Something New
AUTHOR: Ray DATE: 2/26/2005 11:55:00 AM ----- BODY: On the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again. Drove from Raleigh south to the great small town of Raeford, N.C. , home of the Turkey festival, to visit a while with the in-laws, celebrate rug-rat birthdays and catch up on things.

Noticed one article this morning from Rantburg about a journalist killed in Mosul with coverage of the story from the BBC. Excerpt from the story:
Raiedah Mohammed Wageh Wazan was abducted Feb. 20 by several masked gunmen. Her corpse was found Friday, said her husband, Salim Saad-Allah. She had been shot in the head.
Why was this done? Could it be that they are telling the truth in Iraq on the news now of who some of the insurgents are:

This week, the station aired extensive interviews with alleged insurgents -including Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Sudanese and Iraqis - that security forces captured in Mosul.



Now she was not the only news in the world broadcasting this information and showing the story of the alleged Syrian Intelligence chief and admitting the level of involvement from the Syrians. She was a local Iraqi who worked for the local news and was broadcasting what they thought important and not propaganda to the Iraqi people so they would understand that it was not just the ex-Bathist that are causing violence, terrorism and all out barbaric attacks on the innocent men, women and children of Iraq.

This attempt at silencing the free Iraqi people will not work and will only drive more an more Iraqi people to the side of a free press unafraid to report the truth and expose those who are aligned against them. The Syrians and Iranians have been put on notice and their alignment of shared interest to confront any threats is only talk, nothing more, nothing less. A warning and response will come from the Iraqi government, once the PM details are worked out I hope, that will directly let their Iraqi neighbors know without hidden meanings that they will not stand for interference from either of them. And if necessary, will take all appropriate actions to stem the flow of money and support and find the "source" of this support where it may lead and put an end to it once and for all. -------- (0) comments Sisyphean Musings has been spotted.

Welcome back. -------- (0) comments US military personnel has shown the courage of not only our own men and women but the Iraq people themselves. I read this earlier today on another news outlet and than ran back across again on Yahoo News.

This was a routine patrol that turned tragic when a Humvee overturned in a canal and the three members of 1st Brigade 3rd Infantry Div drowned in the extremely cold waters. Another member of the US military also died trying to rescue the first three and other in danger personnel during the rescue.

It's a hard read and may bring tears to your eye's but please read and remember them always both the US personnel and the Iraqi soldiers. -------- (0) comments
What I've been watching of late is the slow turn of the MSM and the news cycle and the "tone" at some of the major outlets, which is a good thing, it's a start.

Hopefully, the Presidents trip to EU and NATO will soften some of the trans-Atlantic squabbling that has been going on since the war in Iraq. The new focus of the EU/NATO should be on Iraq as the bigger picture has been painted for them quite clearly. Freedom and liberty in the heart of the middle east is a big goal, but you have to have a plan. Without one we are all doomed to fail and failure is not an option as the stakes are to high.

With this in mind the future success of Iraq relies on the Iraqi people but they need support and the end to the bickering here at home and abroad. The Iraqi people have shown the world their desire for freedom and liberty. So let us support them and put our own personal beliefs aside for now.

On that note, if you have the time and interest in supporting the Iraqi people please take a visit to Spirit of America's website and review their current needs. You can contribute by monetary contributions to projects, assist with projects, or become a member and just stay current on what Americans are doing to assist the Iraqi people to a brighter future. -------- (0) comments this and much more emphasis into what's going on with these deaths. Could be any number of things but making it through 18 months of combat than to die from the flu has to be very hard on the family of this latest hero Sgt. Clay Garton. The other North Carolina veteran and hero is Staff Sgt. Christopher Rogers who also died of flu like symptoms. The other soldier Capt. Gilbert Munoz died from a bacterial infection after returning home and no further details have been provided.

These deaths are hard for the families so keep them in your thoughts.

Updated: Drudge is on it. Great minds think alike, just got done posting this. -------- (0) comments
You are not alone and there are resources availabe to you. If you would like more information and help with any issues please take the time to review Students for Academic Freedom. From here you can read about the latest happenings and check on chapters in your area that provide support when dealing with college and univserity issues.

Our colleges and universities should not condone or support radical hate professors whose only goals are to sow seeds of hate and spew their twisted view of the world.

To see what your California Tax dollars do for your students higher education at UCLA. This is from a UCLA website. Scroll down to see 4 More Years a spinoff of JibJab. This is one of the professors official Webpage telling them to go view his BlogLeft blog. This is what SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED, you should teach not brainwash our kids. We are watching and taking note of your behavior.

If you have students there and would like to contact the dean here you go:

Aimée Dorr

Dean, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

Professor
Psychological Studies in Education

2320 Moore Hall -- (310) 825-1838 -- dorr@gseis.ucla.edu

Ph.D., Psychology, Stanford University, 1970


Update: HT Rantburg. Some how I missed this today but David Horowitz started a new website today. A Guide to the Political Left can be found here.

-------- (0) comments The votes are in and the Shia dominated list number 169 has almost 50% of the vote. Turn out stands at about 60% which is very good considering the on the ground situation. The Kurds will come in second and the Ayad Allawi's list will come in third. For updates and analysis go to the source. The Iraqi bloggers themselves: Iraq the Model, Hammorabi, or Iraqi Bloggers Central.
-------- (0) comments Warning Warning this has R Rated lyrics. So be warned.

This a video/stills production with music showing some of the Battle of Falluja from some of our tankers. There is nothing really to add to this but our men/women did an outstanding job against a dug in enemy in an urban environment who had months and months to prepare.

HT: LGF poster jouth. -------- (0) comments resigned.

As many bloggers are pointing out that Mr. Jordan's resigning was not the only objective in all of this but it was to see the videotape or transcript at the WEF conference in Davos where these comments were made. We all want to see the full context of the comments and exchanges between the panel the reaction of the audience etc.

Please continue to read the whole story and more background information on Eason Jordans past from Michelle Malkin, Cpts Quarters, La Shawn Barber, Powerline, LGF, Sisyphean Musings and Easongate.

While everyone writes and dissects this we should keep in mind that this was not done out of revenge or a show of force by the blogsphere it was done for the "truth" and the respect it deserves. -------- (0) comments LT Smash and the Protest Warriors recent Thank You event over in San Diego and he goes on to ask if you live near a military base show them support. Well are you?

More information on showing your support for our military men and women can be found at America Supports You. And if you do not have a military base near you please visit the offical website of the USO where they have many locations at airports to hand out some coffee and a warm smile and to say Thanks. -------- (0) comments here to sign if you wish. Blackfive has a post up also about why he is doing this and his motivation. The most important part of his post to me is:

This is the Chief News Executive of CNN that we are talking about here - not the left-wing rep on Crossfire or the latest radio line-up on Air America. And he's giving Al Qaeda and Al Jazeera propaganda ammunition.

I've written on this very subject before and it's how many of us feel.


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Defining the enemy in the GWoT seems to always move but what are the causes and their resentment of the US? Our western culture? religous beliefs? Capitalism? I've read the following lengthly post/essay from USS Clueless which has some interesting thoughts and actions of which I don't agree on all points but the insight to root cause was very well thought out and explained in detail. A full list of his essays can be found here.
-------- (0) comments change. Somehow some of the Wisconsin Quarters in the 50 States collection were found with some flaws and collectors are grabbing them up at hefty prices.

I've only found one the Wisconsin quarters so far, that's bad, you see I've got 3 sets going for all three rugrats, and I still need the other two plus a couple more for padding. So if you see some of them take a look and start collecting.
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Blair warned Iran and Syria not to assume it was in their interests to allow insurgents to cross into Iraq in order to weaken U.S. forces and reduce the chance of an attack on themselves.

"I think if they were to make that calculation it would be a very severe miscalculation," he said, The Associated Press reported.

Ya ya I know the source but I stumbled across this and did not want to let it go by. He says it more clearly than anybody from Europe by far and even better than we have to drive home the point to the mullahs to not use the Iraq as a delaying tactict and we can respond if we need. Bravo. Bravo.

Note: Did you see this anywhere? Nope.
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Myself included I got caught up in watching this unfold more of than active participant and doing updates and commenting on the latest. There has been a tremendous amount of work by some really committed and extremely bright people. It was encouraging to watch this unfold and the respect that was showed on the whole by all involved for the "truth".

Watching La Shawn Barbers Corner with all the latest really helped put everything in the right place and Sisyphus doing all he can so we go to the instant replay for ruling shows the real commitment for finding the whole "truth" and not just part of it. Easongate is up and running and trying to keep the focus of the issue with the media blackout still in affect and the lack of respect that is being shown the blogger community for that matter is really showing true colors I might add.

There is much much more out there about all of this, just go and find it.
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Taking all into account but when you start looking at the different blogs and big blogs and from some of the people that where there in the room. They start to spin this into more of blog and ethics question or mob thing.

Look at Rony's fiery come back today. Than take a look at Rebecca's response to Hugh. Take a left/right depends on which direction your coming to and read this from American Digest.

For a complete breakdown and timeline of events please take a visit to La Shawn Barbers Corner as she is doing and excellent job of keeping track of updates.

Also a small contingent of milbloggers has formed Easongate to ensure that this story does not just go without closure can be found here.

What do you get when you add all these up is shutup.

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Did you see the story from the AP where Mr. Churchill said, "I don't believe I owe an apology," well I sort of missed this because I don't watch that network religiously. You'll have to go read the whole thing from the AP here.

Also of note today former Vice Presidential candidate Mr. Edwards is moving from the red bastion of Raleigh for refuge in Chapel Hill, NC. He will be heading a poverty think tank at UNC. His wife is undergoing cancer treatment out of state and we wish them both the best and a speedy recovery.

Sisyphean Musings today covers the military and media which covers many different perspectives and the roles of each and interaction or lack there of. Another well put together post I might add.

Now I'm off to read a book which is 225 pages long. Anybody care to guess?
-------- (0) comments Hugh Hewitt has an excellent update on the whole thing and includes an email exchanges with Roy which provides much more background. Note: We still want the videotape!!

Also of note is the frontpage of CNN at the moment:

Pentagon sites: Journalism or propaganda?
From Barbara Starr and Larry Shaughnessy
CNN

The U.S. Department of Defense plans to add more sites on the Internet to provide information to a global audience -- but critics question whether the Pentagon is violating President Bush's pledge not to pay journalists to promote his policies.
Go read the whole thing. My thoughts on this are many but lets just say timing is everything isn't it?




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CNN Eason Jordan in an open debate made a claim that he knew that the US military deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq in which he back peddled and clarified his comments here.

One of the most saught after voices comes from Rony Abovitz and takes the issue further and asks some poignant questions at which I will try and take a look and provide my insight into this whole matter and how we have come to this point in Iraq.

Now this story is hard to keep up with as there have been emails and contacts made to the blogsphere as this story broke and continues to break, clarify and yet more questions.

Captain Ed has been covering this with many updates here.

First off I am not a journalist. Period. I am not associated with anybody who is referenced to this event, story or account.

My first question to Ron would be in the context of all the questions he has asked is this. Did the media coverage of Abu Grahib and it's rentless pursuit of the "truth" cause American casualties?

If so, how many? Did it increase the level of support the terrorist/insurgents received? Look at when the dramatic upturn in terrorist/insurgent violence in Iraq to answer that question. Yes, it needed to be told, but when? How? That's how I reflect about this as I can not quote or speak or link to anyone who has publicly said this or even a passing post to the same thought.

From Ron's post:

Here are the issues as I see them:

(1) What really did happen in Iraq to both the U.S. and foreign journalists killed while trying to cover the war? The posts by the readers, in particular a few from soldiers themselves, make this question even more compelling. And what is going to happen to journalists covering Iraq going forward? How does the truth ever become fully revealed and made public? Does the U.N. need to investigate what happened? Is there a major media organization reputable enough to present accurate information on a question which by definition here involves the major media?

Yes the major media should have contacted members of congress with documents first.

(2) What is the responsibility of the media, and of media chiefs in particular (such as Eason) when it comes to how the news is shaped (or not shaped) to meet the needs of their audience? Is the news a business that needs to market to their customers what they want to hear and see, or is there a higher set of ethical and moral responsibilities that come along with the business of news? What is interesting in this case is that I do believe that the exact, objective facts are available with respect to what was said. This particular discussion at the WEF 2005 was videotaped (hopefully it is in a complete and unedited form). The debate about exactly what was said is easily resolved if an accurate transcript of the tape, or the tape itself, can be produced and made public. This kind of transparency lends itself well to global issues where subjectivity can taint any side of a topic like this. It is possible in this case that the subjectivity on one part of this issue can be removed entirely (with the complete videotape and transcript of the discussion).

The question of shaping or slanting rings loud and clear and we all understand that but at
what human cost for only part of truth for the whole truth. We want the video tape and
transcripts of this and we will not rest until made available.

(3) What is the responsibility of those in major leadership positions when confronted with such issues? In the room with us were powerful men and women, including high ranking politicians, who could follow up in a serious and meaningful way. Where are those voices and where is the followup? This topic should not be buried away in the closet. Is what Eason said the problem, or should we be more frightened at the prospect of journalists being targeted and killed by U.S. soldiers. "I see no problem if the US snipers take them out" was a comment from one reader, as well as "If they chose to take the part of the Baathists and Al kayda (sic), and say, 'embed' themselves among them, they will be killed." At a minimum the data and confusion calls for at least someone of the stature of a U.S. Senator or Congressman to step in now and lead a robust investigation.

Yes there should be more people to come forward and provide there account of what
happened. This shouldn't stop or prevent the topic from moving forward.

(4) The role of the individual in society. In this debate and discussion I made the decision to say something - to speak out. That decision has sparked a lot of things, including some intense pressures coming from a lot of sides. But I now feel an obligation myself to not give in to any side, but to ask for, in fact to demand, an accounting of the truth.

I respect your decision on this and can not even begin to imagine how much noise was
coming your way. Your post in the open tells a lot.



Ron's, Further questions:

As a techie, I like to see problems solved. Here are some specific actions that should happen:

* independent, objective, and respected investigation into this topic in a timely way (now, not years from now).

* Disclosure of what is found to the global public.

* Better protections and neutrality status for journalists, subject to harsh, Geneva style accountability if violated.

* More voices should come forward now. The voices of the soldiers in Iraq, as well as of journalists on the ground, need to come out. Let us know in your own words, unfiltered, what has happened, and what is happening. Have courage.


While Ron's post adds more than what started this these are good questions and observations and could easily drown out the very heart of what of brought out this post and blogstorm.

Saying that the US Military "targets" journalist and making a statement like this in a global public forum as a US citizen and journalist is for lack of a better word: irresponsible. While the fog of war will always exist and there will be casualties in any armed conflict but failing to try and record and document history as it unfolds will always out weigh that cost. There are no frontlines in this conflict, there are barbaric an hideous crimes of humanity being carried out against human beings there, the enemy has crossed every line of human decency, and yet we find that the very brave people who are trying to keep all of us safe are constantly defending themselves from a global witchhunt.

Many have not agreed to take out Saddam and his sons, but we gave that man 48 hours(and 12 years) to respond and he choose not too. The dead are on his hands and nobody else.
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Amazing speech probably better than any of Reagans.

Full transcript provided by Fox News. Thanks.

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, fellow citizens:

As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of government share a great privilege: we have been placed in office by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege we share with newly elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine, and a free and sovereign Iraq.

Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of this Capitol and renewed the commitment of our Nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for all. This evening I will set forth policies to advance that ideal at home and around the world.

Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our Nation an active force for good in the world — the state of our union is confident and strong. Our generation has been blessed — by the expansion of opportunity, by advances in medicine, and by the security purchased by our parents' sacrifice. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror — or a lot of gray — and we watch our children moving into adulthood, we ask the question: What will be the state of their union?

Members of Congress, the choices we make together will answer that question. Over the next several months, on issue after issue, let us do what Americans have always done, and build a better world for our children and grandchildren.

First, we must be good stewards of this economy, and renew the great institutions on which millions of our fellow citizens rely.

America's economy is the fastest growing of any major industrialized nation. In the past four years, we have provided tax relief to every person who pays income taxes, overcome a recession, opened up new markets abroad, prosecuted corporate criminals, raised homeownership to the highest level in history, and in the last year alone, the United States has added 2.3 million new jobs. When action was needed, the Congress delivered — and the Nation is grateful.

Now we must add to these achievements. By making our economy more flexible, more innovative, and more competitive, we will keep America the economic leader of the world.

America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline. So next week I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: a taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all.

To make our economy stronger and more dynamic, we must prepare a rising generation to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, standards are higher, test scores are on the rise, and we are closing the achievement gap for minority students. Now we must demand better results from our high schools, so every high school diploma is a ticket to success. We will help an additional 200,000 workers to get training for a better career, by reforming our job training system and strengthening America's community colleges. And we will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education, by increasing the size of Pell Grants.

To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back, by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims — and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.

To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable, and give families greater access to good coverage, and more control over their health decisions. I ask Congress to move forward on a comprehensive health care agenda — with tax credits to help low-income workers buy insurance, a community health center in every poor county, improved information technology to prevent medical errors and needless costs, association health plans for small businesses and their employees, expanded health savings accounts, and medical liability reform that will reduce health care costs, and make sure patients have the doctors and care they need.

To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home, including safe, clean nuclear energy. My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology — from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol. Four years of debate is enough — I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.

All these proposals are essential to expand this economy and add new jobs — but they are just the beginning of our duty. To build the prosperity of future generations, we must update institutions that were created to meet the needs of an earlier time. Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. I have appointed a bipartisan panel to examine the tax code from top to bottom. And when their recommendations are delivered, you and I will work together to give this Nation a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all.

America's immigration system is also outdated — unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.

One of America's most important institutions — a symbol of the trust between generations — is also in need of wise and effective reform. Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th Century, and we must honor its great purposes in this new century. The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy. And so we must join together to strengthen and save Social Security.

Today, more than 45 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, and millions more are nearing retirement — and for them the system is strong and fiscally sound. I have a message for every American who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you. For you, the Social Security system will not change in any way.

For younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. Social Security was created decades ago, for a very different era. In those days people didn't live as long, benefits were much lower than they are today, and a half century ago, about 16 workers paid into the system for each person drawing benefits. Our society has changed in ways the founders of Social Security could not have foreseen. In today's world, people are living longer and therefore drawing benefits longer — and those benefits are scheduled to rise dramatically over the next few decades. And instead of 16 workers paying in for every beneficiary, right now it's only about three workers — and over the next few decades, that number will fall to just two workers per beneficiary. With each passing year, fewer workers are paying ever-higher benefits to an ever-larger number of retirees.

So here is the result: Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. And every year afterward will bring a new shortfall, bigger than the year before. For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra 200 billion dollars to keep the system afloat — and by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than 300 billion dollars. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt. If steps are not taken to avert that outcome, the only solutions would be drastically higher taxes, massive new borrowing, or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs.

I recognize that 2018 and 2042 may seem like a long way off. But those dates are not so distant, as any parent will tell you. If you have a 5-year-old, you're already concerned about how you'll pay for college tuition 13 years down the road. If you've got children in their 20s, as some of us do, the idea of Social Security collapsing before they retire does not seem like a small matter. And it should not be a small matter to the United States Congress.

You and I share a responsibility. We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of Social Security once and for all.

Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid review of the options. Some have suggested limiting benefits for wealthy retirees. Former Congressman Tim Penny has raised the possibility of indexing benefits to prices rather than wages. During the 1990s, my predecessor, President Clinton, spoke of increasing the retirement age. Former Senator John Breaux suggested discouraging early collection of Social Security benefits. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended changing the way benefits are calculated.

All these ideas are on the table. I know that none of these reforms would be easy. But we have to move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children's retirement security is more important than partisan politics. I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer. We must, however, be guided by some basic principles. We must make Social Security permanently sound, not leave that task for another day. We must not jeopardize our economic strength by increasing payroll taxes. We must ensure that lower income Americans get the help they need to have dignity and peace of mind in their retirement. We must guarantee that there is no change for those now retired or nearing retirement. And we must take care that any changes in the system are gradual, so younger workers have years to prepare and plan for their future.

As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers.And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts. Here is how the idea works. Right now, a set portion of the money you earn is taken out of your paycheck to pay for the Social Security benefits of today's retirees. If you are a younger worker, I believe you should be able to set aside part of that money in your own retirement account, so you can build a nest egg for your own future.

Here is why personal accounts are a better deal. Your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver — and your account will provide money for retirement over and above the check you will receive from Social Security. In addition, you'll be able to pass along the money that accumulates in your personal account, if you wish, to your children or grandchildren. And best of all, the money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away.

The goal here is greater security in retirement, so we will set careful guidelines for personal accounts. We will make sure the money can only go into a conservative mix of bonds and stock funds. We will make sure that your earnings are not eaten up by hidden Wall Street fees. We will make sure there are good options to protect your investments from sudden market swings on the eve of your retirement. We will make sure a personal account can't be emptied out all at once, but rather paid out over time, as an addition to traditional Social Security benefits. And we will make sure this plan is fiscally responsible, by starting personal retirement accounts gradually, and raising the yearly limits on contributions over time, eventually permitting all workers to set aside four percentage points of their payroll taxes in their accounts.

Personal retirement accounts should be familiar to federal employees, because you already have something similar, called the Thrift Savings Plan, which lets workers deposit a portion of their paychecks into any of five different broadly based investment funds. It is time to extend the same security, and choice, and ownership to young Americans.

Our second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren is to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society. So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children. Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them.

Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

Because a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable, we must strive to build a culture of life. Medical research can help us reach that goal, by developing treatments and cures that save lives and help people overcome disabilities — and I thank Congress for doubling the funding of the National Institutes of Health. To build a culture of life, we must also ensure that scientific advances always serve human dignity, not take advantage of some lives for the benefit of others. We should all be able to agree on some clear standards. I will work with Congress to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body parts, and that human life is never bought and sold as a commodity. America will continue to lead the world in medical research that is ambitious, aggressive, and always ethical.

Because courts must always deliver impartial justice, judges have a duty to faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. As President, I have a constitutional responsibility to nominate men and women who understand the role of courts in our democracy, and are well qualified to serve on the bench — and I have done so. The Constitution also gives the Senate a responsibility: Every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote.

Because one of the deepest values of our country is compassion, we must never turn away from any citizen who feels isolated from the opportunities of America. Our government will continue to support faith-based and community groups that bring hope to harsh places. Now we need to focus on giving young people, especially young men in our cities, better options than apathy, or gangs, or jail. Tonight I propose a three-year initiative to help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence. Taking on gang life will be one part of a broader outreach to at-risk youth, which involves parents and pastors, coaches and community leaders, in programs ranging from literacy to sports. And I am proud that the leader of this nationwide effort will be our First Lady, Laura Bush.

Because HIV/AIDS brings suffering and fear into so many lives, I ask you to reauthorize the Ryan White Act to encourage prevention, and provide care and treatment to the victims of that disease. And as we update this important law, we must focus our efforts on fellow citizens with the highest rates of new cases, African-American men and women.

Because one of the main sources of our national unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that provides justice. In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit — so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction. Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side.

Our third responsibility to future generations is to leave them an America that is safe from danger, and protected by peace. We will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy — and chief among them is freedom from fear.

In the three and a half years since September 11th, 2001, we have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans. We have created a new department of government to defend our homeland, focused the FBI on preventing terrorism, begun to reform our intelligence agencies, broken up terror cells across the country, expanded research on defenses against biological and chemical attack, improved border security, and trained more than a half million first responders. Police and firefighters, air marshals, researchers, and so many others are working every day to make our homeland safer, and we thank them all.

Our Nation, working with allies and friends, has also confronted the enemy abroad, with measures that are determined, successful, and continuing. The Al Qaeda terror network that attacked our country still has leaders — but many of its top commanders have been removed. There are still governments that sponsor and harbor terrorists — but their number has declined. There are still regimes seeking weapons of mass destruction — but no longer without attention and without consequence. Our country is still the target of terrorists who want to kill many, and intimidate us all — and we will stay on the offensive against them, until the fight is won.

Pursuing our enemies is a vital commitment of the War on Terror — and I thank the Congress for providing our servicemen and women with the resources they have needed. During this time of war, we must continue to support our military and give them the tools for victory.

Other nations around the globe have stood with us.In Afghanistan, an international force is helping provide security. In Iraq, 28 countries have troops on the ground, the United Nations and the European Union provided technical assistance for elections, and NATO is leading a mission to help train Iraqi officers. We are cooperating with 60 governments in the Proliferation Security Initiative, to detect and stop the transit of dangerous materials. We are working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and nine other countries have captured or detained Al Qaeda terrorists. In the next four years, my Administration will continue to build the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time.

In the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America and other free nations for decades. The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom. Our enemies know this, and that is why the terrorist Zarqawi recently declared war on what he called the "evil principle" of democracy. And we have declared our own intention: America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies. They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace.

That advance has great momentum in our time — shown by women voting in Afghanistan, and Palestinians choosing a new direction, and the people of Ukraine asserting their democratic rights and electing a president. We are witnessing landmark events in the history of liberty. And in the coming years, we will add to that story.

The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure. Tomorrow morning, Secretary of State Rice departs on a trip that will take her to Israel and the West Bank for meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. She will discuss with them how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for 350 million dollars to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace is within reach — and America will help them achieve that goal.

To promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the United States will work with our friends in the region to fight the common threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard of freedom. Hopeful reform is already taking hold in an arc from Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain. The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future. And the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East.

To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act — and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror — pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.

Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq. That country is a vital front in the War on Terror, which is why the terrorists have chosen to make a stand there. Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home. And the victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the War on Terror, inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, bring more hope and progress to a troubled region, and thereby lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and grandchildren.

We will succeed because the Iraqi people value their own liberty — as they showed the world last Sunday. Across Iraq, often at great risk, millions of citizens went to the polls and elected 275 men and women to represent them in a new Transitional National Assembly. A young woman in Baghdad told of waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day, and wondering if it might be too dangerous to vote. She said, "hearing those explosions, it occurred to me — the insurgents are weak, they are afraid of democracy, they are losing. … So I got my husband, and I got my parents, and we all came out and voted together." Americans recognize that spirit of liberty, because we share it. In any nation, casting your vote is an act of civic responsibility; for millions of Iraqis, it was also an act of personal courage, and they have earned the respect of us all.

One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country, "we were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. … Thank you to the American people who paid the cost … but most of all to the soldiers." Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country — and we are honored that she is with us tonight.

The terrorists and insurgents are violently opposed to democracy, and will continue to attack it. Yet the terrorists' most powerful myth is being destroyed. The whole world is seeing that the car bombers and assassins are not only fighting coalition forces, they are trying to destroy the hopes of Iraqis, expressed in free elections. And the whole world now knows that a small group of extremists will not overturn the will of the Iraqi people.

We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for their own freedom, and to write their own history. As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech to Congress last September, "Ordinary Iraqis are anxious … to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as quickly as possible." This is the natural desire of an independent nation, and it also is the stated mission of our coalition in Iraq. The new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work in that country. At the recommendation of our commanders on the ground, and in consultation with the Iraqi government, we will increasingly focus our efforts on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces — forces with skilled officers, and an effective command structure. As those forces become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly be in a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country — and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty.

Recently an Iraqi interpreter said to a reporter, "Tell America not to abandon us." He and all Iraqis can be certain: While our military strategy is adapting to circumstances, our commitment remains firm and unchanging. We are standing for the freedom of our Iraqi friends, and freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come. We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out. We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned.

Right now, Americans in uniform are serving at posts across the world, often taking great risks on my orders. We have given them training and equipment; and they have given us an example of idealism and character that makes every American proud. The volunteers of our military are unrelenting in battle, unwavering in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they are making our nation more secure. Some of our servicemen and women have survived terrible injuries, and this grateful country will do everything we can to help them recover. And we have said farewell to some very good men and women, who died for our freedom, and whose memory this nation will honor forever.

One name we honor is Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas, who was killed during the assault on Fallujah. His mom, Janet, sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved being a Marine, and how proud he was to be on the front line against terror. She wrote, "When Byron was home the last time, I said that I wanted to protect him like I had since he was born. He just hugged me and said: ‘You've done your job, mom. Now it's my turn to protect you.'" Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom's defenders, and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood.

In these four years, Americans have seen the unfolding of large events. We have known times of sorrow, and hours of uncertainty, and days of victory. In all this history, even when we have disagreed, we have seen threads of purpose that unite us. The attack on freedom in our world has reaffirmed our confidence in freedom's power to change the world. We are all part of a great venture: To extend the promise of freedom in our country, to renew the values that sustain our liberty, and to spread the peace that freedom brings.

As Franklin Roosevelt once reminded Americans, "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth." And we live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition of slavery was only a dream — until it was fulfilled. The liberation of Europe from fascism was only a dream — until it was achieved. The fall of imperial communism was only a dream — until, one day, it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable — yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.

Thank you, and may God bless America. -------- (0) comments
This post is a big Thank you to SFC Paul Smith for protecting our young men and women during a critical moment in the battle for the Baghdad airport.

Our thanks to Mrs Smith and her children for loving such a brave man and soldier. Our career volunteer soldiers know the value of human life and understand what they have chosen to do in a way that many do not.

More of the full story from Tampa Bay local news here.

A full multi-media of the battle is located here.

HT: Blackfive
-------- (0) comments Steve Harrigan and showed some detailed and disturbing events and even had their own news people, who looked like they were under duress, say they have to watch what they say, paradoxical at best.

Nice shirt huh?

Ya it was 2.99 at Walmart. Posted by Hello

meg·a·lo·ma·ni·a

NOUN:
  1. A psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence.
  2. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.
Ran across a blog that looks like they are monitoring and reporting what they can and looking for some more support. Check them out. They've got some readership and that's always a plus.

-------- (0) comments
Another view on the world and review of current events with commentary and insight.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
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