Florida election officials have discovered and purged up to 53,000 dead voters from the voter rolls in Florida.
You might wonder how so many dead voters have remained on the polls. The answer is simple. Until now, Florida hadn’t been using the best available data revealing which voters have died. The state is now using the nationwide Social Security Death Index in order to determine which voters should be purged from the list of voters because of death.
The bad news is that most states are not using the same database that Florida is now using. If fact, there are reports that some election officials will not remove voters even if they are presented with a death certificate. That, of course, means that voter rolls across the nation are still filled with dead voters.
Florida should be applauded for taking the problem seriously.
On August 24, 2011, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants.
The raid by armed agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was ostensibly conducted because Gibson was illegally using rare, restricted woods from India and Madagascar to make its guitars… even though nobody in India or Madagascar filed any complaints against them. The law ensnaring Gibson is the Lacey Act of 1900, originally passed to regulate trade in bird feathers used for hats and amended in 2008 to cover wood and other plant products. It requires companies to make detailed disclosures about wood imports and bars the purchase of goods exported in violation of a foreign country’s laws. The Lacey Act allows the United States government to prosecute importers for violating foreign laws, whether or not the foreign government in question believes a violation has occurred.
This is the second time that federal agents have raided Gibson facilities and disrupted production – this time causing lost productivity and sales. More than a dozen Federal agents with automatic weapons first raided Gibson factories in November 2009 and were back again Aug. 24, seizing guitars, wood and electronic records. Gene Nix, a wood product engineer at Gibson, was questioned by agents after the first raid and told he could face five years in jail.
“Can you imagine a federal agent saying, ‘You’re going to jail for five years’ and what you do is sort wood in the factory?” said Henry Juszkiewicz, chief executive officer of the closely held company, recounting the incident. “I think that’s way over the top.” Gibson employees, he said, are being “treated like drug criminals.”
To date, criminal charges have NOT been filed, yet the Government still holds Gibson’s property. Gibson has obtained sworn statements and documents from the Madagascar government and these materials, which have been filed in federal court, show that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under Madagascar law and that no law has been violated.
A Republican congresswoman from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, acting in concert with several powerful House committee heads, unsuccessfully demanded answers from Obama Administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder. There are limits to what Congress can do, given that an active “investigation” is still in progress.
Justice Department spokesmen continue to decline comment while DOJ officials pursue what they say is a possible criminal case against Gibson.
Something else to consider in all of this: Gibson uses the same wood, from many of the same suppliers and importers that nearly every other guitar company in America does. And yet only Gibson has been targeted. You might ask – why?
Without further explanation from the Department of Justice, we can only speculate. Gibson is based in Tennessee which is a right-to-work state. Their competitors – Fender, Taylor, Rickenbacker, Danelectro, Carvin, MusicMan, and ESP are in California; Spector is in New York; Martin is in Pennsylvania; Guild, Ovation, and Hamer are in Connecticut; Alvarez is in Missouri; B.C. Rich is in Kentucky; Heritage is in Michigan; Washburn is in Illinois. All are forced-union states. Hmmmm. Is there a red flag there?
Adding to the curiosity of the situation, it has come out that Juszkiewicz is a Republican donor. Is there a political motivation there? There is some speculation that the Obama administration is sending a warning to Republican businessmen that they had better not oppose his re-election, lest they face criminal investigations. Normally such speculation would not be credible, but Eric Holder has politicized the Department of Justice to a point where such questions must be taken seriously.
Paul Harvey’s particular style relied on exaggerated pronunciation, pregnant pauses, delayed revelations and a staccato delivery. His quirky openings and catchphrases were often parodied — “Hello, Americans, this is Paul Harvey! Stand by … for News!” — but his audience ate it up.
Paul Harvey was America’s National Commentator. His listening audience was estimated, at its highest, to be around 24 million people a week. Harvey’s broadcasts were carried on 1,350 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and had columns in 300 newspapers. His broadcasts and newspaper columns have been reprinted in the Congressional Record more than those of any other commentator. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame and in November of 2005 was awarded our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.
Paul Harvey didn’t just report the news with his distinctive voice; he would always make the point that the news was reflective of society. You could take the pulse of America’s moral health by reading the daily newspaper. Harvey’s broadcast of “If I Were the Devil” took place on April 3, 1965. It is a warning to America from 47 years ago about its own decay.
A bill signed into law by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback aims to keep the state courts and government agencies from basing their decisions on foreign legal codes, including Islamic law. A national Muslim group’s spokesman said there would likely be a court challenge.
While the new law takes effect July 1, it doesn’t specifically mention Shariah. Instead, it says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.
Stephen Gele, spokesman for the American Public Policy Alliance, a group supporting the bill said, “This bill should provide protection for Kansas citizens from the application of foreign laws. The bill does not read, in any way, to be discriminatory against any religion.”
Gele said laws similar to Kansas’ new statute have been enacted in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee.
Muslim groups had urged Brownback to veto the measure, arguing that it promotes discrimination. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said a court challenge is likely because supporters of the measure frequently expressed concern about Shariah law.
The obvious problem Muslims have in challenging this law is that it is simply a law that re-enforces both the US Constitution and Kansas state law.
Last month, India successfully launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile able to carry a nuclear warhead.
The Agni-V was launched from a site off India’s east coast and took about 20 minutes to hit its target somewhere near Indonesia in the Indian Ocean.The missile has a range of more than 5,000km (3,100 miles), potentially bringing targets in China within range.
“The ships located in mid-range and at the target point have tracked the vehicle [missile] and witnessed the final event,” Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) spokesman Ravi Gupta said.
By launching the Agni 5, a ballistic missile capable of reaching Beijing and Shanghai, India joined a small club of nations with long-range nuclear capability, including China, Britain, France, Russia, Israel and the United States.
“It was a perfect launch. It met all the test parameters and hit its pre-determined target,” SP Das, director of the test range, said. He confirmed the missile had flown more than 5,000km before reaching the target.
Analysts say the Agni missile family is to be the cornerstone of India’s missile-based nuclear deterrent. In 2010, India successfully test-fired Agni-II, an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 2,000km (1,250 miles).
Indian leaders celebrated the successful test, even as Pakistan and China reacted warily, amid growing international apprehension about the increasing militarization of Asia.
China announced double-digit increases in military spending last month, and some Chinese military leaders have accused the United States of trying to contain China’s rise.
The Obama administration, while still trying to extract itself from Afghanistan, is now cultivating alliances with Asian nations and redirecting its strategic and military focus toward Asia to manage China’s new military clout.
in January, the United States sold $6 billion in weapons to Taiwan and on the day of the Indian missile test, American and Bangladeshi officials met the dame day in Dhaka on security issues.
The Phillippines and the United States held joint military exercises last month, including mock beach invasions along coastlines facing China, as part of a strengthening military alliance between the two countries.
A contingent of American Marines arrived in northern Australia in April, the first of 2,500 troops to be deployed there under an agreement signed last year.
On the day of India’s test, the longtime American ally South Korea publicly confirmed the deployment of cruise missiles with a range of up to 930 miles, able to reach any location in North Korea.
India and China share a 2,100-mile border, which both countries have beefed up militarily in recent years. But the Agni 5 missile — Agni means fire in Hindi — would enable the Indian military, for the first time, to reach China’s most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, with a nuclear attack.
Despite India’s insistence that the missile exists for deterrence only, its range raises questions about the country’s aims and risks escalating the regional arms race.
United States Marines began to arrive in the northern coast city of Darwin, Australia as Washington strengthened its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. These are the vanguard of a 2,500-strong force to be deployed there under an agreement increasing the American military presence in China’s strategic backyard.
The deployment of Marines is part of the agreement signed in November by President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The pact is part of the president’s publicly stated strategy of shifting the American military’s long-term focus toward the Pacific and an increasingly assertive China. Beijing has accused Mr. Obama of escalating military tensions in the region.
The US contingent in Australia is expected to be a rotational force. Its different units will be moving through for short periods of time and will not be based in Australia permanently.
The Marines will train during the dry season at the territory’s Mount Bundy, Bradshaw and Delamere training areas while based at Robertson Barracks in Darwin. Under the agreement, Marines would rotate to Darwin, located in the sparsely populated Northern Territory of Australia, for six months at a time. The plan is to expand the company-sized element to a battalion-strength group of roughly a 1,000 Marines by 2014. The outfit will eventually grow to a 2,500 air-ground task force by 2016.
Despite the fact that the US’s final military presence in the country is to grow into a 2,500-person Marine Air Ground Task Force, Smith insisted that the marines and their entourage cannot be qualified as a military base.
”We don’t have United States military bases in Australia and we’re not proposing to,” he told ABC radio from Darwin, where he greeted the initial deployment of marines.
Last week Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the controversial deployment of U.S. Marines in his country had not provoked a strong response from Beijing.
China’s foreign ministry called for “peace and stability” in the region after the first group of 200 U.S. Marines arrived in Australia in April.
But China’s defense ministry criticized the move as proof of a “Cold War mentality” and state media accused U.S. President Barack Obama of using his diplomatic ambitions in Asia to detract from U.S. economic woes.
On most days, a passerby at Arlington National Cemetery might hear the singular call of taps echoing from one corner of the cemetery or another, among the rows of white gravestones.
But just after noon on Saturday, something remarkable happened: The stillness gave way to the plaintive calls of hundreds of distinct brass voices, the familiar notes rising from every acre of the sprawling grounds.
About 200 buglers and trumpeters gathered to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the composing of Taps – that somber sound played daily to mark the end of the day at military bases around the world and the melancholy sounds that has become part of military funerals.
The call is 24 notes long, a simple line of music that lasts only a matter of seconds. But taps, dubbed the national song of remembrance, has become one of the most recognized and evocative melodies in American culture.
Taps as we know it was created on a sweltering July night in 1862, at Harrison’s Landing, Va., where Union Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield and his brigade were in camp after the brutal Seven Days Battles.
In the wake of violence that claimed the lives of more than 600 of his soldiers, Butterfield decided to honor his men by revising the traditional infantry call to “extinguish lights,” used to signal the end of the day. Butterfield felt the music, borrowed from the French, was too formal and ornate for its purpose.
So he lengthened some notes and shortened others — simple revisions that stripped the music of its pomp and fanfare. Butterfield’s brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, sounded the new call for the first time that night.
A short time later, taps was used at a funeral for a cannoneer. The captain presiding over the funeral decided to substitute the call for the traditional firing of three volleys, fearful that the enemy would hear the muskets and think the battle had resumed.
Instead, he had his bugler sound the call and it caught on.
By 10 a.m. Saturday, onlookers filled the sunny center of Arlington’s Old Amphitheater, high on a hill overlooking the monuments and landmarks of Washington. Buglers circled the perimeter, men and women of all ages, instruments in hand. They were clad in formal attire from different chapters of history — modern and historical military uniforms, Boy Scout uniforms, police uniforms.
Together, they became one voice during the first mass sounding of taps, and then a chorus of harmonized instruments during the second. The notes soared, strong enough to drown even the sound of a low-flying jet overhead.
The calls came rolling over the hills in gentle rounds, each one slightly different, reflecting the subtle variations of instruments and their owners.
For several minutes, the place was overwhelmed by the sound. Then the last, faint notes dissolved in the soft afternoon breeze, and quiet fell again.