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The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was founded in 2005 by Mikey Weinstein, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and Reagan administration White House counsel, after the harassment his own sons faced as Jewish cadets at the academy led him to discover that the fundamentalist Christian takeover of the Air Force Academy was far from an isolated problem.
It was a militarywide issue that needed to be confronted head on. But it quickly became apparent that MRFF's initial mission of protecting the rights of our men and women in uniform was only addressing part of the problem.
The evangelizing and proselytizing of Iraqi and Afghan Muslims by private religious organizations and U.S. military personnel also had to be exposed and stopped -- particularly the materials and media available via the Internet and television that could be used by Islamic extremists as propaganda for recruiting purposes....
Top Ten Ways to Convince the Muslims We're On a Crusade
10. Have top U.S. military officers, Defense Department officials and politicians say we're in a religious war.
9. Have top U.S. military officers appear in a video showing just how Christian the Pentagon is.
8. Plant crosses in Muslim lands and make sure they're big enough to be visible from really far away.
7. Paint crosses and Christian messages on military vehicles and drive them through Iraq. Read more.
Michael Munk was struck by Burl Ross' Letter to the Editor in the Oregonian satirizing the current political climate in which the content of the Pledge of Allegiance seems almost a historical aberration. Below the Letter is Dr. Baer's Short History of the Pledge of Allegiance.
About that Socialist pledge | The Oregonian
In Letters to the editor
September 24, 2009, 8:00PM
Our schoolchildren should never be instructed by their teachers to quote Socialist propaganda -- even to repeat the eloquent words of President Barack Obama.
Imagine an America where classrooms of indoctrinated young students would be directed to stand together every morning, place their hands over their hearts and recite the liberal proclamations of those like avowed Socialist Francis Bellamy, who wrote, in 1892, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Not in this America...
The Pledge of Allegiance
A Short History
by Dr. John W. Baer
Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. He was a Christian Socialist. In his Pledge, he is expressing the ideas of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the American socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).
Francis Bellamy in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with political, social and economic equality for all. The government would run a peace time economy similar to our present military industrial complex.
Excerpt from Daily Kos blog:
In Snowe's trigger amendment, if affordable coverage is not available for 95% of a state's residents, then you get a public option in that state. While there are issues with state-based public health insurance options, the catch-22 comes with Snowe's definition of affordability.
Affordable is defined as 13% of income. So, if there is no plan in the exchange that costs less than 13% of a person's income, we'd get a public health insurance option. But that calculation of what a plan costs is made after the government pays out subsidies or employers pay their share. And therein lies the catch-22.
Max Baucus's bill caps out-of-pocket costs for people buying insurance in the exchange at 12% of their income. Therefore, after you add in government subsidies, costs will legally always have to be below 12%. The insurance industry can raise their rates as much as they want and government will make up the difference. The trigger, if passed, will never trigger. Not ever.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post writes that a "public plan based on Medicare rates would save $110 billion over 10 years. That is $20 billion more than earlier estimates, a spokesman for House Speaker Pelosi said. In other words, the conservatives want to spend $85 billion more than the liberals do. Moreover, the CBO is estimating savings to the government. That is to say, the $85 billion reflects reduced federal spending on subsidies because premiums in the public plan will be lower. Savings to individuals and businesses paying lower premiums will be much larger than $85 billion, and politically, much more important."
~Chip's comment: The trigger is all smoke and mirrors marketed by lobbyists to corporate-fed lawmakers. All the more reason for single-payer, Medicare for all. Support H.R. 646/S.707 and the Kucinich amendment.
A major complaint surfaced immediately — that the Bush administration had not established a consolidated repository of intelligence and evidence on each prisoner. It took longer than expected to build such a database, the officials said, because information was scattered throughout agencies and inconsistent.
That database has now been completed, and prosecutors have also concluded their initial review of the detainees and recommended to the Justice Department an unspecified number who appear eligible for prosecution, the officials told the AP. The Justice Department and the Pentagon now will work together to determine which prisoners should be tried in military courts and which in civilian ones, the officials said. They would not provide a number recommended for prosecution since it could change.
The decision on which prisoners will be prosecuted had been expected by Nov. 16, and the officials said they are on track to meet that goal. Navy Capt. John F. Murphy, the chief military prosecutor, had said previously that about 65 cases are viable for prosecution....The officials noted that the U.S. prison system already holds 216 people convicted as international terrorists.
Another front in the effort to close the prison is the problem of finding countries willing to take in those detainees deemed eligible for release. The administration so far has transferred 14 prisoners to other countries, the officials said.
The White House acknowledged for the first time Friday that it might not be able to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay by January as President Barack Obama has promised.
Senior administration officials told The Associated Press that difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving thorny legal and logistical questions mean the president's self-imposed January deadline may slip. Obama remains as committed to closing the facility as he was when, as one of his first acts in office, he pledged to shut it down, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to more freely discuss the sensitive issue. They said the White House still was hoping to meet the deadline through a stepped-up effort. Read more.
Pointing to experience at the state level, the insurance industry and other health-care experts persuaded Obama that insurers could not go along with a guanteed issue policy without knowing that all adults would be forced into the system.
Insurers say that if you have guaranteed issue -- which means no discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions -- without an individual mandate, people will wait until they become sick to buy insurance and the system will fail due to a lack of risk sharing.
The debate over whether the federal government should require all Americans to carry health insurance is heating up.
The latest spark is a letter that Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, sent Thursday to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
Given that the health-care bill written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus contains a $1,900 fee (or excise tax) for not buying health insurance, Ensign wanted to know what would happen if an American didn't pay the penalty.
In a handwritten letter, Barthold told Ensign that under an existing provision of the Internal Revenue Code, willful failure to pay a fine can result in being charged with a misdemeanor which could carry a penalty of up to $25,000, or up to a year in jail, or both. The handwritten letter was a follow-up to an answer that Barthold gave Ensign during Thursday's mark-up of the Baucus bill. Read more.
The portion of this video with Dr. Hochfeld was previously posted, but in this video Ed goes into considerable detail about the health care debate and the Obama administration's leadership on it. Well-worth a second look...
Police State Raids Against Immigrants
By Stephen Lendman
In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established its largest investigative and enforcement branch - the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm (ICE) "as a law enforcement agency for the post-9/11 era, to integrate enforcement authorities against criminal and terrorist activities, including the fights against human trafficking and smuggling violent transnational gangs and sexual predators on children (who are) criminal (and) terrorist" threats to the nation.
Along with Muslims, Latinos are its prime targets, often using militarized unconstitutional tactics against vulnerable, defenseless people. Post-9/11, the Bush administration initiated them, and they continue under Obama.
On May 23, 2007, as a senator, Obama said:
"The time to fix our broken immigration system is now. We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace."
Congressman Jim McGovern Calls for U.S. Exit Strategy in Afghanistan
National Call-in Day: No Exit Strategy! Stop the Funding!
Wednesday September 30
To reach the Washington Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Congress is close to final passage of the $625.8 billion 2010 Defense Budget, which contains approximately $128.2 billion to conduct the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq through September 2010.
So far the White House has offered no timetable and no “exit strategy” for Afghanistan. To the contrary, General McCrystal is calling for tens of thousands of additional American troops and a long-term commitment, which could tie the United States down in Afghanistan for years to come.
Workplace Discrimination: Transgender Woman Urges Lawmakers to Pass Reforms
Ga. Legislative Editor Fired for Sex Change
By Devin Dwyer | ABC News
When Vandy Beth Glenn, formerly Glenn Morrison, was summoned to her boss's office Oct. 16, 2007, she was not prepared for the exchange that followed.
"He asked me if what he had heard was true: did I really intend to come to work as a woman? I told him yes, it was true."
Glenn, a transgender woman preparing for a sex-change procedure at the time, told ABCNews.com she expected her boss would "do the right thing."
Instead, Sewell Brumby, legislative counsel for the Georgia General Assembly allegedly told Glenn she was no longer suitable for her job.
"Mr. Brumby told me that people would think I was immoral. He told me I would make other people uncomfortable, just by being myself. He told me that my transition was unacceptable. And over and over, he told me it was inappropriate."
Then, Brumby fired Glenn.
"I'm not sure I was really thinking anything in that moment other than utter shock," Glenn told ABCNews.com. "That he was so matter of fact about it blew my mind." Read more.
October 7, 2009 begins the NINTH YEAR!!! of the United States (undeclared) War in Afghanistan. This war has gone on longer than any war in United States history, with the exception of the (undeclared) War in Vietnam. Please come to OffBase in Norfolk for a FREE SCREENING of Brave New Films very, very informative new production: RETHINK Afghanistan.
Obama Leads Security Council Session on Sidelines of UN General Assembly
By Margaret Besheer | VOA
President Barack Obama chaired a summit level-session of the Security Council Thursday that unanimously adopted a resolution committing to work toward a nuclear weapons-free world. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the second day of the U.N. General Assembly where the annual debate continued.
The Security Council session focused on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and the resolution urged action to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.
President Obama presided over the meeting, the first time a U.S. president has done so. He told the council that the United Nations has a "pivotal role to play" in preventing a nuclear crisis.
"The historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons," said President Obama. "And it brings Security Council agreement on a broad framework for action to reduce nuclear dangers as we work toward that goal." Read more.
Do insurers meddle in your medical care?
Some frustrated physicians complain of 'hassles' from insurance companies, but others say they could help doctors practice better medicine.
By Parija B. Kavilanz | CNN Money
Have you ever wondered why your doctor has you come back two or three times to complete a check-up instead of wrapping it up in one visit?
Doctors candidly admit that it's about money. And they blame insurers for "conditioning" them to practice medicine this way, meaning less efficiently than they believe they should.
Dr. Ted Epperly, a family physician based in Boise, Idaho, explained that if multiple services are administered to a patient on the same day, insurers often won't reimburse doctors for each separate treatment.
"Suppose I surgically remove a mole from a patient and I schedule a follow-up visit," said Epperly, who is also president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "During the follow-up visit, if I also check and treat the patient for hypertension, those are two different services."
His concern is that insurance companies won't reimburse him for the two different services because he provided them to his patient during the same office visit.
Doctors don't think this is fair. While some are eating the cost of additional services rendered to patients, others are having patients come back repeatedly so they can be adequately reimbursed. Read more.
Over the past week U.S. newspapers and television networks have been abuzz with reports that Washington and its NATO allies are planning an unprecedented increase of troops for the war in Afghanistan, even in addition to the 17,000 new American and several thousand NATO forces that have been committed to the war so far this year.
The number, based on as yet unsubstantiated reports of what U.S. and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen have demanded of the White House, range from 10,000 to 45,000.
Fox News has cited figures as high as 45,000 more American soldiers and ABC News as many as 40,000. On September 15 the Christian Science Monitor wrote of "perhaps as many as 45,000."
When Barack Obama gave his "civil liberties" speech at the National Archives in May, he advocated a new scheme of preventive detention for detainees whom he claimed "cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people," and he unambiguously vowed to develop a new statutory regime, enacted by Congress, to vest him with the power of what he called "prolonged detention":
I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. . . . But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantanamo detainees -- not to avoid one. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so going forward, my Administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution. As our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. . . . [I]f we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future.
Obama has now changed his mind about seeking a new law, and instead will continue to detain Terrorism suspects without charges under the current system (the one used by Bush/Cheney as well): Read more.
Lovebirds Steven and Kathryn share a well-organised home in bustling Las Vegas.
They have a neat, if compact kitchen, a furnished living area, and a bedroom complete with double bed, wardrobe and bookshelf featuring a wide selection including a Frank Sinatra biography and Spanish phrase book.
And they make their money in some of the biggest casinos in the world.
But their life is far from the ordinary.
Because, along with hundreds of others, the couple are part of a secret community living in the dark and dirty underground flood tunnels below the famous strip.
Rather than working in the bars or kitchens they "credit hustle", prowling the casinos searching the fruit machines for money or credits left by drunken gamblers.
Despite the risks from disease, highly venomous spiders and flooding washing them away, many of the tunnel people have put together elaborate camps with furniture, ornaments and shelves filled with belongings. Read more.
Why the Public Option is Doomed To Fail, and What Can Be Done About It
By Bruce A. Dixon, Managing Editor | Black Agenda Report
The generous, expansive public option on the lips of Congressional progressives, which would be open to all and compete to lower insurance prices is largely imaginary, while the president's stingy, divisive and means-tested version is all too real. But what about the third version of the public option? What is the Congressional Progressive Caucus doing to promote it, and to allow states to pursue single payer on their own?
The generous, expansive public option on the lips of Congressional progressives, which would be open to all and compete to lower insurance prices is largely imaginary, while the president's stingy, divisive and means-tested version is all too real. But what about the third version of the public option? What is the Congressional Progressive Caucus doing to promote it, and to allow states to pursue single payer on their own? Read more.
Center for Constitutional Rights Calls for Judicial Review of All Evidence When State Secrets Invoked
Center for Constitutional Rights Calls for Judicial Review of All Evidence When State Secrets Invoked | Press Release
Rights Group Critical of New DOJ Policy Promises
September 23, 2009, New York – In response to news the Attorney General is establishing new policy on the question of the use of the state secrets privilege, the Center for Constitutional Rights issues the following statement:
Artist Michael Parenti shared these graphics with ominous implications. The caption of Rina Castelnuovo's photo on the right for the New York Times reads, "A settler tosses wine at a Palestinian woman on Shuhada Street in Hebron. The approach of some settlers towards neighboring Palestinians, especially around Nablus in the north and Hebron in the south, has often been one of contempt and violence."
Robert Hariman posted the photo in his essay, The Practice of Domination in Everyday Life, describing its impacts this way:
One is that it reveals what is rarely shown: the small acts of personal viciousness and humiliation that make up the practice of domination in an occupied land. Second, it is clear that both the boy’s aggression and the woman’s protective reaction are often-practiced, habitual responses. Were he taunting an older woman for the first time, he would be likely to look much more ragged, uncoordinated, and either furtive or overly demonstrative. Instead, he could be a figure out of Whitman: throwing his weight around without breaking stride, a figure of youthful grace on the city street. Likewise, she isn’t being caught by surprise. Her head is already turned, her body hunched against the impending blow. She’s been through this before, and she’s learned that direct confrontation is not an option. This may be her neighborhood, but it’s his street.
The third dimension of the photograph’s power derives from its capacity for analogy. Look at the woman’s coat and hat, and at the Star of David scrawled on the storefront; she could be in the Warsaw ghetto, and all it takes is a change of costume to see him as a German soldier. Or they could be an African-American woman and a young cracker in the Jim Crow South, or any other tableau that depicts the small details of domination. One picture isn’t enough to nail down such comparisons, but it should make you think of them.
Commenter Dennis Q at BAGnewsNotes observed: "What makes this picture so horrifying for BagNews Notes readers is that the arc of the blood-red wine is the same as the arc of the scythe of the Grim Reaper."
The CIA's harsh interrogation program likely damaged the brain and memory functions of terrorist suspects, diminishing their physical ability to provide the detailed information the spy agency sought, according to a new scientific paper.
The paper by an Irish academic scrutinizes the harsh techniques used by the CIA under the Bush administration through the lens of neurobiology. Researchers concluded that the harsh methods were biologically counterproductive to eliciting quality information because prolonged stress harms the brain's ability to retain and recall information.
"Solid scientific evidence on how repeated and extreme stress and pain affect memory and executive functions (such as planning or forming intentions) suggests these techniques are unlikely to do anything other than the opposite of that intended by coercive or enhanced interrogation," according to the paper published Monday in the scientific journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Read more.
Doctors Are Mad As Hell Over Health Care - Tuesday, Louisville, KY, More & Ohio, Next! Wed., MI, IL, Hey Chi This Means You!
September 22 Mad as Hell in Louisville!
Humana Insurance Headquarters
500 W. Main Street
Contact: Garrett Adams
Goldstone Commission Gaza Conflict Findings and Reactions
By Stephen Lendman
"While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right of self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole." Rocket attacks were a pretext for naked aggression.
Calling them war crimes, the Mission found evidence that "Palestinian armed groups" launched rockets and mortars into Southern Israel, but they were minor incidents compared to the Israeli onslaught.
On April 3, 2009, a UN press release stated:
"The Human Rights Council (HRC) today announced the appointment of Richard J. Goldstone....to lead an independent (four-person) fact-finding mission to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip....The team will be supported by staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights....Today's appointment comes following the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council....to address 'the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip."
The bipartisan "gang of six" senators who helped craft the health care reform bill going before a key Senate committee Tuesday represent less than 3 percent of the U.S. population - but they hold a lot of power at a crucial policy-shaping moment in Congress.
That's why, analysts say, health care industry lobbyists have showered them with more campaign cash on average than other senators this year, in an attempt to influence the outcome.
Three Republican and three Democratic senators in the group, all of them members of the Senate Finance Committee, received an average of $74,600 from health industry lobbyists, according to The Chronicle's analysis of records through June.
That is about 25 percent more than the average of $59,632 in such donations that the gang's other Senate colleagues raked in from lobbyists for the pharmaceutical, hospital, insurance and nursing home industries, according to the analysis, which was based on records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit watchdog group.
"Money buys access," said Henry Brady, a professor of public policy and dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. Read more.
Obama has been desperate to ditch the public option for weeks. Max Baucus did the job he thought he was supposed to do--memorialize the deals that the White House cut with health care industry stakeholders. He left it to the White House to sell it, and now they have to.
But every time they tried to jettison the public option through surrogates like Kathleen Sebelius or "senior White House officials" speaking anonymously to media outlets, the base went haywire and Obama's poll numbers started tanking.
Well, now that Baucus has delivered his stenography, gotta get the base on board with the "goody bag" of benefits--which basically means whatever was left over after Rahm Emanuel got done auctioning off the rest to the medical industrial complex. Read more.
Illustration by Michael Parenti, http://artificialeyes.tv/blog/2 under a Creative Commons Share Alike with attribution license.
CIA Torturers Running Scared
By Ray McGovern
For the CIA supervisors and operatives who were responsible for torture, the chickens are coming home to roost. That is, if President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder mean it when they say no one is above the law — and if they have the courage to stand up to brazen intimidation.
Unable to prevent Attorney General Eric Holder from starting an investigation of torture and other war crimes that implicate CIA officials past and present, some of those same CIA officials, together with what in intelligence circles are called “agents of influence” in the media, are pulling out all the stops to quash the Department of Justice’s preliminary investigation.
In what should be seen as a bizarre twist, seven CIA directors—including three who are themselves implicated in planning and conducting torture and assassination— have asked the President to call off Holder.
Can someone please tell me how could the whole thing be more transparent?
By Linda Milazzo
In response to FOX's childish and embarrassing ad in the Washington Post that challenged competitors' coverage of the 9/12 teabaggers in Washington, DC, CNN is airing this equally chilidish and embarrassing ad to prove it did cover the teabaggers in Washington DC.
Oooh-oooh! Did I mention this is childish and embarrassing??
The Justice Department's review of detainee abuse by the CIA will focus on a very small number of cases, including at least one in which an Afghan prisoner died at a secret facility, according to two sources briefed on the matter.
On Friday, seven former CIA directors urged President Obama to end the inquiry, arguing that it would inhibit intelligence operations in the future and demoralize agency employees who believed they had been cleared by previous investigators.
"Attorney General [Eric] Holder's decision to re-open the criminal investigation creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute," the directors, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents over the past 35 years, wrote in a letter.
Opposition to the probe has grown in the weeks since Holder ordered it, even as the outlines of the inquiry become more clear. Among the cases under review will be the death seven years ago of a young Afghan man, who was beaten and chained to a concrete floor without blankets, according to the sources. The man died in the cold night at a secret CIA facility north of Kabul, known as the Salt Pit. Read more.