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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Angelina Jolie's controversial film divides Bosnian rape victims | World news | The Observer

Angelina Jolie's controversial film divides Bosnian rape victims | World news | The Observer
The star's debut as a director has sparked fierce controversy over who has the right to tell the story of Serbian rape camps
Peter Beaumont in Sarajevo, Saturday 23 October 2010 22.19 BST
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Angelina Jolie shares Easter eggs with Bosnian women on a visit as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees last April. Photograph:
It is thought to be one of the locations where Angelina Jolie would like to direct her debut film, dealing in part with the experience of a Muslim woman who was a victim of the notorious rape camps. The film has provoked a bitter battle over who has the right to interpret one of the conflict's dark episodes – and how. The dispute has even split groups that speak for rape survivors.
What started as a vague rumour that Jolie intended to depict a love affair between a Serb rapist and his Muslim victim has come to represent much more: a fierce debate over the political and social influence of war victims' groups in a still troubled society.
It has seen the country's culture minister, Gavrilo Grahovac, withdraw Jolie's permission to film before being forced a few days later into an embarrassing climbdown.
The scandal has dominated TV news and ordinary conversation – with many backing Jolie. On Thursday the country's leading political weekly magazine, Dani, dedicated 16 pages to the affair, with a picture of Jolie above the acid-eaten words "Welcome to Sarajevo".
Bakira Hasecic, a rape victim and the head of the Association of Women Victims of War, is one of those with the strongest objections to Jolie's film. Her voice – Hasecic's critics say – has had undue influence in Bosnian politics. She argues that any depiction of a relationship between a Serb rapist and his victim would be offensive.
Not all rape victims support her. Enisa Salcinovic, who was raped in a camp in Foca, split with Bakira in 2006 and now heads the women's section of the Association of Concentration Camp Victims. "Fifty per cent of the victims who called me after the row over the film escalated told me they do not support Bakira," she says.

Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico |

Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico |
Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta.
The discovery, which comes as millions of birds begin moving toward the region in the fall migration, gave ammunition to groups that have insisted the government has overstated clean-up progress, and could force reclosure of key fishing areas only recently reopened.
The oil was sighted in West Bay, which covers approximately 35 square miles of open water between Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the river, and Tiger Pass near Venice. Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up. The captains said most of their sightings have occurred during stretches of calm weather, similar to what the area has experienced most of this week.
On Friday reports included accounts of strips of the heavily weathered orange oil that became a signature image of the spill during the summer. One captain said some strips were as much as 400 feet wide and a mile long.

The John H. Armwood Weekly News Podcast Saturday October 23, 2010

This podcast is for the week ending Saturday October 23, 2010.  The Archive of my previous News Podcasts is found here

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Friday, October 22, 2010

BBC News - Huge Wikileaks release shows US 'ignored Iraq torture'

BBC News - Huge Wikileaks release shows US 'ignored Iraq torture'
Wikileaks has released almost 400,000 secret US military records, which suggest US commanders ignored evidence of torture by the Iraqi authorities.
The documents also suggest "hundreds" of civilians were killed at US military checkpoints after the invasion in 2003.
And the files show the US kept records of civilian deaths, despite previously denying it. The death toll was put at 109,000, of whom 66,081 were civilians.
The US criticised the largest leak of classified documents in its history.
Does the new release put lives at risk?
Speaking to reporters in Washington earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she condemned "in the most clear terms the disclosure of any information by individuals and or organisations which puts the lives of United States and its partners' service members and civilians at risk".
But Mrs Clinton did not go into specifics on the disclosures.
The 391,831 US army Sigacts (Significant Actions) reports published by Wikileaks on Friday describe the apparent torture of Iraqi detainees by the Iraqi authorities, sometimes using electrocution, electric drills and in some cases even executing detainees, says the BBC's Adam Brookes, who has examined some of the files.
The US military knew of the abuses, the documents suggest, but reports were sent up the chain of command marked "no further investigation", our correspondent adds.

Many People Are Blind To Juan William's Bigotry. It Is Amazing!

Juan WilliamsImage by Fairfax County Public Library via FlickrThese are the words that Juan Williams uttered which got him into trouble. These are the words which caused NPR to fire him.
"I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

What is wrong with this?  Here is the problem;  "if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims".  This is an incredibly bigoted remark.  This is America.  We are allowed to express our religion in the way we dress.  We supposedly do not judge people by their religious beliefs. This is not France which has outlawed the Muslim burka. Catholic priests and nuns wear distinctive, religious garb, Hassidic Jews wear black coats and hats.  This is America.  If you see something wrong with someone identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims by their dress and you do not see a problem with believers of other faiths identifying themselves first and formost as a Catholic, or a Jew or a Buddhist you are a bigot and your values are contrary to American values.  Don't feel bad if you don't get it.  A lot of people don't get it.  MSNBC's Hardball Host Chris Matthews, who can be often inexplicably obtuse when it comes to issues of ethnicity, gender and race does not get it.  Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post did not get it either in his discussion with Chris Matthews on Hardball.  Thank goodness however NPR got it.  Rachel  Maddow, the incredibly bright MSNBC host of the Rachel Maddow Show gets it.  Fox News got it. That's why they gave Juan Williams a two million dollar new contract the day after his bigoted statement.  Bigotry sells, especially in hard economic times like we are now experiencing.  Fox News sells hate, anger and bigotry, not news.  It's time for America to understand that our country is multi-cultural.  People who claim Islam as their religion do evil things like 9/11.  That does make all Muslims evil.  People who claim Christianity as their religion do evil things like committing mass murder and genocide in Bosnia during the 1990s.  That does not make all Christians evil.  It time for us all to wake up and smell the coffee.  People do both good and evil.  It not a "religion" thing.  It's a "people" thing.

Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias -

Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias -
On Dec. 22, 2006, American military officials in Baghdad issued a secret warning: The Shiite militia commander who had orchestrated the kidnapping of officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education was now hatching plans to take American soldiers hostage.
What made the warning especially worrying were intelligence reports saying that the Iraqi militant, Azhar al-Dulaimi, had been trained by the Middle East’s masters of the dark arts of paramilitary operations: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanese ally.
“Dulaymi reportedly obtained his training from Hizballah operatives near Qum, Iran, who were under the supervision of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) officers in July 2006,” the report noted, using alternative spellings of the principals involved. Read the Document »
Five months later, Mr. Dulaimi was tracked down and killed in an American raid in the sprawling Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad — but not before four American soldiers had been abducted from an Iraqi headquarters in Karbala and executed in an operation that American military officials say literally bore Mr. Dulaimi’s fingerprints.
Scores of documents made public by WikiLeaks, which has disclosed classified information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, provide a ground-level look — at least as seen by American units in the field and the United States’ military intelligence — at the shadow war between the United States and Iraqi militias backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
During the administration of President George W. Bush, critics charged that the White House had exaggerated Iran’s role to deflect criticism of its handling of the war and build support for a tough policy toward Iran, including the possibility of military action.
But the field reports disclosed by WikiLeaks, which were never intended to be made public, underscore the seriousness with which Iran’s role has been seen by the American military. The political struggle between the United States and Iran to influence events in Iraq still continues as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has sought to assemble a coalition — that would include the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr — that will allow him to remain in power. But much of the American’s military concern has revolved around Iran’s role in arming and assisting Shiite militias.
Citing the testimony of detainees, a captured militant’s diary and numerous uncovered weapons caches, among other intelligence, the field reports recount Iran’s role in providing Iraqi militia fighters with rockets, magnetic bombs that can be attached to the underside of cars, “explosively formed penetrators,” or E.F.P.’s, which are the most lethal type of roadside bomb in Iraq, and other weapons. Those include powerful .50-caliber rifles and the Misagh-1, an Iranian replica of a portable Chinese surface-to-air missile, which, according to the reports, was fired at American helicopters and downed one in east Baghdad in July 2007.
Iraqi militants went to Iran to be trained as snipers and in the use of explosives, the field reports assert, and Iran’s Quds Force collaborated with Iraqi extremists to encourage the assassination of Iraqi officials.
The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran’s leaders and reaffirmed the agreement between the United States and Iraq to withdraw American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands, Logs Say -

Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands, Logs Say -
The public image of detainees in Iraq was defined by the photographs, now infamous, of American abuse at Abu Ghraib, like the hooded prisoner and the snarling attack dog. While the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks offer few glimpses of what was happening inside American detention facilities, they do contain indelible details of abuse carried out by Iraq’s army and police.
The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee’s fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.
And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate.
A Pentagon spokesman said American policy on detainee abuse “is and has always been consistent with law and customary international practice.” Current rules, he said, require forces to immediately report abuse; if it was perpetrated by Iraqis, then Iraqi authorities are responsible for investigating.
Even when Americans found abuse and reported it, Iraqis often did not act. One report said a police chief refused to file charges “as long as the abuse produced no marks.” Another police chief told military inspectors that his officers engaged in abuse “and supported it as a method of conducting investigations.”
It is a frightening portrait of violence by any standards, but particularly disturbing because Iraq’s army and police are central to President Obama’s plan to draw down American troops in Iraq. Iraqi forces are already the backbone of security in Iraq, now that American combat troops are officially gone, and are also in charge of running its prisons.
The archive contains extensive, often rambling accounts of American abuse from Iraqi prisoners, but few were substantiated. The most serious came during arrests, which were often violent when people resisted. In those cases, investigations were opened. In a case reminiscent of Abu Ghraib, in which guards photographed themselves with Iraqis whom they had posed in humiliating positions, a soldier was censured for writing a mocking slur with a marker on the forehead of a crying detainee.
The United States took steps to improve its detention system after the scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison erupted in 2004, tightening rules governing the treatment of prisoners and separating the hardened radicals of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia from other prisoners.
But the documents show that Americans did sometimes use the threat of abuse by Iraqi authorities to get information out of prisoners. One report said an American threatened to send a detainee to the notorious Wolf Brigade, a particularly violent Iraqi police unit, if he did not supply information.
Some of the worst examples of Iraqi abuse came later in the war. In August 2009, an Iraqi police commando unit reported that a detainee committed suicide in its custody, but an autopsy conducted in the presence of an American “found bruises and burns on the detainee’s body as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs, and neck.” The report stated that the police “have reportedly begun an investigation.”

A Grim Portrait of Civilian Deaths in Iraq -

A Grim Portrait of Civilian Deaths in Iraq -
The reports in the archive disclosed by WikiLeaks offer an incomplete, yet startlingly graphic portrait of one of the most contentious issues in the Iraq war — how many Iraqi civilians have been killed and by whom.
The reports make it clear that most civilians, by far, were killed by other Iraqis. Two of the worst days of the war came on Aug. 31, 2005, when a stampede on a bridge in Baghdad killed more than 950 people after several earlier attacks panicked a huge crowd, and on Aug. 14, 2007, when truck bombs killed more than 500 people in a rural area near the border with Syria.
But it was systematic sectarian cleansing that drove the killing to its most frenzied point, making December 2006 the worst month of the war, according to the reports, with about 3,800 civilians killed, roughly equal to the past seven years of murders in New York City. A total of about 1,300 police officers, insurgents and coalition soldiers were also killed in that month.
The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians — at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.
The archive contains reports on at least four cases of lethal shootings from helicopters. In the bloodiest, on July 16, 2007, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed, about half of them civilians. However, the tally was called in by two different people, and it is possible that the deaths were counted twice. Read the Document »
In another case, in February 2007, an Apache helicopter shot and killed two Iraqi men believed to have been firing mortars, even though they made surrendering motions, because, according to a military lawyer cited in the report, “they cannot surrender to aircraft, and are still valid targets.” Read the Document »
The shooting was unusual. In at least three other instances reported in the archive, Iraqis surrendered to helicopter crews without being shot. The Pentagon did not respond to questions from The Times about the rules of engagement for the helicopter strike.

GOP congressional candidate Stephen Broden says violent overthrow of government is 'on the table' | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News

GOP congressional candidate Stephen Broden says violent overthrow of government is 'on the table' | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News

WASHINGTON – Republican congressional candidate Stephen Broden stunned his party Thursday, saying he would not rule out violent overthrow of the government if elections did not produce a change in leadership.

In a rambling exchange during a TV interview, Broden, a South Dallas pastor, said a violent uprising "is not the first option," but it is "on the table." That drew a quick denunciation from the head of the Dallas County GOP, who called the remarks "inappropriate."

Broden, a first-time candidate, is challenging veteran incumbent Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in Dallas' heavily Democratic 30th Congressional District. Johnson's campaign declined to comment on Broden.

In the interview, Brad Watson, political reporter for WFAA-TV (Channel 8), asked Broden about a tea party event last year in Fort Worth in which he described the nation's government as tyrannical.

"We have a constitutional remedy," Broden said then. "And the Framers say if that don't work, revolution."

Watson asked if his definition of revolution included violent overthrow of the government. In a prolonged back-and-forth, Broden at first declined to explicitly address insurrection, saying the first way to deal with a repressive government is to "alter it or abolish it."

"If the government is not producing the results or has become destructive to the ends of our liberties, we have a right to get rid of that government and to get rid of it by any means necessary," Broden said, adding the nation was founded on a violent revolt against Britain's King George III.

Watson asked if violence would be in option in 2010, under the current government.

"The option is on the table. I don't think that we should remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms," Broden said, without elaborating. "However, it is not the first option."

Fox News Gives Juan Williams $2 Million Contract : NPR

Fox News Gives Juan Williams $2 Million Contract : NPR

Lillian McEwen Breaks Her 19-Year Silence About Justice Clarence Thomas

Official Equal Employment Opportunity Commissi...Image via WikipediaLillian McEwen breaks her 19-year silence about Justice Clarence Thomas
For nearly two decades, Lillian McEwen has been silent -- a part of history, yet absent from it.
When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill's allegations.
Lillian McEwen was that woman.
At the time, she was on good terms with Thomas. The former assistant U.S. attorney and Senate Judiciary Committee counsel had dated him for years, even attending a March 1985 White House state dinner as his guest. She had worked on the Hill and was wary of entering the political cauldron of the hearings. She was never asked to testify, as then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who headed the committee, limited witnesses to women who had a "professional relationship" with Thomas.
Now, she says that Thomas often said inappropriate things about women he met at work -- and that she could have added her voice to the others, but didn't.
Over the years, reporters and biographers approached her eager to know more about Thomas from women who knew him well. But McEwen remained mum. She said she saw "nothing good" coming out of talking to reporters about Thomas, whom she said she still occasionally met. She did not want to do anything to harm her career, she added. Plus, she realized, "I don't look good in this."
Today, McEwen is 65 and retired from a successful career as a prosecutor, law professor and administrative law judge for federal agencies. She has been twice married and twice divorced, and has a 32-year-old daughter. She lives in a comfortable townhouse in Southwest Washington.
And she is silent no more.
She has written a memoir, which she is now shopping to publishers. News broke that the justice's wife, Virginia Thomas, left a voice mail on Hill's office phone at Brandeis University, seeking an apology -- a request that Hill declined in a statement. After that, McEwen changed her mind and decided to talk about her relationship with Thomas.
"I have nothing to be afraid of," she said, adding that she hopes the attention stokes interest in her manuscript.
To McEwen, Hill's allegations that Thomas had pressed her for dates and made lurid sexual references rang familiar.
"He was always actively watching the women he worked with to see if they could be potential partners," McEwen said matter-of-factly. "It was a hobby of his."
McEwen's connection to Thomas was strictly personal. She had even disclosed that relationship to Biden, who had been her boss years earlier.
In her Senate testimony, Hill, who worked with Thomas at two federal agencies, said that Thomas would make sexual comments to her at work, including references to scenes in hard-core pornographic films.
"If I used that kind of grotesque language with one person, it would seem to me that there would be traces of it throughout the employees who worked closely with me, or the other individuals who heard bits and pieces of it or various levels of it," Thomas responded to the committee.
McEwen scoffs softly when asked about Thomas's indignation, which has barely cooled in the 19 years since the hearings. In his vivid 2007 memoir, the justice calls Hill a tool of liberal activists outraged because he did not fit their idea of what an African American should believe.
McEwen's memoir describes her own "dysfunctional" family in the District and, ultimately, a long legal career. She charts how she developed an "inner self" to escape the chaos of her childhood. Her story also includes explicit details of her relationship with Thomas, which she said included a freewheeling sex life.
Given that history, she said Hill's long-ago description of Thomas's behavior resonated with her.
"He was obsessed with porn," she said of Thomas, who is now 63. "He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting."
McEwen added that she had no problem with Thomas's interests, although she found pornography to be "boring."
According to McEwen, Thomas would also tell her about women he encountered at work. He was partial to women with large breasts, she said. In an instance at work, Thomas was so impressed that he asked one woman her bra size, McEwen recalled him telling her.
Presented with some of McEwen's assertions, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Thomas was unavailable for comment.
However bizarre they may seem, McEwen's recollections resemble accounts shared by other women that swirled around the Thomas confirmation.
Angela Wright, who in 1984 worked as public affairs director at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- which polices sexual harassment claims -- during Thomas's long tenure as chairman, shared similar accounts with Senate investigators.
Once, when walking into an EEOC seminar with Thomas, he asked her, "What size are your breasts?" according to the transcript of her Senate interview.
Her story was corroborated by a former EEOC speechwriter, who told investigators that Wright had become increasingly uneasy around Thomas because of his comments about her appearance.
But Wright also had problems that made committee Democrats nervous. She had been fired by Thomas, and previously by a member of Congress. She also had quit a third job in government, accusing her boss of incompetence and racism.
Concerned about Wright's credibility, Biden lifted a subpoena for her to testify at the hearing. Instead, transcripts of the interviews with Wright and her corroborator were simply entered into the record, drawing only modest press attention.
Another woman, Sukari Hardnett, who worked as a special assistant to Thomas in 1985 and 1986, wrote in a letter to the Judiciary Committee that "If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female" by Thomas.
For his part, a parade of women who worked with Thomas defended him before the Judiciary Committee, calling it impossible that he would engage in the type of inappropriate behavior described by his accusers.
McEwen recalls writing Thomas a short note before the confirmation hearings, curious about what she should say if she were quizzed about their relationship. She said Thomas preferred that she would take "the same attitude of his first wife," who never talked publicly about their relationship.
In 2007, the Howard University Law School graduate retired and grew reflective on her life. Her career had included stints as an administrative law judge for both the Social Security Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission. She also had turns as a law professor and a private attorney -- all after her work as a federal prosecutor and Senate Judiciary Committee lawyer.
She spends her days in her Southwest townhouse. She frequently meets up with friends for movies, golf and other outings. Regularly, she stops by the National Museum of the American Indian for lunch.
In her short leather jacket, ankle-high boots and leather cap, she looks younger than her age. And when she talks about Thomas, her tone is devoid of rancor. She sees him mainly as someone who occupied a chapter of her life.
Still, McEwen, a Democrat, acknowledges growing increasingly irritated with Thomas's conservative jurisprudence and his penchant for casting himself as a victim in the Hill controversy.
Thomas himself has obliquely referred to the McEwen both in his 2007 memoir and during his confirmation hearing.
In an exchange with Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who was then a Republican, he said there appeared to be tension between Hill and him "as a result of the complexion of the woman I dated and the woman I chose as my chief of staff." Both are light-skinned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR Fires Commentator Juan Williams Over Muslim Remarks

Juan WilliamsImage by Fairfax County Public Library via FlickrNPR Fires Commentator Juan Williams Over Muslim Remarks
National Public Radio fired news analyst Juan Williams late Wednesday for saying on Fox News Channel that he gets "worried" when he sees fellow passengers on an airplane in Muslim garb, "identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims."
Williams' remarks Monday on "The O'Reilly Factor" were "inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a new analyst for NPR," the public radio organization said in a statement reported Thursday by the New York Times.
"I'm not a bigot," Williams had told host Bill O'Reilly. Williams, an African American, noted that he had written books about the civil rights movement. But then he went on: "But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
Williams, 56, added that the Pakistani immigrant who pleaded guilty recently to trying to plant a bomb in a vehicle at Times Square has said " 'the war with Muslims, America's war, is just beginning, first drop of blood.' I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts." His comments came after O'Reilly had said, "The cold truth is that in the world today, jihad, aided and abetted buy some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet."
Williams, in the exchange, warned O'Reilly that all Muslims should not be blamed for extremist acts anymore than Christians should be faulted for the actions of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. During O'Reilly's recent appearance on "The View," his statements on Muslim ties to the 9/11 attacks prompted co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg to walk off the show.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

El Paso UFO | Manhattan UFO | Video | Mediaite

El Paso UFO | Manhattan UFO | Video | Mediaite
Remember last week when many New Yorkers were looking up at the sky trying to figure out what the hell they were looking at? Well, the objects were flying and were unidentified, ergo they were UFOs. Well a local news report from El Paso, Texas filed the following report with imagery of remarkably similar to that which was recorded in NY. The Texas news department added a nice touch in the following segment: a music bed lifted straight from the X-Files. Watch the segment if you dare.

McAdams, Murkowski And Miller Are Battling : NPR

McAdams, Murkowski And Miller Are Battling : NPR
Miller, a 43-year-old veteran and father of eight, now finds himself locked in a three-way race that is too close to call.
The former government lawyer-turned-limited-government proponent made the national cable television rounds, accusing President Obama of moving the country toward "socialism" and criticizing what he characterized as the country's expanding "entitlement state."
But a fierce and extremely well-funded general election write-in campaign by Murkowski, revelations about Miller's past, and his own series of recent missteps — including his "guards" handcuffing a reporter attempting to question the candidate after a public forum — have clouded the West Point graduate's once-rosy Election Day fortunes.
Polls show Miller, endorsed in the primary by former Gov. Sarah Palin, in a neck-and-neck battle with the more moderate Murkowski, 53. Pollsters caution, however, that polling a race with a write-in candidate is dicey at best.
Democratic nominee Scott McAdams, 40, Sitka's mayor, continues to trail the two battling Republicans, but has picked up support in recent weeks. That has prompted some party members to dare to dream that they could pick off an Alaska Senate seat for only the second time in more than three decades. (The state hasn't had a Democratic U.S. House member since 1972, and has voted for the Republican presidential candidate since 1964.)
"Joe Miller is on a downward trajectory," says Anchorage-based pollster Ivan Moore, noting that the surprise nominee has gone from the pick of 50 percent of Alaskans surveyed in August, to the one preferred by abut 35 percent this month.
"He got a free ride through the primary," Moore says, "because neither voters nor the media perceived that he'd win."
But Miller's Alaska supporters, including former Republican National Committee member Debbie Joslin, say that party members remain excited about the candidate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Military recruiters told they can accept openly gay applicants -

Military recruiters told they can accept openly gay applicants -
Washington (CNN) -- The Pentagon has advised recruiting commands that they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruit candidates, given the recent federal court decision that bars the military from expelling openly gay service members, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The guidance from the Personnel and Readiness office was sent to recruiting commands on Friday, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.
The recruiters were told that if a candidate admits he or she is openly gay, and qualify under normal recruiting guidelines, their application can be processed. Recruiters are not allowed to ask candidates if they are gay as part of the application process.
The notice also reminded recruiters that they have to "manage expectations" of applicants by informing them that a reversal of the court decision might occur, whereby the "don't ask, don't tell" policy could be reinstated, Smith said.
Hopefully the the foolhardy Obama administration approach to appeal the federal judges ruling will not backfire and overturn this federal judges ruling.
John H. Armwood

Judge reaffirms ruling allowing gays into military - U.S. news - Life - Military -

Judge reaffirms ruling allowing gays into military - U.S. news - Life - Military -
WASHINGTON — A federal judge formally refused on Tuesday to let the Pentagon reinstate its ban on openly gay men and women in the U.S. military while it appeals her decision declaring its "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional.
A day after tentatively siding against the Obama administration, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued a written decision denying a government request to lift her own injunction barring further Pentagon enforcement of the ban.
Although government concerns about military readiness and cohesion are important, "these interests are outweighed by the compelling public interest of safeguarding fundamental constitutional rights," she wrote in a six-page opinion.

High-Level Talks Aim for an End to the Afghan War -

High-Level Talks Aim for an End to the Afghan War -
KABUL, Afghanistan — Talks to end the war in Afghanistan involve extensive, face-to-face discussions with Taliban commanders from the highest levels of the group’s leadership, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO troops, officials here say.
The discussions, some of which have taken place in Kabul, are unfolding between the inner circle of President Hamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan. Afghan leaders have also held discussions with leaders of the Haqqani network, considered to be one of the most hard-line guerrilla factions fighting here; and members of the Peshawar shura, whose fighters are based in eastern Afghanistan.
The Taliban leaders coming into Afghanistan for talks have left their havens in Pakistan on the explicit assurance that they would not be attacked or arrested by NATO forces, Afghans familiar with the talks said. Many top Taliban leaders reside in Pakistan, where they are believed to enjoy at least some official protection.
In at least one case, Taliban leaders crossed the border and boarded a NATO aircraft bound for Kabul, according to an Afghan with knowledge of the talks. In other cases, NATO troops have secured roads to allow Taliban officials to reach Afghan- and NATO-controlled areas so that they can take part in discussions. Most of the discussions have taken place outside of Kabul, according to the Afghan official.
American officials said last week that talks between Afghan and Taliban leaders are under way. But the ranks of the insurgents, the fact that they represent multiple factions, and the extent of NATO efforts to provide transportation and security to adversaries they otherwise try to kill or capture have not been previously disclosed.
At least four Taliban leaders, three of them members of the Quetta shura and one of them a member of the Haqqani family, have taken part in discussions, according to the Afghan official and a former diplomat in the region.

Christine O’Donnell questions separation of church, state - Andy Barr -

Christine O’Donnell questions separation of church, state - Andy Barr -

How ignorant and stupid can Christy O'Donnell be?

Monday, October 18, 2010

WikiLeaks Cut Off from Donations, Denied Shield - CBS News

WikiLeaks Cut Off from Donations, Denied Shield - CBS News
(AP) The founder of Wikileaks was denied a Swedish residency permit on Monday and said his whistleblowing website had been cut off by a company that handled many of its donations.
Julian Assange blamed the financial cutoff on the U.S. government, which denied any involvement. The U.S. did tell reporters that it was bracing for the potential disclosure by Wikileaks of hundreds of thousands of secret Iraq war documents, and asked media companies not to publish them.

Miller security guards handcuff journalist: 2010 Alaska U.S. Senate election |

Miller security guards handcuff journalist: 2010 Alaska U.S. Senate election |
The editor of the Alaska Dispatch website was arrested by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's private security guards Sunday as the editor attempted to interview Miller at the end of a public event in an Anchorage school.
Tony Hopfinger was handcuffed by the guards and detained in a hallway at Central Middle School until Anchorage police came and told the guards to release Hopfinger.
Hopfinger has not been charged but the owner of the Drop Zone, the private security firm that's been providing Miller's security, accused Hopfinger of trespassing at the public event, a town hall sponsored by the Miller campaign. The owner, William Fulton, also said Hopfinger assaulted a man by shoving him.
Anchorage Police who responded to the call said they would leave it to the District Attorney's office to decide whether to prosecute. They spent more than an hour taking statements, then left.
Hopfinger, who was holding a small video camera, said he was attempting to draw out a statement from Miller on why he was disciplined by the Fairbanks North Star Borough when Miller worked there as a part-time attorney. After Miller walked away, Hopfinger said, he was surrounded by Miller supporters and security guards and felt threatened, so he pushed one of them away.
Fulton said the man shoved by Hopfinger was not hurt.
Hopfinger said that after he shoved the man away, the guards grabbed him, cuffed his hands behind his back with steel handcuffs and sat him in a chair in the school hallway, Hopfinger said.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Senate debate in Kentucky devolves into a name-calling session – CNN Political Ticker - Blogs

Senate debate in Kentucky devolves into a name-calling session – CNN Political Ticker - Blogs
(CNN) – An ugly Senate campaign in Kentucky grew even uglier Sunday as Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul faced off in a debate that devolved into a name-calling session rather than a give-and-take on the issues facing the state's voters.
The debate at the University of Louisville came a day after Conway, the state attorney general, released a television ad questioning Paul's values.
"Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy
Bible 'a hoax,' that was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ?" the ad's announcer says. "Why did Rand Paul once tie up a woman, tell her to bow down before a false idol, and say his god was 'Aqua Buddha?'"
The ad, which is running statewide, is based on reports that Paul was a member of a secret society while a student at Baylor University. GQ Magazine and The Washington Post quoted an anonymous woman as making the claims in August.
The ad was an oft-repeated topic of debate from the start Sunday night as the Tea Party-backed Paul gave his opening statement.
"I'm disheartened that my opponent has chosen to attack my religious beliefs," he said. "We have serious problems in our country ... and he has descended into the gutter to attack my personal religious beliefs. ... Jack, you should be ashamed of yourself. You should apologize. Have you no decency? Have you no shame?"
It was a familiar refrain as Conway pressed Paul to explain his alleged involvement in the group while Paul shot back with such quips as, "You know how we tell when you're lying? When your lips are moving."

With Statehood, Palestinians Ready To End All Claims : NPR

With Statehood, Palestinians Ready To End All Claims : NPR
The Palestinians are ready to end all historic claims against Israel once they establish their state in the lands Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast War, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday, addressing a long-standing Israeli demand.
In an interview with Israel TV, Abbas also said negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remain his preferred choice, but that he will consider other options if talks break down over Israel's continued settlement expansion.
Negotiations were relaunched by the Obama administration last month, but quickly faltered over Israel's refusal to extend a curb on Jewish settlement construction. Abbas says there's no point negotiating as long as settlements take over more land claimed by the Palestinians.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967. Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, but about half a million Israelis have settled in the other war-won areas.
Netanyahu wants the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and said earlier this week he might extend a curb on settlement construction in exchange for such recognition. A 10-month-old moratorium on West Bank housing starts expired in late September, and Abbas has said he will not return to negotiations without an extension.
The Palestinians argue that it's not up to them to determine the nature of the state of Israel. Abbas noted that Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized each other in 1993, saying this should be sufficient. Abbas heads the PLO.
However, in an apparent attempt to reach out to Israeli public opinion, he said that once the Palestinians have established their state in the 1967 borders, "there is another important thing to end, the conflict, and we are ready for that, to end the historic demands."
He did not elaborate on specifically which demands he was relinquishing, but traditionally Palestinians have demanded the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homelands in Israeli territory.
This is a major concession by Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu should respond by extending the moratorium on the building of settlements in the occupied territories.
John H. Armwood