Archive | December 23rd, 2010



December 23, 2010  


(NBC.Com) Mohamad Khalil was eating dinner with a friend in a downtown Paterson, N.J. restaurant  when chilling words were thrown his way, according to a police report.

“Terrorist,” “Do you have your bomb belt?” “Are you going to slit my throat? Where is your knife?” were just some of the quotes cited in the police report.

Another was “Osama Bin Laden lover.”

The man uttering the words then allegedly turned on Khalil’s partner, Sandra Damrah –  an American-born  woman who says her father fought in World War Two and her brother in Vietnam– and told her to “go back to your country.” 

“Your people are ruining my country,” the man allegedly said.

The verbal assault appears to have stemmed from a battle over Khalil’s efforts to get custody of his young son.

The man who allegedly made those comments is, according to Khalil, a state Division of Youth and Family Services employee handling Khalil’s case. That state worker just happened to see Khalil and Damrah at the restaurant.

At a news conference today, Khalil, 41, said “I’m not a terrorist, I’m a regular person.”

He then broke down in tears as he said “I want my son, that’s only what I want. I think I have all the reason to have my son with me, give him toys, enjoy with him.”

Khalil said DYFS took his son and three other unrelated children a year ago, placing them in foster homes and ignored his pleas to keep his son.

According to James Yee, Executive Director of New Jersey’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the boy was put in a Christian home and is being raised with Christian cultural values, an instance the group said happens all to often with a state agency that is too often insensitive to keeping Muslim children in Muslim families.

A DYFS spokeswoman said the agency could not comment on the specific religious bias alleged of its case worker because of “confidentiality laws” though it did confirm it is looking into it.

But the agency’s Lauren Kidd did say in an emailed statement “DCF(the Department of Children and Families) continues to have an ongoing dialog with CAIR to effectively respond to concerns the organization raised and is committed to serving the Muslim Community.”

She added “The Department is committed to have a rich and diverse pool of resource homes, which include foster, kin and adoptive homes, to ensure the most appropriate placement for each child in our care.”

Kidd also confirmed that CAIR will participate in a cultural awareness training seminar for DYFS workers next month.




December 23, 2010 



By Bret Hayworth,

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. — Dakota City councilman Bob Lane whipped up a controversy when he placed a sign on his property reading “Never Trust a Man Named Mohamed.”

Lane, well-known in Dakota City for his strong opinions primarily on local and county government, placed the sign near a multiplex rental unit he owns in the 300 block of North 14th Street, a high-traffic route into the Dakota County town of 1,827. The sign led several residents to lodge complaints at City Hall.

Lane told the Journal he had removed the Mohamed sign after it had been up for more than a week and replaced it midafternoon Monday with a holiday message. He didn’t specify what the Mohamed name referenced.

“It is freedom of speech. Whenever we have a problem in the nation, the first name, the middle name or the last name is often Mohamed,” said Lane, a multi-term councilman who was re-elected this year.

Kathy Bruyere lives in South Sioux City and owns rental property in Dakota City near the sign.

“I find this very offensive,” Bruyere said. “We have a lot of East African workers who come to Tyson (Foods packing plant), and they are going to see this every day. A city councilman should not be representing the city of Dakota City in this manner. It is a manner that promotes hate and fear.”

Bruyere said she called the city of Dakota City in the morning and heard there had been several complaints. Yet, the city has no control over the sign because it is on private land and is an expression of free speech.

John Fickler of Dakota City said the Mohamed reference was mystifying in his circle of friends. Fickler said it is unclear whether the name reference was general or specific. Others wondered whether the reference was to a man named Mohamed who perhaps didn’t pay rent to Lane or the prophet (commonly spelled Muhammad) who is central in the founding of the Islam religion.

Some of Lane’s previous messages have criticized Dakota County government decisions, and others have been humorous or seasonal.

“Sometimes they are on local politics, whatever hits the moment. We haven’t quite figured (the new) one out yet,” Fickler said.

A person who lives in Lane’s complex with the sign said the city councilman has a right to express his opinion but worried that people might think the Mohamed reference came from one of the renters and retaliate against them.

Others said they thought the Lane reference was to the Prophet Muhammad and will stir prejudice, while some said there are problems with Islam, since some followers are openly hostile to Christians.



by Philip Giraldi,
December 23, 2010

Most Americans have a negative perception of Congress.  It is not hard to figure out why when one learns that most congressmen spend much of their time raising money so they can be reelected.  I for one am not bothered by that aspect of the legislative experience because I believe that if they are out pursuing money they are keeping out of trouble, except when they are simultaneously raising the cash illegally and concealing large packages of it in their freezers. 

When Congress actually sits down and does something, hold on to your hat and wallet.  Last week the House passed “unanimously” what might be described as a stealth resolution in that the document was only made public a day before being voted on, allowing no time for genuine debate or review by legislators and voters. 

When it was finally tabled, it received a voice vote, in which those present say aye or nay, with the speaker declaring whether the resolution passes or not.  Unlike a “record” vote, there is no easy way to determine who voted which way or, indeed, who was present when the vote was taken.  It is the ultimate democracy in action cop out, enabling congressmen to behave completely irresponsibly.

The resolution in question was – surprise, surprise – on the Middle East, another expression of the will of Congress and the American people that Israel should be able to do anything it wants and the Palestinians should be grateful that they have not been completely exterminated. 

House Resolution 1765 “Supporting a negotiated solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and for other purposes.”  The resolution was drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and sponsored by Congressman Howard Berman, currently Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  There were 53 co-sponsors.

House Resolution 1765, in spite of its title, has little interest in any solution and is more concerned with stopping Palestinians from taking unilateral steps.  It is not binding and only reiterates what the administration of Barack Obama has been saying about Palestinian aspirations for statehood, namely that they should forget about them until such time as Bibi Netanyahu says they’re okay. 

Which translates as “never.” As State Department spokesman Philip Crowley sagely put it, “the only way to resolve the core issues within the process is through direct negotiations.”  Crowley’s core issues apparently do not include actual sovereignty or access to Jerusalem or fixed borders or sharing water supplies because all those items conflict with Israeli security needs and the “natural growth” of settlements.

The reason why the resolution has appeared so opportunely, right on the heels of the Crowley statement, is that some naughty dagoes in South America have been acting up, daring to recognize Palestine as a state within its 1967 borders.  “Not helpful,” says Hillary Clinton.  What would happen if a lot more countries beyond the current miscreants Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay were to do the same thing?  Definitely not helpful.  It might actually lead to creation of a Palestinian state.

So what did our wise men in Washington craft when they put pen to paper or, rather, pick up the latest instructions from AIPAC?  Reading a congressional resolution is a bit like going through one of those lists from your mother when you go off to college, incorporating a preamble consisting of a series of syntactically challenged clauses ending up with instructions about brushing your teeth and changing your underwear. 

The only difference is that for Congress each clause is preceded by a “Whereas.”  In this case, Congress cites itself as an authority for its own action, noting that in 1999 it had declared “any attempt to establish Palestinian statehood outside the negotiating process will invoke the strongest congressional opposition.” It also quotes Hillary, Crowley and auxiliary Department of State Spokesman Mark Toner, all of whom say that anything but direct negotiations is “not helpful.”  The last “Whereas” clause seals the argument, noting that any unilateral declaration of statehood would be an Arab trick to bypass negotiations with Israel and therefore not helpful.

Then comes the good bit.  Congress resolves that it opposes any attempt to “establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.”  It urges the Palestinians to “cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process” to “resume direct negotiations with Israel immediately,” and to “support the Obama Administration’s opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.”  The last bit is particularly juicy, as it is telling the Palestinians to take action against themselves.  Or else.

HR 1765 then calls on the White House to “lead a diplomatic effort to persuade other nations to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state” and “affirm that the United States would deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state…”  So the sense of Congress is not just limited to those happy lands where the Stars and Stripes bravely fly.  Anyone anywhere who steps out of line will be whacked.

The resolution does not call on Israel to do anything.  If you want to find the word “settlements” you will have to look somewhere else.  It is all about restraining the Palestinians and how to stop and punish those benighted heathens who want to affirm that Palestine might be considered an actual state.  There might as well have been a final clause clarifying the resolution’s intent by stating, “Israel can set whatever conditions it wants to in its negotiations and if you ragheads don’t like it you can go fish.”

Then comes the really interesting part.  The mainstream media did not report on the passage of House Resolution 1765, as if it did not happen.  Nothing appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS, or PBS.  Nada.  Did some gatekeeper news editors decide that the story did not reflect well on Israel and its friends in Congress so it had to vanish down the memory hole?  Congress again lining up and bending its knee before AIPAC was not news? 

Apparently not.  The House of Representatives declares that an all powerful Israel backed by the United States can continue to steal Arab land with impunity while at the same time giving lip service to talks designed to go nowhere.  The Palestinians can only lie back and take it while the American Congress and Administration tell them to suck it up, denying them the right to even call themselves a nation.  Pathetic and sickening and it could not even make the news.

My congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia was one of the co-sponsors of the resolution.  Frank has been in Congress a long time and he is reported to be the largest recipient of Israel PAC money in the state of Virginia. 

In his promotional literature Frank brags about what a great family man he is, including pictures of himself with his grandchildren.  I wish him and his family no ill, but I would like to make him think of the consequences of how he votes in Congress. Put Frank and his whole family into a burned out shell of a house in Gaza for a few days without food or water, knowing that to stick their heads out invites a round from an Israeli sniper. 

See how he would like it. What would be his reaction if one of his grandchildren were to become sick only to be denied access to a hospital three hundred yards away because an Israeli border patrol thug is trying to show how tough he is?  I would like Frank and all the other clowns in Congress who sponsored and voted for HR 1765 to experience just one tiny bit of the reality that the Palestinians live with every day at the hands of the Israelis enabled by the United States of America. 

Does Frank really wonder why nearly all the world hates us and why we are confronting a growing terrorist threat? 

You have created that evil, Frank, you and all your buddies in Congress who line up to do AIPAC’s bidding and pass shameful pieces of paper like House Resolution 1765, which do terrible damage to the United States and its interests on behalf of Israel.  Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell, the lowest level, was reserved for those who betray their own country.  If God truly exists and will someday mete out justice, I expect to learn that you and many of your colleagues from the 111th Congress someday will be doing hard time there.

Read more by Philip Giraldi


Please check out the brand new book detailing Israel’s deliberate attack on the USS LIBERTY here




Too Fat to Fight

by Jeff Davis

Thanks to hundreds of channels of Satellite entertainment, countless Internet websites and addictive games like Halo and Facebook farming, people are sitting glued to their chairs in front of a glowing screen more than ever. The result has been an increasing problem with obesity plaguing everyone from school children to senior citizens. One of the worst affected groups is the US Army.

Fox News reports: “US soldiers are going to extremes — taking diet pills and laxatives, even starving themselves and getting liposuction — in order to meet the military’s weight standards, the Army Times reported Monday. More than a third of uniformed men and women do not meet the Army’s weight standards, according to a 2009 military fitness report, and those officers are subjected to dreaded tape measurements to determine body fat percentage. If soldiers exceed the body fat limits, they cannot earn leadership roles or promotions, the paper said. Officers can even lose their jobs if they do not shed a significant amount weight in two months — a very real threat, considering about 24,000 soldiers were discharged between 1992 and 2007 for failure to meet weight standards, according to a report published in Military Medicine.”

Of course, the Army mess halls no doubt continue to serve high-starch and high calorie meals, as indeed they should since combat soldiers who are properly fit and performing do in fact need a high daily calorie intake. But more and more American soldiers actually never see the battlefield, or if they do they see it from behind a computer screen in an air-conditioned Forward Operating Base or from behind a desk.

According to one famous analysis, in the United States Army it now requires 70 support personnel of various kinds to support one actual combat soldier in the field. The most prized military skills these days are not learned on the rifle range or the obstacle course but in offices. The majority of serving soldiers are now basically uniformed administrators and bureaucrats and techies of various kinds. Like their civilian counterparts they live largely on a diet of American junk food, they don’t exercise, and so they become fat very early in life.

A problem our enemies, who live on rice and goat meat, don’t seem to have. Anybody ever see a fat Taliban?


Posted in USAComments Off on TOO FAT TI FIGHT



Israel Effectively Denies Palestinian Victims of Operation Cast Lead Access to Justice: PCHR files petition to Israeli High Court of Justice

Tuesday, 21 December 2010 11:00


Ref: 112/2010


Today, 21 December 2010, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is filing a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice against Israel’s State Attorney on behalf of 1,046 victims of Israel’s 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip (Operation Cast Lead). The petition requests that the High Court of Justice (HCJ) order the State Attorney to refrain from raising a claim under the statute of limitations in future civil suits brought before Israeli courts. According to PCHR, the right of access to the courts demands that the statute of limitations on bringing such civil cases, begin to accrue only once Israel’s illegal closure of the Gaza Strip has ceased.


The Knesset (Israeli parliament) amended the Israeli Civil Torts Act in 2002, reducing the statue of limitations in these types of civil suits to two years, instead of the previous seven-year limitation.


The closure policy on the Gaza Strip prevents these victims from meeting with their Israeli lawyers and from entering Israel in order to testify before Israeli courts.


As a result of the physical, financial, and legal obstacles imposed by Israel, Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip – including the thousands of victims of Operation Cast Lead – are effectively prevented from seeking redress before Israeli courts. This situation results in the systematic denial of fundamental human rights.


The issue addressed in this petition relates to the right to reparation and the filing of civil tort compensation cases before Israeli courts on behalf of victims of Operation Cast Lead.


Background Information


Customary international law recognises all victims’ right to reparation (including compensation) in the event of a violation of international law. However, Palestinian victims from the Gaza Strip are currently faced with a number of significant hurdles which effectively prevent them from accessing justice, in violation of their fundamental rights. Claimants face three principal obstacles:



1. Statute of Limitations. Under Israeli law, a complaint for civil damages must be brought within two years of the date of the incident, or the right to compensation is irrevocably lost. As a result of the illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, and the significant number of victims of Operation Cast Lead, this two-year limit means that the victims are often unable to submit their cases within the required time-frame. Prior to 1 August 2002, the statute of limitations was seven years.


2. Monetary Barrier. Israeli courts often require claimants to pay a court insurance fee before the case can begin. While this is a discretionary fee applied by the court, in practice, this fee is always applied to Palestinian claimants. The exact value of the fee is not fixed, and it is determined on a case-by-case basis by the court. With respect to claims for damage to property, the fee usually constitutes a percentage of the value of the property being claimed, however, for death or injury there is no informal guideline. In PCHR’s experience this amount is typically set at a minimum of NIS 10,000 (about US $2800); however, it can reach significantly higher amounts. In a recent case brought by PCHR, the claimants were required to pay an insurance fee of NIS 20,000 (US $5,600) for each of the five wrongful deaths claimed. Thus, grave violations equal extremely high monetary barriers to justice. This insurance fee constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to justice. Simply put, claimants from Gaza – crippled by the economic devastation wrought by the occupation and the illegal closure – cannot afford this fee and their cases are being dismissed and closed.


3. Physical Barriers. Under Israeli law, in order testimony to be valid, the victim or witness must be present in court to undergo cross-examination. However, since June 2007, despite a letter from the court requesting their presence, the Israeli military authorities have not allowed a single individual to leave Gaza to appear in court. As a result, their cases are dismissed and closed. Further, PCHR’s lawyers – although qualified – cannot enter Israel to represent their clients before the courts. As a result, PCHR is forced to work with and hire lawyers in Israel (at extra cost). However, clients are not allowed to enter Israel to meet with their lawyer, and all requests made by lawyers to enter Gaza – to meet with clients, visit the crime scene, and so on – have been denied. Necessarily, this affects the lawyers’ ability to represent their clients, thereby undermining victims’ right to an effective remedy.




The Petition


The petition, brought by PCHR and litigated by Attorneys Michael Sfard and Carmel Pomerantz, challenges the two-year statute of limitations. An injunction is sought from the court suspending the two-year statute of limitations period. The petition highlights a number of barriers to justice created as a result of Israeli policy, including the illegal closure of the Gaza Strip; the petition develops a letter previously submitted by Adalah to the Israeli Attorney General. This petition is brought on behalf of 1,046 victims of Operation Cast Lead, representing the overwhelming majority of cases prepared in the aftermath of the offensive.


The approximately 490 cases prepared by PCHR, on behalf of 1,046 victims of Operation Cast Lead (OCL), constitute the overwhelming majority of cases prepared in the aftermath of the offensive. They cover virtually the entire spectrum of international humanitarian law violations, and among them are the most infamous cases of the offensive, including those of the Samouni, Abu Halima, and Al-Dia families.


The policies and practices challenged in this petition serve to comprehensively deny victims’ right to access justice. They perpetuate a climate of pervasive impunity, and effectively contribute to the establishment of an accountability free zone in the Gaza Strip.



PCHR can facilitate interviews with victims in the Gaza Strip.

For further information or comment, please contact:


  • Raji Sourani, Director, PCHR, 0599608811 (Arabic and English)

  • Michael Sfard, Attorney, 0544713930 (Hebrew and English)

  • Daragh Murray, International legal officer, PCHR, 00 (353) 85 768 4647 (English)







December 22, 2010

by Michael Leon

On December 9, prisoners numbering in the thousands in more than six Georgia state prisons took the bold and brave step of uniting across many boundaries — racial, religious, and cultural – to go on strike against inhuman conditions that endanger not only themselves but their families and the communities to which they will eventually return. Among the prisoners’ demands are nutritional meals, increased access to their families, and just and fair parole decisions.

By Annette Warren Dickerson at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Since then, many people of conscience have acted to show their support for these prisoners and their human rights. As a member of CCR’s caring and active community, you can join Bill Quigley, Noam Chomsky, Van Jones, Professor Michelle Alexander and hundreds of other human rights defenders who are showing their support by signing this statement of solidarity and passing it along to family and friends. The statement was written by the Human Rights Coalition, a group of former prisoners, prisoners’ families and supporters.

The U.S. government’s total disregard for the humanity and dignity of prisoners and the often brutal conditions they live under is in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Please stand with the striking prisoners to demand justice and accountability: your endorsement of the solidarity statement will send a strong message that we demand much more from this government.

As always, your support for CCR and your courage in fighting alongside us is deeply appreciated. Thank you.




Five veteran suicide rescues in a two-hour period in one Oregon city—so John McCain blocks suicide prevention

December 22, 2010

by Chaplain Kathie

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Blocks suicide prevention measure

A small crisis group gets calls all the time from veterans in crisis. Considering these men and women know what it is like to face death on a daily basis, reaching the point where all seems hopeless indicates a crisis itself; we fail to grasp how serious this is. Yet on one night this same small crisis group had to rescue 5 suicidal veterans!

How this vampire Sen. John McCain keeps getting elected only proves he’s a good liar and veterans hate to think they’ve been betrayed by one of their own.

Suicide Prevention Workers See Spike In Calls
Oregon Partnership Reports Five Suicide Rescues In Two Hours
PORTLAND, Ore. — Workers with Oregon Partnership are calling on the public to get educated on the warning signs of suicide following an increase in the need for suicide rescues.

A suicide rescue is when crisis line workers have to intervene in a suicide attempt by sending police to the person’s house, said Leslie Storm, Crisis Line Supervisor.

Last Wednesday, Storm said they had five suicide rescues in a two-hour period; an amount she calls unprecedented.
“We’ve never done five in one evening. I’ve been here four years, we don’t do five a week generally so this is very alarming to us,” Storm said.

Oregon Partnership is a non-profit organization that provides drug and alcohol awareness, drug prevention programs and a 24-hour crisis lines for suicide intervention. The organization also operates a crisis line for military members and their families, as well as a treatment referral line.
Suicide Prevention Workers See Spike In Calls

Now you can try to pass all of this off the way Senator John McCain does as the veteran politician playing the role of veteran’s hero, but this man passes off everything veterans need instead of passing it on. He always loves to play up to veterans for their votes but then votes against them.

Rep. Holt: Sen. McCain Objected To My Military Suicide Prevention Bill
Amanda Terkel | HuffPost Reporting Become a Fan Get Email Alerts from this Reporter

WASHINGTON — In 2008, a young sergeant named Coleman S. Bean took his life. After completing his first tour of duty in Iraq, he had come home and been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nevertheless, he was deployed to Iraq a second time. Bean had sought treatment for PTSD but as a member of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), he found fewer resources available to him than to veterans and active-duty members.

In April, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) introduced legislation named after the late soldier meant to provide more resources for suicide prevention to Reserve members. The House in May incorporated it into the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011, but it was stripped from the final version, and Holt is pointing the finger at the lead Republican negotiator on the Senate legislation, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

“Twice now, the Senate has stripped this legislation from our defense bill,” Holt told The Huffington Post Tuesday. “It’s hard to understand why. I know for a fact, because he told me, that Sen. McCain doesn’t support it. Whether he’s the only one, I don’t know. But there was no effort to try to improve the language or negotiate changes; it was just rejected, and I think that is not only bad policy, but it’s cruel. It’s cruel to the families that are struggling with catastrophic mental health problems.”

“He [McCain] said having these counselors check in with the Reservists every few months this way overreaching,” continued Holt, relaying a phone conversation he had had with the senator. “I asked him in what sense it was overreaching. Surely he didn’t think there wasn’t a problem, did he? I must say I don’t understand it.”

Read more here: John McCain blocks suicide prevention bill.

I ask veterans all the time why they vote for him or support him. They say he’s a Vietnam Vet, but they can’t say what he’s done for any Vietnam vet. They say he’s was a POW but they can’t say what he did for other POW’s like the ones from the Gulf War when they tried to sue Iraq for what Saddam did to them and he went against it. They hear the words come out of his mouth saying he cares and that is all they need to know. The real issue is they are suffering for the support they give to men like him. They never bother to look up his voting record.

So now we have troops committing suicide more and more every year along with veterans killing themselves yet McCain doesn’t care just like every other bill he has either tried to stop or voted against.

These lives matter to us but they don’t matter to him. The numbers coming into suicide prevention hotlines reflect how serious this has been but this one story on 5 rescues in one night out of Oregon Partnership should have everyone in congress running around like the House is falling down to get this done but McCain leads the way on running away from the veterans he loves to suck the life out of for their votes. How this vampire keeps getting elected only proves he’s a good liar and veterans hate to think they’ve been betrayed by one of their own.




December 22, 2010

by Michael Leon

With just hours left in the 111th Congress, Republican lawmakers find themselves the target of ire and scorn from the most unlikely of adversaries: the firefighters and police officers who rushed into the burning towers on September 11 nearly a decade ago and worked at the site for months afterward.

Update:  Republican senators back down late Wednesday (Raymond Hernandez,NYT):

[L]awmakers relented after facing a barrage of criticism — not just from Democrats, but also from traditional Republican allies, including former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, and conservative news outlets like Fox News. Later in the day, the House swiftly approved the measure and sent to President Obama for his signature.

By Michael D. Shear in the NYT

That predicament crystallized Tuesday when Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor during the 9/11 attacks, condemned Republicans as being on the wrong side of “morality” and “obligation” for failing to support legislation to provide medical benefits for the first responders.

“This should not be seen as a Democratic or Republican issue,” Mr. Giuliani, a Republican who ran for president in 2008, said on a Fox News affiliate. “It shouldn’t even be seen as a fiscal issue. It’s a matter of morality, of obligation.”

Democratic sponsors of the legislation say they believe they have the 60 votes necessary to overcome Republican opposition. A vote could come soon after final action on the New Start nuclear treaty Wednesday morning.

But the remarks by Mr. Giuliani capped several days of withering criticism from all corners of the political spectrum as it appeared that congress could depart for the year without voting on the first responders bill thanks to Republican efforts to block it.

Headlines in normally conservative news outlets blasted Republicans. wrote that: “Giuliani Raps Fellow Republicans for Holding Up 9/11 Heroes Money‎.” Fox News host Shepard Smith drew attention to Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who has said he will try to block the legislation.

“He is the man who is vowing to slow this down or block it, so the necessary funding for the illnesses of the first responders who made it to Ground Zero to try to save lives on the day that America changed — remember?,” Mr. Smith said during his broadcast Tuesday. “This is the senator who is vowing to block it. So that it doesn’t make it through.”

Wednesday morning, the former Republican congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough called the Republican opposition to the bill “a terrible mistake” for the party.

“It’s a terrible terrible mistake to be seen as opposing relief for 9/11 heroes,” he said. “This is one of those times when you get so wrapped up in the game that you forget to look and see what’s happening. Here, the Republicans, whether they know it or not, look horrible.”

How did the Republicans find themselves on this side of an historic and searing event that has been so politically potent for their party for so many years?

Early Republican opposition cast the legislation as a special-interest giveaway that would add to the nation’s debt and would create a kind of precedent for other groups seeking compensation. The first attempt to pass the bill in the House failed in July.

“This legislation as written creates a huge $8.4 billion slush fund paid by taxpayers that is open to abuse, fraud and waste,” said Republican Representative Lamar Smith of Texas at the time.

But supporters of the legislation – and in particular, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the bill’s chief backers – persisted by reducing the size of the legislation. They capped the free health coverage for first responders to a period of 10 years. And they added fees to pay for the $6.2 billion cost of the bill.

The legislation took a backseat during the lame-duck session as lawmakers struggled with issues of taxes, the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and budget bills. Democratic efforts to bring it up for a vote in the Senate failed by three votes two weeks ago.

But as those issues have been dealt with, the focus on the rescue worker legislation has returned. Some of New York’s first responders, including firefighters whose health was compromised in the aftermath of the attacks, descended on Capitol Hill in the past week.

The renewed attention has returned the spotlight to the Republican opposition. And Democrats are happy to oblige. Senate Democrats produced an internet video this week with images of Republicans standing shoulder to shoulder with firefighters and police officers in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

“Whatever happened to supporting our nation’s heroes?” the video asks before dissolving into a scene of former President George Bush at ground zero in New York City.

“The nation, the nation sends its love and compassion,” Mr. Bush says into a megaphone, his arms around a firefighter. The video shows Republican lawmakers paying tribute to the first responders in years past, including Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who says: “I want to pay special tribute to those people who were so heroic to give their own lives to protect the lives of so many others.”





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Dear Friends,Imagine being expelled from your city–the city where you were born, the city where you grew up, the city where you started a family and where you are raising your four children, the city where you have always lived.

This horrible expulsion edict has been issued by the Israeli authorities against Adnan Gheith, a Palestinian political organizer. The Israeli authorities have served him notice that they intend to banish him for four months from Jerusalem , his city.

His crime?

You can watch the video and listen to Adnan himself explain it:

The reason I am persecuted by Israeli security:
I openly defy the policy of home demolitions.
I defy the policy of arresting children,
and the policy of replacing the Arab residents of Jerusalem with settlers.

Please email the U.S. State Department today to express your concern about Adnan’s case. Make sure to email today before government offices close for the holiday break. Send this email to your friends and ask them to call next week as well.

Adnan resides in the historically Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. He is a member of the al-Bustan Neighborhood’s Committee, an organization formed to fight plans for increased demolitions of Palestinian homes.

The expulsion order against Adnan is arbitrary and politically motivated. Adnan was unable to legally defend himself since no charges or evidence were presented against him. With his removal, the Israeli authorities are trying a dangerous new tactic to repress the rights of local residents to protest. A few days after Adnan was notified of his impending exile, he was also forbidden to attend a conference with a senior foreign diplomat or to appear in any press conference.

Adnan’s banishment and the quashing of his freedom of expression are part of a larger pattern to judaize Silwan at the expense of its Palestinian residents. In recent years the Jerusalem municipality–in collusion with settler organizations–has intensified the policy of demolition of Palestinian homes in the neighborhood.

Adnan has spoken out against this and now is being penalized. He needs your help to stay in Jerusalem and continue struggling to protect his home and his community.

In Adnan’s own words:

“On my part, I am going to fight and resist in all legal ways possible to stay in Jerusalem .  It is the duty of the international bodies, the international communities, and human rights organizations to address this issue of exceptional danger.”

Please heed Adnan’s call. Stand by him and by the people of Silwan.

In solidarity,


Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace




December 22, 2010

by Robert L. Hanafin


White House Afghanistan Progress Means Staying the Course

This was sent to Veterans Today from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Posted on behalf of IVAW by

Robert L. Hanafin, Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor, Veterans Today News Network

Is it any surprise that last week’s White House progress report on Afghanistan showed little ‘progress’ at all?

Sure, there have been a few tactical military ‘successes,’ but these have been overshadowed by significantly larger negative trends:

  • A marked increase in civilian casualties, maintaining Afghan resentment of U.S. occupation;

  • An overall increase in Taliban strength;

  • A continued lack of legitimacy for the Afghan government; and

  • A weakening of our military fighting force by a suicide epidemic caused by multiple deployments.

The larger story here is that the Afghan war strategy is a complete failure.

 And those in Washington lack the political will to do anything about it.

To IVAW though, this is about more than just politics. 

As veterans and service members, this is about our lives, our health and well-being, and that of Afghan civilians.

We are the ones whose lives are on the line in Afghanistan every day, and we are challenging the political status quo to say enough is enough.

Will you stand with us?

Your year-end donation will support our important work to end the stay-the-course Afghanistan policy that prevails in Washington.

Building GI resistance among new troop deployments in 2011

IVAW has learned that beginning in January, 23,000 troops from ten different military bases will be dispatched to Afghanistan to replace troops finishing up their deployment cycles.

For some of these troops – like the 1st Cavalry Division’s Air Cavalry Brigade and Headquarters Company leaving from Fort Hood, TX – this will be their fourth combat deployment.

So this is what the ‘stay the course’ political policy means for us – more deployments for troops who are already suffering from war trauma, more casualties, and more broken families.

That is why IVAW will be starting our GI resistance outreach drive to all affected military bases in February.

With your help, we will send outreach teams to the ten military bases that are sending troops to Afghanistan and talk to soldiers and military families about:

– the problems of multiple deployments,

– dialogue about their views on whether the Afghanistan mission is worthwhile,

– and bring them into our Operation Recovery campaign to stop the deployment of traumatized troops.

Your financial contribution today will help sustain these outreach efforts to those preparing to deploy.

Make a donation now.

New poll reveals 60% of Americans think Afghanistan war is not worth fighting

It is heartening to know that many Americans see that this war is not worth us risking our lives and the lives of Afghan civilians.  But it is time to translate this belief into action.

Join us in building a GI resistance movement that can stop the Pentagon in its tracks and end the occupation of Afghanistan by making a year-end gift right now.

Your donation will make all the difference in helping us sustain our work in the New Year.

Donate today.

Thank you!

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Afghanistan Veterans Against the War committee*

* IVAW’s Afghanistan Veterans Against the War committee was formed in 2010 to provide a platform for our Afghanistan veteran members to speak to their unique experience.

Iraq Veterans Against the War is a 501(c)(3) charity,
and welcomes your tax deductible contributions

Donate Now

VETERANS TODAY EDITORIAL COMMENT: Over a year ago (Sep-Oct 2009) the Army had to do some quick damage control when Col. David Haight, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat team, sent the letter to the 3,500 men and women after two of them were killed in combat and his chaplains reported that many were disillusioned about the war. Colonel Haight said he wrote the letter after a request by Capt. Jeffery Masengale, a chaplain who told British newspaper The Times that many soldiers worried their mission was pointless and the Afghans reluctant to help them.

SOURCES: See for the video interview that highlighted chaplain concerns about depression and despair that forced an Army Field Commander to write a letter to 3,500 men and women under his command telling them what the chaplain(s) meant to say was…See also the ABC News report of Army damage control in the articleCommander’s Letter Tackles Troops’ Morale in Afghanistan: The Letter Was Sent After Chaplains Reported Soldiers’ Disillusionment About the War ALSO Commander’s letter tackles troops’ morale in Afghanistan in USAToday

These reports were way back in Oct 2009, but I personally believe that given the growing problems of multiple deployments, the need for the Army to do damage control (rest assured this chaplain or any other talking to the media without being screened on what to say (propaganda) most likely was not promoted or worse. Despite the Pentagon and field commanders’ genuine attempts at damage control, I seriously believe that troops morale remains very low or lower than 2009, except any one [this includes Military Chaplains] who is involved in the treating or counseling our troops with depression and despair [PTSD] due to multiple deployments is NOW monitored and not allowed to express what they observe publicly.

I would assess that part of said Army damage control including briefing Army Chaplains on what they could and could not say publicly that may place the Army or the war effort in a negative light.

Bobby Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, U.S. Civil Service-Retired

Posted in USA1 Comment

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