German Police Worried that Hezbollah will attack in Germany


German federal police officials (BKA) have warned in a secret report that the Lebanese-based Hezbollah movement has the capacity to undertake damaging attacks in Germany, the news magazine Focus reported Saturday.

 The militia had the logistics “to carry out wide-scale attacks on physical and human targets,” the weekly said in a report released ahead of publication. 

The BKA is reported to number Hezbollah supporters in Germany at around 900.


Focus pointed to the case of a 29-year-old medical student at Germany’s Goettingen University, who was detained in Israel last month.


It reported the man was suspected of making contact with Hezbollah supporters in Germany and of having received $20,000 (13,333 euros) for espionage work.

John McCain “Obama tried to make us lose in Iraq to further his own ambitions”

CBS 3 Philadelphia

McCain: Obama Put Personal Ambition Ahead Of Iraq

LAS VEGAS (AP) ― Republican John McCain on Saturday issued a scathing critique of Barack Obama’s judgment and readiness to be commander in chief, telling a veterans’ group his Democratic rival had tried to “legislate failure” in Iraq and placed his own ambition ahead of military success there.

Addressing the Disabled American Veterans convention here, McCain mocked what he called Obama’s varying positions on the Bush administration’s decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Iraq last year. The GOP hopeful supported the so-called “surge” strategy, even as polls showed most voters opposed sending more troops into combat at the time.

Obama spoke out against the original invasion as an Illinois state senator and strongly opposed the subsequent troop increase in the U.S. Senate and on the campaign trail.

Since then, the surge has been credited with helping stabilize Iraq and reduce violence there. Obama has argued that it has not brought about the political reconciliation between rival Sunni and Shia factions needed to create lasting peace in the country.

But in a tacit acknowledgment that his original assessment of the troop increase may have proven incorrect, Obama’s campaign removed criticisms of the strategy from its Web site last month.

The Dirty Harry(Not James Bond) of Kabul

Sounds to me he is more like the dirty harry so gave him that name


Bold Afghan cop inspires admiration, mistrust, fear

Bravery, bluster keep general on front lines in fight against terror

KABUL, Afghanistan — The general pushed through traffic jams like a wrecking ball. His driver, hands scarred by a suicide bomber, honked the horn incessantly and rammed the green police pickup within inches of other vehicles.

But most drivers moved only when they recognized the general in the passenger’s seat: Ali Shah Paktiawal, his eyes bulging slightly, his loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson pistol on the dashboard in front of him.

Paktiawal looked out the window at the people, wondering who might want to kill him. Some smiled and waved. Some looked scared. Both reactions are common for the city’s head of criminal investigations, known for doing whatever it takes to get his man, including things that would never fly in Chicago.

“If I had an armored car, believe me, no one would be able to escape me,” said Paktiawal, who did not wear a bulletproof vest, despite two sitting on the floor. “I would follow the Taliban into the provinces.”

Paktiawal, 41, shows just what the Afghan police are up against. He has arrested a potential suicide bomber drinking tea at the Kabul zoo. He’s been the victim of as many as a dozen assassination attempts. He’s been poisoned, shot at and nearly blown up.

Like the rest of the nation’s 82,000 police, Paktiawal is on the front lines of the country’s war against terrorism. Throughout Afghanistan, 1,394 police were killed in 2007 and the first half of 2008—four times the number of slain Afghan army soldiers.

But police have also been plagued with constant complaints of corruption, of demanding bribes even from drivers at traffic circles. Such corruption, analysts say, causes Afghans to dislike their government and in some cases prefer the swift justice of the Taliban, driven from power in late 2001. The U.S. has recently taken on more responsibility for training Afghan police, and American soldiers are now trying to reform the force, district by district.

‘James Bond of Kabul’

In some ways, Paktiawal, rough-edged and potty-mouthed, is the best that the Afghan police can offer. Many government employees are known for coming in late and leaving early. Not Paktiawal. He said he has not been home in 40 days, though his wife and three children live less than 2 miles away. Instead, he sleeps in a bed at the office and works late into the night.

A weekly Afghan magazine has dubbed Paktiawal “the James Bond of Kabul,” because he seems to be everywhere at once.

Paktiawal likes to be first on the scene, busting in doors, charging into crime scenes in front of lower-ranked officers. During one hostage crisis in Kabul, he berated the police for not going inside. “Do I have to do everything myself?” he announced, before kicking in the front door, freeing the captive and arresting the hostage-taker.

The 20 police assigned to guard Paktiawal say they work long hours in dangerous conditions. Hamed Hodkhail, 23, whose nickname is Bulldozer, showed off three bullet scars. “Everyone wants to kill him,” Hodkhail said. “I have to protect him.”

But Paktiawal also shows just how far the Afghan police have to go. Sometimes, his zeal leads to problems. Paktiawal has occasionally jailed people simply because they were near a crime. When a mass grave was discovered near Kabul, he was the first person to leap inside, pulling out bones and arranging skulls in a neat row for Afghan journalists to film.

Human-rights observers were horrified at the destruction of evidence.

When journalist Masood Forogh Herawy showed up at a raid, a surprised Paktiawal pointed a gun at his head.

“He said, ‘If you move, I will kill you,’ ” Herawy recalled. “I said, ‘Sir, it’s Masood.’ He’s very close with me, he’s very friendly with me. He swore at me a bit and let me go.”

Paktiawal has a hard time doing nothing. In his office, he talks on his desk phone while he answers a cell phone. He talks on the speaker phone while he eats his lunch and signs various papers shoved in front of him. He is constantly ringing a bell, whose notes of Beethoven summon an officer from next door. “Hey boy,” Paktiawal will shout, or maybe, if an officer fails to carry out his orders, “You are miserable.”

A typical five minutes with Paktiawal goes something like this: Phone call, interrupted by another phone call. Beethoven. Barked order. A visit with a crime victim. Beethoven. A demand for the detective known as The Neck Tie. A flurry of paper signing. A journalist.

A woman from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission recently visited. After meeting her briefly, Paktiawal sat down beneath the two largest photographs of President Hamid Karzai that any Afghan official is known to have.

“I know your human rights is against killing,” Paktiawal told the woman. “But if it’s a thief, a murderer, a terrorist, a kidnapper, and they run, and I tell him to stop and he doesn’t—shoot and kill. S and K. Finished.” He clucked his tongue. The men sitting in the armchairs in his office laughed. This justice made sense in Afghanistan.

‘Law is law’

Victims also come—at this police station, Paktiawal’s office is the front counter. A 15-year-old girl sobbed as she explained that she ran away from her 13-year-old husband because his family beat her. A man tried to persuade Paktiawal not to prosecute two police officers who had stolen his money and two cell phones, because they had returned them.

Paktiawal repeated his mantra—”law is law”—and insisted that the police be prosecuted, and that the girl’s family not be allowed to sort out her marriage outside of court.

Meanwhile, Paktiawal issued orders to arrest a member of parliament accused of protecting his son, who was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. He received a phone call from the girl’s father, who came to Kabul to meet with Karzai.

“Right is right, wrong is wrong,” Paktiawal told the man, who was scared. “I don’t care who he is. Don’t be afraid, I will support you. Be a man.”

How the democratic party fought to lose in Iraq

Congress threatens to cut off funds for surge

Harry Reid on Surge

John Murtha on surge failing and then succeeding

Wash the Kaaba



RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Early last Saturday, senior members of the Saudi royal family and religious establishment took up brooms and cloths perfumed with rosewater to wash the interior of the Kaaba, the sacred stone structure that Muslims face during their five daily prayers.

Barefoot and dressed in traditional long, white robes, the men finished the cleaning ceremony by wiping the marble walls and floors of the small room with scented oils, re-enacting a tradition started by Prophet Muhammad almost 1,400 years ago.

The ritual, carried out twice a year, offers a peek inside the stark interior of the structure Muslims call the navel of the world. Muslims consider the Kaaba, which stands in the middle of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, as the holiest site in Islam because they believe that God created the universe from the place where it stands.

The sacredness of the place gives special significance to the washing ceremony. It is carried out before the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which falls in early September this year, and a day before Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice, which follows less than three months later. The only other time the Kaaba is opened is when Muslim dignitaries — such as a head of state — request to go in.

“The cleaning of the Kaaba is an act of deep worship,” said Omar al-Midwahi of Mecca, the deputy editor of Al-Watan newspaper and a witness to several washings. “Words cannot describe the intensity of emotions a person experiences in the exact place where prophets have stood.”

The Kaaba — which Muslims believe was first built by Adam, then was rebuilt by Abraham and reflects a house in heaven — is mentioned several times in the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

“The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakkah (an older name for Mecca), full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings. In it are signs manifest: the station of Abraham,” according to Chapter 3, verses 96-97.

Embedded in one side of the structure is an ancient, sacred black stone, which, according to tradition, was white when it came to earth and turned black under the burden of man’s sins.


Predates islam

The importance of the Kaaba, which has the shape of a cube and is draped in black cloth, predates the rise of Islam. The structure, which is about 860 square feet and built with granite stones from hills near Mecca, was believed to be a site of pilgrimage. Meccans used it as a shrine for their deities.

There was no greater honor for pre-Islamic Arab poets than to have their works copied on leather parchment and then hung on the walls of the Kaaba for people to read when they came to circle it.

“It was an honor that has the same importance of the Pulitzer Prize today,” al-Midwahi said. Only 10 poems received that honor.

The washing of the Kaaba is usually led by the governor of the Mecca region, who performs it on behalf of the king. Saudi monarchs draw their authority from their role as “Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques” in Mecca and Medina, making them central figures in the Muslim world.

Shortly after King Abdullah succeeded his late brother King Fahd in 2005, he led one such ceremony. Previous kings, including the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdul-Aziz, also performed the ritual cleaning.

Saturday’s ceremony began right after dawn prayers, when members of the al-Shaybi family who have been the Kaaba’s gatekeepers for centuries removed the key to the structure from a green cloth bag.

They then opened the door, which stands six and a half feet above the ground and is accessed by a wooden staircase on wheels, and went in to prepare the cleaning material and utensils.


Cleaning ceremony

Saleh al-Shaybi, the deputy gatekeeper, told Okaz newspaper that it takes the equivalent of about 5 gallons of rosewater mixed into about 47 gallons of water to clean the interior. The water is brought from Zamzam, a holy well near the Kaaba. He said the ritual usually takes an hour.

Before leading his guests into the Kaaba, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, appointed Mecca governor last year, and his guests circled the cube seven times. Some dignitaries then prayed over the area inside the Kaaba where Muhammad was believed to have prayed soon after he conquered Mecca in January 630.

Prince Khaled and his guests — members of the royal family, representatives from the religious establishment and Muslim diplomats — picked up brooms to sweep the marble floors. They then took white pieces of cloth that had been soaked in the rosewater mixture to wipe the floors and halfway up the marble walls. The upper part of the walls are covered with green cloth embroidered with Quranic verses.

According to a number of hadiths — traditional stories of the prophet — when Muhammad went into the Kaaba, he found it filled with statues and the walls were covered with pagan drawings, al-Midwahi said. He and his followers proceeded to remove the statues and clean the walls, signaling the first time the Kaaba’s interior had been cleaned by Muslims, he added.

The second washing takes place during the annual pilgrimage of hajj. The ritual will also include a ceremony to replace the kiswa, the black silk cloth with gold-embroidered calligraphy that covers the Kaaba.

The kiswa is produced at a special factory built and run by the city of Mecca. Some 1,500 pounds of silk and 330 pounds of silver and gold thread are used to make the 7,000-square-foot kiswa at a cost of 17 million riyals, or $4.5 million, according to press reports.

The old kiswa is usually cut up into small pieces and given as gifts to dignitaries.

The MSM has fallen under Obama’s magic to a dangerous degree


VIEWPOINTS: Biased media easily entranced by Obama’s magic

August 09, 2008 08:00:00 AM

The writer, winner of the 1968 Ernie Pyle Award for war reporting, covered Vietnam, the Middle East and other conflicts for Scripps Howard Newspapers. He lives in Panama City.

By Don Tate

Few things are more worthy than journalism going into the heart of darkness and bringing out the truth. Few things are more worthless than journalists, leaking bias like malarial sweats, in the pose of objectivity.

Unfortunately, a large portion of today’s media chasing after Barack Obama like an army of lapdogs waiting for him to whistle would make Dr. Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda proud of such peerless objectivity.

“Bias? I don’t see that at all,” opined one such peerless observer.

August presences of the fourth estate, such as The New York Times, which has thus far denied printing John McCain’s reply to Obama on its op-ed page, are so deep in the tank for Barack they would need a giant periscope to see if there’s even another world out here.

When a journalist does try to actually nail down the senator on whether the surge has worked in Iraq, he glides into Obamaspeak and wriggles, dodges, reverses field toward the center, zags back left and stutter-steps down the sidelines not like a “new” politician, but just another pol from Chicago. If he would dare say that, yes, he was flat wrong when he declared that the surge would fail, or that McCain, in the face of heavy criticism (“the surge will fail … the war is lost …”) stood his ground against the boo birds and congenital defeat-mongers and has been proved right, that would be breathtakingly, almost heroically new.

Obama proffers his Einsteinien theory of battlefield relativity (Iraq, in the heart of the Arab world, is less important Afghanistan), and refuses to admit that had his policy, his “sound judgment” been followed, the U.S. would have already suffered its most humiliating defeat since Vietnam, or that Iraq and the greater Middle East would have turned into a bloodier mess than even his eloquent position parsing could groove its way out of.

The magic of Obama is that even with his vast non-experience in war and foreign affairs, he was able to touch down and scoot through the Middle East, spending an entire day or so in Iraq, disagree with Gen. Petraeus about the dangers of too-fast withdrawal, and yet swoop up all he needed to establish his battlefield credentials and reinforce his “strategic vision” and “world view” beyond the south side of Chicago.

That may be possible because Barack was apparently born with “sound judgment” about this, that and most things, such as “bringing us together.” Obama said recently, “The way you know where someone is going is by where they’ve been.” As he has spent his entire political life in deep left field, where is the shining togetherness to which he would bring us?

Even sitting in rocket range of Jeremiah Wright’s rants and blasts about the evils of America for 20 years did not affect his sound judgment, he maintains, because somehow he didn’t hear any of it. And to many truth-seekers in TV land and Printsville, that is understandable and forgivable, and thou shalt not question him too closely – that is divisive.

The magic of Obama is that he can sneeze and an opinion-maker feels a “thrill” run up his leg. Another feels his knees “quake.” These are supposed to be journalists. This ex-correspondent remembers a Pulitzer Prize winner, whom I’ll call Crock, coming to Vietnam for a five-day look see at the war, who never got out of Saigon, but confirmed his direst convictions about Saigon’s inferior restaurants and no damn nozzle on his hotel shower, after which he returned to give his first-hand report to the American people.

Of course, one can believe any reported twaddle if one wants to believe.

In Obamaworld, mere mortals gasp as they are transported up, up and away on his oratorical balloon. He flaps his rhetorical feathers and women faint. He has a great smile. He swaggers a little. He’s cool. He is the darling of Hollywood. He’s got a rock‑star jump shot. He can utter any contradiction he wants on gun bans, domestic surveillance, public financing, gun-toting Bible‑clingers, the surge – you name it (“As I’ve always said,” he always says, maybe for an hour), and for the believers it’s automatic yea, clap, cheer, sigh. Write it down.

And the hard-nosed Crocks of the media, self-proclaimed watchdogs of the republic, are moved to coo and blink their big dewy eyes in worshipful acquiescence. The magic of Obama.

Child victims of Islamofacism from all over the world

Ray Nagin under investigation

WWLTV New Orleans

Lee Zurik / Eyewitness News

The Mayor’s Office and every member of the City Council received subpoenas Friday from the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, sources say.

The U.S. Attorney General’s Office wants all documents pertaining to NOAH, the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership — the embattled program that is at the center of a series of 4 Investigates reports. The home remediation program has come under scrutiny for possible criminal activities.

The subpoenas came a day after Mayor Nagin appeared before the City Council, saying that the city is conducting its own investigation into NOAH.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten would not confirmed the subpoena Friday, but he did acknowledge that a joint investigation being conducted by the FBI, HUD – the U.S. Department of Urban Development – and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has begun.

Letten said his office is also working closely with New Orleans Inspector General Robert Cerasoli.

Former U.S. Attorney Harry Rosenberg says it is logical that with so much public scrutiny that the government would be looking for answers of its own through subpoenas.

“This is apparently a rapidly developing investigation and the normal tool for the federal government is to issue subpoenas, so it can get a hold of  documents and start analyzing those documents to see if there is any criminal infraction,” said Rosenberg.

“It is happening very quickly, but obliviously a very significant development. Up until this point there have been FBI agents asking questions. But now with issue of subpoenas and the grand jury, it is going to ramp up the investigation,” said Loyola University law professor Dane Ciolino.

Ciolino said that the subpoenas mark the very beginning of the investigation. “Typically, lawyers are going to want to get the documents first that are relevant to the issues before they start questioning witnesses before the grand jury.”       

If after reviewing the documents agents find wrongdoing, then “in the weeks and month to come, you can probably expect some subpoenas for individuals to tesify,” Ciolino said.

It is important to note that the Council and the Mayor’s Office were issued subpoenas for the documents, possibly because the U.S. Attorney trusts the parties to give them the right documents, rather than seizing the documents.

“If they (U.S. Attorney’s Office) were really concerned about the destruction of documents, search warrants would have been issued instead of subpoenas to get the documents delivered,” Ciolino said.

Local attorney Russ Herman, whose firm represents the City Council, confirmed that several councilmembers did receive subpoenas and have until august 21 to turn over documents.

City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields responded: “It would be inappropriate for the City of New Orleans to comment on whether staff members at the New Orleans Homeownership Corporation (NOAH), the NOAH Board of Directors, any of the seven City Council members, the Mayor’s Office, or any other party has received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The City’s position has always been to be fully cooperative with any investigative body, and we are continuing to do so as it relates to NOAH. All further questions should be directed to the U.S. Attorney

Anti War ANSWER Group. Young Marine’s program is creating Hitler Youth


Young Marines get marching orders

Kevin Walkup can order his younger sister around.

As a sergeant in the Keystone Young Marines, he outranks her.

“Swing that around,” barked Walkup, 16, of Whitehall as he pointed to the rifle resting on the shoulder of his sister, Brianna, 12, a lance corporal.

Dressed in military-style boots, camouflage pants and caps, and red T-shirts, the Walkups drilled together on a recent Thursday evening with about 15 other Young Marines at Baldwin United Presbyterian Church

know he orders me around because I’m his sister,” Brianna Walkup said. “Yes, I get annoyed. But I wanted to do something together with him, so we joined at the same time.”

The siblings enlisted two years ago in the Young Marines, a national nonprofit based in Washington that boasts 12,000 members and 312 units nationwide. Kevin Walkup, a junior at Baldwin High, has known since eighth grade that he wanted to be a Marine.

He found the Young Marines online while searching for ways to prepare himself for a career in the Corps and improve his admission chances to the U.S. Naval Academy.

“I learned if I reach the rank of sergeant and go to boot camp, I can enter the Marines as a (private first class) and earn an extra $3,000 a year,” he said.

Stories like that outrage groups such as Washington-based Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) and the American Friends Service Committee. Anti-war activists charge the Young Marines is a military recruiting tool that targets children as young as 8.

But Young Marines leaders and Pentagon officials say the program doesn’t recruit. The Department of Defense provides about $1 million each year to the Young Marines for its anti-drug efforts, said Capt. Carl B. Redding, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon.

The group cultivates a sense of self-worth, trains young people to become leaders and decreases kids’ desire to do drugs, said Michael Kessler, a former Marine infantry lieutenant colonel and the program’s national director.

Western Pennsylvania hosts five Young Marine units with membership ranging from 10 to 40 youngsters each. They accept boys and girls from age 8 through high school graduation, Redding said.

The Pentagon does not track how many Young Marine graduates enter the military “because that is not the mission of the program,” Redding said. But Kessler said some Young Marines officials put the estimate at 10 percent.

Kessler’s program description is little more than rationalization, said Scilla Wahrhaftig, the Pennsylvania program director for the American Friends Service Committee, a Philadelphia-based Quaker group that advocates nonviolence.

“Just look at the name: Young Marines,” Wahrhaftig said. “That indicates the path these children might take. When you dress up children in military uniforms with military training and discipline and guns, they’re going to be influenced.”

Mike Prysner, 25, an Iraq war veteran who took part in the invasion of Iraq, said Young Marines practices “glorify war and the military lifestyle.” The Delray Beach, Fla., resident serves as an organizer for ANSWER.

“They start pounding those things into your head at such a young age,” said Prysner, who spent March 2003 to February 2004 in Iraq and was honorably discharged as a corporal in 2005. “They advance you by how well you follow orders. They teach you to not think critically or creatively.”

Robert Citino, a military historian at Eastern Michigan University and a visiting professor at West Point, said critics of the Young Marines have valid arguments.

“I would be uncomfortable putting my 8-year-old in a uniform,” Citino said, adding that it reminded him of youth groups that existed in pre-World War II Germany and Japan.

“But I’m also uncomfortable with a reflexive anti-anything that has to do with the military — especially in a country that has an all-volunteer force,” Citino said. “The best thing to do if you’re interested is go down to one of their units. Check it out and see if it’s right for you and your kid.”

The Rev. Bob Walkup worried the group was a military recruitment cover when Kevin first told him about it. He went to a Young Marines meeting and left convinced that’s not the case — so much so that he offered his church for the unit’s weekly activities during the summer.

“It’s a discipline tool,” he said. “It’s very akin to what the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts do, teaching accountability and responsibility, but in a military model. And isn’t that what Christianity is all about: to transform us? Certainly not to kill each other, but to transform us.”

Every time a parent or critic voices concern about the Young Marines, Ronald Maxson invites them to visit his unit at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Greensburg. Maxson retired from the Marines as a first sergeant in 1979 after 21 years in the Corps.

“I tell parents I’m not trying to make Marines out of their kids,” said Maxson, 66, of Greensburg. “But I am trying to teach them good positive values: honor, courage, teamwork, responsibility and abstaining from drugs and alcohol.”

Maxson’s Young Marines perform military drills, physical-fitness regimens and military education, but also learn outdoor survival skills, CPR and pet care.

Kessler said the self-confidence created by participating in those types of activities is what deters young people from doing drugs.

“When you let them know they mean something to somebody, drugs are the last things on their minds,” Kessler said.

“The Young Marines are effective in alerting young people to the dangers and consequences of drug use,” said Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, who chairs the House Defense Subcommittee.

Though the Young Marines have existed since 1959, Kessler said the organization’s anti-drug focus began as a pilot program of the Department of Defense in 1993. As part of the federal government’s “war on drugs,” the Defense Department provided $200,000 each to 13 youth organizations, he said.

“We’re just barely a sliver of a much larger program that includes drug interdiction, drug testing and drug-demand reduction,” Kessler said.

Only two of those pilot programs still exist, Kessler said: The Young Marines’ efforts and the Navy’s Drug Education For Youth (DEFY) Program.

There also is a community-service aspect to the group.

“They march in parades, serve as door-greeters, perform color-guard ceremonies,” said Bettina Radcliff, 52, a 12-year staff member of the Keystone unit.

Maxson’s unit visited prisons. The unit based at Christ Lutheran Church in Forest Hills raised money for the American Cancer Society and collected $6,000 worth of toys for underprivileged children.

Radcliff urges critics to come and see for themselves that “we’re not a little Hitler group, building little killers.”

Maxson acknowledges that participating in the Young Marines becomes an advantage for those who want to enter the military.

And Maxson, Radcliff and Kessler brag about graduates who have joined the military. Kessler said only one service academy applicant he recommended for admission was rejected.

“We don’t recruit, but we are giving kids the opportunity to find the hero within,” Kessler said. “We don’t encourage a military career, but we don’t discourage one either.”


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