Monday, November 30, 2009
That means millions of Americans who were still enjoying health benefits through their former employer's plans will now find themselves without coverage.
Because it's human nature to support, or oppose, public policy based on one's own personal experiences, it will be interesting to see how the influx of Americans without health insurance will influence the health reform debate in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed that all amendments to the health reform bill he sponsored be posted on the Internet. Sounds like the kind of thing the GOP has been pressuring the Democrats to do. But Reid's request for unanimous consent for the proposal was blocked by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY). Ironically, Enzi is one of the so-called Gang of Six - three Democrats and three Republicans - who tried for months - unsuccessfully - to come up with a compromise proposal that both parties could find palatable.
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the darling of the conservatives in the Republican Party, and a GOP presidential nominee hopeful last year, is getting blasted by his own base.
The conservative blogosphere is all over Huckabee for granting clemency to the man suspected in the killings of four police officers in Washington state.
The fact that so many people who share political ideology - and party affiliation - with Huckabee would publicly part with him on a matter of principle is actually a healthy sign for the nation. Much as many progressives who worked so hard to elect Barack Obama likely will react following his speech Tuesday night announcing that he'll be sending more troops to Afghanistan.
Too often, too many members of the public take positions they're told to take by their respective parties. Too often, too many people are reticent, for partisan reasons, to question or criticize their fellow Republicans or their fellow Democrats.
These rifts within the parties shows that there are some people who put what they believe ahead of partisan politics. Whether they are ultimately right or wrong isn't the issue. What matters is that they are thinking independently. And that's something that - if it's sustained - can only be healthy during discourse of issues of national significance.
Paltalk News Network
I'm sure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is shaking in his boots now.
President Obama is calling Iran's declaration that it's going to build 10 more uranium enrichment facilities "unacceptable."
By all accounts, Obama's daughters were basically raised by his wife. Perhaps he should consult with her about how to deal with Iran.
With children, if you give them a deadline and they fail to meet it, there are consequences. If you fail to follow through with the consequences, they don't take you seriously next time you make an ultimatum.
Like a child who shows a parent no respect, Iran is showing none to Obama.
Tehran is supposed to give International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors full access to all its nuclear facilities. It's supposed to ship its enriched uranium overseas to ensure that they aren't used to make nuclear weapons. They were supposed to meet deadlines on these promises. Deadlines that they've ignored. Missed deadlines and no consequences.
I'll bet that when Michelle Obama told the girls to make their beds by a certain deadline that they faced - and suffered - consequences when they didn't. Under that scenario, the only negative affect of their not complying was a messy room. With Iran's uranium enrichment program we're facing the prospect of a potential nuclear holocaust.
President Obama took a job which requires him to know how to respond to situations such as this. It's possible that his inexperience - both as a president and as a parent - are clouding his judgment. Time to consult an expert Mr. President. Time to ask Michelle what to do.
WHO now recommends earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for adults and adolescents, the delivery of more patient-friendly antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), and prolonged use of ARVs to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. For the first time, WHO recommends that HIV-positive mothers or their infants take ARVs while breastfeeding to prevent HIV transmission.
"These new recommendations are based on the most up-todate, available data," said the WHO's Dr. Hiroki Nakatani. "Their widespread adoption will enable many more people in high-burden areas to live longer and healthier lives."
An estimated 33.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and there are some 2.7 million new infections each year. Globally, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of mortality among women of reproductive age.
In 2006, WHO recommended that all patients start ART when their CD4 count (a measure of immune system strength) falls to 200 cells/mm3 or lower, at which point they typically show symptoms of HIV disease. Since then, studies and trials have demonstrated that starting ART earlier reduces rates of death and disease. WHO is now recommending that ART be initiated at a higher CD4 threshold of 350 cells/mm3 for all HIV-positive patients, including pregnant women, regardless of symptoms.
WHO also recommends that countries phase out the use of Stavudine, or d4T, because of its long-term, irreversible side-effects. Stavudine is still widely used in first-line therapy in developing countries due to its low cost and widespread availability. Zidovudine (AZT) or Tenofovir (TDF) are recommended as less toxic and equally effective alternatives.
The 2009 recommendations outline an expanded role for laboratory monitoring to improve the quality of HIV treatment and care. They recommend greater access to CD4 testing and the use of viral load monitoring when necessary. However, access to ART must not be denied if these monitoring tests are not available.
In 2006, WHO recommended that ARVs be provided to HIV-positive pregnant women in the third trimester (beginning at 28 weeks) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. At the time, there was insufficient evidence on the protective effect of ARVs during breastfeeding. Since then, several clinical trials have shown the efficacy of ARVs in preventing transmission to the infant while breastfeeding. The 2009 recommendations promote the use of ARVs earlier in pregnancy - starting at 14 weeks - and continuing through the end of the breastfeeding period.
WHO now recommends that breastfeeding continue until the infant is 12 months of age, provided the HIV-positive mother or baby is taking ARVs during that period. This will reduce the risk of HIV transmission and improve the infant's chance of survival.
"In the new recommendations, we are sending a clear message that breastfeeding is a good option for every baby, even those with HIV-positive mothers, when they have access to ARVs," said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO's assistant director general for family and community health.
WHO says an earlier start to antiretroviral treatment boosts the immune system and reduces the risks of HIV-related death and disease. It also lowers the risk of HIV and TB transmission.
WHO says the new prevention recommendations have the potential to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission risk to five percent or lower. But the agency notes that the recommendations, if adopted, will result in a greater number of people needing treatment. It says, however, that the costs of earlier treatment may be offset by decreased hospital costs, increased productivity due to fewer sick days, fewer children orphaned by AIDS and a drop in HIV infections.
Another challenge lies in encouraging more people to receive voluntary HIV testing and counseling before they have symptoms. Currently, many HIV-positive people are waiting too long to seek treatment, usually when their CD4 count falls below 200 cells/mm3. However, the benefits of earlier treatment may also encourage more people to undergo HIV testing and counseling and learn their HIV status, WHO says.
Some 200 UK troops - half of them this past year - have died fighting in Afghanistan and British opinion has been turning against the war. Brown believes the source of terrorism is in Afghanistan and it's necessary to commit British troops to the cause in order to protect the homeland.
That's right. The Israeli government is about to release 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the return of Gilad Shalit - an Israeli soldier who has been held by Hamas in the Gaza strip for three years now.
According to Israeli news media accounts, the Israeli government would first hand over 450 prisoners before Shalit's release. The remaining 530 would be released after his safe return.
The White House is acknowledging that the commander-in-chief has already ordered the deployment of some 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. That's 10,000 less than General Stanley McChrystal requested. But 30,000 more than anti-war activists had hoped.
The prime time speech, which will be carried live on the Paltalk News Network, will be more a justification to the American public - and will include a promise that - as he's sending more troops into combat - he's also ordering a withdrawal. He'll likely outline the timetable he has in mind.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Pierce County, Washington Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer says at least one of four Lakewood, Washington police officers who were killed in a coffee shop returned fire and it is hoped that the suspect was shot.
The tragic killings of four Lakewood, Washington police officers as they worked at their computers in a coffee shop may have political ramifications for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
While as governor, Huckabee, a former and probable future candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, granted clemency to the man police say they want for questioning.
The suspect, identified by police as Maurice Clemmons, has a felony record and a history of erratic behavior.
If Clemmons ends up being charged, it won't be the first time Huckabee has faced accusations of poor judgment in releasing convicted criminals. During the 2007 GOP presidential primary campaign, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who also sought the nomination, blasted Huckabee for his pardoning of a convicted rapist who, following his release, raped and murdered another woman.
Another former Massachusetts Governor, Michael Dukakis, faced similar criticism when he was running for president as the Democratic nominee in 1988. He was blamed by his political opponents for the actions of Willie Horton, who was allowed out of a Massachusetts prison on a weekend furlough while serving a life sentence for murder. Horton never returned from his furlough and then twice raped a woman after pistol whipping her boyfriend. While Dukakis didn't order Horton's release, he was supportive of the weekend furlough program.
Huckabee now hosts a weekend show on the Fox News Channel. Huckabee now hosts a weekend show on the Fox News Channel. On his nationally syndicated morning radio commentary, Huckabee Monday said that Clemmons was eligible for, and was paroled by the state parole board.
Four police officers sitting in a Parkland, Washington coffee shop working at their computers were fatally shot by an assailant who apparently specifically were targeting them. The motive, however, is not known but police investigating say it did not appear to be a robbery attempt.
Paltalk News Network
If the international community continues to sit on its hands - threatening to take action - but doing nothing while it debates - it may soon be too late to do anything about Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations.
On the heels of the International Atomic Energy Agency's chief saying the IAEA was coming to the end of the road with Iran, that nation's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced they're going to build 10 more nuclear enrichment plants.
The announcement also comes just days after Tehran reneged on an agreement to send its enriched uranium abroad to ensure that it doesn't develop nuclear weapons. Iran also just launched a trial balloon suggesting that it may withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
One or two nuclear weapons plants may be something that can be contended with militarily. But 12? That's a far different proposition.
And if Iran has 12 plants - and refuses to let IAEA inspectors in - how would one determine which plant or plants to target? The nation has the right to develop nuclear energy. One wouldn't want to target a plant that's designed to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Of course, no one is talking a military option. At least not publicly. In fact, they're only barely talking the possibility of sanctions.
Let's now go back to Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election. There were those who said that President Obama was too timid in his response when Ahmadinejad was declared, on August 3, the winner. That he failed to show that the United States stood with the protesters who took to the streets - mainly peacefully - only to be met with batons, bullets and prison.
Obama supporters said then that a too strong response of condemnation would give the regime an excuse to accuse the United States of meddling. The administration wanted the demonstrations to be seen as what they were - organic - free of U.S. intervention.
But there were others who said then that the new U.S. president looked weak - and that Iran would take advantage of that perception. It could be that - based on today's announcement - Obama's critics were right.
In fact, says the Israeli Office for Constitutional Law, the entire West Bank - claimed by Palestinians - belongs to Israel.
That stunning claim is based on an obscure treaty signed by the United States and Britain in 1924. It's called the Anglo-American Convention. And it outlines the boundaries of the Mandate for Palestine. Which included the whole of the West Bank.
It's an interesting argument. The treaty predates the establishment of the state of Israel, whose boundaries do not include the West Bank. The 1947 UN Partition granted that land to the Arabs. But the director of the Office for Constitutional Law says - technically, the earlier treaty still stands - even though the mandate expired.
The pronouncement likely will have no real effect on conditions on the ground today. But discussion of the treaty shows early intent to grant the land to the Jews - and puts into perspective the foundation over the conflict over the settlements today.
The United States has been among nations that have been pressuring Israel to stop construction on the West Bank. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a 10-month freeze on construction in the hopes that the Palestinians would then resume peace talks. But - speaking in Venezuela - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the overture. He wants pre-conditions - including a concession from Israel that Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians - before resuming talks. Something he knows very well is unacceptable to the Israelis.
Iran's Parliament is urging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to cooperate less with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
How the government could cooperate even less than it is now defies logic.
The parliamentary move follows by just days the passage of an IAEA draft resolution condemning Tehran for its failure to adhere to an agreement to ship its enriched uranium to Russia to ensure that it's not used in the development of nuclear weapons. It also follows by one day hints from the United States that it will request from the UN Security Council further economic sanctions against Iran.
The point is - Iran is conducting a potentially deadly shell game with the international community. It shows and indicates a bit of cooperation. Then it backs off.
The great fear is that it's all a delaying tactic - designed to keep the wolves at bay while developing a nuclear weapons program in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
That damning assessment is contained in a U.S. Senate report - one that was requested by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) just prior to President Obama's Tuesday prime time address to the nation outlining the nation's future military approach to Afghanistan.
The timing of the report is political. Providing cover, or justification, for whatever decision the president makes. But it also gives new insight into the hunt for bin Laden - and a missed opportunity that's resulted in years of fighting on the ground of Afghanistan and the deaths of more than 15-hundred coalition troops to date.
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
I'm having some difficulty understanding the Catholic church's opposition to gay marriage.
My son argues I'm off base on this one. That if I believe in free speech, then I should be defending the Catholic church's right to oppose gay marriage. That the leaders of the church have as much a right to weigh in on the issue as anyone else.
Fair enough. But I still see an incongruity in it doing so.
This discussion was prompted by the bishops of the Catholic church in New Jersey asking the faithful to pray that a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the Garden State fail. Or at least not pass until Governor-elect Chris Christie is sworn in in January. Because Christie - a practicing Catholic - says if it passes on his watch he'll veto it.
But here's the part that I have trouble understanding. Most marriages are conducted by members of the clergy. And it's very unlikely that any Catholic priests are going to perform gay weddings if they are legalized. So why does the Catholic church even care? It's not going to affect it one way or another.
If another denomination's ministers want to perform gay weddings if the law passes - then that's their business. The fact is - if New Jersey approves gay weddings - it will have absolutely no affect on the Catholic church.
Shouldn't the bishops only be concerned about conduct within their churches? Why should they have a say over what's done in other churches?
New Jersey already allows for civil unions between members of the same sex. So the only real difference here is that members of the cloth will be able to officiate over weddings. The law wouldn't require them to do so. So all the Catholic priests in New Jersey can follow the dictates of the bishops and opt out.
The bishops, of course, have the right - and the responsibility - to uphold their beliefs within the confines of their churches. But what right have they to impose those beliefs upon the clergy of other faiths?
My son is correct when he says they have the right to speak out. But that doesn't mean they are right in doing so.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Obama has been criticized for taking so long to make a decision on General Stanley McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan. The quick deployment of troops may be designed to put to an end the perception that he is an indecisive commander-in-chief.
As divided as is the nation over what to do militarily in Afghanistan, veterans have been making last minute pushes to members of Congress - both in opposition to and in favor of President Obama's expected announcement Tuesday that he is sending more troops to that nation.
Faced with increasing frustration over his nation's involvement in Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is calling on the Afghan government to set benchmarks for taking over security of the country and to root out corruption by January 28.
Brown's pronouncement comes just days before President Obama's scheduled Tuesday night announcement about the United States' future military commitment to Afghanistan.
Incoming Governor-elect Chris Christie - a practicing Catholic - says he will veto it if it crosses his desk.
Enter New Jersey's Catholic bishops - who are appealing to a higher authority.
The bishops are asking their flocks to pray that the bill doesn't pass - at least not on Corzine's watch. Of course, it's pretty doubtful that any Catholic priests would officiate over gay marriages should they become legal in New Jersey.
Civil unions between people of the same sex are already permitted in the state.
But the good news is that the vast majority of the swine flu cases reported have been mild. Most patients recover - even without medical treatment, the WHO report indicates.
More than half the new deaths - 554 - were reported in the Americas.
Russian officials suspect terrorism in the derailment of a train that killed more than two-dozen people. It is feared that the death toll could rise because of the number of people still missing.
A small crater under the crash has lead to speculation that an explosive device derailed the train.
A hardliner Iranian lawmaker has told that nation's official news agency that the Parliament might consider disengaging from the pact.
This follows the condemnation of Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which passed a draft resolution expressing its frustration over Iran's foot dragging on its promise to send its spent uranium overseas to prevent its use in developing nuclear weapons. The United States is reportedly seeking stronger sanctions against Iran.
If Iran should dump the treaty it would be free to develop nuclear weapons without interference from the United Nations.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Abbas says the construction halt is meaningless because the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem continues.
His remarks, delivered in Venezuela, are sure to be viewed by the Israelis as back peddling from an opportunity to reengage in talks - and an insistence in pre-conditions - something the Israelis find unfathomable.
The PA, which Abbas represents, is supposed to be the more moderate of the Palestinian entities. Those who favor a two-state solution had hoped that even as Hamas, which controls the Gaza, remained entrenched in its refusal to talk, negotiations could, at least, be moved forward with the PA.
News Talk Online November 27, 2009: Black Friday, Political Lies And The IAEA's Condemnation Of Iran
We discussed Black Friday and the current economic situation - and how many people are using Black Friday sales to purchases goods for themselves and their households - not to buy gifts because they are cutting back on gift giving this year.
We also discussed how politicians are loose with the facts when it helps promote their party's position to the determent of the opposition.
Finally, we discussed the International Atomic Energy Agency's draft resolution condemning Iran for its failure to adhere to an agreement to send its enriched uranium abroad.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
News Talk Online November 25, 2009: A West Bank Construction Freeze And A Look At What's A Terrorist
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
It is anticipated he will take a Solomon-like approach - giving McChrystal more troops - but not as many as he requested. This is sure to set him up for criticism from both those who think that McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops be granted and from those who want fewer troops or a pullout altogether.
The president met with a team of advisers at the White House yesterday to listen to last-minute arguments about a what to do. Noticeably absent - Vice President Joe Biden - who believes there should be fewer U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Biden believes the mission has changed to providing support for the Afghan government by putting down the insurgency. He has argued that fewer troops along the Afghan-Pakistan border - focused entirely on working with Pakistani troops to put the squeeze on al Qaeda - should be the mission. He has argued that the U.S. troops should leave the Taliban in Afghanistan alone - unless they are of immediate danger to them or are involved in plotting against the United States or its allies.
The White House says that if additional troops are ordered to Afghanistan, there will be, at the same time, a timetable established for the withdrawal of all troops to pressure the Afghan government to prepare for a takeover of security. But there are those who point to Iraq as the latest example of how much easier it is to get into a war than to get out. Some also argue that sending more troops in sends the wrong signal - further delaying the Afghan government's taking control of the country.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Attorney Remi Spencer - who has expressed reservations about trying them in federal district court - was my guest on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network, to discuss this latest development.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The second half of the show we discussed a poll which concludes that 52 percent of Republicans believe that ACORN stole the election for President Obama.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The second segment explored the question of what is a terrorist, and if the label applies to the alleged Fort Hood gunman.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Paltalk News Network
Just who is playing politics with the decision to try five Guantanamo Bay detainees - including the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks - in federal court in New York City?
Let me give you multiple choices.
a. The Democrats
b. The Republicans
c. The jihadists
d. All of the above
If you selected d, then give yourself a gold star.
President Obama had said during the debates that there was a place for military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay detainees. Then why is his administration now trying them in a civilian criminal court?
It is true that justice - not just for those detained but for the 9/11 families as well - has been excruciatingly slow - one might say non-existent - over the past eight years. There's some value to jump-starting the process. But couldn't the commander-in-chief just as easily ordered trials to begin forthwith before a military tribunal?
His detractors suggest that Obama is going to use these trials as an opportunity to further expose the George W. Bush administration for its alleged human rights transgressions towards the prisoners. If that criticism is true, then he risks making a political statement at the expense of national security.
The Republicans are making political hay of this as well. Chief cheerleader is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani - who strikes fear in the hearts of some New Yorkers by saying the decision makes his city less safe - that it returns the nation to a pre-9/11 mentality.
But White House adviser David Axelrod was also correct when he took to the Sunday TV talk show circuit to note that Giuliani testified at the trial in federal court of 9/11 bomber Zacarias Moussaoui - and then "heralded the outcome." Seems that, to Giuliani, when a Republican administration is in office then trying suspected terrorists in federal court is a good thing. When a Democrat occupies the White House it's putting the nation in danger. Like the Democrats, Giuliani and others in the GOP are guilty of politicizing the decision.
Worst of all, the jihadists get to politicize all that comes out in open court to foster additional anti-American sentiment.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
There's mixed reaction today to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement yesterday that five Guantanamo Bay detainees, including the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be tried in federal court in New York City.
Some New Yorkers are concerned that bringing them here will create security issues. They are, frankly, afraid that their very presence will prompt another terrorist attack.
Others believe there's no better a venue than New York - the scene of the crime.
Without question, there's ample precedence for trying suspects where the crime occurred. But the bigger issue may not be a geographical one. It may have to do with the treatment the suspects underwent while at Gitmo.
There are concerns that they were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques that elicited responses that a federal court may not be inclined to allow into evidence.
There are also concerns that some of those techniques may be further revealed in a public court - possibly adversely affecting national security.
There are those who welcome a trial here in New York City. Before yesterday's announcement, some 9/11 family members were interviewed for an ACLU video that urged that the cases be tried in a civilian federal court - not by a military tribunal.
"It is of utmost importance to me that those who were responsible for the attacks of 9/11 face a court," said Adele Welty in the ACLU video. Her son was a New York firefighter killed at the World Trade Center.
Pat Perry, whose son was a police officer killed on 9/11, added that she would rather see the Guantanamo detainees who have been held without charge "appear in open court where we can all sift out what we feel is really the truth and the judges can make a decision based on our constitution."
But Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has been making the rounds, talking on TV and radio stations and granting print and web interviews to denounce the announcement. King believes the Gitmo detainees should all be tried there - by a military tribunal - and then executed upon conviction.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Then an announcement by Make It Pro founder and CEO Jill Osur that sports programming is coming to Paltalk with the Make It Pro sports network.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Asztalos talked about returning veterans who have apparent physical injuries and hidden brain trauma. And those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He also discussed the need to find jobs for those returning from the field of battle.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
The FBI says it is reviewing whether procedures should be changed as a result of its probe last December of U.S. Army Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, the alleged gunman in the Fort Hood rampage.
The FBI acknowledges that it had intercepted communications between Hasan and an imam in Yemen with ties to two of the 9/11 hijackers. Agents concluded then that Hasan was just doing research in conjunction with his duties as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
While acknowledging that the FBI is at a bit of a disadvantage over this issue because there may be some aspects of its investigation that it cannot make public, this is beginning to sound a bit like the recrimination the bureau faced following the 9/11 attacks.
Back then, the FBI, simply put, dropped the ball. It had evidence, sent up through channels from a field agent, that some of the men who later became 9/11 hijackers were taking flying lessons but weren't interested in learning how to take off or land the plane. The agent found this suspicious but it was never taken seriously at FBI Headquarters in Washington. Not taken seriously, that is, until after the 9/11 attacks.
Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20 and in retrospect, perhaps the agents investigating Hasan then now see that they shouldn't have been dismissive of the evidence they had in hand. But as in the case of the student pilots-turned hijackers, it would seem that common sense would result in a prudent response to Hasan. A Muslim Army psychiatrist who apparently saw justification in suicide bombings and who objected to his deployment orders who had had contact with an imam with ties to 9/11. Facts that should have been an indicator to the FBI and the Army that he represented a potential threat.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the intelligence and law enforcement communities pledged to review their procedures and make changes to ensure that another attack wouldn't occur simply because someone was dismissive of the evidence. Now the FBI is talking about yet another such review.
Let's hope that, this time, they get it right.
Monday, November 9, 2009
GOOOH hopes to defeat all incumbent members of the House of Representatives during next year's mid-term elections and replace them with "regular" people who agree to run for no more than two-terms and to be beholden to the people of their districts - not the Washington lobbyists.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Paltalk News Network
Muslim American groups are struggling with a possible backlash over the Fort Hood tragedy, even more so today than on Thursday as new details, and additional speculation, about the suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, emerge.
A devote Muslim, Hasan was reported to have shouted "God is great" in Arabic as he allegedly opened fire. Causing, for some, a rush to judgment about motivations still not - and - depending on his medical prognosis and level of cooperation if he survives - possibly never known.
The incident doesn't just have Muslims worried. Some non-Muslims are scared as well.
The flames to their fears aren't being doused much by some of the commentary about the event. Conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham went so far during her nationally syndicated broadcast Friday as to term the shootings a terrorist attack. And she blasted the media for not saying as much.
This angst was reflected in at least one call to News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network. The caller suggested during yesterday's show that no Muslims should be part of the U.S. military. No matter that there are thousands of patriotic Muslim-Americans who are proud to wear the uniforms of the U.S. Armed Forces and who have fought bravely alongside non-Muslims.
By that same measure, I ironically argued in return, that anytime someone commits a particularly heinous crime, then others from that person's subgroup should be precluded from participating in society as well.
I noted that the alleged gunman who shot up a Daytona office building yesterday had an Hispanic surname. So maybe, I suggested, as a precaution, all Hispanics should be asked to leave the country.
Then I made the ultimate factual error. I accused Timothy McVeigh of being a Christian - to make the point that - maybe all Christians should be asked to leave too. You know, to protect our federal buildings and the people inside.
That was met with a chorus of "McVeigh was not a Christian!" - which - of course - wasn't the real point. But apparently a raw nerve was hit.
So I did a little research. Apparently, McVeigh was born and raised a Roman Catholic (which I believe would have made him, at least at the time, a Christian) but then claimed near the end that he was an agnostic. So let's rephrase the argument for the sake of accuracy and to avoid maligning and offending all the Christians in the United States:
Maybe we should ask all the agnostics to leave the country.
The attempted point was to show how absurd was the argument that Muslims be now precluded from being in the military. As equally absurd as saying that all Hispanics be deported because of the Daytona incident or all agnostics (or had he still been Christian, all Christians) because of what McVeigh did.
The caller with whom I was having a fairly heated debate accused me of not "getting it." I got it alright. She doesn't like Muslims. That point came across perfectly clear.
The person who didn't "get it" was the caller and others who showed their disgust with my remarks in text. I don't know if that's the fault of the listeners who objected or of my inability to make myself clear through my examples.
I think back to a caller on Thursday, the day of the shooting. An active-duty Marine, who agrees with me that it's ridiculous to suggest that Muslims be precluded from military service in the United States. He told us that his commanding officer is a Muslim-American and that he can't think of anyone else he'd rather follow into battle.
But then, again, perhaps he doesn't "get it" either.
Friday, November 6, 2009
News Talk Online November 6, 2009: President Cautions Against Rush To Judgment Over Fort Hood Shootings
By GARY BAUMGARTEN in New York
With additional reporting from JAMES HICKMAN in Texas
Paltalk News Network
President Obama says it's too early to know exactly what motivated yesterday's shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House, the president cautioned about "jumping to conclusions."
Obama emphasized that this was the act of one individual and said he has ordered flags at all government facilities lowered to half staff from now until Veteran's Day.
Thirteen people are dead, 30 others wounded, as a result of the shooting spree, allegedly by an Army psychiatrist. One of the dead is identified as a civilian, the others are soldiers.
Authorities now say they are certain that the suspected gunman, Maj.Nidal Malik Hasan was working alone and that the weapons he allegedly used were his personal guns. They are declining to speculate on a motive but will release it once the investigation is completed.
The police officer who shot Hasan and was, herself, wounded, is in stable condition in a hospital, as is Hasan and as are the others who were shot in the spree.
Investigators are trying to determine if the guns that were used were properly registered.
"Soldiers are allowed to maintain privately owned weapons," Col. John Rossi said this morning at a briefing from Fort Hood. "We are looking now to see if it was registered on the post." Rossi said random checks are made on vehicles coming through the gate but, "in this case he could have just brought it onto the base."
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed his condolences to the families of those who were killed. “I am deeply saddened by the tragic events today at Fort Hood," he said. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fallen, the wounded, and all those touched by this incident."
Organizations like the Council on American Islamic Relations are expressing concern about questions that are being raised about the loyalties of the alleged shooter who is a Muslim. Witnesses report that the gunman shouted "God is great" in Arabic while opening fire.
An active-duty Marine, interviewed on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network, who has served in Iraq and Africa said that his commanding officer is a Muslim-American and he can't think of anyone he'd rather follow into battle.
Paltalk News Network's James Hickman reports from Texas that Hasan, had recently been transfered to Fort Hood after six years at Walter Reed and was about to be deployed. He reports that Hasan received poor performance reviews while at Walter Reed.
Military sources say that Hasan objected to his deployment orders.
Fort Hood which is one of the largest military bases in the world was on lock down until 6 p.m. central time Thursday along with schools in the area. Agents from the ATF and FBI responded to the post. The base is near Killeen, Texas where in 1991 a gunman shot and killed 23 people at a Luby’s restaurant.
Speaking in Washington, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad condemned the shootings, terming them a "cowardly act." Awad said that Muslims are just as enraged and saddened about what happened as others in the United States.
“No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence," he said. "The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted our nation’s all-volunteer army that includes thousands of Muslims in all services."
Awad cautioned about speculating about the motive for the shootings. "We urge all Americans to remain calm in reaction to this tragic event and to demonstrate once again what is best about America - our nation’s ability to remain unified even in times of crisis. We urge national political and religious leaders and media professionals to set a tone of calm and unity."
But Awad also advised American Muslims to "take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their families and their religious institutions from possible backlash."
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Yesterday’s results are final and today will be a busy day for the spin doctors on both sides.
In the Virginia gubernatorial race, the Republican candidate Bob McDonnell crushed his Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds by 18 points, 59 percent to 41 percent. McDonnell ran a first rate clean campaign which stayed on message and appealed to both Republicans and independents. Deeds, the surprising winner of the primary, never got his campaign and could not excite the Democratic base to come out to vote for him in this purple state.
Interesting factoid: This is the ninth time in a row that Virginia, which allows it governors only one term, has elected someone who is not from the same party as the president of the United States.
New Jersey also held an election for governor and Republican Chris Christie, a former U.S. District Attorney defeated Democratic incumbent John Corzine in a three way contest that included the independent candidate Chris Daggett. Christie received almost 49 percent of the votes to Corzine’s 44.5 percent, and Daggett won just under 6 percent of the ballots cast. Corzine spent close to $25 million, much of it his own money in this loss to Christie.
Factoid: This is the sixth time in a row for New Jersey electing its governor from the opposition party of the president.
Across the river in New York City, independent and former Republican Michael Bloomberg has been reelected for a third term in a race against City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. that ended up much closer than expected. Bloomberg picked up 51 percent to 46 percent for Thompson even though the billionaire mayor poured over $90 million of his own personal fortune into the race. While many New Yorkers like their mayor, there was clearly a backlash against Bloomberg for having the term limits law (two terms) overturned in order run again.
The most interesting race last night was in New York state’s 23rd congressional district. This was special election fill the vacant seat of Republican John McHugh who resigned when he was selected by President Obama to be secretary of the Army. There was no primary and the candidates were selected by their parties to run for this seat.
Until two weeks ago, there were three candidates running: Republican Deidre Scozzafava, Democrat Bill Owens and the Conservative Party’s Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava, who is pro choice and for gay marriage angered many major players in the party, bringing this race to national prominence. The likes of Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Dick Armey, Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty lined up against Scozzafava and endorsed Hoffman. Media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck also went after the Republican. The ultra Conservative Club for Growth poured in about $1 million on Hoffman’s behalf. Scozzafava exited the race last Saturday and asked her supporters to vote for the Democrat. With all that firepower behind Hoffman, he still lost to Owens. The tally for last night was Owens with 49.5 percent, Hoffman with 45 percent and Scozzafava picked up 5.5% (the ballots were printed before her withdrawal).
Some political observers are saying yesterday was a repudiation of President Obama’s policies. I disagree.
McDonnell ran a smart positive campaign against Deeds who never got his campaign off the ground. Corzine’s loss rests on his ineptitude as governor for the past four years.
While the Conservative lost in the 23rd, it was a clear message to many moderate Republicans – you are either with us or we are against you! That could spell trouble for Florida’s Republican governor Charlie Crist in next year’s Senate race against ultra Conservative Marco Rubio to fill the seat that Mel Martinez gave up and is currently occupied by Crist appointee George LeMieux. In Texas, will Kay Bailey Hutchinson be met with Conservative opposition when she opposes Republican Governor Rick Perry next year?
Another question is how the Democrats will react to yesterday's election results. Will they get skittish (and it never takes much to get the Dems quaking) or will they look at the results as half empty/half full? They may have lost the two gubernatorial races but they picked up two seats in the House. Along with a win the NY 23rd District they also picked up a seat in California’s 10th with Lt. Gov. John Garamendi’s win.
To paraphrase a recent election slogan: Spin, Baby, Spin!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $748 million, impacting more than 2.16 million direct beneficiaries.
More than 1200 crew worldwide, representing more than 40 nations are joined each year by 2000 short-term volunteers. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort.
Paltalk News Network political correspondent Alan Jasie helped breakdown elections today in three states. Races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey and a special congressional election in New York state.
Monday, November 2, 2009
News Talk Online November 2, 2009: Abdullah Exit, Karzai Declaration, Provide An Opportunity Obama May Miss
Paltalk News Network
Administration officials are now saying that the announcement by contender Abdullah Abdullah to sit out Afghanistan's runoff presidential election won't affect President Obama's policy decisions. But should the White House really so quickly dismiss the significance of Abullah's decision?
It's been generally accepted, including by General Stanley McChrystal who has requested more troops, that the mission, whatever it is, is doomed for failure without a legitimate, corruption-free government in place.
The election that forced the runoff was fraught with fraud. Abullah withdrew because he was not convinced that the runoff would be anymore fair. The nation's election commission has now declared incumbent Hamid Harzai the winner and has canceled the runoff. This is all, however, causing qustions about the legitimacy of Karzai's election.
Abullah's withdrawal and the unilateral declaration of Karzai's election provide Obama ample opportunity to re-evaluate the war. It's true that he inherited this action. But it's also true that he has said that Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, is the right place to be.
Most Americans would probably agree - assuming that the mission is to get those responsible for the September 11 attacks. But they might not be so quick to support the war if the mission is to protect the Karzai government.
But the administration is signaling otherwise. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has declared that the United States will continue to work with Karzai. Something that those who question the evolved mission, may see as missing an opportunity to get out.