Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do You Believe You Are Worthy Of Love?

I Am Worthy of Love
by Bukeka Shoals

I am worthy of love
the kind you dream of
I am worthy of love
like stars are above
I am worthy of love

Once there was a time
when my frame of mind
was lost and alone
seems a long time ago I came to believe
that nobody loved me
and from then on I went searching
but never find love that was for real
but now i realize the truth
love's not envy loves not rude
love is patient love is kind
and so I made up my mind

I am worthy of love
the kind you dream of
I am worthy of love

Now when you look at me
All you will see is a soul that is free
free to believe that I am worthy of love
and love is worthy of me
and from now i'm denying any lack of love within my life
cuz now I realize the truth
loves no envy loves not rude
love is patient love is kind
and so I made up my mind

I see the truth and it set me free
There is a greater power in me

So I SO believe that I am worthy of love. It has been a long process. For some reason I am feeling a little autobiographical as of late. I have not always believed that I am worthy of love. Through various boyfriends, relationships, and trials and tribulations and with a good deal of one on one therapy, I have come to believe that I am worthy of love. Lets start with college. I was newly out of the closet (to myself and to friends, but not my family...who already knew that I was queer but was waiting for me to announce it.) So I had a group of new friends who I would hang out with and amoungst them were a bunch of gay people. I felt like Columbus discovering the new was an amazing experience. Lesbians fist fighting every other day, drunken adventures with the whole gang as well as rampant substance abuse. What every growing kid needs for a healthy college experience right? So even in my newly out of the closet mindset I was having issues with my parents. Basically I was lying to them about most everything in my life at that point. My grades, my sexuality etc. So my Mom would call me up in school and ask how everything was going, and I was tell her that everything was just fine. That led to stress, which led to depression, which then led to me not fulfilling my responsibilities. I felt as if I was walking around the campus with a big glass cage surrounding my every move. I could hear and see everything that was going on but it was like I was living in somene elses body. So this could only go on for so long and eventually my parents found out that I had been lying to them throughout the downward spiral and basically told me to pack my shit because they were removing me from school. I remember the conversation with my mom like it was yesterday. I went something like this. "Bill, we've given you chance after chance to get your shit together and you have chosen to squander those opportunities so pack your shit up, your father is coming to get you." So in my sheer panic of the moment I chose to use that conversation to come out of the closet to my parents. Great idea there Bill. I was so frightened that they would reject me and tell me to never come back and basically disown me. Basically it was the process of coming out that every gay man goes through at some point in their life. So anyway, to make a long story even longer I left Iowa and came home to not very happy parents. They at that point didn't even care...or not at thatpoint care that I was gay, it was more about my lying to them over and over. I can't really explain why I lied so much, I thought I could handle everything and once it started going downhill, it was like a snowball going down hill, just getting bigger and bigger and bigger at which point I got enveloped in the snowball and taken downhill with it.

That was, sometime in 1995 I believe. I was 20 years old and still not understanding what my life was all about. Fast forward 15 years (lol) and I finally understand what it means to be truly worthy of love. In the year 2000 I moved to Kansas City, Missouri which eludes to a whole other story that is not important to this entry, but sometime in 2000-2001 I met a woman named Bukeka. She really is an amazing soul, a kind of a person I've never really encountered before. It's hard to even describe what an energy she has, but needless to say that I started listening to her original music, and slowly, slowly digesting the message she takes to people around the country which just happens to be "I am worthy of love". This is at the top of her blog.
Everyone is worthy simply because we exist as a unique one of a kind individual, never again to be repeated. One reason why we do not believe we ourselves are worthy, simply because we exist, is because of our certainty that it is not true of other people. We ask ourselves, how is it possible that people who have committed inhumane atrocities be worthy simply because they exist? They are, you are and so is everyone
If that isn't thought provoking than I don't know what is.

-to be continued

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Going for the bearded sinead oconner look lol

--Sent from my Virgin Mobile!
Location : lat=39.071, lng=94.577

Sent from my Virgin Mobile

Friday, May 27, 2011

Never Get Old

Probably my favorite "recent" Bowie makes me think of so many things. First of all this is probably one of the best concerts I've ever attended...Oh My God what a concert... with Dayvid and Aaron S. years ago in Chicago. It also makes me think of the lyrics...never gonna be enough drugs, never gonna be enough bullets....etc etc. So many meanings choked in one song.

"Never Get Old" by David Bowie

Better take care
Think I better go, better get a room
Better take care of me
Again and again

I think about this and I think about personal history
Better take care
I breathe so deep when the movie gets real
When the star turns round
Again and again
He looks me in the eye says he's got his mind on a countdown 3-2-1

I'm screaming that I'm gonna be living on till the end of time
The sky splits open to a dull red skull
My head hangs low 'cause it's all over now

And there's never gonna be enough money
And there's never gonna be enough drugs
And I'm never ever gonna get old
There's never gonna be enough bullets
There's never gonna be enough sex
And I'm never ever gonna get old
So I'm never ever gonna get high
And I'm never ever gonna get low
And I'm never ever gonna get old

Better take care

The moon flows on to the edges of the world because of you
Again and again
And I'm awake in an age of light living it because of you
Better take care
I'm looking at the future solid as a rock because of you
Again and again

Wanna be here and I wanna be there
Living just like you, living just like me
Putting on my gloves and bury my bones in the marshland
Think about my soul but I don't need a thing just the ring of the bell in the pure clean air

And I'm running down the street of life
And I'm never gonna let you die
And I'm never ever gonna get old
And I'm never ever gonna get
I'm never ever gonna get
I'm never ever gonna get old
And I'm never ever gonna get
And I'm never ever gonna get
Never ever gonna get old

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Welcome to The Bukeka Show - Episode I

So where will the venue be? The Madrid? The Boulevard Brewrey? Stay tuned for the next episode where we reveal the venue of the concert! In the meanwhile follow on Twitter, Facebook and check out her rockin website to see where she'll be in the next couple of weeks in and around Kansas City.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why Cornel West Went Ballistic

By Chris Hedges

The moral philosopher Cornel West, if Barack Obama’s ascent to power was a morality play, would be the voice of conscience. Rahm Emanuel, a cynical product of the Chicago political machine, would be Satan. Emanuel in the first scene of the play would dangle power, privilege, fame and money before Obama. West would warn Obama that the quality of a life is defined by its moral commitment, that his legacy will be determined by his willingness to defy the cruel assault by the corporate state and the financial elite against the poor and working men and women, and that justice must never be sacrificed on the altar of power.

Perhaps there was never much of a struggle in Obama’s heart. Perhaps West only provided a moral veneer. Perhaps the dark heart of Emanuel was always the dark heart of Obama. Only Obama knows. But we know how the play ends. West is banished like honest Kent in “King Lear.” Emanuel and immoral mediocrities from Lawrence Summers to Timothy Geithner to Robert Gates—think of Goneril and Regan in the Shakespearean tragedy—take power. We lose. And Obama becomes an obedient servant of the corporate elite in exchange for the hollow trappings of authority.

No one grasps this tragic descent better than West, who did 65 campaign events for Obama, believed in the potential for change and was encouraged by the populist rhetoric of the Obama campaign. He now nurses, like many others who placed their faith in Obama, the anguish of the deceived, manipulated and betrayed. He bitterly describes Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”

“When you look at a society you look at it through the lens of the least of these, the weak and the vulnerable; you are committed to loving them first, not exclusively, but first, and therefore giving them priority,” says West, the Class of 1943 University Professor of African American Studies and Religion at Princeton University. “And even at this moment, when the empire is in deep decline, the culture is in deep decay, the political system is broken, where nearly everyone is up for sale, you say all I have is the subversive memory of those who came before, personal integrity, trying to live a decent life, and a willingness to live and die for the love of folk who are catching hell. This means civil disobedience, going to jail, supporting progressive forums of social unrest if they in fact awaken the conscience, whatever conscience is left, of the nation. And that’s where I find myself now.

“I have to take some responsibility,” he admits of his support for Obama as we sit in his book-lined office. “I could have been reading into it more than was there.

“I was thinking maybe he has at least some progressive populist instincts that could become more manifest after the cautious policies of being a senator and working with [Sen. Joe] Lieberman as his mentor,” he says. “But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’ And the same is true for Dennis Ross and the other neo-imperial elites. I said, ‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman. I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong.”

West says the betrayal occurred on two levels.

“There is the personal level,” he says. “I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.

“What it said to me on a personal level,” he goes on, “was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.”

But there was also the betrayal on the political and ideological level.

“It became very clear to me as the announcements were being made,” he says, “that this was going to be a newcomer, in many ways like Bill Clinton, who wanted to reassure the Establishment by bringing in persons they felt comfortable with and that we were really going to get someone who was using intermittent progressive populist language in order to justify a centrist, neoliberalist policy that we see in the opportunism of Bill Clinton. It was very much going to be a kind of black face of the DLC [Democratic Leadership Council].”

Obama and West’s last personal contact took place a year ago at a gathering of the Urban League when, he says, Obama “cussed me out.” Obama, after his address, which promoted his administration’s championing of charter schools, approached West, who was seated in the front row.

“He makes a bee line to me right after the talk, in front of everybody,” West says. “He just lets me have it. He says, ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself, saying I’m not a progressive. Is that the best you can do? Who do you think you are?’ I smiled. I shook his hand. And a sister hollered in the back, ‘You can’t talk to professor West. That’s Dr. Cornel West. Who do you think you are?’ You can go to jail talking to the president like that. You got to watch yourself. I wanted to slap him on the side of his head.

“It was so disrespectful,” he went on, “that’s what I didn’t like. I’d already been called, along with all [other] leftists, a “F’ing retard” by Rahm Emanuel because we had critiques of the president.”

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, has, West said, phoned him to complain about his critiques of Obama. Jarrett was especially perturbed, West says, when he said in an interview last year that he saw a lot of Malcolm X and Ella Baker in Michelle Obama. Jarrett told him his comments were not complimentary to the first lady.

“I said in the world that I live in, in that which authorizes my reality, Ella Baker is a towering figure,” he says, munching Fritos and sipping apple juice at his desk. “If I say there is a lot of Ella Baker in Michelle Obama, that’s a compliment. She can take it any way she wants. I can tell her I’m sorry it offended you, but I’m going to speak the truth. She is a Harvard Law graduate, a Princeton graduate, and she deals with child obesity and military families. Why doesn’t she visit a prison? Why not spend some time in the hood? That is where she is, but she can’t do it.

“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West says. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening. And that’s true for a white brother. When you get a white brother who meets a free, independent black man, they got to be mature to really embrace fully what the brother is saying to them. It’s a tension, given the history. It can be overcome. Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.

“He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” he says. “He’s got two homes. He has got his family and whatever challenges go on there, and this other home. Larry Summers blows his mind because he’s so smart. He’s got Establishment connections. He’s embracing me. It is this smartness, this truncated brilliance, that titillates and stimulates brother Barack and makes him feel at home. That is very sad for me.

“This was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment,” West laments. “We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful. It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.

“Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated and taught the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and what greed was really taking place?” West asks. “If he had told us what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place, if he had focused on homeowners rather than investment banks for bailouts and engaged in massive job creation he could have nipped in the bud the right-wing populism of the tea party folk. The tea party folk are right when they say the government is corrupt. It is corrupt. Big business and banks have taken over government and corrupted it in deep ways.

“We have got to attempt to tell the truth, and that truth is painful,” he says. “It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire. I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties.

“Our last hope is to generate a democratic awakening among our fellow citizens. This means raising our voices, very loud and strong, bearing witness, individually and collectively. Tavis [Smiley] and I have talked about ways of civil disobedience, beginning with ways for both of us to get arrested, to galvanize attention to the plight of those in prisons, in the hoods, in poor white communities. We must never give up. We must never allow hope to be eliminated or suffocated.”

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Moment of Opportunity

May 19, 2011

Remarks of President Barack Obama

“A Moment of Opportunity”

U.S. Department of State

May 19, 2011

As Prepared for Delivery –

I want to thank Hillary Clinton, who has traveled so much these last six months that she is approaching a new landmark – one million frequent flyer miles. I count on Hillary every day, and I believe that she will go down as of the finest Secretaries of State in our nation’s history.

The State Department is a fitting venue to mark a new chapter in American diplomacy. For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change take place in the Middle East and North Africa. Square by square; town by town; country by country; the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights. Two leaders have stepped aside. More may follow. And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security; history and faith.

Today, I would like to talk about this change – the forces that are driving it, and how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security. Already, we have done much to shift our foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts. After years of war in Iraq, we have removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there. In Afghanistan, we have broken the Taliban’s momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue transition to Afghan lead. And after years of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader – Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was no martyr. He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate – an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change. He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy – not what he could build.

Bin Laden and his murderous vision won some adherents. But even before his death, al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life. By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands.

That story of self-​determination began six months ago in Tunisia. On December 17, a young vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi was devastated when a police officer confiscated his cart. This was not unique. It is the same kind of humiliation that takes place every day in many parts of the world – the relentless tyranny of governments that deny their citizens dignity. Only this time, something different happened. After local officials refused to hear his complaint, this young man who had never been particularly active in politics went to the headquarters of the provincial government, doused himself in fuel, and lit himself on fire.

Sometimes, in the course of history, the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has built up for years. In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat. So it was in Tunisia, as that vendor’s act of desperation tapped into the frustration felt throughout the country. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets, then thousands. And in the face of batons and sometimes bullets, they refused to go home – day after day, week after week, until a dictator of more than two decades finally left power.

The story of this Revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise. The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not. In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of the few. In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn – no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader.

This lack of self determination – the chance to make of your life what you will – has applied to the region’s economy as well. Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity. But in a global economy based on knowledge and innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.

In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half century after the end of colonialism. Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression. Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding on to power, or taking it away from somebody else.

But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and diversion won’t work anymore. Satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world – a world of astonishing progress in places like India, Indonesia and Brazil. Cell phones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before. A new generation has emerged. And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied.

In Cairo, we heard the voice of the young mother who said, “It’s like I can finally breathe fresh air for the first time.”

In Sanaa, we heard the students who chanted, “The night must come to an end.”

In Benghazi, we heard the engineer who said, “Our words are free now. It’s a feeling you can’t explain.”

In Damascus, we heard the young man who said, “After the first yelling, the first shout, you feel dignity.”

Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region. And through the moral force of non-​violence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.

Of course, change of this magnitude does not come easily. In our day and age – a time of 24 hour news cycles, and constant communication – people expect the transformation of the region to be resolved in a matter of weeks. But it will be years before this story reaches its end. Along the way, there will be good days, and bad days. In some places, change will be swift; in others, gradual. And as we have seen, calls for change may give way to fierce contests for power.

The question before us is what role America will play as this story unfolds. For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region: countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce, and safe-​guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel’s security and pursuing Arab-​Israeli peace.

We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America’s interests are not hostile to peoples’ hopes; they are essential to them. We believe that no one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region, or al Qaeda’s brutal attacks. People everywhere would see their economies crippled by a cut off in energy supplies. As we did in the Gulf War, we will not tolerate aggression across borders, and we will keep our commitments to friends and partners.

Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind. Moreover, failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our own interests at their expense. Given that this mistrust runs both ways – as Americans have been seared by hostage taking, violent rhetoric, and terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of our citizens – a failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and Muslim communities.

That’s why, two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. I believed then – and I believe now – that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self determination of individuals. The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.

So we face an historic opportunity. We have embraced the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-​determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

As we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It is not America that put people into the streets of Tunis and Cairo – it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and must determine their outcome. Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short term interests do not align perfectly with our long term vision of the region. But we can – and will – speak out for a set of core principles – principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region.

We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders – whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran.

And finally, we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.

Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest– today I am making it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.

That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia, where the stakes are high –as Tunisia was at the vanguard of this democratic wave, and Egypt is both a longstanding partner and the Arab World’s largest nation. Both nations can set a strong example through free and fair elections; a vibrant civil society; accountable and effective democratic institutions; and responsible regional leadership. But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place.

Unfortunately, in too many countries, calls for change have been answered by violence. The most extreme example is Libya, where Moammar Gaddafi launched a war against his people, promising to hunt them down like rats. As I said when the United States joined an international coalition to intervene, we cannot prevent every injustice perpetrated by a régime against its people, and we have learned from our experience in Iraq just how costly and difficult it is to impose régime change by force – no matter how well-​intended it may be.

But in Libya, we saw the prospect of imminent massacre, had a mandate for action, and heard the Libyan people’s call for help. Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed. The message would have been clear: keep power by killing as many people as it takes. Now, time is working against Gaddafi. He does not have control over his country. The opposition has organized a legitimate and credible Interim Council. And when Gaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed.

While Libya has faced violence on the greatest scale, it is not the only place where leaders have turned to repression to remain in power. Most recently, the Syrian régime has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens. The United States has condemned these actions, and working with the international community we have stepped up our sanctions on the Syrian régime – including sanctions announced yesterday on President Assad and those around him.

The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: he can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests; release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests; allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. Otherwise, President Assad and his régime will continue to be challenged from within and isolated abroad

Thus far, Syria has followed its Iranian ally, seeking assistance from Tehran in the tactics of suppression. This speaks to the hypocrisy of the Iranian régime, which says it stand for the rights of protesters abroad, yet suppresses its people at home. Let us remember that the first peaceful protests were in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalized women and men, and threw innocent people into jail. We still hear the chants echo from the rooftops of Tehran. The image of a young woman dying in the streets is still seared in our memory. And we will continue to insist that the Iranian people deserve their universal rights, and a government that does not smother their aspirations.

Our opposition to Iran’s intolerance – as well as its illicit nuclear program, and its sponsorship of terror – is well known. But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for change consistent with the principles that I have outlined today. That is true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power. And that is true, today, in Bahrain.

Bahrain is a long-​standing partner, and we are committed to its security. We recognize that Iran has tried to take advantage of the turmoil there, and that the Bahraini government has a legitimate interest in the rule of law. Nevertheless, we have insisted publically and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.

Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multi-​ethnic, multi-​sectarian democracy. There, the Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence for a democratic process, even as they have taken full responsibility for their own security. Like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. As they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.

So in the months ahead, America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region. Even as we acknowledge that each country is different, we will need to speak honestly about the principles that we believe in, with friend and foe alike. Our message is simple: if you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States. We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites, so that we reach the people who will shape the future – particularly young people.

We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo – to build networks of entrepreneurs, and expand exchanges in education; to foster coöperation in science and technology, and combat disease. Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths. And we will use the technology to connect with – and listen to – the voices of the people.

In fact, real reform will not come at the ballot box alone. Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information. We will support open access to the Internet, and the right of journalists to be heard – whether it’s a big news organization or a blogger. In the 21st century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.

Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-​abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them. We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy. What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion – not consent. Because democracy depends not only on elections, but also strong and accountable institutions, and respect for the rights of minorities.

Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion. In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” America will work to see that this spirit prevails – that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them. In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation. And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.

What is true for religious minorities is also true when it comes to the rights of women. History shows that countries are more prosperous and peaceful when women are empowered. That is why we will continue to insist that universal rights apply to women as well as men – by focusing assistance on child and maternal health; by helping women to teach, or start a business; by standing up for the right of women to have their voices heard, and to run for office. For the region will never reach its potential when more than half its population is prevented from achieving their potential.

Even as we promote political reform and human rights in the region, our efforts cannot stop there. So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that transition to democracy.

After all, politics alone has not put protesters into the streets. The tipping point for so many people is the more constant concern of putting food on the table and providing for a family. Too many in the region wake up with few expectations other than making it through the day, and perhaps the hope that their luck will change. Throughout the region, many young people have a solid education, but closed economies leave them unable to find a job. Entrepreneurs are brimming with ideas, but corruption leaves them unable to profit from them.

The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people. In the recent protests, we see that talent on display, as people harness technology to move the world. It’s no coincidence that one of the leaders of Tahrir Square was an executive for Google. That energy now needs to be channeled, in country after country, so that economic growth can solidify the accomplishments of the street. Just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of individual opportunity, successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-​based prosperity.

Drawing from what we’ve learned around the world, we think it’s important to focus on trade, not just aid; and investment, not just assistance. The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness; the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young. America’s support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability; promoting reform; and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy – starting with Tunisia and Egypt.

First, we have asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at next week’s G-​8 summit for what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt. Together, we must help them recover from the disruption of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year. And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-​term financial needs.

Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen.

Third, we are working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. These will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region. And we will work with allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.

Fourth, the United States will launch a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. If you take out oil exports, this region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland. So we will work with the EU to facilitate more trade within the region, build on existing agreements to promote integration with U.S. and European markets, and open the door for those countries who adopt high standards of reform and trade liberalization to construct a regional trade arrangement. Just as EU membership served as an incentive for reform in Europe, so should the vision of a modern and prosperous economy create a powerful force for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.

Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress – the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect. We will help governments meet international obligations, and invest efforts anti-​corruption; by working with parliamentarians who are developing reforms, and activists who use technology to hold government accountable.

Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.

For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security, prosperity, and empowerment to ordinary people.

My Administration has worked with the parties and the international community for over two years to end this conflict, yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on for decades, and sees a stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward.

I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever.

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people – not just a few leaders – must believe peace is possible. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

Ultimately, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away. But what America and the international community can do is state frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-​determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-​defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coördinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-​militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I know that these steps alone will not resolve this conflict. Two wrenching and emotional issues remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.

Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel – how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist. In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

I recognize how hard this will be. Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. He said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.” And we see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate…Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow”

That is the choice that must be made – not simply in this conflict, but across the entire region – a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past, and the promise of the future. It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by people, and it’s a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilization and a crucible of strife.

For all the challenges that lie ahead, we see many reasons to be hopeful. In Egypt, we see it in the efforts of young people who led protests. In Syria, we see it in the courage of those who brave bullets while chanting, ‘peaceful,’ ‘peaceful.’ In Benghazi, a city threatened with destruction, we see it in the courthouse square where people gather to celebrate the freedoms that they had never known. Across the region, those rights that we take for granted are being claimed with joy by those who are prying lose the grip of an iron fist.

For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar. Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire. Our people fought a painful civil war that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved. And I would not be standing here today unless past generations turned to the moral force of non-​violence as a way to perfect our union – organizing, marching, and protesting peacefully together to make real those words that declared our nation: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”

Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa – words which tell us that repression will fail, that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights. It will not be easy. There is no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope. But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. Now, we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

LGBT activist douses Newt Gingrich with rainbow glitter

LGBT activist douses Newt Gingrich with rainbow glitter

Just before fmr. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) spoke to the anti-gay group Minnesota Family Council on Tuesday night, an LGBT activist dumped rainbow glitter on him and shouted, “Feel the rainbow, Newt!”

The protester, Nick Espinosa, was quickly rushed away by private security. He later told ABC News: “Today, I invited Newt to feel the rainbow because he decided to bring his anti-gay politics to my state. Newt has a long history of anti-gay politics and has chosen to focus on divisive social issues instead of working to fix our economy. I don’t think a free will adulterer like Newt has any ground to stand up while telling others who they can and can’t love.”

This video is from Sky News, broadcast Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tina...bring me the ax!

During Friday night’s “New Rules” segment on Real Time, Bill Maher argued that “non-violence was Jesus’ trademark” and that Christians who celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden are not faithful to the teachings of Christ.

“If you’re a Christian and support killing your enemies and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself,” Maher said.

“Capping thine enemy is not exactly what Jesus would do — it’s what Suge Knight would do …Martin Luther King gets to call himself a Christian because he actually practiced loving his enemies, and Gandhi was so fucking Christian he was Hindu”

View the entire segment below, originally uploaded by Mediaite on May 13, 2011.

Behind the Lines

I get this email every day and I love reading it. It gives an update on security stuff, which happens under the radar of the general public.From CQ Homeland Security

Behind the Lines for Friday, May 13, 2011 — 3 P.M.
By David C. Morrison, Special to Congressional Quarterly

Decapitation accomplished: After losing bin Laden, al Qaeda "may be in its death throes" some analysts wish to believe . . . Decapitation redux: National Capitol Area leaders "question whether the region is prepared to respond well enough to any future terrorist attack" . . . Trifecta: Multi-agency exercise in New Jersey simulates "a hurricane, influenza and a bioterrorist event." These and other stories lead today's homeland security coverage.

“U.S. security and intelligence officials say al Qaeda is severely weakened after losing Osama bin Laden, and some analysts go further, noting cautiously that the terrorist group may be in its death throes,” The Washington Times’ Bill Gertz leads. While U.S.-born imam Anwar al-Awlaki garners attention in the West, there is little evidence he wields significant influence within Yemen’s al Qaeda franchise, “much less its central command in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” The Christian Science Monitor’s Eric Stier handicaps — and see The Yemen Post: “Anwar al-Awlaki is just a big mouth, says his father.”

Feds: As they rummage through the trove of data seized from the al Qaeda chief’s Abbottabad compound, CIA analysts “are uncovering a new critical piece of information every hour,” Austin’s KEYE 42 News notes. A personal journal shows bin Laden “contemplating attacks on L.A., Chicago and Washington,” the Los Angeles Times’ Ken Dilanian and Brian Bennett add. “A pattern of long-term and ongoing problems inside the regional headquarters of the FBI in Salt Lake City could have catastrophic consequences to national security,” KSL 5 News’ Lori Prichard and Kelly Just reveal. At a briefing by DHS, National Capitol Area government leaders “questioned whether the region is prepared to respond well enough to any future terrorist attack,” NBC Washington’s Tom Sherwood recounts.

Homies: The Canada-U.S. border will again come under intense scrutiny, as Senate hearings next week “push for tighter security measures along the much-maligned boundary,” The Canadian Press’ Lee-Anne Goodman relates — and check, new from the Fraser Institute: “What Congress Thinks of Canada.” The family of Jaime Zapata wants answers from Janet Napolitano on the Feb. 15 attack that killed the young ICE agent along a highway in Mexico, The McAllen (Texas) Monitor’s Emma Perez-Trevino mentions. “We control aviation, in a sense, much more than rail and transit. That’s much more local in nature,” the DHS chief tells CBS News’ Katie Couric. House Appropriations big Norm Dicks, D-Wash., says the new DHS spending bill will hurt the ability to fight terrorism, The Hill’s Erik Wasson reports.

New York state of mind: Two North Africans allegedly busted by the NYPD this week were plotting a terror attack on a synagogue, The New York Times tells. (Gotham and environs “remain terrorist target number one,” Mid-Hudson News hears New York Senate Homeland Security panel chair Greg Ball proclaiming.) Eighty-nine percent of New Yorkers approve the NYPD’s handling of the terror threat, reaffirming commish Ray Kelly as the city’s most popular official, Reuters reports — while the Times, again, notes House homelander Peter T. King’s endorsement of Kelly for next FBI chief. Too little, too late, perhaps: President Obama yesterday sought a two-year extension for long-serving bureau boss, Robert S. Mueller, The Washington Post reports.

Bugs ‘n bombs: Highly motivated Morris County, N.J., responders will mount a multi-agency drill tomorrow simulating “a hurricane, influenza and a bioterrorist event,” The Long Valley Patch reports — as Duke Today sees emergency personnel from across the Durham, N.C., area practicing response to a “chemical exposure” next Tuesday. “Lone wolf” terrorists are most likely to seek to avenge bin Laden’s death, CNN sees a joint DHS/FBI bulletin (quite predictably) advising state and local law enforcers — and check another CNN dispatch: “From Morocco to the foothills of the Himalayas, the call for revenge echoes across the Internet.” Although intended for law enforcers, the “Criminal Investigation Handbook for Agroterrorism” can be useful to food animal vets “whose surveillance of unusual animal activity may indicate intentional threats to our food supply,” Bovine Veterinarian Magazine mentions.

Chasing the dime: Southwest Florida “life coach” Mary Lynn Ziemer is offering “small group workshops” to help enrollees overcome morbid fear of terror attack, touts. A Maryland security solutions company has tested “commercial-grade, blast-resistant trash receptacles to help thwart terrorist attacks in public places,” United Press International informs. “Even as the government’s cyberwarfare effort expands, some industry executives are beginning to wonder just how lucrative this new opportunity is likely to be,” a Forbes columnist describes. DHS seeks a contractor to provide armed security guards for federal buildings on Pacific islands including Hawaii, Saipan and American Samoa, Guam Buildup News notes. The director of a private security firm contracted to Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport “is being arraigned for defrauding an American investor to huge sums of money,” Ghana Web relates.

Close air support: Two US Airways flights at Charlotte/Douglas International were searched yesterday, due respectively to discovery of a “suspicious note” and a knife, the Observer observes. “Aviation experts cannot explain what has prompted three airline passengers to try to open cabin or cockpit doors while in flight the past few days, but they say other passengers shouldn’t worry,” USA Today leads. “If TSA workers steal from the people they are supposed to be protecting, how can they be trusted to keep the nation safe from terrorism?” The New York Press poses. More than 60 percent of those polled by Travel Leaders say they’re satisfied with airport security, which is lower than one year ago, Travel Agent Central relates. “If you think airport security, imperfect as it is, is unnecessary consider that Australia has already had more than 60 ‘home grown’ terrorists, a columnist counsels. Islay Airport was evacuated after a flyer’s laptop tested positive during a explosive trace detection check, The Scotsman says.

Off track: “So far, the scariest information found in Osama bin Laden’s compound is this: Al Qaeda has had trains on the brain,” a Houston Chronicle editorial opens. Even before this most recent alarum, “security experts warned that the nation’s 140,000 miles of track presented an attractive — and difficult to protect — terror target,” The Wall Street Journal leads — as The Hawthorne Gazette sees police patrolling that New Jersey town’s rail station. “If you thought Amtrak trains had a bad on-time performance before,” try implementing the proposed counterterror “no-ride list,” a BNET travel columnist ridicules. Amtrak asks for IDs at major hubs, “but given the number of stops on any given route, doing it everywhere (much less checking against a list) is a little impractical,” Esquire agrees.

Courts and rights: A Michigan man was arraigned on charges of phoning in a bomb threat to the Macomb County Circuit Court, prompting an evacuation Monday, The Detroit News notes — as ABC 7 News curtain-raises: “The government is gearing up for the most significant terrorism trial ever in Chicago.” An attorney says that four Muslim imams denied boarding in two incidents last weekend while traveling to a North Carolina conference on “Islamophobia” will sue the airlines responsible, FOX Charlotte relates — while an Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle editorial frets that “Americans trying to keep the country safe shouldn’t have to fear civil retaliation as much as they fear the terrorists.” A District Court judge, meanwhile, has dismissed a lawsuit by two Harvard Law students claiming their rights were violated by TSA body scanners and pat-downs, Bloomberg relates.

Over there: Lebanon-based terror-listed Hezbollah “has established another home base across the border in Mexico,” an unnamed “former U.S. intelligence agent,” would have San Diego’s KGTV 10 News believe. British commandos and anti-terror cops fired off live ammo at the London Olympics Village in a three-day “dry run at combating a Munich-style attack on athletes,” The Sun says. Deadly Muslim-Christian riots that left 12 dead and a Cairo church a burned-out husk have magnified worries in Egypt over the future role of Islamic ultraconservatives, AP updates. Many Indians relished the fact that bin Laden was found in Pakistan, reinforcing India’s official position that Islamabad protects terrorists, the Times tells.

Book Nook: Public Health Service reserve officer Paul D. Ellner “has created a frightening first novel, ‘And Evil Shall Come’ (, which chronicles an underbelly of al Qaeda intrigue and terrorism,” Digital Journal touts — as The San Francisco Chronicle relays word of “The Fund” (Forge Books), international banker H.T. Narea’s debut terror thriller about a fed tracking “a suspicious money trail of plotters seeking to implode the world’s financial markets.” Very recent events “take the steam out” of “The Devil’s Light” (Scribner), Richard North Patterson’s new novel about a threat by bin Laden to seize a nuclear weapon to detonate in the United States on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, a Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch critic comments. Bin Laden, apparently, was “unnerved” by the blood-thirstiness of Inspire, the Yemen franchise’s English language e-mag, Columbia Journalism Review relates.

The Silver Scream: “No one could have predicted that the late Osama bin Laden . . . would have such a massive effect on Bollywood,” The Express Tribune exclaims — even as Total Filmy sees “Bollywood’s renowned director Ram Gopal Varma” mulling a film on the terror icon’s alleged afterlife. One consequence of the bin Laden take-down is a run at Bangalore video shops on the 1990 Charlie Sheen vehicle, “Navy Seals” (Orion), The Times of India informs. A 24-year-old finance student, Brandon Assanti, spent five years creating “Their Eyes Were Dry” (Peripheral Vision), a doc about Palestinian terrorists’ bloody 1974 seizure of an Israeli school at Ma’alot, The Stockton (Calif.) Record previews. Kiefer Sutherland, finally, tells CNN he hopes a feature film adaptation of the hit counterterror series “24” will see light in 2012, Digital Spy reports.

SEAL of disapproval: “The frequency and detail of uninformed conversations about the required strength, agility, and killing abilities of the Navy SEALs has increased exponentially since the SEAL-led operation to kill Osama bin Laden,” The Onion hears Pentagon officials telling reporters Thursday. “‘Since last week, the number of people who have incorrectly stated that all SEAL members must do 300 pull-ups in a minute, earn advanced calculus degrees from MIT, and be able to hold their breath underwater for an hour, has been extraordinarily high,’ said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, adding that current enlistment numbers couldn’t possibly account for the number of Americans claiming they have an uncle in the Navy SEALs.” See also, In The Galactic Empire Times: “Obi-Wan Kenobi Is Dead, Vader Says.”
Source: CQ Homeland Security

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

us asassination program

SAT, 07 MAY 2011 02:22:00 ET
U.S. tries to assassinate U.S.
citizen Anwar al-Awlaki

Without being charged with a crime, the American-born cleric has drone missiles shot at him
in Yemen
That Barack Obama has continued the essence of the Bush/Cheney Terrorism architecture was once a
provocative proposition but is now so self-evident that few dispute it(watch here as arch-neoconservative David Frum -- Richard Perle's co- author for the supreme 2004 neoconservative treatise -- waxes admiringly about Obama's Terrorism and foreign policies in the Muslim world and specifically its "continuity" with Bush/Cheney). But one policy where Obama has gone further than Bush/Cheney in terms of unfettered executive authority and radical war powers is the attempt to target American citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process. AsThe New York Times put it last April: It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president. . . .That Obama was compiling a hit list of American citizens was first revealed in January of last year when The Washington Post's Dana Priest mentioned in passing at the end of a long article that at least four American citizens
had been approved for assassinations; several months later, the Obama administration anonymously confirmed to both the NYT and the Post and the that American-born, U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was one of the Americans on the hit list. Yesterday, riding a wave of adulation and military-reverence,the Obama administration tried to end the life of this American citizen -- never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime -- with a drone strike in Yemen, but missed
and killed two other people instead: A missile strike from an American military drone in a
remote region of Yemen on Thursday was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric believed to be hiding in the country, American officials said Friday. The attack does not appear to have killed Mr. Awlaki, the officials said, but may have killed operatives of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen. The other people killed "may have" been Al Qaeda operatives. Or they "may not have" been. Who cares? They're mere collateral damage on the glorious road to ending the life of this American citizen without due process (and pointing out that the
Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution expressly guarantees that "no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law" -- and provides no exception for war -- is the sort of tedious legalism that shouldn't interfere with the excitement of drone strikes). There are certain civil liberties debates where, even though I hold strong opinions, I can at least
understand the reasoning and impulses of those who disagree; the killing of bin Laden was one such instance. But the notion that the President has the power to order American citizens assassinated without an iota of due process -- far from any battlefield, not during combat -- is an idea so utterly foreign to me, so far beyond the bounds of what is reasonable, that
it's hard to convey in words or treat with civility.
How do you even engage someone in
rational discussion who is willing to
assume that their fellow citizen is
guilty of being a Terrorist without
seeing evidence for it, without
having that evidence tested,
without giving that citizen a
chance to defend himself -- all
because the President declares
it to be so?"I know Awlaki, my
fellow citizen, is a Terrorist and he
deserves to die. Why? Because the
President decreed that, and that's
good enough for me. Trials are so
pre-9/11." If someone is willing to
dutifully click their heels and spout
definitively authoritarian anthems
like that, imagine how impervious to
reason they are on these issues.
And if someone is willing to vest in
the President the power to
assassinate American citizens
without a trial far from any
battlefield -- if someone believes
that the President has that power:
the power of unilaterally
imposing the death penalty and
literally acting as judge, jury
and executioner-- what possible
limits would they ever impose on the
President's power? There cannot be
any. Or if someone is willing to
declare a citizen to be a "traitor" and
demand they be treated as such --
even though the Constitution
expressly assigns the power to
declare treason to the Judicial
Branch and requireswhat we call "a
with stringent evidence
requirements before someone is
guilty of treason -- how can any
appeals to law or the Constitution be
made to a person who obviously
believes in neither?
What's most striking about this is
how it relates to the controversies
during the Bush years. One of the
most strident attacks from the
Democrats on Bush was that he
wanted to eavesdrop on
Americans without warrants.
One of the first signs of Bush/Cheney
radicalism was what they did to Jose
Padilla: assert the power to
imprison this American citizen
without charges. Yet here you
have Barack Obama asserting the
power not to eavesdrop on
Americans or detain them without
charges -- but to target them for
killing without charges-- and
that, to many of his followers, is
perfectly acceptable. It's a "horrific
shredding of the Constitution" and
an act of grave lawlessness for Bush
to eavesdrop on or detain Americans
without any due process; but it's an
act of great nobility when Barack
Obama ends their lives without any
due process.
Not even Antonin Scalia was willing
to approve of George Bush's mere
attempt to detain(let alone kill) an
American citizen accused of
Terrorism without a trial. In a
dissenting opinionjoined by the
court's most liberal member, John
Paul Stevens, Scalia explained
that not even the War on Terror
allows the due process clause to be
ignored when the President acts
against those he claims have joined
the Enemy (emphasis added):
The very core of liberty secured
by our Anglo-Saxon system of
separated powers has been
freedom from indefinite
imprisonment at the will of the
Executive. Blackstone stated
this principle clearly: "Of great
importance to the public is the
preservation of this personal
liberty: for if once it were left in
the power of any, the highest,
magistrate to imprison
arbitrarily whomever he or his
officers thought proper… there
would soon be an end of all
other rights and immunities. …
To bereave a man of life, or
by violence to confiscate
his estate, without
accusation or trial, would
be so gross and notorious
an act of despotism, as
must at once convey the
alarm of tyranny
throughout the whole
kingdom." . . . .
Subjects accused of levying war
against the King were routinely
prosecuted for treason. . . .
The Founders inherited the
understanding that a
citizen's levying war
against the Government
was to be punished
criminally.The Constitution
provides: "Treason against the
United States, shall consist only
in levying War against them, or
in adhering to their Enemies,
giving them Aid and Comfort";
and establishes a heightened
proof requirement (two
witnesses) in order to "convic
[t]" of that offense. Art. III, §3,
cl. 1.
There simply is no more basic liberty
than the right to be free from
Presidential executions without
being charged with -- and then
convicted of -- a crime: whether it be
treason, Terrorism, or anything else.
How can someone who objected to
Bush's attempt to eavesdrop on or
detain citizens without judicial
oversight cheer for Obama's attempt
to kill them without judicial
oversight? Can someone please
reconcile those positions?
One cannot be certain that this
attempted killing of Awlaki relates to
the bin Laden killing, but it certainly
seems likely, and in any event,
highlights the dangers I wrote about
this week. From the start, it was
inconceivable to me that -- as some
predicted -- the bin Laden killing
would bring about a ratcheting down
of America's war posture. The
opposite seemed far more likely to
me for thereason I wrote on
Whenever America uses
violence in a way that makes its
citizens cheer, beam with
nationalistic pride, and rally
around their leader, more
violence is typically
guaranteed. Futile decade-long
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
may temporarily dampen the
nationalistic enthusiasm for
war, but two shots to the head
of Osama bin Laden -- and the
We are Great and Good
proclamations it engenders --
can easily rejuvenate that war
love. . . . We're feeling good and
strong about ourselves again --
and righteous -- and that's
often the fertile ground for
more, not less, aggression.
The killing of bin Laden got the
testosterone pumping, the
righteousness pulsating, and faith in
the American military and its
Commander-in-Chief skyrocketing to
all-time highs. It made America feel
good about itself in a way that no
other event has since at least
Obama's inauguration; we got to
forget about rampant
unemployment, home foreclosures
by the millions, a decade's worth of
militaristic futility and slaughter,
and ever-growing Third-World levels
of wealth inequality. This was a week
for flag-waving, fist-pumping, and
nationalistic chanting: even --
especially -- among liberals, who
were able to take the lead and show
the world (and themselves) that they
are no wilting, delicate wimps; it's
not merely swaggering right-wing
Texans, but they, too, who can put
bullets in people's heads and dump
corpses into the ocean and then joke
and cheer about it afterwards. It's
inconceivable that this wave of
collective pride, boosted self-
esteem, vicarious strength, and
renewed purpose won't produce a
desire to replicate itself. Four days
after bin Laden is killed, a missile
rains down from the sky to try to
execute Awlaki without due process,
and that'll be far from the last such
episode (indeed, also yesterday,the
U.S. launched a drone attack in
Pakistan, ending the lives of 15 more
: yawn).
Last night, in a post entitled
"Reigniting the GWOT [Global War on
-- Digby wrote about why the
reaction to the killing of bin Laden is
almost certain to spur greater
aggression in the "War on Terror,"
and specifically observed: "They're
breathlessly going on about Al
Qaeda in Yemen 'targeting the
homeland' right now on CNN. Looks
like we're back in business." The
killing of bin Laden isn't going to
result in a reduction of America's
military adventurism because that's
not how the country works: when we
eradicate one Enemy, we just quickly
and seamlessly find a new one to
replace him with -- look over there:
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is
the True Threat!!!! -- and the blood-
spilling continues unabated (without
my endorsing it all,read this
excellent Chris Floyd post for the
non-euphemistic reality of what
we've really been doing in the world
over the last couple years under the
2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner).
A civil liberties lawyer observed by
email to me last night that now that
Obama has massive political capital
and invulnerable Tough-on-Terror
credentials firmly in place, there are
no more political excuses for what
he does (i.e., he didn't reallywant to
do that, but he had to in order not to
be vulnerable to GOP political attacks
that he's Weak). In the wake of the
bin Laden killing, he's able to do
whatever he wants now -- ratchet
down the aggression or accelerate it
-- and his real face will be revealed
by his choices (for those with doubts
about what that real face is).
Yesterday's attempt to exterminate
an American citizen who has long
been on his hit list -- far from any
battlefield, not during combat, and
without even a pretense of due
process -- is likely to be but a first
step in that direction.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

More Lies From The White House

From the White House Press Briefing Tuesday

Q Okay. So Brennan in his briefing yesterday made a couple of I guess misstatements or statements that later appeared to be somewhat incorrect, such as that the wife was shielding bin Laden and it turned out it wasn’t the wife and there may not have been a shield and it wasn’t clear whether or not bin Laden had a gun. Are you guys in a fog of war in this, or what gives?

MR. CARNEY: Well, what is true is that we provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you and, through you, the American public about the operation and how it transpired and the events that took place there in Pakistan. And obviously some of the information was -- came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on.

So what I can tell you, I have a narrative that I can provide to you on the raid itself, on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan.

On orders of the President, a small U.S. team assaulted a secure compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. The raid was conducted with U.S. military personnel assaulting on two helicopters. The team methodically cleared the compound, moving from room to room in an operation lasting nearly 40 minutes. They were engaged in a firefight throughout the operation, and Osama bin Laden was killed by the assaulting force.

In addition to the bin Laden family, two other families resided in the compound: one family on the first floor of the bin Laden building, and one family in a second building.

One team began the operation on the first floor of the bin Laden house and worked their way to the third floor. A second team cleared the separate building.

On the first floor of bin Laden’s building, two al Qaeda couriers were killed, along with a woman who was killed in crossfire. Bin Laden and his family were found on the second and third floor of the building. There was concern that bin Laden would oppose the capture operation -- operation rather, and, indeed, he did resist.

In the room with bin Laden, a woman -- bin Laden’s -- a woman, rather, bin Laden’s wife, rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed. Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed.

Following the firefight, the noncombatants were moved to a safe location as the damaged helicopter was detonated. The team departed the scene via helicopter to the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea.

Aboard the USS Carl Vinson, the burial of bin Laden was done in conformance with Islamic precepts and practices. The deceased’s body was washed and then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag; a military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, and the deceased body eased into the sea.

That’s the narrative that I can provide to you today.

Q In what way did bin Laden --

MR. CARNEY: And I want to make clear that is, again, information that is fresh, and we will continue to gather and provide to you details as we get them and we’re able to release them.

The resistance was throughout. As I said, when the assaulter entered the room where Osama bin Laden was, he was rushed by one individual in the room, and the resistance was consistent from the moment they landed until the end of the operation.


Q Jay, just to follow up, how did Obama -- excuse me, Osama bin Laden resist if he didn’t -- if he didn’t have his hand on a gun, how was he resisting?

MR. CARNEY: Yes, the information I have to you -- first of all, I think resistance does not require a firearm. But the information I gave you is what I can tell you about it. I’m sure more details will be provided as they come available and we are able to release them.

Q Did he have any weapon?

MR. CARNEY: He was not armed, is what I understand to be true.

so a very not widely known fact is that the Obama Administration has expanded the CIA assassination program. So the President can order the assassination of anyone (including American citizens) at any time under the guise of "national security". That's what happened to Bin Laden on Sunday. The White House just admitted he wasn't armed during the rather than take him into custody, and have him face a trial for the crimes of 9/11, they assassinated him. This whole thing makes me sick. Murder as an answer to murder, that's how the US works.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wow....CIA Director tells all.....evasively of course


JIM LEHRER: And to our interview with CIA Director Leon Panetta. He was at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va., when I spoke with him earlier today. Director Panetta, welcome.

When did you become certain that Osama bin Laden was actually in that compound in Pakistan?

LEON PANETTA, CIA director: Well, the problem was we were never really certain about whether or not bin Laden was there. We had gathered an awful lot of intelligence. And obviously, when we found this compound -- because of the unique features of the compound -- and then began to really take a look at it and continue surveillance over that compound, we were able to look at the -- where the families were located, the fact that the families resembled the family of bin Laden. We noticed an individual who was pacing in the courtyard who at least had some of the appearances of it. But we were never able to verify that in fact it was him.

But when you put all these pieces together -- the security precautions, the nature of the compound, some of the additional information that we had gotten -- we had the best intelligence case that we ever had on bin Laden since Tora Bora. And I think it was that information that required that we had an obligation to act. And that's why the president took the steps that he did.

JIM LEHRER: Were you able to discover whether or not he was there permanently, living there for the last five or six years? Or did he move around and this was just one of the places he stayed?

LEON PANETTA: Jim, we just did not know whether in fact he was there. I mean, we had all of this intelligence that indicated that there was a good chance. The fact that there were couriers who lived there who had a relationship with bin Laden and all of these other details that seemed to -- when they came together, created a confidence level that there was a pretty good chance that he was there. But it was all circumstantial. We never had direct evidence that he in fact had ever been there or was located there.

"There were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information. But finally, Adm. McRaven came back and said that he had picked up the word ‘Geronimo,' which was the code word that represented that they got bin Laden."
- Leon Panetta, CIA director

And that's why, in the end, it became even a more courageous decision by the president to take this action because the reality was -- and we red teamed this and talked about other possibilities -- but the reality was that we could have gone in there and not found bin Laden at all.

JIM LEHRER: So, you were not absolutely certain. Was there any knowledge about where he might be within the compound? In other words, did you know he was in the bedroom on the third floor? Did the team know that kind of detail?

LEON PANETTA: You know, the reality was that there were these two brothers, and one of whom had been a courier to bin Laden. And we knew where they lived. Interestingly enough, one lived in the guesthouse -- wasn't even living in the main house, and one of the other brothers lived on the first floor.

And so we had determined that this family, this hidden family that was also there, was living on the second and third floor of the compound itself. And by the way, the third floor of the compound on the balcony had a 7-foot wall on that balcony...


LEON PANETTA: ...which told us that they had implemented some very heavy security measures on that. But we could see clothes, and we could see some of the members of the family on that third floor. So our assumption to -- you know, to those that were going in to conduct the assault was that we assumed that if bin Laden was there, he was probably on the second or third floor of that compound.

JIM LEHRER: Now, where were you, as director of central intelligence, during this operation?

LEON PANETTA: Since this was what's called a "title 50" operation, which is a covert operation, and it comes directly from the president of the United States who made the decision to conduct this operation in a covert way, that direction goes to me. And then, I am, you know, the person who then commands the mission.

But having said that, I have to tell you that the real commander was Adm. McRaven because he was on site, and he was actually in charge of the military operation that went in and got bin Laden.

JIM LEHRER: I mean, on site - meaning, he was -

LEON PANETTA: But I was, just to answer your question, we had set up an operations post here at the CIA. And I was in direct communication with Adm. McRaven who was located in Afghanistan. And we were in direct contact as the mission went forward.

JIM LEHRER: Did you have access to video of what was actually happening in the compound, et cetera?

LEON PANETTA: We had live-time intelligence information that we were dealing with during the operation itself.

JIM LEHRER: Did you actually see - or did you actually see Osama bin Laden get shot?

LEON PANETTA: No. No, not at all. We - you know, we had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound.

JIM LEHRER: What about at the White House situation room where President Obama was? Did he have any - was he seeing anything, any actual time, real-time action going on as well?

LEON PANETTA: I think they were viewing some of the real-time aspects of this as well in terms of the intelligence that we were getting.

JIM LEHRER: So do you think the - did the president see the shots fired at Osama bin Laden?

LEON PANETTA: No. No, not at all. I think we - you know, we saw from, you know, some of the operations that we knew that the helicopters had - were on the ground, that the teams were going into the compound. And that was the kind of information that we were following.

Once those teams went into the compound, I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we - you know, we really didn't know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information. But finally, Adm. McRaven came back and said that he had picked up the word "Geronimo," which was the code word that represented that they got bin Laden.

JIM LEHRER: What did you find out then or since about whether or not Osama bin Laden said anything to the American SEAL commandos?

LEON PANETTA: To be frank, I don't think he had a lot of time to say anything. It was a firefight going up that compound. And by the time they got to the third floor and found bin Laden, I think it - this was all split-second action on the part of the SEALs.

JIM LEHRER: Was Osama bin Laden armed? Was he shooting back at the SEALs?

LEON PANETTA: I don't believe so. But obviously, there were some firefights that were going on as these guys were making their way up the staircase in that compound. And when they got up there, there were some threatening moves that were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. And that's the reason they fired.

JIM LEHRER: And they had orders to fire. In other words, it was clear - it was fine with the United States government that they went in and shot this guy, right?

LEON PANETTA: The authority here was to kill bin Laden. And obviously, under the rules of engagement, if he had in fact thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn't appear to be representing any kind of threat, then they were to capture him. But they had full authority to kill him.

JIM LEHRER: And but as far as you know, there was no communication - verbal communication - between Osama bin Laden and the American SEALs.

LEON PANETTA: Yeah, Jim, not that I'm aware of. But obviously, we're still getting the feedback from the SEALs themselves as to just exactly what took place during that mission. But as far as I know, there was no communication.

JIM LEHRER: What was the size of the American commando team? How many people actually went on the ground in that compound?

LEON PANETTA: There were 25 people that went on the ground. They were carried in two Blackhawk helicopters that went in. The approach was that those helicopters would go in. The first one would go over a courtyard in the compound. That group would rappel down to the ground and move into the compound - that the other helicopter would ultimately go over the roof of the compound and that a group would then rappel onto the roof of that compound.

What happened was that as the first helicopter had those problems and had to set down on the ground, the other helicopter made the decision not to go over the roof but to set down so that both helicopters sat on the ground and both teams immediately went into the compound itself. They had to breach about three or four walls in order to get in there. They were able to do that. And they immediately then went into the compound itself and fought their way up to the third floor.

JIM LEHRER: Now, there were a lot of rehearsals. These SEAL teams -- this SEAL team went through several rehearsals before doing this, right?

LEON PANETTA: Yes. You know, Jim, I think the thing that gave me a degree of confidence for all the risks and uncertainties that were involved in this mission, the thing that gave me the greatest sense of confidence was the fact that these teams conduct these kinds of operations two and three times a night in Afghanistan. They've got tremendous experience with how to do this and do it well. And so, you know, they moved in on the same basis moving against this compound that they do almost every night in Afghanistan. And I think that gave us all some sense of confidence that they knew exactly what they had to do and what problems they would face in the mission.

JIM LEHRER: Was there a temptation to not take that risk with troops and go ahead and just bomb the place with drones or something else?

LEON PANETTA: We looked at several options that were discussed by the president and by the national security team. And one of those was a B-2 bombing attack that would just blow the place up. The problem with that is that it involves some serious collateral damage. And the president decided against that.

We looked at possibly some other more precise ways to try to conduct this. But frankly, no one had a sense of confidence that that would work. And the third was the assault. And we knew what the risks were. Once those teams go on the ground, what were they going to confront? What were they going to find? Would they be - could they be locked into that compound because of the Pakistanis suddenly attacking that compound and putting them in a very difficult position?

All of those risks were debated. All of them were thoroughly explored. And in the end, I think that's why the president made a very gutsy decision by deciding that for all of those risks, we had to do this. And frankly, my instructions to Adm. McRaven were, admiral, go in, get bin Laden. And if he's not there, get the hell out.

JIM LEHRER: OK, well, Mr. Director, congratulations to you and your colleagues at the CIA and elsewhere. Thank you very much.

LEON PANETTA: Thank you very much, Jim.

JIM LEHRER: The commander Panetta referred to is Vice Adm. William McRaven. He is in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command, known as JSOC.