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Archive for April, 2011

Posted by DownWithTyranny on April 3rd, 2011

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Some people say political conservatism is just a cover for those who want to fuck you. I hate to be vulgar, but they’re correct. That means they want to take what is yours, generally your wealth. If you have no wealth to speak of, they’ll be happy to take your children and fuck them instead. You probably heard about conservative (also married with kids, of course) Iowa pastor Brent Girouex who had hundreds of sexual contacts with underage boys.

In February, Girouex told Council Bluffs police detectives that he had sexual contact with four young men starting in 2007 in order to help them gain “sexual purity in the eyes of God.”

But Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber told the Nonpareil that at least eight men have come forward with complaints that Girouex molested them.

Court documents indicated Girouex told investigators the most sexual contact he had was with one teen over a four-year period, starting when the boy was 14 years old. Calling the contact “mutual,” he said it had occurred between “25 and 50 times” during that period.

When investigators spoke to the teen, who’s now an adult, he told them the number was between 50 and 100.

Three other young men who were teenagers when the incidents occurred told investigators the sex occurred at Girouex’s home. All said they went to be helped with “sexual purity.”

“When they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind,” Girouex allegedly told detectives.

Wilber said investigators are following leads to see if there are more victims. Girouex is currently free on $30,000 bond.

And we’re not even talking about Catholics here! Oh, the deranged Republican Majority Leader of New Hampshire’s, D.J. Bettencourt, a college drop-out and former Mitt Romney aide, who’s represented Rockingham since 2004, is. A Catholic himself– as well as a member of right-wing groups like the Federalist Society, Edmund Burke Society and the Liberty Caucus– called the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester, John McCormack, a “pedophile pimp” who should have been led from the Statehouse in handcuffs after speaking at a rally criticizing a state budget proposal and pointing out that Republicans had “neglected society’s obligation to care for the poor and vulnerable.”

Bettencourt, a leader of the extreme far right faction of New Hampshire Republicans, which is now firmly in control of that party, doubled down after he was asked by Gov. Lynch to play nice. “As a practicing Catholic it is truly disappointing that we would have a leader with a record of enabling such egregious and unacceptable behavior, “fumed Bettencourt on his Facebook page. He said it would be a great day for New Hampshire’ s 290,000 Catholics when Bishop McCormack retired “and we can bring new leadership to the church that is untainted by the abuses of our current bishop.” Equally hate-filled and extremist New Hampshire Speaker of the House William O’Brien said he shares Bettencourt’s feelings, but claims he would have phrased them more gracefully. The state GOP Chair, Jack Kimball, said he hadn’t spoken with Bettencourt yet, “but I am disappointed with his words, and I don’t share his sentiments.”

Alderman Garth Corriveau, also a Catholic, called on Bettencourt to resign. He said it was wrong of him to “savage the leader of our church and good works that our church does, particularly on behalf of the poor. It goes way beyond common decency. I was shocked.”

So were UN workers in Mazar-i-Sharif last week– after Friday prayers, directly after Friday prayers– when hundreds of enraged religionists headed for UN headquarters and slaughtered 20 of them.

The assault occurred during a protest by local Muslims against the insane act– repeatedly condemned by Christians in Pakistan and India– of pastor Wayne Sapp, who last March 20 in Florida burned a Koran under the supervision the evangelical preacher Terry Jones. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has described the attack as “outrageous and cowardly.”

On Saturday at least five people have been killed in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, on a second day of violent protests over the burning of a Koran. Hundreds of people took part in the protest; gunfire was heard and cars were set on fire.    
 
Yesterday at least eight foreigners died in the attack on the UN complex in Mazar-i-Sharif, including four Nepalis. Three UN workers were killed, along with five demonstrators at least 20 wounded, but the toll is still provisional. Mixed with the crowd there were groups of people armed with pistols and rifles. Police have arrested 27 people.

…Meanwhile, controversy mounts around the U.S. Pastor Terry Jones, who with his mad gesture has sparked the ire of the Islamic community. In Pakistan in recent days there have been three attacks on Christian churches, which have also caused the deaths of two faithful. Catholic leaders in Pakistan have repeatedly wanted to distance themselves from the American evangelical preacher, stressing that “Christians are born in Pakistan and have no ties with the United States.” Pastor Jones denies responsibility in the attack against the UN headquarters in Afghanistan, but there is a clear link between the burning of the Koran and the war launched by fundamentalists against Christians and objectives considered “close” to the West.

Pastor Jones, a hate monger who should have been removed from society when he publicly threatened to do this last year, says he has no regrets that his bigotry and hatred have caused so many deaths. What religionist has ever had any regrets about sending masses of humans to the Lord?

The notorious preacher who last month oversaw the burning of a copy of the Qur’an in his Florida church after a mock hearing said anyone blaming him for provoking the mob who killed UN workers was “only making a justification” for murder. Pastor Terry Jones insisted last night that his actions bore no responsibility for the murders in Mazar-e-Sharif.

“We find it very tragic any time that someone is murdered but we do not feel any responsibility for that,” he said. “It definitely does indicate that there is a very radical element of Islam. We’d like to see the president of the United States not only condemn these actions but to call on the UN for these people and Muslim-dominated countries to be held accountable.”

He also said he may put the Prophet Muhammad on trial in his next “day of judgment.” “It is definitely a consideration to stage a trial on the life of Muhammad in the future,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Jones will come under further intense pressure not to follow through with his suggestion. But despite interventions by President Barack Obama, the US defense secretary, Robert Gates, and General David Petraeus, commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan who warned that such a stunt would endanger US lives, Jones went ahead with his “punishment” of the Qur’an last month.

Despite being mostly ignored at the time by the mainstream media, what came next has sent shockwaves around the world, setting off a wave of violence in Afghanistan that on Friday rocked the United Nations mission there and on Saturday led to more fatal riots.

In the age of the internet and social media, the absence of mainstream coverage was not a problem for Jones and his tiny Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainsville, Florida. After it took place on 20 March, the pastor’s fiery punishment for the Qur’an would be streamed live over the internet and preserved via YouTube.

Pictures of the event would be posted on the Facebook page of Jones’s new organisation, Stand Up America, which aims to promote his anti-Muslim actions. With the power of the web at his hands, he did not need media coverage to help him create a global crisis. He could do it all by himself.

After soaking the Qur’an in kerosene, an oven lighter was put to its pages. The book instantly caught fire. That act– which has provoked anger and revulsion across the world– came at the end of the latest surreal stunt by Jones in his mission to garner headlines and attention for his anti-Islamic beliefs.

Now he appears determined to continue, despite the killings his actions have helped spark. On Good Friday, Jones and a local group called the Order of the Dragon will protest outside the Islamic Centre of America in Dearborn, Michigan, which has a large Muslim population. Jones has described it as the “Mecca of America.” Local religious leaders want Jones to stay away.

On the lawn in front of Jones’s church three signs have been put up that read: “Islam is of the Devil.” Thankfully, a passing do-gooder appears to have vandalised them, scrawling over the hate speech a new message that stated more helpfully: “Love all men.”

Funny, when I started writing this post, it was about the anniversary of the end of the dreaded Hays Code (AKA- the Motion Picture Production Code), which came about when a Supreme Court nearly as wrong-headed and right-wing as the one we have now ruled– unanimously– that Freedom of Speech does not extend to motion pictures (1915). That was a set of censorship guide lines that ruled American film production between 1930 and 1968, spelling out what was and what was not acceptable in U.S. films and TV. Will Hays was a Presbeteryan Elder (as well as a former RNC Chairman and Warren Harding’s Postmaster General) who was supposed to watch out for the shady Jews who ran Hollywood in the 1920s.

At the time it wasn’t as well-known that Jesuit priests tend to be mentally deranged child molesters and one of them, Daniel Lord, came up with a list of moral guidelines acceptable to religious fanatics that he– and Hays– insisted be followed, including a ban on all interracial love, all mentions of homosexuality, all ant-Nazi films (until the war began), and an insistence that all criminality and any sex out of wedlock always be put in a negative and unsympathetic light. At the same time, authority figures had to be treated with respect, and the clergy could not be portrayed as comic characters or villains. Abbot and Costello mentioned the Hays Office in this classic 1942 Warner Bros cartoon A Tale Of Two Kitties.

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Posted by Peace Action West on April 2nd, 2011

From our partners at Peace Action West

In 2009, when the president granted the Pentagon’s request for a surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, he pledged to the American people to begin a withdrawal from this unpopular war in July of 2011. Now, that the deadline is approaching, if the Pentagon could have its way, that withdrawal would be insignificant.

That’s clearer than ever, according to yesterday’s Washington Post story covering the heated debate between the war’s civilian and military leadership. [emphasis mine]

Although Obama approved a 30,000-troop increase sought by the military in 2009, he made clear that the surge forces would begin returning home by July 2011. But the pace of that reduction has been in dispute since the president’s surge announcement, with Defense Department officials describing the initial reductions as minor and some of Obama’s other advisers, including Vice President Biden, saying the pullout would be as rapid as the deployment of the surge troops.

Petraeus has said that he will give the president a range of withdrawal options, one of which he will recommend.

Two senior military officials said one set of options being developed by staff officers in Kabul involves three choices: the removal of almost no forces; the withdrawal of a few thousand support personnel, including headquarters staff, engineers and logisticians; and the pullout of a brigade’s worth of troops — about 5,000 personnel— by culling a battalion of Marines in Helmand province that was added after the surge, a contingent of soldiers training Afghan security forces and an Army infantry battalion in either the country’s east or far west.

The officers said Petraeus had not approved the list. They said they expected that a version of the support-personnel withdrawal, perhaps with some combat forces added to the mix, would be the most likely recommendation.

“Our hope is that we’ll be able to get away with no combat troops getting pulled out this summer,” one of the officers said. “But we recognize that may not be possible.”

Today’s news about the massive crowd that attacked UN offices in Northern Afghanistan, in which 7 or 8 of the UN’s staff and 4 protesters were brutally killed, says plenty about how well the surge has worked in stabilizing the country. The despicable Koran burning in Florida, which took place on Sunday, was the matchstick that ignited an uprising of an estimated 20,000 to swarm the UN offices in Mazar-i-Sharif — a town characterized in the New York Times’ coverage as “one of the most peaceful places in Afghanistan.”

And this war has been costing us dearly here at home. In the 5 minutes or so it takes you to read this blog post, we will have spent another $1 million on the war in Afghanistan. $2 million if you take your time. If you’re doing the math, that comes to $300 million we spend on the war EACH DAY – enough to hire 4400 teachers for one year. Meanwhile, Congress is trying to balance the budget by waging war on domestic spending, slashing programs no matter how insignificant the savings.

And these arguments are being felt in the White House, as they eye poll numbers and grapple with the crippling costs of the war. From the same Washington Post article:

An opening shot in that debate could play out over the next few weeks as the White House considers a request from Petraeus to expand the size of the Afghan army and police force from a total of 305,000 to 378,000.

Military officials contend that the Afghan government needs a larger security service to help stave off the Taliban and assume responsibility from coalition forces. But National Security Council officials have suggested that Afghanistan might not really require such a large army and police force, and that perhaps new village-defense squads could make up some of the difference. The officials also question whether there would be enough U.S. and NATO forces to mentor such a large Afghan force.

The most significant issue is the price tag. Increasing the Afghan security forces to 378,000 could cost as much as $8 billion a year. Much of that would have to be paid for by the United States.

“That’s a huge bill,” the senior official said. “In this fiscal environment, think of what we could do at home with $8 billion.”

It’s clear that there is a window of opportunity — that starts now and ends in July — to counter the Pentagon’s influence and ensure that the July withdrawal is a genuine start to the end of the war. We’re doing everything we can to take advantage of this opportunity, and we need your help. Our work is 98 percent funded by regular folks like you. Click here to pitch in what you can. Thank you!

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Posted by Newshoggers.com on April 1st, 2011

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

In the Guardian today, Peter Singer breaks down the price of a life in Afghanistan.

Most just say that an Afghan life is worth the same as a British life, because all human lives are of equal value. Isn't that what we all believe?

The Ministry of Defence has been paying compensation to Afghans for accidentally killing their children, their brothers and sisters, or their parents, during the fighting in Afghanistan… in no case was more than $8,000 (about £5,000), paid for the loss of a single life.

Now let's take a look at the value of a British life. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice)… recommends that the NHS pay up to four times as much to extend the life of a British citizen by just one year, as the MoD is prepared to pay in compensation for killing a child or young person. That young person could – even allowing for Afghanistan's dismal life expectancy – expect to live another 40 reasonably good-quality years. That suggests an answer to the question with which I started: it takes about 4 x 40, or 160 Afghan lives, to be worth the same as one British life.

But that would not be the right answer, because £5,000 will buy much more in Afghanistan than it would buy in Britain – according to international price comparisons, perhaps four or five times as much. Let's say five times. Even with that adjustment, it is going to take 32 Afghan lives to be worth the same as one British life.

There is nothing unique about Britain in this respect. The Guardian has reported that the US generally pays no more than $2,500 in compensation for the loss of an Afghan life. In contrast, after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the US government set up a Victim Compensation Fund. The average payment it made to families of victims was $1.8m. Adjusting for purchasing power at a 5:1 ratio suggest that the US regards the life of an American as equivalent to the lives of 144 Afghans.

That is all kinds of fucked up. But its even more fucked up to consider that in America at present the government continues Bush's penchant for giving money to the super rich, with the top 0.13% of the population making as much from those tax breaks as the bottom 90%. That means that one rich American is worth about 693 poor Americans – or 9972 Afghans.

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Posted by The Agonist on April 1st, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

April 1

BBCBBCAt least eight people have been killed in Afghanistan during an attack on a UN compound in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, officials say.

The violence occurred during a protest over the burning of the Koran by a pastor in a US church last month.

The protesters in Mazar-e Sharif shouted “Death to the USA, Death to Israel” after Friday prayers, and went on to attack the UN compound.

Some reports say foreign workers were among those killed.

Mob kills 8 U.N. workers in Afghanistan:
Officials say a crowd of up to 1,000 people attacked the United Nations compound in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing eight guards believed to be from the Philippines.
~ LA Times

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