Sunday, May 26, 2013

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS

Gary Sinise’s leading role: Actor’s commitment to troops goes beyond Memorial Day


In 1868, Union ArmyMaj. Gen.John A. Logan declared May 30 “Decoration Day,” a day to honor fallen Civil War soldiers with speeches, prayers, and flowers and other decorations on their graves at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1971, Congress made the observance a national holiday to remember all those who have died serving our country, and since then, Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday of May.

This Sunday, the annual National Memorial Day Concert will honor our military with patriotic performances on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Hosted by actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna, the free concert will feature appearances by Gen. Colin Powell and actor Ed Harris, and performances by the National Symphony Orchestra, the Army Herald Trumpets, the Navy Sea Chanters and the Army Singing Sergeants, among others. This year, special tribute will be paid to veterans of the Korean War and World War II.

There are few better ways to honor the memory of the nation’s fallen heroes than by acknowledging the special sacrifices and answering the special needs of the nation’s military community — veterans, active-duty troops and their families. Few have done more over the years to help the nation’s veterans and first responders than Mr. Sinise, who traces his long commitment to the military community back to his breakthrough acting role as the broken Vietnam veteran Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump.”

“I got involved with our wounded veterans and just feel like I’ve been embraced by the military community,” Mr. Sinise said earlier this week. “I feel very comfortable there and met some extraordinary people. I feel honored to know some of these folks. They are truly exceptional people.”

Through the Gary Sinise Foundation, the actor — star of “CSI: New York,” the hit CBS show recently canceled after nine seasons — has taken his involvement to a new level. Whether it’s through his concerts with the Lt. Dan Band or by building “smart homes” for wounded warriors, his work reflects his conviction that the nation’s responsibility to its troops extends far beyond Memorial Day.

“This year is very full with military support activities and raising money and awareness” for the foundation, said Mr. Sinise, in D.C. to co-host, as he has for years, the concert nationally televised on PBS. “I’m very ‘boots on the ground.’ I’m constantly out there doing something.”

Mr. Sinise is also here to support the GE Veterans Network’s “Get Skills to Work” program (getskillstowork.org), which has a goal of training and placing 100,000 veterans in manufacturing jobs over the next two years. “What GE’s program does is take some of the skills men and women learn in the military profession and retool them towards the manufacturing industry,” he said. “We have something like 600,000 manufacturing jobs available in the U.S. The veterans community is a great resource that can be tapped to fill that need.”

But America’s military community needs something else beyond job training, high-tech housing and medical care — something no money can buy: connection, affirmation, a nation’s gratitude.

“We have men and women in the military and the first-responder community that willingly go out there every day putting their lives on the line,” said Mr. Sinise. “We still have thousands deployed in Afghanistan. Their families are going through difficult times, worrying about them during their deployments. Some of them have been deployed multiple times — over and over and over.

Unfortunately, we have a very small percentage of the population that serves the country in uniform, and if you don’t have a personal relationship or a family member or friend who serves, then sometimes you’re disconnected completely with the military.

“You never know if, when you’re walking up to someone in uniform in an airport, that person has just lost two or three friends in the last month. That person may be going through a difficult time. To have a stranger walk up and pat them on the back or buy them a cup of coffee, that means a lot. To tell them that you appreciate the fact that they’ve chosen to serve their country — that can really make a difference. That can improve their mental health. That’s what I’m in the business of doing — raising spirits, raising funds and letting our men and women know that we are a grateful nation.”

Remember Lake Wobegon, Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town where “all the children are above average?” Well, too many members of Congress inhabit a Lake Wobegon government, where every government program is also above average — not just successful, but essential.

Here is just one example: Among the many outrages that congressional Democrats have assigned to the sequester is that it could reduce the available slots in the Head Start program by as many as 70,000 children.

This was repeatedly hammered home last month when the Democratic leadership complained that Congress was giving additional flexibility to the FAA to avoid furloughs and flight delays, but didn’t restore Head Start funding.

“We ought not to be mitigating the sequester’s effect on just one segment,” said Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, “when children… will be left unhealed.”

Yet a 2010 study and a 2012 follow-up analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services found that with a few exceptions, there were no lasting benefits to children participating in Head Start. In fact, “At the end of 3rd grade, there was suggestive evidence of an unfavorable impact — the parents of the Head Start group children reported a significantly lower child grade promotion rate than the parents of the non-Head Start group children.”

Head Start may not work, but since 1965, the federal government has spent nearly $200 billion of the taxpayers’ money on it. That’s more than we spent to put a man on the moon (adjusted for inflation).

And President Obama has now called for making Head Start–style preschool universal.

And Head Start is hardly a unique example of government failure.

The federal government operates 126 separate anti-poverty programs. Since 1965, when we started the War on Poverty, we’ve spent over $15 trillion on these programs, yet we’ve hardly dented the poverty rate. We spend more every year on education, yet test scores and dropout rates fail to improve. Programs such as Social Security and Medicare are careening towards bankruptcy and threatening to take the country along with them. It is increasingly hard to find a single government program that efficiently and cost-effectively accomplishes its goal better than would private-sector alternatives.

Need more recent examples?

Assume for a moment that everyone in the Obama administration is telling the truth about Benghazi, the IRS harassment of conservative groups, and the surveillance of the AP reporters. That means that such major government institutions as the State Department, the CIA, the Justice Department, and the IRS were massively incompetent. The alternative to venality and corruption is that important government agencies are more or less incapable of organizing a two-car funeral. Feel better?

Yet at the same time we are told that the answer to any and every ill is to turn more power and responsibility over to those government agencies that have repeatedly failed us.

Just consider that under Obamacare, the IRS will be in charge of several important aspects of health-care reform, from enforcing the individual and employer mandates to determining who is eligible for subsidies through the exchanges. In fact, the official chosen to head the IRS Obamacare programs is Sarah Hall Ingram, who was formerly in charge of the IRS’s tax-exempt division, which is at the center of the scandal.

What could possibly go wrong?

Of course businesses and individuals don’t always get it right either. But the damage that government can do is far greater. If I make a mistake, it affects my life, perhaps the lives of my family, and maybe those of a few others. If a business makes a mistake, it can affect thousands more. But if government makes a mistake, it can affect everyone.

One doesn’t have to assume conspiracies or even bad faith to realize that government is not really “above average.” In fact, the history of government intervention is more Woe-Is-Us than Wobegon.

That’s something to keep in mind the next time we are told that we should give the government more money, power, and control over our lives.

Obamacare 2.0: What Are Healthcare Practitioners Thinking?

By: Austin Hill / Townhall Columnist

As the battle rages-on over the implementation of the federal “Obamacare” law, there is an important question that rarely ever gets asked: What do actual health care practitioners think of it?

Without the practitioners themselves, there would be no healthcare.

Yet politicians, government bureaucrats, insurance executives and healthcare administrators have so thoroughly co-opted any discussion on the subject that actual healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants and the like – often appear as mere pawns in a big government game.

One might think that the American Medical Association (“AMA”) would have something coherent to say about the present state of things, or that they might even have some ideas about healthcare that are better than those being pushed by politicians. I’ll have more to say about the AMA in a moment, but first, here’s a name with which we should all become acquainted: the Citizens’ Council For Health Freedom.

Advocating for a private sector, free-market approach to healthcare, the CCHF has quite a bit to say about the practice of medicine, as does the organization’s President and Co-Founder, Twila Brase.

“We’re moving away from the mission of medicine and more towards the business of healthcare, and these two endeavors are not the same thing,” Brase claims. “We’re moving in the wrong direction.”

Brase, who by profession is a Registered Nurse, notes that CCHF’s beginnings date back to 1994. “At that time, Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the White House and the threat of a government take-over of the medical profession was becoming apparent. I began holding meetings and speaking about the issue, and in 1995 we officially incorporated. The interest in what we propose has become even greater since President Obama’s healthcare law has come in to existence.”

Brase believes that one of the greatest weaknesses of the Obamacare agenda is the state-by-state insurance exchange set-ups that are intended to be used as regional Obamacare implementation mechanisms.

“If people refuse to participate in these things and there aren’t enough young healthy people who are willing to pay the increasing insurance rates, then there won’t be enough paying customers in the exchanges to financially support people who aren’t paying for their insurance at all, or who have medical conditions and who consume lots of healthcare and drive up the expenses of the exchange,” she notes. “I suspect that some of these state exchanges are going to financially collapse, all on their own.”

As an alternative means of taking care of those who can’t afford healthcare all on their own, Brase recommends private sector charitable organizations that are supported by tax incentives. “But we need to discourage people from enrolling in the exchanges. People need to understand that the exchanges are intrusive and all they offer is government coverage. We call it Medicaid for the middle class.”

Contrast the CCHF’s vision, with the ever-changing vision of the much-older American Medical Association. The AMA’s stated mission is to promote the art and science of medicine for the betterment of the public health; to advance the interests of physicians and their patients; to promote public health; to lobby for legislation favorable to physicians and patients; and to raise money for medical education. Given their stated commitments to these high-minded ideals, back in the 1960’s the AMA originally opposed Medicare, the government healthcare program for senior adults, fearing undue government intrusion in the medical profession.

But soon after Medicare’s beginnings, the A.M.A. changed their position – presumably they realized that government-funded health care through Medicare produced a steady revenue stream of payments going from the federal government to individual practitioners, and it seemed like a beneficial thing at the time. Thus for all of my lifetime, the A.M.A. has aggressively opposed any cuts at all in Medicare funding.

By mid-2009 the A.M.A. reverted back to being skeptical of government power again, and publicly opposed President Obama’s healthcare “reforms”. The Obama Administration then countered the A.M.A.’s opposition with a pro-Obama political group calling themselves “Doctors For America,” and essentially took the public spotlight away from the AMA, in terms of their influence over the public policy debate.

Compared to the nearly 1 million M.D.’s practicing in the United States, D.F.A.’s approximate membership of 10,000 is tiny. Yet the pro Obama MD group made a huge public relations impact in 2009 and 2010, complete with photo-ops of “Doctors” dressed in white lab coats and wearing stethoscopes standing beside the President at his podium. The D.F.A. was also able to get the A.M.A. to hedge a bit back in 2010, as the AMA announced that they changed their position again and supported Obama’s reforms “in principle.”

But then in June of 2012, A.M.A. President Dr. Peter Carmel announced at the Association’s annual convention their renewed opposition to Obamacare. He declared what many of us have been concerned about for quite some time – that the law doesn’t address the greatest problems with healthcare in America, and in a variety of ways makes matters worse.

So what is the biggest difference between the wisdom of the AMA and the CCHF? While the AMA has had an on-again off-again relationship with big government, Brase and the other members of the CCHF understand the basic economics of their own profession. They are also wise enough to understand the threat of third-party intrusions in the practitioner-patient relationship, and ethical enough to care about that threat.

“When other people hold the dollars, the mission of medicine is compromised,” Brase reminds people frequently. “Whether it’s the government, or an insurance company, the agendas of the people with the money ultimately take precedence over the needs of the patient.”

Are practitioners beginning to see the light as Brase and her associates do, or are they still inclined to play the “pawn” role in the government’s agenda?

“I’m hopeful that more of my fellow practitioners are seeing things more clearly” Brase notes, “but I think the loudest demands for change in the practice of medicine are going to come from the patients, first.”

DoD: Fort Hood jihad massacre "criminal act of single individual," not international terrorism

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


Hasan was in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, but that doesn't make it "international terrorism." One wonders what would make it international terrorism -- maybe Hasan would have had to have displayed an al-Qaeda membership card before screaming "Allahu akbar" and opening fire. In any case, these distinctions are stupid. Hasan's act was jihad, but jihad is the one thing that our government and intelligence apparatus appears determined to ignore.

"DOD: Ft. Hood Massacre Likely 'Criminal Act of Single Individual,' Not International Terror," by Ned Berkowitz for ABC News, May 23 (thanks to Block Ness):
It took just hours for England's Prime Minister to say a gruesome knife and cleaver attack on a serviceman in London was likely an act of terrorism. In the U.S., more than three years since a much deadlier domestic assault on American troops -- the 2009 Fort Hood massacre that claimed 13 lives, including that of a pregnant soldier -- a top Army attorney maintains that incident was likely a "criminal act of a single individual." 
"...[T]he available evidence in this case does not, at this time, support a finding that the shooting at Fort Hood was an act of international terrorism," Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman said this week in a letter to Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) on behalf of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
The letter, obtained by ABC News, was apparently written in response to an inquiry from Rooney, Rep. Chaka Fatta (D-Penn.), and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virg.) sent to Hagel on May 6, which questioned whether concerns of "political correctness" informed the Army's decision to refer to the Fort Hood attack as an act of "workplace violence."
Victims of the shooting have long maintained that calling the attack "workplace violence" instead of "combat related" or an act of terrorism has had a massive impact on the benefits and treatment they've received.
In the case of the London attack, two men armed with a handgun, a meat cleaver and a knife are suspected of brutally murdering a lone serviceman, who was out of uniform, in broad daylight Wednesday. They stuck around after the attack and one of the suspects was caught on video telling a passerby he did what he did "because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day."
In the Fort Hood attack, Maj. Nidal Hasan stands accused of gunning down 13 soldiers and injuring 32 others in November 2009. After the assault, investigators uncovered evidence that Hasan was in communication with al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack. Al-Awlaki was apparently such a threat that he has been the only American citizen ever targeted for a drone strike -- though three others have been collateral damage, according to President Obama.
In both cases, witnesses reportedly said the alleged attackers shouted "Allahu Akbar," "God is Great" in Arabic, amid the chaos.
As reflected in Chipman's letter, the Department of Defense has consistently said that in addition to a supposed lack of evidence, it would be irresponsible to call the Fort Hood attack "terrorism" because it "may have a negative impact on the ongoing judicial process" for Hasan.
The letter also denied that the Defense Department had made a decision to classify the attack as "workplace violence" and said, "[N]o benefit has been denied to any of the victims based on any such classification" -- two claims to which the survivors object stringently.
Kimberly Munley, a police officer who was hailed as a hero for her role in stopping the alleged Fort Hood shooter, told ABC News Chipman's letter is "disgraceful" and "another direct slap in the face." Attorneys for Munley and most of the other Fort Hood victims called the letter's claims "counterfactual" and an "insult."
An attorney for several of the victims, Reed Rubinstein, said the Army's new letter is "worse than word games."
"The 'workplace violence' classification has been out there for years, and [the Army] has never walked it back," he said.
In 2010, part of then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' response to the shooting was to "strengthen [the department's] policies, programs and procedures in... workplace violence." In October 2011, the Defense Department said it was reviewing the attack "in the context of a broader threat of workplace violence."
Rubinstein and his partner, Neil Sher, also said calling the attack "an alleged criminal act by a single individual" "rewrites history, consigning the government's admissions of Hasan's al-Qaeda ties… down a bureaucratic memory hole."
Munley said, "It is clear that the Army and the government will continue to not take responsibility for allowing a known terrorist to slip through the ranks while having multiple associations with the now-deceased Anwar al-Awlaki and has complete disregard for those injured on that horrifying day."...
Yes.
America's Real Contribution to U.N. Is Unknown
Newsmax 
 
How much money does the United States currently contribute to the United Nations and its various agencies? Surprisingly, no one knows for sure.

The State Department does report on its spending at the United Nations, but it is only one of several federal agencies that give money to the world body each year.

In its fiscal 2014 State and Foreign Operations budget proposal released in April, the Obama administration asked for $1.57 billion for contributions to international organizations, including $617.6 million for the U.N. operating budget — up from $568.8 million in fiscal 2012.

But other agencies giving to the U.N. include the Departments of Labor, Energy, Agriculture, Defense, and Health and Human Services, CNS News reported.

Fiscal 2007 legislation stipulated that the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) report all federal agencies' contributions, but the requirement expired in 2011.

Now Republican Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Mike Lee of Utah, and others, are submitting legislation that would reinstate the requirement.

"It's disturbing that no one, including our ambassador to the United Nations, knows exactly how much money we send the U.N. every year," Enzi said in a statement.

"With a national debt exceeding $17 trillion, we need to be able to account for every dime we spend, including what we send to the U.N."

The last OMB report to Congress on U.N. contributions was issued in June 2011 and covered fiscal 2010. It showed that State was just one of 17 government agencies giving money to U.N. organizations, funds, affiliates and other bodies, and the total expenditure that year was $7.69 billion — more than 10 times the amount requested for State in fiscal 2014.

In addition to the billions being contributed to various bodies within the U.N. system, the United States provides 22 percent of the U.N.'s operating budget, more than twice as much as the No. 2 contributor, Japan (10.8 percent).

Other legislation likely to be introduced in Congress would change the way the United Nations is funded, allowing the United States to fund only those activities and agencies that are "efficient and in the national interest," according to CNS News.

As the Insider Report disclosed earlier, the United States did cut off funding for the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after it voted in October 2011 to approve the Palestinian Authority's full membership in the agency. But that move was required by U.S. laws.

SWEDEN: Rioting spreads outside Stockholm as Muslim savages torch cars and attack police for a 6th night

From Bare Naked Islam

sweden-resistance-revised

A car and school were set on fire and a police station attacked in the central town of Orebro, about 100 miles (160km) from the Swedish capital last night. In Linkoping, groups of Muslim youths clashed with police.

SKY News (h/t Susan K)  Meanwhile, police in Stockholm said as many as 25 cars were torched and a police officer injured in the west of the city as the rioting continued. In Orebro, an officer suffered an eye injury when rocks were hurled at the patrol car he was in, according to local police.

stockholm-riots-spread-24.5.2013.b

Some 25 masked Muslim youths set fire to three cars and a school and tried to torch a police station. In Linkoping, some 130 miles (200km) to the southwest of Stockholm, several vehicles were set on fire and Muslim youths tried to torch a school and a kindergarten.

 

Police said that overnight violence in suburban districts of Stockholm was less intense than previous nights but as many as 25 cars had been burned out. Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said on Saturday that 19 people had been detained, but there had been no hurling of rocks against officers as in previous days.


204263230251a098c3ca556740677301_v4bigThe riots in the Stockholm suburbs, some of which are predominantly populated by Muslim immigrants, was sparked by perceived police brutality after officers shot and killed a knife-wielding Muslim man who had locked himself in his apartment.

In a country famed for its model welfare state, the rioting has exposed a fault-line between a well-off majority and a Muslim minority – often young people with Muslim immigrant backgrounds.

stokholm_podpalovanie_aut_nepokoje_13_reuters

 

Underscoring Sweden’s ambivalence toward its open immigration policies, an anti-Muslim immigrant party has risen to third in polls this year and some analysts say the riots could swell its ranks.


One recent government study showed that up to a third of young people aged 16 to 29 in some of the most deprived areas of Sweden’s big cities neither study nor have a job. 

Youth unemployment is especially high in neighbourhoods such as the ones where the riots have taken place, home to Muslim asylum seekers from Iraq to Somalia, Afghanistan and Latin America.

About 15% of Sweden’s population is foreign-born and while many are from neighbouring countries, others are drawn by the country’s policy of welcoming asylum seekers from war-torn countries. 

 

Click here to see the video about the riots: http://www.barenakedislam.com/2013/05/26/sweden-rioting-spreads-outside-stockholm-as-muslim-savages-torch-cars-and-attack-police-for-a-6th-night/

Or as a sheeple...