http://www.huffingtonpost.comInside the temple that pays homage to Abraham Lincoln -- in addition to the larger-than-life image of the man -- are complete texts of his most famous speeches. I suppose he's the only American politician deserving of a memorial large enough, and whose greatest orations were short enough for this to be possible. Lincoln's image is flanked by the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address. Both acknowledge the sacrifices of the U.S. military. One refers to the necessity of caring for families bereft by war. The Lincoln Memorial faces the dome of the Capitol across the expanse of the National Mall, which is replete with symbols of historical sacrifices of those in military service. Every name on the Vietnam War Memorial recalls a veterans' sacrifice and a family's grief. Every gold star at the World War II Memorial represents a hundred of the same. Tucked away in the less imposing D.C. War Memorial are names of district citizens lost in World War I. Among the monuments to freedom that populate the mall are reminders of the price paid to secure it, not just for our own country, but for others as well. At the Korean War Memorial, an inscription says: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met." The wide front steps of the Lincoln Memorial provide a wide view of the mall and are usually buzzing with sightseers. Few take the time for a quiet walk around the back of the structure to look across the Potomac River toward Arlington House. The former home of Robert E. Lee is situated on the crest of a hill, the highest point of what is now Arlington National Cemetery. Laid to rest there are many who paid the price for our nation, for the decisions made by every president since Lincoln. Some paid by giving their lives for their country. Others paid by living lives of service to their country. Last week we reelected our president. Some Americans danced in the streets at midnight. Others cried into their coffee the next morning. On election night, I followed the news and commentary on social media. Opinions were thrown around carelessly. Frustrations vented bluntly. Victory celebrated exultantly. Freedom of expression is a privilege Americans love to exercise, and so we should. We heard plenty of expression in the long run up to this election. Words count, but actions count more, and now it's time for action. Time for leaders to make tough choices and tougher compromises. Time for citizens to accept hard truths. As Americans cling to our rights we also must realize our responsibilities. Pundits shake somber heads over our polarized country. They say we're divided. We're also balanced. If one side can't overrule the other, then both sides have to work together. This is the stuff kindergarteners know, but Congress seems to forget. On Veterans Day we honor those who serve America and the president without regard to politics. Our nation's leadership should care for veterans on the same equal footing. This means supporting them and their families, of course, but more importantly, it means crossing party lines to do what's best for the nation our veterans offer their lives to preserve. Try whining to Mr. Lincoln about the ideological war between red and blue states. He might point out that the war between the Blue and the Gray involved real bullets and real blood, as well as a moral chasm. Lincoln's words on healing for this nation are carved in stone. On election night, a young Army wife posted them on Facebook. They are as applicable in the electronic age as they were at the presidential inauguration of 1865: With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
By Rep. Luis V. GutierrezCongratulations, Mr. President. Your victory is a victory for fairness for all Americans. It is also a victory for Latinos, and one that Latinos can take a large measure of credit for making happen. They gave you 71 percent of their votes. As I traveled the country campaigning for you, especially in Latino communities in Florida, Colorado and Nevada, it was clear that Latino voters believe that you will fight for them in your second term. As I talked with Latinos, one policy was mentioned again and again: your decision to provide relief from deportation for some young immigrants. Your courageous leadership on behalf of “dreamers” touched our community and was essential to inspiring an unprecedented level of support for a Democratic candidate for president. I was there in Chicago for your victory speech; you listed “fixing our immigration system” as one of the challenges you will address in the next term. Now, together, we can validate Latino voters’ trust by making comprehensive immigration reform a top priority. I respectfully suggest that we act on reform not just if we can deal with five or six other important matters first, or if the politics look practical and manageable. Comprehensive immigration reform should be a priority because it is our nation’s urgent civil rights struggle of the moment. The policy is straightforward. Create legal immigration channels that are wide and efficient enough that people choose to go through our system, not around it. We should have an orderly system in which families can stick together, people have rights, rules are enforced and employers don’t cheat to undercut their competition. We must address reality. More than 10 million people live here without documentation. Most have been here more than 10 years, some more than 25. Most make invaluable contributions to our economy and our nation. They aren’t going anywhere. Let’s get them in the system, on the books, paying even more taxes and living with their families without fear. I even have a suggestion for how to start. Call some Republicans — Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, senator-elect Jeff Flake. Invite them to join the process. The Republican Party realized Tuesday night that Mitt Romney’s decision to wake up every morning and do something to offend America’s fastest-growing population was probably a bad idea. Promoting self-deportation? Check. Vowing to veto relief for young immigrants? Check. Cozying up to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and America’s anti-immigrant fringe? Check. Today more than ever, you will find reasonable Republicans who want to be with you searching for an immigration solution, instead of standing alone, blaming immigrants for all their problems. You know you have support for comprehensive immigration reform from Democrats. I support you. Sens. Bob Menendez and Dick Durbin are committed to leading on this issue. We are ready to work with you and Republicans to make progress. We should treat this issue as a top priority and meet right away. Is Camp David available? How many people does it sleep? Mr. President, Latinos believe in you. As you know, they were tremendously frustrated by the record pace of deportations in your first term, but on Tuesday they set aside those concerns and embraced your promise of progress during a second term. I’m eager to stand with you. Let’s put a bipartisan group together to fight for civil rights for immigrants and restore America’s great immigration tradition.
http://www.examiner.comRasmussen Reports’ daily presidential tracking poll for Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, indicates that 53 percent approve of President Obama’s job performance – at least somewhat approve. Forty-five percent disapprove – at least somewhat disapprove. This is Obama's highest job approval rating since July of 2009.
http://www.usatoday.comPresident Obama paid tribute at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington Memorial Cemetery to "the heroes over the generations who have served this country of ours with distinction.
http://www.iranfocus.comThe humanitarian crisis in Iran has taken a turn for the worse, beginning a dark chapter in the country's bleak history of violating human rights. Iran has the world’s highest execution rate per capita, and is the only country in the world which continues to execute minors. In the face of international isolation and domestic unrest, the Iranian regime has begun a bloody crackdown targeting dissidents with the aim of terrorizing the population into submission. This campaign of terror includes public hangings designed as a warning to any who dare defy the regime, with as many as five individuals hanged in the streets in truly horrific spectacle. Since January, at least 386 people have been executed in Iran, second only to China in total executions. Yet many acknowledge that these numbers are only a portion of the true death toll, as the regime actively censors information and does not report many of its crimes. One shocking example of barbarity involved Iranian blogger and activist Sattar Beheshti, who was arrested for his online activism and outspoken criticism of the regime. Beheshti died while under severe torture during his interrogation proceedings. His death highlights the regimes fear of criticism and dissent, and their crackdown on freedom of information. Iran has a history of targeting journalists and bloggers, and has been known to enact severe forms of torture and cruelty in prisons. Presently, Iran’s campaign of terror has reached a fever pitch. From November 7th to the 8th, Iran executed 23 individuals in just two days. Since October 22nd the regime has undertaken 6 mass hangings with nearly 40 individuals executed. The increased rate of execution is reportedly motivated in part by a desire to expedite the cases of over 1000 prisoners on death row in Gohardasht prison alone. Will the international community standby and remain silent in the wake of such crimes? As the regime faces increased isolation will the West extend a hand to its leaders, or its citizens who withstand death and torture in their struggle for freedom? In view of the worsening human rights situation in Iran, as underlined in the latest report by the United Nations and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Security Council must address this matter and take binding measures with teeth to make clear to Tehran's rulers that such behavior will not be tolerated. At a time where the regime will stop at nothing to maintain its iron grip on power, the international community must stand with the people of Iran.
http://www.awrambatimes.comAn Ethiopia woman revealed that she was the victim of sex slavery after she attempted to find work as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. For H, who asked that her identity remain anonymous, her ordeal began after she took a boat to Yemen, where after two months she was able to cross into Saudi Arabia and was hired by what she told Bikyamasr.com was a “nice couple” for a “decent salary.”But that is when her horrific experience began. She continues to look down at her hands, ever moving, as she retells what she was forced to endure at the hands of her Saudi bosses. “I don’t think the wife knew anything that was going on,” she is quick to point out. “But if she did hear my screams and did nothing, I hope she doesn’t sleep well.” After three weeks of relative calm, H was finding life in southern Saudi Arabia comfortable and she was hoping that much of her first paycheck would be sent back to her family in Addis Ababa. Instead, no money came. “When the fourth week came around, I was excited because I was being treated well and was doing my job I thought very good,” she continued. But the day she asked when she would receive money, the husband, who she described as a construction manager, began grabbing her and forced her to the wall. She said she was screaming, but knew that nobody would come to her aid because the wife was out shopping and the two children were at school. “He ripped my dress off and forced himself onto me. He raped me. This was just the beginning,” she said, tears beginning to form in her eyes. “He would find me almost daily and rape me. He would force me to work naked in his office if nobody was home. He would tie me up and repeatedly force himself onto me over and over for hours if the wife was out of the house. I can’t imagine that I experienced this,” she added. After four months of constant rape and sexual violence, H was able to escape late in the night after she found her door was unusually unlocked. She met up with three other Ethiopians and they fled back across the border into Yemen, where they were flown out of the country this fall as part of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) flights. Her story is not unusual, she says, revealing that at least three other Ethiopian women were raped while working in Saudi Arabia. “I would never wish any woman to work in Saudi Arabia, the stories I hear are horrific and I know how we are treated. We are slaves to whatever they want,” she added. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants and refugees have entered Yemen since the end of July, according to a new report published by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). The report said that some 51,000 Ethiopians have illegally crossed into Yemen after the short boat trip. H is just one of the many Ethiopian women who attempted to have a better life outside their native country.
farsnews.comCorruption and bribery have deep roots in the Saudi judicial system, Fuad Ibrahim, an opposition figure, complained, adding that the country's judiciary issues verdicts in favor of Saudi princes in return for huge sums of money. "Saudi Arabia's judicial system is corrupt and totally dependant on the ruling dynasty. In many cases, it is bribed with millions of dollars to issue verdicts in favor of princes," Ibrahim said on Sunday. He also referred to numerous cases of corruption in other Saudi governmental bodies and ministries, and said the interior ministry of the country distorts intelligence information and proofs and uses fake reports to cover up its crimes against the people. Saudi Arabia has arrested a large number of opposition figures since the start of popular protests in the country in February 2011 and it resorts to any means, including poisoning their food, to put the prisoners under pressure. Some international bodies including Amnesty International have frequently raised concerns about the situation of prisoners and condition of human rights in Saudi Arabia. In the most recent case, the International Amnesty has called on Riyadh to avoid using excessive force against protesters and respect people's rights of peaceful assembly. Amnesty International also called on Saudi authorities to investigate the killings of protesters in the Kingdom. "Despite promising to investigate deaths of people at the hands of the security forces, there has been no indication this ever happened," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's director for the Middle-East and North Africa. "The authorities must end their silence and announce both the details and the outcome of any investigations and state whether any official suspected of unlawful killing has been brought to justice. "They must also ensure that those people marching today are allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and are not met with excessive force." Saudi Arabia is witnessing daily popular protests to mark the deaths of at least 14 people in connection with protests in the country since last year. Reports vary as to how those killed in connection with the protests lost their lives. Eyewitnesses have said that some of those who died were either not taking part in demonstrations or, if they were, posed little or no risk to the security forces. All demonstrations are banned in Saudi Arabia, but they have been taking place in Saudi Arabia's predominantly Shiite Muslim Eastern Province since February 2011 to protest the arrest, imprisonment and harassment of members of the Shiite community for holding collective prayer meetings, celebrating Shiite religious festivals and for breaching restrictions on building Shiite mosques and religious schools. The demonstrations in the Eastern Province have been inspired in part by protests that swept the Middle-East and North Africa region in 2011. The Saudi authorities have responded with repressive measures against those suspected of taking part in or supporting protests or of expressing views critical of the state. Protesters have been held without charge and incommunicado for days or weeks at a time, and in some cases reportedly subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention.
http://gulfnews.comBahrain’s paramilitary National Guard deployed into new areas around the violence-wracked Gulf nation on Saturday in an apparent sign that authorities are stepping up efforts to quell political unrest. Wider use of the Guard could signal a tougher strategy by Bahrain’s government as riot police struggle to contain the opposition uprising. A government statement said the Guard — a force separate from the regular military — will be patrolling “strategic locations” that have been scenes of arson attacks and clashes. Hadi Al Musawi, a spokesman for the main opposition group Al Wefaq, said Guard troops were seen setting up in Sitra, a centre of the revolt. Previously, Guard forces have been used mainly at key sites in Manama, including the landmark square that was the centre of the protests in their first weeks.Meanwhile, heavy clashes erupted on Saturday after the funeral of a teenager killed in a traffic incident during a clampdown on marchers the day before. Opposition groups claim the boy was hit by a car while fleeing security forces, but officials say the incident had no connection to the police action. More than 55 people have died in unrest in Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
http://gulfnews.comMore than 5,000 girls below the age of 14 are married off in Saudi Arabia, according to media reports. There have been 5,622 marriages where the bride is under the age of 14 in Saudi Arabia, said Ali Abdul Rahman Al Roumi, a social services academic at Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University, adding that specifying a legal age would not solve the problem, and may lead to “even bigger problems”. A number of families from “rural areas” have been marrying their daughters off to older, rich men, according to the Saudi owned Al Hayat newspaper. “We must solve this, by at least looking at the difference in age in cases where the bride is young, in which case it can be deceptive” he said. He did not specify what period of time that figure represents.He added however that it was “not a trend”. Al Roumi disagreed with those who opposed imposing a legal age for marriage, saying it was a necessary step but that exceptions could be made provided that the age difference between the husband and wife was not large, and if it was disclosed how much money was given to the bride’s parents, in an effort to prevent what has been termed as “bride selling” to rich people. Shura Council member Abdullah Bin Saleh Al Hadeithi said that the ministry of justice is studying the implementation of a legal marriage age, but added that the council has never discussed the issue.
http://www.metrowestdailynews.comNow it can be told: United States government auditors are finally acknowledging that Afghan security forces will be incapable of defending the nation from the Taliban after Western forces withdraw in 2014. What does this mean? The Taliban, obviously determined to return to power, will most certainly retake most of the nation. The hapless Afghan army will probably just run away. That's what it did almost as soon as the Soviet Union, the last foreign occupier, pulled out. Does that mean the U.S. has simply wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and 2,000 American lives? Not entirely. The war's original purpose was to wreak revenge on al-Qaeda for the 9/11 attacks, to capture or kill its leadership and destroy its training camps. That was accomplished. But in short order, al-Qaeda simply moved to other unstable states -- Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Algeria ... the list is long. The Obama administration's long-stated fear is that when Western forces leave Afghanistan, al-Qaeda might return. The Taliban would certainly welcome them back. My view: Be our guests. It would be far easier to attack them in Afghanistan than in some of their other present locations -- particularly Pakistan. Now that al-Qaeda has bases all over the world, why is holding onto Afghanistan so important anyway? In its new quarterly report, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, a federal agency Congress established in 2008, said its audits found that the Afghan army "will likely be incapable of fully sustaining Afghan National Security Forces facilities after the transition in 2014." The army's record at this is disheartening. In February, American soldiers turned over a forward operating base west of Kabul to their Afghan counterparts. When they returned in August, the Americans found what they described as a "dismal scene." The Afghan soldiers hadn't kept up the generator and were down to three hours of electricity a day. Nearly all of their vehicles had broken down. They had no working night-vision goggles, so they were largely defenseless after dark. Stories like that are rife. In one eastern base near the Pakistan border turned over to the Afghans this year, the new tenants allowed the place to run down so severely that they finally abandoned it and deserted. But they left behind their chickens; they had turned the water-well building into a chicken coop. If Afghan security forces cannot maintain forward operating bases, they won't be able to defend most of the country. It's just that simple.Not surprisingly, the Pentagon offered only qualified endorsement of the inspector general's report. "There are problems that do come up, and obstacles," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said last Thursday. "But our commitment to the strategy remains sound," adding that "overall, we think the process is going well." That's a typically over-optimistic military statement. Can you imagine any Pentagon officer ever saying: "This is hopeless. We can't win." Well, Congress doesn't buy it. "America's 'Can do!' response to the challenge" in Afghanistan "is admirable," the Congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported. "But human and financial resources have limits, and long-term costs are seldom considered when short-term plans are being framed." By that, the commissioners were saying, U.S. military and civilian agencies almost never take into account whether the host country has the skills and financial resources to maintain a big, expensive project after the U.S. leaves, leading to "vast amounts of spending with little or no benefit." Even with the discouraging experiences over the last decade, Congress is continuing to appropriate billions for army "sustainment" -- buildings and equipment for Afghan soldiers who are incapable of maintaining them. The total appropriated so far is $9 billion. In fact, the special inspector general noted, "the U.S. has surpassed its goals in procuring equipment" for the Afghan army, even though the Afghan army and police "do not have the capability to operate and maintain garrisons and training centers built for them." The inspector general made the same point that the Congressional commission stressed: "Billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds will be at risk of going to waste." What's so perplexing is that Congress chartered both the special inspector general's office and the Congressional commission, whose staff spent three years studying the problem. Still, Congress is blithely ignoring their conclusions -- including this one from its own commissioners: Spending money on a project "is wasteful if it does not fit the cultural, political and economic norms of the society it is meant to serve, or if it cannot be maintained."
Deutsche WellePakistan has declared education for girls as a way to subdue Taliban extremists who wounded a young campaigner last month. A petition honoring Malala Yousafzai has been delivered to Islamabad by UN envoy Gordon Brown. To mark Saturday as Malala Day as designated by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the presidents of Pakistan and its estranged neighbor Afghanistan vowed separately to tackle deadly Taliban aversion to education for girls. Pakistani President Ali Zardari described the Taliban shooting of the 15-year-old Yousafzai in a school bus in Swat province on October 9 as an attempt to destroy the country's future prospects. "Her attackers aren't just trying to kill a daughter of Pakistan. They are trying to kill Pakistan," Zardari said as he received a petition bearing 1 million signatures in support of Yousafzai from UN education envoy Gordon Brown, a former British prime minister. Earlier, Foreign Ministry spokesman Moazzam Khan said that Pakistan's leaders "firmly believe" that education "helps fight forces of extremism and intolerance." Karzai vows hunt for attackers Visiting India, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his administration would "hunt for Malala's attackers." In an interview with India's CNN-IBN television network, Karzai accused Pakistan of tolerating the Taliban in border regions alongside Afghanistan for too long. "Terrorism is a snake, and when you train a snake, you can't expect it will only go in the neighbor's house," Karzai said. "When the attack on Malala happened, this proved our point."Malala is recovering in a British clinic after miraculously surviving shots to her head and neck. Two other schoolgirls with her were also wounded. Fear prevails in hometown In her hometown of Mingora in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley on Saturday, hundreds of students prayed at school assembly for her early recovery. "We did not organize any open event because our school and its students still face a security threat," said school principal Mariam Khalid. Ban sent a video message saying Malala is a global symbol of every girl's right to education. On Friday, Pakistan's government announced a UN-backed scheme to give poor families small cash incentives to send their children to school in a bid to get 3 million more youngsters into education.
EDITORIAL: DAILY TIMES
Radio PakistanPresident Asif Ali Zardari has directed for effective measures to improve law and order situation in Sindh. He gave these directions to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on telephone at Saturday night. Meanwhile‚ taking notice of the killing of several people in terrorist incidents in Karachi‚ the Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad talked to Sindh Chief Minister on the situation in the city. They also discussed measures to curb terrorist incidents. The Governor also directed DG Rangers‚ IG Police and other concerned authorities to take effective measures to protect the life and property of the people.