In his first term, President Obama instructed the Pentagon to pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia. Instead, the U.S. military finds itself drawn into a string of messy wars in another, much poorer part of the world: Africa.
Over the past two years, the Pentagon has become embroiled in conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Mali and central Africa. Meantime, the Air Force is setting up a fourth African drone base, while Navy warships are increasing their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa.
In scope and expense, the U.S. military involvement in Africa still barely registers when compared with its presence in Asia, let alone the Middle East or Afghanistan. On any given day, there are only about 5,000 U.S. troops scattered across all of Africa, while 28,000 are stationed in South Korea alone.
But it is becoming more common for the Pentagon to deploy troops to parts of Africa that many Americans would be hard-pressed to locate on a map, such as Djibouti, the Central African Republic and now the West African country of Niger, where the U.S. military is planning a base for Predator drones.
Pentagon officials say their expanded involvement in Africa is necessary to combat the spread of al-Qaeda affiliates in North Africa and Somalia and other guerrillas such as Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. And while U.S. military leaders have sought to downplay their rudimentary network of bases on the continent, there are signs that they are planning for a much more robust presence.
In a written statement provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who is poised to become the next leader of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, estimated that the U.S. military needs to increase its intelligence-gathering and spying missions in Africa by nearly 15-fold.
“I believe additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are necessary to protect American interests and assist our close allies and partners,” he wrote in the statement, which was released during his confirmation hearing. ”The recent crises in North Africa demonstrate the volatility of the African security environment.”
Rodriguez said the Africa Command needs additional drones, other surveillance aircraft and more satellite imagery adding that it currently receives only half of its “stated need” for North Africa and only 7 percent of its total “requirements” for the entire continent.
Under the National Socialist (Nazi) regime of Adolf Hitler, homeschooling became illegal throughout Germany in 1938. Like collectivists of all varieties, the Nazi tyrant viewed children as property of the state who needed to be properly indoctrinated with its philosophy. Even Boy Scouts were banned while children and adolescents were prodded into joining the Hitler Youth.
Now, Scouting is legal and the Hitler Youth is nothing but a bitter memory for most Germans, but this old Third Reich law is still being aggressively enforced in Germany. “Aggressively enforced” for this family means roughly $10,000 in fines, police visits to their home, and the threat of the government taking their five children away.
What is the dispute over?
They are a homeschooling Christian family, partially because they claim that the State educators are “undermining the tenets of their Christian faith”.
The Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 after authorities fined them thousands in euros and forcibly took their children because they home school. The family petitioned for political asylum in the United States.
“We can’t expect every country to follow our Constitution. The world might be a better place if it did. However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate,” explained federal U.S. Judge Lawrence Burman in his decision, adding that the appalling violations were “repellent to everything we believe as Americans” while echoing the pleas of human rights campaigners. “Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution.”
And that was that…or so it seemed.
But Eric Holder is now arguing before the Sixth Circuit to revoke that asylum. “There is no fundamental right to homeschool children” — so says your Attorney-General. Furthermore, because the German law prohibits everyone from homeschooling, Holder says it doesn’t violate the family’s fundamental rights.The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.
Let me remind you that is the same Eric Holder, who was held in contempt of congress regarding Fast and Furious, who helped Paul Wilson Dorman by Vacating a Board of Immigration Appeals decision (DOMA case for a same-sex couple), and objects to the Supreme Court ruling that Law Enforcement can check the immigration status of people they have legally detained. And don’t forget the recently leaked immigration legislation draft where Obama may offer amnesty to criminal immigrants.
Did you see the discrepancy?
Eric Holder is inventing ways to allow those who do not legally qualify to enter the country to bypass legislation while, at the same time, attempting to strip the asylum that has already been lawfully granted to an applicant that followed all the proper channels.
What does this say about the priorities of the administration?
The Romeikes have five children, and deserve better than to be a political football, and the object of disdain by an activist administration.
For them, this is deeply personal. If they lose, their family is in danger of being torn apart. The parents could face prison simply for trying to exercise their religious freedom against their government’s stated goal of preventing it.
What does this mean for you?
You now have elected officials that believe rights are granted by the government, and are not intrinsic to each person. Your government behaves as if it rules over the people.
This has serious implications, and is one reason Second Amendment proponents are arming themselves. Once a government believes it rules its people, rather than governing them, it will take liberties with that power and you have all the necessary ingredients for tyranny.
President Park, daughter of a former ruler and a conservative, was voted in on a wave of frustration following five-years of the outgoing Lee Myung-bak government that saw a widening of economic inequality, curtails to freedom of speech across South Korea, and two nuclear tests by North Korea.
As Ms. Park’s government begins to take shape, many are wondering if she will follow through on her pledge to oversee a substantial departure from the policies of the Lee government of which Park herself has been highly critical.
She visited the North Korean capital in 2002 and met with its late leader Kim Jong Il. Since then, his son Kim Jong Un has taken over in Pyongyang, continuing a policy of defiant work on the country’s budding nuclear program, including a test earlier this month that drew widespread international condemnation.
“Precisely because trust is at a low point these days South Korea has a chance to rebuild it,” Park told Foreign Affairs magazine before she won the election. “In order to transform the Korean Peninsula from a zone of conflict into a zone of trust, South Korea has to adopt a policy of ‘trust-politik,’ establishing mutually binding expectations based on global norms.”
“North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistake that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself,” she said. “I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development.”
Reiterating her policy of ‘trust-politik’ – a policy based on deterrence combined with cautious approaches to North Korea – she said she intended to “lay the groundwork for an era of harmonious unification where all Koreans can lead more prosperous and freer lives and where their dreams can come true.”
“I will move forward step-by-step on the basis of credible deterrence to build trust between the South and the North.”
“The members she chose [for her incoming cabinet] are reliable and have experience in government administration,” says Bong Young-shik, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, an independent think tank in Seoul. “They are familiar figures,” he says.
During her campaign, Park, the daughter of the late dictator Park Chung-hee, made promises of job creation and expanded welfare in an effort to address these issues. She is already being accused of backpedaling, having removed all references to “economic democratization” – her umbrella term – in a list of five major goals her administration submitted last week to the public.
South Koreans will be looking for progress on her campaign promises soon, with the hope that Park will follow through on pledges she made while seeking the presidency. “In order to gain the trust of [the] young generation, she should keep the promises she made during the presidential campaign,” says Mr. Bong.
The iconic “Victory or Death” letter from the commander of the Alamo has returned for the first time since it was carried away on horseback at the start of the famous siege in 1836.
Brought by police escort and welcomed with honor guards, drawn swords and a drum roll, the iconic letter written by Alamo commander William Barret Travis returned Friday to San Antonio for the first time since it left by courier at the start of the famous siege at the old Spanish mission 177 years ago.
In the single-page faded and yellowing letter, with Travis’ some 200 words written on both sides, Alamo commander William Barret Travis seeks help for his badly outnumbered rebel Texans at the old Spanish mission. Travis’ letter, written Feb. 24, 1836, was addressed to “the People of Texas and All Americans in the World.”
“I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch,” the 26-year-old lawyer wrote. He also promised: “I shall never surrender or retreat.”
Travis’ letter seeking reinforcements to bolster his badly outnumbered rebel Texans failed to prevent their deaths nearly two weeks later on March 6, 1836. But the following month, Alamo-inspired men led by Gen. Sam Houston defeated elements of the same army under the Mexican president, Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, in a battle outside present-day Houston to win independence for Texas from Mexico.
It failed to prevent their deaths. The Alamo fell two weeks later on March 6, 1836. The following month, Gen. Sam Houston defeated elements of the same Mexican army to win Texas’ independence.
The letter will be on display for 13 days in a specially built display case inside the Alamo which is designed to block harmful ultraviolet light and control the temperature and humidity. Archivists will also monitor it.
The Travis Letter as transcribed by Marisa A. Searle:
Commandancy of the The Alamo
Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—
Fellow Citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.
William Barrett Travis.
Lt. Col. comdt.
P. S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
William Travis died at his post on the cannon platform at the northeast corner of the fortress. He was 26 years old.
The following article was posted at SovereignMan.com and I thought I should pass it along.
In another brilliant move aimed at destroying the few table scraps of economic freedom which remain in the Land of the Free, a bipartisan group of esteemed lawmakers in the United States Congress has introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013.
Remember the golden rule of legislation: the more noble the name of the law sounds, the more disastrous its results. This one is no exception.
Generally speaking in the United States, retailers must collect state and local sales tax at the point of sale. When you walk into a Main Street shop in Anytown, California, you’ll pay the sticker price PLUS hefty city and state sales taxes that can easily be 10% or more.
But if you purchase goods through the mail from a company in, say, Nevada or Oregon, either through the mail or online, no sales tax is charged. This goes back to a 20+ year old US Supreme Court decision which exempted out of state companies from collecting sales tax.
Well, according to the intellectual luminaries in Congress, local retailers are at a disadvantage, effectively having to charge 10%+ more for their products than an out-of-state retailer.
And by God, they’re going to do something about it. After all, it’s just not ‘fair’ that mom and pop retailers on main street have to charge sales tax, while mom and pop retailers on the Internet do not.
The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 aims to level the playing field by requiring online retailers to collect some sort of sales tax from their customers. Needless to say, if the bill is passed, it will be the customer who ends up paying the price.
The thinking on this is completely absurd.
One of the primary reasons people shop online is because online retailers have reduced overhead costs, and these cost savings are passed along to consumers in the form of lower prices.
So if the idea is to ensure that brick and mortar retailers don’t suffer any competitive price disadvantage, why not just regulate prices altogether? Or even better, why not just abolish sales taxes altogether?
That’s because this bill has absolutely nothing to do with fairness, and everything to do with the government taking more of your money. This bill constitutes STEP 1 on the road to a national sales tax, which, given the state of national and state balance sheets, is a financial inevitability.
It’s the most insidious form of deceit– creating new taxes masquerading as ‘fairness’. It’s a total fraud, brought to you by the same people who tell us that there is no inflation, and that we must sexually assault airline passengers in order to protect ourselves from men in caves.
About 100 combat-armed troops have been deployed to the west African nation of Niger as part of an effort to provide “intelligence sharing” capabilities with French troops operating in Mali, where Islam militants have gained a foothold, President Barack Obama said on Friday.
Obama, in a letter to Congress, said the U.S. forces were deployed with weapons “for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security.”
Last month, the U.S. and Niger signed an agreement that provided the legal ground rules for sending U.S. troops to the country.
“This deployment will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region,” Obama stated.
U.S. Africa Command declined to go into detail about the mission, citing “operational security concerns.”
“However, I can tell you that U.S. Africa Command has positioned un-armed remotely piloted aircraft in Niger to support a range of regional security missions and engagements with partner nations,” said Chuck Prichard, an AFRICOM spokesman, in a statement. “This effort is designed to promote regional stability in support of U.S. diplomacy and national security, and to strengthen relationships with regional leaders committed to security and prosperity.”
U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets are “vital to the national security of the United States and its African partners, and provide an unrivaled capability to harness information and make it useful to commanders,” the statement continued.
“AFAFRICA continues to support its partners, including France, against actors seeking to destabilize the region and threaten their citizens and sovereignty.”
The United States already has drones and surveillance aircraft stationed at several points around Africa. Its only permanent military base is in the small country of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, more than 3,000 miles from Mali.
Niger gave permission for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara, a senior Niger government source said in January.
Longtime civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has called for the Department of Homeland Security to help patrol the streets of Chicago to deal with soaring gun violence in the city and for President Barack Obama to return to his adopted home city of Chicago and personally address the issue. Jackson was holding a rally and march in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, the sophomore honors student shot dead in a local park days after performing at Obama’s second inauguration when he made the plea for presidential intervention.
Ms. Pendleton was shot and killed on 29 January as she stood with friends at a neighborhood park, less than a mile away from President Obama’s Chicago home in the Kenwood neighborhood. Police say 15-year-old Pendleton was an innocent victim in a gang-related shooting.
Hundreds of mourners, including US First Lady Michelle Obama, packed a funeral service for the Chicago teenager – whose killing catapulted her into the nation’s debate over gun violence. Reverend Jackson said Chicago needs more help than either Mayor Rahm Emanuel or police superintendent Garry McCarthy can provide, Reuters reported, and called for Obama to return to his hometown. “When the president shows up, it shows ultimate national seriousness,” Jackson, a Chicago resident, said.
President Barack Obama traveled to Chicago Friday to discuss gun violence. Many pundits pointed out that the President’s hometown was an odd venue for the speech, as it already has some of the Nation’s strictest gun laws. But, it seems, to no avail.
Within hours of the President’s speech, the sister of a 14-year-old who attended the event was shot dead in North Chicago, despite the President’s call to end street violence in the city.
On Sunday, Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy — who previously has blamed Chicago violence on “government-sponsored racism” and Sarah Palin — suggested that gun owners are corrupt individuals guilty of endangering public safety. McCarthy also suggested that legislators and judges should cast aside the Constitution and make and interpret laws based on public opinion polls.
Previously, McCarthy was pointing the finger in different direction. “Most of our violence is gang related, much of it is narcotics gang related. They argue over turf and get into violent disputes with each other, and that’s how people get hurt,” McCarthy said at a press conference last month after a weekend of shootings claimed five lives and another 16 people were injured.
So far, other than a presidential appearance and a speech in Chicago, the Obama administration has yet to respond to Jackson’s plea. However, as gang-related violence in Obama’s hometown and elsewhere continues to claim lives and dominate headlines, it is entirely possible the federal government may directly intervene in Chicago as part of its effort further meddle in local law enforcement duties under the hysterical cover of putting an end to “gun violence.”
Jesse Jackson — whose words are right on cue for the nationwide rollout of armed TSA agents — wants the government to bring in a new domestic security force.
Obama even talked about this “civilian national security force” in 2008, when he explained that it needed to be as well-armed and well-funded as the military! His exact words, as WND.com reminds us, were:
We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
This is, in essence, a call for martial law a militant dictatorship enforced at the end of a gun. And it’s doomed to fail.
According to law enforcement experts the greatest social influences fueling the growth of U.S. gang membership are poverty and lack of solid economic opportunity. Depending on whom you believe Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by U.S. poverty with Hispanics populations living in poverty at 38-42% and Blacks at 30-33%. Under reported unemployment among minorities is also at historic highs while national high school graduation rates and out of wedlock pregnancies are at abysmal levels.
It’s no wonder gang membership rates, gang violence and murders are soaring.
The latest Chicago Crime Commission gang report is out, and it totals an enormous number of gang members in Chicago—68,000 or more. According to Jody Weis, who now runs the Commission, that makes Chicago the most gang-ridden city in the country.
The city has at least 59 gangs with 625 factions. A cursory look at the Chicago Gang Map reveals that gang territories appear to span all over the city’s South and West Sides, but also show up in pockets on the North Side. Also, according to the map, a territory can be as small as a city block, or as large as an entire police district or neighborhood.
It will take a sizeable force to effectively secure and patrol such a large area and if anyone believes that there would not be any confrontations between government forces and gang members, they are living in a fantasy world.
Don’t you find it odd that Jackson, a man of dark skin color, wants his own brothers and sisters in the inner cities to be confronted and enslaved by armed government goons? Any confrontation between DHS security forces and minority gang members could result in uprisings and violence in other cities. Is Reverend Jackson ready for that?
Perhaps, the reason the Obama administration has not responded could be that they are considering an alternative. If you recall, when Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona asked President Obama for assistance in curbing the violence on the border in her state, the federal government posted signs ninty miles from the border. Can we expect similar signs in and around the Chicago metropolitan area?