Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Arpaio starts 2-week mandatory English classes for inmates

Arpaio starts 2-week mandatory English classes for inmates
Mike CroninThe Arizona RepublicOct. 24, 2006 12:00 AM
Go directly to jail. Do pass a competency exam. Non-English-speaking inmates in Maricopa County jails began mandatory English classes on Monday. At the end of their two-week course, inmates must take a test to see how well they learned about American government, the words to God Bless America and the communication of health and safety needs.

"These inmates happen to be incarcerated in the United States of America and in Maricopa County where I run the jails," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a statement. "And we speak English here, not foreign languages."Classes will last two hours a day. The curriculum comprises the three branches of government, how a bill becomes law, state government, law enforcement and court services, and jailhouse "situational" terminology. Most students will be native-Spanish speakers. Of the 10,000 prisoners in Maricopa County jails, about 3,000 are Hispanic, including roughly 1,000 undocumented immigrants.
Click on the link to see the source: Arpaio starts 2-week mandatory English classes for inmates

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

7-Eleven Dumps Citgo

By DAVID KOENIG, AP Business Writer

7-Eleven Inc. is dropping Venezuela-backed Citgo as its gasoline supplier after more than 20 years as part of a previously announced plan by the convenience store operator to launch its own brand of fuel.

7-Eleven officials said Wednesday that the company's decision was partly motivated by politics.

Citgo Petroleum Corp. is a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-run oil company and 7-Eleven is worried that anti-American comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez might prompt motorists to fill-up elsewhere.

Chavez has called President George W. Bush the devil and an alcoholic. The U.S. government has warned that Chavez is a destabilizing force in Latin America.

"Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president," said 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris.

"Certainly Chavez's position and statements over the past year or so didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo," she added.

Instead, 7-Eleven, which sells gasoline at 2,100 of its 5,300 U.S. stores, will now purchase fuel from several distributors, including Tower Energy Group of Torrance, Calif., Sinclair Oil of Salt Lake City, and Houston-based Frontier Oil Corp.

Click on the link to read the full story http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060927/ap_on_bi_ge/7_eleven_citgo

Service Before Self!!!!!

Honolulu Advertiser
September 25, 2006

Amputee Wins Fight To Remain In Infantry

By William Cole, Advertiser Military Writer

Sgt. Brandon Wooldridge is a true Army grunt, a ground-pounder who liked jumping over walls and being in the thick of things in Iraq.

The Schofield Barracks soldier likely will have to go back to the country.

But there was his "situation" to deal with - the fact that his left leg now ends 6 inches below the knee. From there down it's carbon fiber and titanium sheathed in his desert combat boot.

The 25-year-old's calf was blown off in a firefight in Iraq in late 2004. Doctors amputated his lower leg.

For more than a year and a half, Wooldridge fought and finally won a separate battle - for the right to return to what is now a Stryker brigade unit as a frontline soldier. He said he wouldn't object to going back to Iraq.

"That's what I enlisted for. That's where my friends are going, and I want to be with them when they go," he said.

Wooldridge figures his combat experience can help his soldiers and others.

Over time, the North Carolina man has moved beyond the loss of his leg and foot. His prosthesis became just another piece of equipment that he doesn't advertise and some other soldiers don't know about.

His "fit for duty" status came from an Army Medical Evaluation Board in late July.

"Most of it came with my ability to march and run and be able to do the things with - if you want to call it a handicap - with my situation," Wooldridge said. "I believe that's what helped."

The U.S. military tells many amputee service members they can return to duty if they want to, but the reality is Wooldridge beat the odds.

According to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., as of Sept. 1 there were 468 service members with limb loss from fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.

As of April 18, 195 of those service members had completed the Medical Evaluation Board process and Physical Evaluation Board process. Thirty-four were listed as continued on active duty, continued on active Reserve, fit for duty or return to duty.

'I want to stay in army'

Col. William J. Howard III, who was chief of occupational therapy at Walter Reed and now holds the same position at Tripler Army Medical Center, said to stay infantry "is pretty unique," and there are only a handful of soldiers with limb loss making that choice.

"It's hard," Howard said, "and if you're a young person who has the rest of their life in front of them, it's sometimes easier to be medically boarded (out of the military) and do something different."

Maj. David M. Rozelle lost a leg in Iraq, returned to combat there, and now works at the amputee center at Walter Reed. "If they want to go (back to a frontline unit), they can go, but nobody wants to hinder their unit," he said.

But Howard remembers the conversation he had with Wooldridge when the soldier arrived at Walter Reed for treatment and rehabilitation.

"In Brandon's case, he was clear, from the first day we worked together, (and I asked,) 'What do you want to do?' " Howard recalls. " 'I want to stay in the Army,' " was Wooldridge's answer. Further, he wanted to remain infantry.

Wooldridge wanted to make the Army his career. On Nov. 13, 2004, however, Iraqi insurgents made that ambition a little harder.

The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry "Wolfhound," was in a three-Humvee convoy in the northern tip of the Sunni Triangle, about 30 miles southwest of Kirkuk, when he and fellow Schofield soldiers came under heavy fire.

"There was a lot of stuff they had fired. A few (rocket-propelled grenades). Some people said there might have been a roadside bomb. Lot of heavy machine-gun fire," Wooldridge said last year.

Manning an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the open-backed Humvee, Wooldridge remembers, he first took cover and then quickly returned fire over the makeshift armor hung on the wooden side rails of the vehicle.

He's not sure what hit him. He believes it was a rocket-propelled grenade blast. Whatever it was, it tore out his calf.

Determined to keep up

On Friday, the married father of two kids was sprawled on his stomach at Pu'uloa training range in full combat gear with 19 other soldiers conducting shooting practice. He walks with a slight limp.

"He can perform physically fine," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Novak, 32, who was Wooldridge's squad leader in Iraq. On Friday, Novak was safety coach at the range where Wooldridge was shooting.

"It's up to him how far he wants to excel or push himself," Novak said. "Yeah, he has limitations, but it's not like he's the weakest link in the chain."

Evaluations of his progress were forwarded to Fort Lewis, Wash., for review, but Wooldridge did not have to appear before a Medical Evaluation Board.

"I just had to continue to do the same things that everybody else was doing without falling back," he said.

If his request to remain infantry had been denied, Wooldridge said he could have appealed to the Physical Evaluation Board.

Wooldridge said he received "100 percent support" from his chain of command and doctors and therapists he worked with, but that also came with hard work on his part.

On eight-mile road marches, he's in the middle of the pack, he said. His unit does five-mile runs on Mondays. He has proved himself in an eight-mile competition with stops along the way where soldiers had to perform different soldiering skills.

Wooldridge has four "legs" - for running, swimming, high-intensity activity and road marching.

A big plus is that his injury was below the knee.

"It's a huge advantage," Tripler's Howard said. "If you have a knee, your ability to ambulate is much better."

Loving support

There's still the matter of Wooldridge's re-enlistment to work out. He put in a re-enlistment contract before his injury. But afterward, he said, the Army would not go through with it until he was found fit for duty.

He would have re-enlisted in Iraq, and was supposed to get a tax-free $20,000 bonus, but he never put pen to paper, was wounded, and now the Army is balking at paying the bonus, he said.

"We're negotiating a new contract," Wooldridge said.

Wooldridge said his wife, Carla, "will tell you that I'm crazy (for possibly going back to Iraq), but she also supports me 100 percent."

She understands her husband's drive and desire to stay infantry.

"It makes him happy and I love it," Carla, 26, said. "I know he can do it."

She also understands his feelings about Iraq.

"He needs to go back for personal reasons," she said. "I don't necessarily want him to go back, but no military spouse wants their husband or wife to go to Iraq or overseas anywhere."

Monday, August 21, 2006

The humility of a great man

"O Most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ, my merciful and loving Father; I acknowledge and confess my guilt in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of my sins, but so coldly and carelessly that my prayers are become my sin, and they stand in need of pardon."
"I have sinned against heaven and before Thee in thought, word, and deed. I have contemned Thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against the light, despising Thy mercies and judgment, and broken my vows and promise. I have neglected the better things. My iniquities are multiplied and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing and desire to be vile in my own eyes as I have rendered myself vile in Thine. I humbly beseech Thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins for the sake of Thy dear Son and only Savior Jesus Christ who came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me."

"Make me to know what is acceptable in Thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith, and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life, ..."
[from a 24 page authentic handwritten manuscript book dated April 21-23, 1752]

Who said this humble prayer you ask? None other than our first President George Washington. So much for all those people who say he was not a Christian.

Dying Soldier Feels 'Lucky'

Dying soldier feels "lucky" to say goodbye

BLOOMINGTON (AP) - U.S. Army Col. Dirk Spanton survived three tours and 32 months in Iraq, only to come home and find out that he has just months to live because of cancer.

Still, the 50-year-old husband and father of five says he feels lucky.

"I could have gotten killed while I was over there and not gotten to say goodbye to my family," said Spanton of Bloomington. "This way, I'm lucky. How many people get to say goodbye to their kids, their wife and their family? You don't like the short time frame, but it's at least a time frame."

Spanton lived with the risk of dying every day while serving with the Special Forces in Iraq, where he says he was shot at by insurgents, sent to mine fields to disarm explosives, and once had a rocket-propelled grenade pass within feet of him.

The former ROTC instructor returned home safe on Memorial Day, but within days, he was hospitalized with a mysterious illness. Doctors later diagnosed him with cancer of the liver bile ducts and now say he has six months to live.

Doctors believe that the cancer had been spreading through Spanton's body for a while, but the symptoms of the illness - back soreness and fatigue - were masked by the rigors of combat.

Spanton said his back was sore and he was tired, but it seemed natural since he constantly wore a 40-pound flak vest and slept four to six hours a night.

He said he felt strong before falling ill days after he returned home.

Now, Spanton spends every spare moment with his wife, Julie, and their five children - Ken, 24, Randy, 20, Derek, 17, Craig, 15, and Megan, 9.

Gaunt from chemotherapy, Spanton was back in uniform earlier this month to accept the Army's Legion of Merit Award and Combat Action Badge at his home in Bloomington.

"It's the first time he's put his uniform on since he's been back from Iraq," his wife said, tears streaming down her face. "He's lost 40 pounds already, and he's very disgusted with how he looks in his uniform."

She said her husband is low-key, and initially asked the Army to put the awards in the mail. His superiors turned down the request.

Doctors originally said Spanton would have two months to live after he was diagnosed, but have since changed their estimate to six months. Part of that is due to the chemotherapy, which doctors hope is shrinking the tumor.

"I'm hoping for a couple extra months, maybe longer," Spanton says. "I'll take whatever I can get."

Click here to see the source:BLACKFIVE: Dying Soldier Feels 'Lucky': "Dying Soldier Feels 'Lucky'"

Our prayers go out to Col. Dirk Spanton and his family.

Mystery 9/11 Rescuer Reveals Himself

Mystery 9/11 Rescuer Reveals Himself

The Associated Press
Monday, August 14, 2006; 6:38 PM

NEW YORK -- For years, authorities wondered about the identity of a U.S. Marine who appeared at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, helped find a pair of police officers buried in the rubble, then vanished.

Even the producers of the new film chronicling the rescue, "World Trade Center," couldn't locate the mystery serviceman, who had given his name only as Sgt. Thomas.

The puzzle was finally solved when one Jason Thomas, of Columbus, Ohio, saw a TV commercial for the new movie a few weeks ago as he relaxed on his couch.

His eyes widened as he saw two Marines with flashlights, hunting for survivors atop the smoldering ruins.

"That's us. That's me!" thought Thomas, who lived in Long Island during the attacks and now works as an officer in Ohio's Supreme Court.

Thomas, 32, hesitantly re-emerged last week to recount the role he played in the rescue of Port Authority police officers Will Jimeno and Sgt. John McLoughlin, who were entombed beneath 20 feet of debris when the twin towers collapsed.

Back in New York to speak of his experience and visit family, Thomas provided the AP with photographs of himself at ground zero. As further proof of his identity, the movie's producer, Michael Shamberg, said Thomas and Jimeno have spoken by phone and shared details only the two of them would know.

Thomas, who had been out of the Marine Corps about a year, was dropping his daughter off at his mother's Long Island home when she told him planes had struck the towers.

He retrieved his Marine uniform from his truck, sped to Manhattan and had just parked his car when one of the towers collapsed. Thomas ran toward the center of the ash cloud.

"Someone needed help. It didn't matter who," he said. "I didn't even have a plan. But I have all this training as a Marine, and all I could think was, 'My city is in need.'"

Thomas bumped into another ex-Marine, Staff Sgt. David Karnes, and the pair decided to search for survivors.

Click on the link to read the rest of the story Mystery 9/11 Rescuer Reveals Himself

Monday, August 07, 2006

An Unlikely Hero

With the release of Oliver Stone's new movie I thought this was a fitting time to post the truth about who found the 2 police officers.

An Unlikely Hero
The Marine who found two WTC survivors.
By Rebecca Liss
Updated Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2002, at 6:13 PM ET

Only 12 survivors were pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center after the towers fell on Sept. 11, despite intense rescue efforts. Two of the last three to be located and saved were Port Authority police officers. They were not discovered by a heroic firefighter, or a rescue worker, or a cop. They were discovered by Dave Karnes.

Karnes hadn't been near the World Trade Center. He wasn't even in New York when the planes hit the towers. He was in Wilton, Conn., working in his job as a senior accountant with Deloitte Touche. When the second plane hit, Karnes told his colleagues, "We're at war." He had spent 23 years in the Marine Corps infantry and felt it was his duty to help. Karnes told his boss he might not see him for a while.

Then he went to get a haircut.

The small barbershop in Stamford, Conn., near his home, was deserted. "Give me a good Marine Corps squared-off haircut," he told the barber. When it was done, he drove home to put on his uniform. Karnes always kept two sets of Marine fatigues hanging in his closet, pressed and starched. "It's kind of weird to do, but it comes in handy," he says. Next Karnes stopped by the storage facility where he kept his equipment-he'd need rappelling gear, ropes, canteens of water, his Marine Corps K-Bar knife, and a flashlight, at least. Then he drove to church. He asked the pastor and parishioners to say a prayer that God would lead him to survivors. A devout Christian, Karnes often turned to God when faced with decisions.

Finally, Karnes lowered the convertible top on his Porsche. This would make it easier for the authorities to look in and see a Marine, he reasoned. If they could see who he was, he'd be able to zip past checkpoints and more easily gain access to the site. For Karnes, it was a "God thing" that he was in the Porsche-a Porsche 911-that day. He'd only purchased it a month earlier-it had been a stretch, financially. But he decided to buy it after his pastor suggested that he "pray on it." He had no choice but to take it that day because his Mercury was in the shop. Driving the Porsche at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, he reached Manhattan after stopping at McDonald's for a hamburger in the late afternoon.

His plan worked. With the top off, the cops could see his pressed fatigues, his neatly cropped hair, and his gear up front. They waved him past the barricades. He arrived at the site "the pile" at about 5:30. Building 7 of the World Trade Center, a 47-story office structure adjacent to the fallen twin towers, had just dramatically collapsed. Rescue workers had been ordered off the pile it was too unsafe to let them continue. Flames were bursting from a number of buildings, and the whole site was considered unstable. Standing on the edge of the burning pile, Karnes spotted another Marine dressed in camouflage. His name was Sgt. Thomas. Karnes never learned his first name, and he's never come forward in the time since.

Together Karnes and Thomas walked around the pile looking for a point of entry farther from the burning buildings. They also wanted to move away from officials trying to keep rescue workers off the pile. Thick, black smoke blanketed the site. The two Marines couldn't see where to enter. But then "the smoke just opened up." The sun was setting and through the opening Karnes, for the first time, saw clearly the massive destruction. "I just said 'Oh, my God, it's totally gone.' " With the sudden parting of the smoke, Karnes and Thomas entered the pile. "We just disappeared into the smoke and we ran."

They climbed over the tangled steel and began looking into voids. They saw no one else searching the pile the rescue workers having obeyed the order to leave the area. "United States Marines," Karnes began shouting. "If you can hear us, yell or tap!"

Click here to read the rest of the story: An Unlikely Hero

Friday, May 12, 2006

The simple truth about service.

Cindy Sheehan asked President Bush, "Why did my son have to die in Iraq?"

Another mother asked President Kennedy, "Why did my son have to die in Viet Nam?"

Another mother asked President Truman, "Why did my son have to die in Korea?

Another mother asked President F.D. Roosevelt, "Why did my son have to die at Iwo Jima?"

Another mother asked President W. Wilson, "Why did my son have to die on the battlefield of France?"

Yet another mother asked President Lincoln, "Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg?"

And yet another mother asked President G. Washington, "Why did my son have to die near Valley Forge?"

Then long, long ago, a mother asked, "Heavenly Father, why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem?"

The answers to all these are similar -- "that others may have life and dwell in peace, happiness and freedom."

This was posted on a forum I visit on a regular basis.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Evil Wal-Mart is at it again

Look what the evil people at Wal-Mart are up to now. How dare they want to revitalize drepressed areas and what kind of thoughtless company would try to create new jobs?

By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday it plans to build more than 50 stores in struggling communities over the next two years, as part of a goal to create between 15,000 and 25,000 jobs.

Wal-Mart said it will build the stores in neighborhoods with high crime or unemployment rates, on sites that are environmentally contaminated, or in vacant buildings or malls in need of revitalization.

The Bentonville, Ark., company said it expects many of the jobs will be in minority communities and could generate more than $100 million in state and local tax revenue. It already has over 1.3 million U.S. employees.

Wal-Mart already has plans to open between 335 and 370 new U.S. stores this year after 341 last year and has said it sees room for more than 1,500 additional stores in the United States in the coming years, on top of nearly 3,200 it already operates.

The retailer, which has stepped up efforts to burnish its reputation after mounting attacks, also will create 10 "Jobs and Opportunity Zones" around stores in troubled communities that will aim to bolster local businesses in those areas.

Click here to read the full story: Wal-Mart to Add Jobs in Struggling Areas - Yahoo! News

Monday, April 03, 2006

Fatwa against statues triggers uproar in Egypt - Yahoo! News

Another great example of how backwards and controling the so called peaceful religion of islam is.

CAIRO (AFP) - A fatwa issued by Egypt's top religious authority which forbids the display of statues has art-lovers fearing it could be used by Islamic extremists as an excuse to destroy Egypt's historical heritage.

Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country's top Islamic jurist, issued the religious edict which declared as un-Islamic the exhibition of statues in homes, basing the decision on texts in the hadith (sayings of the prophet).

Intellectuals and artists argue that the decree represents a setback for art -- a mainstay of the multi-billion-dollar tourist industry -- and would deal a blow to the country's fledgling sculpture business.

The fatwa did not specifically mention statues in museums or public places, but it condemned sculptors and their work.

Still, many fear the edict could prod Islamic fundamentalists to attack Egypt's thousands of ancient and pharaonic statues on show at tourist sites across the country.

"We don't rule out that someone will enter the Karnak temple in Luxor or any other pharaonic temple and blow it up on the basis of the fatwa," Gamal al-Ghitani, editor of the literary Akhbar al-Adab magazine, told AFP.

Click here to read the rest of the storie: Fatwa against statues triggers uproar in Egypt - Yahoo! News

Friday, March 31, 2006

Get Some!!!

Convoys will now stand and fight when attacked in Iraq

By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, March 31, 2006

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany - In a change to Army tactics, U.S. soldiers will stand and fight instead of shooting and pressing on when their convoys are attacked on Iraqi roads, according to Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va.

"In the first two years of Iraq, convoys (under attack) just fired and kept rolling," said Maj. Roger Gaines, the battalion's operations officer said Thursday. "That gave bad guys the perception that Americans run away. Now, convoys will stop and engage the enemy."

The change is part of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker's underlying philosophy of a more rigorous response to attacks, Perritt said in a telephone interview Thursday.

The training is mandatory for all soldiers, regardless of their military occupational specialty.

Members of the 1st Armored Division's 141st Signal Battalion tried out the new policy while practicing live-fire convoys this week at the Grafenwöhr Training Area.

"We are training to take the fight to the enemy," said Gaines, a 45-year-old Portland, Ore., native. "If you stop and fight, you can at least neutralize them or take it to the point that they disengage."

On Thursday, 35 soldiers from the battalion's Company C convoyed across a range, responding to simulated roadside bomb and several small-arms attacks. Each time the convoy was attacked, soldiers leapt out of their Humvees and took cover before unleashing a hail of rifle and machine-gun fire on pop-up targets.

Company C's 3rd Platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Joshua Mendoza, 26, of Chandler, Ariz., said shooting on the run did not send insurgents the right message.

"They have been seeing how convoys are being attacked and driving off," he said. "The enemy has felt like they might be winning. Now we are going to take them out."

The change in tactics is necessary because insurgents are getting smarter, said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Ahlborn, 36, of San Diego.

"They know our reactions to certain things. Two years ago, they would never try and stop us," he said. "But now IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are becoming more prevalent on the battlefield, and they are doing anything they can to try and stop the convoys.

"So what we are trying to do is plan for any type of contingency or scenario that insurgents might throw at us. The objective is not to chase them down. Just protect yourself and neutralize the threat that is immediate to your convoy."

Sgt. Joel Arbour, a Company C soldier, served in northern Iraq from 2004 to 2005 with 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment.

The 28-year-old Santa Fe, Texas, native said he’s been attacked by small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs, car bombs and suicide bombers during convoys in Iraq. Back then, units would put down suppressing fire and keep moving.

But times have changed, he said.

"The insurgents have learned that we blow on through. They know you are going to run past, so they will ambush [soldiers] down the road with a frontal ambush," he added. "This training gets us ready for multiple attacks."

click on the link to see the source. Stars & Stripes

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What the captured documents show

President Bush has made errors, as all humans do, but one thing he has not been guilty of is bad faith. The same cannot be said of his critics.
One thinks of those liberals and Democrats who accused President Bush of "lying" about weapons of mass destruction and about ties between al Qaeda and Iraq particularly now, because two weeks ago, after an unaccountable delay of three years, the administration declassified and released thousands of documents captured from Saddam Hussein's regime. They offer more proof of what we've already learned from other sources: that Saddam was in collusion with al Qaeda; that he did instruct his people on hiding evidence of WMDs; and that he did support worldwide terror.
Before turning to the documents, though, it is worth pausing for a moment to dwell on the bad faith of Mr. Bush's opponents. The whole world knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons at least twice: once against the Iranians and once against the Kurds within Iraq. (He had also threatened to use them against Israel.) The whole world further knew that Saddam engaged in a protracted game of cat and mouse with United Nations weapons inspectors, first throwing roadblocks in their path and finally expelling them from the country (a violation of the cease-fire agreement that followed the 1991 Gulf War, which required Iraq to account for its weapons and prove that they had been dismantled and destroyed).
The entire world also knew that the U.S. and Britain had not rushed to war with Iraq. To the contrary, the build-up to the 2003 invasion was lengthy and deliberate, giving ample time to the Iraqi dictator to hide or destroy his WMDs.
And yet when coalition forces failed to find caches of weapons, the cry on the left was "Bush lied." It doesn't even make logical sense. Why would Mr. Bush want to launch a war on false pretenses? Would he purposely create a political problem for himself? Why? To enrich Halliburton? This is fever swamp talk. Yet it was heard among leading members of the Democratic Party, not just in the MoveOn.org milieu.
Nor was it correct to claim, as so many on the left did, that Mr. Bush altered the rationale for war after he failed to find WMDs. In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in February 2003, on the eve of the invasion, the president sketched his vision of a democratic Iraq that he hoped would begin the transformation of the despotic and violent Middle East into something more enlightened and free. He mentioned "disarming" Iraq by force, but it was far from the sole rationale for war.
Three years in, we are hearing from the summer soldiers. The pacification of Iraq is proving more difficult than anticipated. Even some on the right are throwing in the towel. But as the Wall Street Journal wisely editorialized, the consequences of failure -- by which they mean capitulation on our part -- would be utterly catastrophic.
The radical Islamists will claim that they defeated the United States and chased us out of Iraq just as they defeated the Soviets and chased them out of Afghanistan. And every moderate-leaning Arab and Muslim in the world will shrug his shoulders and give up. It will embolden the terrorists tremendously to see the U.S. withdraw from Iraq. The corresponding plunge in morale at home will rival if not exceed post-Vietnam syndrome. Iran will seize the opportunity to impose a Shi'ite theocracy on Iraq, and Afghanistan will feel the reverberations and tremble on its still shaky foundations.
Oh yes, the documents. One shows that an official from Iraq's government met with Osama bin Laden on Feb. 19, 1995, with the explicit permission of Saddam Hussein. When bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan, the Iraqi documents contain a handwritten note saying, "The relationship with him is still through the Sudanese. We're currently working on activating this relationship through a new channel in light of his current location" (Afghanistan). The notes also reveal that Osama bin Laden suggested "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia.
The documents further disclose that the Iraqi intelligence service issued detailed instructions to directors and managers of weapons sites regarding U.N. inspections. They were to remove files from computers, "remove correspondence with the atomic energy and military industry departments concerning the prohibited weapons" and "remove prohibited materials and equipment, including documents and catalogs and making sure to clear labs and storages (sic) of any traces of chemical or biological materials that were previously used or stored."

By Mona Charen
March 28, 2006

click on the link to see the source. What the captured documents show

Friday, March 24, 2006

Afghan Clerics, in Friday Prayers, Call for Convert's Execution

What would you sacrifice for your faith?

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 24 - Afghan clerics used Friday Prayers at mosques across the capital to call for death for an Afghan man who converted to Christianity, despite widespread protest in the West.

As the international pressure on Afghanistan grew, the clerics demanded the execution of the Afghan, Abdul Rahman 41, if he does not convert back to Islam. His conversion 15 years ago was brought to the attention of Afghan authorities as part of a child custody dispute.

The Bush administration and European governments have strongly protested the case as a violation of religious freedom.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman was asked whether the United States had made it clear to the Afghan government that its conduct on the issue could have consequences for its relationship with the United States.

"It has been made abundantly clear to the government of Afghanistan how the United States feels about this issue and the importance that we attach to its positive resolution," the spokesman, Adam Ereli, replied.

Asked what should happen next, Mr. Ereli said, "The next step is for the issue to be resolved by the government of Afghanistan."

Mr. Rahman's case has drawn such a strong reaction in Afghanistan because many hardline clerics believe there is no greater offense than apostacy.

One speaker, Mawlavi Habibullah, told more than a thousand clerics and young people who had gathered in Kabul that "Afghanistan does not have any obligation under international laws.

"The prophet says when somebody changes religion, he must be killed" he said.

He and others demanded that the country's political leaders and judges resist international pressure over the case, placing them squarely at odds with President Hamid Karzai, who has promised to bring democracy to Afghanistan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters today that she had received assurances from Mr. Karzai in a telephone call that Mr. Rahman would not be sentenced to death, The Associated Press reported.

The case has exposed the contradictions within Afghanistan's constitution, which promises freedom of religion on the one hand, and on the other declares Islam supreme.

Shiekh Asif Muhsini, a Shiite cleric, emphasized that the constitution says, "No law can contradict Islam and the values of the constitution."

The case had fueled feelings among many here of a sense of assault against Islam worldwide, coming after widely publicized cases involving the desecration of the Koran in Guantánamo Bay in 2004 by American soldiers interrogating prisoners and, more recently, cartoons published in Europe of the Prophet Muhamma.

Dr. Mohammad Ayaz Niyazi, an Egyptian educated in Islamic law, who attended one of the gatherings today, said, "There have been serial attacks on the Islamic world recently, starting with insulting the Holy Quran, insulting the prophet of Islam, and now converting to Christianity by an Afghan."

Dr. Niyazi objected to warnings from Italian leaders, who threatened to protest the case by withdrawing from Afghanistan the forces who are part of an international security force here.

"Do your troops come to Afghanistan to incite apostasy?" Dr. Niyazi said. "We thought your troops were here for security." By ABDUL WAHEED WAFA

click on this link to view the source. Afghan Clerics, in Friday Prayers, Call for Convert's Execution - New York Times

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Man Overboard

This is a great article By Ruth Marcus

I have a new theory about what's behind everything that's wrong with the Bush administration: manliness.

"Manliness" is the unapologetic title of a new book by Harvey C. Mansfield, a conservative professor of government at Harvard University, which makes him a species as rare as a dissenting voice in the Bush White House. Mansfield's thesis is that manliness, which he sums up as "confidence in the face of risk," is a misunderstood and unappreciated attribute.

Manliness, he writes, "seeks and welcomes drama and prefers times of war, conflict, and risk." It entails assertiveness, even stubbornness, and craves power and action. It explains why men, naturally inclined to assert that "our policy, our party, our regime is superior," dominate in the political sphere.

Though manliness is "the quality mostly of one sex," Mansfield allows that women can be manly, too, though the sole example he can seem to come up with, and deploys time and again, is Margaret Thatcher. "Is it possible to teach women manliness and thus to become more assertive?" he wonders, but not really. "Or is that like teaching a cat to bark?" Me-ow!

"The problem of manliness is not that it does not exist," Mansfield concludes. "It does exist, but it is unemployed." Well, um, excuse me, but I think -- it's just my opinion, now, maybe you disagree, and I'm sure we could work it out -- Mansfield has it exactly backward. Manliness does exist. The problem is that it's overemployed -- nowhere more than in this administration.

Think about it this way: Is a trait exemplified by reluctance to ask directions -- "for it is out of manliness that men do not like to ask for directions when lost," Mansfield writes -- really what you want in a government deciding whether to take a country to war?

The undisputed manliness of the Bush White House stands in contrast to its predecessors and wannabes. If Republicans are the Daddy Party and Democrats the Mommy Party, the Clinton White House often operated like Mansfield's vision of an estrogen-fueled kaffeeklatsch: indecisive and undisciplined. (Okay, there were some unfortunate, testosterone-filled moments, too.) Bill Clinton's would-be successor, Al Gore, was mocked for enlisting Naomi Wolf to help him emerge as an alpha male; after that, French-speaking John Kerry had to give up windsurfing and don hunting gear to prove he was a real man. And Bush's father, of course, had to battle the Wimp Factor. Mansfield recalls Thatcher's manly admonition to 41 on the eve of the Persian Gulf War: "Don't go wobbly on me, George."

No wimpiness worries now. This is an administration headed by a cowboy boot-wearing brush-clearer, backstopped by a quail-shooting fly fisherman comfortable with long stretches of manly silence -- very "Brokeback Mountain," except this crowd considers itself too manly for such PC Hollywood fare. "I would be glad to talk about ranchin', but I haven't seen the movie," Bush told a questioner.

There are, no doubt, comforting aspects to the manly presidency; think Bush with a bullhorn on top of the smoldering ruins of the twin towers. After a terrorist attack, no one's looking for a sensitive New Age president. Even now, being a strong leader polls at the top of qualities that voters most admire in Bush.

But the manliness of the Bush White House has a darker side that has proved more curse than advantage. The prime example is the war in Iraq: the administration's assertion of the right to engage in preemptive and unilateral war; the resolute avoidance of debate about the "slam-dunk" intelligence on weapons of mass destruction; the determined lack of introspection or self-doubt about the course of the war; and the swaggering dismissal of dissenting views as the carping of those not on the team.

The administration's manliness doesn't stop at the water's edge. Pushing another round of tax cuts in 2003, Vice President Cheney sounded like a warrior claiming tribute after victory in battle: "We won the midterms. This is our due," Cheney reportedly said. After the 2004 election, Bush exuded the blustering self-assurance of a president who had political capital to spend -- or thought he did -- and wasn't going to think twice before plunking down the whole pile on Social Security.

Mansfieldian manliness is present as well in Bush's confident -- overconfident -- response to Hurricane Katrina (insert obligatory "Brownie" quote here). And the administration's claim of almost unfettered executive power is the ultimate in manliness: how manly to conclude that Congress gave the go-ahead to ignore a law without it ever saying so; how even manlier to argue that your inherent authority as commander in chief would permit you to brush aside those bothersome congressional gnats if they tried to stop eavesdropping without a warrant.

Mansfield writes that he wants to "convince skeptical readers -- above all, educated women" -- that "irrational manliness deserves to be endorsed by reason." Sorry, professor: You lose. What this country could use is a little less manliness -- and a little more of what you would describe as womanly qualities: restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt.

But that's just my view.

click on the link so see the source. Man Overboard