, we have no information to indicate another attack is imminent.

The threat level is already at severe, meaning that a terrorist attack in this country is highly likely. We do not plan to change that threat level at this stage.

Now we must take further precautionary measures. I have agreed with the transport secretary to take immediate action to stop the movement of all unaccompanied air freight originating in Yemen and moving into or through the UK. We are in contact with the transport sector about this.

Direct cargo and passenger flights from Yemen were suspended for security reasons in January this year, following the earlier attempt to bomb an aircraft destined for Detroit.

The police and the security and intelligence agencies are working tirelessly to increase our understanding of the case. I would like to publicly thank them for their work.

We are also grateful for all the assistance provided by other countries, notably the US.

I have briefed the prime minister after our Cobra meeting. He has been following events closely. The government's primary aim is to keep the UK safe.

I shall be monitoring progress and further statements will be made as necessary."

Q Just a quick follow, you said you’ve identified two. What about reports that there are up to 15 packages out there that you’re looking for? Is that possible?

MR. BRENNAN: What we are doing is making sure that we take a close look at other packages that might also have some type of materials in them of concern. Both of these packages that we’ve identified to date originated in Yemen, and so I think it is very prudent for us to make sure that other packages that might be coming in similar routes or from Yemen, as well, are looked at very carefully. And that's what we’re doing right now. But there are only two packages right now that have materials of concern.

Q The President described this is as a credible terrorist threat against the United States. Can you say whether this was actually an attempted terrorist attack, or some sort of practice run for something down the line?

MR. BRENNAN: I think, as the President noted, it is -- does appear that there were explosive materials in both of these packages, that they were in a form that was designed to try to carry out some type of attack. The forensic analysis is underway. We are relying heavily and working closely with our partners in this regard. But clearly, from the initial observations, the initial analyses that's done, that the materials that were found and the device that was uncovered was intended to do harm. Chip.


Q There’s been a lot of concern about threats against European targets. Is this at all related to any of that chatter that was picked up in recent weeks?

MR. BRENNAN: Well, as you well know, we issued the travel alert because of concerns about al Qaeda carrying out attacks in Europe; that one package was uncovered in East Midlands Airport in the UK. We are looking at all the parts of the puzzle that we have been piecing together over the past several weeks from al Qaeda. But we're not presuming that this is part of that plot. We're not presuming that we've disrupted that plot. We need to maintain our vigilance. And that's the message that we share with our European partners.

Q Considering what the targets were in Chicago, the Jewish places of worship, any extra precautions that you're putting out for synagogues?

MR. BRENNAN: The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other domestic agencies are looking at that very carefully and have reached out to the appropriate private-sector entities as well as organizations to ensure that any other potential targets of such attacks are alerted. So we’re working very closely with state and local officials.


Q John, the other packages that are being looked at, were they also addressed to destinations in Chicago or also to Jewish organizations?

MR. BRENNAN: There were two packages, as I said, that we identified -- one in Dubai and one in East Midlands. Both of them were addressed to synagogues in Chicago.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Virgins in Heaven: 2.5 million

PA Legislator's New Math Updates Number of Virgins for ‘Martyrs’

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Israel National News

Palestinian Authority Hamas legislative Speaker Ahmad Bahr has updated from 72 to 2.5 million the number of virgins waiting for “martyrs” upon their arrival “in the Garden of Eden.”

In a recent speech translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Bahr, who is the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the “palace” where the virgins are waiting can be entered “only by prophets, by the righteous, and by martyrs."

Most Muslim preachers and politicians have used the expression "72 virgins” to encourage Arab youth to be ready to die in anti-Israeli terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. Bahr’s new arithmetic reasons, "In the Garden of Eden, there is a palace... with 500 gates. At every gate, there are 5,000 black-eyed virgins. Brothers, 500 multiplied by 5,000 is 2.5 million."

He said in his speech, aired on Hamas television, that men “should be praying for a son who would wage Jihad for the sake of Allah... As long as we continue on this path, nobody on Earth will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahedeen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom."

Bahr also took aim at the American-mediated talks with the PA and Israel. He said, "I say to you, loud and clear: the negotiations, conducted first in the United States, then in Sharm el Sheikh, and wherever, are aimed at uprooting Islam and the resistance here in Palestine, in Gaza.”

Hamas leaders recently have increased terrorist attacks and escalated rhetoric against the diplomatic process.


Bible and Book Burning

Extremists exist everywhere, this does not mean very much.  I am surprised it has not appeared in any newspapers or on television and I have not seen any protests or demonstrations, but then again, I don't watch TV or read the paper, and wouldn't know a protest from a small gathering if I saw one.

Malawi Muslims burning Bibles

October 6, 2010

LILONGWE, Malawi -- Muslims in southern Malawi have been burning Bibles to protest their distribution in Islamic schools by Gideon's International, a Muslim Association of Malawi official said yesterday.

The Bibles "annoyed some parents and other leaders, who have resorted to burning the holy books . . . in protest," said Sheik Imran Sharif.

He said the burning of bibles was carried out by a few Muslim fanatics, and the association has ordered them to stop.


VA Man Arrested for Plotting Attacks - Hint: He wasn't Swedish

VA. Man Arrested For Plotting DC Attacks

October 27, 2010 - 1:33 PM
by Mike Levine

A Virginia man has been arrested for allegedly trying to help Al Qaeda plan multiple bombings around the nation's capital, according to U.S. officials.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was arrested today by the FBI and charged with providing material support to terrorists and collecting information for a terrorist attack.

“It’s chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks,” said Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Today’s arrest highlights ... our ability to find those seeking to harm U.S. citizens and neutralize them before they can act."

According to an indictment filed in U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, between April 2010 and Oct. 25, Ahmed repeatedly met with individuals he thought were affiliated with Al Qaeda to discuss "jihad."

On May 15, in a hotel room in Sterling, Va., Ahmed told one individual that he might be ready to travel overseas to conduct jihad, but only after he completed the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in November, according to the indictment.

In addition, he agreed to watch and photograph Arlington Cemetery Metrorail station and a hotel in Washington, D.C., in order to obtain information about their security and busiest periods.

In fact, on July 7, he participated in surveillance and recording images of Arlington Cemetery Metrorail station. The next month, he allegedy participated in surveillance of the Courthouse, Pentagon City and Crystal City Metrorail stations outside Washington.

During a meeting at a hotel in Herndon, Va., on Sept. 28, he suggested that rolling suitcases be used instead of backpacks, and he said that he wanted to kill as many military personnel as possible, according to the indictment.

Officials say that at no time was the public in danger during this investigation. The FBI was aware of Ahmed’s activities from before the alleged attempt began and closely monitored his activities until his arrest, according to U.S. officials.

Ahmed is set to make his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon in Alexandria, Va.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Bush, Iran, and Iraq


• October 25, 2010

WikiLeaks papers back Bush claims of Iran role in Iraq war

The largest unauthorized disclosure of classified government documents in U.S. history confirms a long-standing assertion of President George W. Bush at the start of the 2007 troop surge: Iran was orchestrating one side of the Iraqi insurgency.

Field reports made public by the website WikiLeaks on Friday show that U.S. military intelligence agencies had many strands of evidence revealing that Iran provided paramilitary training to Shiite Muslim insurgents at the height of the civil war in Iraq.

In one case, the military circulated a Dec. 22, 2006, warning that a group known as Jaish al-Mahdi planned to kidnap U.S. troops. The man planning the operation, Sheik Azhar al-Dulaimi, was trained by Hezbollah terrorists near the Iranian city of Qom, the document stated. Hezbollah is a Lebanon-based militia that was founded, trained and funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“This confirms the degree of operational involvement the Iranian Revolutionary Guard used in anti-U.S. operations in Iraq,” said Kenneth Katzman, a Gulf affairs specialist at the Congressional Research Service. “It confirms the degree to which Iran was involved in operations that directly targeted U.S. forces.”

The disclosures about Iran’s role in the Iraqi insurgency were first reported by the New York Times. That newspaper, along with the Guardian and Al Jazeera, were given access to the Iraq war logs before the documents were placed on the Internet on Friday.

Analysts today generally do not dispute Iran’s role in providing covert political and weapons support to insurgents in Iraq, but it was a major political issue in 2007. In September 2007, Sen. Jon Kyl, In September 2007, Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, proposed a resolution condemning the Iranian role in subversion in Iraq. The amendment called for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to be officially designated a foreign terrorist group, something Mr. Bush did in 2008.

Barack Obama, as a Democratic senator from Illinois, opposed the resolution at the time but also used the vote in support of the measure by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then a Democratic senator from New York, to attack her antiwar credentials during public debate in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.

In a letter to Iowa voters from October 2007, Mr. Obama said the resolution was dangerous because “George Bush and Dick Cheney could use this language to justify keeping our troops in Iraq as long as they can point to a threat from Iran. And because they could use this language to justify an attack on Iran as a part of the ongoing war in Iraq.”

Other disclosures from WikiLeaks include reports showing that U. S. troops intervened in some cases to halt abuses of detainees by Iraqi security forces.

In Iraq, the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the release of the documents was politically motivated.

“There are some political interests behind the media campaign who are trying to use the documents against national leaders, especially the prime minister,” Mr. al-Maliki said in a statement.

Iraq’s high court ordered the Iraqi parliament to convene on Sunday to try to break the political deadlock in choosing a new government. Last month, Iraq’s United Iraqi Alliance, comprising major Shiite parties not affiliated with Mr. al-Maliki, reluctantly agreed to give Mr. al-Maliki a second term as prime minister.

Nick Clegg, British deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the BBC that some of the disclosures from WikiLeaks warranted investigation.

Pentagon officials stressed that the disclosures did not reveal new information about the Iraq war and condemned the unprecedented leak of classified data.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on his Twitter account: “Another irresponsible posting of stolen classified documents by Wikileaks puts lives at risk and gives adversaries valuable information.”

WikiLeaks’ last major release of documents was related to the war in Afghanistan and included the names of Afghans who helped coalition forces, potentially endangering their lives. Although the Taliban has said it was combing through the documents to find those Afghans, an assessment from the Pentagon provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee found that no one had been killed as a result of the WikiLeaks disclosure.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

US and China: Who Blinked?

US Refutes South Korean Media Report About Naval Exercise

Monday, October 25th, 2010

The U.S. military has refuted South Korean media reports that Seoul and Washington have called off plans to hold a major joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea this month, because there were no such plans.

A spokesman for U.S. Forces Korea told VOA Monday that no such exercise was set for this year. The spokesman said there is no exercise to cancel.

The Yonhap news agency quoted South Korean government anonymous sources Sunday as saying an exercise involving a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier had been postponed to avoid tensions on the Korean peninsula during the upcoming G20 summit in Seoul.

There was no official confirmation of the Yonhap report.

The U.S. and South Korea have been holding a series of joint military exercises as a warning to North Korea after the sinking of a South Korean warship.

An international investigation concluded that the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan with the loss of 46 lives was caused by a torpedo launched from a North Korean ship. Pyongyang has called the report a fabrication.

Heads of state of the world’s top 20 economies will meet in the South Korean capital November 11 to 12. The leaders are expected to discuss an agreement to reform the International Monetary Fund so that emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India and Russia get more control in decision-making.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the 20 nations announced the agreement on the issue Saturday, on the last day of their conference in South Korean coastal city of Gyeongju.
Reports: US, South Korea Cancel Naval Drill

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

South Korean media reported Sunday that Seoul and Washington have called off plans to hold a major joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea this month.

Yonhap news agency quoted government sources as saying the exercise involving a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been postponed to avoid tensions on the Korean peninsula during the upcoming G20 summit in Seoul.

There was no official confirmation of the reports.

The Chinese government has fiercely opposed the deployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington in the regional waters.

The U.S. and South Korea have been holding a series of joint military exercises as a warning to North Korea after the sinking of a South Korean warship.

An international investigation concluded that the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan was caused by a torpedo launched from a North Korean ship. Pyongyang has called the report a fabrication.

Heads of state of the world’s top 20 economies will meet in the South Korean capital November 11 to 12. The leaders are expected to discuss an agreement to reform the International Monetary Fund so that emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India and Russia get more control in decision-making.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the 20 nations announced the agreement on the issue Saturday, on the last day of their conference in South Korean coastal city of Gyeongju.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Air Marshals Arrested for Arresting Woman Who Bit Them

Two U.S. air marshals flee Brazil after being charged with assault

By Mike M. Ahlers
October 22, 2010

Washington (CNN) -- Two U.S. air marshals who arrested the wife of a Brazilian judge on a flight to Rio de Janeiro -- and were themselves arrested and had their passports confiscated by Brazilian authorities -- fled the country using alternate travel documents rather than face what they believed to be trumped-up charges, sources said.

The incident has impacted air marshal operations on flights to Brazil, officials said, and air marshals contacted by CNN said the case raises questions about Brazil's willingness to support future law enforcement actions by U.S. officials on international flights.

The incident occurred on October 1 on Continental Flight 128 from Houston, Texas, to Rio de Janeiro. During the flight, a female passenger who appeared to be intoxicated tried to serve herself drinks by going to the plane's galley, one source said. The plane's crew asked air marshals to intervene, and two marshals approached the woman, who began struggling with them.

Two sources said the woman bit one of the air marshals, and she was handcuffed and placed under arrest.

At the Rio airport, the air marshals went to turn over the woman to local authorities but were themselves brought before a federal judge and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, sources said. Brazilian authorities took the air marshals' passports, so they could not leave the country and set a court hearing for the following week, sources said.

"They (Brazilian officials) did not want them to leave. They were not free to go," one U.S. law enforcement source said.

But the air marshals used alternate travel documents and quietly departed the country on a commercial flight that same day without the knowledge of the Brazilian court officials who had sought their detention.

One source said the air marshals believed the charges against them were retaliatory because the passenger they arrested is the wife of a prominent Brazilian judge. The air marshals believed it was to their benefit to leave the country and let the U.S. and Brazilian governments resolve the dispute, the source said.

The air marshals had not recovered their passports when they left, the sources said.

A Transportation Security Administration official, contacted by CNN on the day of the incident, confirmed that air marshals had confronted a "disruptive passenger" on Flight 128, and said that U.S. officials were working with their Brazilian counterparts to resolve "an issue," which the official declined to discuss.

Shortly before midnight the day of the incident, the TSA official said the air marshal team had left Brazil, but the official did not elaborate on the circumstances.

U.S. officials on October 1 and again this week declined to discuss the circumstances in which the air marshals left Brazil. But, commenting about the incident on board the aircraft, an official said, "We believe our federal air marshals acted appropriately within the provisions of the Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Tokyo Convention)."

Air marshals and union representatives contacted by CNN say it is important that Brazil and other nations recognize law enforcement actions taken by air marshals during international flights.

"In theory we're all working together to combat the threat of terrorism and we should not let egos or marital relations impact proper procedure and legal protocols," said Jon Adler, national president for the union that represents air marshals.

Numerous sources said the issue is still unresolved. According to court documents in Brazil, after the air marshals missed a scheduled court appointment on October 6, the court contacted the U.S. Embassy in an attempt to get the air marshals' addresses.

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met with Brazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Job to discuss strengthening the global aviation system. The United States and Brazil signed a "joint statement of intent on aviation security." A Department of Homeland Security official said the parties did not discuss the Continental Flight 128 incident or its aftermath.

Sources said they believe the two agents remain charged in Brazilian courts. They did not know if the agents' passports had been returned to them or the U.S. government.

State Department officials have declined to comment on the incident, but said it is not affecting relations with Brazil.

"We've got broad, deep relations with Brazil," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "We have many, many areas of cooperation with Brazil. And on those areas where we have had disagreements, or rather issues to address, and challenges, we've worked through them quite effectively."

A call to the Brazilian Embassy in Washington on Thursday was not immediately returned.


Italy: Art and Trash

Rubbish crisis making us ill, say Naples residents

October 23, 2010
Silvia Aloisi

Clutching her sickly 1-1/2-year-old son, Anna Langella says the family doctor had this simple prescription for her: move somewhere else. Skip related content

Langella says her toddler often vomits and she blames this on the foul smell and toxic waste piling up in a rubbish dump near her house in Terzigno, on the outskirts of Naples where the streets are strewn with mounds of garbage.

"We have to keep the children inside, with the doors and windows shut, but even then it's not enough," she told Reuters. "It's terrible. The state has abandoned us."

The dump was opened last year as a stop-gap solution for rubbish from Italy's third largest city, where organised crime, inefficiency and political opportunism have turned waste disposal into a chronic emergency.

It is already full and plans to open a new one have provoked protests.

After days of clashes between police and residents and newspaper headlines dominated by pictures of festering rubbish, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised on Friday to spend 14 million euros (12.5 billion pounds) to upgrade the Terzigno dump and said there was no threat to public health from the site.

Residents of the town on the fringes of a national park at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano overlooking the Bay of Naples, are worried and sceptical.

"The stench is bothering us but that's the lesser evil. The most important thing is that we are dying here, there is leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, the most horrible diseases," said teacher Anna De Vincenzo.

Medical experts say it can be difficult to assess the extent to which pollution is to blame for illnesses that are also caused by genetic, socio-economic and lifestyle factors.

There is evidence that parts of Naples and its bleak hinterland have been steadily contaminated by decades of illegal waste dumping and burning.


The medical journal Lancet Oncology in 2004 dubbed part of the Campania region, of which Naples is the capital, "the triangle of death" because the air, soil and water were polluted by high levels of cancer-causing toxins believed to have come from the waste.

Research in 2007 by Italy's National Research Council found that, among people living closest to the least regulated waste disposal sites, where trash is dumped in fields or burnt without controls, the mortality rate was between 9 and 12 percent higher than the norm.

Fatal liver cancers were also more common in the highest risk areas, according to the study, although it said more than half the places studied in the region did not show abnormal health problems.

A state of emergency over Naples' garbage was first declared in 1994 and successive governments appointed a series of "trash tsars" to tackle the problem.

Political ineptitude, corruption and the influence of the Camorra -- the Naples version of the Sicilian mafia -- have prevented the creation of a modern, safe waste disposal system.

Separate waste collection for recycling in Naples accounts for just 15 percent of the total, one of the lowest rates in Italy. People despair of politicians and do not trust government schemes aimed at ending the crisis.

Like many in the region, people in Terzigno say their landfill is not managed properly and has become a dumping ground for hazardous waste, some of it from other parts of Italy.

"We see the garbage trucks coming in at night and dumping everything in the landfill, toxic waste, hospital waste," said Michele Amoruso, a 41-year-old tax lawyer.

Central to the problem is also the role of the Camorra, which makes a fortune from the illegal disposal and burning of industrial waste.

"The Camorra is a crucial player in the whole cycle of industrial waste, particularly in the transport of toxic waste from the north of Italy," said Pasquale Raia of the environmentalist group Legambiente.


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Tolerant Left

A Brief History of NPR's Intolerance and Imbalance

October 21, 2010

From calling Tea Party members “Tea Baggers,” to saying that "the evaporation of 4 million" Christians would leave the world a better place, to suggesting that God could give former Sen. Jesse Helms or his family AIDS from a blood transfusion, NPR's personalities have said some pretty un-PC things in the past. A look at the record reveals no shortage of intolerant statements and unbalanced segments on the publicly sponsored network's airwaves.

Here's an incomplete list of questionable and controversial content that has aired on NPR or has been uttered by its employees:

-- In June, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) said it was easy to see why some refer to NPR as "National Palestine Radio" following a June 2 segment hosted by Tom Ashbrook on the Gaza flotilla incident. The segment featured five guests -- none of whom defended Israel's actions.

Among the five guests, Janine Zacharia, a Middle East correspondent for The Washington Post, was the only one who did not overtly criticize Israel. She also did not defend its actions, CAMERA officials said.

"So there you have it -- five perspectives and not one voice to present the mainstream Israeli perspective," they said in a June 17 press release. "That's Ashbrook's and NPR's version of a balanced discussion on Israel."

-- Last week, Newsbusters, a conservative media watchdog group, claimed that NPR's "Fresh Air" spent most of its hour insinuating that the Republican Party was dangerously infested with extremists.

NPR's Terry Gross hosted Princeton professor Sean Wilentz, who has written that President George W. Bush practiced "a radicalized version of Reaganism," Newsbusters' Tom Graham wrote.

"Can you think of another time in American history when there have been as many people running for Congress who seem to be on the extreme?" Gross asked, according to Graham.

"Not running for Congress, no," Wilentz replied. "I mean even back in the '50s."

-- NPR issued an apology in 2005 for a commentator's remark on the return of Christ following a complaint by the Christian Coalition that the comment was anti-Christian.

On "All Things Considered," the network's afternoon drive-time program, humorist Andrei Codrescu said that the "evaporation of 4 million [people] who believe" in the doctrine of Rapture "would leave the world a better place."

Codrescu, who was on contract with NPR but not a full-time employee, later told The Associated Press he was sorry for the language, but "not for what [he] said."

NPR apologized for the comment, saying, it "crossed a line of taste and tolerance" and was an inappropriate attempt at humor.

-- Also in 2005, NPR apologized to Mark Levin, author of "Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America," after a broadcast of its program "Day to Day" falsely accused him of advocating violence against judges. Levin accepted the apology, but said the broadcast was "illustrative of a smear campaign launched by the Left to try and silence" his criticisms of judicial activism.

-- In 2002, the head of NPR issued an apology six months after a report linking anthrax-laced letters to a Christian conservative organization.

-- Also in 2002, during an interview with the Philadelphia City Paper, NPR host Tavis Smiley said he strived to do a show that is "authentically black," but not "too black."

-- In 1995, Nina Totenberg, NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent, was allowed to keep her job after telling the host of PBS' "Inside Washington" that if there was "retributive justice" in the world, former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms would "get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it."

liberal good

What is a Human Being Worth?

Apparently that has been determined ....

Talk about 'sticking' around.

Anatomist sells body parts online

October 22, 2010
By Michelle Martin

BERLIN (Reuters) - Gunther von Hagens, a German anatomist famous for his controversial Body World exhibition displaying plastinated bodies, is now selling human and animal body parts -- even as jewelry -- online.

The move has provoked strong condemnation from German churches which accuse him of degrading human dignity.

A whole body from costs about 70,000 euros ($97,400), torsos start at 55,644 euros and heads come in at around 22,000 euros each -- excluding postage and packaging.

For those on a tighter budget, transparent body slices are available from 115 euros each.

But these real body parts -- which have undergone plastination, a process which replaces water and fat with plastic for preservation purposes -- are not available to everyone.

Only "qualified users" who can provide written proof that they intend to use the parts for research, teaching or medical purposes can place an order.

Interested parties who do not fall into this category can buy reproductions of the real body parts -- so-called "Anatomy Glass," which the shop's website describes as "high resolution acrylic glass prints of the original body slices."

Jewelry crafted from animal corpses, including necklaces made from horse slices, wristbands made from giraffe tails and earrings made from bull penises, is also available to the general public.

The online shop has outraged leading members of Germany's religious community. In a joint statement, Protestant regional bishop Ulrich Fischer and Catholic archbishop Robert Zollitsch condemned the online body shop, which they said was "breaking a taboo."

Zollitsch said "human dignity is sacrosanct -- even after death -- so the human body shouldn't be degraded and made into an object of spectacle, or a stock of spare parts."

They said that "Germany must not be allowed to become a hub of the corpse trade."

Von Hagens, 65, is no stranger to controversy. A public autopsy he performed in front of a live audience in 2002 was televised and caused a public outrage, as did his 2004 tour through Germany with his Body Worlds exhibitions.

human body

Pakistan - Billions in Aid

Pretty shocking news statement. 

Good question - WHY????

Friday 22 October 2010


US to offer two billion dollars more military aid to Pakistan

The United States will offer two billion dollars in fresh military assistance to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday. The move comes after controversy over Pakistani intelligence relations with the Taliban.

French Slackers

On the RFI English website, an article titled: Are the French a Bunch of Lazy Slackers

Some bits from that article:

Under Strikes, the article states that no, France is not the leader of strikes, that award goes to Canada, and Denmark just had a bad strike worse than the French so the French can't be too bad, except throwing those bits into the argument don't change the fact that according to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living Conditions - France topped the list for number and length of strikes for 2005-2009.

Hours worked is AMAZING.  The AVERAGE French worker works 1453 hours a year.  Which doesn't mean much to us unless we do a weekly average -  27 hours a week. 

Life is hard!

Retirement is confusing.  Presently they may retire at 60, down from 65 in 1982.  Work 27 hrs a week on average and retire at 60.  Life is hard.  The article goes on to confuse things a bit by stating that "At present French women can retire at the same age as women in Italy, South Korea, Hungary, the UK, Greece and Poland but earlier than Turks and Czechs. Men have the lowest minimum retirement age in the OECD. The government's proposals will bring them in line with Czechs and Hungarians and raise the age that retirees can claim the full pension to 67, provided they have paid over 40 years of contributions." 

However, other statements on this issue present a different picture - that the government wants to raise the retirement age to 62 when benefits are first collected, from 60.  Changing the full benefits realized at 65 to 67.  Basically increasing it by 2 years, not 7, as the article implies.

Lazy Slackers.


Bill Clinton fumbled and lost the ball for awhile.


Both of these writers are good.  For a brief moment I would be interested to know their background, because ... read the article and then ponder the last sentence.  It seems to me the article tells the facts, implies one thing, but heads off on another path only to return to it at the end.

That the code is usually kept with the President, on him, but ... blah blah blah ... and now the policy is to verify that he does have it on him (or on the person of the holder of the football). 

Now where could he have left them!

Nuclear launch card was missing for months, new book says

From Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, CNN
October 22, 2010

(CNN) -- A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says in a new book that while Bill Clinton was in the White House, a key component of the president's nuclear launch protocol went missing.

"The codes were actually missing for months. This is a big deal," says Gen. Hugh Shelton. "We dodged a silver bullet."

In his book "Without Hesitation," the retired Army general writes, "Even though movies may show the President wearing these codes around his neck, it's pretty standard that they are safeguarded by one of his aides, but that aide sticks with him like glue."

He adds that President Clinton "assumed, I'm sure, that the aide had them like he was supposed to."

What apparently went missing was a card with code numbers on it that allows the president to access a briefcase -- called the "football" and kept by an aide always near the commander in chief -- containing instructions for launching a nuclear attack.

Once a month, Defense Department officials conduct an in-person verification to make sure the president has the right codes. At least twice in a row, Shelton writes, a White House aide told the Pentagon checker that the president was in a meeting but gave a verbal assurance that the codes were with him.

Then one month around 2000, according to Shelton, when the time came to replace the codes with a new set, "the president's aide said neither he nor the president had the codes -- they had completely disappeared."

Shelton writes that all this happened likely without Clinton's knowledge.

CNN called and e-mailed a spokesman for Clinton on Thursday, but there was no immediate response.

Fran Townsend, who was homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush and who is a CNN contributor on national security issues, said Thursday, "I can't imagine a more serious breach, if something like that were ever to be lost or be compromised.

"That's the command and control capability of the president to launch a nuclear attack."

But if an unauthorized person found or obtained the codes, she said, it is unlikely that he or she could execute a launch, because they are only one part of the launch protocol. Another part of that protocol is the "football," containing the launch instructions. Townsend said it's a multilayered system.

"Even if you had a piece that was required, it would be very difficult for one person to execute the command and control of this thing," Townsend said. "There are plenty of things to be concerned about. I just find it difficult to imagine somebody could execute this thing, if they found a piece to it."

Shelton said the president was given new codes within minutes when the previous codes could not be found. He said the procedures have been changed since then so that the Pentagon aide who carries out the monthly check is required to wait at the White House until he or she can visually confirm the codes are in the president's possession or an aide who is with him.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The French: Always Willing to Stand Up and Fight Against Oppression and Evil

It really does sum it up pretty well.

French strike to save 'birthright' of privileges

Associated Press
October 21, 2010

MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Battling for benefits is a tradition in the Gilly family, passed from generation to generation — as it is for families across the country. And that goes some way toward explaining why the protests against plans to raise France's retirement age have shown such determination and ferocity.

For Gilly and many other Frenchmen and women, social benefits such as long vacations, state-subsidized health care and early retirement are more than just luxuries: They're seen as a birthright — an essential part of the identity of today's France.

[THAT is the problem.  Who will pay you when you are on your vacation for two months, and when you retire at 60 and ... dumb bunnies.]

The protest against a government plan to raise the retirement age to 62 has special meaning for five members of the Eric Gilly clan who are demonstrating in the streets of Marseille.

"We want to stop working at 60 because it's something our parents, our grandparents and even our great-grandparents fought for," says Gilly, 50, a union representative at Saint-Pierre Cemetery, the largest in this bustling Mediterranean port city.

"And over the years ... you can see that we're losing everything they fought for. And that's unacceptable."

In Marseille, strikes to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's planned retirement reform have shut down docks, left tons of garbage putrefying on sidewalks and drawn tens of thousands into the streets for each of six protest marches since early September.

Gilly, with huge drums strapped over his shoulders, led the parade for the Workers' Force union Monday. His sister, two daughters and a nephew weren't far behind.

"Unionism, it's in the skin," Gilly said in an interview with Associated Press Television News. "It's more than a passion. When something is wrong or things aren't right, they have to be changed."

The nation usually watches with care over its citizens, who for decades have used street power to help shape French policy, sometimes pulling the rug from under politicians' feet.

Retirement benefits are coveted, by some, perhaps even more than a higher salary, making the issue particularly sensitive. Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age hits a nerve deep in the French psyche.

"France is showing some of its old cultural reflexes," said Etienne Schweisguth of the Center for European Studies at the Foundation for Political Science. "When there is something we aren't pleased with we must protest."

Trying to undo what the state wants dates back to an anarchist tradition of the 19th century, when unions first led a struggle against capitalism and a refusal to align with political parties, said Schweisguth. One wing of the hard-core CGT union, which is leading many of today's protests, still looks to that tradition.

Despite the anti-government protests, it is the French state that has for centuries been charged with protecting individuals and their rights.

"The state is the guarantor of the moral good," said Schweisguth, who studies changes in attitudes and values in society.

It was in 1982, under Socialist President Francois Mitterrand, that the minimum age to stop working was lowered from 65 to 60. The measure, emblematic of the 14-year Mitterrand presidency, was adopted by a special ordinance that bypassed parliament.

Sixty has since become a golden number — and the battle cry for entire families fearful of losing benefits bestowed on grandparents, parents or colleagues at work. Including the Gillys.

"This is a family affair because unionism is our big family," said Stephanie, 22, who is among Marseille's striking garbage collectors. "Our elders fought for retirement at 60."

"We have all the generations represented," she said. "There's me, my little sister, Dad. There we go. And then there will be our children, too. We will teach them."

Schweisguth said, that despite the ruckus, strikers represent a minority of the population and that, while polls show backing for such actions, they do not measure the fervor of the backing, which he called "flaccid."

Sarkozy, a conservative, has made pushing the legal retirement age back up a priority.

[How far BACK up?????  You might think he wants it up to 70 with all the protests and rioting.  No, 62 is the age.]

"The French are moaners, sometimes grouches. But at the same time they're lucid, intelligent and responsible," the daily Le Figaro quoted him as saying in May, when he criticized Mitterrand's 1982 decision. "They will be able to acknowledge that there is no alternative to our reforms."

But Sarkozy is increasingly unpopular, and he may be off the mark.

Gilly, a burly man dressed in red from his baseball cap to his Workers' force union bib, pounds the huge drum hanging from his neck at a street protest against the retirement reform, keeping time to the chorus of voices singing "The International," the Communist anthem.

"You're not really going to push up the age of people who retire with this reform," says his nephew, Mathias Gilly, a retailer. "In reality, it's going to mean a smaller pension for people when they do retire."

Gilly packs up his drum for another day, vowing that he and his family will keep up protests — "for as long as it takes."


Liberalism is the Real ... (Racist, Fascist, Bigot, Intolerant)

JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth

By Juan Williams
October 21, 2010

Yesterday NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.

This is not a bigoted statement. It is a statement of my feelings, my fears after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 by radical Muslims. In a debate with Bill O’Reilly I revealed my fears to set up the case for not making rash judgments about people of any faith. I pointed out that the Atlanta Olympic bomber -- as well as Timothy McVeigh and the people who protest against gay rights at military funerals -- are Christians but we journalists don’t identify them by their religion.

And I made it clear that all Americans have to be careful not to let fears lead to the violation of anyone’s constitutional rights, be it to build a mosque, carry the Koran or drive a New York cab without the fear of having your throat slashed. Bill and I argued after I said he has to take care in the way he talks about the 9/11 attacks so as not to provoke bigotry.

This was an honest, sensitive debate hosted by O’Reilly. At the start of the debate Bill invited me, challenged me to tell him where he was wrong for stating the fact that “Muslims killed us there,” in the 9/11 attacks. He made that initial statement on the ABC program, "The View," which caused some of the co-hosts to walk off the set. They did not return until O’Reilly apologized for not being clear that he did not mean the country was attacked by all Muslims but by extremist radical Muslims.

I took Bill’s challenge and began by saying that political correctness can cause people to become so paralyzed that they don’t deal with reality. And the fact is that it was a group of Muslims who attacked the U.S. I added that radicalism has continued to pose a threat to the United States and much of the world. That threat was expressed in court last week by the unsuccessful Times Square bomber who bragged that he was just one of the first engaged in a “Muslim War” against the United States. -- There is no doubt that there's a real war and people are trying to kill us.

Mary Katharine Ham, a conservative writer, joined the debate to say that it is important to make the distinction between moderate and extreme Islam for conservatives who support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the premise that the U.S. can build up moderate elements in those countries and push out the extremists. I later added that we don’t want anyone attacked on American streets because “they heard rhetoric from Bill O’Reilly and they act crazy.” Bill agreed and said the man who slashed the cabby was a “nut” and so was the Florida pastor who wanted to burn the Koran.

My point in recounting this debate is to show this was in the best American tradition of a fair, full-throated and honest discourse about the issues of the day. -- There was no bigotry, no crude provocation, no support for anti-Muslim sentiments of any kind.

Two days later, Ellen Weiss, my boss at NPR called to say I had crossed the line, essentially accusing me of bigotry. She took the admission of my visceral fear of people dressed in Muslim garb at the airport as evidence that I am a bigot. She said there are people who wear Muslim garb to work at NPR and they are offended by my comments. She never suggested that I had discriminated against anyone. Instead she continued to ask me what did I mean and I told her I said what I meant. Then she said she did not sense remorse from me. I said I made an honest statement. She informed me that I had violated NPR’s values for editorial commentary and she was terminating my contract as a news analyst.

I pointed out that I had not made my comments on NPR. She asked if I would have said the same thing on NPR. I said yes, because in keeping with my values I will tell people the truth about feelings and opinions.

I asked why she would fire me without speaking to me face to face and she said there was nothing I could say to change her mind, the decision had been confirmed above her, and there was no point to meeting in person. To say the least this is a chilling assault on free speech. The critical importance of honest journalism and a free flowing, respectful national conversation needs to be had in our country. But it is being buried as collateral damage in a war whose battles include political correctness and ideological orthodoxy.

I say an ideological battle because my comments on "The O’Reilly Factor" are being distorted by the self-righteous ideological, left-wing leadership at NPR. They are taking bits and pieces of what I said to go after me for daring to have a conversation with leading conservative thinkers. They loathe the fact that I appear on Fox News. They don’t notice that I am challenging Bill O’Reilly and trading ideas with Sean Hannity. In their hubris they think by talking with O’Reilly or Hannity I am lending them legitimacy. Believe me, Bill O’Reilly (and Sean, too) is a major force in American culture and politics whether or not I appear on his show.

Years ago NPR tried to stop me from going on "The Factor." When I refused they insisted that I not identify myself as an NPR journalist. I asked them if they thought people did not know where I appeared on the air as a daily talk show host, national correspondent and news analyst. They refused to budge.

This self-reverential attitude was on display several years ago when NPR asked me to help them get an interview with President George W. Bush. I have longstanding relationships with some of the key players in his White House due to my years as a political writer at The Washington Post. When I got the interview some in management expressed anger that in the course of the interview I said to the president that Americans pray for him but don’t understand some of his actions. They said it was wrong to say Americans pray for him.

Later on the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis President Bush offered to do an NPR interview with me about race relations in America. NPR management refused to take the interview on the grounds that the White House offered it to me and not their other correspondents and hosts. One NPR executive implied I was in the administration’s pocket, which is a joke, and there was no other reason to offer me the interview. Gee, I guess NPR news executives never read my bestselling history of the civil rights movement “Eyes on the Prize – America’s Civil Rights Years,” or my highly acclaimed biography “Thurgood Marshall –American Revolutionary.” I guess they never noticed that "ENOUGH," my last book on the state of black leadership in America, found a place on the New York Times bestseller list.

This all led to NPR demanding that I either agree to let them control my appearances on Fox News and my writings or sign a new contract that removed me from their staff but allowed me to continue working as a news analyst with an office at NPR. The idea was that they would be insulated against anything I said or wrote outside of NPR because they could say that I was not a staff member. What happened is that they immediately began to cut my salary and diminish my on-air role. This week when I pointed out that they had forced me to sign a contract that gave them distance from my commentary outside of NPR I was cut off, ignored and fired.

And now they have used an honest statement of feeling as the basis for a charge of bigotry to create a basis for firing me. Well, now that I no longer work for NPR let me give you my opinion. This is an outrageous violation of journalistic standards and ethics by management that has no use for a diversity of opinion, ideas or a diversity of staff (I was the only black male on the air). This is evidence of one-party rule and one sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought.

Daniel Schorr, my fellow NPR commentator who died earlier this year, used to talk about the initial shock of finding himself on President Nixon’s enemies list. I can only imagine Dan’s revulsion to realize that today NPR treats a journalist who has worked for them for ten years with less regard, less respect for the value of independence of thought and embrace of real debate across political lines, than Nixon ever displayed.


NPR: National Propaganda Radio

Williams Firing Sparks Calls to Defund National Public Radio

Published October 21, 2010

"I think the U.S. Congress should investigate NPR and consider cutting off their money," said Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also a Fox News contributor

Gingrich called the firing "an act of total censorship."

"I think the whole idea that if you honestly say how you feel about Islam -- what he said was very balanced, people should read what he actually said -- the idea that that's the excuse for National Public Radio to censor Juan Williams is an outrage and every listeners of NPR should be enraged that there's this kind of bias against an American," Gingrich said.

NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller sent an internal memo Thursday seeking to clarify why Williams' contract was terminated, claiming that the remarks he made on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" weren't the problem, he was canned because he's become a pundit rather than an analyst.

"Juan's comments on Fox violated our standards as well as our values and offended many in doing so," Schiller wrote in the memo obtained by Fox News.

"This isn't the first time we have had serious concerns about some of Juan's public comments," she wrote. "Despite many conversations and warnings over the years, Juan continued to violate this principal (sic).

Speaking at the Atlanta Press Club Thursday, Schiller defended the firing, saying Williams should keep his feelings about Muslims between him and "his psychiatrist or his publicist."

Not only did she tell Williams to keep his feelings to himself and or his psychiatrist, she also admitted such to the Press Club ... and then, a day later, expressed 'regret' at her choice of words.  And that is ok?

Williams told Fox News that he was fired Wednesday by Ellen Weiss, NPR's vice president for news. He said Weiss told him he made a bigoted statement and crossed a line.

"I said, 'You mean I don't even get the chance to come in and we do this eyeball-to-eyeball, person-to-person, have a conversation? I've been there more than 10 years," Williams said. He said Weiss responded that "there's nothing you can that would change my mind."

But Williams has won considerable support from members in the press and lawmakers. The hosts of ABC's "The View," whose raucous interview with O'Reilly last week sparked a weeklong back-and-forth about making a distinction between Muslims and Islamic extremists, said NPR was wrong to let Williams go.

"I don't think he should have been fired, because, in fact as you pointed out Sherri, lots of people have this idea," said host Whoopi Goldberg.

Host Barbara Walters said Williams perhaps should have been chastised, not fired because he was on the show to give his perspective.

"I think they were very wrong," she said of NPR.

Republican Rep. Peter King went further, calling on Congress to defund NPR "because of its indefensible bias."

"NPR has disgraced itself by caving into CAIR and by firing Juan Williams for exercising his right of free speech," he said. "This is political correctness carried to its extreme form."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Fox News contributor, called on Congress to stop cutting checks to NPR and said he will no longer accept interview requests from NPR "as long as they are going to practice a form of censorship."

"NPR has discredited itself as a forum for free speech and a protection of the First Amendment rights of all and has solidified itself as the purveyor of politically correct pabulum and protector of views that lean left," he said.

NPR says government funding makes up less than 2 percent of it budget with the rest coming from station fees, sponsorships and grants.This week, the radio network received $1.8 million from billionaire investor George Soros to hire journalists to cover legislatures in all 50 states.

2% from the US government (which means the American people) and $1.8 million from Soros.  And that's ok??

The Council on American-Islamic Relations had urged NPR to take swift action against Williams. The group said such commentary from a journalist about racial, ethnic or religious minority groups would not be tolerated.

"NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed a security threats," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told Fox News that the group is "pleased that the network addressed Muslim concerns."

"It was really up to them what to do in response," he said. "I think everyone has recognized now that perhaps it wasn't a good fit between the network and Mr. Williams."

Hooper said he did not think Williams, an African American who has written extensively on civil rights in the United States. But Hooper said, "Everybody's accountable for their words and their actions and when he seemed to legitimize singling out people who are perceived to be Muslim based on their attire on airlines, I think that crosses the line."


India: Not All Cultures are Worth Keeping

Curse of the Gujjar marriage

Oct 21, 2010, 12.01am IST
The Times of India

DHARWAD: In the marriage mandis of North Karnataka and Uttara Kannada, agents rule the roost, striking bargains with parents and selling innocence for hard cash. Here, women are a commodity and their price is fixed, depending on age and beauty.

It is called a Gujjar marriage, and is the first link to the booming trafficking racket in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The victims are impoverished lower caste women, for who the marriage becomes the path to a brothel in Mumbai or North India.

Police say they are aware of this problem, but are unable to act because they receive no complaints and no complainants have come forward so far. Only human rights and NGO activists alert people to the issue.

Widely known as `Gujjar marriages' (also `Gurjara maduve' -- the word Gujjar here is not intended to refer to any community, but a practice, tradition and style of marriage) across North Karnataka and Uttara Kannada districts, impoverished girls, deserted women, widows and single women from lower castes are sold under the guise of marriage.


Sheethal (name changed), 31, has just returned from Mumbai to her home in Bedasgaun in Mundgod in Karwar district. Belonging to a scheduled caste, she was sold to a 40-year-old man in Maharashtra in June 2009, she returned home two weeks ago after her husband deserted her.

Isabella S Xavier, founder member of Sadhana, women and children welfare society and District Human Rights Centre, Dharwad, said: " Gujjar marriage is just a `one-night' ceremony. The men, who hail from Gujarat or Rajasthan or UP, pay a certain amount to the girl's parents and get married overnight. The men bear all the expenses, including buying jewels for the bride. The next day, they take the girl away."

Pankaja K Kalmath, executive director and founder trustee of KIDS (Karnataka Integrated Development) Dharwad added: "In Gujjar marriages, only the bride's parents are present and none of the bride's relatives are invited. After that, no one is aware as to what happens to them."

Recalling her traumatic experience, Sheethal said: "I was cheated by a man in my village when I was 27 years old. I was three months pregnant. He promised to marry me only if I aborted the child. My family members took money from him and got my child aborted. He refused to marry me and absconded."

Promising to get her married off, her mother took her to Maharashtra. "In June 2009, my mother and an agent from Malagi village in Mundgod took me to Maharashtra. I don't know the name of the place, but I do remember that it was beyond Mumbai. I was married off without any expenses. My in-laws managed everything and gave a lot of jewels, which they claimed to be gold. Later, I was taken to a house where their mannerisms were taught for a month. There was a girl from Karnataka who taught me how to behave and work. My husband owns a provision store in Nasik," she said.

She added that the jewels she was given were all fake gold. "They lied to me saying the jewels were gold and silver," she said. However, she refused to reveal the name of her husband.


Sheethal recounted that her husband used to give her a lot of tablets and injections. "They made me feel giddy and my health deteriorated slowly. I was unable to recover because of which my husband left me in his friend's house in another village. He said he would take me home after I recover. But he never returned. Even after making several calls, he refused to take me back, stating that I was very weak. I couldn't stay in his friend's house. Later, I went to Mumbai," she said.

Unaware that she was sold to him, she said: "I have seen many girls from my village who were married off like me. Their families were paid huge amounts, with which they bought lorries, and a few also built houses. I wanted to know how much my mother was paid. I kept asking her but she refused to tell me."

Deserted by her husband, she took shelter in Mumbai. "In Mumbai, there are many girls from my village who are deserted by their husbands. With their help, I started working in a shop. I make woollen hair bands and stay in the shop owner's house. He takes good care of me. I do all the household work and then work outside. I get Rs 2,000 per month. But my health condition worsened and my owner sent me home for a month," she said.

Her return to the village has only alerted the agents around. "One agent from a neighbouring village is constantly pestering me to get married. He said he would arrange another wedding if I give my consent. My family members want me to move out of the house as fast as possible fearing societal pressure. But I am not ready for another marriage," she said.

However, she believes that some day her husband will take her home. "I will once again try to call my husband and convince him to take me home. Otherwise, I have to find a job," she rues.

There are also women who refuse to go back to their husbands. Chandrakala (name changed) came to her village in Kyasankere in Mundgod for delivery. "She refused to go back home fearing physical harassment. She was married off four years ago at the age of 16 to a person in Pune. We don't know how much her parents were paid. But when she came for delivery, she complained that she was harassed every day. It has been one-and-half years since she came to the village," Renuka F Bhovi of Kyasankere village said.

Why are they termed `Gujjar marriages'?

Explaining the genesis of the name, Pankaja said many men come from Gujarat. "People started calling it `Gujjar marriages'. Though women are sold to men from Maharashtra and Rajasthan, this practice is known as Gujjar marriage," she said.


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