Tag Archives: United States armed forces

Donald Trump’s Awful Tweet About Sexual Assault In The Military

Donald Trump is as ignorant as he looks…

The Huffington Post

Donald Trump

On Tuesday, the Pentagon released a report about the rampant sexual assault taking place within the United States military. The figures the report laid out were shocking to read. From the Associated Press:

The Pentagon report says that the number of sexual assaults reported by members of the military rose from 3,192 to 3,374 in 2012, while the department estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted, based on anonymous surveys, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the report.

Politicians from President Obama on down condemned the findings. For noted military theorist Donald Trump, however, the study sent a different message:

It’s quite the classy response! Is Trump saying that men are all prone to rape? Or that women shouldn’t be allowed in the military because they’ll inevitably be assaulted? This seems like a very dark view of the world. Trump has threatened to run for president in the past, but it’s possible that he just lost the women’s vote. And men’s. And military families. And everyone, everywhere.

 

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North Korea orders artillery to be combat ready, targeting U.S. bases

Reuters

North Korea said on Tuesday its strategic rocket and long-range artillery units have been ordered to be combat ready, targeting U.S. military bases on Guam, Hawaii and mainland America after U.S. bombers flew sorties threatening the North.

The order, issued in a statement from the North’s military “supreme command”, marks the latest fiery rhetoric from Pyongyang since the start of joint military drills by U.S. and South Korean forces early this month.

South Korea’s defense ministry said it saw no sign of imminent military action by North Korea.

of KPA Large Combined Units 324 and 287 and KPA Navy Combined Unit 597, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (not pictured) watches, in the eastern sector of the front and the east coastal area on March 25, 2013, in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency in Pyongyang March 26, 2013. REUTERS-KCNA

Soldiers of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) take part in the landing and anti-landing drills

“From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army will be putting into combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units, including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units, that will target all enemy objects in U.S. invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam,” the North’s KCNA news agency said.

The North previously threatened nuclear attack on the United States andSouth Korea, although it is not believed to have the capability to hit the continental United States with an atomic weapon. But the U.S. military’s bases in the Pacific area are in range of its medium-range missiles.

South Korea’s defense ministry said it had detected no signs of unusual activity by the North’s military but will monitor the situation. The South and the U.S. military are conducting drills until the end of April, which they have stressed are strictly defensive in nature.

The North has previously threatened to strike back at the U.S. military accusing Washington of war preparations by using B-52 bombers which have flown over the Korean peninsula as part of the drills.

North Korea has said it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War and threatened a nuclear attack on the United States.

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Filed under North and South Korea Conflicts

Military Terror Plot: Murder Case Uncovers Terror Plot By ‘Militia’ Within U.S. Military

Military Terror Plot

This should come as no surprise…

The Huffington Post

Prosecutors say a murder case against four soldiers in Georgia has revealed they formed an anarchist militia within the U.S. military with plans to overthrow the federal government.

One of the accused troops, Pfc. Michael Burnett, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter and gang charges in the December slayings of former soldier Michael Roark and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Tiffany York.

Burnett told a Long County judge that Roark, who had just left the Army, knew of the militia group’s plans and was killed because he was “a loose end.”

Prosecutor Isabel Pauley says the group bought $87,000 worth of guns and bomb-making materials and plotted to take over Fort Stewart, bomb targets in nearby Savannah and Washington state, as well as assassinate the president.

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Filed under U.S. Military

In Case You Wondered If Republicans Are Still Crazy

Rush Limbaugh Cartoon by Ian D. Marsden of mar...

Image via Wikipedia

Yes, they are…

Oliver Willis

Here’s Rush Limbaugh, sick as always.

On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh launched another religion-based smear of President Obama: that he is sending troops to Africa to kill Christians. Limbaugh declared that “President Obama has deployed troops to another war, in Africa,” adding that the group being targeted, the Lord’s Resistance Army, “are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. … So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians.” Limbaugh then claimed that Obama supports “help[ing] the Egyptians wipe out the Christians.”

Sick. Always sick. Eternally sick. And he’s one of the right’s top “thought” leaders.

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Filed under Obama Derangement Syndrome, Rush Limbaugh

WikiLeaks cable: U.S. troops handcuffed, shot Iraqi children in raid

I must admit that when I read this story at around 8:00 am on the McClatchey site, I was hesitant about reporting it for various reasons which I won’t detail here.

I will not post the horrifying picture that accompanies the story on either McClatchey or The Raw Story.  One would have to click on the link to either site to witness the horrific graphic detail.

In every war this country has ever fought, there are a few soldiers, who for whatever reason, have sunken into the darkest depths of the so-called fog of war.

The Raw Story

According to a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, U.S. troops massacred an Iraqi family in the town of Ishaqi in 2006, handcuffing and then shooting 11 people in the head including a woman in her 70′s and five children ages five and under.

McClatchy is reporting that the soldiers then called in an air strike on the house to cover up evidence of the killings.

This account differs sharply from an official version of the 2006 incident, which indicated that coalition forces captured an al Qaeda in Iraq operative in the house, which was destroyed in a firefight. The WikiLeaks cable, however, corroborates accounts by Ishaqi townspeople and includes questions about the incident by Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The cable is dated twelve days after the incident, which took place March 15, 2006. In it, Alston says that autopsies performed in Tikrit on bodies pulled from the wreckage of the farmhouse indicated that all of the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head.

The victims included “at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay’ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra’a (aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz’s mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz’s sister (name unknown), Faiz’s nieces Asma’a Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.”

Here is the cable…

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Filed under The Fog of War, Wikileaks

DADT Repeal Fully Endorsed In Pentagon Study

Huffington Post

The Pentagon released its much-anticipated study on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) on Tuesday, finding that 70 percent of servicemembers believe the change in policy would have a positive, mixed or no effect. The announcement was accompanied by a full-throated endorsement of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly by the study’s co-authors, who concluded that there is little risk of disruption to the military if implementation is properly carried out.

Co-authors Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday that the study found strong support for implementing repeal, and activists are hoping that lawmakers who were waiting to see the findings will now come out in support of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Furthermore, they made clear that much of the opposition to repeal springs from misinformation.

“The reality is that there are gay men and lesbians already serving in today’s U.S. military, and most Service members recognize this,” said Johnson in his prepared remarks to reporters. “Further, in the course of our assessment, it became apparent to us that, aside from the moral and religious objections to homosexuality, much of the concern about ‘openly’ gay Service members is driven by misperceptions and stereotypes.”

Continue reading here…

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Filed under U.S. Politics

NEW ! The 244 ACCOMPLISHMENTS of PRESIDENT OBAMA

This list will undoubtedly have some points that cross over to the “other” list published here two days ago, but BOTH serve it’s purpose in showing that this President has not been sitting on his butt doing nothing.

Click here for an updated version of President Obama’s accomplishments!

B4B News

ETHICS

• Ordered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act and overturned Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents (2009)

• Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible (2009)

• Placed limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House (2009)

• Placed limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration (2009)

• Signed a measure strengthening registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists (2009)

• Ordered that lobbyists must be removed from and are no longer permitted to serve on federal and White House advisory panels and boards (2009) * Note: After saying he would not hire lobbyists, a few have been hired in the Administration

• Companies and individuals who are delinquent on their taxes or owe back taxes are no longer allowed to bid for federal contracts (2009)

• Initiated the “e-Rulemaking Initiative” (in cooperation with Cornell University) to allow for online public “notice and comment” of federal laws and initiatives (2010)

• Issued the “Open Gov Directive” ordering all Cabinet departments to promote transparency and citizen participation in their policies (2010)

• Signed extensions on banning lobbyists from serving on agency boards (2010)

• Developed the “Don Not Pay List” with data on contractors and recipients of federal funds who are deemed to be ineligible because of fraud and abuse (2010)

GOVERNANCE

• The White House website now provides information on all economic stimulus projects and spending, along with an unprecedented amount of information on our government (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era practice of circumventing established FDA rules for political reasons (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era practice of having White House staff rewrite the findings of scientific and environmental regulations and reports when they disagreed with the results (2009)

• Limited the salaries of senior White House aides (salaries cut to $100,000) (2009)

• Has urged Congress to adopt “Pay-Go” (whereby each dollar of spending is offset by a dollar in cuts or revenues, which was used in the `90s but abandoned in the `00s) (2010)

• Has been holding open meetings with Republican leaders, although they complain of a lack of access and information (2010)

• Signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) * Note: To curb wasteful spending

• Tasked federal agencies to develop plans for disposing of unneeded real estate and then to eliminate unnecessary or non-economical lands, properties, etc. (2010)

NATIONAL SECURITY

• Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane (which wasn’t even used in Iraq/Afghanistan) and other outdated weapons systems (2009)

• Announced his intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (2009) * Note: The closure has been delayed due to massive opposition but it remains on the agenda.

• Stated his interest in housing terrorists at a new federal “super max” facility in the US (2009) * Note: this has been delayed in the face of massive opposition but it remains on the agenda

• Cut the expensive Reagan era missile defense program, saving $1.4 billion in 2010 (2009)

• Cancelled plans to station anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic (2009)

• Replacing long-range, expensive missile systems with more efficient smaller systems (2009)

• Increased US Navy patrols off the Somali coast in response to pirating (2009)

• Established a new cyber security office and appointed a cyber security czar (2009)

• Ordered the first nation-wide comprehensive cyber threat assessment (2009)

• Instituted a new Nuclear Posture Review, revising US nuclear deterrence policy to encourage more nations to join the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2010) * Note: Components of the policy include: a pledge to stop nuclear testing; a pledge to not build a new generation of nucs; identifying nuclear terrorism, rather than a launch from another nuclear state, as the major threat; a pledge to not use nucs on a non-nuclear state in a conventional conflict; etc.

• Executive orders to block payment, transfers, exports, etc… of individuals and organizations support the regimes of North Korea, Iran, Somali pirates, and other foreign threats (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to extend certain provisions of The Trading with Enemies Act which was to expire in September 2010 (2010) * Note: This includes freezing assets and banning trade that benefits the Cuban regime; however further efforts at normalizing travel to Cuba are supported

• Signed bill for southwest border security and increased funds and agents on the Mexican border (2010)

• Signed the Comprehensive Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act to deal with foreign regimes like Iran and North Korea (2010)

IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN

• Began the phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq (2009); continuing the withdrawal (2010)

• Changed the US military command in the Afghan conflict (2009)

• Tasked the Pentagon to reorganize US policy in Afghanistan; the new policy includes 30,000 additional troops deployed, priority training of Afghan forces, developing agriculture and infrastructure, limiting aerial bombing, etc. (2009)

• Ordered the Pentagon to send additional helicopters to assist US Marine units and Special Forces in Afghanistan (2009)

• Increased unmanned drone strikes on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date (2009)

MILITARY & VETERANS

• Ordered the Pentagon to cover expenses of families of fallen soldiers if they wish to be on site when the body arrives back in the US (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era “blackout” imposed on media coverage of the return of fallen US soldiers (2009) * Note: The media is now permitted to cover the story pending adherence to respectful rules and with the approval of the fallen soldier’s family

• Ended the Bush-era “black out” policy on media coverage of war casualties (2009) * Note: Full information is now released for the first time in the War on Terror

• Ordered better body armor to be procured for US troops (2009)

• Funding new Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles (2009) * Note: The old Hummers were very vulnerable to roadside explosives and an alarming percentage of our soldiers lost in Iraq were on account of IEDs

• Working to increase pay and benefits for military personnel (2009)

• Improving housing for military personnel (2009)

• Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses (2009)

• Ordered that conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other neglected military hospitals be improved (2009)

• Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military to a post-Cold War, modern fighting force (2009) * Note: Bush announced in 2001 his intention to do this but backed off the reforms after 9/11, which include: new procurement policies; increasing the size of Special Ops units; deploying new technologies; creating new cyber security units; etc.

• Ended the Bush-era practice of awarding “no-bid” defense contracts (2009)

• Improving benefits for veterans as well as VA staffing, information systems, etc. (2009)

• Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans (2009)

• Suspended the Bush-era decision to purchase a fleet of Marine One helicopters from suppliers in favor of American made helicopters (2009)

• Ordered a review of the existing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military (2010)

• New GI Bill for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan (2009)

• Signed bill providing assistance for caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010) * Note: The omnibus bill does the following: Training, funding, and counseling for caregivers; promoting pilot childcare programs for women vets under treatment at the VA; independent oversight to prevent abuse; readjustment counseling for National Guard and reservist units; etc.

• Eliminated co-payments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled (2010)

• Fulfilled campaign promise to have combat troops (90,000) out of Iraq by August 31, 2010 (2010)

• Established a new interagency task force to assist veterans owning small businesses (2010) * Note: The efforts include promoting federal contract opportunities, improve access to loans and capital, mentor assistance programs, etc.

• Signed The Families of Fallen Heroes Act, which covers the moving costs of immediate family members of those lost in service (military, intelligence, and security personnel) (2010)

FOREIGN POLICY

• Closed the Bush-era “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy allowing “enhanced interrogation” (torture); the US is again in compliance with Geneva Convention standards (2009) * Note: Obama has permitted some controversial interrogation techniques to continue

• Restarted international nuclear non-proliferation talks and reestablished international nuclear inspection protocols (2009) * Note: Bush withdrew from non-proliferation talks and dismantled the inspection infrastructure

• Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office (2009)

• Banned the export of cluster bombs (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era plans to increase the US nuclear arsenal (2009)

• Authorized the Navy SEALS operation that freed by force the US shipping captain held by Somali pirates (2009)

• Restored the US commitment to the UN population fund for family planning; overturned the ban on providing funds internationally for family planning (2009) * Note: The family planning efforts were suspended under Bush

• Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit families (2009)

• Extended an offer of engagement (free from sanctions and penalties) to Iran through December 31, 2009 (Iran did not accept the offer) (2009)

• Sent envoys to the Middle East and other parts of the world, reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy (2009)

• Authorized discussions with North Korea and the private mission by former president, Bill Clinton, to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons (2009)

• Authorized discussions with Myanmar and the mission by Senator Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive (2009)

• Renewed loan guarantees for Israel (2009)

• Signed the USIFTA trade agreement with/for Israel (2009)

• Authorized a $550m advance for Israel (six months prior to the scheduled date) in order to accommodate Israeli’s economic and financial needs (2009)

• Continued agreements with Israel for cultural exchanges, immigration, etc. (2009)

• Spoke on Arab television, spoke at an Egyptian university, and met with Arab leaders in an effort to change the tone of US-Arab relations (2009)

• Ordered the US to finally pay its dues to the United Nations (2009)

• Attended the Summit of America’s meeting in Trinidad and Tobago (2010)

• Dispatched several envoys and initiated talks with numerous nations (2010)

• Signed a nuclear limitation treaty with Russia (2010) * Note: The agreement calls for both countries to reduce their nucs by one-third (1,500) and launch systems by half (800)

• Hosted nuclear non-proliferation summit for several nations (2010)

• Executive Order to establish support offices in the State Department to assist the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to continue drug interdiction support with Columbia (2010)

ECONOMY

• Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) (2009) * Note: Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to not make infrastructure a priority

• Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan and two GMAC rescue packages (2009)

• Authorized the housing rescue plan and new FHA residential housing guarantees (2009)

• Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls

• Instituted a new rule allowing the public to meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (in as quickly as one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying (2009)

• Authorized a continuation of the US financial and banking rescue plans initiated at the end of the Bush administration and authorized TARP funds to buy “toxic assets” from failing financial institutions (2009)

• Authorized the “Cash for Clunkers” program that stimulated auto sales and removed old, inefficient, polluting cars from the road (2009)

• Convened a “jobs summit” to bring experts together to develop ideas for creating jobs (2009)

• Ordered the FDIC to beef up deposit insurance (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of protecting credit card companies (2009) * Note: In place of the old policy, new consumer protections were instituted and the industry’s predatory practices were banned

• Authorized the federal government to make more loans available to small businesses and ordered lower rates for federal loans to small businesses (2009)

• Placed a 35% tariff on Chinese tires and a few other products such as pipes after China was found to be illegally “dumping” exports below cost (2009) * Note: Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan all refused to “get tough” on China’s predatory trade practices; Bush II refused four times during his presidency

• In November 2009, Obama extended unemployment benefits for one million workers

and expanded coverage for some existing homeowners who are buying again (2009)

• Called on Congress to deliver a “Jobs bill” (2010)

• Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)

• Signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits set to expire (2010)

• Signed historic Wall Street reform bill (2010) * Note: Designed to reregulate and end abusive practices and promote consumer protections

• Signed the HIRE Act to stimulate the economic recovery (2010) * Note: The bill includes: tax cuts for small businesses who hire someone unemployed for at least two months; small businesses can write off their investments in equipment this year; etc.

• National Export Initiative established to enhance federal support (technical assistance, training, trade missions, etc.) and coordination efforts to help US businesses export products and services (2010)

• Initiatives to promote a “Wireless Broadband Revolution” (2010) * Note: Among other things, broadband is finally being considered as necessary infrastructure, with efforts to expand use, access, and spectrum…

• Expanded agricultural credit to farmers during current economic crisis (2010)

• Signed bill – US Manufacturing Enhancement Act (2010)

• Signed bill – Single Family Housing Mortgage Insurance (2010)

TAXES

• Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks to permit the US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs (2009) * Note: The new policy promotes in-sourcing investments to brings jobs back to the US

• Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provides small tax cuts for 95% of “working families” (2009) * Note: The tax cuts were not as big as was suggested during the 2008 campaign

• Convened an advisory board that is looking into simplifying the tax code (2009)

• Ordered the closing of offshore tax safe havens (for individual and business tax evaders) (2009)

• Reduced taxes for some small businesses to stimulate the economic recovery (2009)

• Extended the Home Buyers Credit for first-time home buyers (2009)

• Proposed doubling the child tax credit (2010)

• Called for the repeal of the capital gains tax for small businesses (2010)

• Proposed rolling back the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (2010) * Note: This would be for families earning over $250,000/year and would return their tax rates to the 1990’s level

BUDGETING 

• Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut federal spending (2009)

• Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify wasteful spending and practices (2009)

• Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient (2009)

• Overturned the Bush-era practice of not listing certain federal programs in the federal budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did this (so did Reagan) in an effort to hide programs and make the budget look smaller; such “off budget” items are now included in the annual budget

• Full appropriations for war are now included in the budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did not list many of the appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, and War on Terror

• Funds for emergency appropriations are now included in the budget (2009) (2010)

• Proposed a three-year freeze on federal discretionary spending beginning in 2011 (2010)

• Is in the process of cutting 120 federal programs identified as either wasteful or unnecessary (2010)

• Established a bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility, staffed by House and Senate members and private citizens, tasked with submitting proposals to balance the budget (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down

• Established a bipartisan commission on the future of Social Security, tasked with submitting proposals to preserve and strengthen Social Security (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down

• Cut $20 billion from federal budget and has pledged to cut at least this much every year (2010)

• Ultimately decided to cancel planned new presidential helicopter fleet and stick with marine One (2010)

• Freezing all discretionary spending for next three years, except on national security (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to freeze discretionary awards, bonuses, etc. for federal political appointees (2010)

• Beginning to use “Pay-As-You-Go” (Pay-Go) to offset budget expenditures with budget cuts or revenue enhancements (2010)

HEALTHCARE 

• Removed Bush era restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research (2009)

• Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research (2009)

• Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children (2009)

• Established an independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare (2009)

• Reversed some of the Bush-era restrictions that prevented Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical firms for cheaper drugs, allowing government to again competitively bid (2009) * Note: Obama had promised to lift all restrictions but, while he did negotiate with drug companies for them to lower their costs the deal only lifted some restrictions

• Expanding government vaccination programs (2009)

• Issued new disease prevention guidelines and priorities for the CDC (2009)

• Authorized the FDA to finally begin regulating tobacco (2009)

• Tasked federal labs to prioritize research on and deployment of H1N1 vaccines (2009)

• Asked multiple congressional committees to bring forward a healthcare reform bill; held dozens of public hearings and town halls on the issue (2009) (2010)

• Established a new council on National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health to be chaired by Surgeon General and charged with promoting healthy lifestyles and integrative healthcare (2010)

• When accusations to the contrary arose, an Executive Order was signed to reaffirm that federal funds are not to be used for abortion services (2010)

• Historic healthcare reform bill signed – $940 billion over 10 years (2010) * Note: 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage and costs will be lowered for most Americans, but many of the goals are phased in over four years

Components of the bill 

- Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals/family members with pre-existing health conditions; a temporary plan is being developed to cover high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions until the full reforms go into effect in 2014

- Prevents insurance companies from placing lifetime limits on benefits

- Bans “rescission” so insurance companies can’t cancel coverage if individuals keep their policies current or if they become ill

- An individual’s out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are capped

- Closes the “donut hole” (Part D) for Medicare prescription drug coverage (under Bush, Medicare helped pay for drugs up to $2,600 and above $4,550, but individuals had to pay 100% of the costs in between these amounts); now Medicare helps cover costs irrespective of the amount – seniors will now pay only 25% of drug costs up to $4,550 and only 5% of drug costs above that amount

- In 2010, an emergency provision will offer seniors a $250 rebate on the costs incurred within the “donut hole”

- Individuals living at or below the poverty line were eligible for healthcare under Medicaid, but by 2014 individuals/families living slightly above (making up to $14,404/$29,327) the poverty line will also be eligible for benefits

- Individuals/families making less than $43,320/$88,200 per year will qualify for government subsidies to help purchase health insurance

- All individuals must have health insurance or face a government fine; all large (over 50 employees) employers must offer health insurance to employees or pay a fine

- Small businesses can get a tax credit if they offer health care

- There are hardship exemptions if individuals can’t afford health insurance

- Families can keep their children in college on their plans through age 26

- Promotes health insurance “exchanges” so consumers can buy “wholesale”

- Creates consumer assistance offices to help consumers file complaints or appeal decisions from insurance companies; beginning in 2011, insurance companies can no longer make excessive rate hikes without justification and approval, and those doing so may be barred from participating in new health insurance exchanges

Funding sources:

- Large employers (over 50 workers) that don’t offer health benefits will be charged a $2,000/worker fee; if the employer offers coverage but employees instead purchase federally subsidized insurance the fee is $3,000/worker receiving federal subsidies or $750/worker (whichever is lower)

- Annual fees on pharmaceutical companies ($27 billion), health insurance companies ($60 billion), and medical device-makers ($20 billion)

- Annual penalties on individuals who do not have health insurance (up to a maximum of $695/person)

- Increase in the Medicare payroll tax from 1.45% to 2.35% for individuals making $200,000+ and families making $250,000+

- 3.8% tax on unearned income for millionaires

- Insurance companies will be subject to a tax on each high-end insurance plan (so-called “Cadillac” plans) they offer

Miscellaneous:

- Illegal immigrants are not eligible for insurance or subsidies

- By Executive Order, such federal funding can’t be used for abortion

- The federal government will assist states by covering all of the increased expenses of expanding Medicaid coverage (90% of costs after 2020)

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT 

• Removed a ruling that now allows individual states to enact automotive fuel efficiency standards above federal standards (2009)

• Offered attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era rule that weakened the Endangered Species Act (2009)

• Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions (2009)

• Signed a measure requiring energy producing plants to begin producing 15% of their energy from renewable sources (2009)

• Announced that the federal government would reengage in the long-delayed effort to clean up “Superfund” toxic waste sites (2009)

• Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s energy reform was killed by Senate Republicans

• Proposed a new refuge for wild mustangs (2009)

• Cancelled several Bush-era mountain-top removal and mining permits (2009)

• Reengaged in international treaties and agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009)

* Note: Bush had withdrawn from such efforts

• Asked Congress for an energy reform and “cap and trade” bill (2009) * Note: The Congress failed to pass such a bill

• Developing plan to lease US coastal waters for wind and water-current energy production (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era policies that allowed uranium mining near national parks such as the Grand Canyon (2009)

• Expanded the Petrified Forest National Park (2009)

• Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that protects millions of acres of scenic, historic, and recreational lands and trails (2009)

• Requiring that government buildings and facilities be retrofitted to save energy costs (2009) * Note: These green retrofits are moving very slowly

• Authorized studies in several western states to determine how to support large-scale solar installations (2009)

• Attended the Copenhagen talks and, after the talks were stalled, negotiated an international (voluntary) agreement on reducing carbon emissions and raising funds to assist developing nations in offsetting carbon emissions (2009)

• Banned importation of pythons in response to a growing population of pythons damaging the Florida Everglades (2009)

• Committing the federal government to increasing research and use of renewable, clean energy sources such as wind, biomass, etc. (2009)

• Executive orders establishing a federal initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all federal operations (2009) (2010)

• Called for exploring the possibility of additional off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, and off Alaska (but not in ANWR) (2010)

• Agreed to consider increases in nuclear energy production and requested a study on the feasibility of nuclear power plant construction (2010) * Note: Nearly all energy initiatives were defeated by Republican opposition in Congress

• Increased investment in clean energy projects (2010)

• Executive Order to develop a new strategy for and commitment to ocean and lake resources, and for scientific research on water quality (2010)

RIGHTS

• Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) (2009)

• Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina, to the Supreme Court (2009)

• Held the first Seder in White House (2009)

• Appointed a diverse Cabinet and diverse White House staff (2009)

• Spoke at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization (2009)

• Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes (2009)

• Reversed the Bush-era practice of politicizing Justice Department investigations and prosecutions against political opponents (2009)

• Pushing for some of the 9/11 perpetrators to be tried in federal court (2009) * Note: The process has moved at a snail’s pace and, in the face of opposition, Obama has remained quiet

• Signed an extension of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Bill to provide federal research and support for treating the disease (2009)

• Allowed the State Department of offer same-sex benefits for employees (2009)

• Proposed that the Pentagon repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; placed a “freeze” on current efforts to remove alleged homosexuals from the military (2009)

• After eight years of neglect, the Justice Department and EEOC are again enforcing employment discrimination laws (2009)

• Convened the White House Tribal Nations Conference, inviting representatives from 564 federally-recognized Indian tribes (2009)

• Provided increased school projects for Indian lands and increased funds for the Indian Health Service (2009)

• Signed an Executive Order mandating that his Cabinet develop plans to work with and consult Indian tribes on issues impacting Indian lands (2009)

• Commissioned a study to develop alternatives to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)

• Called for federal agencies to look into recognizing gay partnerships in terms of benefits (2010)

• Signed an Executive Order for the President’s Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)

• Increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)

• Signed Executive Order to promote the federal government as a “model employer” when it comes to hiring the disabled (2010) * Note: This includes new efforts to increase the recruitment, hiring, and training for the disabled

• Programs to assist Spanish speakers with the US Census (2010)

• Elena Kagen appointed to Supreme Court (2010)

• Tasked all federal agencies to develop new strategies to address HIV/AIDS (2010)

• After organizing studies on the topic in 2009, tasked the Pentagon to eliminate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)

• Signed Fair Sentencing Act (2010) * Note: The Administration continues to deescalate marijuana interdiction and raids; increased dramatically the amount of cocaine one must possess to be sentenced to jail; eliminated mandatory sentencing for first-time drug abusers and simple possession

EDUCATION

• Authorized construction funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access in K-12 public schools (2009)

• Increased funding for school construction (2009)

• Increased funding available for student loans (2009)

• Expanded the national youth service program (2009)

• Streamlined the federal student loan process to save $87 billion over the next 10 years (2009)

• Changed the rule to allow students struggling to make college loan payments to refinance their loans (2009)

• Beginning discussions with Congress for education reform (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s education reform has been sidelined by opposition in Congress

• Initiated a “Race to the Top” competitive federal grant program for states who develop innovative policies (2009)

• Instituted a “judgment review” allowing families with student loans to petition to have their current financial status determine the loan rather than the previous year’s finances (2009)

• Launched “Educate to Innovate,” a public/private partnership making $236 million available for science, mathematics, and technology education programs (2009)

• Proposed capping the maximum amount students must pay on student loans (as percentage of their income) (2010)

• Proposed reducing student loan obligations for individuals going to work in community and public service jobs (2010)

• The federal government will offer direct student loans, cutting out the cost of private banks (“middle man”) who increase the costs in order to make a profit (2010)

• Increased investment in technologies for schools/education (2010)

DISASTER RESPONSE

• Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness (2009)

• FEMA once again reports directly to the president (2009) * Note: Bush removed FEMA (prior to the Hurricane Katrina disaster) from this status

• Demonstrated an immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters (2009)

• Ordered that funds be released and red tape be streamlined for the ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery effort in the Gulf Coast (2009)

• Timely and massive relief effort in response to the January 2010 earthquake and ensuing humanitarian crisis (2010)

Components of the response:

- The FBI’s National Center for Disaster Fraud was tasked to look into possible fraud with organizations soliciting funds for relief

- Announced the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund

- Established an emergency Haiti Task Force in the State Department

- Established a website with information, resources, and a posting of a “person finder” online to help families and friends to locate loved ones

- Joint aid and relief planning with the U.K.

- Sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council for additional security and police forces in Haiti

- Dispatched the US Navy floating hospital (USNS Comfort) and, within 5 days, 9 naval and relief ships, 5 Coast Guard cutters, 8 Coast Guard aircraft, and 12,000 US military personnel

- Initial dispatch of several ships and cargo planes full of humanitarian aid and supplies, 6 search/rescue teams (500 personnel), and 265 Department of Health & Human Services personnel for emergency medical and aid support

- Established a mobile US air traffic control center at the destroyed airport in Port-au-Prince

• After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a freeze was placed on new deep water projects (2010)

• Executive Order to establish new security measures to minimize accidental release of bio and chemical agents; new strategies for public health and bioterrorism response (2010)

• Established a national commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon spill to examine facts and report a plan of action; new efforts to prevent offshore spills (2010)

• After a slow start in responding to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the White House is promoting a long-term plan to reconstruct the damaged Gulf and negotiated with BP the establishment of a multi-billion dollar trust fund for victims of the spill (2010)

• Extended national flood insurance program for those in need during current economic crisis (2010)

OTHER INITIATIVES

• New federal funding for science and research labs (2009)

• Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program (2009)

• Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program (2009)

• Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud (2009)

• Ordered the DEA to stop raids on medical marijuana usage (2009)

• Ordered a review of existing “mandatory minimum” prison sentencing (2009)

• Signed an order to limit airport tarmac delays and the time passengers had to sit in the plane/on the tarmac during delays (2009)

• Restored the EPA to “Cabinet level” status (2009) * Note: Bush removed the EPA from this status

• Beginning discussions with Congress for comprehensive immigration reform (2010)

* Note: Much of Obama’s immigration reform had been stalled by opposition in Congress

• Commissioned expert panels and reports from NASA; announced a new direction for human space flight that involves funding a new heavy lift-launcher and jettisoning the Ares 1 program; boosting NASA’s budget by $1 billion in 2011 (2010)

• Ordered a ban on text-messaging for all commercial truck and bus drivers (2010)

• Signed bill – FAA Air Transportaiton Modernizatin and Safety Improvement Act (2010)


P.S. IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING…

• The Obamas paid for the renovations of the private living quarters in the White House with their own money rather than using the funds provided to all new first families (2009)

• The Obamas reused many Christmas ornaments from previous White House trees rather than buy new ones (2009)

• The Obamas used LED energy-saving lights on White House Christmas tree (2009)

• Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; donated the award money for the prize to several charities (2009)

• Planted a garden for the White House’s vegetables and flowers (2009)

• Installed a swing set/playground for the Obama daughters and children of White House employees (2009)

• Held over 150 public town halls, press conferences, interviews, etc. in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not available on such things, but this seems to be a new record high

• Less than 30 days of vacation in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not readily available on such things, but this seems to be a new record low

…And A FAMILY MAN !

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Filed under Obama Administration, Obama Administration’s Achievements, Obama's Accomplishments

U.S. Soldiers Allegedly Killed Afghan Civilians, Kept Body Parts As Trophies

This is kind of scary and disheartening, to think that our own military personnel may have done this with total disregard for humanity and morality…

Huffington Post

A dozen U.S. soldiers are charged with organizing a secret “kill team” which allegedly murdered Afghan civilians at random and cut fingers and other body parts from corpses as trophies, according to new documents released by the U.S. military.

According to news reports, details in the charging documents released Wednesday shed new light on the cases against 12 soldiers who served a year in southern Afghanistan with a Stryker infantry brigade.

The most serious accusations involve five soldiers — Calvin Gibbs, Adam Winfield, Jeremy Mortlock, Andrew Holmes and Michael Wagnon II — who are said to have slain three Afghans earlier this year. According to reports, those men would likely be charged with premeditated murder, but may face additional charges relating to obstructing justice, possessing human body parts and retaining mortar rounds for personal use.

Authorities allege that Gibbs kept finger bones, leg bones and a tooth from the Afghan corpses, while Wagnon is said to have kept a skull. The remaining seven soldiers are charged with participating in the cover-up, which included smoking hashish stolen from the civilians, taking photos of the corpses and lying to investigators about their deaths.

Winfield’s father Christopher has slammed the accusations against his 22-year-old son, telling the Associated Press he tried nearly half a dozen times to pass on urgent messages to the Army, received via e-mail and Internet chats, from his son earlier this year. According to the elder Winfield, his son had been made aware of — but did not witness or participate in — the murder of the first civilian, and had been physically threatened by Gibbs to keep quiet.

From the AP:

On Feb. 14, he told his parents what happened in a lengthy Internet chat: Members of his unit on patrol had killed “some innocent guy about my age just farming.” He said he did not witness the killing.But, he wrote, those involved told him about it and urged him to “get one of my own.”

He said that virtually everyone in the platoon was aware of what was going on, but no one seemed to object.

“If you talk to anyone on my behalf, I have proof that they are planning another one in the form of an AK-47 they want to drop on a guy.”

Media outlets have equated the alleged crimes to abuses committed by U.S. troops at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. “This is the kind of thing that hurts us enormously,” foreign policy expert Michael O’Hanlon told CBS. “It will have a disproportionate effect, just like Abu Ghraib did … just like the Koran burning would in Florida.”

A military grand jury will consider the charges later this month. McClatchy has a helpful breakdown of the charges here.

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Obama weighs in on Quran burning, Rahm

MSNBC

President Obama called the proposed Quran burning a “stunt” and a “recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda” that “could greatly endanger our great young men and women in uniform.”

“I hope he listens to those better Angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in,” Obama said of Florida pastor Terry Jones on ABC’s Good Morning America.

On his White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel potentially running for Chicago mayor, Obama said he thinks Emanuel would be an “excellent” and “terrific” mayor, but that his “expectation is, he’d make a decision after these midterm elections.”

Here’s a transcript of those sections:


TRANSCRIPT:

On Terry Jones:

If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedoms and religious tolerance. And as a very practical matter, as commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling, could greatly endanger our great young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We are already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat that he’s making.

STEPH: What are you worried about?

OBAMA: Well, look, this is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities. You know, and so, I just hope that he says he’s someone who is motivated by his faith…

STEPH: He says he’s praying on it.

OBAMA: I hope he listens to those better Angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in.

STEPH: I wonder what this must feel like from behind your desk. You’re President of the United States. You have to deal with the fallout. And here’s a pastor who has 35 followers in his church.

OBAMA: Yeah.

STEPH: Does it make you feel helpless or angry?

OBAMA: It’s frustrating. But on the other hand, we are a government of laws and so we have to abide by those laws and my understanding is that he can be cited for public burning but that’s the extent of the laws we have available to us. You know, part of this country’s history is people doing destructive or offensive, harmful things, and yet, we still have to make sure we’re following the laws, and that’s part of what I love about this country.

On Rahm for Mayor:

I think he would be an excellent mayor. He is an excellent chief of staff. I think right now, as long as he is in the White House, he is critically focused on making sure that we’re creating jobs for families around the country and rebuilding our economy. And you know, the one thing I’ve always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him. And so my expectation is, he’d make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we’ve got a lot of work to do. But I think he’d be a terrific mayor.

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Filed under Fear Mongering, Hate - mongering, Islamophobia, September 11th

Hate Pastor Behind ‘Burn A Quran Day’ Responds To Petraeus: ‘We Have Firmly Made Up Our Mind’

Think Progress

As ThinkProgress has reported, the Dove World Church based out of Gainesville, FL, is organizing an “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11. Gen. David Petraeus warned yesterday that the hate campaign “could put the lives of American troops in danger and damage the war effort.” Gen. William Caldwell — the commander of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan — echoed Petraeus’ admonition on CNN yesterday afternoon:

CALDWELL: What I will tell you is that their very actions will in fact jeopardize the safety of the young men and women who are serving in uniform over here and also undermine the very mission that we’re trying to accomplish.

I would hope they would understand that there are second- and third-order — second-, really, and third-order effects that will occur that will affect that young man and woman who’s out there on point for America, serving their nation today, because of their actions back in the United States.

The hate pastor leading the Quran burning is Terry Jones, author of the a book called “Islam Is Of The Devil.” During a combative interview with CNN host Kiran Chetry this morning, Jones seemed unwilling to reconsider his “Burn a Quran Day,” and instead offered his prayers to soldiers who might be put at greater risk:

CHETRY: Are you willing to have the blood of soldiers on your hands by this demonstration?

JONES: Yeah, we are actually very concerned of course. We are taking the General’s words very serious. We are continuing to pray about the action on September the 11th. We are indeed very concerned about it. [...]

CHETRY: So you’re saying you might not well go through with this? [...]

JONES: I am saying we are definitely praying about it. We have firmly made up our mind, but at the same time, we are definitely praying about it.

Continue reading…

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