Thursday, September 29, 2011

Norwegian Terrorists

01:53 PM ET
By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and Executive Director of the school's Islamic Center.

In the immediate aftermath of 1995’s Oklahoma City bombing, much of the news media rushed to suggest that a Muslim, or at least a Middle Eastern connection, was behind the attacks.

News reports on television and in print featured Middle East terrorism experts claiming the Oklahoma City attack echoed a World Trade Center bombing two years earlier and that it contained parallels to recent Mideast attacks.

The FBI picked up Ibrahim Ahmad, a Jordanian American, for questioning in an initial dragnet.

Does 'Christian fundamentalist' label fit Norway terror suspect?

Of course, it turned out that the attacker was homegrown and named Timothy McVeigh, not a Muslim.

Sixteen years later, not much has changed.

The tragic events that took place in Norway on Friday provoked initial accusations against Muslims worldwide. Of course, that proved to be the farthest thing from the truth.

Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed bomber and shooter in this horrendous act, was not motivated by the teachings of Islam, but by the teachings of those who oppose Islam.

A 1,500-page manifesto that appears to be written by Breivik is an anti-Islamic tirade.

Who is Anders Behring Breivik?

“Since the creation of Islam in the 7th century and to up to this day, the Islamic Jihad has systematically killed more than 300 million non Muslims and tortured and enslaved more than 500 million individuals,” it says.

“Since 9/11 2001, more than 12, 000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred,” it continues. “… This trend will continue as long as there are non-Muslim targets available and as long as Islam continues to exist.”

An inappropriate response to Norway’s acts of violence would be the condemnation of Christianity, or a claim that religion itself breeds violence and hatred, though the manifesto repeatedly invokes the defense of Christianity as a primary reason for violently defeating multiculturalism and combating the “Islamic colonization” of Europe.

The expectation shouldn't be that white Christian males should now be scrutinized at airports or profiled by TSA workers. It's wrong when it happens to Muslims and it would be just as wrong if it happened to anyone else.

A more appropriate response would be to expand the conversation around terrorism and violent extremism beyond Islam and the Muslim community. The Norway attacks highlight why congressional hearings should not be held on solely on radicalization in the Muslim community, but should focus on radicalization more broadly.

Far right makes comeback in Europe

It's also imperative that training for law enforcement and other governmental offices on Islamic doctrine and law not to be conducted by those who present the normative understanding of Islam to be something that is radical. Our focus should be the safety of all citizens in any country from every act of violence or terrorism.

By cultivating a narrative that says Islam is the problem, we keep ourselves from maintaining that focus. All terrorist acts stem from an idea that it's OK to resort to violence in order to get what you want; that it's OK to kill to get the kind of world that you would like; that if we disagree, we cannot co-exist peacefully.

Over the weekend, #blamethemuslims became a trending topic on Twitter. The purpose of the hashtag was not to blame Muslims for the Norway attack, but show how Muslims are unfairly blamed and singled out regularly these days. The tragic events in Norway remind us that not all terrorists are Muslim and there is no reason that all Muslims should be treated like they are.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Norway. May God make things easy for them and grant us all the strength and courage to stand up against those who preach intolerance and hatred, even if they look like us, align politically with us, or practice the same religion we practice.

Mr. Latif does a great job - promoting the concept that no distinction exists between Islamic terror and any other terror group / individual.  In fact Mr. Latif does more harm than good, for the greater number in the West.  There is a distinction Mr. Latif, a very big one.  In fact, there are at least    distinctions.


The irrelevancy of the Obama presidency

By Dana Milbank
Published: September 8
Washington Post

President Obama gave one of the most impassioned speeches of his presidency when he addressed a joint session of Congress Thursday night. Too bad so many in the audience thought it was a big, fat joke.

“You should pass this jobs plan right away!” Obama exhorted. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.

 A collection of cartoons on the federal budget and economy.

.“Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix,” Obama went on. Widespread laughter broke out on the GOP side of the aisle.

“This isn’t political grandstanding,” Obama said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) guffawed.

“This isn’t class warfare,” Obama said. More hysterics on the right.

“We’ve identified over 500 [regulatory] reforms which will save billions of dollars,” the president claimed. Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) giggled.

It was, in a way, more insulting than Joe Wilson’s “you lie” eruption during a previous presidential address to Congress. The lawmakers weren’t particularly hostile toward the president – they just regarded the increasingly unpopular Obama as irrelevant. And the inclination not to take the 43-percent president seriously wasn’t entirely limited to the Republicans.

The nation is in an unemployment crisis, and Obama was finally, belatedly, unveiling his proposals, but Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) thought this would be a good time to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to autograph a copy of the children’s book “House Mouse, Senate Mouse.”

Rep. David Wu (D-Wash.), forced to resign this summer over accusations of sexual impropriety, nevertheless showed up for the speech (in business suit rather than his tiger suit) and took a seat among the Democrats.

House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Biden set the tone at the start. Waiting for Obama to make his way down the center aisle, they stood before the House and had a talk – not about jobs, but about golf.

“Seven birdies, five bogies,” Boehner reported to Biden.

“You’re kidding me!” the vice president said.

“I missed a 4-foot straight-on birdie on the last hole,” Boehner said of another round.

“Whoa!” the vice president said.

“So, the next day,” Boehner went on, “I shoot an 86! Ha, ha, ha!”

“That’s incredible,” the vice president said.

Obama rose to the occasion with a bold jobs proposal that delighted liberals but also had elements conservatives grudgingly endorsed. Yet long before the speech, both sides had concluded it didn’t much matter: Obama has become too weak to enact anything big enough to do much good.

“I thought it was a great speech,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) But the odds of Obama getting his plan through Congress “are probably as good as the Nationals winning the league this year.”

Presidential addresses to Congress are often dramatic moments. This one felt like a sideshow. Usually, the press gallery is standing room only; this time only 26 of 90 seats were claimed by the deadline. Usually, some members arrive in the chamber hours early to score a center-aisle seat; 90 minutes before Thursday’s speech, only one Democrat was so situated.

Republican leaders, having forced Obama to postpone the speech because of the GOP debate, decided they wouldn’t dignify the event by offering a formal, televised “response.” And the White House, well aware of Obama’s declining popularity, moved up the speech time to 7 p.m. so it didn’t conflict with the Packers-Saints NFL opener at 8:30.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) had planned to skip the speech to host a football party, but the Senate majority leader thwarted his plan. “Typical Harry Reid,” Vitter tweeted. “He’s now schdld votes that should’ve been this morn 4 right b4 & right AFTER prez’s speech. Pens me in 2 have 2 stay.”

Almost all Republicans ignored the call of some within their ranks to boycott the speech. In fact, the empty seats were on the Democratic side. Democrats lumbered to their feet to give the president several standing ovations, but they struggled at times to demonstrate enthusiasm. When Obama proposed payroll tax cuts for small businesses, three Democrats stood to applaud. Summer jobs for disadvantaged youth brought six Democrats to their feet, and a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed produced 11 standees.

Obama spoke quickly, urgently, even angrily. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) stared at the ceiling. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) scanned the gallery. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was seen reading a newspaper. And Republicans, when they weren’t giggling, were mostly silent.

Even a mention of Abraham Lincoln, “a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad,” brought no applause from the GOP side. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) yawned. One unidentified Republican backbencher chose this moment to hold up a sign demanding “Drilling for Jobs.”

So now even Lincoln doesn’t merit Republican applause when Obama invokes his name? If it weren’t so disturbing, it would be kind of funny.

ob a,a

Mexico: someone left their head behind

Bag of Severed Heads Left Near Mexican School

Greg Wilson
Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011

Five severed heads found near a Mexico resort of Acapulco may be connected to the country's growing drug violence.

Five severed heads were left in a bag near a Mexican primary school, the latest example of the ruthless violence plaguing the country.

Police were not able to determine if the grisly find, in an Acapulco neighborhood, was connected to extortion threats against teachers. Some 140 schools have closed their doors in recent weeks due to frightened teachers going on strike, according to The Associated Press.

The men's heads were in a sack inside a wooden crate placed near the school, officers said. Messages threatening three aleged drug traffickers were also found in the bag.

Police had earlier discovered five headless bodies in another part of the city. Drug gangs have waged bloody battles for control of the Pacific Coast resort city. With the government cracking down on the drug trade, gangs are turning to extortion, according to the BBC. Last month, dozens of teachers in Acapulco said gangs had threatened them with violence if they did not hand over half their salaries.

It was unclear who was behind the killings or what the motive was.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Suspend the Elections!

Close your eyes, sit back, rest, listen quietly, head back ... and consider the following:  a Republican Senator or Governor or Congressman suggesting we suspend elections to allow Congressmen to vote and act to solve the economic crisis in this country as a means to avoid accountability and instead, to act for the betterment of the country.

What if a Republican said that.  What would the response be?

Now, what if it was a Democratic Governor!!!

NC governor recommends suspending democracy to focus on jobs

By Matthew Boyle - The Daily Caller

As a way to solve the national debt crisis, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue recommends suspending congressional elections for the next couple of years.

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, N.C., according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

Perdue said she thinks that temporarily halting elections would allow members of Congress to focus on the economy. “You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things,” Perdue said.

North Carolina Republicans immediately scoffed at Perdue’s proposal, pointing out to her that elections hold politicians accountable for their actions.

“Now is a time when politicians need to be held accountable more than ever,” North Carolina GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood said in an email to The Daily Caller. “To suspend an election would be removing the surest mechanism that citizens have to hold politicians accountable: the right to vote.”


Perdue press secretary Chris Mackey claims the governor was joking when she made the comment.

“Come on … Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve,” Mackey said in an email to TheDC.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Obamacare = Government Access to YOU

The savior of our rights, the warrior for the middle-class - and we are now finding out (as Pelosi stated) what is in that monstrosity of a bill - including government access to all your records!

Obamacare HHS rule would give government everybody’s health records

By: Rep. Tim Huelskamp
09/23/11 3:29 PM

OpEd Contributor

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has proposed that medical records of all Americans be turned over to the federal government by private health insurers.

It’s been said a thousand times: Congress had to pass President Obama’s health care law in order to find out what’s in it. But, despite the repetitiveness, the level of shock from each new discovery never seems to recede.

This time, America is learning about the federal government’s plan to collect and aggregate confidential patient records for every one of us.

In a proposed rule from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal government is demanding insurance companies submit detailed health care information about their patients.

(See Proposed Rule: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Standards Related to Reinsurance, Risk Corridors and Risk Adjustment, Volume 76, page 41930. Proposed rule docket ID is HHS-OS-2011-0022

The HHS has proposed the federal government pursue one of three paths to obtain this sensitive information: A “centralized approach” wherein insurers’ data go directly to Washington; an “intermediate state-level approach” in which insurers give the information to the 50 states; or a “distributed approach” in which health insurance companies crunch the numbers according to federal bureaucrat edict.

It’s par for the course with the federal government, but abstract terms are used to distract from the real objectives of this idea: no matter which “option” is chosen, government bureaucrats would have access to the health records of every American - including you.

There are major problems with any one of these three “options.” First is the obvious breach of patient confidentiality. The federal government does not exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to managing private information about its citizens.

Why should we trust that the federal government would somehow keep all patient records confidential? In one case, a government employee’s laptop containing information about 26.5 million veterans and their spouses was stolen from the employee’s home.

There's also the HHS contractor who lost a laptop containing medical information about nearly 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries. And, we cannot forget when the USDA's computer system was compromised and information and photos of 26,000 employees, contractors, and retirees potentially accessed.

The second concern is the government compulsion to seize details about private business practices. Certainly many health insurance companies defended and advocated for the president’s health care law, but they likely did not know this was part of the bargain.

They are being asked to provide proprietary information to governments for purposes that will undermine their competitiveness. Obama and Sebelius made such a big deal about Americans being able to keep the coverage they have under ObamaCare; with these provisions, such private insurance may cease to exist if insurers are required to divulge their business models.

Certainly businesses have lost confidential data like the federal government has, but the power of the market can punish the private sector. A victim can fire a health insurance company; he cannot fire a bureaucrat.

What happens to the federal government if it loses a laptop full of patient data or business information? What recourse do individual citizens have against an inept bureaucrat who leaves the computer unlocked? Imagine a Wikileaks-sized disclosure of every Americans’ health histories. The results could be devastating - embarrassing - even Orwellian.

With its extensive rule-making decrees, ObamaCare has been an exercise in creating authority out of thin air at the expense of individuals’ rights, freedoms, and liberties.

The ability of the federal government to spy on, review, and approve individuals’ private patient-doctor interactions is an excessive power-grab.

Like other discoveries that have occurred since the law’s passage, this one leaves us scratching our heads as to the necessity not just of this provision, but the entire law.

The HHS attempts to justify its proposal on the grounds that it has to be able to compare performance. No matter what the explanation is, however, this type of data collection is an egregious violation of patient-doctor confidentiality and business privacy. It is like J. Edgar Hoover in a lab coat.

And, no matter what assurances Obama, Sebelius and their unelected and unaccountable HHS bureaucrats make about protections and safeguards of data, too many people already know what can result when their confidential information gets into the wrong hands, either intentionally or unintentionally.


Lies my Government told me. - Stand in line or you are unpatriotic.

We were told we would not have to wait in lines.  We were told there would be no rationing.  We were told this plan was not like the European or Canadian or French or German system.  We were told ... a lie.

No Mr. Moore, we will not wait in line, and do not question our patriotism unless you want us questioning your patriotism living in New York in that condo, so high up, looking down on all us regular folk.  Perhaps you should stand in line.

Michael Moore: "Patriotic Americans" Will Wait Longer For Healthcare

Real Clear Politics

Michael Moore defends Obamacare and healthcare programs similar to it around the world. Moore says the only "things you maybe have to wait for" are a knee replacement surgery or cataracts.

"Things that are not life-threatening," Moore said on HBO's "Real Time" with host Bill Maher. "The reason why you have to wait sometimes in those countries is they let everybody in the line. We make 50 million people out of the line so the line is shorter, so sometimes you have to wait as long. If you are a patriotic American, you want every American to be covered the same as you. No, not 'I'm going to get ahead because I have health insurance and they don't,'" Michael Moore explained.

idiots on parade

French Corruption: Nerw Deal or Old News

Karachigate: a "curious" communiqué



Le Figaro is leading on what is being called “Karachigate” here in France, an illegal campaign-funding scandal that came to light following a bombing in Karachi in Pakistan in 2002 in which 11 French nationals were killed.

The paper headlines: “The Elysée condemns political manipulation”. Two of Nicolas Sarkozy’s associates - Nicolas Bazire, the best man at his wedding, and Thierry Gaubert - have been formally accused of handling kickbacks on arms contracts with Pakistan. Investigators are looking into whether sums of money from the kickbacks went into the coffers of the presidential election campaign of a former prime minister Edouard Balladur in the mid 90s. Nicolas Sarkozy has spelt out in a communiqué that he was a Balladur spokesman at the time and not the director of his campaign and had no role in raising campaign funds.

While Le Figaro reports the official line from the Elysée, Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui-en-France describes the press release as “curious”. “Is the presidency losing its nerve”, it asks? The paper argues that the Elysée has been clumsy by saying that Sarkozy’s name does not appear on any of the paperwork related to the scandal when in fact the president does not have access to it.

Le Monde Online is reporting that French judicial officials are now accusing the Elysée of violating the secrecy of the documents. (NB: the paper says “violating” - violé - and not “having stolen” – volé - as stated in error on air.)

Papers are also looking at two women who have emerged centre stage in the scandal. France Soir headlines: “La princesse qui fait trembler Balladur et énerve l’Elysée” (“The princess rocking Balladur and upsetting the Elysée") along with a photo of Hélène de Yougoslavie who is a descendant of the last king of Italy and Thierry Gaubert’s wife. Hélène de Yougoslavie has told investigators her husband accompanied an intermediary, Ziad Takieddine, to Switzerland to pick up cash-stuffed suitcases on several occasions in the period 1994-1995. Papers are showing the princess along with Nicola Johnson, Takieddine’s former wife, who has also spoken to investigators. Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui-en-France paper describes the revelations by the two women as “explosive”.

the french

Saudi Women Voting

25 September 2011
Agence France Presse

Saudi king gives women right to vote

Saudi families spend an evening by a seafront promenade in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Saudi King Abdullah has announced that he is giving women the right to vote and run in municipal elections, the only public polls in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom. AFP - Saudi King Abdullah announced on Sunday he was giving women the right to vote and run in municipal elections, the only public polls in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.

He also announced that women would have the right to join the all-appointed Shura (consultative) Council, in an address opening a new term of the council.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Obama and the Specter of Inappropriate Business Dealings

Two stories, both several years old, but both, in light of allegations about federal funds for a major Democratic donor ...

Couldn't have been more serendipitous !

March 7, 2007

In ’05 Investing, Obama Took Same Path as Donors


Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.

One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu. In March 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of its shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.

The most recent financial disclosure form for Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, also shows that he bought more than $50,000 in stock in a satellite communications business whose principal backers include four friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination in 2008, said yesterday that the senator did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005, when he learned of it and decided to sell the stocks. He sold them at a net loss of $13,000.

The spokesman, Bill Burton, said Mr. Obama’s broker bought the stocks without consulting the senator, under the terms of a blind trust that was being set up for the senator at that time but was not finalized until several months after the investments were made.

“He went about this process to avoid an actual or apparent conflict of interest, and he had no knowledge of the stocks he owned,” Mr. Burton said. “And when he realized that he didn’t have the level of blindness that he expected, he moved to terminate the trust.”

Mr. Obama has made ethics a signature issue, and his quest for the presidency has benefited from the perception that he is unlike politicians who blend public and private interests. There is no evidence that any of his actions ended up benefiting either company during the roughly eight months that he owned the stocks.

Even so, the stock purchases raise questions about how he could unwittingly come to invest in two relatively obscure companies, whose backers happen to include generous contributors to his political committees. Among those donors was Jared Abbruzzese, a New York businessman now at the center of an F.B.I. inquiry into public corruption in Albany, who had also contributed to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that sought to undermine John Kerry’s Democratic presidential campaign in 2004.

Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed about the stock deals, has already had to contend with a controversy that arose out of his reliance on a major campaign contributor in Chicago to help him in a personal financial transaction. In that earlier case, he acknowledged last year that it had been a mistake to involve the contributor, a developer who has since been indicted in an unrelated political scandal, in deals related to the Obamas’ purchase of a home.

Senate ethics rules do not prohibit lawmakers from owning stocks — even in companies that do business with the federal government or could benefit from legislation they advance — and indeed other members of Congress have investments in government contractors. The rules say only that lawmakers should not take legislative actions whose primary purpose is to benefit themselves.

Mr. Obama’s sale of his shares in the two companies ended what appears to have been a brief foray into highly speculative investing that stood out amid an otherwise conservative portfolio of mutual funds and cash accounts, a review of his Senate disclosure statements shows. He earned $2,000 on the biotech company, AVI BioPharma, and lost $15,000 on the satellite communications concern, Skyterra, according to Mr. Burton of the Obama campaign.

Mr. Burton said the trust was different from qualified blind trusts that other senators commonly used, because it was intended to allow him greater flexibility to address any accusations of conflicts that might arise from its assets. He said Mr. Obama had decided to sell the stocks after receiving a communication that made him concerned about how the trust was set up.

The investments came at a time when Mr. Obama was enjoying sudden financial success, following his victory at the polls in November 2004. He had signed a $1.9 million book deal, and his ethics disclosure reports show that he received $1.2 million of book money in 2005.

His wife, Michelle, a hospital vice president in Chicago, received a promotion that March, nearly tripling her salary to $317,000, and they bought a $1.6 million house in June. The house sat on a large property that was subdivided to make it more affordable, and one of Mr. Obama’s political donors bought the adjacent lot.

The disclosure forms show that the Obamas also placed several hundred thousand dollars in a new private-client account at JPMorgan Chase, a bond fund and a checking account at a Chicago bank.

But he put $50,000 to $100,000 into an account at UBS, which his aides say was recommended to him by a wealthy friend, George W. Haywood, who was also a major investor in both Skyterra and AVI BioPharma, public securities filings show.

Mr. Haywood and his wife, Cheryl, have contributed close to $50,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns and to his political action committee, the Hopefund. Mr. Haywood declined to comment.

Within two weeks of his purchase of the biotech stock that Feb. 22, Mr. Obama initiated what he has called “one of my top priorities since arriving in the Senate,” a push to increase federal financing to fight avian flu.

Several dozen people had already died from the disease in Southeast Asia, and experts were warning that a worldwide pandemic could kill tens of millions of people. Mr. Obama was one of the first political leaders to call for more money to head off the danger, which he described as an urgent public health threat.

His first step came on March 4, 2005, when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his request for $25 million to help contain the disease in Asia; the full Senate later approved that measure. And in April 2005, he introduced a bill calling for more research on avian flu drugs and urging the government to increase its stockpiles of antiviral medicines.

Mr. Obama repeated this call in a letter that Aug. 9 to Michael O. Levitt, the health and human services secretary. And in September 2005, Mr. Obama and Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, succeeded in amending another bill to provide $3.8 billion for battling the flu.

Meanwhile, the drug company in which he invested, AVI BioPharma, had been working to develop its own medicine to treat avian flu victims. In a conference call with Wall Street analysts on March 8, 2005, the company’s chairman, Denis R. Burger, said the firm was “aggressively going forward” with its avian flu research and hoped to work with federal agencies on it.

The company, which is also developing medicines in a number of other areas, provided several updates on its avian flu research in 2005, including one on Oct. 21 saying the company was likely to develop a treatment for avian flu “in a relatively short time.”

Mr. Obama sold what appears to have been about 2,000 shares of the company’s stock a week later, when it traded at about $3.50 a share, or about $1 a share more than when he bought it. Company officials said they never talked to the senator about his work on avian flu. And while the company has received millions of dollars in federal money to develop drugs for treating ebola and other serious diseases, it still has not received any federal money for its avian flu research.

The company’s stock briefly surged to nearly $9 a share in January 2006 when it announced promising research findings on the flu drug. But the company still has not applied for federal approvals to test and market the drug.

Unlike his investment in AVI, which yielded a small profit, Mr. Obama’s stake in Skyterra Communications went in the opposite direction, despite a promising start.

He bought his Skyterra shares the same day the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of the company’s effort to create a nationwide wireless network by combining satellites and land-based communications systems. Immediately after that morning ruling, Tejas Securities, a regional brokerage in Texas that handled investment banking for Skyterra, issued a research report speculating that Skyterra stock could triple in value.

Tejas and people associated with it were major donors to Mr. Obama’s political committees, having raised more than $150,000 since 2004. The company’s chairman, John J. Gorman, has held fund-raisers for the senator in Austin, Tex., and arranged for him to use a private plane for several political events in 2005. Mr. Gorman declined to comment.

In May 2005, Mr. Abbruzzese, who was vice chairman of Tejas and a principal investor in Skyterra, contributed $10,000 along with his wife to Mr. Obama’s political action committee — a departure from his almost exclusive support of Republicans. Eight months earlier, for instance, he had contributed $5,000 to the Swift Boat group, and he has given $100,000 to the Republican National Committee since 2004.

Last year, Mr. Abbruzzese, a major investor in several high-tech companies in New York and elsewhere, emerged as a central figure in the federal investigation of the New York State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno. The inquiry is examining Mr. Bruno’s personal business dealings, including whether he accepted money from Mr. Abbruzzese in return for Senate approval of grants for one of Mr. Abbruzzese’s companies. Both men have denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Abbruzzese did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Skyterra’s share price was lifted into the $40 range for a time on the strength of the F.C.C. ruling, but eventually drifted down into the low 30s, and was at $31 when Mr. Obama sold his shares for a $15,000 loss on Nov. 1, 2005. A few months later, it plunged into the $20 range, and today trades below $10 a share. A spokesman for Skyterra said the company’s top officials had not been aware of Mr. Obama’s investment.


Obama faces questions on his investments

By Nedra Pickler, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday he was not aware he had invested in two companies backed by some of his top donors and said he had done nothing to aid their business with the government.

The Illinois senator faced questions about more than $50,000 in investments he made right after taking office in 2005 in two speculative companies, AVI Biopharma and Skyterra Communications. Obama set up a trust that gave his broker authority to trade stocks on his behalf without his input, according to 16 pages of documents he released Wednesday.

"At no point did I know what stocks were held, and at no point did I direct how those stocks were invested," Obama told reporters at the end of a news conference called to trumpet an unrelated immigration bill.

"What I wanted to make sure is that I didn't want to invest in companies that potentially would create conflicts with my work here," said Obama, who has campaigned on the need for stronger congressional ethics rules. "Obviously, the thing didn't work the way I wanted it to."

Obama purchased $5,000 in shares for AVI, which was developing a drug to treat avian flu. Two weeks after buying the stock, as the disease was spreading in Asia, Obama pushed for more federal funding to fight the disease, but he said he did not discuss the matter with any company officials.

Obama also had more than $50,000 in shares of Skyterra, a company that had just received federal permission to create a nationwide wireless network that combined satellite and land-based communications systems.

Among the company's top investors were donors who raised more than $150,000 for Obama's political committees, the New York Times reported Wednesday. The stock holdings were first examined Monday by the financial Web site,

The reports found no evidence that any of his actions ended up benefiting either company during the roughly eight months he owned the stocks. Obama lost about $15,000 on Skyterra and earned a profit of about $2,000 on AVI. Skyterra stocks continued to drop after Obama divested.

Obama said he wanted to invest in stocks after signing a $1.9 million deal for his second book, "The Audacity of Hope." He said after buying a home and putting money in the bank and mutual funds, he asked a friend and political donor, investor George Haywood, to recommend a broker so he could invest a portion more aggressively.

"I thought about going to (billionaire investor) Warren Buffett, and I decided it would be embarrassing that I only had $100,000 to invest," Obama said.

Haywood, a major backer of both AVI and Skyterra, recommended a broker at UBS who also bought stock for Obama in those companies.

Obama said at some point in fall 2005 he got a stockholder letter from AVI or Skyterra, but he couldn't remember which company. But on Dec. 15, 2005, he liquidated the "Freedom Trust," as it was titled in the May 15 agreement establishing it, and put his money in mutual funds and money market accounts that wouldn't raise such questions.

"It's at that point that I became concerned that I might not be able to insulate myself from knowledge of my holdings, that this trust instrument might not be working the way I wanted it to," Obama said.

UBS spokeswoman Karina Byrne said the company would not make Obama's broker available for interviews because they do not discuss client investments.

Obama said he didn't invest in a qualified blind trust because it wouldn't enable him to limit which companies he invested in, such as those in the tobacco industry and other areas that he did not want to support.

Obama attorney Robert F. Bauer added that the senator felt the blind trust left him in an "inadequate ethical position" because it would mean he couldn't respond to media inquires, for example, if questions arose about his investments. But Obama also would have to report the stock holdings each year under Senate rules because they weren't part of a qualified blind trust.

"At this point, I'm only invested in mutual funds or cash or money market accounts. That's my instruction to my accountant," Obama said. "We are not going to own individual stocks precisely because it raises questions like this."

Senate ethics rules do not prohibit lawmakers from owning stocks in companies that do business with the federal government.

Another investor involved in Skyterra was Jared Abbruzzese, a New York businessman now at the center of a federal inquiry into public corruption.

Abbruzzese and his wife had contributed $10,000 to Obama's political action committee. But normally they back Republican causes, such as the Republican National Committee and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that damaged John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Obama said he has never met Abbruzzese.


The Black Caucus - Racist Statements

The accusation the Republicans (Tea Party) is/are racist ... has never been demonstrated, even under the most superficial examinations.  The Black Caucus, however, has demonstrated itself to be racist very nearly everytime it makes a statement on any subject, and this time is no different.

Cleaver: If Obama wasn't president, we would be ‘marching on the White House’

By Alicia M. Cohn - 09/18/11 03:48 PM ET

Unhappy members of the Congressional Black Caucus “probably would be marching on the White House” if Obama were not president, according to CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

"If [former President] Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House," Cleaver told “The Miami Herald” in comments published Sunday. "There is a less-volatile reaction in the CBC because nobody wants to do anything that would empower the people who hate the president."

CBC members have expressed concern in recent months as the unemployment rate has continued to rise amongst African-Americans, pushing for Obama to do more to address the needs of vulnerable communities.

"We’re supportive of the president, but we getting tired, y’all,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in August. “We want to give [Obama] every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is."

Rather than targeting Obama’s leadership, many CBC members aimed their fire at the Tea Party movement over the summer’s congressional recess. Waters said in a public meeting in her district that the Tea Party "can go straight to hell." Another member, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), called the Tea Party “the real enemy” seeking to hold Congress “hostage.”

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), the only Republican member of the CBC and also a member of the Tea Party Caucus, objected to hostile language used by members targeting the Tea Party movement and threatened to leave the caucus unless Cleaver condemned remarks made by other members. West singled out comments from Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), the CBC’s whip, who said that Tea Party-affiliated members of Congress see African-Americans as "second-class citizens" and would be happy to see them "hanging from a tree."

Cleaver persuaded West to remain a member of the caucus, with West indicating later that one reason he decided to stay was that the CBC membership needed a conservative presence.

“I will not be resigning from the Congressional Black Caucus,” West wrote on his Facebook following a meeting with Cleaver at the beginning of September. “Cowards run from challenges, while warriors run to the sound of battle.”

According to West, he is working with Cleaver to produce a plan to confront the rate for unemployment amongst African-Americans, which at 16.7 percent is nearly double the rate nationwide.

Cleaver acknowledged that some of the things members of his caucus say might not be in the best interests of the “aggressive agenda” he said he is seeking to develop as chairman.

“Maxine Waters represents central Los Angeles first and she has to represent her constituents first and she's going to say things in order to represent them,” he said.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This little Indian ...

Who decides who is an Indian or not?

Cherokee Indians: We are free to oust blacks

US government wants second-largest Indian tribe to recognize as citizens 2,800 descendants of slaves that were held by Cherokees

Reuters / MSNBC
updated 9/14/2011 9:00:20 AM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY — The nation's second-largest Indian tribe said on Tuesday that it would not be dictated to by the U.S. government over its move to banish 2,800 African Americans from its citizenship rolls.

"The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA," Joe Crittenden, the tribe's acting principal chief, said in a statement responding to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Crittenden, who leads the tribe until a new principal chief is elected, went on to complain about unnamed congressmen meddling in the tribe's self-governance.

The reaction follows a letter the tribe received on Monday from BIA Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk, who warned that the results of the September 24 Cherokee election for principal chief will not be recognized by the U.S. government if the ousted members, known to some as "Cherokee Freedmen," are not allowed to vote.

The dispute stems from the fact that some wealthy Cherokee owned black slaves who worked on their plantations in the South. By the 1830s, most of the tribe was forced to relocate to present-day Oklahoma, and many took their slaves with them. The so-called Freedmen are descendants of those slaves.

After the Civil War, in which the Cherokee fought for the South, a treaty was signed in 1866 guaranteeing tribal citizenship for the freed slaves.

The U.S. government said that the 1866 treaty between the Cherokee tribe and the U.S. government guaranteed that the slaves were tribal citizens, whether or not they had a Cherokee blood relation.

The African Americans lost their citizenship last month when the Cherokee Supreme Court voted to support the right of tribal members to change the tribe's constitution on citizenship matters.

The change meant that Cherokee Freedmen who could not prove they have a Cherokee blood relation were no longer citizens, making them ineligible to vote in tribal elections or receive benefits.

Besides pressure from the BIA to accept the 1866 Treaty as the law of the land, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is withholding a $33 million disbursement to the tribe over the Freedmen controversy.

Attorneys in a federal lawsuit in Washington are asking a judge to restore voting rights for the ousted Cherokee Freedmen in time for the September 24 tribal election for Principal Chief.


Palestinians: Apartheid State

Not since the Nazi's

PLO official: Palestine should be free of Jews

PLO ambassador to US says 'after 44 years of occupation, it would be in both peoples' interest to be separated' adding that Palestinians need separation to work on national identity. US diplomat subs remarks 'despicable form of anti-Semitism'

Yitzhak Benhorin
Latest Update: 09.15.11, 00:42 / Israel News

WASHINGTON - The Palestinian Liberation Organization's Ambassador to the US Maen Areikat said Wednesday that any future Palestinian state must be free of Jews. Speaking to reporters in the US he said, "After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated."

Areikat made the statements after being asked about the rights of minorities in a future Palestinian state, USA Today reported. He declared that the PLO seeks a secular state, but that Palestinians need separation to work on their own national identity.

Later Wednesday, Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habash dismissed Areikat's statements, saying that the Palestinian state is to welcome members of all faiths. He asserted that any media attempts to manipulate anti-Jewish statements are politically motivated.

He added that the Palestinian Authority and its ambassador to Washington have a clear stance on the matter.

Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein also responded to Areikat's remarks. "After an unending de-legitimization campaign and attempts to brand Israel an apartheid state, it appears it is the Palestinians who seek apartheid.

He said the statements are reminiscent of Nazi slogans. "His comments conjure up Judenrein motifs. I wonder if Areikat's remark that both peoples must live separately means that one million Arab-Israelis are not part of his people."

Areikat's comments caused a stir among Jewish leaders. Elliott Abrams, a former US National Security Council official, said in response that according to such plans, Palestine will be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews.

Abrams described the demand as "a despicable form of anti-Semitism" adding that a small Jewish presence in a future Palestinian state would not hurt the Palestinian identity.

The UN's General Assembly is scheduled to address the Palestinian bid for recognition next week, with Israel, the US and several European states strongly opposing it. The Palestinians are slated to win an overwhelming majority at the Assembly as it is controlled by Arab and Muslim states.

Nevertheless, any such resolution would not have practical significance and in order to be accepted as a full member in the UN the PA will need Security Council endorsement.

Meanwhile, Jordan's foreign minister said Wednesday his country supports a Palestinian drive for recognition at the UN but prefers negotiations toward creation of a Palestinian state.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told reporters that Jordan supports the Palestinian campaign, but it should take into account the rights of Palestinian refugees, the fate of Jerusalem and the borders of a future Palestinian state.

He said the "best way" to attain statehood is through "direct negotiations."

Last-ditch effort to prevent UN vote

Meanwhile, a high-level US team kicked off a new round of shuttle diplomacy on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to contain the diplomatic fallout from the Palestinian statehood push, but the odds of a breakthrough appeared slim as the Palestinians pledged to go ahead with mass rallies to draw world attention to their bid.

US diplomats Dennis Ross and David Hale arrived late Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. They were to travel to the West Bank on Thursday to talk with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. No breakthrough has thus been achieved.

In addition to the US efforts, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and special international Mideast envoy Tony Blair have been meeting with the sides this week. US officials said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been in touch with both Ashton and Blair in recent days.

Barak urged Ashton to prevent the Palestinians from tabling a resolution proposal.

Ashton is proposing a three-part plan: Grating the Palestinians UN observer status similar to that of the Vatican, issuing a Quartet statement accounting both the Israeli and the Palestinian needs, and a UN chief pledge the put forward a recognition resolution in the future.

Germany is opposed to Ashton's plan which has not won European consensus. The US, on its part, wants the plan to be presented to allow each side to voice its reservations.

Both Israel and the Palestinians oppose the plan.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Krugman: Worthless Human Being (WHB)

You sir are a quaga.  Indisputably one of the worst quaga, but a quaga none the less.

Oh, but I am name calling and that is so like any of those Retardicans or Conservatives, isn't it.  Sure.  Unlike you, the leftists - 'George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror' - would never do such a thing, for name calling is a trait of the right, and truth is the bastion of the left.

Mr. Krugman, you are a perfect example of what is wrong - of why we are so divided, of the fact we are divided and it is not simply a spirited debate we are having today, but a life or death struggle. 

The center and right in this country have not gone quite because we realized it was shameful, but because we do not play victim every year to the evil we saw on September 11, and sit around and moan about how government needs to help us.  We quietly recognize the evil, resolve to defeat it, and continue living.  Your 'shame' is that we do not roll in the aisles or cry while walking the baby, or fall over in grief ... as if that is the legitimate, and living our lives while reflecting quietly is somehow an indicator of an illegitimate purpose. 

You are making a judgment you are not only unqualified to make, but you have mistaken the quite certitude of the American people for shame, when it is much more - a resolve to defeat an evil you fail to recognize as existing, led by a president who will and does blame everyone but those responsible for the evil of September 11.

Bush rushing to capitalize on the evil ?  I thought the attack was Bush was no where to be found for the first day.  How was he capitalizing on something he was hiding from.  I assume he capitalized on it immediately thereafter?  You are a pillar of stupidity aren't you?  Or are you just acting for political purposes? 

In 1986, Jessica McClure fell into a well in Midland Texas.  I remember hearing the media ask Vice President Bush what he thought about the baby falling into the well.  I remember the media following up, during the ordeal, with Bush as to his feelings on the matter.  I remember the media asking President Reagan for his thoughts.   I remember wanting to throw up.  Neither man wanted to, nor needed to comment on a tragic event, but the media fixated on them and on a need to get a comment regarding the incident, as if it was worthy of a presidential comment.  Everyday a child is hit by a car, gets lost, is kidnapped by a family member or a stranger, and we don't consult with the president.  he is not our father or grandfather and that office should remain outside of the events we call life.   The media swarmed Bush and Reagan about the baby - and it was not a life changing event for the country and world.

September 11, 2001, was a life-changing event for the country - we needed to see the president and hear from him.  We did not need people like you or pathetic individuals like Chomsky.  We needed a president to hold us together, to unite the country at a time when the stock market was collapsing faster than Obama's support, when fear around the globe over further attacks, when world leaders were moved from their usual places of residence and business to more secure facilities, where police and intelligence units around the globe became more visible - all in the hours following the attacks of September 11.  We needed someone to charge forward and unite us.  And Bush did.  The American people saw that and responded.  

Now you seek to erase that fact, with your ramblings.  There is no shame, except by the left - shame they could not capitalize on the events until several weeks later when they began attacking Bush and every action he took, only to turn around and use the same events for their political gain.  Bush acted to unite the country, to show strength and unity to the world - not for political gain for the Republican party.

It is a shame.

Paul Krugman

New York Times
September 11, 2011, 8:41 am

The Years of Shame

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

NATO failed to protect weapons in Libya

Mr. Obama was so buisy helping the 'rebels' defeat Kadaffi and take control in Libya, he forgot to ensure the safety of the weapons caches.  A small detail I assume but one that will have terribly painful consequences years from now.

Looters Steal Gadhafi's weapons, including surface-to-air missiles

Posted 9/9/11 8:21 a.m.

TRIPOLI, Libya (WLS) - It seems everyone in Libya has a gun these days.

Defeated in battle, Moammar Gadhafi's army left behind armories brimming with weapons, and the rebels have helped themselves. It's not just guns that have been plundered. Almost every outpost captured by opposition forces has yielded weapons -- everything from AK-47 assault rifles to grenades to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). And the rebels tell ABC News that they don't have enough resources to safeguard them all -- which means they may wind up in the hands of people who have other agendas than defeating Gadhafi.

According to Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, the weapons the looters want most, and take first, are the SAMs.

HRW estimates there are 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in Libya, and many of those are now missing. Some are recent Russian-made SAMs, capable of shooting down aircraft flying as high as 11,000 feet.

"They have no military use in this war," said Bouckaert. "Gadhafi is not flying any airplanes, he's not flying any helicopters. So why are people looting these very powerful and dangerous missiles?"

Bouckaert suggested that some of the looters might have other targets in mind. "They can be used to shoot down a civilian plane. That's what al Qaeda tried to do in Mombasa a few years ago."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the Libyan rebels to protect Gadhafi's weapons stockpiles "to ensure that weapons from Qaddafi's stockpiles do not threaten Libya's neighbors and the world." It may be too late. Bouckaert of HRW warns that they are now "in the hands of unknown people."


Why THEY distrust us?

I was thinking.  We should write an article - Why We Distrust You:  And we aren't reliving the Crusades.

This writer is daft (to say the very least).

Why Muslims are still mad at America

Editor’s Note: Steven Kull is director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes and author of the recently released book, Feeling Betrayed: The Roots of Muslim Anger at America.

September 5, 2011
By Steven Kull, Special to CNN

On the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, many Americans are wondering whether the risk of a terrorist attack against America has been reduced. The picture is mixed. With the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda is weaker. With revolutions in several Arab countries, frustrations with unpopular autocratic governments — a recruiting theme for terrorist groups - have been mitigated. But one important contributing factor has not improved - widespread anger at America in the Muslim world. While views have improved in Indonesia, throughout the Middle East and South Asia, hostility toward the United States persists unabated.

This does not mean that most Muslims support terrorist attacks on America. On the contrary, overwhelming majorities reject terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks, as morally wrong. Al Qaeda is quite unpopular.

However, anger at America does contribute to an environment in which it is easier for anti-American terrorist groups to recruit jihadists, to generate funding and to generally operate with little government interference - witness how bin Laden operated in Pakistan and the widespread anger there when the Pakistani military failed to prevent the United States from taking him out.

Trying to understand Muslims’ feelings toward America has been the focus of a five-year study I recently completed that included conducting focus groups and surveys throughout the Muslim world. I sat for many hours trying to understand as Muslims explained to me why they are so mad at America.

Muslims have much they do not like about how America treats them. But there is one thing that is the most fundamental: their perception that America seeks to undermine Islam - a perception held by overwhelming majorities.

The fact that many Americans blithely brush off this accusation without really understanding it is one reason this anger persists. To understand it one must go deeper into the Muslim worldview.

Muslims tend to view current events through the lens of a long-standing historical narrative. According to this narrative, going back to the Middle Ages Christian forces from the West have persistently sought to break the grip of Islam on its people. By holding fast, Muslims believe, they were able to flourish as a civilization, at times superseding the West in many dimensions.

Today, they believe, that struggle continues - except today the challenge is greater. Western cultural products are seen as seductively undermining Islamic culture. More importantly, Western powers have gained extraordinary military might that is seen as threatening and coercively dominating the Muslim world and propping up secular autocrats ready to accommodate the West. U.S. support for Israel, sometimes described as ‘America’s aircraft carrier in the region’, is seen as integral to U.S. plans for domination. All this is seen as also serving Western economic interests, such as in securing oil, which dovetails with the agenda of keeping Islam under foot.

Muslims overwhelmingly believe that the 9/11 attacks, and any attacks on civilians, are contrary to Islam. However, many Muslims do believe that America must back away from the Muslim world.

America did not back away after 9/11. Rather, it advanced into Afghanistan, into Iraq, and expanded its forces based in the Gulf. Many Muslims, with their penchant for conspiracy theories, even wonder if the United States somehow engineered the 9/11 attacks to justify this advance. When George W. Bush, in what has to go down as one of the greatest public diplomacy missteps of all time, announced a “crusade” against terrorism, the assimilation of American actions into the long-standing narrative of Western hostility to Islam was all but complete.

Like most Americans I initially viewed this as a big misunderstanding. Muslims, it seemed, underestimated the pluralism of Western society and with an overactive historical imagination had strung together various elements - each with their own good explanation - into a paranoia-tinged narrative of American hostility to Islam.

And yet with time it became clearer to me what it was about Americans that gave them this impression. Sure, Americans are happy to have Muslims go to their mosques. If they want to sneak away to pray 5 times a day - fine.

But for many Muslims this pluralistic bonhomie masks an American narrative that is actually quite oppressive. This narrative is one that some Muslims think they see even more clearly than Americans themselves.

According to this American narrative - which Muslims perceive as arrogant and dismissive - human society naturally and inevitable evolves through the stages that the West has gone through. As in the Renaissance, religion is largely banished from the public sphere, thus allowing pluralism and diversity of beliefs in the private sphere while maintaining a secular public sphere. This leads naturally to the elevation of individual freedoms and the emergence of democratic principles that make the will of the people the basis of the authority of law rather than revealed religious principles.

From this assumed American perspective, Muslim society is seen as simply behind the West in this evolutionary process. Retrogressive forces in Muslim society are seen as clinging to Islamic traditions that make Sharia the basis of law, not the will of the people, and inevitably keep women in their traditional oppressed roles and minority religions discriminated against.

Muslims see this narrative as being used to justify America actually violating democratic principles in relation to the Muslim world. Even if it is contrary to the will of the people, the United State props us autocratic governments on the basis that they are relatively more progressive - according to the assumed Western narrative - than what the people would do if they had their way. When the Algerian military in 1991 overturned the results of a democratic election when it appeared that an Islamist party would prevail, America and other Western governments turned a blind eye. When democratic forces arose in Tunisia and Egypt, Muslims perceive that the United States only joined the parade when the outcome was irreversible. Still, America supports autocratic forces in Bahrain in the face of pro-democratic forces calling for change.

A particularly frustrating feature of the U.S. narrative, for Muslims, is that it divides Muslim society into a progressive liberal and secular sector on one hand and on the other a regressive Islamist sector that seeks to impose backward Islamic traditions. America then seeks to promote the liberal forces and to undermine the Islamist forces.

This is not simply imagined. Currently in Congress there are efforts to ensure that U.S. funding of democracy promotion in Egypt only benefits liberal, secular parties and does not in any way benefit Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

To most Muslims this American perspective on Muslim society is simply incorrect and American efforts to choose the winner is really about America seeking to impose its Western secular model of governance and to eradicate the role of Islam in the public sphere. Since to Muslims Islam is, by definition, meant to be in the public sphere, American efforts are seen as seeking to undermine Islam itself.

The assertion that America is misreading Muslim society is supported by polling data. While Americans do tend to divide the Muslim public into secular and Islamist groups, polls show that Muslims do not divide so neatly.

Overwhelming majorities endorse liberal principles including that the will of the people should be the basis of governance, government leaders should be chosen through free elections and that there should be full freedom of religion.

At the same time, equally large majorities say that Sharia should be the basis of government, that all laws should be vetted by Islamic scholars to ensure they are consistent with the Koran and that Muslims should not be allowed to convert to another religion.

Obviously there are some serious contradictions here. But these contradictions are not primarily between sectors of Muslim society but rather within Muslim individuals. This could be described as an “internal clash of civilizations.”

Muslims are well aware of these tensions. They are drawn to the liberal ideas of democracy and pluralism and they want to find a way to incorporate them into their societies. Al Qaeda’s model of rejecting all Western influences in favor of purely traditional society garners little support.

At the same most Muslims want to preserve the Islamic foundations of their society and want their public life to be infused with Islamic principles. Most want Sharia to play a greater role. They want a quality of piety to pervade their culture. Integrating these aspirations with liberal ideas of democracy and freedom of religion is a decidedly challenging endeavor.

So it is particularly infuriating to Muslims when America intervenes in a way that is destabilizing, trying to root for one imagined side against another, in what Americans conceive of as an inevitable evolution toward the victory of one side.

If this were in fact a conflict between external groups, such interventions may in fact strengthen one side over the other. But because the conflict is actually primarily an internal conflict, America’s interventions produce a backlash, making Muslims feel that they need to do more to defend their Islamic foundations and making advocates of liberal ideas suspect.

There are reasons to believe that this effect was al Qaeda’s intended goal of the 9/11 attacks. By provoking America into military action against Muslim targets, al Qaeda hoped to revive the age-old narrative of the crusading West and to drive the Muslim people into the arms of al Qaeda’s vision of a purely traditional Islamic society devoid of liberal or Western elements.

Al Qaeda did not succeed in drawing in most Muslims. Al Qaeda’s terrorist methods are seen as wrong and its vision as too extreme. The hold of liberal ideas is not easy to shake. However, al Qaeda did succeed in pulling the United States into a position in the Muslim world that has alienated much of Muslim society.

By intervening in ways that have enhanced the polarization of secular and Islamist forces the United States has also made it more difficult for Muslims to build a political space within which they can find a middle ground that integrates these elements into a more coherent whole.

As America begins to gradually disengage from Iraq and Afghanistan there is the potential for negative feelings toward the United States to begin to abate. Muslims generally perceive U.S. military forces in the region as a threatening presence designed to keep the region the way America wants it to be. Any lightening of America’s military footprint will further mitigate this sense of being coerced.

But perhaps most fundamentally, America’s relationship is most likely to improve as it comes to understand, accept and embrace the whole of Muslim society and the course of development that it has chosen for itself. Muslims believe that they are on a different path than the West . This path is central to their notion of their freedom to practice their religion. When they feel that America is threatening their religion and their aspirations, they grow resolutely hostile.

As Americans we may believe that it is not possible to blend such a form of religiosity and liberal values. Maybe Muslims will conclude this too. But only when Muslims perceive America as no longer being an obstacle to their endeavor will they be able to move forward in their discovery. And it is only then that America’s relationship with the Muslim world will become more amicable.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Steven Kull.


40% of Europeans have mental illness

This might explain how the criminal French leaders are elected!  It may also explain why the Europeans have such odd beliefs about many issues - from socialized health programs that actually lead to death panels to other dumb ideas.

Mental Illnesses!   Who woulda thunk!

Nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffer mental illness

By Kate Kelland

Sun Sep 4, 2011 7:17pm EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden -- measured in the hundreds of billions of euros -- as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

"Mental disorders have become Europe's largest health challenge of the 21st century," the study's authors said.

At the same time, some big drug companies are backing away from investment in research on how the brain works and affects behavior, putting the onus on governments and health charities to stump up funding for neuroscience.

"The immense treatment gap ... for mental disorders has to be closed," said Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Germany's Dresden University and the lead investigator on the European study.

"Those few receiving treatment do so with considerable delays of an average of several years and rarely with the appropriate, state-of-the-art therapies."

Wittchen led a three-year study covering 30 European countries -- the 27 European Union member states plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway -- and a population of 514 million people.

A direct comparison of the prevalence of mental illnesses in other parts of the world was not available because different studies adopt varying parameters.

Wittchen's team looked at about 100 illnesses covering all major brain disorders from anxiety and depression to addiction to schizophrenia, as well as major neurological disorders including epilepsy, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.

The results, published by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ENCP) on Monday, show an "exceedingly high burden" of mental health disorders and brain illnesses, he told reporters at a briefing in London.

Mental illnesses are a major cause of death, disability, and economic burden worldwide and the World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, depression will be the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease across all ages.

Wittchen said that in Europe, that grim future had arrived early, with diseases of the brain already the single largest contributor to the EU's burden of ill health.

The four most disabling conditions -- measured in terms of disability-adjusted life years or DALYs, a standard measure used to compare the impact of various diseases -- are depression, dementias such as Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, alcohol dependence and stroke.

The last major European study of brain disorders, which was published in 2005 and covered a smaller population of about 301 million people, found 27 percent of the EU adult population was suffering from mental illnesses.

Although the 2005 study cannot be compared directly with the latest finding -- the scope and population was different -- it found the cost burden of these and neurological disorders amounted to about 386 billion euros ($555 billion) a year at that time. Wittchen's team has yet to finalize the economic impact data from this latest work, but he said the costs would be "considerably more" than estimated in 2005.

The researchers said it was crucial for health policy makers to recognize the enormous burden and devise ways to identify potential patients early -- possibly through screening -- and make treating them quickly a high priority.

"Because mental disorders frequently start early in life, they have a strong malignant impact on later life," Wittchen said. "Only early targeted treatment in the young will effectively prevent the risk of increasingly largely proportions of severely ill...patients in the future."

David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacology expert at Imperial College London who was not involved in this study, agreed.

"If you can get in early you may be able to change the trajectory of the illness so that it isn't inevitable that people go into disability," he said. "If we really want not to be left with this huge reservoir of mental and brain illness for the next few centuries, then we ought to be investing more now."


The Funny French

Only in France - where leaders as soon as they leave office face criminal charges for all types of crimes.  Also quite funny that Chirac spoke of the crimes committed by former president -  Valery Giscard d'Estaing, while he is investigated for similar crimes.  It seems the requirement for the French presidency is that you are a criminal.

Funny - the French people elect them knowing all this.

French court allows Chirac being tried in default
2011-09-06 03:38:01

PARIS, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Former French President Jacques Chirac would be tried in default due to his deteriorating health situation, a Paris court ruled on Monday, letting the trial move on with the 78-year-old represented by his lawyers.

"The personal appearance is not ordered," Judge Dominique Pauthe in charge of the case announced as response to the medical report submitted by Chirac's lawyers.

As the first former French president to be tried on corruption allegations, Chirac faces charges of abusing the public funds to pay aides and counsellors who were actually his partisans during his mandate of Paris mayor from 1977 to 1995.

The trial has been delayed several times with judges ruled the trial should be opened in May, but his lawyers have submitted a medical report to the court diagnosing the ex-president with "anosognosia", a brain disorder making people suffering memory loss.

After 12 years as head of state, two terms as prime minister and 18 years as mayor of Paris, Chirac is dogged by a corruption-related allegation dated back to 2007. The trial starting Monday afternoon would last to Sept. 23.

Chirac has said he wanted the trial to proceed to its end and hoped himself to be tried like any other French citizen.

If found guilty, the ex-president faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of 150,000 euros (about 212,000 U.S. dollars) on charges including embezzlement and breach of trust.

The case also involves nine other defendants. The current French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who received a suspended prison sentence in 2004 over the case, agreed to appear as a witness.

French public opinion is divided on Chirac's role in the case, according to local survey. Some said they feel for the old ex-president who is aged and fragile while others said his influence and health state should not spare him from justice in front of which everybody should be treated equal.


Media Cover Up Obama Gaffes

 Partly because they don't know the difference - part ignorance.  Partly because they do cover up his idiotic stumblings - part intentional.

Obama makes these same mistakes quite often.  Yet we hear little of his mistakes.

September 10, 2011

PBS alters transcript to hide Obama gaffe

Timothy Birdnow

Barack Obama has gone to Congress asking for more money to spend. The President, in a rambling and tedious exercise mixing blame with demands, made quite a few dubious statements in laying out the case for Congress to vote for the plan which as yet does not exist. Much like Obamacare, Congress must ultimately vote for the bill to know what is in it.

At one point Mr. Obama made a major gaffe; he identified Abraham Lincoln as the founder of the Republican Party.

Lincoln did not join the Republicans until 1856, over two years after the party was founded. The first Republican convention was held in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854.

Such a gaffe would have brought huge amounts of ridicule and derision on George W. Bush, but in the case of Obama the media yawned.

Actually, they did more than yawn; government-funded PBS has altered the transcript of the President's speech, removing the offending comment.

The New York Times transcript has the following quote:

"We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future -- a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad -- (applause) -- launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges. (Applause.) And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set."

But how does it appear in the PBS transcript?

"We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future - a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges. And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set."

So PBS has purposely altered a transcript containing a major gaffe by the President. See a screen shot:

Sure; we have a fair and balanced media! The best government money can buy!

liberal bias 

Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

Who's on First? Certainly isn't the Euro.