- Another 32 Innocent Civillians Murdered In Afghanistan
- The Never-Ending Drug War
- Video: Michelle Obama Says Obama Visited his Home Country of Kenya
- The Quiet Education Overhaul
- Senate Clears Way for $26 Billion State Aid Bill
Posted: 06 Aug 2010 05:18 PM PDT
How would you feel towards a country if their military “accidentally” murdered your family and friends on a daily basis? Gandhi said it best: “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”
From The New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO officials acknowledged preliminary reports that four to a dozen or more civilians were killed in a coalition airstrike Thursday in Nangarhar Province. Afghan accounts put the civilian deaths as high as 32.
A statement from the international forces confirmed that they had mounted an operation with Afghan forces in the area to search for a Taliban commander, and killed 2 senior Taliban leaders as well as 15 to 20 other insurgents. As the forces left they were fired on from several locations and called in an airstrike to cover their withdrawal, they said.
“Coalition forces deeply regret that our joint operation appears to have resulted in civilian loss of life and we express our sincerest condolences to the families,” Rear Adm. Greg Smith, the international force’s director of communication, said in a statement.
At the scene, in the village of Hashim Khail Wadi in the Khogyani district, a reporter for The New York Times counted 12 fresh graves. Residents said that they had just buried civilian victims of the bombing and that a total of 32 people had been killed there and in another village nearby, Nakrro Khail, in the Sherzad district.
The victims were said to be in a house in Nakrro Khail and at a ford in Hashim Khail Wadi, where vehicles were blocked by a flood and the drivers had parked, waiting to cross, when the vehicles were rocketed by planes. The attack took place about 4 a.m., the residents said.
President Hamid Karzai ordered an inquiry. Tolo TV in Kabul quoted local officials putting the civilian death toll at 12.
Hajji Zaman Khairy, a prominent tribal elder in the Khogyani district and a candidate for Parliament, also said 12 civilians were killed, but added that coalition forces captured seven people and killed 14 Afghan and foreign Taliban fighters.
A statement from the international forces said that 10 rocket-propelled grenades and multiple automatic weapons had been found at the scene.
In another case of civilian casualties, Afghan and coalition officials continued to dispute what happened in the Sangin district of Helmand Province on July 26, when United States Marines fired a missile at a house from which they had received gunfire.
A senior intelligence official for the international forces, speaking on condition of anonymity as a matter of policy because of his position, said that about 6 civilians were killed, as well as Taliban fighters, for a total of 14 deaths. The civilians were killed when the Marines fired a shoulder-mounted Javelin rocket at a house where Taliban had taken up positions on the roof, while keeping civilians trapped inside.
“The Marines were unbelievable in the length of the time they waited to return fire,” the official said, adding that they took fire from the house for more than four hours before the decision to fire the rocket was made.
Afghan officials had put the death toll at 52 civilians, while officials from the international force denied at first that civilians had been killed.
President Karzai sent provincial and local officials to investigate and announced after meeting with them on Wednesday that 39 civilians were killed by the rocket strike on the house, where people had taken refuge from the fighting. The announcement noted, however, that the Taliban had been fighting from the house.
Asked to explain the divergence in accounts, the international force official said, “In Helmand, there are significant political challenges going on, to put it mildly.” In addition, coalition forces were unable to visit the scene because the Taliban controlled the area, the official said.
The announcement from Mr. Karzai’s office said that the president “once again insisted that under any conditions civilian casualties are not acceptable to him.”
Elsewhere in Afghanistan on Thursday, a suicide bomber struck an American and Afghan convoy, killing 11 police officers and wounding seven civilians in northern Kunduz Province, Afghan officials said. None of the Americans were hurt.
The convoy was on a patrol in the Pul-e-Khesti area, in the Imam Sahib district, when the car bomb exploded near the patrol at 7:30 a.m., said Mohammad Ayub Haqyar, the district governor. He said an American armored vehicle was slightly damaged, but no one inside was hurt.
In Helmand Province, a roadside bomb struck a civilian vehicle on Thursday, killing nine civilians, pilgrims preparing for the hajj to Saudi Arabia.
Posted: 06 Aug 2010 03:16 PM PDT
by Jacob Hornberger
The Mexican government has just killed a man named Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, who was purported to be the leader of a powerful Mexican drug cartel. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency congratulated the Mexican government on a “victory in their sustained efforts to dismantle the drug cartels by targeting the highest levels of cartel leadership.”
It would be difficult to imagine a bigger inanity than that particular statement from the DEA.
After all, during the past several decades how many times have we heard similar announcements from the DEA? Lots of times! Too many to count, in fact.
Recall all the hype about the Medellin Cartel. That was the drug-war cartel de jour during the 1990s. Amidst much fanfare, publicity, and hype, the DEA and the Colombian government targeted that particular cartel, along with its leaders Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder.
Well, guess what happened. The DEA and the Colombians destroyed the Medellin Cartel, either by imprisoning or killing its leaders. Escobar, who was called the “world’s greatest outlaw,” was killed and Lehder is now jailed in a U.S. penitentiary.
So, what do you think happened then? Was the drug war over? Of course not. The Medellin Cartel was simply replaced by new cartels, new suppliers, new drug lords, new drug dealers.
It was no different with the Cali Cartel, which the DEA was targeting in the 1990s. Go back and read the statements issued by the DEA when six out of the seven cartel leaders were arrested in 1995, and you’ll see that they were as inane as the one they just issued on current Mexico cartel leader Coronel.
The drug war is a never-ending war. That’s what everyone needs to realize. It will never have a final victory to it. As long as it is waged, it will be waged forever. It’s all just an endless process of arresting, killing, and congratulating.
The whole process is a big bonanza not just for the drug dealers but also for the DEA bureaucracy and the Mexican drug-war bureaucracy. It keeps these people permanently employed. Never mind that nothing ever changes. Drug lords are jailed or killed. DEA agents spend their lives issuing inane statements of congratulations and then retire on their fat federal pensions. Like the Energizer Bunny, the drug war just keeps going and going and going.
Let’s face it: there are three primary groups benefiting from the drug war: the DEA and other drug-war law enforcement officials, the drug lords, and the countless public officials who are on the drug-war take. All three groups know that if drugs were legalized, all three groups would be out of business immediately.
There really isn’t any other argument in favor of the drug war, other than that it protects jobs and bribes. For years, drug-war proponents have cried, “The problem is that they’re just not cracking down fiercely enough!” Those laments have also been inane because the fact was that they were cracking down, with such things as mandatory minimum sentences, asset forfeiture, illegal searches and seizures, planting of drugs on suspects, violations of financial privacy, military invasions, and more.
No one can honestly claim that the Mexican government hasn’t cracked down. It has done so big time, even to the point of using its military forces.
And what has been the result of the Mexican crackdown? Death, destruction, violation of civil liberties, and increased governmental corruption! Imagine: 23,000 deaths in just the past few years! And there’s no end in sight.
The drug war has converted Mexico into an absolute disaster. American tourists are staying away from the border towns, which used to be tourist Meccas. And it’s all because of the Mexican government’s drug-war crackdown, the crackdown that the DEA thinks is great.
There is only one way to get rid of the drug cartels. Let me repeat that: One way only. It lies not in drug-war crackdowns or in the jailing or killing of drug lords. The reason is simple: drug lords who are jailed or killed are immediately replaced with new drug lords. It’s called the law of supply and demand.
The way to get rid of drug lords is simply to legalize drugs. If the drug war were ended today with drug legalization, the drug lords would be out of business tomorrow, if not sooner. Of course, when that day comes, don’t expect any congratulatory statements coming from the DEA because it will be out of business too.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.
Posted: 06 Aug 2010 11:37 AM PDT
It should be obvious to anyone who actually researches the issue that Obama is hiding something about his childhood. I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole again but this video has been making it’s way around the net recently and I wanted to share it so you have another piece of information to help you decide what is fact and what is fiction.
Before you automatically label me as a crazy “birther”, ask yourself why would you label someone crazy if you have never taken the time to listen to their side of the issue? I would argue that it only proves just how powerful propaganda is, but that’s an issue for another time.
If you are sincerely interested in understanding this issue, take 10 minutes and read through this.
The video is below:
Posted: 06 Aug 2010 08:07 AM PDT
The indoctrination gets worse and worse…
Yesterday, President Obama delivered a major speech on education in an effort to garner support for his Race to the Top grant program and his push for national education standards and tests. The President’s remarks came on the heels of a speech delivered by Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday at the National Press Club, during which Duncan attempted to paint the Administration’s policies as part of a “quiet revolution.”
Duncan certainly got the quiet part right. Since his Administration came into office, President Obama has quietly been reworking the country’s education system, doing an end-run around normal legislative procedure. With the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) funding doubled thanks to the so-called “stimulus,” the Administration has little need or incentive to bother negotiating its education agenda through Congress. Instead, the DOE is using that windfall of funding and power to stage a significant overhaul of local schools; dangling grant money before cash-strapped states on the condition they adopt key pieces of the Obama education agenda. And this is all happening without public consideration, even though it means that parents will now have to trek to Washington to petition an unaccountable bureaucracy if they want to see changes in their children’s curriculum. Knocking on the door at the DOE (the lowest rated federal department) is unlikely to produce a response.
The push for national education standards and tests began last year when the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) began writing standards for what all U.S. students should learn in school. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has been backing the effort with federal dollars, pressing Race to the Top grants in front of fiscally starved states while making it clear that they also intend to make Title I funding (the largest federal education program at $14.5 billion) contingent upon acceptance of these standards. A number of states have signed onto the standards to position themselves for federal grants—without the American people ever having the opportunity to weigh in on such a drastic change that will soon be coming to a school near you.
Secretary Duncan’s use of the term revolution was also right on the mark. The federal government’s ever-expanding role in education, and now the Obama Administration’s push for national standards and tests, threatens the long-established right of parents to direct their children’s education and confuses a proper understanding of federalism. States model federalism for children by setting standards, tests, and curriculum. But that important lesson in self-government will be another unintended casualty of this standards overhaul now that the federal government is overreaching to set the educational terms for local schools—contrary to the spirit of the Constitution and the letter of federal law, which expressly prohibits federal involvement in standards, tests, and curriculum.
But it’s not just our deep-rooted principal of federalism that is at stake in President Obama’s education agenda; it’s also our ongoing pursuit of excellence that hangs in the balance.
Secretary Duncan has referred to state standards as “50 different goal posts.” That comment makes clear that the Administration’s push for national standards is geared more toward uniformity than with excellence and more concerned with standardization than minimum standards of quality and rigor. States that currently have high quality state standards—such as Massachusetts, California, Virginia, and Indiana—offer exemplary models, creating competitive pressure for other states to raise their academic standing.
But when national standards are enshrined, they’ll slump toward the middle of the pack—standardizing mediocrity and generating the kind of nationwide uniform data that will be more useful to national bureaucrats than to parents. Current standards and tests, developed at significant taxpayer expense by each state, currently provide the kind of information parents need. What’s needed is more transparency about that information and for parents to be empowered to make choices on that information.
The Obama Administration’s plans would dramatically change our country’s education system without a single vote in Congress and without the American people having the opportunity to debate the issue. But this one-size-fits-all approach from Washington is not a fait accompli. State leaders in Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, and Indiana have voiced clear concerns about losing state autonomy under this federal standards overhaul.
Posted: 05 Aug 2010 08:09 PM PDT
From The New American
A $26 billion Senate bill, which includes $16.1 billion to help states pay for Medicaid and $10 billion for school districts, cleared a procedural hurdle on August 5 and is expected to come up for a final vote on August 6. The procedural vote passed the Senate by a vote of 61 to 38, with Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe voting with all 59 Democrats to end debate on the measure.
The vote promoted immediate commentary from Senate Republicans, including the GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who said: “Washington needs to take care of its own fiscal mess, not deepen it by bailing out the states.”
Senator Judd Gregg, (R-N.H.), said the bill was political pay-back, bluntly stating, “When you go to the essence of what this bill is about, it’s to pay off education unions. Let’s not be coy.”
In contrast, the bill’s primary sponsor, New York Democrat Charles Schumer, stated: “This was a bottom-of-the-ninth, come-from-behind victory to help stop layoffs in New York. At a time when we are trying to spur private-sector job creation, the last thing we could afford was layoffs of teachers and first responders.”
New York’s junior Senator, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, echoed Schumer’s sentiments”: “I think the right thing to do would be for members of the House to briefly return to Washington so that we can send the legislation to President Obama immediately and deliver assistance to local schools and hospitals right away.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was glad to comply and announced her intention to call the House back into session next week to vote on the legislation, writing in a Twitter message: “I will be calling the House back into session early next week to save teachers’ jobs and help seniors & children.”
“The House welcomes the passage tomorrow [August 6] by the Senate of the long-delayed support for teachers, nurses and urgent services for children and seniors and people with disabilities,” Pelosi was quoted by RTTNews.
The Speaker added: “As millions of children prepare to go back to school — many in just a few days — the House will act quickly to approve this legislation once the Senate votes.”
A report in the Los Angeles Times cited National Education Association (NEA) estimates that 138,000 education jobs, including 13,700 in California and 5,050 in Illinois, could be saved because of the federal aid package. The NEA is the largest professional organization and largest labor union in the United States, with 3.2 million members. An article in Wikipedia notes: “The NEA is a major funder of liberal organizations and the Democratic Party, and is a frequent target of conservative ire for its perceived opposition to education reform.” That article also states:
Federal law prohibits unions from using dues money or other assets to contribute to or otherwise assist federal candidates or political parties, in accordance with their tax-exempt status. The NEA Fund for Children and Public Education is a special fund for voluntary contributions from NEA members which can legally be used to assist candidates and political parties. Critics have repeatedly questioned the NEA’s actual compliance with such laws, and a number of legal actions focusing on the union’s use of money and union personnel in partisan contexts have ensued”
A statement on the webpage of the Landmark Legal Foundation (which recently filed an Amicus Curiae [Friend of the Court] Brief in support of the State of Arizona and its illegal immigration law) under the heading “NEA Accountability Project” states: “As part of the Foundation’s NEA Accountability Project, Landmark uncovered overwhelming evidence that the National Education Association has financed and run coordinated political campaigns with the Democratic National Committee, other Democratic campaign organization, the AFL-CIO and [the pro-abortion political fundraising group] Emily’s List — without reporting the expenditures to its members or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as required by federal law.”
While Senator Gregg and the Landmark Legal Foundation have stated the obvious in observing the tit-for-tat relationship between the NEA’s support of Democratic members of Congress and those same politicians sending federal dollars to the states to protect teachers’ jobs, the danger goes beyond old fashioned patronage and conflict of interest.
It is a well-established principle in politics that federal aid never comes without federal controls. While government control of education at any level presents a distinct challenge to the rights of parents to be their children’s primary educators, injecting federal regulatory power into education is a perfect recipe for the creating a school system whose purpose is to train perfect citizens of the state.
To appreciate the downside of national governmental involvement in education, one need only look to Prussia, where Europe’s first national system of education was set up by King Frederick William I in 1717. In his essay “Separating School & State: How To Liberate American Families,” the libertarian political writer Sheldon Richman wrote:
After the defeat at the hands of Napoleon in 1807, King Frederick William III [of Prussia] strengthened the state’s hold on society by, among other measures, increasing the power of the school system. He instituted certification of teachers and abolished semi-religious private schools. High-school graduation examinations were necessary to enter the learned professions and the civil service. Children aged 7 to 14 had to attend school. Parents could be fined or have their children taken away if the children did not attend…. [Emphasis in original.]
When Germany emerged as a unified nation, the Prussian school system was enlarged. As Franz de Hovre wrote in 1917:
The prime fundamental of German education is that it is based on a national principle…. A fundamental feature of German education: education to the State, education for the State, education by the State. The Volksschule is a direct result of a national principle aimed at national unity. The State is the supreme end in view.
Richman observes further along in his essay: “It cannot be overemphasized that American schools, which have changed only slightly since the 19th century, were modeled on the authoritarian Prussian schools — not much of a recommendation.”
Our Constitution was adopted in 1787, 70 years after William III established his government educational system in Prussia. If our Founding Fathers, who were well-travelled men thoroughly familiar with the political systems in extent throughout Europe, had thought that the Prussian system of national control of education was a good idea, they would have listed “education” as a power granted to Congress.
The absence of any reference to education in our Constitution reflects their views on the subject clearly.