WASHINGTON – The stately White House East Room, home to many a bill signing and ceremonial gathering, becomes a stage Tuesday for pirouettes, jetes, gravity-defying leaps and maybe even some bumps and grinds as Michelle Obama inaugurates a new dance series.
Dancers of all types — ballet, modern, hip hop and Broadway — take over the room, first for an afternoon workshop, during which students from around the country will have the chance to work with some of the biggest names in dance.
Then, after a short break, the students return to see their mentors perform in an hour-long, star-studded show. Even Broadway’s young “Billy Elliot” will be there — four Billys actually, from the show’s rotating cast.
But the main attraction is the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and that’s because its celebrated artistic director, Judith Jamison, soon to retire after two decades in the job, is the honoree of the event.
“What a rare opportunity, to be invited by your country’s first lady to be honored like this,” Jamison said in a weekend interview. “I’ve been to the White House a couple of times before, but this event is totally unique. It’s so terribly important to recognize this art form and to understand how important it is to the fabric of this country.”
~Awww…I thought ‘Michelle’ was gonna boogie down! I did manage to find herhaving a dance-off in an alley though
Outraged at the effort to ‘Restore Honor’ to America, liberal groups are gathering their members and taking a trip to Washington in October. And what better way to battle honor than by featuring Charlie Rangel? (Not kidding, he says he’ll be there). MSNBC host Ed Schultz is trying to pretend this is his rally, but it was originally planned by the NAACP who will be joined by SEIU, the AFL-CIO, Green for All (Van Jones group), La Raza and others. They claim that this rally is in no way a response to 8/28 and would have happened anyway – BUT they started planning this event waaaay back at the end of July (yes, July of 2010). It’s sad. Really, really sad. ~Glenn Beck
While “featured speaker” Schultz does say the march involves a “consortium of groups,” he sure makes it sound like he’s the driving force – from invitation to “March with me,” to the “We’ll show you conservatives out there when Big Eddie starts crankin’ on something we don’t back down until it gets done.”
And he wants to be very clear: “If Beck had not done his rally — this would have happened.” Are we clear? The 10-2 march is in no way a response to the 8/28 rally.
He invited listeners to go wegoted.com — so I did. And that led to an interesting question: Does Ed Schultz still have a television show? While on the site I decided to read the “About Ed” section. There was a passage about Ed’s television exposure:
He’s a favorite guest of talk show pioneer Larry King on CNN. Schultz has also been seen on Hardball, The O’Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs, The Situation Room, American Morning, Morning Joe and many other shows.
There is no mention that he, reportedly, has his own program on MSNBC. The Wikipedia entry about Ed Schultz says his MSNBC show launched on April 6, 2009. It seems highly unlikely that a major media personality could have a television program for 17-months and there be no mention of it on the person’s own website. As though it didn’t exist.
New York) – George Soros, philanthropist and financier, today announced a challenge grant of $100 million over 10 years (Come on now he’s EIGHTY years old) (Oh, That’s right, Mama said evil lives long ~JP) to Human Rights Watch. The grant from his Open Society Foundations, the largest that he has ever made to a nongovernmental organization, will be used to expand and deepen Human Rights Watch’s global presence to more effectively protect and promote human rights around the world.
The grant challenges Human Rights Watch, which accepts no government funding, to raise an additional $100 million in private contributions to match the gift. Human Rights Watch hopes that the combination of the grant and the matching funds to be raised, as well as additional fundraising, will enable it to implement a strategic plan for becoming a truly global organization. The plan will require Human Rights Watch to increase its annual budget from $48 million to $80 million within five years.
“Human Rights Watch is one of the most effective organizations I support,” said Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations. “Human rights underpin our greatest aspirations: they’re at the heart of open societies.”
Soros said that he is particularly interested in encouraging philanthropists outside of the traditional supporters of human rights in Europe and North America.
The grant is intended to support the internationalization of Human Rights Watch, enabling it to staff advocacy offices in key regional capitals around the world and to deepen its research presence on countries of concern. Human Rights Watch plans especially to increase its capacity to influence emerging powers in the global South to push a pro-human rights agenda.
“Human Rights Watch can have even greater impact by being genuinely international in scope,” Soros said. “Human Rights Watch must be present in capitals around the globe, addressing local issues, allied with local rights groups and engaging with local government officials. In five years’ time it aims to have as much as half its income and a majority of its board members come from outside the United States.”
By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, (Hey Georgie Boy, start with our country YOU used to get rich off of OUR backs) Human Rights Watch gives voice to the oppressed and holds oppressors accountable for their crimes. Human Rights Watch’s rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for change and raise the cost of human rights abuse. Since 1978, Human Rights Watch has fought for deep-rooted improvements in human rights practices and has helped bring justice and security to people around the world.
“In an increasingly multi-polar world, we must ensure that Human Rights Watch’s message resonates in the most influential capitals around the globe,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Ending serious abuses requires generating pressure from any government with clout, including emerging powers in the global South.”
With a staff of almost 300 and addressing human rights conditions in nearly 90 countries, Human Rights Watch publishes around 100 reports and several hundred news releases each year. The challenge grant will enable Human Rights Watch to invest additional resources to fill significant gaps in its reporting network, including in parts of Africa and Asia. It will also enable Human Rights Watch to add greater depth on issues where its research staff is spread too thinly.
In addition, to maximize the impact of its research, Human Rights Watch would add staff to engage more effectively with national governments on local and regional issues of concern, and develop relationships with journalists who reach local audiences. By basing more researchers and advocates in key countries, Human Rights Watch will be better placed to engage with government officials, journalists, and civil society and better able to secure positive change.
“We hope that George Soros’s example will help the human rights movement worldwide by encouraging philanthropists to invest in the ideals of human rights,” Roth said.
Iran has backed down over plans to stone to death a woman charged with adultery after an international outcry.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is said to be in a “bad psychological state”
The Islamic republic’s London embassy said in a statement that “according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran” Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani “will not be executed by stoning”.
However, there are still fears that Ms Ashtiani, a mother-of-two, could be put to death by other means after she was found guilty of an affair while she was married.
Her lawyer Mohammed Mostafaei told The Times: “This is a positive development but nothing is clear yet. There have been cases in Iran of stonings being changed to hangings. We have to wait and see what happens.”
His client, 43, has already received 99 lashes in mid-2006 after she was convicted of an “illicit relationship” with two men after her husband’s death, according to Human Rights Watch.
Later that year she was put on trial again for “adultery while being married”, during which Ms Ashtiani said she was forced to make a confession under duress.
In 2007, Iran’s Supreme Court confirmed her execution and the woman has since exhausted all her appeals. She is currently imprisoned in the city of Tabriz.
The law of the land is supposed to reflect both the justice and values of the people of the land. Do the Iranian people support what the outside world calls barbarity?
~Sky’s foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall
“I ask you to send the letter of my mother’s pardon to Tabriz and return my mother’s life back to her. I hope that you see to it that justice in my mother’s case prevails,” he said.
“My mother is in a bad psychological state, and in five whole years has been imprisoned without a day of (leave from the prison).”
He told how he has appealed dozens of times to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and judicial chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani.
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt has condemned stoning as “a medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world”.
He said in a statement: “The continued use of such a punishment in Iran demonstrates a blatant disregard for international human rights commitments which it has entered into freely, as well as the interests of its people.
“I call on Iran to put an immediate stay to the execution of Ms Mohammadi Ashtiani on the charge of adultery, and review the process by which she was tried, and her sentence.
“She has already faced the disgraceful punishment of 99 lashes for adultery; her execution would disgust and appall the watching world.”
~NOTE: Ashtiani’s son says he has written to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “more than 100 times”
Human Rights Watch has also called on Tehran to stop her killing and do away with all death sentences.
The organisation said under the country’s law, cases of adultery must be proven either by repeated confession or by the evidence of witnesses – four men or three women and two men.
However, judges are also able to use their “knowledge” to determine guilt or innocence.
Ms Ashtiani’s lawyer has said two of the five trial judges found her not guilty – the other three ruled she was guilty based on their “knowledge”.
Stoning is a medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world.
–Statement by Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt
“Death by stoning is always cruel and inhuman, and it is especially abhorrent in cases where judges rely on their own hunches instead of evidence to proclaim a defendant guilty,” commented Nadya Khalife from Human Rights Watch.
A number of online petitions against the planned stoning gained considerable support.
One letter, with more than 13,300 signatures, read: “We ask United Nations, European Union, Human Rights Organisations to take urgent action, to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who has been imprisoned in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz since 2005.”
Another stated: “Saving one person from this atrocity could help to build the movement against inhumane punishments and executions worldwide and promote more justice in troubled nations like Iran.”
Let’s examine a brief history, for “you shall know them by their fruits (Matt 7:16).”
This Saturday, September 11, 2010, marks the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation. There will be a memorial held at 9:11am at the gazebo in downtown Palmer, TX. All are welcome to come and hear speakers, share experiences, and thank the police, firemen, and others who work to keep our community safe on a daily basis.
The events of September 11, 2001, were tragic, but even more so is the fact that we have an elephant in the room we cannot discuss. In a nation where we supposedly possess freedom of speech, we cannot call terrorist attacks what they are. We cannot truthfully discuss the “faith” that leads to horror and bloodshed. Islam is an elephant in the room of our nation.
NEW JERSEY Commemorations
* BERGEN COUNTY
* EAST RUTHERFORD
* EDGEWATER and SO many more…NJ is STELLAR in their tributes!
Remembrance ceremonies, a blood drive and charitable giving are among the events planned in Tulare County to mark Saturday’s ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Former Visalian Tim Ward died in the attack on the World Trade Center.
Nine years later, the Exchange Club of San Ramon Valley, along with the Town of Danville, are hosting a 9-11 Remembrance Service. Taking place at 9:50 a.m. Saturday, the program will include guest speakers, community groups, patriotic songs and more.
The community is invited to the All Wars Memorial at Oak Hill Park, located at 3005 Stone Valley Road in Danville. Guest speakers include Major General Ron Lowe, U.S. Army Retired, and Chuck Kohler, Pearl Harbor survivor. They will be joined by hundreds of Scouts with American flags as well as the joint Police and Fire Department Honor Guard and Fife and Drum Corps. There will also be a bagpiper, a flight of doves and other patriotic contributions.
San Ramon Valley Unified School District high school and middle school students and Boy and Girl Scouts can participate in an essay contest for prizes. Essays will be entitled, “Lest We Forget–Compare the Attack on Pearl Harbor to the Attack on the World Trade Center Towers.” First, second and third prizes for high school students will be $500, $300 and $200, respectively, and for eighth graders and below prizes of $300, $200 and $100 will be awarded. The essay forms will be distributed at the event. There will be ice cream for all the kids.
Last week, the first of 400 trees recovered from the shadows of ground zero arrived at the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum after being carefully tended in a New Jersey nursery.
But one lone tree has been overlooked in a New York City park, without even a marker to note that it survived the national tragedy.
The red maple tree was saved from 333 Rector Place and later dedicated to the memory of a 26-year-old investment banker who, with his Wall Street colleagues, had witnessed the planes fly into the twin towers and was killed in an overseas car accident a few months later.
EMMITSBURG, Md.—Thirty-six emergency responders from the United States and Australia are on the final leg of a 4,600-mile run from Santa Monica, Calif., to New York City to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The sixteen Aussies and 20 Americans stopped in Emmitsburg Monday to lay a wreath at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial and tour the National Emergency Training Center.
The group expected to reach Washington on Tuesday.
They plan to arrive at ground zero Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the passenger jet crashes in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.
Firefighter Michael Jones of Melbourne, Australia, says they are running in relays, with 12 members on each six-hour shift.
Amid the tragedies of September 11, 2001, came hope—in the faces of children born that day. Six years later, six families look back and talk about their 9/11 babies.
Jerry and Kathy Hotakainen visited New York’s Ground Zero last summer with Rachel and her brother, Eric. They’ve saved lots of newspapers from 9/11 for the kids. Says Kathy: “When they get older, we’ll let them read it all.”
When Rachel Hotakainen was two, a daycare provider read her a new book and the toddler recited it to playmates hours later, nearly word for word. The woman told Rachel’s mother, Kathy, that she thought her little girl had a photographic memory.
“This may sound crazy, but to me she’s always seemed wise beyond her years,” Kathy says. She thinks Rachel’s soul might have connected with older souls the day she was born.
When Kathy had Rachel, she worked at Stars and Stripes newspaper. Her husband, Jerry, had been a reporter for years. Kathy heard about the first plane when they were leaving for Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park.
Kathy cried when her baby was placed into her arms. She says she felt guilty “to be holding a new life when so many people couldn’t hold a loved one.”
Rachel, a first-grader who likes ballet and dresses, knew even at three years old that people died on 9/11. She and her seven-year-old brother, Eric, have asked why the planes crashed.
“I try to tell them what I can—in their terms,” says Kathy, a graphic artist for the Department of Justice.
Someone suggested to Jerry that the family celebrate Rachel’s birthday on a different day. “It never occurred to me,” he says. “Pearl Harbor day comes around every year—it’s still people’s birthday.”
An eight-year-old who lived across the street from the Hotakainens in University Park lost her friend Zoe on 9/11. Zoe’s family was on the flight that hit the Pentagon. Before she moved away, the little girl had a special way of remembering Zoe: She’d bring Rachel a present on her birthday.
Fareed Zakaria has written a very strange piece for Newsweek, asserting, amongst other things, that the United States overreacted to the 9/11 attacks. Zakaria’s usually way off — read his views on Iran — but these new and particularly bizarre claims deserve a response. His article begins:
Nine years after 9/11, can anyone doubt that Al Qaeda is simply not that deadly a threat? Since that gruesome day in 2001, once governments everywhere began serious countermeasures, Osama bin Laden’s terror network has been unable to launch a single major attack on high-value targets in the United States and Europe. While it has inspired a few much smaller attacks by local jihadis, it has been unable to execute a single one itself. Today, Al Qaeda’s best hope is to find a troubled young man who has been radicalized over the Internet, and teach him to stuff his underwear with explosives.
Notice the sleight of hand. Zakaria whitewashes radical Islam and its international network spawn, and reduces al-Qaeda to a few hundred cave-hoppers bowing around Waziristan. The reality is more multifaceted: “al-Qaeda” is the head of the jihadi snake, the epicenter of the global Islamist insurrection. It has offshoots in Algeria, Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines –– and perhaps forty other countries. And that’s just “al-Qaeda.” There are many terror groups.
No attacks in Europe? The Madrid attacks and London bombings immediately come to mind. In the United States, there was the Long Island convert who tried to blow up Penn Station. An al-Qaedist in Arkansas attacked a military recruitment center in Little Rock, killing an American soldier. An Islamist in Illinois tried to take down a federal building in Springfield. A jihadi from Chicago set his sights on a Danish newspaper and assisted the gunmen in the Mumbai attacks. An Afghan national targeted Manhattan landmarks. A Jordanian national tried to topple a Dallas skyscraper. There was the massacre at Fort Hood. And this was just last year.
The “troubled young man” that tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day was trained in an al-Qaeda camp in Yemen. He would have killed nearly 300 people had it not been for passenger heroics. In May, a Pakistani-trained al-Qaedist tried to set off a bomb in Times Square, the most densely packed area in Manhattan. He failed, but had he succeeded the carnage would have trumped the Oklahoma City bombing. I was in Times Square that afternoon. Had the detonation gone off properly, giant shards of glass from the surrounding buildings — dozens and dozens of stories worth — would have plummeted to the streets, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands.
And around the world? Last week alone, there were more than 300 casualties in Lahore, Pakistan; there were more than 200 in Quetta. In Sudan, al-Qaeda-linked Islamists murdered 74 people. Sixteen people were killed in Baghdad, four in Mosul, three in Yemen, two in Tajikistan, and one apiece in Thailand and Azerbaijan. Next week beckons.
Zakaria would retort that not all of these attacks were the work of “al-Qaeda.” But then what is he trying to say? Is he suggesting we shouldn’t consider Salafist-inspired terrorism to be part and parcel of the same struggle? Is he implying Osama bin Laden himself hasn’t successfully sat down and mapped out a specific attack — and therefore al Qaeda’s “simply not that deadly a threat”?
Zakaria goes on:
I do not minimize Al Qaeda’s intentions, which are barbaric. I question its capabilities. In every recent conflict, the United States has been right about the evil intentions of its adversaries but massively exaggerated their strength. In the 1980s, we thought the Soviet Union was expanding its power and influence when it was on the verge of economic and political bankruptcy. In the 1990s, we were certain that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear arsenal. In fact, his factories could barely make soap.
First of all, the claim that the United States routinely exaggerates the strength of its enemies couldn’t be further from the truth. Did the United States “exaggerate” al-Qaeda’s capabilities during the 1990s? Our embassies, our warships, our hotels, our allies, even the World Trade Center itself — al-Qaeda launched attacks on all of these targets throughout the 1990s, and what did we do? We drafted letters of indictment. As the 9/11 Commission Report explains, they were at war with us; we weren’t at war with them. On national security issue after issue, the United States — particularly our intelligence community — has a long history of being behind the ball. We did not foresee or anticipate the rise of al-Qaeda, the Iranian Revolution, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, the Pakistani/Indian nuclear tests, or the Libyan, North Korean, and A.Q. Khan nuclear programs.
Secondly, nobody believed Saddam had a “nuclear arsenal” in the 1990s. That’s because after we defeated him in 1991, we discovered he was but six months to a year away from developing an atomic bomb. So we ended it with inspections. He was close to getting the bomb ten years prior to the Gulf War as well, but the Israelis took out the Osirak reactor in 1981. The fear was that Saddam would perpetually pursue and eventually obtain a nuclear device, a fear substantiated by the Iraq Survey Group’s findings: Saddam was hell-bent on reconstituting his NBC programs (nuclear/bio/chem) the moment international sanctions were lifted. Free from sanctions, Saddam would have likely gotten his hands on the bomb — or at least an Uday/Qusay successor regime would have.
As for the Soviets, there is no use in rearguing Cold War history with a man of Zakaria’s views on foreign affairs. Soviet expansionism was real: Afghanistan, El Salvador, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Angola, Romania, martial law in Poland. Communist insurgencies had sprung up around the world. Eastern Europe was under the Politburo’s dominion. Dissidents were kidnapped and thrown in gulags. Hell, if it weren’t for a disobedient colonel in 1983 they would have nuked us!
And in regards to the American penchant for exaggerating the threat from Moscow, I would refer Zakaria to the infamous National Intelligence Estimate 85-3-62 presented to President Kennedy on September 19, 1962: “The USSR could derive considerable military advantage from the establishment of Soviet medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles in Cuba. … [This] development, however, would be incompatible with Soviet practice to date and with Soviet policy as we presently estimate.” The Cuban Missile Crisis was three weeks later.
The rest of Zakaria’s article is a mishmash of grievances with the federal government. He talks of needless bureaucracy (“created … 263 organizations,” “thirty-three new building complexes”); needless waste (“money spent on intelligence has risen by 250 percent”); and needless incompetence (not catching Maj. Hassan before Fort Hood or the underwear bomber before Christmas). And then to end it, Zakaria quotes James Madison to give us the contemporary libertarian view of needless Big Brother.
There’s some truth to these last points. Perhaps the Department of Homeland Security could have been put in the FBI. Perhaps the director of national intelligence could have been put in the CIA. Perhaps the federal government could be fighting this war far more effectively — and cost-effectively. But all this speaks to government incompetence, mismanagement, and red tape. It says nothing of our “overreaction” to 9/11. We did not put Muslim-Americans in internment camps as Roosevelt had done to Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, or as Bruce Willis does in The Siege after a mere bus bombing. Hollywood and the puppeteers of pop culture do not understand the American character or the American psyche. After 9/11, we did not “go Roman” on the Middle East as previous global powers would have done.
The water-boarding debate was always controlled by demagogues. To this date President Obama won’t declassify the blacked-out documents that describe the efficacy of the interrogative practice (which was performed on just three terrorists). Obama knows water-boarding worked and saved American lives, and he knows Americans would be supportive of the practice in such a case, so he would therefore rather keep this issue in the dark than vindicate the worldview of Dick Cheney and the Weekly Standard. Obama also retained the right to employ water-boarding whenever he wishes. As for the supposed evils of Gitmo, Predator drones, rendition, military tribunals, wiretaps, etc. — Obama continues all of it to this day, and under a Democratic administration the issues have ceased to be used for domestic grandstanding and ahistorical slander.
Nine years after 9/11, our policymakers have responded in measured and levelheaded though sometimes inadequate ways. Our citizens have been patient and tolerant, though sometimes blissfully ignorant; our diplomats and intelligence officers have been dauntless. And our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have been valiant.
N.M. Guariglia is a foreign policy analyst and columnist who writes on Islam and Middle Eastern geopolitics. He is a contributing editor for Family Security Matters and blogs at WorldThreats.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Methamphetamine confiscated near the border. Photo courtesy of DEA
Methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and cash—the amount of drugs and currency crossing the border in and around El Paso, Texas can be difficult to comprehend.
“El Paso may be the busiest city in the world in terms of the flow of drugs,” said Special Agent Mike Cordero, a member of the FBI/DEA Strike Force, an investigative team established in 2007 to target “the biggest of the big” drug trafficking organizations.
“If they are major players,” Agent Cordero explained, “we’re going after them. Our mission is to disrupt and dismantle these organizations.”
It is estimated that 40-60 percent of all illegal drugs that come into the U.S. enter through the border areas encompassed by our El Paso Field Office. The drugs flow across the border from Juarez, and U.S. currency flows back into Mexico. Every month, tens of millions of dollars in cash pass into Juarez, enabling the cartels to corrupt public officials, purchase weapons, and engage in other criminal activity beyond drug trafficking.
The strike force in El Paso—one of several along the Southwest border—is designed to fight this cycle of crime and violence. The program is funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a longstanding Department of Justice initiative that combines federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts to fight organized crime and drug traffickers. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI have lead roles in operating the strike force.
Working with undercover operatives, sources, and Mexican law enforcement, the team uses an intelligence-driven approach in its investigations. Besides orchestrating large drug buys, agents pay close attention to the money laundering aspects of drug trafficking. Perhaps most importantly, the actionable intelligence gathered by the strike force benefits many other investigations and law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally.
The El Paso strike force consists of 10 FBI agents and 10 DEA agents, as well as representatives from the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
“We are a badge-less operation,” Agent Cordero said. “When you walk in our office, you can’t tell who is FBI and who is DEA. There is a concerted effort to put the cases first and not to worry about who gets the credit,” he added. “A win is a win for everybody.”
Recently, during a nationwide drug trafficking takedown called Project Deliverance, the strike force arrested 133 individuals on drug charges and seized 800 pounds of marijuana, 11 kilos of cocaine, and nearly $140,000 in cash. The operation also contributed intelligence to numerous other investigations around the country. “Because El Paso is a pivotal location for the Mexican drug trade,” said Special Agent Raul Bujanda, another member of the strike force, “the intelligence we gather allows us to spin off a lot of cases to other offices.”
Twelve pounds of heroin confiscated during Project Deliverance. Photo courtesy of DEA
“We’re very proud of the work we do,” Agent Cordero said. “There are no egos involved in the strike force—it’s all about the cases and bringing down the drug traffickers.”
Vice President Joe Biden said this week that the Obama administration “hit the accelerator” toward spending $5 billion under the economic stimulus law to weatherize people’s homes, create thousands of jobs, help consumers save money and put the nation on track for energy independence
With the recovery faltering less than two months before the November congressional elections, President Obama’s economic team is considering another big dose of stimulus in the form of tax breaks for businesses — potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars, according to two people familiar with the talks. Among the options are a temporary payroll tax holiday and a permanent extension of the research and development tax credit, say people familiar with the talks.
What difference do YOU see?! They are EXACT! All it is missing is the Star
THIS is the field of honor
MAKE THIS VIRAL Friends, PLEASE? ~This is asinine!It’s Obama logo or islamic ones! EVERYWHERE!!!
Nine years after the heroes of Flight 93 rebelled against the terrorists who hijacked their plane — crashing it into a field in Shanksville, Pa., instead of allowing it to smash into an unknown, high-profile target in Washington, D.C. — the design of a memorial to honor the 40 passengers and crew who died remains a subject of bitter controversy.
Since 2005, when plans for the Flight 93 National Memorial were unveiled, a group of critics, including the father of one of the heroes who died, have protested loudly that the memorial’s design is rife with Islamic symbols. They haven’t wavered in their protest — even though some design elements have been changed — and they plan to run a full-page ad opposing the design in a local newspaper on Friday and Saturday, when the nation will pause to remember September 11.
But the National Park Service says the critics — whom it calls “conspiracy theorists” — are expressing concerns that are baseless, and that it’s already changed the design to remove any symbols that might be considered “Islamic.”
At the center of the dispute is the Field of Honor, a circular, tree-lined landmass that will serve as the “heart” of the memorial, as well as a 93-foot Tower of Voices that will contain 40 wind chimes, one for each victim of the crash. Forty groves of red and sugar maple trees also will commemorate the victims, and ponds will be installed to serve as a natural barrier to the nearby Sacred Ground, the final resting place for the passengers and crew of Flight 93.
The newspaper ad — paid for by Tom Burnett Sr., whose 38-year-old son died in the crash, and Alec Rawls, author of “Crescent of Betrayal: Dishonoring the Heroes” — revives their claim that the memorial’s Field of Honor clearly resembles an Islamic crescent and star, and that the entire site is orientated toward Mecca.
“A more obvious tribute to the terrorists is hard to imagine,” reads the ad, which will be published in the Somerset Daily American and was provided in advance to FoxNews.com. “It is not surprising, then, that the giant crescent would turn out to point to Mecca, and be the centerpiece for the world’s largest mosque.”
Rawls says the planned memorial, which was created by Los Angeles-based architect Paul Murdoch, contains unacceptable, intentional Islamic symbols, including the giant crescent he sees in the Field of Honor, a 150-acre bowl-shaped landform that will have missing trees in two places to mark the path of the airliner and the crash site.
“All they did was disguise it, nothing’s changed,” Rawls said, referring to the alterations that have been made to the design, including changing the title of Crescent of Embrace to Circle of Embrace, since the objections were initially raised.
Rawls acknowledged that trees were added to the design so as to not create the much-debated crescent, but he insisted that the site is still orientated toward Mecca, and he wants a congressional hearing into the matter.
“Intentional or not, these features are entirely unacceptable,” reads a two-year-old online petition that has more than 10,000 signatures. “This travesty must stop and investigations must begin … We ask that the crescent design be scrapped entirely and that it be replaced with a new design that is not tainted by Islamic or terrorist memorializing symbolism. We demand a fitting and proper memorial that HONORS the brave men and women of Flight 93.”
If left unchanged, Rawls said, the memorial will ultimately serve as a government-built “Ground Zero mosque” in Pennsylvania. “This is the architect’s plan,” he told FoxNews.com. “This is what he wanted. To not recognize what the architect is doing here is nuts. This is state establishment of religion.”
But the group that is building the memorial says that the design is nothing of the sort, and that it has grown weary of the argument.
“The Flight 93 National Memorial partners have said all there is to say about the conspiracy theorists,” Joanne Hanley, the National Park Service’s superintendent of the Flight 93 Memorial, told FoxNews.com. “We will not re-engage with these people.”
According to one of several official websites dedicated to the project, the continuous sound of the chimes will serve as an “audible reminder of the selfless acts of courage” displayed by passengers and crew.
But the newspaper ad notes that the tower is “cut at an angle at the top so that its crescent arms reach up into the sky. Crescent-topped minarets are a daily sight across most of the Islamic world. Is this really a proper marker for the victims of Islamic terrorism?”
Burnett, whose son Tom died along with 39 others in the crash of Flight 93, was unavailable for comment for this article, but the retired high school English teacher told The New York Times in 2008 that he voted against the design.
“It’s really revolting to me, this whole thing,” he told the newspaper. “It’s an insult to my son and all the others.”
Messages seeking a response from Murdoch were not returned, but National Park Service (NPS) officials say the criticisms have no validity.
Hanley referred further inquiries to a section of the memorial’s website that pertains to questions regarding the design, which was selected from more than 1,000 entries from 48 states and 27 countries.
“This memorial solely honors the heroic actions of the 40 passengers and crew, who defeated the terrorists,” the site reads. “The intent of the architect was to honor the passengers and crew. When questions were raised about the design, they were taken very seriously.”
NPS officials and Flight 93 partner organizations later concluded that the memorial design does not imply or depict religious iconography, according to the site, which also referred to a 2008 statement from the president of the Families of Flight 93 in full support of the design.
“These allegations are hurtful to the overwhelming number of families fully in support of the memorial,” read the statement by Gordon Felt, whose brother, Edward, died in the attacks. “Furthermore, they are misleading and not based in fact.”
Felt’s statement continued, “Over the past few years, we have reached out to experts in the areas of religious iconography, Islamic Law/theology and memorial design. The findings of these experts are clear and unwavering in that people looking for controversy will find it if they look hard enough regardless of the circumstances.”
Another website connected to the memorial, honorflight93.org, allows visitors to donate money to the $58 million project. The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, released a public service campaign late last month in hopes of raising $18 million to complete the project.
~My friend Race Bannon LOGO TO LOOK MORE LIKE OBAMA LOGO was the first to post an extensive running thread on this before it became viral. We worked relentlessly to make it viral…we had it before Drudge or Michelle. I was in contact with one of my Senators who felt the alarm bell going off was disconcerting.And now FIVE months later here we are with THIS! Go to this link for eyeopening investigative work .
That IS a crescent and it is outrageous! MDA also called people conspiracy nuts because it is OBVIOUS , even if you use braille, that there are muslim/islam implications in the new MDA logo