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Friday, July 4, 2008

Round-up: News on President Bush, the GWOT, politics, and Londonistan!

News on President Bush:

President Bush Attends Groundbreaking for New US Military Medical Facility
The U.S. military is about to begin construction on a new state-of-the-art medical facility in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports President Bush officiated at the official ground-breaking ceremony.

The Army is shutting down its aging Walter Reed Hospital in the nation's capital - a historic facility that in recent months has been criticized for providing poor living conditions for wounded troops.

A major effort is underway to correct flaws at the aging Army medical center. But this is only a short term solution. Walter Reed is getting a new home.

Photos courtest of The White House

"I am so excited to be here for what is a grand occasion. This is a big deal, the breaking ground of a new joint medical facility for the men and women of our Armed Forces" said President Bush.

President Bush says this new facility that is to be completed by 2011, will provide state-of-the art care to all branches of the military by merging Walter Reed with the Navy's premier medical facility - Bethesda Naval Hospital.

The expanded compound will take on the Walter Reed name, and a new medical treatment, teaching, and research center will join the existing hospital on the Bethesda grounds. It will include a four-story in-patient building and a six-story out-patient building.

President Bush keeps his cool at Monticello

Crowd boos Code Pink protesters, applauds President GWB! Best part of the vid? When a woman tells one of the protesters to shut up and sit down! lol!

President Bush welcomes new citizens
Mary Patricia McFadyen, a native of Scotland, stepped up to the microphone just moments after being sworn in as an American citizen and thanked her friends and neighbors.

But, she added, President Bush was also a powerful influence in her decision.

“Mr. President, I’d like to thank you for inspiring me to complete this process,” she said. “Without you, this day may have never come.”

For new citizens like McFadyen, it seemed especially fitting that the president honored 72 new citizens and reflected on Thomas Jefferson’s legacy during the 46th annual Independence Day and Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello.

Pictures of President Bush at Monticello, courtesy of Free Republic

...Hataw Saadi Taha, who fled the northern region of Iraq 11 years ago, said she wanted to become an American citizen because the United States was the first country that accepted her after leaving the rule of Saddam Hussein.

“I am very proud of my new country,” Taha said. “Especially on the Fourth of July.”

Taha told Bush that she wants to see an end to the violence in her homeland.

“Mr. President, I need peace to my country.”

Taha said she disliked the protesters who tried to disrupt Bush’s speech at the ceremony.

“Everybody can have their own speech,” she said. “But I didn’t like it at all, especially for today.”

Global War on Terror:

Afghan Army kills 25 Taliban Terrorists
The Afghan National Army killed 25 Taliban fighters after being ambushed and fighting a 10-hour battle in the northwestern province of Badghis. The attack in Badghis is the latest in a series of Taliban attempts to rout Afghan forces and overrun district centers and forward operating bases.

"At least 25 Taliban were killed and many were wounded in several hours of fighting after the Taliban attacked our troops," Mohammad Ayob Niazyar, the Badghis provincial police chief told AFP.

Afghan troops repelled the Taliban ambush in the district of Muqur, which borders Iran. Afghan police and Spanish soldiers operating in the area provided backup for the Afghan soldiers and routed the company-sized Taliban force. "Twelve bodies of militants were left on the field and many others were wounded during the fight," according to The Associated Press. No Afghan or Spanish casualties were reported.

Analysis: Sadr movement, Mahdi Army shrink under pressure
Over the space of several days in early June, Muqtada al Sadr has issued two consequential orders that will affect the future of his movement and that of Iraq. Sadr has ordered the reorganization of his infamous Mahdi Army and has forbidden the Sadrist movement from participating in the upcoming provincial elections.

Sadr’s first declaration addressed the organization and operations of the Mahdi Army, the military arm of the Sadrist movement. Sadr ordered his militiamen to halt the fighting and announced that a small, specialized unit will have the exclusive right to fight the “occupier.” The unit, ironically called the “special groups,” is forbidden to attack Iraqi security forces or government officials.

Indonesia breaks-up terror cell
Indonesia’s elite anti-terror squad, Detachment 88, broke up a suspected terror cell on July 1 in south Sumatra and, according to local press reports, may have captured terror fugitive Mas Slamet Kastari.

The terror cell, according to Indonesian intelligence expert Dyno Cresbon in an interview with Tribun Batam, was being watched for over a year and had just begun to practice building bombs. “Noordin M. Top,” he said, “after witnessing the disruption of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) cells in Java and the death of (bomb maker) Dr. Azahari in Malang, began going after new cadre outside of Java. He decided to move his efforts to the Mantiqi II area in order to spawn the birth of a new generation of JI.”

The geographic structure of JI is built upon regional commands called “Mantiqi.” Mantiqi II covers Singapore, Malaysia and Sumatra.

Tuesday’s raids in Palembang netted a total of 9 suspects, Tempo Interaktif reports. Other reports put the total at 7 suspects.

According to Detik News, the raids began after the arrest in of an English teacher from Semarang, Central Java, who also has a Singaporean work permit. He led investigators to a rented house in the Kecamatan Ilir section of Palembang where a cache of weapons and bombmaking materials were discovered. The cache included 50 kg TNT, 10 guns, 4 fully assembled bombs, plastics, plaster, cabling and various electronic devices.

Ethiopia Says Troops Killed 71 Islamists in Somalia

Ethiopia says its forces have killed 71 Islamist fighters and leaders in Somalia in a joint operation with the Somali government.

State media Friday say the joint operation was launched June 29 to stop what it called a "planned terrorist offensive" in the Meteban and Gura'el areas.

The reports say 13 of those killed were leaders of Somalia's Islamic Courts Union or the al-Shabab militant group. They say one of those killed was a Canadian colonel whose name is on a list of international terrorists.

Reuters news agency quotes Sheikh Abdirahim Issa Adow, an Islamist spokesman, as saying only seven fighters were killed and nine others wounded in the clashes. The spokesman also denied the insurgents had a Canadian colonel in their ranks.


John McCain's speech on National Security
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain delivered the following remarks as prepared for delivery at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, today at 10:00 a.m. MDT (12:00 p.m. EDT):

For much of our history, the world considered the United States a young country. Today, we are the world's oldest constitutional democracy, yet we remain a young nation. We still possess the attributes of youth -- spirit, energy, vitality, and creativity. America will always be young as long as we are looking forward, and leading, to a better world.

Innovative and energetic American leadership is as vital to the world's future today as it was during the Cold War. I have spent my life in public service working to ensure our great nation is strong enough to counter those who wish us ill. To be an effective leader in the 21st century, however, it is not enough to be strong. We must be a model for others. That means not only pursuing our own interests but recognizing that we share interests with peoples across our planet. There is such a thing as good international citizenship, and America must be a good citizen of the world—leading the way to address the danger of global warming and preserve our environment, strengthening existing international institutions and helping to build new ones, and engaging the world in a broad dialogue on the threat of violent extremists, who would, if they could, use weapons of mass destruction to attack us and our allies.

Pro-life black pastors wary of Obama
Conservative black pastors nationwide are caught between irreconcilable opposites - congregations that overwhelmingly favor Sen. Barack Obama versus their personal doubts about the Illinois Democrat's politics, particularly on abortion.

"It's a theological contradiction, from the Christian perspective, to be excited about Obama," said the Rev. Levon Yuille, pastor of the 100-member Bible Church in Ypsilanti, Mich. "Very few black pastors have problems supporting Obama because they are fixated on this race thing."

"The congregations are pro-Obama. My congregation is saying Obama is the lesser of two evils," said Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, a 3,000-member majority black congregation.

"When I say that on third-term abortions, Obama has no conscience, they say [Sen. John] McCain and [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton] weren't great examples of morality either."

The Rev. John W. Stephenson, pastor of Heirs Covenant Church, a 300-member church in West Chester, Ohio, said he has to "educate" his members regularly.

"People say, 'This is an opportunity that will never come again for our people,' " he said. "I say, 'Yes, we are African-Americans, but we are also Christians."

B. Hussein Obama's plan for the American people: SERFDOM
National service mandated by the state is what Europe had for centuries. It was called serfdom. For example, in France, citizens were required to perform public service building and repairing roads and other public projects for hundreds and thousands of hours a year. Serfdom wasn’t eliminated in France until the French revolution, one of the “liberty” parts of that revolution. It was largely the American revolution which inspired this escape from serfdom. Indeed, the American revolution was all about escaping from the European model of servitude, with the American’s insisting that even very moderate taxation without representation was a form of oppressive servitude. Incredibly, Barack Obama somehow believes that advocacy of a return to European style serfdom is a good way to celebrate the American Declaration of Independence from the oppression of English tyranny.

I especially liked this part of Obama’s speech:

when I’m President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you’ll have done 17 weeks of service. We’ll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we’ll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities.

Jesse Helms, former senator, dead at 86
Former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), a conservative icon who represented the Tarheel State in the Senate for 30 years, died early this morning at the age of 86.

Helms served in the Senate from 1972 to 2002, where he became a leading voice of the right wing of the Republican Party. Nicknamed “Senator No” by his many critics, Helms was a fierce anti-communist whose support for Ronald Reagan in 1976 proved a critical juncture in Reagan’s eventual rise to the Oval Office. To many on the right, it was Helms, not Reagan, who was the true heart of the conservative movement.

"I've had two heroes in my life: Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan," the late evangelical pastor Jerry Falwell said during a Sept. 2005 tribute to the former senator. Falwell said it was people like Helms who "prevented the country from going to hell in a handbasket.”

“Today we lost a senator whose stature in Congress had few equals,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Sen. Jesse Helms was a leading voice and courageous champion for the many causes he believed in.”

McCain’s TV biopic, reconsidered
“I’m voting for McCain ... but I gotta tell ya, I really like Obama.” So laughs Peter Markle, the director of the 2005 movie “Faith of My Fathers,” based on John McCain’s best-selling memoir. Markle, who has voted for Democrats and Republicans, said he’s choosing the Arizona senator this time around based on the personal connection the two forged during production of the movie about the senator’s Vietnam War POW experiences.

With all the attention currently being lavished on Oliver Stone and his upcoming feature film about President Bush, we thought it might be interesting to go back a few years to check out the McCain biopic.
Like the Freudian father-son-fest “W,” the McCain movie focused on the sometimes rocky, sometimes respectful relationship between a young ne’er-do-well and his old man, in this case McCain and his strict military dad, Jack. In the McCain flick, made for the A&E cable channel, actor Shawn Hatosy portrays the scrappy hero, while veteran character actor Scott Glenn (“The Right Stuff,” “The Silence of the Lambs”) plays his stoic dad. Ironically, Glenn also co-stars in “W” as former defense secretary (and real-life McCain bĂȘte noire) Donald Rumsfeld. Earlier, McCain had said that he hoped Robert Duvall might portray his father and Edward Norton would take on his role.

News in Londonistan:

Schoolboys punished with detention for refusing to kneel in class and pray to Allah
Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and 'pray to Allah' during a religious education lesson.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent - which included wearing Muslim headgear - was a breach of their human rights.

One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: "This isn't right, it's taking things too far.

"I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn't join in Muslim prayer.

"Making them pray to Allah, who isn't who they worship, is wrong and what got me is that they were told they were being disrespectful.

"I don't want this to look as if I have a problem with the school because I am generally very happy with it."

Another parent Karen Williams said: "I am absolutely furious my daughter was made to take part in it and I don't find it acceptable.

"I haven't got a problem with them teaching my child other religions and a small amount of information doesn't do any harm.

"But not only did they have to pray, the teacher had gone into the class and made them watch a short film and then said 'we are now going out to pray to Allah'.

"Then two boys got detention and all the other children missed their refreshment break because of the teacher.

"Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right.

"They'd never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language."

"My child has been forced to pray to Allah in a school lesson." The grandfather of one of the pupils in the class said: "It's absolutely disgusting, there's no other way of putting it.

"My daughter and a lot of other mothers are furious about their children being made to kneel on the floor and pray to Islam. If they didn't do it they were given detention.

"I am not racist, I've been friendly with an Indian for 30 years. I've also been to a Muslim wedding where it was explained to me that alcohol would not be served and I respected that.

"But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war."

Insanity: UK’s Top Judge Says Sharia Law Is Okay
The most senior judge in England tonight gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.

He declared: ‘It is possible in this country for those who are entering into a contractual agreement to agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.’

In his speech in an East London mosque Lord Phillips signalled approval of sharia principles as a means of settling disputes so long as no punishments that conflict with the established law are involved, and as long as divorces are made to comply with the civil law.

But his remarks - which give the green light from the highest judicial office to the informal sharia courts already operated by numerous mosques - provoked a storm of criticism.

Lawyers warned that family and marital disputes settled by sharia could leave women or vulnerable people at a serious disadvantage.

Tories said that equality under the law must be respected and warned that outcomes incompatible with English law should never be enforceable.

Lord Phillips spoke five months after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams surrounded himself in controversy with a lecture in which he suggested Islamic law could have official status and that it could govern marital law, financial transactions and arbitration in disputes.

The Lord Chief Justice said today of the Archbishop’s views: ‘It was not very radical to advocate embracing sharia law in the context of family disputes.’

He added that there was ‘widespread misunderstanding as to the nature of sharia law’.