Sep 222010

Who is Velma Hart? She is the Town Hall participant who calmly and frankly told President Obama that she was “exhausted of defending” the president, a video clip of which quickly went viral (particularly on right-of-center) websites. While she also seemed to be featured on nearly every prime time opinion-news programs last night; but it was the producers of Hardball who won the day by booking Ms. Hart for a sit-down interview in which she revealed that she is still very much a supporter of President Obama. Joe the Plumber is probably furious.

From Hannity to O’Reilly to even Jon Stewart, Ms. Hart’s comments were broadcast numerous times by producers eager to demonstrated the frustration that average Americans are feeling towards this administration. However, it turns out that many of them got it wrong. In a completely reasonable explanation, Ms. Hart continued to show how effective a smart and dispassionate debate can be. The video is below, and a rough and partial transcript is HERE

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Sep 222010

Credit is due to Pamela Geller for breaking this story and uncovering the interview. Thanks to Pamela Geller , an interview has how surfaced in which, after being assured that it has ended, Imam Rauf speaks “off-the-record” and reveals some intriguing plans and views that he has regarding America and the world. Geller got the tapes of the interview from the UK and transcribed the whole thing from start to finish.

“Bridge builder” Imam Feisal Abdel Rauf, the Muslim cleric behind plans for the Ground Zero mosque, has now been exposed as a man of shrewd cunning and as a calculating stealth jihadist who supports the creation of an Islamic State, “The Ummah,” right here in America.

The interview, given on June 20th, 2006, sees Rauf speaking about his “game plan” for achieving an Islamic State without borders, which — in his mind — has previously existed and should have continued to exist, if not for Western interference in the last century. The Ground Zero mosque imam also discusses some of his other objectives which include: (1) manipulating U.S. foreign policy, (2) advocating for Hamas and (3) getting “power” on his side to push back the opposing “interests.” In one part of the “post-interview,” he also boasts that he advised and influenced former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and that he has a blurb on the back of one of her books.

One can’t help from wondering: why is a “Sufi” cleric involved in such things?

Check out Rauf “off-mic” here:

To get a closer look at the psychology and true “game plan” of Imam Rauf, let’s take a closer look at some of the more intriguing quotes from him in this interview:

“9/11 was a watershed, was a major catalytic force in, in catalyzing the attention towards the issue of Islam, it’s presence in the West.”

This quote clearly reveals that the Imam sees 9/11 mainly as a major opportunity, a milestone in advancing Islam. In other words, he holds that the murder of 3,000 Americans is now facilitating the work of nice “moderate’ Imams like himself in America.

“How America should really engage with them [Hamas]…Helping her [Madeline Albright] understand the role of religion. She supported a Jewish State in the Middle East; why not support an Islamic State?”

When Rauf learned that the interview was over, he opens up regarding his advocacy for Hamas and how he advised and influenced former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — with whom he claimed to have had constant contact. Rauf warns of the need to deal with Hamas lest we lose this organization to bad guys, like Syria or Iran, as if Hamas is not bad enough on its own. This is the same threat this ‘man of peace’ is warning America with — to never upset the Islamic street “or else.”

“We have designed our Cordoba Initiative to be designed, in other words, we have 5 major areas of our program. So we have foreign policy, is one area, you have communications is another area, you have education as the third area, for example, you have intra-Islamic issues is the fourth area, arts and culture is the fifth area.”

Why would Cordoba, which he claims to be a “cultural center,” have a “foreign policy” section that would develop “strategy action play”? What is it exactly he going to educate Americans about? Will he send Muslim coaches to American schools to teach sensitivity training to watch out for the feelings of Muslims? Or might he demand to educate American kids about how to pray to Allah?

“If the entertainment media, the news media, was broadcasted in print, describe and speak about the issues in a different way it can help change perceptions profoundly, because it’s the media, which helps shape perceptions to a great degree. So if we have strategic action plays, designed plays, in the area of foreign policy, in the area of healing the divide, and then you unpack and give up Israel. You then have to have your offensive coaching stuff, your offensive coach and defensive coach and your head coach, we have to have our Palestinian coach, etc.”

Rauf speaks here like a war strategist who wants to use the media to shape perceptions to promote his strategic action plays in the area of foreign policy. Rauf and I are both of Egyptian origin and I think he is still dreaming of the good old days when the Egyptian media propaganda machine I lived under and participated in was at its strongest. Before moving to America, I was a journalist and media censor in the Middle East News Agency. There is no other way to interpret what Rauf wants: to use the media the way the tyrants and dictators of the Middle East do: as a traditional Islamic tool of indoctrination, misinformation and propaganda. Watch how clever Rauf inserts words like “healing the divide” right before hitting us with “you unpack and give up Israel.”

“I am the head coach of this strategic initiative and the President of the United States, or the President of Malaysia, or the President of England, is like a player you want to bring in for particular plays. We look at it as American football, you want to gain yardage.”

Are we supposed to believe that these are normal words of a peaceful Sufi cleric? What is it that he wants to win in yardage, one yard at a time? These are clearly grandiose plans of what appears to be a borderline delusional narcissist who admits he plans to manipulate U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. president, the “president” of England (someone please inform the Queen on that one!) whom he considers as just “players” in his grand scheme.

When he is asked who he considers to be “the enemy,” he answers: “You have to make sure you are not pushed back, you have to make sure you have power on your side to be able to push the ball forward.” Is this ‘community building’ or a war strategy?

Mr. Rauf goes on to speak of his vision of the Islamic State:

“I don’t want a demographic Islamic State, it is not a part of our tradition and never was until recently.” He added “Egypt, Alexandria, had 400,000 Greeks” “We created the notion of demographic Nation State whereas before that they were all living together.”

Rauf has an illusion of an Islamic State that never was and never will be. For some reason, I’m hearing John Lennon’s song “Imagine” (there’s no countries… no borders etc).

Rauf’s true self, motives and objectives have been exposed in this interview. To him, the hard Jihad of 9/11 was just a catalytic beginning that facilitated his form of stealth Jihad. Soften the American public with a huge explosive terror act that divides Americans and sends their heads spinning, then comes Rauf to save the day with his community “bridge-building” at Ground Zero. To him, 9/11 was just a strategic move in an Islamic/Western chess game. With both violent and stealth jihad coordinating their efforts and by playing the old “good cop-bad cop” routine on the American psyche, Rauf aims at becoming the Muslim hero in America who will join those who want to break down America’s borders brick by brick until finally one day America is transformed into a Sharia-compliant Islamic state.

Faisal Rauf is the typical double-faced Islamist who speaks from both sides of his mouth. Even his book has one “nice” title in English to fool the West, while in Arabic it advocates Sharia from Ground Zero. While claiming that his mission is non-political, just community building, his interview not only exposes him but more importantly exposes Islam’s goals and the fact that “moderate” Islam can work in perfect harmony and in conjunction with radical Islam.

Imam Rauf is dangerous, but what is more dangerous is our State Department which has has been facilitating the agenda of a clearly megalomaniacal stealth jihadist.

Nonie Darwish is the President of and author of Cruel and Usual Punishment.

Sep 222010

Jon Stewart’s ‘Sanity’ Rally Is Freaking Out Some Democrats

Sep 222010

Robert S. Mueller, III Director Federal Bureau of Investigation

Good morning, Chairman Lieberman, Senator Collins, and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the terrorist threats facing our nation and the efforts of the FBI to protect the United States from future terrorist attacks.

The FBI’s number one priority continues to be the prevention of terrorist attacks against the United States. To meet this mission, we have undergone a paradigm shift in the way we collect and use intelligence. Intelligence drives our investigative strategies, enhancing our understanding of national security threats and our ability to address these threats. Today, the FBI is a stronger organization, combining our national security and law enforcement capabilities while upholding the Constitution and protecting civil liberties.

Since 9/11, many of the terrorist threats facing the United States endure, but some are also evolving and transforming in ways that present new challenges. Despite significant counterterrorism pressure abroad, al Qaeda remains committed to advancing attack plans directed at the West, including plans against Europe and the homeland. The group’s efforts to recruit, train, and deploy operatives to execute attacks worldwide, but specifically in the United States, were demonstrated with the arrest of Najibullah Zazi, who was plotting to attack the New York City subway system. Groups affiliated with al Qaeda are now actively targeting the United States and looking to use Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures—as seen with the attempted airline bombing on Christmas Day 2009 and the failed car bombing in New York’s Times Square in May. In addition, it appears domestic radicalization and homegrown extremism is becoming more pronounced, based on the number of disruptions and incidents.

Recent National Security Threats

The FBI has faced and disrupted an extraordinary range of national security threats since the committee’s hearing last year on the terrorist threat. We structure all of our investigations to maximize the intelligence that can be gained from them. Drawing on our intelligence and law enforcement tools, we strategically decide where and when to disrupt and dismantle these threats. Intelligence, in turn, drives investigative strategies to ensure our resources are targeting and collecting on the most pressing threats. The investigation of Najibullah Zazi is an example of how the FBI used its intelligence and law enforcement tools to collect valuable intelligence on a subject’s network. Zazi was arrested in September 2009 and on February 22, 2010 pled guilty to terrorism charges related to his plans to attack the New York City subway system. His two New York-based associates were indicted in January 2010.

Also in September of last year, FBI special agents arrested Michael C. Finton in Illinois and Hosam Smadi in Texas for unrelated bomb plots. The FBI used online undercover FBI agents and confidential human sources who continuously monitored the activities of these violent extremist subjects up to the time of their arrests.

U.S. citizen David Headley was arrested in October 2009 in Chicago for planning terrorist attacks against a Danish newspaper and two of its employees. During the course of this investigation, the FBI collected intelligence that uncovered Headley’s operational role in the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, and connected him to a separate plot to kill an individual in Denmark. On January 14, 2010, a superseding indictment was filed against Headley relating to his conspiring with others to plan and execute attacks in both Denmark and India, and in March 2010, he pled guilty on all counts.

In January 2010, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was charged in a six-count criminal indictment for his alleged role in the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. Within days of the Christmas Day attack, the FBI established a Yemen fusion cell to coordinate intelligence and counterterrorism assets in response to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP’s) threat to the United States homeland and United States interests overseas. The FBI gained critical intelligence from the questioning of Abdulmutallab and shared all relevant information with our partners in the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

In May 2010, Faisal Shahzad attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, an attack for which Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility. The FBI forensics and technical experts developed crucial evidence aiding this fast-moving terrorism investigation. Equally important, the intelligence gained from this investigation was voluminous and significant and shared expeditiously with our domestic and foreign partners.

Threats to the Homeland

These threats are merely a sampling of the intelligence we collected and terrorist plots the FBI disrupted during the past year. But they underscore the diversity of the threats facing the homeland and a troubling trend: the rise in U.S.-specific threats. In the past year, the United States has been center stage as the focus for a number of terrorist plots that primarily come from three sources: core al Qaeda, al Qaeda’s affiliates, and homegrown extremists.

Al Qaeda

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, al Qaeda’s intent to conduct high-profile attacks inside the United States has been unwavering. Recent investigations reveal that the group has adapted its strategy for conducting such attacks. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, al Qaeda’s plots and plans primarily focused on using individuals from the Middle East or South Asia for such attacks. More recent plots—beginning in August 2006 with the attempted plan to commit attacks against U.S.-bound aircraft using improvised explosives devices—suggest al Qaeda is also putting more emphasis on finding recruits or trainees from the West to play key roles for these homeland-specific operations.

The 2009 plot led by Najibullah Zazi to attack the New York subway was the first known instance since 9/11 that al Qaeda had successfully deployed a trained operative into the United States. The fact that Zazi and his associates had access to the United States and were familiar with the environment here from an operational security and targeting perspective demonstrates how al Qaeda can leverage Americans. The potential exists for al Qaeda to use and train other Americans for additional homeland attacks. Identifying these individuals is among the FBI’s highest counterterrorism priorities.

Al Qaeda Affiliates and Allies

We are also concerned by the growing threat to the West posed by al Qaeda affiliates and allies. Al Qaeda continues to exert its influence over these extremist organizations around the world, and we are increasingly concerned about the potential for some of these groups—operating in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq—to focus more on homeland attacks in the coming years. Several changes this past year suggest this homeland-specific agenda may be rising in prominence: collaboration and cooperation between some groups; two attempted attacks on the U.S. homeland; and the number of American extremists who have traveled or sought to travel overseas to fight or train with such groups.

The level of cooperation among al Qaeda and other terrorist groups has changed in the past year, suggesting that this collaboration and resulting threat to the homeland will increase. By sharing financial resources, training, tactical and operational expertise, and recruits, these groups have been able to withstand significant counterterrorism pressure from United States, coalition, and local government forces.

The failed attempt by Faizal Shahzad to detonate a vehicle rigged with explosive devices in Times Square in May 2010 was the first time we had seen TTP, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, expand its operational focus from attacks within its immediate region to plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland.

The attempted Christmas Day bombing of the Northwest flight to Detroit also represented the first time AQAP attempted an attack against the United States, already having demonstrated its ability to target U.S. interests in Yemen. Much like al Qaeda, AQAP was able to identify a willing recruit who was committed to attacking the United States and whose background did not raise traditional security scrutiny. Like core al Qaeda’s use of Zazi, TTP’s use of Shazhad—a naturalized U.S. citizen who had lived for years in the United States—to attempt to attack the homeland underscores the operational roles Americans can play for al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The number of persons from the United States who attempted to travel overseas to various conflict zones to receive terrorist training or combat experience during the past year also poses a challenge. While the motivations for such travel are diverse, as are the backgrounds of the individuals we see interested in such opportunities, we remain concerned about this development.

Once Americans are able to travel overseas and make the right connections with extremists on the ground, they could be targeted for participation in homeland-specific attack plans, as happened in the cases of Zazi and Shahzad.

In particular, Somalia has garnered the attention of many American extremists, as at least two dozen Americans have successfully made it there to train or fight over the past few years. Recent disruptions inside the United States show that some Americans still desire to travel there to receive training or even fight on behalf of al Shabaab, a designated terrorist organization.

Homegrown Extremism and Radicalization

Threats from homegrown violent extremists—those who have lived primarily inside the United States and commit acts of violence in furtherance of objectives promoted by a foreign terrorist organization, but who act without direction from a foreign terrorist organization—remain a concern. Like Finton and Smadi, these individuals are inspired by the global jihadist movement to commit violent acts in the United States and may use the Internet to connect with other extremists, but do not necessarily receive direct guidance from terrorist groups overseas.

During the past year, the threat from radicalization has evolved. A number of disruptions occurred involving extremists from a diverse set of backgrounds, geographic locations, life experiences, and motivating factors that propelled them along their separate radicalization pathways. Beyond the sheer number of disruptions and arrests that have come to light, homegrown extremists are increasingly more savvy, harder to detect, and able to connect with other extremists overseas.

Although no single factor helps to explain why the radicalization phenomenon now may be more pronounced inside the United States, several factors may be important in assisting our efforts to understand the current dynamic. The attraction of foreign conflict zones to American extremists is significant, and we have already seen a number of Americans travel overseas for extremist purposes. While difficult to measure, it is possible more American extremists are feeling increasingly disenchanted with living in the United States or angry about U.S. and Western foreign policy, making their decision to leave for extremist opportunities abroad all the more appealing. The increase in extremist propaganda in English may also have an impact.

Moreover, as the Internet continues to shape the way American society engages in so much of our daily lives and routines, so too has it had a profound impact on the radicalization dynamic. The Internet has expanded as a platform for spreading extremist propaganda, a tool for online recruiting, and a medium for social networking with like-minded violent extremists, all of which may be contributing to the pronounced state of radicalization inside the United States.

Addressing the Threat

Addressing our most critical threats requires a holistic picture and understanding of the threat environment at home and abroad. To enhance this understanding, the FBI issued 24 threat priorities, designed to help the FBI focus its resources on the development of a uniform national domain awareness and intelligence collection strategy. These priorities do not replace the eight operational priorities that have been in place since 2002; instead, they focus on sub-program threats that will help the FBI prioritize intelligence activities within each of the operational priorities.

Input from FBI field offices on the threats within their domain will continue to inform the national picture of these threats—their presence, intent and capabilities, our source penetration, and liaison contacts who can provide intelligence—and the focus and potential impact of our current investigations.

A key focus in the coming year will be using this understanding to develop national operational strategies to stay ahead of trends and protect our nation from the threat of terrorist radicalization in the United States.

Partnerships and Outreach

Our partnerships with local law enforcement are critical in gaining an understanding of the threat environment and protecting our nation and its citizens. In more than 100 locations nationwide, our Joint Terrorism Task Forces—composed of members from local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies—share information and conduct operations to prevent and dismantle terrorist plots. The FBI, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is committed to having a nationwide approach to participating in state and local fusion centers.

The FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, and DHS have joined together on an initiative to enhance our collective understanding of homegrown violent extremism in the United States. The effort leverages the key capabilities of the law enforcement community and includes enhanced information sharing, training, and analysis.

The FBI is also collaborating with DHS to issue joint intelligence products on radicalization to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement personnel.

Intelligence-driven investigations also require a unity of effort with our partners overseas. Global cooperation is necessary to combat terrorism, and through more than 60 legal attaché offices around the world, the FBI has strengthened relationships with our international partners and expanded our global reach. The FBI’s assistance in investigating the recent bombings in Uganda provided greater insight and understanding of international terrorist networks that pose a threat to the United States.

Finally, the FBI understands that protecting America requires the cooperation and understanding of the public. Since the 9/11 attacks, the FBI has developed an extensive outreach program to Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh communities to develop trust, address concerns, and dispel myths in those communities about the FBI and the U.S. government. As part of this effort, in 2009 the FBI established the Specialized Community Outreach Team (SCOT), composed of special agents, analysts, community outreach specialists, and personnel with language or other specialized skills. This team assists field offices with establishing new contacts in key communities.

Events in Minneapolis involving U.S. persons being recruited in Somali-American communities to travel overseas and fight with the Somali-based terrorist group al Shabaab provided the opportunity to implement a pilot SCOT program. Representatives of the SCOT deployed to a select number of cities that have a high ethnic Somali population. These personnel bring a cultural awareness and sensitivity to the community and a professionalism that facilitates the first steps of engagement with local leaders, who have welcomed the opportunity. SCOT also provides recommendations to the field office for engagement strategy within the community. This program’s methodology can be implemented proactively with all communities.


Chairman Lieberman and Ranking Member Collins, I would like to conclude by thanking you and this committee for your service and support. The FBI is in a better position to understand the threats facing the homeland than we were even a year ago. Since 9/11, the FBI has evolved to meet the shifting terrorist threat. We must never stop evolving, but we can say that nine years later, our analysis is deeper, our operations more sophisticated, and our knowledge more three-dimensional.

For 100 years, FBI employees have dedicated themselves to safeguarding justice, to upholding the rule of law, and to defending freedom. On behalf of the men and women of the FBI, I look forward to working with you to enhance the capabilities needed to protect the United States.


~IPT terror-map

Sep 222010

Corey NOTE: For anyone who watched last night, we know that Corey fell out, twice in the 3 way race. So it is a surprise for me that his name is on the cast, making it ’21’, we shall see soon I’m sure

Hometown:Fairbanks, AK
Occupation:Life coach
Twenty-seven-year-old Corey weighs 391 pounds, and says he has always struggled with his weight. He was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the oldest of two boys, and moved every few years since his father was in the U. S. Air Force and Navy. He got a degree in general ministries at the Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri. Corey never learned to have a healthy relationship with food or exercise. He says he just ate what tasted good and usually ate too much of it. Playing sports in school helped a little, but when he stopped being active, he gained even more weight. He hopes to be an “active, normal size guy,” and be able to shop at regular stores, take new “skinny” wedding photos, and fly on an airplane without worrying about fitting into the seat. With the encouragement of his wife to get healthy, Corey looks forward to being a “hunky hubby” instead of an overweight husband.

Hometown:Lawrence, MA
Occupation:Medical assistant
The middle child of five, Elizabeth was a very active child and teenager. She was athletic and competitive in school and was part of the student council and mediation team. She became engaged when she was a junior in high school, and associates her weight gain with the abusive and unhappy marriage that followed, as well as poor diet, lack of exercise, and general self-neglect. She has asthma and sleep apnea, is pre-diabetic, and her weight and poor health left her feeling like she was close to the point of no return unless she made a change. Now 31, divorced, and 244 pounds, Elizabeth is working towards her biology degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She’s ready to make a big life change and improve her health, and looks forward to dancing, skydiving and traveling once she loses weight.

Hometown:Staten Island, NY
Occupation:Futures commodity trader
Alfredo was born in Santiago, Chile, and moved to the United States when he was three years old. The oldest of three children, he dreamed of becoming a Marine and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17. In 1991, while married with two small children, he was deployed to Operation Desert Storm, and started to gain weight after returning from the Gulf War. To support his family, “Fredo” worked on the trading floor at the New York Mercantile Exchange, where he’s currently a member and a commodity trader. Now 43 years old, 367 pounds, and the father of three, Fredo has sleep apnea and takes multiple medications to control his diabetes. A real turning point for Fredo was when his daughter asked his wife if he was dying. His biggest motivation to get healthy is his family, and he hopes the weight loss will also cure his diabetes. Once he loses the weight, he’s looking forward to going on “The Incredible Hulk” roller coaster at Universal Studios in Los Angeles with his family.

Hometown:St. Paul, MN
Occupation:Law clerk
Jesse has been overweight his entire life, but has put on 90 pounds in the last two years. Lack of exercise, poor diet choices, and using food to deal with life’s problems all contributed to his current weight of 369 pounds and severe sleep apnea. High school was a challenge for Jesse. Despite lettering in football and weightlifting, he was nicknamed “Pumbaa” after the overweight animated warthog in “The Lion King,” a nickname that has stuck with him to this day. He attended St. John’s University and earned degrees in philosophy and Spanish, and attended law school at the University of Minnesota. He now works as a legal clerk, but he knows his future professional opportunities may be limited by his weight. A defining moment for Jesse was when his father told him that he missed the old Jesse – that’s when the 28-year-old realized his weight was affecting his whole life, and he couldn’t fix the problem on his own. Jesse looks forward to the day when he goes for a run not because he has to, but because he wants to.

Hometown:Tucson, AZ
Occupation:Professional bridal consultant
Twenty-seven-year-old Jessica has no memory of ever being the same size as her friends. She says food was the center of everything in her life, good or bad, and she didn’t know how to make healthy food choices. While Jessica was in high school, a rocky relationship with her mother contributed to her weight gain, and she continued to gain weight in college while pursuing her degree in social and behavioral sciences at the University of Arizona. She tried lap-band surgery in 2006, but it didn’t solve the problem, and a “culmination of several low self-esteem moments” convinced her she needed to get healthy and change her life. Professionally, Jessica has had great success, starting her own wedding planning firm at the age of 23 called Top Shelf Bridal and Special Events. She hopes losing the weight will lead to a happier personal life, and give her the confidence to get out and meet new people and create a fun new life. Now at 282 pounds, Jessica says Season 5 winner and fellow Arizonian Ali Vincent has been an inspiration to her, and she looks forward to traveling and enjoying a more active social life once she loses weight.

Hometown:Norman, OK
Occupation:Sales representative (No other info hmmm)
Getting healthy and being a role model for her two children is 31-year-old Lisa’s biggest motivation for losing weight. Lisa was born and raised in Oklahoma, and has lived in Norman since she was 13. She didn’t start gaining weight until she was about 20 years old, and the stress of being a single parent took its toll. A defining moment for Lisa was when she discovered her daughter had stopped eating and drinking because she didn’t want to be heavy like her mom. That’s when Lisa knew she had to change her life. Her current weight is 288 pounds, and she has high cholesterol and sleep apnea. She can’t wait to be physically fit again, and looks forward to shopping at the mall in the same stores as her daughter, and running around the park with her son

Hometown:East Brunswick, NJ
Occupation:Bartender and recruiter
At 31 years old and 421 pounds, Mark’s main motivation for appearing on the show is to get healthy and to motivate his family to do the same. Mark was an athlete in high school, which helped keep his weight down, but he really began to gain weight in college after he stopped exercising and didn’t change his eating habits. His younger brother is also going down the same path, and Mark would like to be a better role model. He knew it was time to turn his life around when his father was battling cancer, his grandmother was dying and he lost his job. At that point, he knew he had to change his life and get healthy for himself and for his family. Mark says Season 9 winner Michael Ventrella was a big inspiration for him, and he looks forward to traveling and playing sports again once he gets the weight off.

~Up next the last of the cast…

Sep 222010

Discussion of the US-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty — a k a New START — has so far pretty much skipped one very important consideration: China.

In the run-up to last week’s committee vote to send the treaty to the floor for ratification this fall, senators quite rightly debated whether New START overly restrains US missile-defense options, has weak verification procedures, cuts too many US missiles or warheads (relative to Russian reductions) or might affect nuclear North Korea and near-nuclear Iran.

But lawmakers haven’t yet fully faced the problem that, as we build down our strategic nuclear forces (by some 20 percent under New START) in the White House’s hopes that others will disarm, China is involved in a strategic buildup.

So, before there’s any final vote on an arms-control pact that would endure for the next 10 years, it’d be wise to give some thought to Beijing’s burgeoning bevy of bombs.

While the exact shape of China’s grand ambitions may not be clear, there’s little question they exist. Few would dispute that Beijing wouldn’t mind taking the head seat at the table of global powers, now occupied by Washington.

As such, China has been growing all aspects of its national power: political, economic and military. Nor is the last limited to a break-neck conventional buildup; its strategic forces are booming, too.

China long relied on a small, land-based nuclear force of ICBMs in fixed silos and on a limited number of road-mobile missiles, providing for a “sufficient and effective” deterrence in Beijing’s eyes.

But the force has started getting bigger, better and badder. For instance, while the US strategic arsenal desperately needs updating, Chinese nuclear forces are being modernized across the board.

And China’s warhead numbers are up, by some estimates even doubling in recent years. The Pentagonsays Beijing may now be able to put multiple nukes on a single, newly developed, road-mobile missile.

Indeed, if any country can undertake a so-called “rush to [nuclear] parity” with the United States and Russia, it’s China, especially considering its aspirations, wealth and willingness to lavish largesse on its armed forces.

Basically, Beijing could become a nuclear peer competitor of Washington and Moscow in the not too distant future, in light of the expected arms cuts under New START.

It doesn’t end there.

China’s 2nd Artillery (nuclear forces) is reportedly building 3,000-plus miles of tunnels in central China, known as “the Underground Great Wall” — likely providing Beijing with an enhanced, land-based, second-strike capability. Naturally, China’s ICBMs are thought to be targeted at us.

But Beijing is also diversifying its nuclear capabilities by broadening its force structure into the traditional triad — missiles based not just on land but also on bombers and subs.

China’s new class of strategic submarine may already carry its first sea-based ICBMs. And Beijing’s building another “boomer” sub class, too, significantly raising its nuclear-strike mobility and survivability — while lowering detectability.

It’s also adding advanced strategic bombers to the mix. Analysts believe China is developing long-range cruise missiles for these aircraft, which may have both conventional and nuclear warheads.

Making matters more complex is China’s highly secretive, indeed opaque, stance on its nuclear forces. The People’s Liberation Army (the collective name for China’s military) has a penchant for strategic denial and deception — and an unwillingness to talk about the issue officially.

That’s a real challenge to our intelligence and policy community, leaving lots of unanswered questions about China’s strategic doctrine, capabilities and intent as Beijing bolsters its armed forces — while avoiding arms-control agreements.

As such, in considering New START, senators need to take time not only to consider the other salient questions about the deal — but also to figure China into their deliberations on a new strategic treaty with Russia. Contributing Editor Peter Brookes is Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs and Chung Ju-Yung Fellow for Policy Studies in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

~RELATED:Obama Courts Senators on Arms Treaty Ratification-GSN is one of the foremost authorities on START

Sep 222010

Thank you for that kind introduction, _EMCEE______, and let me say how good it is to be back here in the __th district of _STATE___ which was so vital in helping us take back Washington in November of 2008. And let me also say that we’ve made a lot of progress thanks to __DEMOCRATIC_CANDIDATE__. Neither I nor the __th district has had a more loyal and hard-working ally in Congress.

As we all know, __DEMOCRATIC_CANDIDATE__ is facing a tough re-election campaign this November. S/he is facing an unprecedented barrage of attacks from outside special interest groups and Wall Street fat cats who want to make this election more about alleged __CANDIDATE_INCIDENT__ than the bread and butter issues that concern everyday voters in the ___th District. Well, we’re not going to let them get away with it. Because the voters here know that when it comes to health care, the environment, and economic development __DEMOCRATIC_CANDIDATE__ is on their side.

Have we made all the progress we wanted to? Of course not. But we’re working hard every day and moving in the right direction. And make no mistake, this is pretty darn hard work. Now, you see, I like to use a little analogy. The Republicans drove the car into the ditch. [pause for applause]

So now and me and __DEMOCRATIC_CANDIDATE__ are down there, behind the bumper, sweatin’ and pushin’, trying to get it out. [applause]

It’s all hot, and there’s flies and bugs and so on, and we’re in our flipflops down there in the mud. [applause] Meanwhile __REPUBLICAN_CANDIDATE__ and his Republican friends are up on the blacktop, sipping on their Slurpees, laughing and telling us to work harder. [laughs, applause]

And don’t even try to point out their horrible driving that put the car in the ditch in the first place, because then they’ll accuse YOU of causing it — even though it was the Republicans who told you to grab the wheel while they torched up the one-hitter. [applause]

Yeah, smooth move there Republicans, especially with that pineapple truck coming down the other side of the highway. Hey scro, I don’t care whose hands were on the wheel – it was your ass in the damned driver’s seat and Hawaii law says it’s YOUR fault. [applause]

It’s all right there in the Driver’s Ed booklet. Which also says you’re supposed to steer INTO the skid, just like I was before you tried to yank it back.

So, whatever, we’re down in the ditch. Instead of thanking you for not totalling the car, the Republicans start up with their upperclassman bullshit. [applause]

You’re like, “come on man, help push it out before the cops get here,” and the Republicans are like, “I don’t give a shit dude, it ain’t my grandma’s car.” And then you remind them that they are the ones who are over 18 and will have to explain why they’re in a car with minors and a trunk full of beer and weed and bashed mailboxes, and they’re like, “Do we know you? Hey, we’re just a couple of passing hitchhikers, man. We’ve never seen you guys before in our lives.”

So instead of trying to argue further with these senior Republican assholes, __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__ and I roll up our sleeves, get down there in the muck, and start working to get the car up out of the ditch so we can get back before 7th period History. [applause]

Meanwhile __REPUBLICAN_CANDIDATE__ and his fat buddy are up there sucking on their Slurpees, laughing everytime I kill the motor because I’ve never driven a stick. Fuck you, Republicans. I hope you get a brain freeze from your goddamn Slurpees. [applause]

Finally the predicament changes and you see another car coming down the highway. Thankfully it’s not a cop, but kind of an older Chinese-looking surfer guy in a Jeep. Now, it’s a little rusted out but you immediately realize that Jeep has 4 wheel drive, which is the sort of program you really need to get the economic car out of the ditch. [applause]

So you flag the Jeep down and ask the surfer for help. He looks at you and __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__ up and down, real slow, and the he says, “sure… boys.” Okay, yeah, maybe the whole thing’s getting a little creepy at this point but you’re tired and your flipflops are ruined and you’re running out of getting-out-of-the-ditch options. So you take up a collection to give the Chinese surfer guy some money so he doesn’t get the wrong idea, and guess what? The Republicans claim they spent their last dollar on the fucking Slurpee. [applause]

Luckily there is some weed and beer in the trunk of grandma’s car which seems to satisfy the creepy Chinese surfer guy, and so __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__ and me drag the chain down in the ditch and hook it to the bumper of the car. Then the Chinese surfer guns the motor on the Jeep and the car starts coming out of the ditch but then you hear a sickening snap and the front bumper comes flying off the car and then you start thinking about how to explain to your grandma why her Maverick is covered in mud and missing a bumper. And guess what? Those Republicans are still sitting on the side of the road, laughing their asses off, still sucking on the Slurpees.[applause]

So you take the chain back down in the ditch and wrap it around the front of the frame and get behind the wheel and start the Maverick, and wave to the Jeep guy, and you both gun your motors, and this time you finally get out of the ditch but you’re still getting the hang of driving a stick, so you knock the Jeep into the ditch and accidentally hit the gas and go flying across the other side of the road into a pineapple field. And now those Republican fuckers are laughing so hard Slurpee is coming out of their noses.

Luckily the pineapple farmer drives by on his tractor and pulls you out, but then he’s like “how come you boys aren’t in school?” And so the creepy Chinese surfer dude says, “it’s alright, sir, I’m their teacher and we’re on a biology field trip. Aren’t we boys?” and all you can do is nod sheepishly because you already have 3 unexcused absences this quarter. [applause]

So then the pineapple farmer leaves and I’m sitting there with __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__ and __REPUBLICAN_CANDIDATE__ and his fat fuck Republican buddy, plus now the creepy Chinese surfer dude’s Jeep is wrecked from pulling your grandma’s car out of the ditch, so we’re pretty much obligated to offer him a ride back to Honolulu, which he seems a little too enthusiastic to accept. Then __REPUBLICAN_CANDIDATE__ grabs your car keys and throws him to his friend, the same asshole who drove into the ditch in the first place, and then __REPUBLICAN_CANDIDATE__ yells “shotgun!”

Oh. Perfect. Now me and __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__ are sitting in the back of Grandma’s bumperless Maverick, listening to dried clods of volcanic mud hitting inside the economy’s wheel wells, with creepy shirtless Chinese surfer guy between us while __REPUBLICAN_CANDIDATE__ is playing that fucking Jethro Tull 8 track again that I can’t stand. And then surfer guy lights up a one hitter with the weed we gave him for pulling our economy of the ditch, and offers to shotgun me a hit, while — swear to god — he puts his hand on __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__’s leg.

I mean, holy crap, now me and __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__ are pretty much freaking out. Good thing at this point that the Republicans had those Slurpees, because now they have to pull the economy over to the side of the road to take a piss. [applause] So we all get out and then I notice that the Republicans have left the keys to the economy on the hood, so while they are pissing out behind the palm tree I grab them. [applause] And then __REPUBLICAN_CANDIDATE__ sees it and he has the nerve to yell, “hey, give us back the car keys!”

Car keys? We remember what happened when you Republicans had the car keys. This is our grandma’s Maverick, and we’re taking it back, learner’s permit or no learner’s permit. [applause] You Slurpee-sucking Republican fuckers can stay out here and rot with your new creepy surfer boyfriend until a ride comes along because we’re driving now. [applause]

Ha ha ha! [applause]

Aw sh00t. Hey, __DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE__, do you know how to drive a stick?

from Barack Obama’s Big Book of Stump Speech Parables

~By Iowahawk

Sep 222010

Age: 29
Height: 6’4″
Hometown: Kent, OH
Occupation: Graphic designer
Twenty-nine-year-old Aaron has struggled with his weight for his whole life. The youngest of three children, he grew up with an alcoholic father who was not a good role model. He played football in high school and also in college at Edinboro University, and currently attends Kent State University, where he’s finishing his degree in visual communications. Aaron says not exercising, a strained relationship with his father, and not knowing how to deal with emotional issues all led to his current weight of 468 pounds. He realized he was turning out to be like his father, but with an addiction to food rather than alcohol. He suffers from sleep apnea. When he woke up one night gasping for air, Aaron knew it was time to change his life. Now father to a three-year-old son, Aaron wants to be a better dad and role model and a better husband to his wife. Aaron looks forward most to taking his son to an amusement park and the beach once he loses weight

Hometown:San Francisco, CA
Occupation:Project coordinator for high tech company
Ada has struggled with weight her entire life, and was shy growing up in Gilroy, California, with her younger brother and parents, who emigrated from China. Ridiculed about her weight and with no encouraging and supportive people around her, she turned to food for comfort. As she went through her school years, her personality blossomed and she excelled as a student. Her hard work continued at the University of San Francisco, where Ada earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on international business. Now 27 years old and 258 pounds, Ada hopes losing weight will allow her to feel more confident, feel good about her life, and finally be happy. She looks forward to shopping for clothes when she loses weight, as well as snowboarding, rock climbing and even running a marathon.

Hometown: Santa Ana, CA
Occupation: Non-profit manager
Adam’s motivation to lose weight stemmed from a devastating personal loss – losing his best friend and mother Nancy at 51, due to massive heart failure brought on by complications of diabetes and obesity. At that point, he knew he had to honor his mother by changing his life and getting healthy. Adam was always overweight, a combination of poor diet, lack of exercise, and over-eating. He grew up with his younger brother in Santa Ana, California, and attended Orange Coast College and Cal State Fullerton. Now 402 pounds at age 26, Adam wants to finally lose weight and help motivate others, including family members struggling with obesity. He wants to feel good about himself inside and out, and looks forward to traveling with his brother and enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle.

Adam’s mother worked as an administrator for a medical center, where she helped with an annual Christmas toy and food drive for local, low-income families. Adam and his family are continuing the successful, 15-year program, which the medical center renamed Nancy’s Miracle Toy Drive to honor his mother.

Hometown:Moore, OK
Allie grew up in Moore, Oklahoma, and began putting on weight at the age of five after her brother died. From that point on, she didn’t feel like she had the structure in her life to keep her weight in check. At 14, she had vertical banded gastroplasty to try to combat her weight issues, but it wasn’t the quick fix she’d hoped for. Now at age 22, Allie weighs 322 pounds. After her overweight mother had a stroke at 48, Allie knew she had to break the cycle and change her life. Having always been overweight, Allie is looking forward to the experience of living a healthier life and seeing how strong she really is. Once the weight is off, she hopes to have more self-confidence, and looks forward to shopping and rock climbing

Hometown:Atlanta, GA
Occupation:Administrative assistant and songwriter
Detroit native Anna has been writing songs professionally for years for artists such as Toni Braxton, Dru Hill and Ginuwine, and also works as an administrative assistant. She was raised with seven older half-siblings in Detroit and Cleveland, and studied sociology at Cleveland State University. She started gaining weight in 1999, after the devastating loss of her three-year-old son to cancer. Shortly after, she lost her father to lung cancer. She coped by eating, and soon found herself overweight and struggling just to care for her older son. Now 330 pounds and pre-diabetic with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, 39-year-old Anna wants to enjoy life again and get healthy physically, mentally and emotionally for herself and for her son. She was inspired by Season 8 contestant Abby Rike, who also experienced the loss of her children. Anna looks forward to running and shopping in any fashion store, and hopes to pay it forward by becoming a motivational speaker.

Hometown:Boston, MA
Occupation:Special education teacher
Thirty-two-year-old Brendan grew up in Boston, the middle child of three boys. He was an athlete in high school despite his weight, and went on to earn a degree in criminology at Florida State and then a master’s degree in special education at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He thinks poor diet, lack of motivation and no exercise as an adult contributed to his current weight of 362 pounds. The weight gain has had an impact on his personal and professional life. Four years ago, he pushed away and lost his fiancée because he couldn’t deal with his weight issues. Formerly a police officer, he’s now a special education teacher and the creator of an afterschool weightlifting/wellness program for inner city kids in Boston – but he feels like it’s hypocritical to teach students how to eat healthy and exercise when he doesn’t do that himself. Brendan was inspired by fellow Bostonians and Season 5 contestants Mark and Jay Kruger, and hopes to gain everything back in his life that he lost due to his obesity and bad habits. He looks forward to being a better role model to his students, and fitting in the seats at Boston’s famed Fenway Park once he loses the weight.

Hometown:Eagle Mountain, Utah
Like many moms, 35-year-old Burgandy always put everyone else first. When her husband was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, she was alone raising seven children, including foster care placements and one child with autism. She realized then that if she didn’t get her weight under control, her children could lose both their parents – one to war and one to obesity. Despite having several overweight family members, Burgandy was a thin high school student, who ran track, played tennis, and worked as a local model. She married at 19 and began gaining weight with each pregnancy as she juggled the demands of motherhood and life as a military wife. She tried lap-band surgery in 2008, but it wasn’t the magic solution she was hoping for. Now 231 pounds, she says her family of five children and her husband are her greatest accomplishments, and she looks forward to running a marathon once the weight is off.

Sep 222010

A Big Send-Off

Fredo ( Black Team)

Tina (Purple Team)

Rick (Green Team)

Rick (Green Team)

Allie (Pink Team)

Adam (Blue Team)