Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today's News NJ Book of the Month: Wavering Between Extremes

One Man's Pursuit of the American Dream

Authored by Herman Garner When Herman Garner set out to tell the story of his life, he was preparing to graduate from law school. Basking in his own glory, he thought he would get to tell an extraordinary story about a little Black boy who used his own strength and intelligence to overcome poverty, capture the heart of the woman he loved and have the career of his dreams. But his plan was shattered when the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested him for allegedly conspiring to sell a few kilograms of cocaine. In this suspenseful memoir, Wavering Between Extremes, Herman shares the intimate and often action filled details of his quest to live the American Dream.

To Buy Goto:

LeBron James Dunks Hard to Prove Andre Iguodala Wrong

The Miami Heat beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday evening 111-99 outscoring them 34-17 in the 4th quarter. Though the final score was important, the real story was LeBron James responding to Andre Iguodala’s comment before the game.

Ethan J. Skolnick of The Palm Beach Post says that before the game Iggy described a change in LeBron’s game. “He doesn’t expend too much energy trying to dunk on guys,” Iguodala explained. “He makes the easy play now. He doesn’t go down the lane and windmill in the halfcourt set, or backwards dunk it. It’s just kind of just get the finish. It’s kind of like he’s preserving his body for the long haul.”

Those comments seemed to be a fair observation and LeBron didn’t dispute them when asked to respond before the game. However, LeBron did promise to show Iguodala his comments weren’t going to be accurate Friday night. And he did just that. LeBron got some nice dunks including this awesome alley-oop throwdown from Dwyane Wade:

I know there’s two cliches that would fit in quite well here. Something about Superman’s cape and sleeping dogs. Iguodala shouldn’t have tugged or awakened, not necessarily in that order.

By Larry Brown

al-Queda...Hidden In Plain View

It’s hidden in plain view. We, the United States of America, are once again backing our alleged boogeyman, al-Queda, this time in Libya. One thing you need to know about this Telegraph story is that the Derna region has been a hotbed for al-Queda recruitment…
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited “around 25″ men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are “today are on the front lines in Adjabiya”.
Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but added that the “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.
His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, “including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries”.
Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against “the foreign invasion” in Afghanistan, before being “captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan”. He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.
So, a mainstream media outlet is reporting that rebel leader al-Hasidi…

…is or, at least, was…al-Queda and that he’s recruiting al-Queda to fight in Libya and that arms for the fight were procured by al-Queda. Hidden in plain view. Yet, not being widely discussed or reported.
And, that’s the way it’s been all along with al-Queda. Go back to the roots; it’s not widely reported or discussed. But, the stuff can be found. From Bill Moyers at PBS…
After Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union, the Afghan Islamist extremists found a rallying call for their cause, as young Muslims from around the world came to Afghanistan to volunteer in what was being called a “holy war,” or jihad, against the invading Soviets. One of these young Muslims was a 23 year old from Saudi Arabia named “Usama” bin Ladin…
…With Saudi Arabia and the United States pouring in billions of dollars worth of secret assistance to rebels in Afghanistan, the jihad against the Soviets was constantly gaining momentum.
So, from the start al-Queda was propped up by the U.S.A. and Saudi Arabia.
Here’s another bit from a story in the Atlantic today…
On December 6, 1984, as the U.S. increased its funding to anti-Soviet Afghan rebels to tens of millions of dollars in weapons and supplies, CIA Director William Casey wrote in a classified memo, “Unless U.S. policy is redesigned to achieve a broader attack on Soviet vulnerabilities it cannot restore independence to Afghanistan.” The next year, he got a quarter of a billion dollars, all quietly siphoned out of leftover Pentagon budgets by secret Congressional authorization. In the search to spend that money, a CIA officer wrote in another classified memo, “analytically, the best fighters — the best organized fighters — were the fundamentalists.” The memo concluded that the best such fundamentalist fighter and target for U.S. funding was one Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a brutal mujahideen commander who would later join the Taliban, with which he is still battling the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan.
So, the Taliban and al-Queda play duel roles, alternating between boogeyman and doing our dirty work. And, they are simultaneously doing both right now. It’s not a left vs. right issue because, it’s spanned the administrations going back to the 80s.

And for some reason, it’s not the big topic of the Libya war…kinetic military action.

US Troops join Al Qaeda, Rebels in Libya

Libya pray

Our boys fighting alongside Al Qaeda jihadists and Libyan rebels. Are they forced to pray too? You know, Obama demands that we show respect. Just how far, O?

I called this it -- last week. I said this is what was happening. Drudge has it today, a week after Geller.
WTF are we doing in Libya, and why is the media aiding and abetting a military invasion to install Islamic fundamentalism, destroyer and annihilationist of the West? March 19th, Atlas wrote: President Hussein Backs Al Qaeda in Libya
Obama: Consistently Anti-American

The only revolution that was a genuine fight for life, liberty, and freedom was Iran, and Obama ignored it. Hussein sat back and watched Neda and thousands of others slaughtered. He backed the mullocracy. He will always be remembered for that, especially after the coming catastrophe.
The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America
Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
By Praveen Swami, Nick Squires and Duncan Gardham 5:00PM GMT 25 Mar 2011
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited "around 25" men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are "today are on the front lines in Adjabiya".
Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader".
His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, "including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries".
Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, before being "captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan". He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.
US and British government sources said Mr al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which killed dozens of Libyan troops in guerrilla attacks around Derna and Benghazi in 1995 and 1996.

Frank Lautenberg: “Republicans…Don’t Deserve The Freedoms That Are In The Constitution”

Written By : John Hawkins

One of the Left’s favorite tricks is to completely sidestep arguments that are made by attacking motivations. It works like so,
Republican: There’s a hole in the side of the boat! We’ve got to fix it before we sink!
Democrat: Yes, I agree, but you’re just saying that because you’re racist!
Republican: Ok, so what we’ll do is….wait, what?
Democrat: Racist!
Republican: Ok, so you think I’m a racist. Can we fix the hole anyway? You agreed that we need to fix it!
Democrat: I think instead of doing that, we need to talk about your hatred of black people!
This continues on indefinitely, until the boat sinks.
It’s no different with the budget. On the one hand, Democrats will agree that the size of the deficit is unsustainable. But, when it’s time to do something, we hear nonsense like this from Frank Lautenberg instead:
… The Republicans in Congress claim they’re concerned about the budget balance, but it’s a disguise! It’s not true! It’s a lie! That’s not what they want. They want — they want other people not to be able to have their own opinions. They don’t deserve the freedoms that are in the Constitution! But we’ll give it to them anyway.
See? Balancing the budget isn’t REALLY about balancing the budget, it’s about (insert ridiculous motivation Democrats have made up here); so let’s insult them and talk about that instead of doing anything.
Just as a side note, you don’t “give” us the freedoms in the Constitution, Frank Lautenberg. They don’t belong to you, you don’t get to dole them out as you see fit, and if you’re confused about that, we will be happy to educate you on the topic.
VN:F [1.9.7_1111]

Fox News Freaks Out Over GE’s Taxes

The New York Times published a disturbing article yesterday about how giant, multinational corporations are robbing the U.S. treasury (and people) by exploit tax loopholes and the political clout to obtain them. The marquee revelation in the article is that General Electric, who made $14 billion dollars worldwide last year ($5 billion domestically), paid ZERO dollars in taxes.
“Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. [...]
Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less. [...]
Such strategies, as well as changes in tax laws that encouraged some businesses and professionals to file as individuals, have pushed down the corporate share of the nation’s tax receipts – from 30 percent of all federal revenue in the mid-1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.”
This really doesn’t qualify as a press-stopping scoop. The trend toward corporate domination of our nation’s economy and politics has been evident for decades. Their success in wrangling beneficial treatment from Congress and the courts (i.e. Citizens United) through adept distribution of cash and favors has been decried in liberal circles repeatedly. But the effect of that criticism was itself suppressed by more corporate cash raining down on Tea Partiers, who have been exploited by AstroTurf inventions like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, to demonstrate against their own interests. Thanks, Koch brothers.

Nevertheless, it is good to see a mainstream media source shining a light on this repugnant unfairness orchestrated by wealthy special interests and their benefactors. However, there is a surreal quality to the reaction in the press to this article. Right-wing politicians and pundits are suddenly praising the Times for outing GE. Ordinarily they regard the Times as irremediably biased and unreadable, but if they are attacking another of the right’s favorite foes they are considered sufficiently rehabilitated and trustworthy.
The most surreal response to this is the one emanating from Fox News. They have glommed unto this story like a shark on virgin surfer.


There were several reports on their daytime broadcasts. It was featured on their Fox Nation web site. And Bill O’Reilly devoted a segment to it complete with his trademark bluster and animosity toward his long-time nemesis GE and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, whom he has called “a despicable human being.”
O’Reilly: Last year General Electric made 14 billion in profit worldwide, including $5 billion in profit in the USA. Yet General Electric paid zero – nothing – in taxes to the feds. As you know GE boss Jeffrey Immelt – big supporter of President Obama, and vice versa. [video] So the question is how could GE pay absolutely nothing to the government, and how could I get that deal?
Unsaid in all of this is that Fox News’ parent company, News Corp, did get that deal. As I reported earlier this week, there was another Times article a few years ago that revealed that…
“By taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows expanding companies like Mr. Murdoch’s to defer taxes to future years, the News Corporation paid no federal taxes in two of the last four years, and in the other two it paid only a fraction of what it otherwise would have owed. During that time, Securities and Exchange Commission records show, the News Corporation’s domestic pretax profits topped $9.4 billion.”
So the company that employs O’Reilly is banking almost twice the domestic profits of GE and paying nothing in taxes, yet they are the ones throwing tantrums and lobbing insults. This is the sort of behavior for which the word hypocrisy was coined.

I have no problem with Fox flogging GE over this issue, which is an important one that involves many more corporate scoundrels and deserves more attention. But it would have been nice if they could have at least acknowledged that they are engaging in the very same tax shenanigans as GE. However that would have required them to be an honest news provider, which is contrary to their mission.

Posted by Mark

Syrian Troops Attack Protesters As Violence Erupts Throughout Country, 200 Arrested

Damascus (AP) – Syrian activists say security troops have stormed a protest sit-in near the capital Damascus, arresting about 200 people in the midnight raid after violence erupted in the country the day prior.
The activists say up to 4,000 people were demonstrating in the town of Douma near Damascus when, around midnight Friday, electricity was cut and the protesters came under attack. The activists spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals.

The raid capped a day of a relentless government crackdowns on protesters across Syria as one of Mideast’s most repressive regimes sought to quell demonstrations that exploded nationwide demanding reform.

Read more:

New York Times:
CAIRO — Military troops opened fire during protests in the southern part of Syria on Friday and killed peaceful demonstrators, according to witnesses and news reports, hurtling the strategically important nation along the same trajectory that has altered the landscape of power across the Arab world.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a and in other cities and towns around the nation took to the streets in protest, defying a state that has once again demonstrated its willingness to use lethal force.

It was the most serious challenge to 40 years of repressive rule by the Assad family since 1982, when the president at the time, Hafez al-Assad, massacred at least 10,000 protesters in Hama, a city in northern Syria.
Human rights groups said that since protests began seven days ago in the south, 38 people had been killed by government forces — and it appeared that many more were killed on Friday. Precise details were hard to obtain because the government sealed off the area to reporters and would not let foreign news media into the country.

“Syria’s security forces are showing the same cruel disregard for protesters’ lives as their counterparts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

The new round of protests and bloodshed came one day after the Syrian government tried to appease an increasingly angry popular revolt with talk of improved political freedoms and promises of restraint.
Instead, it unleashed its forces, firing on peaceful demonstrators in and near Dara’a, according to a witness. There were reports of security forces firing on civilians in cities around the country, as well. For the first time since the protests began, crowds called for the downfall of the government and in one instance tore down a billboard-size photo of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

Ahmed Sayasna, the imam of the Omari mosque in Dara’a, said the violence began after crowds set a fire under a statue of former President Hafez al-Assad, the current president’s father. Speaking by telephone, Mr. Sayasna said thousands of people gathered near the statue after Friday Prayer when officers from Syria’s central security forces lobbed tear gas canisters and opened fire with live ammunition. He said about 20 people were killed, and many more wounded.

In Sanamayn, a city of 27,000 people about 40 miles north of Dara’a, a video posted on YouTube showed at least seven bloodied bodies lying on stretchers, at least three clearly with gunshot wounds. Mr. Sayasna said 10 to 15 people were killed there, while residents told The Associated Press that as many as 20 people had been killed. These figures could not be independently confirmed. In the capital, Damascus, several hundred protesters tried to rally, but were quickly dispersed by security forces as pro-government supporters took to the streets honking car horns and waving photographs of President Assad. In the city’s majestic Umayyad mosque, some men rose from prayer shouting “God, Syria and freedom only” — a counterpoint to the chants of pro-government supporters. There were also reports of troops firing on demonstrators in the suburbs of Damascus.

In Latakia, President Assad’s hometown, two people died as protesters faced off against pro-government supporters, a witness said. A video posted on YouTube shows the body of a young man with a bullet wound being carried by protesters. There were reports of scattered protests and scores of arrests in several other cities.

On Thursday, a longtime minister and adviser to the president, Bouthaina Shaaban, appeared to edge close to an apology for the deaths, insisting that the president had ordered security forces not to fire. Ms. Shaaban then laid out what she framed as concessions, saying that the government promised to consider lifting a state of emergency in place for decades and would consider more political freedoms — offerings that were dismissed out of hand by the public because they had been put forth before, in 2005, and never carried out.
President Assad “doesn’t want the bloodshed at all, and I witnessed his directives on not using live bullets whatever the circumstances as he is keen on every citizen,” Ms. Shaaban said.

“This doesn’t mean that there are no mistakes or practices which were not unsatisfactory and not up to the required level,” she said.

Less than 24 hours later, witnesses reported that live fire was again turned on unarmed protesters.
“This is exactly what has been happening around the Arab world,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, a Syrian opposition activist who is living in self-imposed exiled in the United Arab Emirates. “Sixty percent of Syrian society is less than 24 years old, and they want to be part of drawing and designing their future.”

Posted By Pat Dollard