May 192010
 

by Cpl. Scott Schmidt, Headquarters Marine Corps

Marines earned both gold and silver medals in the compound-bow competition at the U.S. Olympic Training Center here yesterday – just as Fuller, the Marine team’s archery coach, predicted.

Cpl. Beau Parra of Wounded Warrior Detachment Hawaii narrowly missed a perfect mark, scoring 119 out of 120 possible points, closely followed by his fellow Marine, Staff Sgt. Matthew Benack, who shot 118. Army Sgt. Robert Price claimed the bronze medal.

Fuller said his prediction was based on observing his team members’ individual strengths, as well as their nerves. The two Marines who captured top honors exemplified those strengths, he said.

“We were all sitting around and talking about shooting, and one of the guys asked me, ‘How do you think it will come out?’” Fuller said. “Well, I answered truthfully and honestly. I said, ‘I think we’re going to have Benack and Parra in the gold round, and I think Parra will win it.’”

Parra said the gold medal solidifies a renewed sense of worth, and means overcoming an injury can be just the beginning for the competitors here.

“No matter how bad your wounds are, and no matter how bad you’re hurt, we can still come out here and do this,” the Prescott, Ariz., native said. “We can still compete and be champions and be winners.” But winning the competition was no walk in the park, he acknowledged.

“The competition was close,” Parra said. “I looked down the line and tried not to let my nerves get to me, because everyone put their heart into the game. This win wasn’t just given away.”

Dozens of service members went head to head, but in the end, the compound-bow competition came down to Marine against Marine. The shootout seemed more like a friendly practice round, as the two Marines encouraged each other and even offered pointers during the final rounds of competition. With a difference of only one point separating the two wounded warriors, the event kept both the audience and the competitors on their toes.

Although medals were on the line, Benack said, something more important was going on. All of the wounded warriors, he noted, share a common past and a common goal to recovery. The best part of the Warrior Games is the camaraderie among the services and the way the competitors help and encourage each other through whatever difficulties they face.

Parra said winning the gold medal gives him the confidence to move on and continue recovering.

“It gives you the mindset to take focus off of [post-traumatic stress disorder] and shift it to the game,” he said.

Marines also competed in the recurve-bow competition, but failed to place. The Army took all three medals, with the Marines finishing a close fourth. Sgt. Michael Lukow earned gold, Staff Sgt. Curtis Winston won silver, and their fellow soldier Sgt. Jeffery Anderson took the bronze medal.

Share
May 192010
 

~WSJ
By SCOTT GOTTLIEB

Insurers and doctors are already consolidating their businesses in the wake of ObamaCare’s passage.

President Obama guaranteed Americans that after health reform became law they could keep their insurance plans and their doctors. It’s clear that this promise cannot be kept. Insurers and physicians are already reshaping their businesses as a result of Mr. Obama’s plan.

The health-reform law caps how much insurers can spend on expenses and take for profits. Starting next year, health plans will have a regulated “floor” on their medical-loss ratios, which is the amount of revenue they spend on medical claims. Insurers can only spend 20% of their premiums on running their plans if they offer policies directly to consumers or to small employers. The spending cap is 15% for policies sold to large employers.

This regulation is going to have its biggest impact on insurance sold directly to consumers—what’s referred to as the “individual market.” These policies cost more to market. They also have higher medical costs, owing partly to selection by less healthy consumers.

Finally, individual policies have high start-up costs. If insurers cannot spend more of their revenue getting plans on track, fewer new policies will be offered.

This will hit Wellpoint, one of the biggest players in the individual market, particularly hard. The insurance company already has a strained relationship with the White House: Earlier this month Mr. Obama accused Wellpoint of systemically denying coverage to breast cancer patients, though the facts don’t bear that out.

Restrictions on how insurers can spend money are compounded by simultaneous constraints on how they can manage their costs. Beginning in 2014, a new federal agency will standardize insurance benefits, placing minimum actuarial values on medical policies. There are also mandates forcing insurers to cover a lot of expensive primary-care services in full. At the same time, insurers are being blocked from raising premiums—for now by political jawboning, but the threat of legislative restrictions looms.

JUST disgusting…

Share
May 192010
 

Russia intends this year to bring into service two new radar stations as part of its missile defense efforts, Interfax reported last week (see GSN, April 20).

Russian space forces commander Maj. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said Friday that the Voronezh-M radar station “is completely ready to be put into service, and this will be done shortly,” according to a press release. The missile warning system was put in place in Lekhtusi, not far from Saint Petersburg, on a trial basis last December.

The second radar system, Voronezh-DM, is located at Armavir in the Krasnodar area and completed its trial phase in in February. “It is planned to be put into service in 2010,” Ostapenko said (Interfax, May 14).

__________________________________________

Nuclear Terror Drill Staged in Los Angeles

The FBI and other U.S. local, state and federal agencies this week are dealing with a simulated nuclear terror attack in Los Angeles, United Press International reported (see GSN, Aug. 14, 2009).

“Threats involving weapons of mass destruction are complex, and confronting them must be practiced constantly,” said FBI Assistant Director Steve Martinez, who heads the bureau’s Los Angeles field office.

Participants in the three-day exercise worked to track down, deactivate and remove a crude nuclear device at the Los Angeles Coliseum, according to an FBI statement. In addition, authorities intended to seek out other devices dispersed throughout the city.

The scenario was also set to involve a mock explosion elsewhere in the country (United Press International, May 18).

“Every day we are taking steps to continue to strengthen our nation’s emergency response team, from the local level up to the federal government,” Craig Fugate, head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement. “[National Level Exercise] 2010 provides an important opportunity to exercise these response and recovery capabilities across all levels of government.”

The drill — a yearly effort conducted under the FEMA National Exercise Program and scheduled to end today — sought to showcase the ability of U.S. agencies and officials to respond to an emergency situation in accordance with established procedures. The exercise would be carried out and assessed in line with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, according to a FEMA press release (U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency release, May 14).

Federal participants in the drill included the National Nuclear Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Air Marshal Service, the FBI said in a statement.

Other agencies involved in the exercise included the California Emergency Management Agency, the Los Angeles mayor’s office and city police, the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, and the Los Angeles County Public Health and Sheriff’s departments (FBI release, May 18).

Share
May 192010
 

Politics Daily

When Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), the Navy admiral-turned-congressman, defeated 30-year incumbent Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary Tuesday night, it was the second time in his short political career that he had knocked out a better-known incumbent. Four years earlier, Sestak bested Rep. Curt Weldon, beating the Republican incumbent by nearly 13 points to take the seat representing Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional district in Congress.

In his three years on Capitol Hill, Sestak has offset his 31-year military career with an aggressively liberal voting record, supporting the Democratic House leadership on most votes and endorsing nearly all of the White House’s top priorities. Sestak voted for President Obama’s health care bill, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the energy bill that included a cap-and-trade mechanism to reduce carbon emissions. He also established himself as pro-choice, with a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, pro-gun control, and pro-labor, sponsoring the Employee Free Choice Act.

Last August, Sestak announced that he would challenge five-term incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter for the state’s U.S. Senate seat, setting up a primary between himself and the newly minted but heavily backed Democrat.

Stiff on the stump and little liked by his fellow Democrats behind the scenes on Capitol Hill, Sestak lagged behind the better known Specter in the Democratic contest for months. While Specter got endorsements from the president, the vice president, and the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Sestak quietly made his case to Democratic primary voters that they should not vote for a man they’d been voting against for three decades. Only with two weeks left until the election did the race begin to tighten.

One of eight children of a Navy captain in Pennsylvania, Sestak finished second in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy. He also earned a Ph.D in political economy from Harvard and capped his Naval career with a second star and the command of an aircraft carrier battle group in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sestak also served in the Clinton White House as the Director for Defense Policy on the National Security Council.

With one Goliath down, Sestak has one more major opponent standing between him and a seat in the U.S. Senate. In November, he’ll face former Republican congressman Pat Toomey, who gave up his seat in Congress six years ago to challenge Sen. Specter for his Senate seat. Unlike Sestak Tuesday night, Toomey lost the contest with Specter and will battle Sestak for the job they both want.
Filed Under: The Capitolist, Campaigns, Sestak-Specter

Share
May 192010
 

KANSAS CITY, MO—Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorist organization al Qaeda. He also pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering.

“National security is the highest priority of the Department of Justice,” Phillips said. “I applaud the diligent work of our law enforcement partners from local, state and federal agencies that serve on the Heart of America Joint Terrorism Task Force. These agencies have made significant investments of manpower and resources to the task force, and I appreciate their commitment to defeating terrorism. Much of their work is done behind the scenes, investigating and gathering information, but they play a crucial role in preventing terrorist activities.”

Khalid Ouazzani, 32, of Kansas City, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to a federal information that charges him with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Ouazzani also pleaded guilty to charges contained in an indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Feb. 3, 2010.

Ouazzani, a native of Morocco and a naturalized citizen of the United States, swore an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda in June 2008. Ouazzani admitted that, from August 2007 to February 2010, he participated in a conspiracy to provide material support or resources to al Qaeda.

Ouazzani also admitted that he personally provided more than $23,000 to al Qaeda and performed other tasks at the request of and for the benefit of al Qaeda. Ouazzani had conversations with others about various ways to support al Qaeda, including plans for them to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Somalia.

“Citizens here in the heartland should be alert to suspicious activity and never hesitate to report their concerns to law enforcement. This case serves as a reminder that terrorist-related activities can occur anywhere,” said Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Truchon of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Kansas City field office.

Ouazzani agreed to contribute $6,500 to al Qaeda in August 2007. A co-conspirator, who is not identified in court documents, made that payment on Ouazzani’s behalf. Ouazzani repaid the co-conspirator in November 2007 through a wire transfer to the co-conspirator’s bank account in the United Arab Emirates. Those funds came from Ouazzani’s sale of his business, Hafssa LLC, doing business as Truman Used Auto Parts, a retail operation that bought and sold used auto parts and used motor vehicles.

In June or July 2008, Ouazzani also agreed to pay al Qaeda $17,000, which represented his profit from the sale of an apartment in the United Arab Emirates that was owned by Ouazzani and a co-conspirator (who is not identified in court documents).

Bank Fraud Scheme

Ouazzani obtained a $175,000 line of credit commercial loan from Union Bank in April 2007 for Hafssa LLC (Truman Used Auto Parts). Under the terms of the loan, the funds were to be used as working capital for his business. Ouazzani admitted that he submitted false financial information about himself and the company to obtain the loan, and used substantial amounts of the loan proceeds for various personal purposes.

Ouazzani made only approximately $13,000 in payments on this loan. In September 2008 Union Bank wrote off the loan (then in the amount of $174,028) as uncollectible. On Feb. 11, 2009, Union Bank obtained a civil default judgment against Ouazzani and Hafssa LLC in the amount of $177,001.

Money Laundering

Ouazzani admitted that he used part of the proceeds of the Union Bank loan to purchase an apartment in the United Arab Emirates with a co-conspirator.

On May 23, 2007, Ouazzani caused a wire transfer of $112,830 to be sent to a bank account in the United Arab Emirates. The funds for this wire transfer included funds obtained from the $175,000 Union Bank loan and involved a series of transactions designed to make it more difficult to trace the funds.

Ouazzani used the wire-transferred funds to purchase an apartment in the United Arab Emirates, which he later sold for a profit of approximately $17,000. Ouazzani requested a co-conspirator to pay this $17,000 to al Qaeda.

“The criminal justice system is a valuable tool for disrupting terrorist plots and bringing terrorists to justice,” Phillips said. “We must use every means—criminal prosecutions as well as intelligence and military operations—to protect the American people. Federal prosecutions not only result in long prison sentences, but yield valuable intelligence that can be used in the fight against al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”

Under federal statutes, Ouazzani is subject to a sentence of up to 65 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Daniel Stewart, David M. Ketchmark and Brian P. Casey and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Menzel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, with assistance from attorneys at the Justice Department’s National Security Division, including the Counterterrorism Section. It was investigated by the Heart of America Joint Terrorism Task Force, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Missouri Department of Social Services – Division of Legal Services Investigation Section.

Heart of America Joint Terrorism Task Force
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Defense Criminal Investigative Service
Federal Air Marshals Service
IRS-Criminal Investigation
Kansas City, Kan., Police Department
Kansas City, Mo., Police Department
Kansas Highway Patrol
Missouri State Highway Patrol
Overland Park, Kan., Police Department
U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Western District of Missouri and the District of Kansas
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Marshals Service
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
U.S. Secret Service

Share
May 192010
 

by Steve Schippert Big Government

This story might slip right past you. It’s understandable, considering most Americans have no idea of the context or how it happened that the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is now set for 20 years in Iraq, thanks to a deal just inked between the Iraqi government and Communist China. The Iraqis originally selected America’s Exxon-Mobil. I’ll wager you probably didn’t know that. You’ll want to read on. But brace yourself.

Obama & Claire

It’s the classic American political tale of self-loathing crafted by the usual suspects. With its government firm and its security at its post-surge best, the Iraqi government needed to quickly bring its oilfields online. It desperately needed the revenues. The summer of 2008 saw oil prices above $100 per barrel and Americans were paying $4 per gallon at the pump.

The best in the business – the best in the world – is Exxon-Mobil. And the government of Iraq turned to America’s Exxon-Mobil to bring undeveloped and underdeveloped fields online to rejuvenate its own revenue sources and ween itself and its people off of American aid.

But three American Senators would have none of it. Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent a public letter to the Bush administration’s Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, imploring her to derail the Iraqi deal. (See: ‘In China We Trust’: Senators Closed Door to US Oil Investment In Iraq.) As the Senate troika stated, “It is our fear that this action by the Iraqi government could further deepen political tensions in Iraq and put our service members in even great danger.”

You see, these three American Senators insisted that Iraq shall have no revenues until it passed an oil revenue sharing law that met their distant standards. Or at least, Iraq should have certainly had no additional revenue. Their letter was dismissed out of hand in Washington. But in Iraq, the desired consequences of the letter took hold. The Iraqi government became spooked as the reportage of the letter turned, as one would expect, into wrangling and infighting by those seeking to leverage it to their advantage in the hotly contested revenue sharing process.

And there was “Big Oil” political gamesmanship afoot amid the 2008 presidential elections. As Fred Kagan noted at the time in The Weekly Standard, Claire McCaskill made no real bones about it. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect these dots–big oil is running Washington and now they’re running Baghdad. There is no reason under the sun not to halt these agreements until we get revenue sharing in place,” McCaskill said. Claire McCaskill knows a thing or two about not being a rocket scientist.

But there were at least two “reasons under the sun” not to halt Iraq’s deal with its preferred American operator. The first “reason under the sun” was the Iraqi government itself, which did not include McCaskill or Kerry or Schumer as part of the “we” who were working on the internal Iraqi revenue sharing agreement. The second “reason under the sun” was China, which would be quite happy to exclude the American senators from their share of the oil and revenue a deal would happily generate.

JUST MUST read…

Share
May 192010
 

FreedomsLighthouse — May 19, 2010 — In welcoming Mexico’s President Calderone to the White House today, President Obama told him “we are defined not by our borders, but by our bonds.”

“Borders” would seem to be the wrong word to use with the President of Mexico, unless you are an “open border” person.

Share
May 192010
 

by Nick Gillespie

http://tinyurl.com/35ufzbm

There comes a point in any society’s existence where it must ultimately, to paraphrase Martin Luther (who himself was more than happy to see opponents put to death), dig in its heels and say here we stand, we will do no other. We don’t need to be perfectly consistent philosophically or historically or theologically to assert what is special and unique not just about the United States, with its bizarre and wonderful articulation of the First Amendment, but the greater classical liberal project comprising not just the “West” (whatever that is) but human beings in whatever town, country, or planet they inhabit. And at the heart of the liberal project is ultimately a recognition that individuals, for no other reason than that they exist, have rights to continue to exist. Embedded in all that is the right to expression. No one has a right to an audience or even to a sympathetic hearing, much less an engaged audience. But no one should be beaten or killed or imprisoned simply for speaking their mind or praying to one god as opposed to the other or none at all or getting on with the small business of living their life in peaceful fashion. If we cannot or will not defend that principle with a full throat, then we deserve to choke on whatever jihadists of all stripes can force down our throats.

This amateurish image was created by Islamic imams and depicts Mohammed as a pedophile. They have defiled their own tradition.

JUST read the article here…

Share
May 192010
 

By Ed Barnes - FOXNews.com

As controversy surrounds the construction of a 13-story mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, FOX News has learned that an effort to place a second mosque close to the hallowed site in New York City is in its advanced stages.

As controversy surrounds the construction of a 13-story mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, FOX News has learned that an effort to place a second mosque close to the hallowed site in New York City is in its advanced stages.

The Masjid Mosque has raised $8.5 million and is seeking an additional $2.5 million to begin construction. While it apparently has not settled on a final location, it has told donors it plans to build very close to where 3,000 people were killed in the September 11 terror attacks.

In fact, the website appealing for donations boldly states that it plans to “build the ‘House of Allah’ next to the World Trade Center. Help us raise the flag of ‘LA ILLAH ILLA ALLAH’ in downtown Manhattan.”

One source said he believed the planners are considering a five-story building on 23 Park Place, closer to Ground Zero than the 13-story mosque the Cordoba Initiative is planning to build. But a tax record search shows that 23 Park Place is in private hands and has not changed owners since 2008.

Unlike the massive $100 million Cordoba House mosque, the Masjid Mosque is small – and it is no stranger to the neighborhood. Since 1970 it had been located at 12 Warren Street, about four blocks north of the World Trade Center, in a neat but nondescript industrial space that once housed a printing shop. It lost its lease in 2008 when the building was sold, and it was evicted from its second-floor prayer space on May 25 of that year. Since then it has been operating out a cramped basement space in a nearby building at 20 Warren Street.

On Friday evenings the mosque, which is popular with street vendors and taxi drivers, becomes so crowded that worshipers spill onto nearby sidewalks to pray in what has come to be a community event.

A press representative for Daisy Kahn, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, said neither she nor anyone in her group had been aware of the Masjid’s efforts. “They have no connection to us,” she said. “We didn’t even know they were there.”

Masjid mosque leaders claim on their website that they are deeply involved in converting people to Islam and run a special program to convert those who are interested.

Efforts to reach mosque leaders were not successful. Calls left with Naheem Mohammed, the mosque’s treasurer, were not returned. Calls to the mosque itself were not answered. And efforts to reach Abdullah El-Khory, the president of the mosque’s board, were not successful.

Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, also declined to return several calls. The board, which monitors and approves all development in the financial district surrounding Ground Zero and has been stung by criticism from the families of 9/11 victims, is permitted to assess the impact of building a mosque at the site.

Share