Saturday, October 31, 2009
The Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association is predominately a research organization. Its mission is not necessarily to prove that ghosts exist, but to investigate all possible explanations of areas that are associated with being haunted. It is open minded to all theories and methods, although we use scientific method. Our organization is composed of both skeptics and believers.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Smeal discussed yesterday's signing into law of federal hate crimes legislation, the disparity in medical care based on gender under the present system and efforts by the feminist movement to obviate human rights violations of women globally.
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected gunner Baraki Barak
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
The Associated Press is quoting unnamed administration sources today as saying that President Obama is considering cutting down the number of troops he will send to Afghanistan. The number, far less than that requested by General Stanley McChrystal, is being called, the AP says, "McChrystal Light."
If he does so, he will, in essence, be pulling a King Solomon. Only in this case, the baby becomes the military. And, in this case, unlike the baby in the Biblical story, the baby does get cut in half.
The idea is to refine the mission and not go all out, as McChrystal would, to eradicated the Taliban.
If he does this, he is sure to displease people on both sides of the argument. Those who want troops to come home completely will be disappointed. Those who agree with McChrystal that what's needed is a significant buildup of troops will be as well.
If this happens, both sides may ironically make the same argument. That what they will both likely call Obama's "indecision" will put the troops there in greater risk. Of course, each side will have a different solution to that conclusion. But they will find unusual common ground never-the-les
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
News Talk Online October 28, 2009: Friend Or Foe? A Look At The Complex Relationship Between The U.S. & Pakistan
Paltalk News Network
Before on can really address the above question, we must get an understanding of how the country arrived at it present situation.
Pakistan became radicalized under the rule of Zia Ul-Haq, an Army general who took power by coup in 1977, and ruled by Marshall Law most of the time until his death in an airplane crash in 1988. Zia was a fervent fanatical Sunni Islamist, who, with the aid of the Wahabbi sect of Saudi Arabia, over the years established over 40,000 Madrases, religious schools that inculcated its students, all young boys, with a visceral hatred of anything Christian, Jewish or Western. That hatred now is in full bloom throughout the country. It is not an exaggeration to say that close to 90 percent of all Pakistanis subscribe to it.
Pakistan is an impoverished country, has little natural resources, very little industry, and is, essentially, incapable of supporting itself.
The country profited immensely during the Afghan/Soviet war, skimming off substantial amounts of the $50 billion provided in cash by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UK to assist the insurgents fighting the Soviets after their invasion in 1978/79.
Zia was in power at that time. He agreed, and demanded, that Pakistan be the only and unaccountable source of that aid to the Mujahadeen and Northern Alliance, either through the BCCI bank for the cash, or though its Inter Service Agency or the military for weapons. It is now acknowledged that at least 50 percent of all money and material was retained by Pakistan. This huge windfall stabilized the economy, with enough left over to fund rogue atomic scientist, A. Q. Khan to, with the direct aid of China, develop their atomic bombs.
Since 2001, Pakistan has received over $15 billion from the United States in direct economic aid and several billion more in military aid.
NATO (read US/CIA) currently, and has for several years, been paying paid off the drug smugglers and local tribes to allow trucks to pass through the Kyber pass. The rumored amount is $2,000 per truck. More than 500 trucks a week travel that route.
With the above in mind, we come to the present.
Last week, President Obama signed a $7.5 billion aid package spread over five years to be given to Pakistan, but with some strings attached. Included are the normal “civil rights” mantra, but the most critical clause was that Pakistan must conduct real military operations against the Taliban and al Qaeda-secure enclaves within Pakistan itself. This condition is the cause of what is now a widening split between the established powers within the country and the U.S.
The base civilian sector, hugely anti-Western, is shrieking that this is an invasion of Pakistani sovereignty. Meanwhile the military, the real power in the country, is strongly resisting the concept that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari can tell it what it must do. The military also believe that they have been left out of this equation, and are not receiving either the attention nor the aid to which they feel they are entitled.
The military’s ISI is, as was stated by Benizer Bhutto several times when she was in power, a state within a state, not accountable to the civil government or the electorate. An example. In June 2008, Zardari made the decision to place the ISI under the control of the Department of the Interior. He was visited by several Army generals, and within hours rescinded the order.
When news of the current aid package was made public, before anything was signed, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, head of the military, made a special trip to talk with Zardari to remind him of the facts of life in Pakistan.
As a sop to the U.S. and to ensure the arrival of the promised aid, the military has embarked on a mission to enter the tribal areas of the Northwest, targeting the Meshud tribal area, which is believed to be the refuge of several thousand “foreign” fighters.
Let's look at that “mission”. The military claims to be sending 30,000 troops. That is not a real commitment when there is a standing army of over 750,000, an active reserve of 538,000 and militias numbering over a quarter million.
Also, this operation has a life span of only a few weeks. The end of November is the onset of the ferocious winter in that part of the world when everything comes to a halt.
Bottom line: Pakistan, both the civilian government and the military, will only act if it is to their benefit and profit.
As the old saying goes, "you pays your money and you takes your chances."
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
News Talk Online October 27, 2009: A Woman Offers Her Body For World Series Tickets And Another Innocent Man May Be Executed In Texas
First, the case of Susan Finkelstein of Philadelphia who is being charged with prostitution for allegedly offering herself in exchange for World Series tickets to an undercover police officer answering her ad on Craigslist.
Then, the far more series case of Reginald Blanton, a convicted murderer, who is scheduled to be executed in Texas tonight but whose guilt is being questioned.
Monday, October 26, 2009
That's the recommendation of Dr. Davis Liu, author of the book Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely. Liu's comments came during an appearance on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News network.
Davis says the reason there's so much concern about the swine flu is that it's disproportionately affecting people who are 25 and younger - an age group that is not normally considered particularly susceptible to the seasonal flu. The reason, he says, is that older people may have built up a partial immunity to the swine flu from the last time it swept across the nation. Also, the fact that younger people are put in close proximity to one another while in school makes it easier for the flu to pass from one person to another in the age group.
Liu says health care workers, those with reduced immunities and pregnant women should also be vaccinated.
Also joining us on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network was Michigan attorney Joseph Golden who represented Army veteran James McKelvey in a successful suit against the U.S. Army. McKelvey, a demolitions expert, lost one hand and his other was severely damaged while diffusing a roadside bomb in Iraq.
After returning to the United States he got a job as a civilian employee at the U.S. Army Tank Arsenal in Warren, Michigan but was driven from the job by superiors who bullied him and referred to him as "the cripple."
A jury just awarded McKelvey $4.3 million.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
News Talk Online October 22, 2009: Protests Over A BBC Interiew With A BNP Leader And Concerns About A Global Warming PSA
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
On the one hand, they are anxiously awaiting the debut of a series on the network called "Latino in America." On the other, they are pressuring CNN to dump Lou Dobbs for what they believe are his anti-Latino positions.
Dobbs, who hosts an hourly opinion and news program on CNN at 7 PM New York time, has made it a cause to oppose illegal immigration in the United States. To some groups, his position and demeanor translate into racial hatred.
They've launched what they call the BastaDobbs.com (Basta: it is enough) campaign which charges CNN with hypocrisy for running the special at the same time that it gives Dobbs a bully pulpit for his anti-illegal immigratiion rhetoric.
In a show of unity, Latino groups in 20 of the top U.S. Hispanic media markets held events today designed to increase pressure on CNN to jettison Dobbs.
“Our message to CNN is clear: You cannot have it both ways. It’s either promotion of hatred by Lou Dobbs or real news regarding the Latino community,” said Isabel Garcia, a civil and human rights attorney in Arizona who is highlighted in the “Latino in America” series and who is also participating in the BastaDobbs.com effort.
The campaign and its partners have collected more than 65,000 signatures on a petition to CNN President Jon Klein. They’ve also produced a video mixing scenes from “Latino in America” with clips of Dobbs’ anti-immigrant rhetoric that has received over 60,000 views in one week.
“Latinos in this country and throughout Latin America are recognizing the two faces of CNN,” said Roberto Lovato, a founding member of Presente.org which is coordinating the effort. “We won’t allow the network to court us as viewers while, at the same time, they allow Dobbs to spread lies and misinformation about us each night.”
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The guests were Conn Hallinan, analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, and New York University Center for Global Affairs adjunct assistant professor Patricia DeGennaro.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wendy Booker has multiple sclerosis, has been living with it since being diagnosed in 1995. But that doesn't stop Booker from being active. She runs in marathons and has climbed six of the seven top peaks of the world, having only been defeated by weather while attempting to reach the summit of Mt. Everest which she will try, once again, to conquer this spring.
My second guest was 15-year-old Brigitte Berman who, outraged by the bullying she sees among teenagers, was inspired to write a book on how to deal with bulies called Dorie Witt's Guide to Surviving Bullies.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
News Talk Online October 15, 2009 Does UN Report Suggest Israel Doesn't Have The Right To Defend Itself?
By JOEL LEYDEN
Paltalk News Network
JERUSALEM - The UN Human Rights Council is, today, holding hearings on the Goldstone Report, which, according to the United Nations News Center, "found evidence that both Israel forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity."
“We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza,” said the head of the four-person panel, South African Judge Richard Goldstone.
“The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force,” concluded Goldstone.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his support for reopening the debate on the report in a telephone call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
A vote on the report in the Human Rights Council was initially postponed until March at the request of the Palestinian representative. Abbas has said he authorized the postponement in order to gain support for a vote to send the report on to the Security Council for action, which could include charges filed with the International Court of Justice.
Israel MK Danny Danon attacked the report, ripping up a synopsis of it, during a speech in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
"Anti-Semitism has become a swear word even within this institution. MKs went to Durban in order to speak out against Israel," Danon said. "They found a loyal partner by the name of Goldstone. All 600 pages should be thrown into the garbage can of history."
The report effectively ignores Israel's basic right of self defense, makes unsubstantiated claims about its intent and challenges Israel's democratic values and rule of law.
At the same time it all but ignores the deliberate strategy of the internationally recognized terror group Hamas of operating within and behind the civilian population and turning densely populated areas into an arena of battle. By turning a blind eye to such tactics it effectively rewards them.
In the words of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the UN: "what we are witnessing here is a double war crime by Palestinian terrorists. That Hamas fires over 8,000 missiles at Israel civilian cities and towns and does so hiding behind the Palestinian population in Gaza, using men, women and children as human shields."
The report troubles many distinguished individuals, including former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who refused invitations to head the mission and concluded that the investigation was "guided not by human rights but by politics".
"The UN Human Rights Council and the Goldstone Report are either biased or mistaken in some of their fundamental accusations against Israel," said B'Tselem human rights group director Jessica Montell.
She said the council was wrong in its gravest accusations against Israel. These include the claim that Israel intentionally targeted the civilian population rather than Hamas and the "weak, hesitant way that the report mentions Hamas's strategy of using civilians [in combat]."
"There's no question that the HRC, which mandated the UN Goldstone Report, has an inappropriate, disproportionate fixation with Israel," she said. She added that the council was "a political body made up of diplomats, not human rights experts, which means that the powerful states are never going to come under scrutiny the way the powerless will. So China, Russia and the US will never have commissions of inquiry, regardless of how their crimes rank relative to Israel crimes."
The implications of the UN Goldstone Report are against what Israel is trying to achieve, which is peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians.
Ths Israel Foreign Ministry has stated that any action taken on this UN report, unfortunately, is going to have a detrimental effect on the peace process, if not, indeed, striking it a mortal blow. First of all, if Israel is trying to engage with the Palestinians to achieve something, it cannot be under constant attack by the very same Palestinians. Attacks today can be implemented with grenades or bullets or with words. And sometimes words - and we know this from history - can be more dangerous than bullets.
So the Palestinians, with all due respect, cannot hold sticks in both hands. They cannot just try and dialogue with Israel and talk about peaceful coexistence and a two-state solution and, on the other hand, keep attacking. Whether the attack is militarily, economically or politically, there is no difference. Today the attacks in the international arena, whether in New York or Geneva or anywhere else, are just as bad. Everything ties together in a campaign of trying to delegitimize Israel and to push Israel into a corner and create more pressure. This will not work.
But there is another implication here, which is, how this government of Israel or how any future government of Israel can have any flexibility in the future to make concessions to the Palestinians and take further risks. Israel has been taking enormous risks in the pullout of Gaza, in what's actually happening in the West Bank, where Israel removed more than two-thirds of the checkpoints and roadblocks and in trying to really push the Palestinian economy forward. And if, with all these risks, there is no reciprocity from the Palestinian side, but further attacks, there won't any basis here for continuing any dialogue with the Palestinians.
And this is something which is very, very important to realize because what Israel is trying to engage in with the Palestinians is difficult enough, complex enough, emotionally-laden enough, problematic enough, to add a real blow to any basis of trust with the Palestinians. In order to create a Palestinian state, which most Israelis now believe in, you need to have not only the trust of the leaders and the trust of the public, but also cooperation between the professionals, whether military or otherwise, on both sides. This, now, is nonexistent. Certainly the Palestinians, people in the Palestinian Authority, members of Fatah, who are the ones who are actually pushing Israel to do away with Hamas, are now trying to take us into international courts.
This is something which has global effect, especially at a time when the international community is engaged in a very bitter struggle against extremists, against fanatics, whether it's in Afghanistan, Kashmir, or any other place around the globe. So this is something which concerns each and every country, certainly all democracies, certainly all decent countries with the rule of law.
The Goldstone Report all but ignores the deliberate terrorist strategy of operating in the heart of densely populated civilian areas which dictated the arena of battle. Even when the Hamas terrorists mixed among civilians, the report rejects the notion that there was an intention to put the civilian population at risk.
The report also ignores Israel's extensive efforts, even in the midst of fighting, to maintain humanitarian standards. While it does, reluctantly, acknowledge Israel's "significant efforts" to issue warnings before attacks, it does not find any of these efforts to be effective.
While the report passes judgment against Israel, it seeks to absolve the Hamas of almost any wrongdoing. The word "terrorist" is almost entirely absent. IDF Soldier Gilad Shalit, now held incommunicado in captivity for over three years, was "captured during an enemy incursion" and the Hamas members that the mission met with in Gaza are thanked as the "Gaza authorities" for extending their full cooperation and support to the mission.
Even the thousands of terror rocket attacks against Israelis which prompted the Gaza Operation are given the most cursory treatment, and indeed the report indirectly blames Israel even for these by terming them "'reprisals".
"The Goldstone committee is a committee that was set up to find Israel guilty of crimes that were determined in advanced, and the committee's members did not let the facts confuse them," said Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Lieberman said the committee's conclusions were predetermined, and he accused its members of serving the purposes of utilitarian countries.
"The whole purpose of the report, from the moment the decision was made to write it, was to destroy Israel's image, in service of countries where the terms 'human rights' and 'combat ethics' do not even appear in their dictionaries," the foreign minister alleged. Lieberman went on to say, "I can say wholeheartedly, as can any man that examines the matter in an objective manner, that the IDF is the most moral army in the world, and it is forced to deal with the most vile terrorists, who set for themselves the goal of killing women and children, and hide behind women and children."
Israel President Shimon Peres said the report "makes a mockery of history" and that "it does not distinguish between the aggressor and the defender."
"War is crime and the attacker is the criminal. The defender has no choice. The Hamas terror organization is the one who started the war and also carried out other awful crimes. Hamas has used terrorism for years against Israeli children," said Peres.
"The report gives de facto legitimacy to terrorist initiatives and ignores the obligation and right of every country to defend itself, as the UN itself had clearly stated."
"The effect, if not the intent, of the Goldstone report will be to keep Israel troops in the West Bank longer," says Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz.
"President Obama was right when he said that 'the first job of any nation is to protect its citizens' The UN Goldstone report has made it virtually impossible for the Israel army to protect its citizens against rocket attacks from territory that is no longer militarily occupied."
Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with and asked the foreign ministers of France, Spain and the UK to ignore the Goldstone Report because it is "twisted, fraudulent, and tendentious, and encourages terror".
While the Goldstone Report is being debated in Geneva, the Israel government is focusing on the explosion that occurred at a Hezbollah member's house near Tyre, Lebanon this week illustrating Hezbollah's violation of UN Resolution 1701 that ended the second Lebanon War.
Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon placed the UN Goldstone Report in clear perspective.
"This report not only takes away the right to self-defense from democracies, it gives this self-defense to the terrorists," said Ayalon.
"Because, as we speak, Hamas in Gaza is getting more ammunition and more equipment, making more terrorism plans and more fortifications, and is waiting to see the results in Geneva or in New York. And that could easily give Hamas and organizations like Hamas, whether it's Islamic Jihad or Al-Qaida or any other terror organizations, the tools to really continue hitting civilian targets and democracies with impunity basically, or without any recourse."
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
News Talk Online October 14, 2009: Despite Public Opposition UK PM Brown Commits More Troops To Afghanistan
Paltalk News Network
LONDON - In an announcement in the House of Commons today, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he is prepared to make a commitment of an additional 500 British troops to join the 9,000 already in Afghanistan.
However, these troops will not just be sent without certain conditions being met. In his speech he listed those conditions as:
* The troops must be properly equipped
* Other NATO countries must step up to the plate and commit additional troops
* The government in Kabul must agree to and take part in the training of Afghan troops to take over from NATO forces.
These numbers of troops may not seem many when one looks at the 40,000 asked for by American General Stanley McCrystal, but what it does show is the UK's commitment.
There are several factors, however, that do need to be taken into account when looking at this story:
The Obama administration, despite having already undertaken some 18 hours of talks about increasing troop levels, still remains uncertain about what its action will be. One possibility is that Obama will look upon this as a counter-terrorism mission, rather than an effort to bring stability to a country that was wracked with strife following the over-throw of the Taliban.
Within the past week Holland has joined the ever growing group of countries who declare that they will, within the next year, withdraw its troops.
There has never been a greater public outcry against the war in Afghanistan.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party (currently the UK's third major party) criticized Brown's decision. Clegg questioned the wisdom of supporting a corrupt government in Kabul. This is a growing theme in discussions about the British presence in Afghanistan.
As crowds line the streets to pay silent tribute to the fallen soldiers as their coffins are taken back to their loved ones for burial, there is an inevitable question about why British troops are still in Afghanistan. People are aware that somehow the goal posts have changed there and, while many saw the original incursion into the region as just when we went into the region in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, they are now questioning the "police" operation we seem to have become embroiled in.
The mood in the UK is changing, with the people losing a lot of faith in the government since the prime minister's expense scandal which still rumbles on. Now people are increasingly questioning the actions and motivations of those who were elected to represent them. Setting the stage for an interesting fight between the three major parties during the general election scheduled to take place in mid-2010.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Also discussed was the refusal of the city of New York and the committee overseeing the building of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to accommodate a request by several advocacy groups to include on the memorial the ranks of the firefighters, police officers, medics and military personnel who died on September 11, 2001.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Young with Pres. Obama: PNHP
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
A Cincinnati woman is estranged from her husband. They should get a divorce. But they don't. She has health issues and fears that should she divorce her husband, her pre-existing conditions would preclude her from getting health care. So with him she remains.
A man in Pennsylvania gets married. Congratulations should be in order. But, while they have a wedding and a party, there's a disingenuous air to it all. He didn't get married for love. In fact, he admits that he doesn't love his new bride. He married her, he acknowledges, for her health benefits.
It almost seems like a, you should pardon the pun, a sick joke. But sadly, these stories are true. And they aren't so unusual.
"This happens," says Dr. Quentin Young of the group Physicians for a National Health Program.
"People who are under 65 and have no insurance who can only get it by either staying in a marriage they wouldn't otherwise or, in the alternative get married."
The alternative, Young says, is to risk leaving oneself destitute.
"Over a million people go personally bankrupt every year due to health costs," Young says.
That's why the PNHP is pushing for a single payer option in any health reform bill that Congress passes. But the campaign, he acknowledges, is an uphill battle.
"Insurance companies are spending 10s of millions of dollars in disinformation. They have 35 hundred paid lobbyists and it's just overwhelming."
The PNHP is pushing a single payer bill that has 85 sponsors. The organization doesn't expect it to pass. But Young says that if it garners 150 votes it will have sufficient traction to live to see another day.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Experts warn that a single attack on U.S. farms could instantly contaminate the nation's food supply... and affect millions of Americans.
Terrorism expert Tim Downs, author of the newly released book Ends of the Earth, which explores such a scenario, was our first guest on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network. Downs talked about how the U.S. intelligence agencies have created plans to manage the thethreat of agro-terrorism, why food safety is often overlooked until there is a threat and why it would be especially difficult to stop agroterrorists.
The second guest was Mark Olsen, author of Animal Colony. The conservative author and screenwriter questions what President Obama did to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Investigators went to seven gun shows in Nevada, Ohio and Tennessee to determine whether sellers would engage in two types of illegal transactions. The first involved private sellers selling guns to people who they thought could not pass a federal background check. The second looked at licensed dealers conducting illegal straw sales, which are sales made to accomplices posing as buyers in order to help the real buyer avoid a criminal background check.
“The gun show loophole is a deadly serious problem – and this undercover operation exposes just how pervasive and serious it is,” Bloomberg said. “We are sending a copy of our detailed report Gun Show Undercover to every member of the United States Congress. We’ll work with congressional leaders to pass legislation closing the gun show loophole. This is an issue that has nothing to do with the Second Amendment; it’s about keeping guns from criminals, plain and simple.”
Even though private unlicensed sellers are not required to run background checks it is a federal felony for them to sell guns to people they have reason to believe are prohibited purchasers such as felons or the mentally ill. In purchases attempted on 30 private sellers, the undercover investigator showed interest in buying a gun by asking about stopping power or by dry-firing the weapon. After agreeing on a price, the investigator would indicate that he probably couldn’t pass a background check. At that point, the seller is required by law to refuse the sale – but only 11 out of 30 sellers did so. Investigators found private dealers who failed these integrity tests at every show, including two sellers who failed at multiple shows. In total, 19 of the 30 private sellers approached failed the integrity test.
The 11 sellers who terminated the sale confirmed that private sellers know the law. As one seller in Columbus, Ohio, explained “I mean even as a private citizen, I’m kind of allowed a certain latitude, but once you say that [you can’t pass the background check], I’m kind of obligated not to….I think that’s what the rules are.”
The investigation also revealed that some private sellers are in fact apparently circumventing the federal law that requires dealers to be licensed. For example, one seller sold to investigators at three different gun shows and acknowledged selling 348 assault rifles in less than one year.
Undercover investigators also approached licensed dealers at gun shows and simulated straw purchases. A straw sale, a violation of federal law, occurs when a dealer allows someone who is not the actual buyer of the gun to fill out the paperwork and undergo the background check. Each integrity test of licensed dealers involved two investigators. The first was a male investigator who played the role of a person who wants to purchase a handgun but does not fill out any of the required paperwork. The other investigator, a female, served as the “straw” and appeared to be buying the handgun on behalf of the male.
All but one (16 of 17, or 94%) licensed dealer approached by the investigators failed the integrity test by selling to apparent straw purchasers. Only a dealer at a gun show in Niles, Ohio ended the sale after the straw attempted to fill out the paperwork.
Through the licensed and private seller scenarios, investigators purchased 38 guns in total, 36 semi-automatic handguns and 2 assault rifles.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
It was Tuesday, April 28 at about 1 in the afternoon and Stuart Gruskin stepped out of his midtown Manhattan office to grab a bite to eat. As he was crossing 43rd Street between 5th and 6th, a catering service deliveryman on a bicycle came flying along 43rd - going against traffic on the one-way street.
Gruskin stepped off the curb and into the path of the wrong way rider. The injuries to his head were just too severe. Gruskin, 50, senor vice president of a company that evaluated companies that are prospects for mergers, the father of 12-year-old twins, died.
Nancy Gruskin, his wife of 16 years has now taken up the cause of bicycle safety in New York City. She says that, while it's rare that people die from bicycle-pedestrian crashes - it's not rare, she says, that people get hit.
"If you would talk to 10 people, those 10 people know 10 more who were hit or almost hit," she says.
"Just three weeks ago the rabbi of our temple watched someone get hit by someone going the wrong way."
Tomorrow at 10 am, Nancy Gruskin will testify before New York's City Council to urge stronger legislation to crack down on bicyclists who defy traffic laws in the Big Apple.
"The bill in its current form is very light," she says.
Perhaps worse, she says, research indicates that the law as it stands now is rarely enforced. She wants Mayor Michael Bloomberg or Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to signal that enforcing bicycle safety laws is a priority. Not only for the well being of pedestrians, but for the benefit of bicyclists as well. Because riding a bike like a daredevil on the streets of New York is dangerous to them too.
"I'm not anti-bike," Gruskin says. "I'm pro-responsibility,"
Gruskin, who has filed a wrongful death suit against the company the deliveryman worked for, says she is starting a foundation in her husband's name to push for public awareness of the problem and to raise funds for those injured by bicyclists who have no medical insurance.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
By Rich Swier
Paltalk News Network
The academy award winning movie, "Seven Days in May" premiered in 1964. The premise of the movie was that U.S. military leaders were plotting to overthrow the president because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.
Fast forward to today. We have General David Petraeus; Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and British Army Chief of the General Staff Gen. Sir David Richards publically supporting U.S. General Stanley A. McChrystal because they fear without a "surge" in Afghanistan the war there will be lost. While no general is plotting an overthrow, it appears they are forcing the issue. But why?
Let's take a look at what has happened since President Obama's inauguration. He said on multiple occasions that Afghanistan, "is a war worth fighting". In May he changed the focus of our military away from Iraq to the "good war" in Afghanistan. He hand picked Karl Eikenberry to be our ambassador to Afghanistan and General Stanley A. McChrystal as the U.S./NATO Commander. The Senate overwhelmingly approved both appointments. President Obama immediately increased the number of troops in Afghanistan by 21,000. The strategy of fighting a counterinsurgency while building up the Afghan Army and police forces was in place in June.
Once on the ground General McChrystal made a first hand appraisal of the situation and issued his assessment through the chain-of-command in August to President Obama. The assessment said without more combat forces (estimated at 40,000) the war would be lost. At this point the president and generals parted paths. Why?
General McChrystal's report was leaked to Bob Woodward. Generals (U.S., British, active duty and retired) began going public on the need for additional troops, much to the chagrin of President Obama, General Jones, President Obama's national security adviser, and Congress. The decision on the part of the commander-in-chief was to accept or not accept General McChrystal's proposal. However, with the leak of the report, that decision turned into a test of President Obama's resolve. President Obama's reputation as commander-in-chief was now on the line.
Does this sound like deja vous all over again? This is similar to what President Bush faced when General Petraeus proposed what is now known as "The Iraq War Troop Surge" in 2007. President Bush faced stiff opposition to the surge after losing both houses of Congress in 2006 due primarily to opposition to the War in Iraq. In 2008 President Obama won election based upon his opposition to the surge and the War in Iraq, saying that Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan. So President Obama now faces his first seminal decision as commander-in-chief, a decision which will decide whether the U.S. and NATO will win or lose to those who plotted and executed 9/11.
But President Obama is wavering. Why?
I believe he is wavering because he does not believe Afghanistan is a war at all but rather a police action involving a few Al Qaeda fighters that need to be captured or killed. He does not view Afghanistan in the way our enemies view it, as one front in a global war against the West. His closest national security advisers, Vice President Biden and General Jones, believe Afghanistan can be fought and won by special operating forces and drones. What is amazing is General McChrystal made his reputation in Iraq by deploying Special Operating forces to kill Al Qaeda operatives including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. However, General McChrystal also knows that killing or capturing Al Qaeda is not enough. General McChrystal knows that to win U.S. and NATO forces must go into the local villages, with a professional and trusted Afghan Army and police force, to provide long term security and stability to the Afghan people. Military force alone will not win. A political solution as happened in Iraq will.
This is the President's dilemma. Listen to his hand picked field commander or his Vice President. I would go with the field commander, hands down.
Rich Swier is a 23-year Army veteran who retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1990. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his years of service. Additionally, he was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for Heroism in ground combat, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry while serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He is president of the Sarasota County (FL) Veterans Commission, an honorary member of the BRAIVE Fund and has been elected chairman of the Sarasota National Cemetery Advisory Committee. Rich is the publisher of Red County – Florida and editor of Red County – Sarasota, www.redcounty.com, an internationally read website dedicated to center right grassroots commentary, news and politics.
The first edition of the new Diana Falzone Show will be at 8 PM New York time October 8 when actor Vincent Pastore joins her from the Pla Lounge at Wurk's flagship professional environment overlooking Times Square to answer questions from the Paltalk audience. Her second guest, at 8 PM New York time on October 15 will be Antonio Sabato Jr., live from Hollywood.
Pastore is best known for playing the character Big Pussy on the popular HBO series The Sopranos. He was previously featured in the Italian wedding comedy True and Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. Pastore was a well-known nightclub manager in New York for 20 years before friends Kevin and Matt Dillon convinced him to try his hand at acting. Inspired by them, he enrolled in acting classes and cut his teeth doing community theater.
His first feature roll was in the movie Black Roses - which was a flop. But from there it was nothing but success. He appeared in Awakenings, Carlito's Way and The Last Don, a TV mini-series before landing his pivotal role on The Sopranos.
Sabato is a heart throb actor who got his start as a Calvin Kleins model. Born in Italy but raised in the United States, Sabato was perhaps best known for his role as Jagger Cates on General Hosptial: Night Shift before starring in his own dating reality show, My Antonio on Vh1.
The public rift between Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Pres. Obama over the number of troops needed in Afghanistan is strikingly similar to one between the former top British military commander and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
McChrystal has been calling for more troops before the Afghan mission gets away from the military. President Obama has been balking at answering the general's request. And McChrystal has been admonished, both privately by the president in Copenhagen, and publicly by Defense Secretary Gates. Meanwhile, the White House ponders what to do, saying it would rather get it right than rush into anything.
Vice President Biden has been pushing for a reduction in U.S. troops in Afghanistan and a change to the mission. Rather than take on the Taliban, Biden has told the president, the military should just concentrate on al Qaeda. Of course, this recommendation was first proffered before a U.S. military outpost near the Pakistan border was overrun by the Taliban.
The president has been meeting with advisers in the White House to discuss the two widely different approaches to the war effort. McChrystal has been participating in some of those meetings via satellite. This has all led to speculation that the general may resign should the president favor the Biden proposal or order a compromise that McChrystal can't live with.
Now comes word from the BBC that nearly the same scenario played out in the United Kingdom, albeit not so publicly. Like McChrystal, then-General Sir Richard Dannatt called for more troops in Afghanistan. Brown rejected the recommendation and Dannatt resigned.
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
Remember when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to China and human rights was not on the agenda? I said then that ignoring China's human rights violations in order to gain cooperation on other matters represented a weakness in U.S. foreign policy.
Now the Obama administration demonstrates that failing again by snubbing the Dalai Lama on his current trip to the United States.
For the first time, the president is not welcoming the Dalai Lama into the White House upon his arrival in Washington - postponing extending the expected hospitality to him until after Obama returns from a scheduled trip to China. Better to offend a man of peace who is fighting for the freedoms of Tibetans rather than offend China at a time when the United States wants to improve relations for a number of good reasons.
The problem with this policy is, of course, that as the leader of the free world, the president should be championing the rights of all oppressed people. This nation, and its government, has the moral and ethical responsibility to do so. Yet, this administration has been frustratingly silent - not only toward China's transgressions in Tibet - but in other areas of the world where it should be speaking out.
For example, the president pretty much sat on the sidelines during the government's violent response to mainly peaceful demonstrations against an obvious fraudulent vote in Iran. Worse yet, the United States actually is supporting a corrupt and equally illegitimate government in Afghanistan - a nation where the mistreatment of women - much of by the hand of government officials - is horrific.
Almost anything the president does is going to offend someone and strain relations with some government someplace. It comes with the territory. The least we can expect is that, when he does, he's at least on the right side. His snubbing of the Dalai Lama shows that, for reasons of international political expediency, he is not.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
As Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands grapple with devastating earthquakes, a typhoon and a tsunami, the American Red Cross is helping to provide relief as part of the global Red Cross relief network.
The tsunami that hit American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga on September 30 destroyed villages and displaced thousands of residents, and the Red Cross is responding.
In American Samoa, the American Red Cross branch on the island is leading the response, focusing on providing food, water and needed supplies. The American Red Cross has a warehouse on the island with stocks of cots, flashlights, cooking supplies and clean-up supplies, and will be sending in additional supplies as flights become available. A leadership team of about 70 volunteers is also on its way to the island to supplement the local Red Cross workforce.
In the sovereign nations of Samoa and Tonga, their respective Red Cross societies are running relief efforts to provide assistance to affected residents, including operating five camps for now homeless families.
The American Red Cross is working with other Red Cross organizations in the other disasters that have hit the Asia Pacific area in recent days.
“We’re working closely with the countries that have been hit by these terrible disasters to make sure they have the resources they need—most importantly, clean water, food and shelter,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of International Services at the American Red Cross.
In Indonesia, two devastating earthquakes 24 hours apart have left nearly 1,000 dead and many others trapped. The Indonesian Red Cross has dispatched hundreds of volunteers to the quake zone to offer first aid services, shelter and other assistance for those in need, and is moving thousands of relief supplies to Padang.
The American Red Cross is providing an initial $100,000 from the International Response Fund to support the Indonesian Red Cross and stands ready to provide additional support, should it be requested. It is also sending three staff members, already working in Indonesia, to the quake zone.
Last week’s Typhoon Ketsana wreaked havoc across the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, causing record-level floods, destroying houses and taking lives. In addition to the thousands of local Red Cross volunteers and employees who are providing emergency relief in their countries, the American Red Cross is contributing an initial $100,000 worth of supplies — including mosquito nets, jerry cans and blankets — to the Philippines from the Red Cross warehouse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An additional $50,000 cash is going to Vietnam to support their relief efforts.
The American Red Cross is also sending a shelter specialist to the Philippines, and in preparation for an unrelated storm, Typhoon Parma, which is on track to hit the Philippines, the organization is sending a leadership team to Saipan to supplement the local chapter. Additional volunteers and supplies will be sent as needed.
Joining us on today's News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network at 5 PM New York time to tell us of the efforts and the need for donations will be Alex Mahoney who oversees the American Red Cross Pacific disaster relief efforts.
Would you be notified in time? http://bit.ly/13InKg
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
When the tsunami hit the Samoan islands there was a lot of second guessing about the alert system in place. The bottom line is that people got only from 4-7 minutes warning to get out of harm's way. Not enough time to save evenyone in the path of the wave.
Similar criticism is being directed at the warning system in the United States. A system that a congressional agency says is ineffective. It's so bad that the Government Accounting Office has deemed it "unreliable."
The Emergency Alert System is designed to let Americans know of an imminent attack or natural disaster. Messages are supposed to be relayed to the public via TV and radio stations. You've probably heard the tests on both. Tests that may have irritated you - because they interrupted program. Or tests that you may have largely ignored. Imagine your response should a real alert be sounded. Would you even take notice?
The GAO report goes even further, though, in damning the system. It points out that the last time FEMA tested the system was in 2007. Worse, there are no plans to test it again.
And it isn't as if the 2007 test was particularly successful. Some TV stations involved didn't even get the messages to rebroadcast them.
In a day and age when fewer people are watching TV and listening to the radio, opting instead for iPods, satellite radio and the Internet, perhaps it's time to revamp the system entirely.
In my town, the police have what's known as a reverse 911 system. Instead of you calling them, they call you.
I remember the first time my phone rang and there was a recording of a police officer on the other end telling me about a lost boy in the area. He asked virtually everyone in the community to be on the lookout for the youngster and to ring the police should any of us spot him.
That kind of a system should be expanded to ring every cellphone in reach of the local towers. Coupled with notifications over TV and radio, perhaps we can avoid the kind of recrimination going on in the Samoan islands the next time a natural or man made disaster is deemed imminent here.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
All of this sounds great, but can Iran be trusted to fulfill this commitment?
My guest today on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network, Leonor Tomero, said Iran must be held accountable and give the inspectors invasive access to the two facilities. But Tomero, director for non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation says she's not overly concerned about any delaying tactics Iran might attempt. The threat assessment she's read suggests that Iran won't have the capability to launch a nuclear attack until 2015 or later.
The first round of swine flu vaccine has been shipped to 25 states.
Swine flu vaccinations will begin this month in the UK as well.
Scotland's health minister is warning of an imminent new round of swine flu cases there.
New research finds that sons of pregnant women who contracted the swine flu during the 1918 pandemic were more likely to have life-long health problems.