A US drone has just taken a photo of Mullah Omar riding on a motorcycle through the streets of Damascus. 1
So what do we have as the United States refuses to rule out an attack on Syria and keeps five warships loaded with missiles in the eastern Mediterranean?
- Only 9 percent of Americans support a US military intervention in Syria. 2
- Only 11% of the British supported a UK military intervention; this increased to 25% after the announcement of the alleged chemical attack. 3
- British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a parliamentary vote August 29 endorsing military action against Syria 285-272
- 64% of the French people oppose an intervention by the French Army. 4 “Before acting we need proof,” said a French government spokesperson. 5
- Former and current high-ranking US military officers question the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggest that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. “If the administration is ambivalent about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader, possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to Islamic fundamentalist rebels, they say, the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous.” 6
- President Obama has no United Nations approval for intervention. (In February a massive bombing attack in Damascus left 100 dead and 250 wounded; in all likelihood the work of Islamic terrorists. The United States blocked a Russian resolution condemning the attack from moving through the UN Security Council)
- None of NATO’s 28 members has proposed an alliance with the United States in an attack against Syria. NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that he saw “no NATO role in an international reaction to the [Syrian] regime.” 7
- The Arab League has not publicly endorsed support of US military action in Syria; nor have key regional players Saudi Arabia and Qatar, concerned about a possible public backlash from open support for US intervention. 8
- We don’t even know for sure that there was a real chemical attack. Where does that accusation come from? The United States? The al-Qaeda rebels? Or if there was such an attack, where is the evidence that the Syrian government was the perpetrator? The Assad regime has accused the rebels of the act, releasing a video showing a cave with alleged chemical-weapon equipment as well as claiming to have captured rebels possessing sarin gas. Whoever dispensed the poison gas – why, in this age of ubiquitous cameras, are there no photos of anyone wearing a gas mask? The UN inspection team was originally dispatched to Syria to investigate allegations of earlier chemical weapons use: two allegations made by the rebels and one by the government.
- The United States insists that Syria refused to allow the UN investigators access to the site of the attack. However, the UN request was made Saturday, August 24; the Syrian government agreed the next day. 9
- In rejecting allegations that Syria deployed poison gas, Russian officials have argued that the rebels had a clear motivation: to spur a Western-led attack on Syrian forces; while Assad had every reason to avoid any action that could spur international intervention at a time when his forces were winning the war and the rebels are increasingly losing world support because of their uncivilized and ultra-cruel behavior.
- President George W. Bush misled the world on Iraq’s WMD, but Bush’s bogus case for war at least had details that could be checked, unlike what the Obama administration released August 29 on Syria’s alleged chemical attacks – no direct quotes, no photographic evidence, no named sources, nothing but “trust us,” points out Robert Parry, intrepid Washington journalist.
So, in light of all of the above, the path for Mr. Obama to take – as a rational, humane being – is of course clear. Is it not? N’est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? – Bombs Away!
Pretty discouraging it is. No, I actually find much to be rather encouraging. So many people seem to have really learned something from the Iraqi pile of lies and horror and from decades of other American interventions. Skepticism – good ol’ healthy skepticism – amongst the American, British and French people. It was stirring to watch the British Parliament in a debate of the kind rarely, if ever, seen in the 21st-century US Congress. And American military officers asking some of the right questions. The Arab League not supporting a US attack, surprising for an organization not enamored of the secular Syrian government. And NATO – even NATO! – refusing so far to blindly fall in line with the White House. When did that last happen? I thought it was against international law.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the United States did not respond to the use of chemical weapons the country would become an international “laughingstock”. Yes, that’s really what America and its people have to worry about – not that their country is viewed as a lawless, mass-murdering repeat offender. Other American officials have expressed concern that a lack of a US response might incite threats from Iran and North Korea. 10
Now that is indeed something to laugh at. It’s comforting to think that the world might be finally losing the stars in their eyes about US foreign policy partly because of countless ridiculous remarks such as these.
United States bombings, which can be just as indiscriminate and cruel as poison gas. (A terrorist is someone who has a bomb but doesn’t have an air force.)
The glorious bombing list of our glorious country, which our glorious schools don’t teach, our glorious media don’t remember, and our glorious leaders glorify.
- Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
- Guatemala 1954
- Indonesia 1958
- Cuba 1959-1961
- Guatemala 1960
- Congo 1964
- Laos 1964-73
- Vietnam 1961-73
- Cambodia 1969-70
- Guatemala 1967-69
- Grenada 1983
- Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
- Libya 1986
- El Salvador 1980s
- Nicaragua 1980s
- Iran 1987
- Panama 1989
- Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
- Kuwait 1991
- Somalia 1993
- Bosnia 1994, 1995
- Sudan 1998
- Afghanistan 1998
- Yugoslavia 1999
- Yemen 2002
- Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular no-fly-zone basis)
- Iraq 2003-2011 (Second Gulf War)
- Afghanistan 2001 to present
- Pakistan 2007 to present
- Somalia 2007-8, 2011 to present
- Yemen 2009, 2011 to present
- Libya 2011
- Syria 2013?
The above list doesn’t include the repeated use by the United States of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and other charming inventions of the Pentagon mad scientists; also not included: chemical and biological weapons abroad, chemical and biological weapons in the United States (sic), and encouraging the use of chemical and biological weapons by other nations; all these lists can be found in William Blum’s book “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”.
A story just released by Foreign Policy magazine, based on newly-discovered classified documents, reports how, in 1988, the last year of the 8-year Iraq-Iran War, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks by Iraq far more devastating than anything Syria has seen. 11 Indeed, during that war the United States was the primary supplier to Iraq of the chemicals and hardware necessary to provide the Saddam Hussein regime with a chemical-warfare capability. 12
Now, apparently, the United States has discovered how horrible chemical warfare is, even if only of the “alleged” variety.
Some of those currently advocating bombing Syria turn for justification to their old faithful friend “humanitarian intervention”, one of the earliest examples of which was the 1999 US and NATO bombing campaign to stop ethnic cleansing and drive Serbian forces from Kosovo. However, a collective amnesia appears to have afflicted countless intelligent, well-meaning people, who are convinced that the US/NATO bombing took place after the mass forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stopthis “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic forced deportations of large numbers of people from Kosovo did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a Serbian reaction to it, born of extreme anger and powerlessness. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, and the few days after. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:
… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would NOW vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation.
On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that sort.
But the propaganda version is already set in marble.
If you see something, say something. Unless it’s US war crimes.
“When you sign a security clearance and swear oaths, you actually have to abide by that. It is not optional.” – Steven Bucci, of the neo-conservative Heritage Foundation, speaking of Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley) 13
Really? No matter what an individual with security clearance is asked to do? No matter what he sees and knows of, he still has to ignore his conscience and follow orders? But Steven, my lad, you must know that following World War II many Germans of course used “following orders” as an excuse. The victorious Allies of course executed many of them.
Their death sentences were laid down by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany, which declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Nuremberg Principle IV moreover states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
Manning, and Edward Snowden as well, did have moral choices, and they chose them.
It should be noted that Barack Obama has refused to prosecute those under the Bush administration involved in torture specifically – he declares – because they were following orders. Has this “educated” man never heard of the Nuremberg Tribunal? Why isn’t he embarrassed to make this argument again and again?
I imagine that in the past three years that Manning has had to live with solitary confinement, torture and humiliation, adding mightily to her already existing personal difficulties, the thought of suicide has crossed her mind on a number of occasions. It certainly would have with me if I had been in her position. In the coming thousands and thousands of days and long nights of incarceration such thoughts may be Manning’s frequent companion. If the thoughts become desire, and the desire becomes unbearable, I hope the brave young woman can find a way to carry it out. Every person has that right, including heroes.
The United States and its European poodles may have gone too far for their own good in their attempts to control all dissenting communication – demanding total information from companies engaged in encrypted messaging, forcing the closure of several such firms, obliging the plane carrying the Bolivian president to land, smashing the computers at a leading newspaper, holding a whistle-blowing journalist’s partner in custody for nine hours at an airport, seizing the phone records of Associated Press journalists, threatening to send a New York Times reporter to jail if he doesn’t disclose the source of a leak, shameless lying at high levels, bugging the European Union and the United Nations, surveillance without known limits … Where will it end? Will it backfire at some point and allow America to return to its normal level of police state? On July 24, a bill that would have curtailed the power of the NSA was only narrowly defeated by 217 to 205 votes in the US House of Representatives.
And how long will Amnesty International continue to tarnish its image by refusing to state the obvious? That Cheleas Manning is a Prisoner of Conscience. If you go to Amnesty’s website and search “prisoner of conscience” you’ll find many names given, including several Cubans prominently featured. Can there be any connection to Manning’s omission with the fact that the executive director of Amnesty International USA, Suzanne Nossel, came to her position from the US Department of State, where she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations?
A phone call to Amnesty’s office in New York was unable to provide me with any explanation for Manning’s omission. I suggest that those of you living in the UK try the AI headquarters in London.
Meanwhile, at the other pre-eminent international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, Tom Malinowski, the director of HRW’s Washington office, has been nominated by Obama to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Is it really expecting too much that a high official of a human rights organization should not go to work for a government that has been the world’s leading violator of human rights for more than half a century? And if that designation is too much for you to swallow just consider torture, the worst example of mankind’s inhumanity to man. What government has been intimately involved with that horror more than the United States? Teaching it, supplying the manuals, supplying the equipment, creation of torture centers in much of the world, kidnaping people to these places (“rendition”), solitary confinement, forced feeding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Chicago … Lord forgive us!
One of the reactions of the United States to Russia granting asylum to Edward Snowden was reported thus: “There was a blistering response on Capitol Hill and calls for retaliatory measures certain to infuriate the Kremlin. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), long one of the Senate’s leading critics of Moscow, blasted the asylum decision as ‘a slap in the face of all Americans’ and called on the administration to turn up the pressure on Moscow on a variety of fronts, including a renewed push for NATO expansion and new missile-defense programs in Europe.” 14
But we’ve long been told that NATO expansion and its missiles in Europe have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO in 2001, “this is a military organization. It’s moving towards our border. Why?” 15 He subsequently described NATO as “the stinking corpse of the cold war.” 16
We’ve been told repeatedly by the US government that the missiles are for protection against an Iranian attack. Is it (choke) possible that the Bush and Obama administrations have been (gasp) lying to us?
America’s love affair with Guns
Adam Kokesh is a veteran of the war in Iraq who lives in the Washington, DC area. He’s one of the countless Americans who’s big on guns, guns that will be needed to protect Americans from their oppressive government, guns that will be needed for “the revolution”.
On July 4 the 31-year-old Kokesh had a video made of himself holding a shotgun and loading shells into it while speaking into the camera as he stood in Freedom Plaza, a federal plot of land in between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. This led to a police raid of his home and his being arrested on the 25th for carrying a firearm outside his home or office. The 23-second video can be seen on YouTube. 17
I sent Kokesh the following email:
“Adam: All your weapons apparently didn’t help you at all when the police raided your house. But supposedly, people like you advocate an armed populace to protect the public from an oppressive government. I’ve never thought that that made much sense because of the huge imbalance between the military power of the public vs. that of the government. And it seems that I was correct.”
I received no reply, although his still being in jail may explain that.
Kokesh, incidentally, had a program on RT (Russia Today) for a short while last year.
- The three preceding jokes are courtesy of my friend Viktor Dedaj of Paris ↩
- Reuters/Ipsos poll, August 26, 2013 ↩
- Sunday Times (UK), YouGov poll, August 25 ↩
- Le Parisien, August 30, 2012 ↩
- Christian Science Monitor, August 29, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, August 29, 2013 ↩
- The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, August 31, 2013 ↩
- UN Web TV, August 27, 2013 (starting at minute 12:00) ↩
- The Washington Post, August 31, 2013 ↩
- Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid, “CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran”, Foreign Policy, August 26, 2013 ↩
- William Blum, “Anthrax for Export”, The Progressive (Madison, Wisconsin), April 1998 ↩
- Washington Post, August 22, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, July 31, 2013 ↩
- Associated Press, June 16, 2001 ↩
- Time magazine, December 2007 ↩
- Washington Post, August 13, 2013 ↩
Cairo — Hundreds of thousands of people turned out outside Cairo’s Rabaa mosque yesterday to protest against the coup d’état in Egypt, while hundreds of thousands poured into Tahrir Square to support their favourite general, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who staged the coup-that-we-mustn’t-call-a-coup.
Grotesque, unprecedented, bizarre. Call it what you like. But the helicopters swooping happily over Tahrir, and the line of visor-wearing riot police and troops standing opposite the Muslim Brotherhood’s barricades, told their own story. Journalists should not be merchants of gloom, but things did not look too good in Cairo last night.
The saddest thing – the most tragic, if you like – was that the crowds in Nasr City, close to the airport road where the mosque stands, were as cheerful and welcoming as the masses in Tahrir who regard their opposite numbers as “terrorists” rather than supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the legally and democratically elected President of Egypt who was overthrown by the army three weeks ago. The tens of thousands of Egyptians crossing the Nile River bridges or sweating in the 40C heat on the highway to the airport were so happy they could have been heading for a football match.
But there the jollity ends. The Muslim Brotherhood men and women carried Morsi’s picture and had painted Stars of David on the military barracks near the mosque. The Brotherhood had piled thousands of sandbags around their tent encampment and piles of stones to hurl at anyone trying to move them. But the soldiers down the road – also, it has to be said, cheerful and quite friendly – were holding automatic weapons beside French and American-made armoured vehicles, and they also held wooden batons and were flanked by policemen in shoddy black uniforms.
It looked as if they were only a few hours away from moving in on the Brotherhood, and no matter how many bearded men were reading the Koran on the roadway – and they were quite literally doing that – it was difficult to imagine the coming hours being anything but deadly.
One point that stood out – and it may be unfashionable to say so – is that the Brotherhood supporters were generally poor and looked poor in their grubby abayas and plastic sandals. Some of the Tahrir demonstrators, who were truly revolutionaries against Mubarak in 2011, trooped over the Nile bridges waving posters of General al-Sisi. And one has to say, painful as it is to do so, that the sight of well-heeled people holding aloft the photograph of a general in sunglasses – albeit a wonderful and very democratic general – was profoundly depressing. What really happened to the 25 January 2011 revolution?
“We love the soldiers but we don’t need the general,” a scarved woman shouted near the Rabaa mosque, but Sisi is now a well-known face, the man who will return Egypt to its true revolutionary path, if you can forget for the time being that the first genuinely elected president in modern Egyptian history is probably incarcerated in one of those barracks we drive by so blithely on the way to the airport.
But Egypt does need a government. Driving back from Nasr City to central Cairo tonight, my car was blocked in a traffic jam because rival families were fighting a gun battle across the highway. About 1,000 Cairenes had joined in by throwing stones from an overpass. Two miles further on, a middle-aged woman was driven down by a motorcycle and lay on the road in great pain. Many of the drivers who saw her carried on their journeys, the noses of their families pressed to the window as this lady lay spread-eagled on the highway in her black dress. The near future does not look good.
Source: Robert Fisk | The Independent
Last night mothers and daughters gathered at St. Peter’s Church for the annual Mother – Daughter Dinner. Dads and men cooked, dished up, and served the meal, comprised of several courses. Garden Salad, fresh and tangy, a main dish comprised of a d’Poulet au Croissant, Sweet Corn Collage and fresh vegetables. Dessert was Velvet Chocolate Cake.
The service was astonishing. Plates were placed in front of each lady with a smile and attention to our every need.
Amidst the happy voices and drawings for prizes, talk went on about children and what it means to be a mother. Nudged, I shared a story about my own motherly experience with my youngest son, now advanced into college and a serious ball room dancer.
What do you think a mother is was the question. I learned the answer one morning in 1998 while driving my son to school after extracting him, belatedly, from bed. It was one of those dark and very damp days in Santa Barbara which the Chamber of Commerce does not admit happen.
I asked my son that very question. After a pause of around 90 seconds, he answered. “Why, Mom, you ought to know that. Just consider the spelling of the word and it is obvious.” He paused.
Huh? I spelled it out in my mind. Honestly, no lights went on.
Then, slowly spelling out each word in the acronymistic definition he had devised in such a short time, he patiently recited, “Multi-Operational-Tasking-
It had been a tough few months for both of us. His older brother, Arthur, was still in a wheelchair, paralyzed from having shot himself through the brain in the wake of his motorcycle accident. I was just finding out what it meant to become a full time caretaker of one son, who was an adult, with this one still at home, upset and depressed, at the changes in his life which also included his father leaving me.
“Do you want to stop at MacDonalds?” I asked him. “Yes, please,” he responded, sitting up finally.
“Breakfast McMuffin, two hash browns and a large orange juice? “Yep.” Life goes on, bringing unexpected joys when you least expect it.
The world did not become a different place because of the Second Amendment. It became a different place because of the perverted and evil philosophies that have been sown into our culture consistently for the last 40 or 50 years through pornography and mass media. –-Christian J. Pinto
Liberals would have us believe that the Second Amendment bears the responsibility for the mass murder that took place inside an Aurora Colo. theater during the screening of The Dark Knight Rises. But when we examine the evidence it becomes apparent that much of the blame goes to the entertainment industry (EI). That’s right, Hollywood is partly responsible.
It is no secret that a large number of liberals are the movers and shakers in the EI. The people who work in entertainment have had a hand in corrupting old and young alike.
Liberals, not pro-family and religious conservatives, have brought us the culture of death and destruction. They are the ones who insist that all mention of God and the scriptures be removed from the public square through their misinterpretation of the First Amendment.
How did liberals accomplish this? Judd W. Patton explains:
[I]n the 1947 Supreme Court case of Everson vs. Board of Education, a major conceptual change occurred. Citing only Jefferson’s eight words (“a wall of separation between Church and State”) and not their context or previous Supreme Court interpretations, it declared a new meaning: a separation of basic religious principles from public life. Indeed, Jefferson’s eight words became the catch phrase for this new concept. (Source)
Was the First Amendment really intended to push prayer and the Bible out of our schools, while at the same time giving license to pornography that brings with it every sort of evil imaginable?
When we track the increase of heinous crimes against children such as rape, sodomy and abductions since 1947, we see a huge spike. Is this a result of the values that flow from the Bible?
Those who are unclear as to why there was a spike in child abuse need only to ask:
Who sat on the Supreme Court in 1947?
Answer: 5 liberal justices
Who are the big dogs in the entertainment industry?
Answer: Liberal elites.
Even though the culture is experiencing a moral meltdown the EI chooses to ignore it and instead continues to produce vile, disgusting, and increasingly violent movies, TV programs, video games, board games – many with occult themes.
Ever noticed that some of the music the EI turns out is awash in race bating? Likewise much of today’s music is sexually explicit…contains filthy profanity…glorifies violence — even against women! And much of this repugnant music is aimed at children!
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, famed film director Peter Bogdanovich remarked: “What if movies are part of the problem?”
In 1968 Bogdanovich produced Targets. The movie ends with an angry Vietnam War vet randomly shooting teenagers at a drive-in movie theater. The movie, which did not do well at the box-office, was released with a pro-gun control message – of course!
When asked about the same sort of random shootings during The Dark Knight Rises, Bogdanovich lamented:
At first, some of the people … thought it was part of the movie. That’s very telling.
Violence on the screen has increased tenfold. It’s almost pornographic. In fact, it is pornographic. Video games are violent, too. It’s all out of control. I can see where it would drive somebody crazy.
Later he observes:
Today, there’s a general numbing of the audience. There’s too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it’s not so terrible. Back in the ’70s, I asked [Academy Award winning actor] Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, “We’re brutalizing the audience. We’re going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum.” The respect for human life seems to be eroding. (Source) (emphasis added)
If only other Hollywood elites shared Peter Bogdanovich’s concern over the lack of respect for human life.
Since this article is not about gun control I’ll add something Selwyn Duke said regarding the liberal’s fib that gun control is about saving lives and then I’ll move on:
For the sake of argument, let’s accept the supposition that outlawing firearms would save lives. Does it logically follow from this that guns should be restricted or banned?
Well, it would certainly save lives and countless injuries if people didn’t engage in mountain-climbing, hang-gliding, motorcycle-racing, trampolining, big-wave surfing, cave-diving, heli-skiing and a host of other dangerous activities. And, like guns, knives and baseball bats are common murder weapons. Does it logically follow that these items and activities should be banned?
The point is that we never treat saving lives as the only imperative when devising policy. If we did, we’d perhaps consider reducing speed limits on highways to 5 mph, since this might save most of the 43,000 lives lost on the road each year. Speaking of which, since 40 percent of those deaths are alcohol related, we can consider resurrecting Prohibition, too. (Source)
LOOK WHAT LIBERALS HAVE DONE TO CHILDREN
A newly released study suggests that children that watch sex on movies and TV will be more promiscuous and sexually active from a younger age. The Telegraph reported that,
Psychologists concluded that teenagers exposed to more sex on screen in popular films are likely to have sexual relations with more people and without using condoms.
for every hour of exposure to sexual content on-screen, participants were more than five times more likely to lose their virginity within six years.
Later we learn that Dr. Ross O’Hara, who led the study, cautioned:
“This study, and its confluence with other work, strongly suggests that parents need to restrict their children from seeing sexual content in movies at young ages.” (Source)
Even more bad news for parents from Live Science. In “Why 6-Year-Old Girls Want to Be Sexy” Jennifer Abbasi reported that,
Psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., used paper dolls to assess self-sexualization in 6- to 9-year-old girls. Sixty girls were shown two dolls, one dressed in tight and revealing “sexy” clothes and the other wearing a trendy but covered-up, loose outfit.
Using a different set of dolls for each question, the researchers then asked each girl to choose the doll that: looked like herself, looked how she wanted to look, was the popular girl in school, she wanted to play with.
Across-the-board, girls chose the “sexy” doll most often. The results were significant in two categories: 68 percent of the girls said the doll looked how she wanted to look, and 72 percent said she was more popular than the non-sexy doll.
Here is an interesting tidbit from Abbasi’s piece that hopefully will garner the attention of a few moms. It seems religious moms may be a blessing to their children:
Mothers’ religious beliefs also emerged as an important factor in how girls see themselves. Girls who consumed a lot of media but who had religious mothers were protected against self-sexualizing, perhaps because these moms “may be more likely to model higher body-esteem and communicate values such as modesty,” the authors wrote, which could mitigate the images portrayed on TV or in the movies. (Source)
From these studies we see that Hollywood films do have an impact on our children.
TURNING BACK THE CLOCK
Spiritual forces of evil gained control over America in the 1960s with the hippie drug culture that gave us “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” and the self-absorbed “Me” culture. Young people rebelled against authority, including parental authority. Biblical morality was discarded like an old worn out shoe. They latched on to the slogan “do your own thing” and immersed themselves in every sort of immorality one can imagine – and they did it with gusto! If we look at how the actions of that day have impacted our society today we recognize that there are dire consequences when morality goes by the wayside.
So – is it too late to turn back the clock to a time when people weren’t immune to wickedness? Is it possible to have a society where children are protected rather than exploited?
In past articles I’ve made the case that children have been robbed of their innocence because godless secularists see the younger generation as fair game in their indefatigable struggle to advance an anti-Christian agenda in America. “The Barbarians are no longer at the door; they’ve kicked it down and have taken over the house!”
How do we turn back the clock to a time when children were allowed to be children, before America took a very dark turn?
First, Bible believing Christians must share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:15-7).
We must make disciples of all nations. (Mat. 28:19) This is a command not a suggestion. People will not change unless hearts and minds are changed. It is men and women who need changing, not just the system (but the system needs changing too). There’s a Holy Spirit filled power in the gospel that can change the most hardened criminal into a saint.
Second, Christian parents must instill in their children a Christian worldview on a variety of moral issues such as premarital sex, bearing babies out of wedlock, abortion, homosexuality, biblical marriage, gambling and drug use.
Third, parents must address what’s going on in the government-run-schools they send their children to, where individual thinking is discouraged and group-think is rewarded. What kids are being exposed to is humanistic education. A large number of our public school teachers and counselors are radical liberals. Their aim is to persuade students to reject their parent’s values and instill their own leftist ideology. In her book “Total Truth,” Nancy Pearcey warns parents that they’re youngsters “must be equipped to analyze and critique the competing worldviews they will encounter when they leave home” and she explains how to equip them. In short, young people must have the confidence to stand up for what they believe, both in college and the workplace. Turning the other cheek has never deterred a liberal.
Fourth, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Why is this important? “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim 4:2-5).
Fifth, pray! “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:17, 18). When you pray you must pray to the only true God.
Part 2 coming soon!
In the wake of the Auroramass shooting, the usual pattern is playing out with respect to gun control. People such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Piers Morgan and Bill Moyers are beating the drum to restrict firearm ownership, as others try to beat them back. One side says we’d be safer if guns were rarer; the other says that more guns equal less crime. One side says guns kill people, the other that people kill people. Facts and feelings are bandied back and forth (although one side specializes in the facts and the other in the feelings), but in all the commentary, some of which is very good, one point is universally missed.
For the sake of argument, let’s accept the supposition that outlawing firearms would save lives. Does it logically follow from this that guns should be restricted or banned?
Well, it would certainly save lives and countless injuries if people didn’t engage in mountain-climbing, hang-gliding, motorcycle-racing, trampolining, big-wave surfing, cave-diving, heli-skiing and a host of other dangerous activities. And, like guns, knives and baseball bats are common murder weapons. Does it logically follow that these items and activities should be banned?
The point is that we never treat saving lives as the only imperative when devising policy. If we did, we’d perhaps consider reducing speed limits on highways to 5 mph, since this might save most of the 43,000 lives lost on the road each year. Speaking of which, since 40 percent of those deaths are alcohol related, we can consider resurrecting Prohibition, too.
Now, since gun-control advocates think they have morality on their side, they may want to ponder a question: is it moral to sacrifice 43,000 lives just so we can be free to zip around at 55 or 65 mph? The answer here is that the safety imperative is balanced against an economic one, in that too much productivity would be lost with a five-mph speed limit.
But sometimes far more trivial things trump the safety imperative. No one needs to drink alcohol, go rock-climbing, or play baseball when doing so necessitates the availability of a dangerous weapon. So, imagine that, we’re actually placing fun and enjoyment ahead of saving lives. In fact, some among us will even tolerate death on a massive scale if we think the reason is good enough. An example is when the anti-gun left is willing to accept 1.2 million killings a year through abortion.
So if we’ll accept death through fun, should we question death through the gun? As with dangerous recreation, the enjoyment justification exists with firearms, too, in the form of target and sport shooting. As with driving, an economic justification exists in that revenue is collected from hunters and because some poorer rural Americans help feed themselves through hunting. But there is something here that is a true imperative, one that’s greater than most any other:
The apocryphal saying, “God made some men big and others small, but Samuel Colt made them equal,” gets at the point here. Whether it’s a smaller person or group, firearms tend to even the odds. They help create parity, and that’s not what criminals want—they want easy prey. Thus, like a predator in the wilds that generally won’t attack a creature more than half its size, even if a criminal is armed himself, he’ll be reluctant to tackle a target that can target him back.
Even more significantly, as Prohibition, prostitution and drugs have proven, illegal isn’t synonymous with unavailable. So, again, let’s assume a gun criminalization that left firearms in the hands of a few criminals did save lives overall. What should we conclude if those armed miscreants could nonetheless ply their dark trade with little resistance? What should we feel if good people were declawed and rendered powerless to thwart their evil?
A virtuous, justice-oriented person should find this intolerable to the point of outrage.
He should quote Emiliano Zapata and say, “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” Yet better still is to live on your feet. And a gun in the hand makes that more likely.
As for debating the Second Amendment, there’s nothing wrong with using facts to refute the notion that more guns equal more deaths. But this should be only part of the debate, not the debate itself. Otherwise we miss some great principles, one of which is that life at all costs is too great a cost. Living is about more than just life, and whether the matter is sports that can kill, drink that can kill or guns that can kill, you can’t really live if you’re suffocated with a Big Brother bubble-wrap mentality.
A new book reveals that a department known as Kidon within the Mossad has dispatched assassins into Iran in order to murder the nuclear scientists, thereby stunting the country’s nuclear energy program.
Authors Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman in their book Spies against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars state that the notorious spy agency has killed at least four Iranian nuclear scientists, including targeting them with operatives on motorcycles, an assassination technique used by the elite killers at Kidon.
The Kidon killers “excel at accurate shooting at any speed and staying steady to shoot and to place exquisitely shaped sticky bombs” and consider it their hallmark.
Kidon, known to be one of the world’s most efficient killing machines, is technically described as a little Mossad within Mossad.
Tasked with carrying out covert ops across the world, Kidon has embarked on a number of black ops and assassinations in different countries.
Those who kill for Kidon are selected either from within the Mossad spy agency or from among the natives of the countries where they plan to carry out assassinations.
For instance, in case of the nuclear assassinations conducted in Iran by Kidon, they basically hired people with Iranian or dual nationalities. One of the Mossad assassins was Majid Jamali Fashi who confessed he had cooperated with Mossad for financial reasons only.
Majid Jamali Fashi assassinated Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a professor at Tehran University in January 2011 by blowing an explosive-laden motorbike via a remote-controlled device. He reportedly received training from Mossad inside Israel as well as $120,000 to assassinate the Iranian scientist. According to his confession, Jamali Fashi received forged documents in Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev Airport to travel to Tel Aviv.
He confessed, “I woke up early in the morning and as we were trained I went to the warehouse. I had to prepare the box which contained the bomb. I took the motorbike out of the house and reached a location that I had to contact them. I went to the alley [where the professor resided]. It was vacant. No one was there. I brought the bike to the sidewalk and parked it in front of the house. They told me that the mission had been accomplished and that I had to discard my stuff.”
Jamali Fashi was executed under the Iranian judicial system on 15 May, 2012. Parenthetically, Azerbaijan has in recent years become an apparent haven for Mossad spies and assassins.
Another Mossad operative of Iranian nationality has been identified as Ja’far Khoshzaban, alias Javidan, who has been working under the auspices of Azeri security forces and who has been involved in nuclear assassinations. Iranian intelligence ministry has demanded the extradition of Mossad’s Iranian spy from Azerbaijan. Iran has reportedly obtained documents, suggesting that Azeri officials have aided and abetted Mossad and CIA agents in their targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists, namely Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. As a matter of fact, CIA is constantly mentioned along with Mossad as the main elements in the nuclear assassinations.
Ahmadi Roshan was assassinated on January 11, 2012 when an unknown motorcyclist attached a magnetic bomb to his car near a college building of Allameh Tabatabaei University in northern Tehran.
Using the same ‘sticking bomb technique’, the Kidon assassins attached bombs to the vehicles of Iranian university professors Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi and detonated the explosives on November 29, 2010. Professor Shahriari was killed immediately, but Dr. Abbasi and his wife only sustained minor injuries.
As a rule, the Kidon kill team is comprised of four highly seasoned men: 1. Tracer 2. Transporter 3. Helper 4. Killer. The tracer spots the target. The transporter guides the assassination team to the target. The helper basically serves as the motorcycle driver who helps the killer and the killer is tasked with shooting the target or attaching magnetic bomb to the car of the victim.
According to the book Spies against Armageddon, the Kidon agents are well-trained in shooting and placing “exquisitely shaped sticky bombs” and consider it their hallmark.
These facts aside, it rather seems sort of naïve to disregard the role of the CIA-backed MKO terrorists in the nuclear assassinations and give all the credit to the Kidon agents. There is solid evidence which evinces the MKO role in the assassination of the Iranian scientists.
American commentator Richard Silverstein believes that the primary source of income for the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) comes from the assassinations the group conducts within the Iranian soil at the behest of the Mossad. He argues that “If you’re a terrorist on behalf of Israel, as MKO is, then you’re kosher as far as (US-based Israeli publicist) Dershowitz is concerned. And your money is golden. Where does the money come from? Possibly from the Iran assassinations the MKO performs on Mossad’s behalf, which undoubtedly pay well. Then there’s the possibility that the USD 400-million Bush allocated for destabilizing Iran in 2007 has found its way either to the MKO or Mossad (or both)”
More to the point, the CIA works in the same satanic league with the Mossad and MKO. Time and again, the officials in Washington have encouraged and even confessed to the killings of the Iranian nuclear scientists.
Former US senator Rick Santorum callously described the assassination of Iranian scientists as “wonderful,” threatening that those who work for Iran’s nuclear program “are not safe.”
“On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”
He also said, “I think we should send a very clear message that if you are a scientist from Russia, North Korea, or from Iran and you are going to work on a nuclear program to develop a bomb for Iran, you are not safe.”
Also, former Bush administration ambassador to the UN John Bolton said on Fox News that the killing of an Iranian scientist and sanctions against Iran constitute only “half-measures in the quest to stunt Iran’s nuclear ambitions”.
Former White House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for covert action, including “taking out their scientists” and cyberwarfare.
Quotations of this nature are legion and all these facts reinforce the idea that Washington has been making clandestine efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear energy program in cahoots with Tel Aviv and their lackey i.e. the MKO.
This past Tuesday I reported on the stabbing of white truck driver Nick Stokes by members of a black motorcycle gang called the Outcasts of Alabama. It’s not merely a scary story but also an unusual one, mostly because of the behavior of law enforcement. The Adamsville, AL police department not only failed to question or detain any of the gangsters, but, outrageously, also told Stokes that they “don’t mess” with the Outcasts.
What isn’t at all unusual about the story is the mainstream media’s reluctance to cover a case of black-on-white crime. In particular, I cited the Birmingham News (BN), whose crime-beat reporter, Carol Robinson, had brusquely dismissed the incident as not newsworthy. After my article was published in American Thinker, however, she finally treated it – no doubt as a result of pressure – but in a manner so incomplete that it reflects a grudging attitude. More on that in a moment.
The BN’s dereliction of duty didn’t escape its readers, some of whom savaged the paper in the comments section under Robinson’s piece. One wrote, “Wow. Birmingham News finally prints this story. Only after being shamed into it by the American Thinker….” Another quipped, “Hey Birmingham news, if you don’t watch out someone is gonna start a newspaper around here.” We can only hope.
In an effort at damage control, managing editor Chuck Clark posted a response, saying that they had not purposely ignored the story and that they reported on it “[a]s soon this was brought to our attention today.” This is simply not true.
This isn’t synonymous with saying that Clark is lying. I believe the paper reported on the story as soon as it was brought to his attention, but the fact is that Robinson was tipped off a full week before. She obviously, however, disagreed with her managing editor, who also wrote under her piece, “A road rage incident that results in a stabbing is a news story.”
I confirmed this information this past Tuesday in an interview with the man who apprised Robinson of the Stokes affair, Scott Boyd of the Macon Beacon. Boyd, owner and editor of the paper, was the first to report on the crime and told me that he approached Robinson on Tuesday, April 3rd, only to be rebuffed. Not only did he find her wholly uninterested, she was completely ignorant of, and unsympathetic about, the situation. About the biker gang she said, “I have been covering crime in Birmingham for 25 years, and I’ve never heard of them.” The icing on the cake was when Boyd said he was amazed at the police’s dereliction of duty, and she brushed him off with, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”
It appears Robinson doesn’t want to do much, given the nature of her reportage. Consider that while she provides the basic details of the attack on Stokes, she omits the most newsworthy part of the story: the police’s admission that they “don’t mess” with a local band of criminals.
Instead, she is one-sided. She quotes Adamsville Police Chief Bob Carter and writes, “‘It [the crime] was never viewed lightly by the Adamsville Police Department. All I can tell you is in any investigation, there is a search for the truth,’ the chief said. ‘We’re trying to get to the bottom of it, and prosecute whoever is guilty of wrongdoing.’” This is fine and dandy, but it’s also damage-control boilerplate. What is striking about the story is Stokes’ claim that a police officer told him, “We don’t mess with those Outcast guys.” They also advised him to let the matter go because the gang could come after him. And I tend to doubt he’s lying.
Now, how can Robinson consider herself an honest reporter when omitting the most newsworthy aspect of the story? Stokes’ claims should have been juxtaposed with the police chief’s. But it seems to me that the reportage just reflects the police investigation: both may be examples of going through the motions, of not wanting to “mess with” something politically incorrect and perhaps dangerous.
As to this dangerousness, Boyd tells me that the one biker who was injured and found at the scene, Laddarious Clay of Birmingham, was sporting a holster on each hip and told the police that he had given the pistols to the other bikers. I guess that was enough to scare the Adamsville Keystone Kops.
Getting back to the BN, I’m sure Robinson didn’t tell managing editor Clark that she was ignoring a newsworthy story, so I take his claims at face value. But it’s also clear that she was less than forthcoming with him, and I informed him about this via email. The question is, will he do anything about it?
If the mainstream media’s history is any guide, we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting. NBC got burned recently because it had an editor who misrepresented George Zimmerman’s 911 phone conversation so as to inflame passions. Dan Rather got burned because he had underlings who peddled forged documents. The New York Times got burned because it coddled affirmative-action hire and plagiarist Jayson Blair. And now the Birmingham News is getting burned, albeit less severely, because it retains a reporter who seems to filter news through a politically correct prism. Sure, none of these media organs prescribed this malpractice, but where does the buck stop? When you lie down with dogs or hire liberals, you get fleas.
You also get lower circulation, dropping stock prices and lost credibility.
(Note: I want to issue two corrections on my initial article. “We don’t mess with those Outcast guys.” is the exact police quotation as related to me by Boyd; the one I used on Tuesday was, apparently, a grapevine-altered version. Second, I was mistaken in my first piece in reporting that Boyd had heard the police utter the comment as well; he tells me that only Stokes did.)
Most of us have heard about how the media won’t report on black-on-white crime. We also may know that authorities sometimes sweep it under the rug due to political pressure, usually with a wink and a nod. But not so in rural Alabama, where the police actually told a white crime victim that they “don’t mess” with a local black motorcycle gang.
The tragic event that led to this shocking admission occurred on March 28, as truck driver Nick Stokes and neighbor Johnathan Cooper were heading out of Birmingham hauling a portable cabin. While rounding a curve, one of Stokes’ tires slipped and kicked up some gravel, which angered a black motorcycle-gang member who was in close proximity. The gangster – part of the notorious “Outcasts of Alabama” – gave chase and tried to force Stokes to pull over to the side of the road. Here’s what happened next, as reported by the Macon Beacon’s Scott Boyd, whose piece has been published online by J. Christian Adams:
The motorcyclist then sped up and pulled in front of Stokes [sic] F-250. He stopped in the middle of the road and forced Stokes to stop. He then jumped off his bike and came around to the passenger side and hit the rear passenger window with his fist but it didn’t break. Stokes then made the quick decision to get out of there and pulled out around the parked motorcycle.
Stokes said he looked back in his rear-view as he pulled away and noticed the biker rolling in the highway. “He either tried to jump in the back of the truck or onto the trailer and somehow slipped.”
Stokes said when he noticed the injured man flailing in the roadway he stopped, worried about leaving the scene of an accident. Stokes said he was getting out of his truck to go check on [the biker] when a woman in a red Jeep pulled alongside and shouted a warning: “You better get out of here – they’ve got guns.” That’s when Stokes looked back down the highway and [saw] some [of] the motorcycle gang – 30 or 40 bikes strong – headed his way. “I jumped back in the truck and took off until I could find a busy intersection and that’s where I stopped.”
Stokes said he and Cooper were immediately surrounded by a gang of black bikers, all with black bandanas covering the bottom half of their faces.
The gang forced him out of the truck and commenced their revenge attack. “After I saw the knife and then felt the stabbings I fell to the ground and played dead – I think that may have saved my life,” he said.
Stokes heard police sirens seconds later, as his friend, Cooper, had called 911 on his cellphone. But despite the authorities having identified the injured gangster as Ladarrious Clay of Birmingham, none of the bikers were detained or even questioned, reports Boyd. Shocking.
And the silence is deafening. Boyd contacted the Birmingham News, only to be told that the incident wasn’t “newsworthy.” In fact, if J. Christian Adams hadn’t published the story at PJ Media, we probably never would have heard about it. The Macon Beacon is so small that it doesn’t even have a website.
As for the relevant law-enforcement agency, the Adamsville Police Department, its public affairs officer had not responded to Boyd’s inquiries as of his press time. Yet it’s not as if they had no answers at all. They told Stokes that there was nothing they could do, as it would be impossible to identify those who actually wielded the knives. And then there was that more shocking admission, made to both Stokes and Boyd by the Adamsville police.
We “don’t mess with the Outcasts of Alabama.”
Wow. Just wow. These guys sound like Barney Fife – without the guts.
We’re used to hearing stories about law enforcement being intimidated by organized crime – in places such as Colombia and Mexico. But in the US? This is yet another example of our descent into Third Worldism.
Stokes also reported the crime to the FBI, which has promised an investigation. The question is, will the agency do anything more than just go through the motions? I don’t know, but three things are for sure. First, if this had been an attack by a white gang on a black victim, the national media would be all over the story. Second, Eric Holder’s DOJ won’t be getting involved like it has in the Trayvon Martin case. And, lastly, we can be sure that Barack Obama won’t get on his soapbox and accuse the Adamsville police of acting stupidly.
Two former employees of the world’s largest Christian television channel Trinity Broadcasting Network are accusing the non-profit of spending $50 million of its funding on extravagant personal expenses.
Among purchases, the network founded by Televangelists Paul and Jan Crouch, is accused of misappropriating its ‘charitable assets’ toward a $50 million jet, 13 mansions and a $100,000-mobile home for Mrs Crouch’s dogs.
Their granddaughter, Brittany Koper, 26, recently filed her allegations in court after a brief appointment as the network’s chief finance director in July.
Accused: Brittany Koper, center, recently filed a suit accusing the Trinity Broadcasting Network, its founders Janice Crouch (left) and Paul Crouch Sr (far right), in squandering $50 million of its funding
She claims she was fired in September after discovering the ‘illegal financial schemes’ according to the lawsuit obtained by the Los Angeles Times, and consequently reporting them to Mr Crouch.
Her lawsuit follows a second by another former employee and Koper in-law, Joseph McVeigh, the uncle of Mrs Koper’s husband, Michael Koper, who detailed the opulent spending by the Christian network.
According to Mr McVeigh’s accounts filed in his lawsuit, the network used their collections for side-by-side mansions in Florida, as well as in Texas, Tennessee and California.
The network’s $50 million luxury jet was purchased through a sham loan while Mrs Crouch’s personal jet, a Hawker, totalled $8 million, according to his suit.
Dog house: Mrs Koper claims she was fired after reporting financial irregularities in their spending which according to one of two suits filed accuses Mrs Crouch of spending $100,000 on a mobile home for her dogs
The 13 properties listed in the suit were also referred to as ‘guest homes’ or ‘church parsonages’ while their directors also received $300,000 to $500,000 in meal expenses, as well as the use of chauffeurs.
The suit also accuses the network of using funds to cover up sex scandals according to the Times’ review of the suit.
- $100,000-mobile home for Mrs Crouch’s dogs
- $50 million luxury jet purchased through a sham loan
- $8 million personal Hawker jet for Mrs Crouch
- 13 properties listed in the suit as ‘guest homes’ or ‘church parsonages’ in Florida, Texas, Tennessee and California
- $300,000 to $500,000 meal expenses for network directors, as well as the use of chauffeurs
In a reverse lawsuit filed by debt-collection company Redemption Strategies last year, the Kopers have been accused of forging documents to obtain items such as several vehicles, jewelry, a boat, motorcycle, and life insurance. The debt collection company was registered with the state by a TBN attorney one day before it filed suit against Mr Koper.
They accuse Mr McVeigh of also receiving thousands of dollars from the non-profit without their authorization.
That lawsuit against Mr McVeigh and Mr Koper was later dropped by the court, but not before Mrs Koper and two in-laws were added as defendants.
Mrs Koper countersued, alleging that TBN’s attorneys formed Redemption Strategies to retaliate against her for whistleblowing.
Her suit doesn’t list TBN as a defendant, but it alleges that Mrs Koper was fired and made to turn over her house, condominium, life insurance policy, car, furniture and jewelry as ‘an act of Christian contrition’ when she complained about the financial misdeeds at TBN.
In the similar suit filed by Mr McVeigh, he alleges that TBN attorneys also targeted him as part of a campaign of retaliation for his reporting of their lavish spending.
TBN attorney Colby May called the McVeigh’s lawsuit a ‘tabloid filing’ and said the allegations in both cases were ‘utterly and completely contrived.’ TBN suspects McVeigh, who claims he received a $65,000 loan from the family empire, was working with the Kopers to steal money from the ministry, Mr May said.
Attacks: The family feud could draw further scrutiny of TBN after its previous trouble with allegations of a homosexual encounter by Mr Crouch and a five-year battle with the FCC
The network’s spending is in line with its mission to spread the gospel throughout the world, Mr May said, and the Crouches travel by private jet because they have had ‘scores of death threats, more than the president of the United States.’
The ministry keeps large amounts of cash in reserve because incurring debt goes against the Biblical exhortation to ‘owe no man any thing,’ he said.
‘The answer is, there is no fire there,’ Mr May said. ‘They pay as they go and every now and then one of the things that they pay as they go on is the acquisition of a broadcast facility and that’s a multi-million dollar transaction.’
The outbreak of legal skirmish offers a rare window into the secretive world of the sprawling religious non-profit and exposes a family feud that could draw more outside scrutiny of TBN. Attorneys from both sides say they have contacted police and the Internal Revenue Service.
Growth: The network, whose headquarters is pictured, is seen on every continent but Antarctica 24 hours a day, seven days a week, raking in $92 million in donations in 2010 and $175 million in tax-free revenue
The Crouches founded TBN in 1973 and grew it into an international Christian empire that beams prosperity gospel programming — which promises that if the faithful sacrifice for their belief, God will reward them with material wealth — to every continent but Antarctica 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It has 78 satellites and more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates and owns seven other networks, as well as its headquarters in Costa Mesa in Orange County, an estate outside Nashville called Trinity Music City, USA and the Holy Land Experience, a Christian amusement park in Orlando.
On any given day — or night — viewers from the United States to India can watch Christian-inspired news updates, documentaries, movies, talk shows and sermons by preachers such as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes and Dr. Creflo Dollar without leaving their armchairs.
Expenditures: Additional claims detail the purchase of two jets at a cost of $50 million and $8 million each, and 13 mansions across the U.S. reported as ‘guest homes’ or ‘church parsonages’
The lawsuit attention comes at a bad time for TBN, which has seen viewer donations drop steeply.
TBN raked in $92 million in donations in 2010 and cleared $175 million in tax-free revenue, but its net income plummeted from nearly $60 million in 2006 to a loss of $18 million in 2010, the most recent year available. Donations fell by nearly $30 million in the same period — a hit the network blames on the bad economy.
At the same time, Mrs Koper’s father — the eldest Crouch son — resigned abruptly as vice president and chief-of-staff late last year. The unexplained departure of Paul Crouch Jr. roughly coincided with his daughter’s legal battle and came just months after he launched iTBN, a project to expand the network’s online and mobile reach.
TBN places a premium on privacy and it’s almost impossible to divine what is going on behind the scenes. Yet televangelist empires built largely on charisma often encounter choppy waters as their founding personalities age.
Needs: The attorney for Mrs Crouch, seen shielded by security in New York, said the Crouches travel by private jet because they have had scores of death threats, more than the president of the United States
‘It’s true that in these large ministries, they do become family enterprises … and in many ways that can be a most precarious problem for them,’ said David E. Harrell, a professor emeritus of American religion at Auburn University, who has written about well-known televangelists. ‘Business squabbles, if they’re complicated with family squabbles, can get nasty indeed.’
Mr May dismissed the idea of family turmoil and said the reason behind the legal fight was simple: Mrs Koper and her husband stole from the network.
‘They’re attempting to create a diversion and to create as much public spectacle as they can in the vain hope that this will all get resolved and that’s simply not going to happen,’ he said.
TBN’s reach and programming are expansive, but what is more impressive is the amount of money it receives from viewers — even in a downturn.
Sex scandals: The suit also accuses the network, whose headquarters is pictured from the roadside, of using funds to cover up additional sex scandals according to the Los Angeles Times’ review of the suit
During TBN’s Praise-A-Thon earlier this month, a preacher exhorted viewers to bellow ‘Fear not!’ three times, count down from 10 and then rush to the phone with donations. In exchange, he said, they would receive a miracle from God ‘about this time tomorrow.’ Within seconds, all 200 phone lines were busy.
Ministry watchdogs have long questioned how TBN — which declared more than $800 million in net assets in 2010 — spends that wealth.
TBN files reports with the IRS, but the Crouches run nearly two dozen other organizations that are harder to track and they operate extensively overseas, said Rusty Leonard, who founded Wall Watchers, an organization that monitors the financial transparency of church ministries to which its members donate.
Wall Watchers gives TBN an ‘F’ for financial transparency and keeps them on its list of the 30 worst ministries.
Lawsuits: In a reverse lawsuit filed against Mrs Koper and her husband, they have been accused of forging documents to steal from the network themselves, whose Texas location is shown, but that case was dropped by the court
‘They could run a loss like the one they ran last year for an awfully long time before they would run out of money,’ Mr Leonard said. ‘They’re basically taking money from old people and putting it in their pocket and living the high life.’
TBN is no stranger to outside scrutiny.
In 1998, the elder Crouch secretly paid an accuser $425,000 to keep quiet about allegations of a homosexual encounter. Crouch Sr. has consistently denied the allegations, which were first reported by the Los Angeles Times, and has said he settled only to avoid a costly and embarrassing trial.
In 2000, after a five-year battle, a federal appeals court overturned a ruling by the FCC that found Mr Crouch had created a ‘sham’ minority company to get around limits on the number of TV stations he could own.
With their termination from the network, both Mr MacLeod and Mrs Koper plan to file a wrongful-termination suit according to the Times.
Source: Mail Online
I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.
What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.
Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.
Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.
My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.
I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.
I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.
From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.
FROM BAD TO ABYSMAL
Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified. But I can say that such reports — mine and others’ — serve to illuminate the gulf between conditions on the ground and official statements of progress.
And I can relate a few representative experiences, of the kind that I observed all over the country.
In January 2011, I made my first trip into the mountains of Kunar province near the Pakistan border to visit the troops of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry. On a patrol to the northernmost U.S. position in eastern Afghanistan, we arrived at an Afghan National Police (ANP) station that had reported being attacked by the Taliban 2½ hours earlier.
Through the interpreter, I asked the police captain where the attack had originated, and he pointed to the side of a nearby mountain.
“What are your normal procedures in situations like these?” I asked. “Do you form up a squad and go after them? Do you periodically send out harassing patrols? What do you do?”
As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.
“No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!”
According to the cavalry troopers, the Afghan policemen rarely leave the cover of the checkpoints. In that part of the province, the Taliban literally run free.
In June, I was in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, returning to a base from a dismounted patrol. Gunshots were audible as the Taliban attacked a U.S. checkpoint about one mile away.
As I entered the unit’s command post, the commander and his staff were watching a live video feed of the battle. Two ANP vehicles were blocking the main road leading to the site of the attack. The fire was coming from behind a haystack. We watched as two Afghan men emerged, mounted a motorcycle and began moving toward the Afghan policemen in their vehicles.
The U.S. commander turned around and told the Afghan radio operator to make sure the policemen halted the men. The radio operator shouted into the radio repeatedly, but got no answer.
On the screen, we watched as the two men slowly motored past the ANP vehicles. The policemen neither got out to stop the two men nor answered the radio — until the motorcycle was out of sight.
To a man, the U.S. officers in that unit told me they had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area — and that was before the above incident occurred.
In August, I went on a dismounted patrol with troops in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Several troops from the unit had recently been killed in action, one of whom was a very popular and experienced soldier. One of the unit’s senior officers rhetorically asked me, “How do I look these men in the eye and ask them to go out day after day on these missions? What’s harder: How do I look [my soldier’s] wife in the eye when I get back and tell her that her husband died for something meaningful? How do I do that?”
One of the senior enlisted leaders added, “Guys are saying, ‘I hope I live so I can at least get home to R&R leave before I get it,’ or ‘I hope I only lose a foot.’ Sometimes they even say which limb it might be: ‘Maybe it’ll only be my left foot.’ They don’t have a lot of confidence that the leadership two levels up really understands what they’re living here, what the situation really is.”
On Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the infamous attack on the U.S., I visited another unit in Kunar province, this one near the town of Asmar. I talked with the local official who served as the cultural adviser to the U.S. commander. Here’s how the conversation went:
Davis: “Here you have many units of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF]. Will they be able to hold out against the Taliban when U.S. troops leave this area?”
Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them.
“Also, when a Taliban member is arrested, he is soon released with no action taken against him. So when the Taliban returns [when the Americans leave after 2014], so too go the jobs, especially for everyone like me who has worked with the coalition.
“Recently, I got a cellphone call from a Talib who had captured a friend of mine. While I could hear, he began to beat him, telling me I’d better quit working for the Americans. I could hear my friend crying out in pain. [The Talib] said the next time they would kidnap my sons and do the same to them. Because of the direct threats, I’ve had to take my children out of school just to keep them safe.
“And last night, right on that mountain there [he pointed to a ridge overlooking the U.S. base, about 700 meters distant], a member of the ANP was murdered. The Taliban came and called him out, kidnapped him in front of his parents, and took him away and murdered him. He was a member of the ANP from another province and had come back to visit his parents. He was only 27 years old. The people are not safe anywhere.”
That murder took place within view of the U.S. base, a post nominally responsible for the security of an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Imagine how insecure the population is beyond visual range. And yet that conversation was representative of what I saw in many regions of Afghanistan.
In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.
As the numbers depicting casualties and enemy violence indicate the absence of progress, so too did my observations of the tactical situation all over Afghanistan.
I’m hardly the only one who has noted the discrepancy between official statements and the truth on the ground.
A January 2011 report by the Afghan NGO Security Office noted that public statements made by U.S. and ISAF leaders at the end of 2010 were “sharply divergent from IMF, [international military forces, NGO-speak for ISAF] ‘strategic communication’ messages suggesting improvements. We encourage [nongovernment organization personnel] to recognize that no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”
The following month, Anthony Cordesman, on behalf of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that ISAF and the U.S. leadership failed to report accurately on the reality of the situation in Afghanistan.
“Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead,” Cordesman wrote. “They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”
How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding and behind an array of more than seven years of optimistic statements by U.S. senior leaders in Afghanistan? No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan. But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on.
I first encountered senior-level equivocation during a 1997 division-level “experiment” that turned out to be far more setpiece than experiment. Over dinner at Fort Hood, Texas, Training and Doctrine Command leaders told me that the Advanced Warfighter Experiment (AWE) had shown that a “digital division” with fewer troops and more gear could be far more effective than current divisions. The next day, our congressional staff delegation observed the demonstration firsthand, and it didn’t take long to realize there was little substance to the claims. Virtually no legitimate experimentation was actually conducted. All parameters were carefully scripted. All events had a preordained sequence and outcome. The AWE was simply an expensive show, couched in the language of scientific experimentation and presented in glowing press releases and public statements, intended to persuade Congress to fund the Army’s preference. Citing the AWE’s “results,” Army leaders proceeded to eliminate one maneuver company per combat battalion. But the loss of fighting systems was never offset by a commensurate rise in killing capability.
A decade later, in the summer of 2007, I was assigned to the Future Combat Systems (FCS) organization at Fort Bliss, Texas. It didn’t take long to discover that the same thing the Army had done with a single division at Fort Hood in 1997 was now being done on a significantly larger scale with FCS. Year after year, the congressionally mandated reports from the Government Accountability Office revealed significant problems and warned that the system was in danger of failing. Each year, the Army’s senior leaders told members of Congress at hearings that GAO didn’t really understand the full picture and that to the contrary, the program was on schedule, on budget, and headed for success. Ultimately, of course, the program was canceled, with little but spinoffs to show for $18 billion spent.
If Americans were able to compare the public statements many of our leaders have made with classified data, this credibility gulf would be immediately observable. Naturally, I am not authorized to divulge classified material to the public. But I am legally able to share it with members of Congress. I have accordingly provided a much fuller accounting in a classified report to several members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, senators and House members.
A nonclassified version is available at www.afghanreport.com. [Editor’s note: At press time, Army public affairs had not yet ruled on whether Davis could post this longer version.]
TELL THE TRUTH
When it comes to deciding what matters are worth plunging our nation into war and which are not, our senior leaders owe it to the nation and to the uniformed members to be candid — graphically, if necessary — in telling them what’s at stake and how expensive potential success is likely to be. U.S. citizens and their elected representatives can decide if the risk to blood and treasure is worth it.
Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start.
Source: LT. COL. DANIEL L. DAVIS | AFJ
Honoring Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah…
Dahiyeh, South Beirut – Rushing to an appointment last Saturday I passed the Mohammad Hussein Fadallah Hassaniyeh (Mosque), which for many in my immediate Dahiyeh neighborhood is the religious institution we feel most connected to because of its long and continuing history of social and religious work in our community.
Nearly 18 months after the July 4th, 2010 death of Lebanon’s preeminent Islamic scholar, the Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, but seeming more like three months ago, the ‘Fadlallah Hassaniyeh’ is an ever active beehive of social work and religious study and truly a working people’s institution.
It is also the manifestation of Sayed Fadlallah’s achievement’s for and commitments to all in our community, Shia, Sunni, Christians and non-believers.
Unaware that it was the 12th day of the lunar month of Rabih el Awwal, the Prophet Mohammad bin Abdillah’s birthday, I was surprised by all the activity saturating the surrounding streets and the hundreds of school children in celebratory clothes doing various activities enjoying the festivity with their families.
Suddenly a gaggle of pre-teen friends from our neighborhood ran up to me and pulled me to the front of the vast ornate Fadlallah Mosque and to the tables in front where children were distributing small cloth wrapped candies in celebration. When night descends, which is early these days, the children might be given fireworks by their parents as was common in the past. Yet given so much uncertainly these days in the region and in Lebanon, even relatively mild explosive noises cause my neighbors to hustle their flocks inside and avoid balconies and windows until they understand what the noise was all about.
By then too late for my appointment, I postponed it and entered the Mosque and sat on a bench near the burial chamber (Maqam) of Ayatollah Fadlallah. I reflected on what he meant to Muslims and Christians in Lebanon and to all people of good will around the world and to me personally. I had the honor to meet with him several times and count his son Ali, who has succeeded him in much of his work, as my friend. As I sat close to the Maqam, I was surprised to see members of our community still arriving to his resting place, lean forward and speak privately to him and pledge to follow his progressive teachings, fatwas, and examples. Some, inspired by his life’s work took vows to become better people in their relations with others.
I also still recall vividly his funeral and the untold thousands who came to our neighborhood to join his funeral procession on July 6, 2010.
Friends carried his body around our neighborhood. They then marched to the spot of the 1985 CIA-Saudi assassination attempt, which killed 90 mainly school children and women and wounded more than 250, before returning to Imam Rida Mosque where he was laid to rest. Tens of thousands of mourners gathered at the mosque for prayer services before the funeral procession.
From all across the region delegations arrived and every Lebanese political and religious leader attended except the small minded Maronite Cardinal Patriarch Sfeir who took umbrage at Fadallah’s positive views about one person-one vote democracy. Sayeed Fadlallah did not favor Lebanon being ruled by the current archaic French colonial legacy of parceling out political power based on the undemocratic confessional formulae of the 1943 Paris installed National Pact.
His passing shocked and saddened the region and the loss of his advocacy of dialogue, respect and unity among all religions is incalculable. Justice for Palestine and ending the Zionist occupation was part of his unwavering lifelong work. Some media outlets, reported that shortly before he died, and upon being asked by a medical attendant a few days ago if he needed anything, he replied, “Only the end of the Zionist occupation of Palestine.”
I recalled the morning of July 4, Zeinab, the nurse on duty at the blood donor’s clinic at Bahman Hospital, a block from my home in Haret Hreik, had just instructed me to remain sitting for five minutes and to drink the juice she gave me before I returned to south Beirut’s blazing sun.
A companion and I had each just donated a pint of blood in response to an appeal from friends who worked in the Translation Office of Fadlallah. He had been hospitalized for the past 12 days but on Friday his stomach bleeding had increased dramatically, related to complications from a liver problem he had been treated for over the past several years. Sayeed Fadallah also suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure.
As we waited, Zeinab returned, tears in her eyes, and simply said, “The Sayeed has passed away.” And she disappeared. So did my Shia hijabed companion, and as it seemed, everyone from the floor.
I decided to walk down the stairs to the main level and could hear sobs from hospital staff on each floor, now seemingly darkened with each level eerier than the preceding one as I descended.
As I left the main entrance of Bahman hospital, I was thinking about some of the more than a dozen meetings I had the honor to attend with Grand Ayatolah Fadlallah and some of his staff over the past three years. Such as those who regularly visited him from the Washington DC based Council for the National Interest and one visit that I had arranged for former President Jimmy Carter.
Suddenly there was movement for two blocks in front and along the side streets adjacent to Bahman, a state of the art and science Hospital operated by Fadlallah’s Al Marbarrat Charity. This hospital was among hundreds of civil buildings in Haret Hreik and South Beirut, that Israel had bombed in July of 2006. The Fadlallah home was also reduced to rubble.
“How did these guys get here so fast” I wondered, for it was only minutes since the Majaa (religious guide) to millions in the Middle East had died. Some security units, dressed in black shirts, caps and trousers, walkie talkies in their left hands, others in civilian clothes, quickly placed traffic barriers in the area. They politely asked that all vehicles including motorcycles be relocated a least two blocks away.
Some, from their appearance, obviously war toughened fighters, wept and consoled men and women who began arriving at the hospital to pay their respects, first in two and three’s and then streams.
The loudspeakers from the Hassanayn Mosque, where every Friday Fadlallah for the past nearly 20 years, delivered sermons to tens of thousands of faithful, Muslim and Christian alike, began broadcasting religious music and Koranic verses to our shocked and grief stricken neighborhood. During the night of the 27th day of Ramadan, known as Laylat al-Kadr, (according to the Al Kadar Sura in the Koran, this is the day that the Angel Gabriel came down from heaven and the beginning of the revelation of the Koran) more than 50,000 filled Fadlallah’s Mosque and surrounding streets.
“The father, the leader, the marjaa, the guide, the human being is gone.” Sayyed Fadlallah has died this morning,” senior aide Ayatollah Abdullah al-Ghurayfi told a hastily called news conference, at the hospital, joined by the late cleric’s sons, Sayyed Ali Fadlallah and Jaafar, who, like nearly everyone else in attendance, could not hold back tears.
The sweltering evening of July 5th, an American delegation was given by his family and Hezbollah security the rare honor of viewing the body of Lebanon’s senior Shia cleric inside his Mosque near where he would be buried at 1:30 p.m. the following afternoon. The group met a wide spectrum of Lebanon’s political and resistance leadership but were not joined by anyone from the US Embassy since their government would boycott Lebanon’s national day of mourning and the burial of this Washington branded “Terrorist.” It was in 1995, that then President Bill Clinton, at the urging of AIPAC and facing a re-election campaign, so designated him. Former President Carter promised during a visit in June of 2009 that he would contact President Obama immediately about this travesty but was unable to have his name removed before the Sayeed’s death.
The American delegation paying their respects included residents of New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, Hawaii and Oregon, a Catholic Priest and two nuns, some of whom were in Beirut as participants in the delayed Lebanon flotilla to help break the siege of Gaza. They felt they were the true representatives of their country, not their Embassy. Ever misleading the public with respect to the Middle East, the main stream western media began a thousand reports with the words, “A fiery anti-American critic died.” It is nonsense of course. Fadallah was very pro-American in the sense that he often extolled the founding American principles and his relationship with the American people was valued by both. Barely two weeks before his death he left his sick bed to meet with a group of Americans from Washington DC, against the advice of his doctors, and he urged them to work to preserve the founding principles on which their country was founded and to encourage dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews and to end the occupations of this region.
Like the rapidly growing number of American critics of US policy in the Middle East, many of Fadlallah’s Friday prayer sermons denounced arming and supporting serial Israelis aggressions.
For more than 50 years, he worked at “modernizing” the Shari’a and rendering it accessible to modern day youth, addressing their concerns, expectations and fears in a fast-changing world. He was truly the Mufti of the youth and of women, their guide who never oppressed their dreams and always simplified rulings. He was available for questions regarding the most taboo of social and political subjects. He was also the enemy of stalemate and a rejecter of tradition in its inflexible sense. He insisted on subjecting all ideas to discussions, debates and reassessments and was much more interested in human beings than doctrines.
His followers revered him for his moderate social views, openness and pragmatism. Fadlallah issued religious edicts forbidding female circumcision, condemning domestic violence-even allowing women to wear cosmetics and finger nail polish which some clerics opposed, and insisting that women could physically resist abusive husbands. He strongly supported female-male equality. He rejected the blood-letting at Ashoura events and like Hezbollah encouraged his followers to donate blood to the Red Crescent Society instead of cutting themselves. He also opposed the call to “jihad,” or holy war, by Osama bin Laden and he was among the first to condemn the 9/11 attacks. Fadlallah opposed ‘suicide attacks” but distinguished the right of an individual to sacrifice himself as a weapon during asymmetrical warfare by aggressors.
Fadlallah supported the Islamic revolution in Shiite Iran, and advocated armed resistance to Israel. In 2009, again during a meeting with Americans, including Jews, Fadlallah, whose family came from the southern Lebanese village of Ainata, reiterated his call for a Muslim-Jewish dialogue as part of interfaith efforts aimed at bridging the gap among various religious, rejecting any offensive against Jews or Christians in any Arab or Muslim country. But he emphasized to the delegation the importance of a Muslim-Jewish dialogue away from Zionist influence, stressing that Jews need to be freed from the cycle of world Zionism and Israel should be confronted because of its occupation of Arab lands.
He welcomed the election of Barack Obama in the US, telling the Wall Street Journal in 2009 that “some of Obama’s statements show that he believes in the method of dialogue”. He added: We don’t have a problem with any American president, but our problem is with his policy that might affect our strategic interest.” He later told visitors of his disappointment at President Obama’s Middle East policy, accusing him of being “under pressure” from Israeli supporters and “not a man who has a plan for peace”.
Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah had a widespread reputation for piety and scholarship through his teaching and the more than 40 books and treatises he wrote. He established religious schools and foundations, clinics and libraries as part of the charitable Al Marrarat Foundation.
In summary, Mohammad Hussein Fadallah was too moderate, progressive and too effective a spokesman advocating for the deprived to be tolerated by the US administration and Israel. Both required more stereotypical radical Muslim clerics to smear the region. The Mossad is believed to have targeted him more than half a dozen times including during the July 2006 Israeli attack.
A generation was inspired by Sayeed Fadallah and listened to him and studied his voluminous writings. Two generations feel the emptiness of his passing away.
Mohammad Hussein Fadallah was a rare man of an angel’s wit, mirth and singular learning. A marvelous man of gentleness, humbleness and affability. Sometimes when defending the rights of Muslims,Christians, Jews and all people of faith or non-believers of good will, his countenance was changed by a sad gravity and his smiling eyes darkened. For to his core, Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah believed in the right and responsibility to resist injustice and occupation.
He was a man for all seasons whose conscience and piety would not allow him to be idle as long as the poor and downtrodden remained dispossessed and voiceless or his beloved Lebanon and Palestine was occupied. For this, and for no other reason he was placed and kept on the US Political Terrorism list as a Specially Designated Terrorist (SDT) in the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control and his American charitable assets confiscated.
Like Thomas More, Fadlallah rejected offered inducements and bribes including T list removal from Washington if he followed the King’s wishes and stop support to the Lebanese National resistance. He wore his nonsensical Terrorist label as a badge of honor as his daily good works mocked and marked the list keepers with shame and cowardice for squandering American founding principles and for funding, arming and providing diplomatic cover to the Zionist colonial enterprise that stole Palestine.
Each month since Sayed Fadlallah’s passing brings deeper understanding about the greatness of this public servant and the value of his achievements. Following Arbeen, the Muslim 40 day period of mourning for the departed, I visited with two of Fadallah’s close associates who wondered whether the future without his leadership would lead to his social service agency, the Mabarrat, having to cut back on its 30 schools, medical facilities, and social service agencies. They were worried that with his parting, his life’s work might become diminished and growing demands in the community could not be met.
This morning I was advised by a key aide of the late Ayatollah Fadlallah that the Marbarrat, thanks to Fadlallah’s administrative skill, planning and foresight, is strong, expanding and will long serve our community.
May Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah forever rest in Peace.
A vast army of heavily armed criminals has embedded itself in every major city in the United States. In fact, nearly every community in America is now affected by these thugs. Drugs, theft and brutal violence are all part of the every day lifestyle of the members of this army. They aggressively recruit our young people and floods of illegal immigrants are joining their ranks. Once civil unrest erupts in America, they will go on a crime spree that will be absolutely unprecedented and they will burn large areas of some U.S. cities to the ground. So who am I talking about? I am talking about the rapidly growing gangs that are terrorizing cities all over the nation. The FBI tells us that there are now 1.4 million gang members involved in the 33,000 different gangs that are active inside the United States. The number of gang members in the U.S. has increased by 40 percent since 2009. Just think about that. That is absolutely astounding. Just since 2009, the number of gang members has increased by 40 percent. The FBI says that 48 percent of all violent crime in this country can be directly traced to gangs and that this is a national crisis that is progressively getting worse. Unfortunately, the federal government refuses to secure our borders and is allowing new waves of illegal immigrants to enter the United States every single day. A substantial number of those illegal immigrants end up involved in these gangs. Yet the federal government just stands by and allows it to keep happening. One day, the foolishness of this policy will be evident to all.
In many areas of America today, families live behind windows that have bars on them and they won’t ever go out at night because it is just too dangerous. There are some communities that have pretty much been entirely taken over by the gangs, but instead of addressing the problem the federal government continues to spend a massive amount of resources checking out what might be in our underwear at U.S. airports.
Meanwhile, criminal gangs are thriving. They are becoming incredibly powerful and increasingly sophisticated. The following is from an FBI press release….
Gangs are increasingly engaging in non-traditional gang-related crime such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution. Gangs are also engaging in white-collar crime such as counterfeiting, identity theft, and mortgage fraud.
You can find much more background information about gang activity in the United States from the FBI right here.
You have probably heard of some of the largest of these gangs.
For example, the 18th Street Gang is the largest gang in the state of California. It is said that they have 15,000 members in California alone, and that on average they are responsible for at least one major crime in Los Angeles County every single day.
It has been reported that police in Los Angeles are extremely hesitant to ever venture into the areas most heavily controlled by the 18th Street gang. They are absolutely brutal and they do not back down to anyone. The following is whatWikipedia has to say about the 18th Street Gang….
A US Justice Department report from 2009 estimates that the 18th Street gang has a membership of some 30,000 to 50,000 with 80% of them being illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America and is active in 44 cities in 20 states. Its main source of income is street-level distribution of cocaine and marijuana and, to a lesser extent, heroin and methamphetamine. Gang members also commit assault, auto theft, carjacking, drive-by shootings, extortion, homicide, identification fraud, and robbery.
Another very prominent gang that you may have heard of is the Latin Kings. It is reported that they have 18,000 members in the city of Chicago alone. They are believed to be the largest Hispanic gang in the entire nation.
One of the gangs that has law enforcement authorities the most concerned is MS-13. There are chapters of MS-13 in 42 states now, and if you cross a member of MS-13 there is a good chance that you will lose a limb or be hacked to death with a machete.
This tough economic environment has made it even easier for these gangs to recruit new members. Today, there are way too many young people sitting around with nothing to do.
Back in the year 2000, more than 50 percent of all Americans teens had a job. This past summer, only 29.6% of all American teens had a job.
When you have lots of teens and young adults sitting around with nothing but time on their hands, bad things are prone to happen.
As the family unit continues to decline in America, young people are looking for a sense of belonging. For many youths, a gang becomes a new “family” for them.
But unfortunately, these new “families” do not exactly teach “family values”. Instead, they teach our young people about how to be brutal and violent.
And we are seeing evidence of this out on the streets every single day. For example, a group of 6 young thugs recently attacked a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran in Philadelphia and beat him up so badly that he almost died….
Kate Schaefer, the victim’s wife, told Eyewitness News, ‘They just smashed every bone in his face. I can’t tell you the words. I guess I was just happy that he was alive.’
During 2011, we saw a large increase in “group crime” behavior. Some of the incidents have been absolutely horrific. For example, the following is how one local ABC News affiliate described the “flash mob” attacks that took place at the Wisconsin state fair earlier this year….
Milwaukee police said that around 11:10 p.m., squads were sent to the area for reports of battery, fighting and property damage being caused by an unruly crowd of “hundreds” of people. One officer described it as a “mob beating.”
Police said the group of young people attacked fair goers who were leaving the fair grounds. Police said that some victims were attacked while walking. They said others were pulled out of cars and off of motorcycles before being beaten.
Can you imagine taking your kids to the state fair and having them witness that?
But this is just the beginning.
These gangs are becoming very organized and they are becoming very heavily armed.
The FBI says that rifles, machine guns, grenades and even artillery rounds are being found in the possession of gangs more frequently than ever.
Some examples of this were recently posted on military.com. These gangs seem to have a particular affection for AK-47s….
In late July, 27 AK-47s were stolen from a Fort Irwin warehouse, officials said. Those close to the case, who would speak only under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the subject, said investigators believe gang members were involved in the theft.
Sadly, that same article noted that members of the U.S. military have even been arrested for trying to sell weapons to these gangs….
In November 2010, three former Marines were arrested in Los Angeles for selling assault weapons to members of the violent street gang, Florencia 13, according to the NGIC report. That same month, a Navy Seal from San Diego and two others were arrested in Colorado for smuggling about 18 military-issued machine guns from Iraq and Afghanistan to be sold and shipped to buyers in Mexico.
Those that want to steal guns are becoming increasingly bold. For example, 21 machine guns were stolen a while back right out of an LAPD training facility.
Down in Miami, thieves have become so bold that they have actually beenbreaking into parked police cruisers and stealing guns and ammo out of them.
When people are stealing guns directly from the police, that is a sign that it is very late in the game.
Our politicians spend so much time talking about the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the truth is that the area right along the U.S./Mexico border is far more dangerous.
Just check out the following information from CNSNews.com….
According to the Mexican government, from January through September 2011 2,276 deaths were recorded in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which borders Texas and New Mexico.
A Nov. 2011 Congressional Research Service (CRS) reportstates that over nearly the same period – January through October 2011 – 2,177 civilians were killed in Afghanistan, where a U.S.-led war against the Taliban is underway. It did not provide a breakdown of responsibility for that period, but said that in 2010, 75 percent of civilian deaths were attributed to the Taliban and other “anti-government elements.”
Per capita, a person was at least nine times more likely to be murdered in Chihuahua last year than in Afghanistan.
Many of the areas along our border with Mexico are open war zones.
But do we hear about this much in the mainstream media?
Of course not.
Just across the U.S. border lies the city of Juarez, Mexico. Juarez is considered to be one of the most dangerous cities on the entire planet because of the brutal drug war being waged there. In fact, Juarez is the murder capital of the western hemisphere.
But most Americans have never even heard of Juarez.
Complete and total chaos reigns in vast areas of northern Mexico, and yet most Americans don’t even realize that there is a problem.
Overall, more than 35,000 people have been killed since the Mexican government declared war on the drug cartels back in 2006.
You would think that would warrant some significant news coverage.
But no, the mainstream media can’t talk much about that because then the people might actually start demanding that we secure our borders.
Amazingly, instead of securing our borders the Obama administration has been busy sending guns down to the drug cartels in Mexico.
That is what this whole “Fast and Furious” scandal is all about. As I have written about previously, ATF agents purposely allowed thousands of guns to be sold to individuals that they believed would get them into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
But so far, nobody in the Obama administration has been held accountable for this.
During 2009 and 2010, 70 percent of the 30,000 guns that were recovered by authorities in Mexico were determined to have come from inside the United States.
That is a major problem.
These Mexican drug cartels and the gangs that work with them have become very heavily armed and they have become very bold.
It has been reported that Mexican drug cartels are now openly conducting military operations inside the United States. Scouts for the cartels maintain strategic lookout bases in the hills of southern Arizona, and the federal government has even put up signs that warn tourists to say out of certain areas. The cartels very much try to avoid any confrontations with our border patrol or with our local police, but once they are approached they are not afraid to open fire.
One very frustrated border patrol agent told Fox News the following about what is going on in his area….
“To say that this area is out of control is an understatement.”
So how in the world can the federal government allow this to go on?
Well, a big part of it is that Barack Obama does not want to do anything that could scare away his Hispanic voters.
In fact, he is doing just about everything that he can to portray himself as “Hispanic-friendly”.
A few months ago, I wrote about how the Obama administration has announced that there will now be a case-by-case review of all deportation cases involving illegal immigrants. Those involving “criminals” will be prioritized and almost all the rest will be thrown out.
Yes, you read that correctly.
If you are an illegal immigrant and you have not been convicted of a crime that means that you almost certainly get to stay in this country.
So that is basically a big green light for even larger waves of illegal immigrants to enter this country.
That means that the ranks of the gangs will swell even more.
The chaotic drug war that is going on in northern Mexico has spread into many areas of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. With each passing day, the gangs that are embedded in all of our major cities are getting stronger. They are a ticking time bomb that eventually will go off.
One day, when mass civil unrest erupts in the United States, the gangs will have a field day. Given the opportunity, most gangs will gleefully indulge in brutal violence, looting, arson, rape and mindless property destruction.
Sadly, this all could have been avoided.
Instead of strip-searching old women at airports, this is what we should have been dedicating our law enforcement resources to.
Instead of spending billions of dollars spying on the American people, the federal government should have spent billions of dollars on securing our borders.
Unfortunately, we made the wrong choices as a nation and so now we are going to pay the price.
Source: The American Dream
The Letter of the Law…
With laws spewing forth from 435 congressmen and a hundred senators in Washington, 40 state senators in Tallahassee, and a cadre of local legislators, Florida is being inundated with laws. It is hard to exit our houses without breaking a law. We are suffering from stage-four legal carcinoma. With volumes of laws already on the books and new ones being added daily obedience is impossible.
For the little yellow light before the school grounds we quickly slow from forty miles per hour to twenty miles per hour. It blinks for a period of half hour or more twice every school day and since it is electrically controlled sometimes when there is no school. Almost no one walks to school anymore and there is seldom, if ever, a student visible anywhere on the sidewalk or roadway outside the fence that surrounds the school. The slow-down is to protect students but there are no students to protect.
Early on Sunday morning on a six lane highway the only visible vehicle stops at a left turn signal and being completely alone on the highway turns left against the signal. A policeman parked off the highway in a gas station across the street stops the vehicle and the driver pays a $300 dollar fine.
A twinge of foolishness passes over a driver stopped at a sign when there is not another vehicle in sight.
Granted, it is difficult to control traffic. But traffic laws are boondoggles that have deteriorated into a contest between police and citizens and are often used by local governments to enhance revenue. Cameras that record the license numbers of cars that violate traffic signals are the latest pocket picking device. Issuing expensive tickets for actions that are safe and logical casts a pall on the law and adds to the disdain that plagues police officers.
For most Americans their only experience with law enforcement is a confrontation with a traffic cop. Being forced to stop the car, ordered to produce identification, and queried as if suspected of a crime by a policeman who is heavily armed and threatening, and who demands compliance when thousands of other drivers are committing the same offense with impunity rubs many victims the wrong way. The demand for acquiescence sometimes produces a belligerence that results in innocent but stubborn citizens being dragged from their vehicles, thrown to the pavement, handcuffed and transported to a local jail. Judges support belligerent cops.
The incremental deterioration of the policies of our police forces has resulted in a self-protective, self indulgent attitude in organizations that used to serve the public but now have often become an enemy to those they are supposed to serve. It is illegal for a citizen to lie to a policeman but legal for a policeman to lie to a citizen. It is legal for policemen to beat up a suspect but illegal for the suspect to resist. Without seeing a weapon, solely on suspicion of lethal resistance policemen can murder an innocent suspect with impunity. The innocent murdered suspect is quickly forgotten but when a policeman is murdered the grieving process is grandiose.
Over forty years ago President Nixon proclaimed drugs “enemy number one” and began the disastrous War on Drugs. Like the War on Terror it is perennial, like the experience with Prohibition it is futile, and like the misuse of traffic laws it has become a source of illegitimate revenue. Millions of dollars have been confiscated and used to enrich local police departments. In some states a few ounces of marijuana found by a sniffing dog can result in the loss of one’s car, one’s cash, and one’s freedom. The arbitrary appropriation of large amounts of cash and property receives little publicity but policemen strive to find these marks sometimes using instructions that are readily available on the internet. Read about this travesty here and here.
Murder, burglary, and robbery used to be the three major crimes. Today, selectively determined “sexual offenses” are the most feared and most punished. Murderers no longer receive the headline coverage awarded to child molesters. Murder is routine while child molestation is sensational. Sex offenders are branded with a symbolic S.O. that like Hester’s Scarlet Letter identifies their existence. However, unlike Hawthorn’s Hester who gained acceptance, their sentence involves a lifetime of being feared, shunned, and persecuted often for political advantage.
We have created an artificial set of laws that apply to children but the definition of children has become as blurred as the definition of a baby. Eighteen is broadly accepted as the age of adulthood but being chronologically adult bears no relationship to personal maturity; some individuals are mature at thirteen and others are immature a thirty. Humanist abortion advocates claim that “fetuses” are not human beings. This definition becomes seriously questionable at the time of birth when a full orbed baby is sometimes mutilated to obtain stem cells that were touted as potential cures for human diseases but are also being used for commercial purposes such as food flavoring.
Killing a developing baby is as murderous as killing an adult and much more cowardly. Laws against murder, adultery, and fornication need to be enforced, regardless of age. What is bad for children is also bad for adults. Sin is not and should not be age related.
R. J. Rushdoony writes, “Inability to learn: this is our national problem. We are destroying everything that made us great. We are undermining the farmer and pushing him toward ruin. We are pursuing immoral courses as though they were Godly ones. And, like a gambler, the more foolish we become, the more we persuade ourselves that our course of action will make us a winner.” Humanists are unable to learn. They may be smart as whips but they are unable to apprehend and follow truth. Rushdoony maintains, “The Word of God must be proclaimed, and it must be studied. Then men can learn by experience.”
It is a frightening thing to fall into the clutches of our legal system. When the law, the courts, and the judges fail to produce justice the system becomes torturous. Unjust laws upheld by dishonest lawyers in courts conducted by wisdom impaired judges produce unpredictable and outrageous decisions.
It is the inability of the unrepentant to learn that causes society to revert to mordant anarchy. History clearly documents the evil nature of human beings; it is a litany of strife and war. Unable and unwilling to learn from history in spite of superior mental acuity the unrepentant stubbornly maintain that human beings are “good”. This erroneous impression of goodness produces a legal system that is more concerned with human opinion and the law it produces than with the overarching justice of the Creator.
When the letter of the law is enforced, court officials will allow an incorrect decision to stand in spite of proof of innocence.
In his 1978 iconic speech at Harvard Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “I have spent all my life under a Communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is scarcely taking advantage of the high level of human possibilities.”
Justice cannot survive in a system that depends on the enforcement of the letter of human law. Without the objective legal system provided by the Creator the legal foundation of society is hopelessly flawed and when a flawed subjective legal system is enforced by assiduous police, injustice is rampant.
Instead of the static law provided by God, in this day of messianic government we have attempted to produce what God intended through the product of human intellect. The result is a legal system without an anchor plagued by the anarchy of brilliant human minds but bereft of justice.
As social injustice produces more and more unrest law enforcement has become more vicious. Policemen who in former days were peace keepers have now become law enforcers and are being equipped like invading armies. See this video.
Italy is noted for reckless drivers. On the Autostrada the left lane is reserved for high speeds and cars often careen along a hundred miles an hour. Slow drivers do not drive in the left lane. On rural roads, traffic moves quickly with cars and scooters darting in and out of tight spaces. When there is no traffic Italians ignore stop signs. In the cities scooters are everywhere they ride between cars, through, and in the outer lanes against traffic; they are carefully avoided. Speeding tickets and citations for violations are infrequent as long as there are no accidents. When there is an accident it is thoroughly investigated and fines are assessed on the violator.
There is more justice in Italian enforcement then there is in America.
Competing lawyers produce winners and losers; they do not produce justice. The judge maintains order and oversees legal compliance. The law is upheld but justice is forgotten, no one gets it, including the accused; if he is guilty and his lawyer wins he will go free and if he is innocent and his lawyer loses he will go to jail.
The messianic government of the United States of America imprisons more people per capita than any other nation in the world; though many of our citizens consider nations like China and Russia tyrannical neither nation has as large a percentage of their population incarcerated as we have in America.
A note to my readers: Fifteen year ago our home was new. Now we are in the process of fixing the things that have worn. We put in new flooring which involved unbelievable chaos – hundreds of books removed from and returned to the shelves, furniture moved from and returned to every room; carpet and tiles installers in and out of the house for several days. Lots of upset but now it is complete. We sold our motor home and I have supplemented my beloved Vespa scooter with a larger Honda (I can no longer handle a motorcycle but do well with the scooters.) Patty is planning to retire from her job at the end of this school year so we will be trying to sell a car and a scooter in a terrible market. I am hoping to return some of the housework to her and spend more time writing.
As the Occupy Movement gains strength nationally and internationally, questions of “what next” are popping up. Although there are no easy answers or ready-to-order recipes for moving forward, there are general ideas that can help unite the Occupy Movements with the broader community of the 99% — which is the most urgent need at the moment. Why the urgency? Writer Chris Hedges explains:
“The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this… They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets…”
The only reason that surviving occupied spots have been spared is because of the broader sympathy of the 99% combined with the direct participation of large sections of working people at marches and demonstrations. The corporate elite fear a strong, united movement like vampires fear sunlight.
Therefore, city governments are slow-playing the Occupy Movement where it is especially strong — New York and Portland, Oregon, etc. — and are attacking quickly in cities where momentum hasn’t caught fire —, Denver, Boston, etc. The massive demonstrations in New York and Portland have protected the occupied spaces thus far, as the mayor, police,and media attempt to chip away at public opinion by exploiting disunity in the movement or focusing on individuals promoting violence, drug use, etc.
To combat this dynamic, the Occupy Movement people needs to unite around common messages that they can effectively broadcast to those 99% not yet on the streets; or to maintain the sympathy of those who’ve already attended large marches and demonstrations. And although sections of the Occupy Movement
scoff at demands, they are crucially necessary. Demands unite people in action, and distinguish them from their opponents; demands give an aim and purpose to a movement and act as a communications and recruiting tool to the wider public. There is nothing to win if no demands are articulated.
One reason that the wealthy are strong is because they are united around demands that raise profits for the corporations they own: slashing wages and benefits, destroying unions, lowering corporate tax rates, destroying social programs, privatization, ending Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, etc.
To consolidate the ranks of the Occupy Movement we need similar demands that can inspire the 99%. These are the type of demands that will spur people into action — demands that will get working class people off their couches and into the streets! The immediate task of the movement is to broadcast demands that will agitate the majority of the 99% into action.
On a national level these demands are obvious: Tax the Rich to create a federal public jobs program, fully fund Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and other social programs, fully fund public education, single payer health care, end the wars. These are demands that can unite the Occupy Movement and working people nationally while preventing Democrats and Republicans from taking it over. Poll after poll has recorded that an overwhelming majority of the U.S. population strongly supports these demands, and many unions, including the national AFL-CIO have gone on record supporting them.
On a city and state level these demands can be translated to local issues; cities and states are facing budget deficits that are resulting in cuts to education, social services and resulting in more unemployment. Local Occupy Movements can demand that the local top1% pay more to make up for these, while also demanding that cities and states create jobs with this money.
Corporations are united in their purpose of profit chasing and social service slashing; so too must we be united in saving social services and taxing corporate profits, on a local and national level.
The Occupy Movement has more than room for an umbrella of demands from diverse sections of working class people, but now we must focus on what unites the vast majority, since the corporations have focused on dividing us for decades. The more diverse demands of the working class can find a safe place for expression and growth only within a mass, united movement.
There can be no doubt that the Occupy Movement will either continue to grow into a massive social movement or shrink until the corporate-elite are able to snuff it out. In order for the movement to grow, it must truly attract the broader 99%, not merely the most progressive 10%. Focusing on broad but specific demands that all working people will fight for will attract organized labor, the elderly, students, minorities, i.e., the whole working class.
A working class mass movement has not existed in the United States since the 1930s and 40s when it resulted in spectacular progressive change in America, even if it was cut short before European-style social programs were achieved. Nevertheless, the achievements of the mass movements of past generations are under attack — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a living wage, etc. Only a real working class movement can save these programs and expand them.
If the Occupy Movement fails, the far right will be emboldened. They are trembling at the potential power of the movement and have lost all momentum themselves. If we lose the initiative, they will immediately seize it to press their agenda further and faster. Only by expanding the movement can we extinguish the power of the corporate elite. We have history on our side; let’s not squander it.
The Occupy Movement represents a turning point in history. But in order to achieve its potential, it must reach out to the 99% and draw the majority into its ranks. Then it will have the power to change the agenda of this country, redraw the political map, and create a government that will operate in the interests of the vast majority, not the 1%. Once this change begins to unfold, there are no limits to what it could accomplish.
In a ‘united against Iran campaign,’ the US government has accused Tehran of orchestrating an assassination plot against the Saudi envoy in Washington, a move which is to be seen as part of a US stratagem to carry on with its plan of demonizing and isolating the Islamic Republic of Iran.
US Vice President Joe Biden said on “The Early Show” on Wednesday that “It’s critically important that we unite the world in the isolation of and dealing with the Iranians. That’s the surest way to be able to get results.”
Obviously, the US officials will use the fabricated occasion to press for new international sanctions as they say that Iranian agents have sought to hire a purported member of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi envoy on American soil.
Regardless of the impertinence and hollowness of the claim, one should not disregard the influence of the powerful Zionist lobby in the new mudslinging plan which is, as Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani puts it, a ‘tactless and childish game.”
To add more fuel to Iranophobia, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on other countries to work together against what is becoming a clearer and clearer threat” from Iran and said, “This really, in the minds of many diplomats and government officials, crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.”
Washington, once again, went on a labeling spree and called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
There is well-grounded speculation that the new move is meant to stir up dissension in the region so that the US may bolster its waning influence among the Middle Eastern countries as Iran wields a great amount of political muscle in the region. In other words, the US will then be in a position to fish in troubled waters.
In concerted efforts with Israel, Washington has a long history of covert operations in Iran including cyber-terrorism, commercial sabotage and targeted assassinations. A notable instance of such operations is a computer worm known as Stuxnet which has hit Iranian nuclear facilities, categorically a deliberate attempt by the US government to destroy what Iranian scientists have reaped during years. The worm was reportedly tested in Israel at the notorious nuclear arsenal Dimona in a joint Israeli-American effort (The New York Times January 15, 2011). Ironically, Dimona which has been used as a testing ground for the worm, houses over 300 nuclear warheads, and was kept hidden for years until Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at Dimona, fled to Britain in 1986 and revealed the Israeli nuclear program as well as a top-secret underground facility directly below the installation. Reports say that Israel has at its disposal material for roughly 20 hydrogen bombs and 200 fission bombs. Needless to say, Israel is not a global security threat despite its nuclear warheads and irresponsible behavior towards the Palestinians as it is a fawning ally of the USA.
Apart from sabotaging the nuclear program in Iran, Washington has shamelessly engaged in a series of assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists. In July 2011, a university student named Daryoush Rezaei, 35, was shot down while his wife sustained serious injuries and was rushed to hospital. In 2010, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, a nuclear scientist, was killed by a remote-controlled bomb in Tehran. On November 29, 2010, two other scientists were targeted by bombs that hit their cars in the capital. The assailants, who were on motorcycles, had stuck magnetic bombs to the victims’ cars. Professor Majid Shahriari was killed on the spot, but Dr. Fereydoun Abbasi and his wife sustained minor injuries and were taken to a hospital. A report carried by The Jerusalem Post citing French Weekly Le Canard enchaine revealed that Mossad had conducted the assassinations “with the help of the CIA and MI6.”
According to intelligence sources, the assassinations were part of Joint US-Israeli plots meant to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. Also, an article published in the Portuguese-language Weekly, The Expresso revealed that high-ranking Mossad officials gathered at the spy agency’s headquarters in northern Tel Aviv, concluding that the killing of Shahriari would be Mossad’s last covert operation under its current director, Meir Dagan. However, the two spy agencies refused to assume any responsibility for the attacks whatsoever.
In the Iowa Republican Presidential Debate in August 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spurted out his brazen sloganeering against the Islamic republic and when asked about the situation in Libya, he unconsciously gave rein to his anger and started ranting about Iran, saying the nation had “gone on the offensive” against the USA and needed to be confronted. Soon other hawks joined in with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty speaking venomously in favor of attacking Iran and boldly lauding the “good works” of the US government in assassinating Iranian scientists and the “good work” of creating the Stuxnet computer virus. This was how he let the cat out of the bag, making it clear that the USA was behind all those atrocities.
Some pundits believe that the US move will put Iran in the forefront of global hatred. This will never happen as the US and its lapdog Israel have already played similar games about Iran over and over again.
What the US government has done to the Iranian nation is not easy to forget and the support it keeps voicing for Israel is not difficult to digest.
Isn’t it strange that Iran, which has long been a victim of US-sponsored terrorism and assassinations, should have become a target of threadbare allegations?
How You Are Always Living In the Past, and Other Quirks of Perception…
I always knew we humans have a rather tenuous grip on the concept of time, but I never realized quite how tenuous it was until a couple of weeks ago, when I attended a conference on the nature of time organized by the Foundational Questions Institute. This meeting, even more than FQXi’s previous efforts, was a mashup of different disciplines: fundamental physics, philosophy, neuroscience, complexity theory. Crossing academic disciplines may be overrated, as physicist-blogger Sabine Hossenfelder has pointed out, but it sure is fun. Like Sabine, I spend my days thinking about planets, dark matter, black holes—they have become mundane to me. But brains—now there’s something exotic. So I sat rapt during the neuroscientists’ talks as they described how our minds perceive the past, present, and future. “Perceive” maybe isn’t strong enough a word: our minds construct the past, present, and future, and sometimes get it badly wrong.
Neuroscientist Kathleen McDermott of Washington University began by quoting famous memory researcher Endel Tulving, who called our ability to remember the past and to anticipate the future “mental time travel.” You don’t use the phrase “time travel” lightly in front of a group of physicists for whom the concept is not a convenient metaphor but a very real possibility. But when you hear about how our minds glide through time—and how our memory provides a link not only to the past but also to the future—you see Tulving’s point.
McDermott outlined the case of Patient K.C., who has even worse amnesia than the better-known H.M. on whom the film Memento was based. K.C. developed both retrograde and anterograde amnesia from a motorcycle crash in 1981. (The literaturedoesn’t say whether he was wearing a helmet, but let this be a lesson.) He can’t remember anything that happened more than a few minutes ago. He retains facts and skills, but can’t remember actually doing anything or being anywhere.
Tellingly, not only can he not recall the past, he can’t envision the future. When researchers ask him to picture himself somewhere he might go, he says that all he sees is “a big blankness.” Another patient McDermott has worked with can explain the future in the abstract, but says he can’t imagine himself in it.
To investigate the perception of past and future in people without brain injuries, McDermott did fMRI brain scans of 21 college students, asking them to recall a specific incident in their past and then envision themselves in a specific future scenario. Subjectively, the two feel very different. Yet the scans showed the same patterns of activity. Areas scattered all over the brain lit up; our temporal perception is distributed. As a control, McDermott also asked the students to remember events involving Bill Clinton (presumably, ones they were not personally involved in), and the patterns were very different. In a follow-up study, McDermott asked 27 students to anticipate an event in both a familiar and an unfamiliar place. The brain scan for the familiar one resembled the one for the act of remembering; the unfamiliar one was the odd man out.
The bottom line is that memory is essential to constructing scenarios for ourselves in the future. Anecdotal evidence backs this up. Our ability to project forward and to recollect the past both develop around age 5, and people who are good at remembering also report having vivid thoughts about the future.
McDermott’s colleague Henry Roediger studies metacognition—thinking about thinking. We express varying degrees of confidence in our memories. How we do this is clearly an issue for the court system. The N.J. Supreme Court recently tightened standards on the consideration of eyewitness testimony, citing the risk of false positives. Roediger pointed out that false negatives get less attention, but are equally bad. The worst eyewitnesses are full of passionate intensity, and the best lack all conviction. In both cases, innocent people can be sent to death row while the guilty walk.
Cognitive psychologists find that confidence sometimes correlates with accuracy, sometimes not. Roediger gave volunteers a memory word test. They had to study a list of words; afterwards, they were presented with a series of words and had to indicate whether each had been on the original list. They also had to say how confident they felt about their answer.
Whenever I hear about such tests, I brace myself for bad news. But Roediger said people actually did pretty well, and their confidence scores tracked the accuracy of their recall. Their blind spots were predictable. They systematically messed up, both in recall accuracy and self-assessment, when presented words that weren’t on the list but were synonyms of ones that were. The findings match what happens with eyewitnesses. We get things broadly right, but are easily confused by similar situations and faces.
It’s not that our memory is a glitchy wetware version of computer flash memory; it’s that the computer metaphor just doesn’t apply. Roediger said we store only bits and pieces of what happened—a smattering of impressions we weave together into feels like a seamless narrative. When we retrieve a memory, we also rewrite it, so that the time next we go to remember it, we don’t retrieve the original memory but the last one we recollected. So, each time we tell a story, we embellish it, while remaining genuinely convinced of the veracity of our memories.
So go easy on your friend who caught the 150-pound catfish. He wasn’t consciously lying, which is why he spoke with conviction, but that still doesn’t mean you should swallow his tale. To confuse is human; to accept we confuse, divine.
Speaking of fish, as neuroscientistMalcolm MacIver of Northwestern once put it to me, electric fish are the fruit flies of neuroscience—model organisms for studying how we sense the world. MacIver told the FQXi conference about his astoundingly comprehensive, leave-no-stone-unturned study of a species of Amazonian electric fish, using everything from supercomputer fluid simulations to an working model of the fish (captured in this video) and even an art installation.
The fish generates an electric field of about 1 millivolt per centimeter at a frequency that ranges from 50 to 2000 hertz. Water fleas, its prey, give themselves away by disrupting the field. (You can build a proximity sensor based on this concept. I use one to control the lights in my study.) What gets ichthyologists flapping is that, when this fish is out hunting, it doesn’t swim straight ahead, but at a 30-degree angle to the axis of its body—a seemingly cuckoo behavior that nearly triples the water drag force.
But MacIver demonstrated that the orientation also increases the effective volume of water sensed by the electric field. The fish strikes a balance between mechanical and sensory efficiency. Generalizing this insight, he distinguished between two distinct volumes around an organism: its sensory volume (the region it can scan for prey) and its motor volume (the region it can directly reach). For this fish and most other aquatic animals, the two are comparable in size—there’d be no point in looking out any farther. A fish’s reach does not exceed its grasp.
For land animals, though, things are quite different: their sensory volume is much bigger than their motor volume, since light travels much farther in air than in seawater. So when our ancestors crawled out of the sea, they gained the opportunity to plan their behavior in advance. No longer restricted to reacting to immediate stimuli, they had time to take in the scene and deliberate before moving. Animals that could arbitrage the difference in sensory and motor volumes gained an evolutionary advantage.
MacIver speculated that this set the stage for the evolution of consciousness. After all, what is consciousness, but the ability to make plans and gain some advantage over our environment, rather than lurching from crisis to crisis? Psychologist Bruce Bridgemanproposed this view of consciousness in the early 1990s. MacIver elaborated in a poston his blog, Science Not Fiction, earlier this year.
The fun thing about neuroscience is that you can do the experiments on yourself.David Eagleman of the Baylor College of Medicine proceeded to treat us as his test subjects. By means of several visual illusions, he demonstrated that we are all living in the past: Our consciousness lags 80 milliseconds behind actual events. “When you think an event occurs it has already happened,” Eagleman said.
In one of these illusions, the flash-lag effect, a light flashes when an object moves past it, but we don’t see the two as coincident; there appears to be a slight offset between them. By varying the parameters of the experiment, Eagleman showed that this occurs because the brain tries to reconstruct events retroactively and occasionally gets it wrong. The reason, he suggested, is that our brains seek to create a cohesive picture of the world from stimuli that arrive at a range of times. If you touch your toe and nose at the same time, you feel them at the same time, even though the signal from your nose reaches your brain first. You hear and see a hand clap at the same time, even though auditory processing is faster than visual processing. Our brains also paper over gaps in information, such as eyeblinks. “Your consciousness goes through all the trouble to synchronize things,” Eagleman said. But that means the slowest signal sets the pace.
The cost of hiding the logistical details of perception is that we are always a beat behind. The brain must strike a balance. Cognitive psychologist Alex Holcombe at Sydney has some clever demonstrations showing that certain forms of motion perception take a second or longer to register, and our brains clearly can’t wait thatlong. Our view of the world takes shape as we watch it.
The 80-millisecond rule plays all sorts of perceptual tricks on us. As long as a hand-clapper is less than 30 meters away, you hear and see the clap happen together. But beyond this distance, the sound arrives more than 80 milliseconds later than the light, and the brain no longer matches sight and sound. What is weird is that the transition is abrupt: by taking a single step away from you, the hand-clapper goes from in sync to out of sync. Similarly, as long as a TV or film soundtrack is synchronized within 80 milliseconds, you won’t notice any lag, but if the delay gets any longer, the two abruptly and maddeningly become disjointed. Events that take place faster than 80 milliseconds fly under the radar of consciousness. A batter swings at a ball before being aware that the pitcher has even throw it.
The cohesiveness of consciousness is essential to our judgments about cause and effect—and, therefore, to our sense of self. In one particularly sneaky experiment, Eagleman and his team asked volunteers to press a button to make a light blink—with a slight delay. After 10 or so presses, people cottoned onto the delay and began to see the blink happen as soon as they pressed the button. Then the experimentersreduced the delay, and people reported that the blink happened before they pressed the button.
Eagleman conjectured that such causal reversals would explain schizophrenia. All of us have an internal monologue, which we safely attribute to ourselves; if we didn’t, we might think of it as an external voice. So Eagleman has begun to run the same button-blink experiment on people diagnosed with schizophrenia. He reported that changing the delay time did not cause them to change their assessment of cause and effect. “They just don’t adjust,” Eagleman said. “They don’t see the illusion. They’re temporally inflexible.” He ventured: “Maybe schizophrenia is fundamentally a disorder of time perception.” If so, it suggests new therapies to cajole the brains of schizophrenic patients into recalibrating their sense of timing.
In the experiment for which Eagleman is best known, he sought to find out why time passes more slowly when we’re scared. Does something really happen in the brain—for instance, the time resolution of perception speeds up—or do we just think it does, in hindsight? After brainstorming scare tactics that probably wouldn’t have passed muster with a university ethics committee, he hit upon asking volunteers to take one of those Freefall or Demon Drop rides you find in amusement parks. They wore a special watch whose digits counted up too quickly for people to register them under normal conditions—thinking that, if perception really did speed up, people would be able to read the digits.
Alas, they couldn’t. Although they consistently reported that the ride took about a third longer than it really did, this must have been a trick of memory; their hyperacuity was a mirage.
Our memory becomes distorted because our brains react more strongly to novelty than to repetition. Eagleman investigated this effect by asking volunteers to estimate the duration of flashes of light; those flashes that were the first in a series, or broke an established pattern, seemed to last longer. This feature of consciousness, like the 80-millisecond rule, explain so much about our daily experience. When we’re sitting through a boring event, it seems to take forever. But when we look back on it, it went by in a flash. Conversely, when you’re doing something exciting, time seems to race by, but when you look back on it, it stretched out. In the first case, there was little to remember, so your brain collapsed the feeling of duration. In the second, there was so much to remember, so the event seemed to expand. Time flies when you’re having fun, but crawls when you recollect in tranquility.
I suspect that this inverse relation in our perception of time also explains how our experiences shift as we age. When you’re a kid, you wake up and say to yourself: “I’ve got a whole day ahead of me. How will I possibly fill it all?” But when you’re an adult, it’s more like: “I’ve got a day ahead of me. How will I possibly get it all done?” And don’t get me started on how people swear that the first year of their baby’s life went by so fast. (A second child is usually enough to disabuse them.)
You can probably tell from my lengthy description of Eagleman’s talk that it seemed to zip by at the time. The physicists in attendance found it one of the highlights of the conference. Not only was it engrossing in its own right, it had some professional interest for them. All theories of physics begin with sense-data. As Eagleman said, “We build our physics on top of our intuitions.”
We also build our physics on a recognition of the limits of perception. The whole point of theories such as relativity is to separate objective features of the world from artifacts of our perspective. One of the most important books of the past two decades on the physics and philosophy of time, Huw Price’s Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point, argues that concepts of cause and effect derive from our experience as agents in the world and may not be a fundamental feature of reality.
Time plays a variety of roles in physics, from defining causal sequences to giving a direction to the unfolding of the universe. How many of these roles are rooted in the contingent ways our brains perceive time? How might an alien being, who perceives time in a radically different way, formulate physics?
Source: George Musser | ScientificAmerican.com