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Archive for August, 2010

Twenty-one American troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Friday in one of the bloodiest periods of the summer.

By Ben Farmer, in Kabul, Telegraph co.uk, August 31, 2010

Afghanistan bomb attacks kill twenty-one US soldiers in 48 hours

A U.S. army medic runs to the scene of a road side bomb explosion in Kandahar province Photo: REUTERS

A series of bomb attacks have badly hit US troops in eastern and southern Afghanistan in the past 48 hours.

The death toll among in the Nato-led coalition has reached 484 this year and is predicted to far surpass 2009’s total of 521.

Deaths have risen consistently each year since 2001. Afghan police and civilians have suffered far higher casualties.

The coalition blames the rise in troop deaths partly on the influx of reinforcements, which is allowing commanders to target previously untouched insurgent safe havens where rebels are mounting stiff resistance.

Gen David Petraeus, senior US and Nato commander in the country, warned last week fighting would “get harder before it gets easier”.

In two of the most deadly recent incidents, three Americans died in eastern Afghanistan on one bomb attack on Tuesday. Five died in a single bomb attack in the south on Monday.

Military spokesmen would not say if the bombs hit vehicles or foot patrols.

Homemade bombs using old shells or homemade explosives and hidden in roads, tracks, walls, streams and buildings have become the Taliban’s favoured weapon.

Their use has sparked an arms race with foreign troops evolving tactics, or relying on more heavily armed vehicles and mine detectors to try and avoid them.

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New York Billionaires Behind The Tea Party Movement

Posted in Liberaland by Alan • August 23, 2010, 3:20 PMET

The myth of the tea party being a grassroots movement takes another hit, as the New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer looks a the Koch brothers, Charles and David, who fund much of the tea party movement (via Glynnis MacNichol).

The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

Mayer’s article discusses some ugly family roots. Father Fred did business with Stalin, but later came to regret it, and became  one of the original members of the John Birch Society.

He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

Mayer’s piece discusses the links between Fred’s views and those of his sons. Buried deep in the article  is an example of how money trumps everything. David Koch, a prostate cancer survivor, has given generously to cancer research.

Koch’s corporate and political roles, however, may pose conflicts of interest. For example, at the same time that David Koch has been casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a “known carcinogen” in humans.

SOURCE

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Koch Industries founded Americans for Prosperity, formed as a successor to Citizens for a Sound Economy. Fred Koch co-founded the John Birch Society. In the mid-1970s the Kochs started to fund a network of libertarian organizations including the United States Libertarian Party, for which David ran as the vice presidential nominee in 1980.[47][48] The Kochs withdrew their financial support of the Libertarian Party after an acrimonious 1983 convention,[49] but continue to support libertarian institutions independent of the party such as the Cato Institute, and more recently have been major contributers to the Tea Party movement.

To advance the work of the Republican Governors Association, Koch Industries made a $1 million donation to the group in 2010

WIKIPEDIA: MORE INFO ON THE KOCH BROTHERS

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Obama: Muslim Rumors Not A Concern (VIDEO)

Huff Post- First Posted: 08-29-10 09:56 PM   |   Updated: 08-29-10 09:57 PM

NEW ORLEANS (Associated Press) – President Barack Obama said Sunday he isn’t worried about a recent poll showing that nearly one-fifth of Americans believe he is a Muslim. “The facts are the facts,” said Obama, who is a Christian. In an interview broadcast on “NBC Nightly News,” the president blamed the confusion over his religious beliefs on “a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly.”

A poll released earlier this month by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center showed that 18 percent of people believe Obama is Muslim. That was up from 11 percent who said so in March 2009. Just 34 percent said Obama is Christian, down from 48 percent who said so last year.

“I’m not gonna be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there,” Obama said Sunday. “If I spend all my time chasing after that, then I wouldn’t get much done.”

Asked about persistent accusations that he wasn’t born in the United States, the president responded, “I can’t spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.”

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

MORE HERE

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Glenn Beck Regrets Calling Obama Racist: ‘I Have A Big, Fat Mouth’ (VIDEO)

Huff Post- First Posted: 08-30-10 12:30 AM   |   Updated: 08-30-10 12:33 AM

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, Glenn Beck gave his first interview after Saturday’s Restoring Honor rally in Washington, DC. While much of the conversation focused on the rally and religion, there were some answers that are bound to drive more water-cooler conversation on Monday.

Starting at the 10:40 mark in the interview, Wallace asked Beck if his claim that Obama is a racist destroyed Beck’s credibility in talking about “reclaiming the civil rights movement.”

Toward the end of a lengthy response, Beck said that he “miscast” Obama’s liberation theology as racism. Then things got more interesting. Vote on a selection of Becks’ comments and watch the full 25-minute interview below.

Wallace: “Do you regret having called [Obama] a racist and saying he had a deep seated hatred for white people?”

Beck: “Of course I do. I don’t want to retract the, um … I want to amend that I think it is much more of a theological question, that he is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor-and-victim. ‘Racist,’ first of all, it shouldn’t have been said. It was poorly said. I have a big fat mouth sometimes and I say things. That’s just not the way people should behave. And it was not accurate. It is liberation theology that has shaped his world view.”

VIDEO AND MORE HERE


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Biden Visits Iraq To Mark Formal End To U.S. Combat

LARA JAKES and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA | 08/30/10 11:22 AM | AP

BAGHDAD — Vice President Joe Biden returned to Iraq Monday to mark this week’s formal end to U.S. combat operations and push the country’s leaders to end a six-month postelection stalemate blocking formation of a new government.

Wednesday’s ceremony will signal a shift toward a greater U.S. diplomatic role as the military mission dwindles seven years after the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Underscoring the shift, officials said Biden will make a new appeal to Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to end the political deadlock and seat a new government. March 7 parliamentary elections left Iraq without a clear winner, and insurgents have exploited the uncertainty to hammer Iraqi security forces in near-daily attacks.

Biden and al-Maliki will meet Tuesday morning “to discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press.

It was the vice president’s sixth trip to Iraq since he was elected and, officially, he came to preside over a military change-of-command ceremony. On Wednesday, Gen. Ray Odierno ends more than five years in Iraq and hands over the reins as commander of U.S. forces here to Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin. Austin also has served extensively in Iraq, most recently as commander of troop operations in 2008-09.

But the Sept. 1 ceremony also marks the start of the so-called “Operation New Dawn” – symbolizing the beginning of the end of the American military’s mission in Iraq since invading in March 2003.

Just under 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq – down from a peak of nearly 170,000 at the height of the 2007 military surge that is credited with turning the tide in Iraq as it teetered on the brink of civil war. Additionally, U.S. troops no longer will be allowed to go on combat missions unless requested and accompanied by Iraqi forces.

MORE HERE

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Beck Blasts Obama’s ‘Perversion Of The Gospel,’ While Evangelicals Blast Beck’s ‘False Gospel’

Think Progress- By Faiz Shakir at 9:50 am

At his “Restoring Honor” rally, rodeo clown-turned-televangelist Glenn Beck told his flock, “America today begins to turn back to God. For too long, this country has wandered in darkness.” Beck “sounded like Billy Graham,” according to Rev. Richard Land, a prominent Southern Baptist leader.

The next day, on Fox News, Beck morphed his purportedly “non-political” message into a stinging political missive against Obama, claiming the President’s worldview was shaped by “Marxism disguised as religion.” Beck attacked Obama as “a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor-and-victim.” “People aren’t recognizing his version of Christianity,” Beck added:

“You see, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don’t know what that is, other than it’s not Muslim, it’s not Christian. It’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it,” Beck said.

Ironically, while Beck is casting stones to undermine Obama’s faith, his own faith is one that many Christians view as a “perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Beck, a converted Mormon who had been raised in a Catholic home, has been attacked by many evangelicals who say he is not a Christian “because of his Mormon beliefs.” In fact, via Christian Newswire, here’s a press release that one evangelical group sent out during Saturday’s Beck rally:

Glenn Beck promotes a false gospel. However, many of his political ideas can help America. … Mormonism is not a Christian denomination but a cult of Christianity. … Many endorse false gospels including Mormonism.

Brannon Howse, a conservative writer and founder of Worldview Weekend, said, “While I applaud and agree with many of Glenn Beck’s conservative and constitutional views, that does not give me or any other Bible-believing Christian justification to compromise Biblical truth by spiritually joining Beck.”

“Jesus Christ’s Church has universally rejected Mormonism’s Anti-Trinitarian theology and its claim that mortals may become God,” David Shedlock, an evangelical blogger, wrote on a FreedomWorks forum earlier this month. “Beck asks Christian leaders to ‘put differences aside,’ but Beck himself daily peppers his broadcasts with Mormon distinctives because he cannot keep his beliefs to himself.”

As ThinkProgress previously noted, “Glenn Beck often speaks about faith on his radio show and Fox News program, but he almost never mentions his own faith — Mormonism.” Bill Keller, the leader of the world’s largest interactive Christian website, said earlier this year, Beck “lies to people” by trying to portray himself as a Christian. “The fact is, the beliefs of the satanic Mormon cult are totally inconsistent with Biblical Christianity,” Keller said. It’s politically convenient for Beck to be attacking Obama’s religion, while rarely ever mentioning his own.

SOURCE

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Daily Kos- by Jed Lewison

Mon Aug 30, 2010 at 08:30:03 AM PDT

Experts hired by CBS say that Glenn Beck’s rally this weekend drew 87,000 people, plus or minus 9,000.

Glenn Beck, meanwhile, says the real total is somewhere between 300,000 and 600,000.

And not to be outdone, Michele Bachmann claims more than one million attended.

So who is right? Well, it’s an inexact science, but let’s take a look at numbers and make our best guess based on the available evidence.

For starters, let’s look at three images of the rally:

CBS/AirPhotosLIVE.com image taken at rally’s highpoint

CBS/AirPhotosLIVE.com image taken at rally’s highpoint

CBS/AirPhotosLIVE.com image taken at rally’s highpoint

From these photos we can see that virtually all of the crowd was situated along either side of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. There was a light smattering of people around the World War II Memorial at on the Washington Monument side of the pool and another collection of people just north of the stage off the western end of the pool.

(more…)

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