Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Irena Sendler, Lifeline to Young Jews, Is Dead at 98

Posted by BH 9:58 pm 2-28

Published: May 13, 2008
Irena Sendler, a Roman Catholic who created a network of rescuers in Poland who smuggled about 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto in World War II, some of them in coffins, died Monday in Warsaw. She was 98.

Katarina Stoltz/Reuters
Irena Sendler in March 2007.
The death was confirmed by Stanlee Stahl, executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that supports rescuers of Holocaust victims.
Mrs. Sendler was head of the children’s bureau of Zegota, an underground organization set up to save Jews after the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Soon after the invasion, approximately 450,000 Jews, about 30 percent of Warsaw’s population, were crammed into a tiny section of the city and barricaded behind seven-foot-high walls.
On April 19, 1943, the Nazis began what they expected would be a rapid liquidation of the ghetto. It took them more than a month to quell the Warsaw ghetto uprising. By then, only about 55,000 Jews were still alive; most of them were sent to death camps.
Also by then, however, Mrs. Sendler’s group of about 30 volunteers, mostly women, had managed to slip hundreds of infants, young children and teenagers to safety.
“She was the inspiration and the prime mover for the whole network that saved those 2,500 Jewish children,” Debórah Dwork, the Rose professor of Holocaust history at Clark University in Massachusetts, said Monday. Professor Dwork, the author of “Children With a Star” (Yale University Press, 1991), said about 400 children had been directly smuggled out by Mrs. Sendler.
Elzbieta Ficowska, a baby in 1942, was one of them. “Mrs. Sendler saved not only us, but also our children and grandchildren and the generations to come,” Ms. Ficowska told The Associated Press last year.
There were several ruses by which the children were saved. Mrs. Sendler was a social worker for the city, with a pass that allowed her to enter the ghetto. “The Jews were all disease carriers, as far as the Nazis were concerned,” Professor Dwork said. “They put up quarantine signs throughout the ghetto.” Forgeries of the government pass allowed other members of Zegota to enter the ghetto as well. They went in day after day to persuade Jewish parents to let them rescue children.
The most common escape route, Professor Dwork said, was through the Warsaw Municipal Law Courts, which abutted the ghetto.
“There were underground corridors that had entrances on the ghetto side,” she said. “The Polish police were bribed to allow the traffic. Parents were told to dress the children as well as possible, certainly without wearing a star.”
For a time, the ghetto’s boundaries extended to the Jewish cemetery. “Some children were placed in coffins, their mouths taped, or they were sedated so they wouldn’t cry,” said Ms. Stahl, of the Jewish foundation. “Other children were smuggled out in potato sacks.”
Sometimes an ambulance wagon, with a driver accompanied by a dog, took children through the gates. “Children were under the floorboard,” Ms. Stahl said. “The barking dog would drown out a child’s cries.”
A church straddled the ghetto border. “Children would be taken into the church, go into the confessional, and come out with papers as a little Catholic,” Ms. Stahl said. They would be taken to a Christian home, a convent or an orphanage.
In a letter last year to the Polish Senate after her country finally honored her efforts, Mrs. Sendler wrote, “Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory.”
In 1965, Mrs. Sendler became one of the first of the so-called righteous gentiles honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Poland’s Communist leaders did not allow her to travel to Israel; she was presented the award in 1983.
Irena Krzyzanowska was born in Otwock, in what is now Poland, on Feb. 15, 1910. Her father was a physician. Her marriage to Mieczyslaw Sendler ended in divorce after World War II. Her second husband, Stefan Zgrzembski, died before her. She is survived by her daughter, Janka, and a granddaughter.
Mrs. Sendler once told Ms. Stahl that she wanted to write a book about the bravery of Jewish mothers. 

“She said,” Ms. Stahl recalled, “ ‘Here I am, a stranger, asking them to place their child in my care. They ask if I can guarantee their safety. I have to answer no. Sometimes they would give me their child. Other times they would say come back. I would come back a few days later and the family had already been deported.’ ”


Posted By BH 7:27 pm 2-29

BY:  Bill Holland     (Remember Islam means  Submission)
Free Zone Publisher (Janitor)
Brigitte Gabriel was on the Joe Pag's show out of Texas tonight.. If you follow the Post here you will remember a post I made near the end of January.. She is fantastic.;.; Listen to this lady.Below  I
Post a Video from some time ago but it explains her life, and her beliefs..You will hear more on Free Zone Media from Brigitte Gabriell RIGHT HERE..
Enjoy the Video... Bill Holland  Editor

Watch the Video Below and My Post URL  for the previous video above ....

Brigitte Gabriel Radical Islam Has The Plan to Destroy America

NYT's Bill Keller: 'Santorum...Creeping Up On a Christian Version Of Sharia Law'

Posted by BH 4:19 pm 2-28


Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters caught former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday morning accusing GOP candidate Rick Santorum of “creeping up on a Christian version of Sharia law.” But since the Times has no problem with the Muslim version of Sharia law, what’s Keller’s beef?
Joe Scarborough played a clip of Santorum campaigning in Michigan criticizing President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for speaking of "freedom of worship" rather than "freedom of religion." Keller responded by saying “sometimes Santorum sounds like he's creeping up on a Christian version of Sharia law.” According to the Times, there’s nothing to fear and the threat has been exaggerated by the GOP.
But now Keller is using it as a convenient cudgel to bash a religious Republican.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I don't even get what Santorum is saying here.  Listen to this. 
Cut to Santorum clip.

RICK SANTORUM: Listen to what the President says and what the First Lady, not the First Lady, but the Secretary of State says, when they talk about the freedom of religion.  They don't use that term all the time. They use a different term: freedom of worship. We're in a hall here for St. Mary's. You go to the hall over there, you go to the sanctuary and talk all you want: you can have your religious faith. But if you come here, and you try to practice your faith: uh-unh. Then the government's going to tell you what to do. Is that how you interpret the First Amendment? Freedom of worship is not just what you do in the sanctuary. It's how you practice your faith outside the sanctuary, and at least in the America I grew up in, and that used to be around, that was freedom of religion.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: What is he talking about?
SCARBOROUGH: I have no idea.
BILL KELLER: Remember earlier in the campaign when Newt Gingrich was worrying everyone about Sharia law: the Muslims were going to impose Sharia law in America? Sometimes Santorum sounds like he's creeping up on a Christian version of Sharia law.


Posted by BH 3:43 2-28

By: Robert J. Firth
WEEK OF Feb 28 2012
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh saluted the Syrian revolution during a rally Friday in Cairo, in the group's first sign of support for rebels fighting their former patrons. The comments indicate Hamas may be moving out of the Shiite Syrian-Iranian orbit, and into alliances with conservative Arabian Gulf countries and new Islamic regimes throughout the Arab world.
"I salute the heroic Syrian people, who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform," Haniyeh told thousands at a rally supporting the Palestinians and Syrians at Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque. "No Iran, no Hezbollah. Syria is Islamic," protesters chanted, referring to Iranian influence in Syria and particularly in suppressing pro-democracy protests.
The comments show a clear break against Syria, which has long supported Palestinian terrorist organizations in order to extend its power in the region. They follow the apparent relocation of Hamas politburo members out of Damascus, and Hamas' recent campaign to court new supporters in the Islamic world. This has included signing a new three-stage energy agreement with Egypt, which will provide Hamas' Gaza territory with fuel and electricity transfers, despite claims by former Egyptian diplomats that Hamas suppressed Egypt's pro-democracy uprising.
Hamas also faces additional indirect pressure from Israel, which has threatened Hamas rivals Fatah with isolation if it joins a coalition government with the terrorist organization. The coalition deal was considered controversial in Hamas, and has divided the organization into factions for and against union with Fatah.
Zombie Law in Pennsylvania
A Pennsylvania judge is drawing flak from the right and the left after throwing out a case last week against a Muslim man accused of harassing an atheist who dressed as a "zombie Muhammed" in a Halloween parade.
In addition, Judge Mark Martin lectured the alleged victim, Ernie Perce, for his insensitivity toward Muslims. Initial reports had Martin identifying himself as a Muslim during his remarks from the bench, but in a subsequent statement, he said he is a Lutheran.
Perce, a member of a group called Atheists of Central Pennsylvania, dressed as "Zombie Muhammed" in the Mechanicsburg parade. He was accompanied by someone dressed as the "Zombie Pope," but his friend was not accosted. The defendant, Talaag Elbayomy, argued that Perce crossed a line in offending his prophet, and as a Muslim, he was obligated to respond. If anyone committed a crime, Elbayomy said, it was Perce.
Perce posted a video of the incident on YouTube. He claims he was grabbed and choked as Elbayomy tried to grab his sign identifying his costume as "Muhammed of Islam."
The judge sided with Elbayomy, an immigrant to the United States, saying it boiled down to Perce's word against Elbayomy's. But he also said Perce strayed "way outside" First Amendment protections. "I think you misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else's religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it it makes you look like a doofus and Mr. (Defendant) is correct. In many Arabic speaking countries something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society in fact it can be punishable by death and it frequently is in their society."
The decision appears so flawed that it generated similar criticism from legal analysts Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Turley, two people who rarely see eye to eye.
McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who led the prosecution of blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, posted a transcript of Martin's remarks, writing that "one's 'attitude toward Muslims' is irrelevant to one's right in America to walk the streets and express opinions people may find offensive without being physically attacked and intimidated."
Martin's speech shows a bias that should have prompted his recusal from the case, rather than his "entertaining a sharia defense to a violation of Pennsylvania law," McCarthy wrote. "The judge had no business ridiculing an American citizen as a 'doofus' and hectoring him with Martin's views about Islam, its requirements, its purportedly extraordinary significance to Muslims (compared to other believers who, according to Martin, are less devoted to their faiths), or about the Muslim perception of 'ugly Americans.'"
Turley, who represents Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Sami Al-Arian, agrees: "I fail to see the relevance of the victim's attitude toward Muslims or religion generally. He had a protected right to walk in the parade and not be assaulted for his views. While the judge laments that '[i]t's unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others,' that is precisely what the Framers had in mind if Thomas Paine is any measure."
Hamas Supporter Speaking on London Campus
Feb 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm
London's Queen Mary University will allow Hamas-supporter Azzam Tamimi to address the student body on Tuesday, at a Palestine Solidarity Society event called "One State or Two State Solution." The move has sparked outrage on the campus because of Tamimi's outspoken support for terrorism and the destruction of Israel.
"Anybody in the world, with faith or without faith, must come together in order to eradicate this cancer from the body of humanity," Tamimi said about Israel on a 2006 YouTube video of a London "al-Quds Day" rally. "It is just a matter of time. You count my words and you remember these words. It's a matter of time – as they withdrew from South Lebanon because of the great jihad of Hizballah, and as they withdrew from Gaza because of the great jihad of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, this black chapter in the humanity of history will eventually come to an end."
In 2004 BBC interview, Tamimi claimed that he would carry out a suicide bombing if possible, and stated that his inability to travel to Israel was holding him back. "You see sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my god and I would do it if I had the opportunity," he said in the heated discussion with journalist Tim Sebastian.
Despite Tamimi's support for violence, a university spokesman defended the invitation, saying "freedom of expression and the sharing of ideas and beliefs are at the heart of Queen Mary's ethos." The head of the university, Professor Simon Gaskell, also didn't seem fazed by the activist's expressions of violence. "In making these arrangements we neither endorse nor deny the views expressed; rather we are allowing freedom of expression within the law," he told reporters. It was in the power of the students to make judgments about opinions and beliefs presented to them, he added.
Related Topics: Campus

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Posted by BH 2:21 2-28

At a time of record deficits, a new soccer field for detainees at Camp 6 in Guantanamo Bay is just getting the finishing touches -- at a cost of $750,000 to taxpayers.
The project was the highlight of a tour Tuesday of the detention camp for reporters at the facility covering the arraignment in a military court of Majid Khan, a former Baltimore resident and the the only legal U.S. resident on trial at Guantanamo.
The project began in April 2011 and is due to finish this spring. The detainees will now have three recreation facilities at Camp 6, which is home to "highly compliant" detainees who live in a communal setting.
In addition to an indoor recreation field and the existing outdoor recreation field, the new soccer field -- selected because it is such a popular sport with detainees -- is half the size of an American football field.    
The new field has been specially constructed so that the detainees "have maximum access" -- about 20 hours a day. Special passageways allow the detainees to pass into the new recreation yard without being escorted by the military.
On the tour, a military police representative who asked not to be identified by name said allowing high levels of activity outdoors helped reduce behavioral problems at the camps, and it also limited the amount of interaction between detainees and the guards.
Since the detention camps opened in 2002, some half dozen cases have been prosecuted -- four ended in plea agreements with minimal jail time. 
Khan, accused of being hand-selected by Sept. 11, 2001, mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for a second wave of attacks inside the U.S., including a plot to blow up gas stations, is expected to cut a deal. He is also implicated in an assassination plot against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff and a car bombing at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2003.
His appearance will be the first time anyone outside the U.S. military or intelligence community has seen him since his capture after Sept. 11 and transfer to secret prisons formerly maintained by the CIA.
Even some of President Obama's most ardent supporters suggest the administration seems eager to close the camps and reduce the detainee population, and plea agreements with minimal jail time are a sweetheart deal for all involved.
Detainees like Usama bin Laden's personal cook and his driver are spending less time in prison than American citizens prosecuted in federal courts on lesser charges.
By example, Zachary Chesser of Charlottesville, Va., who was convicted for making threats against the creators of "South Park" and for supporting a Somali terror group, but who never fired a shot on the battlefield, is now serving a 25-year sentence. 
By contrast, Omar Khadr, who killed an American soldier on the battlefield in Afghanistan is nearly half way through his eight-year sentence at Guantanamo, and may finish out his term in Canada.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying about the Justice Department budget on Capitol Hill, said the recidivism rate for Guantanamo detainees overall is in the mid-20s. But the recidivism rate for those transferred during the Obama administration is 7 percent. Holder acknowledged that part of that comparison may be because the former detainees have been out for a shorter period of time, but also because the determinations about each of their release had to be unanimously approved by a task force.


Posted by BH 2:12 2-28

A third student who was wounded in a shooting rampage at an Ohio high school died Tuesday morning, according to hospital spokeswoman.
The family of Demetrius Hewlin released a statement following his death.
"We are very saddened by the loss of our son and others in our Chardon community," Hewlin's family said in a statement. "Demetrius was a happy young man who loved life and his family and friends."
Earlier Tuesday, Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna said during a news conference that 17-year-old Russell King Jr., who was airlifted to a hospital following the shooting, "has passed." 

Related Video

News conference on high school shooting
Two other students were wounded in the shooting. Another student, 16-year-old Daniel Parmertor, died hours after the shooting.  
McKenna would not disclose the identity of the alleged gunman, saying, "For legal reasons, I will not release the name of the person who's being brought before the judge this afternoon." Another press conference is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.   
A lawyer for the suspect's family has identified him to a Cleveland television station as T.J. Lane, a 17-year-old junior at the high school who was described by fellow classmates as an outcast. 
The teenager is suspected of targeting King and four other classmates inside the school's cafeteria at around 7:30 a.m. Monday. 
Witnesses say the gunman opened fire on the group before being chased from the building by a teacher and apprehended by authorities about a half a mile away.
Lawyer Robert Farinacci said Lane's family is mourning "this terrible loss for their community" and "trying to understand how the tragedy happened."  
In a statement issued to WKYC-TV in Cleveland Monday night, Farinacci said the family of Lane offered "their most heartfelt and sincere condolences" to the family of Parmertor. Farinacci said Lane's family is praying for the other injured students from Chardon High School.
Police have not released the alleged shooter's name because he has not been charged yet. McKenna said Tuesday that the motive remains unclear. 
Farinacci said Lane "pretty much sticks to himself but does have some friends and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about."
Fifteen-year-old Danny Komertz, who witnessed the shooting, said Lane was known as an outcast who had apparently been bullied. But others disputed that.
"Even though he was quiet, he still had friends," said Tyler Lillash, 16. "He was not bullied."
An education official said late Monday the suspected shooter is a student at nearby Lake Academy, not Chardon High. 
Brian Bontempo declined to answer any more questions about the student. Bontempo is the superintendent of the Lake County Educational Service Center, which operates the academy.
The alternative school in Willoughby serves 7th through 12th grades. Students may have been referred to the school because of academic or behavioral problems.
Law enforcement officials described the suspect as a "victim of bullying" and an "outcast." FBI officials would not comment on a motive.
Parmertor's family released a statement Monday through MetroHealth System spokeswoman Shannon Mortland that said: "We are shocked by this senseless tragedy. Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."
Joe Bergant, superintendent of schools in Chardon, a town of about 5,100 people, said during the press conference Tuesday that classes will fully resume Friday in the Ohio district. Bergant said parents, students and faculty will be invited to the schools for counseling at various times before then.
Nate Mueller, a high school junior who was hit in the right ear, told the newspaper that he and his friends were sitting in the cafeteria when the shooter approached them at around 7:30 a.m.
Mueller said he turned around after hearing a gunshot behind him and was struck on his ear, the newspaper reported. 
"My friends were crawling on the floor, and one of my friends was bent over the table, and he was shot," he told the newspaper. "It was almost like a firecracker went off. I turned around and saw him standing with a gun and I saw him take a shot."
Another witness, freshman Danny Komertz, said he was just about to leave for his first-period health class when he heard a loud popping sound and then saw the gunman open fire.
The 15-year-old Komertz says that there were at least 100 students in the cafeteria at the time and that most fled immediately as shots were fired.
He said one student who authorities say was killed was trying to get under a table to protect himself and shield his face. 
Teacher Joe Ricci had just begun class when he heard shots and slammed the door to his classroom, yelling, "Lock down!" to students, according to Karli Sensibello, a student whose sister was in Ricci's classroom.
A few minutes later, Ricci heard a student moaning outside, opened the door and pulled in student Nick Walczak who had been shot several times, Sensibello said in an email. Ricci comforted Walczak and let him use his cellphone to call his girlfriend and parents, Sensibello said. She said her sister was too upset to talk.
Student Heather Ziska, who was just feet away when the gunman opened fire, said a normal morning was interrupted by strange sounds in a hallway, then the sight of the gunman beginning to shoot.
The 17-year-old junior said she and other students began hearing popping noises in a nearby hallway. Ziska said she then saw a boy with a gun who she recognized as a fellow student come into the cafeteria and start shooting.
She said she and several others immediately ran outside, while other friends ran into a middle school and others locked themselves in a teachers' lounge.
The 1,100-student high school is about 30 miles east of Cleveland. 
The Associated Press and Newscore contributed to this report.


Posted by BH 2:05 pm 2-29

As lawmakers across the Capitol hear appeals Tuesday from Obama administration secretaries pleading for their budgets, duplication and overlap in dozens of areas of government is wasting "tens of billions of dollars annually," a new government report shows. 
According to the Government Accountability Agency's 2012 annual report, nearly every department of the Executive Branch has room for improvement.
The report, which gives 51 areas and recommends 130 actions, follows a 2011 GAO report that showed 81 areas and 176 actions to be taken to "reduce or eliminate unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation or achieve other potential financial benefits."
"Collectively, these reports show that, if the actions are implemented, the government could potentially save tens of billions of dollars annually," Gene Dodaro, comptroller general for the U.S., said in remarks prepared for Tuesday's hearing in the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., also a witness Tuesday, estimated that waste and duplication costs taxpayers more like $100 billion per year.
"Not one corner of our daily life remains untouched by a government program or federal effort," Coburn said in testimony being delivered Tuesday. "From what we eat and drink, to where we live, work, and socialize, nearly every aspect of human behavior and American society are addressed by multiple government programs."
Coburn said last year's report listed more than 100 surface transportation programs; 88 economic development programs;  82 teacher quality programs; 56 financial literacy programs; 47 job training programs; 20 homelessness prevention and assistance programs; 18 food for the hungry programs; and 17 disaster response and preparedness programs.
He said government's duplication in nutritional programs alone -- worth $62.5 billion in 2008, according to GAO -- have burned taxpayers over items as simple as potato chips.
"While many of these programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allow federal funds to purchase potato chips, dozens of other government-wide initiatives, are aimed at keeping Americans healthy, specifically suggesting food like potato chips should be limited in intake, and perhaps even taken out of public schools all together," he said.
"At the same time, just this year the Department of Agriculture announced a nearly $50,000 federal grant was being doled out to a private potato chip company in New York. According the proposal, this money would be used to overhaul their media strategy and raise
brand awareness and consumer knowledge -- essentially encouraging people to buy and consume potato chips," he said, noting that potato chips sales in the United States exceed $6 billion annually. 

Coburn said that sales level "begs the question why the taxpayers are now asked to subsidize promotion and marketing for the industry."
Click here to read Dodaro's testimony.
Click here to read the GAO report.
Click here to read Coburn's testimony.
GAO categorizes the areas for improvement into a dozen specialty areas. For the Justice Department, for instance, GAO says $3.9 billion is offered in 11,000 grant awards where there is a "risk of potential unnecessary duplication."
The Defense Department, he said, needs a department-wide strategy for spending $37.5 billion on unmanned aircraft over the next five years. Dodaro offered the example of the Navy spending $3 billion to create its own version of an Air Force surveillance program that is already operational. 
"According to program officials, no analysis was conducted to determine the cost effectiveness of developing the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAS to meet the Navy's requirements versus buying more (Air Force) Global Hawks," Dodaro said.
GAO also lists areas for improvement in science, engineering, transportation, food safety and security clearances, among others. 
On housing, Dodaro said the Treasury and Federal Reserve invested more than $1.67 trillion in
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2010, while GAO identified "20 different entities that administer 160 programs, tax expenditures and other tools" designed to  support home ownership and rental
housing while another "39 programs, tax expenditures, and other tools" offered help in buying, selling or financing a home. Eight more programs and tax expenditures were designed for rental property owners.

Meanwhile, Dodaro noted, 56 percent of Rural Housing Service loan guarantees were for urban properties in 2009 while the Federal Housing Administration insured eight times as many single-family loans in rural counties as RHS did.
Writing on the White House blog on Tuesday, Danny Werfel, controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management, said that GAO's 2012 report was finished before the release of consolidation proposals offered in President Obama's 2013 budget.
Werfel said some consolidation is already taking place without Congress' sign-off, including the merger of six business and trade agencies into one, consolidation of 1,200 data centers by 2015 -- 100 of which have already closed and 500 of which are already slated to close -- and the reduction of agency real estate costs by $3 billion by the end of the year.
He said Congress could do more by passing the president's budget as well as the Reforming and Consolidating Government Act, which he said the administration sent to Capitol Hill earlier this year as a plan to set up an expedited process to review government consolidation proposals.
Dodaro said much of the the low-hanging fruit outlined in last year's report has been addressed in the latest budget but there "needs to be more assertive action" from the Office of Management and Budget.
He said one easy fix would be to eliminate differences in the coding practices for Medicare Advantage versus traditional Medicare. 
Diagnostic coding for Medicare Advantage estimated a 3.41 percent higher risk scores for beneficiaries, totaling about $2.7 billion in greater payments. The reason for that, he said, is because Medicare Advantage providers get paid by the diagnostic code while traditional Medicare providers are paid by the services rendered. 
"We estimated that a revised methodology that addressed these shortcomings could have saved Medicare between $1.2 billion and $3.1 billion in 2010 in addition to the $2.7 billion in savings that CMS’s 3.41 percent adjustment produced," he said.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a statement before the hearing that taxpayers deserve more "modern, efficient and cost-effective operations" in government, especially in times of fiscal crisis.  
"I have always said that the enemy isn't the Democrats, the enemy isn't the Republicans -- it's the bureaucracy. A bureaucracy that inherently resists change and adaptation," he said.
But while Issa said the hearing was not convened to cast blame, Coburn said "Congress is the main offender" allowing runaway spending. 
"We set the budget, we pass the appropriations bills and we authorize new activities at the federal agencies. We refuse to apply metrics and standards to the programs we create. We ignore our duty to conduct oversight. And we choose to remain uninformed about existing efforts before creating new ones," he said.

Does 'Act of Valor' go too far? PRO'S AND CON'S - FOR MY MONEY - IT'S PRO ALL THE WAY ?

Posted by BH 1:12 pm 2-28


A storm of controversy is brewing over this weekend’s No. 1 box office hit “Act of Valor,” with critics charging it gives away military secrets and worrying it puts American sailors in danger – while fans of the film are hailing it as honoring to the military and exposing dangers the mainstream media refuses to admit.
“Act of Valor,” which grew from a military recruitment film into a blockbuster action movie and was overseen in production by the Naval Special Warfare unit, was based on real operations of America’s Navy SEALs. Actual SEALs even starred in the film, giving it a dose of realism, even if critics have largely panned the sailors’ acting skills.
Reviews of the film have ranged from the dismissive – Las Vegas Weekly called it a “simplistic, one-sided … recruitment video” – to the glowing: Kurt Schlichter of Big Hollywood praised its action and “real emotion,” while WND’s Drew Zahn called it “a fantastic film and the kind of movie American patriots are certain to appreciate.”
But with the reviews have come criticisms that the film’s realism, for example, goes too far.
The Christian Science Monitor reports the Pentagon has been fielding calls from concerned congressional staffers wondering whether the movie might reveal sensitive tactics.
Retired Lt. Gen. James Vaught, a former Army Delta Force commander, went even further at a special operations conference earlier this month, publicly blasting Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of United States Special Operations Command and a SEAL himself, for making media darlings out of the SEALs.
“Since the time when your wonderful team went and drug bin Laden out and got rid of him … they’ve been splashing all of this all over the media,” Vaught said. “Now I’m going to tell you, one of these days, if you keep publishing how you do this, the other guy’s going to be there ready for you, and you’re going to fly in and he’d going to shoot down every d— helicopter and kill every one of your SEALs.
“Now, watch it happen,” he continued. “Mark my words: Get the h— out of the media.”
McRaven, however, insists the film does not give away military secrets.
“Nothing we’re displaying in there tips our sensitive tactics, techniques and procedures,” he said. “The film company that produced this had a very collaborative effort with the Navy.”
Hollywood reporter David L. Robb, whose book “Operation Hollywood” criticizes the military’s influence in moviemaking, told the Washington Post he was worried about the use of active SEALs in the film.
“Believe me, it won’t be long before their names come out,” he said. “Somebody’s going to know who these guys are, and their identities are going to be compromised.”
Ken Robinson, a terrorism and national security analyst and former special forces soldier expressed similar concerns to the Los Angeles Times.
“A movie is a sword that cuts both ways,” Robinson said. “It shines a light on very brave, capable Americans. On the other hand, any time you crack open a door and give someone an insight into who you are, you give them an advantage.”
McRaven addressed the question at an industry conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month: “We’re conscious of the fact that there are active-duty Navy SEALs here. I can tell you they all volunteered. There’s no concern on their part about their individual [safety] or the security of their families.”
Rear Adm. Dennis Moynihan, the Navy’s chief spokesman also explained, “There was a series of initiatives we launched to try to increase the number of SEALs we have in the Navy . … This film project was one of those initiatives.
He continued, “The SEALs looked at that from a security perspective, and they decided it was a risk worth taking [in light of] the recruiting imperative.”
Exposing our true enemies?
Controversy is also arising over the storyline itself, which defies the PC police in positing that not only are Islamic extremists feverishly working to kill Americans, but they’re also planning to slip through America’s porous border with Mexico to bring in weapons of mass destruction.
The heroic SEALs of “Act of Valor” are initially assigned to extract a CIA operative from captivity, only to discover that she had stumbled upon a network of high-tech arms dealers working with European Muslims to smuggle newly developed suicide vests into the U.S. These new vests are specifically designed to kill thousands, dwarf 9/11 in impact and cripple the American economy.
And while pundits in the U.S. debate the role of Islam in terror, call for more open borders and generally downplay the danger of terrorism on American soil, “Act of Valor” unapologetically portrays Muslims recruiting non-Arab women to wear the vests and smuggling them through tunnels from Mexico to cities all over the U.S. And in “Act of Valor,” disaster is averted with only seconds to spare by our brave men and women in uniform.
In fact, Schlichter’s review insists “Act of Valor” portrays a “moral clarity” in the war on terror that Hollywood refuses to accept.
“Let me clue you in, Tinseltown,” Schlichter writes, “‘Act’ is an unapologetically pro-military movie that doesn’t have to pretend that the greatest threat to America is space aliens. It’s got action – holy cow, does it have action. It’s got emotion – real emotion, not that hacky ‘emotional conflict’ cookie cutter crap that your screenwriting seminars push. And it’s got this thing called ‘moral clarity.’
He continues, “There’s no bogus back story to the villains about how Americans were mean to them, or how their daddies didn’t hug them enough or how global warming destroyed their petting zoo. … The jihadi/drug dealing villains in ‘Act’ murder little kids with car bombs. They use power drills to torture women. They want to butcher Americans here in our country. Just like in real life. Except – and this is key – ‘Act of Valor’ isn’t afraid to say so. You are. Evil corporations, neo-Nazis, little green men – you’ll have anyone as the villain except the real villains who we are really at war against today.
“But the American people see through it,” he concludes. “They know who the real enemy is. And, moreover, they love our military and our troops.”
The trailer for “Act of Valor” can be seen below:

HAMAS, Qaeda & Obama On Same Side of Syrian Conflict, Backing Rebels

Posted 12:35 pm 2-28

By Debbie Schlussel

HAMAS is now joining Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain in backing the Syrian rebels against Bashar Assad.  We’ve seen this same scenario repeat itself in the Middle East several times before.  And each time, the HAMAS side prevails over the “winning” side, NOT America.  These American “leaders” are morons.  And they haven’t learned.  It’s like a giant echo chamber throughout the Middle East.  First, all of these morons backed the Egyptian “democracy” protesters.  Then, they backed the Libyan rebels.  In each case, the result was predictable and the same.  In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood took over, and it’s more chaotic and repressive than ever under Western ally Mubarak.  In Libya, Al-Qaeda-tied extremists took over, and it’s more chaotic and repressive than ever under Qaddafi, with whom America had a no-nukes agreement and a detente.

All of ‘Em on the Same Side as HAMAS’ Haniyeh in Syria

Now, we are doing the same thing again.  And it’s apparently not a “hint” that HAMAS is on the same side as “we” are.  This is the natural result of the Muslim world democracy and “free” elections pushed for eight years by George W. Bush and now realized with a lot of help from pressure by Barack Obama.  Both parties are to blame for this, and don’t think Mitt Romney would be any different.  He wouldn’t be.
Hamas has thrown its political clout behind an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Palestinian Islamist group’s longtime patron and host, a shift that cracks a formidable alliance and further widens the Middle East’s sectarian divide.
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, told worshipers at Cairo’s Al Azhar mosque during Friday prayers that the political party and militia was supporting the uprising against Mr. Assad, calling the revolutionaries “heroic,” according to the Associated Press.
Hey, isn’t that special? Hillary, Barack, and John McCain think they’re heroic, too. Weak minds think alike.
He made his comments alongside several Muslim Brotherhood members in front of thousands of admirers at Al Azhar, one of the oldest religious universities in the world and the seat of Sunni learning, lending sway to his Sunni world view. Hamas is the Palestinian wing of the international Muslim Brotherhood movement which has its headquarters and ideological center in the Egyptian capital. . . .
The altered loyalties could raise further questions about the prominent role Islamists are playing in the Syrian rebellion. The leader of al Qaeda, the Sunni-aligned global terrorist movement, recently backed the Syrian uprising as well. Several recent attacks on Syrian military operations bore al Qaeda trademarks, according to the Syrian government and some security analysts.
Yup, this is how Hillary and Barack and their Arab Spring (helped along by Bush) are trying to defeat Israel without actual, direct involvement.
In his speech Friday in Cairo, Mr. Haniyeh asked the Muslim and Arab world to defend Jerusalem against Israeli attempts to weaken its Arab identity of the city, according to the Associated Press.
He recited an Arabic poem that says that the path to Jerusalem starts in Cairo. The crowd cheered when he said Hamas wouldn’t recognize Israel, and chanted, “Hey, Haniyeh, do not leave the gun” and “To Jerusalem, we march in the millions.” . . .
Essam al-Erian, head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee and a senior official in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said . . . “I think that after this revolution, Hamas is welcome in Cairo, in Tripoli in Libya and in Tunisia and also Morocco,” Mr. Erian said.
In just three years of Obama, the entire Middle East has been destabilized. And in eight years of Bush, the Arab Spring “democracy” dynamic was begun, spending American lives to hand over Iraq to Iran’s Sh’ites and build roads in Afghanistan.
Only in America.

Fighting drugs and border violence at Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: What about the ranger’s M14 rifle, Yogi?

LPosted by BH 11:22 am 2-28

By Liz Goodwin | The Ticket – 3 hrs ago
Ranger Ken Hires in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo News)
ORGAN PIPE CACTUS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Ariz. -- On a hot desert morning last week, a group of 20 tourists gathered in the visitor center in Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to attend a mandatory safety briefing before taking a guarded van tour to Quitobaquito springs. The springs is part of the 69 percent of the remote border park west of Tucson that has been closed to the public since Kris Eggle, a 28-year-old law enforcement park ranger, was shot and killed while pursuing drug runners armed with AK-47s in 2002.
Organ Pipe was named "the most dangerous national park" that year and also in 2003 by the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, before the group discontinued the series. The drastic increase of drug activity on Arizona's southern border since the 1990s has turned Organ Pipe rangers into de factor Border Patrol agents, and spurred state lawmakers to pass several laws cracking down on illegal immigrants within the state.
Since 2009, the park has offered van tours to the springs, as long as rangers armed with assault rifles go along to protect the visitors. Now, ten years after Eggle's murder, the park's leadership has decided to open up a portion of the closed areas to the public in March, citing improved safety conditions and a big increase in Border Patrol agents in the area.
In the run-up to Tuesday's Republican presidential primary in Arizona, immigration has once again been a hotly contested topic in the state: Mitt Romney in a debate last week praised Arizona's immigration laws as a "model" for the country, while President Obama's Justice Department is suing Arizona to overturn one of those laws, called SB1070. The law--which has not gone into effect because of a federal court order--requires police to check a person's immigration status during stops if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the country illegally. It also makes it a state crime to fail to carry immigration papers or for illegal immigrants to solicit work. Drug violence has claimed tens of thousands of lives in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in 2006, but spillover violence has so far been minimal in the United States. Still, Jan Brewer, the Republican governor of Arizona, falsely claimed that beheadings occurred in the Arizona desert in 2010, the same year she signed SB1070 into law. Arizona was also the first state to pass a mandatory E-Verify law in 2007, to ensure employers don't hire illegal immigrants.
Brewer says the law will help police officers combat drug trafficking and crime, but critics say it will encourage racial profiling and interferes with federal control over immigration. Yahoo News went to Organ Pipe last week to witness the challenges of the border as the presidential candidates debate how best to control it.
'They'll have M14s at hand. Don't be worried.'
"There is a chance we might have to cancel the tour if there's some sort of apprehension in progress," Park Ranger Karl Sommerhauser, wearing a bulky dark green bulletproof vest, told the tourists last week. Sommerhauser had an ear piece curling out of his left ear. "We expect you to take direction from Ken," he said sternly.
Ken Hires, an unflaggingly cheerful park ranger dressed in reassuringly normal-looking tan ranger clothes, bounded to the front of the room. Hires is what's called an interpretive ranger, which means he has no law enforcement duties and does not carry a weapon. ("I spent my five years in Vietnam. Enough shooting," he said later.) Hires explained that some law enforcement officers would be hiding in the hills and closely watching the two-hour nature hike, while another pair of armed rangers would follow the tourists closely from the ground. "They'll have M14s at hand," he told the group. "Don't be worried."
"You might see something interesting off the trail, but please don't go wandering off," Hires continued, explaining that it made it difficult for the rangers to track people from the hills. "Please be respectful that those people are putting themselves on the line for us."
As the group loaded into the vans, one woman from Idaho whispered to her husband: "Does it make you worried? They get chest protections, and we don't get none of them."
Hires, sitting in the passenger side of the van, began talking quickly into his radio to the rangers. He turned to the back and explained: "We operate this as if it were an incident."
"You say there was an incident out there?" a walrus-mustachioed passenger wearing a cowboy hat asked warily.
"We're it," Ken said, to nervous laughter.
'There's nothing normal about Organ Pipe'
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a 330,000-acre, surprisingly green stretch of Sonoran desert populated by barrel, saguaro and organ pipe cacti, spans 30 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. The park became a corridor for drug runners in the 1990s after border security tightened at major ports of entry and in urban areas, driving human and drug traffickers to rural crossings. Alan Bersin, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner until last year, admitted that the Tucson sector of the border was "out of control" until recently. In 2010, half of all border apprehensions and drug seizures occurred in the Tucson sector, which encompasses much of Organ Pipe.
Drug runners would cut across Mexican Highway 2 through Organ Pipe's dirt roads in a car and then quickly hop onto U.S. Highway 85, which shoots up to Phoenix or Tucson. The vehicles blazed more than 200 miles of unauthorized roads through the park, and rangers found themselves in dangerous, high-speed chases nearly every day. An $18 million, 23-mile vehicle fence put up after Eggle's murder by the Department of the Interior cut down on this vehicle traffic. Now, cartels have had to get smarter, sometimes cutting into the fence, removing it, driving through, and then putting it back together again. Drug runners also started coming more on foot, dropping their packages in designated spots on the highway for someone else to pick up.
The Department of Homeland Security recently put up nine surveillance towers in the park, making it easier for agents to detect this new foot traffic, so the drug runners are now hiding in the hills, where the towers can't see them. (A Border Patrol helicopter operation last year in these hills netted 800 pounds of trash and a whole "herd" of people, according to Hires.) Border Patrol set up a check point on Highway 85 within the park in the past year, which has pushed drug traffickers to the neighboring Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Tohono O'odham reservation, adding as much as four days to their on-foot journeys. "They're very adaptive, more so than us," said Organ Pipe park superintendent Lee Baiza wearily, during an interview with Yahoo News last week.
Baiza said he spends about 80 percent of his time working with Homeland Security and handling border concerns. "There's nothing normal about Organ Pipe," he added.
The superintendent, who took over in 2007, has faced criticism for preventing Border Patrol agents from building new roads in the wilderness areas of the park, which is part of a larger struggle between Homeland Security and national park and land agencies that operate on the border. (More than 85 percent of border property in Arizona is federally owned.) Bob Bishop, a Republican representative from Utah, introduced a bill last year that would waive environmental laws up to 100 miles north of the border, freeing up Homeland Security to build roads through the wilderness to combat illegal immigration and drug running. Bishop criticized the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for preventing Border Patrol agents from driving off-road in the Quitobaquito area of the park because of a pond nearby that contains the endangered Sonoran desert pupfish.
"I may care about the pupfish, but I also care about kids getting hooked on illegal drugs that are coming over that border," Bishop told Yahoo News. Drug runners cause more environmental damage to the border by leaving trash, he said, than Border Patrol agents would by building roads.
"Every congressman seems to have his own idea of what we're doing wrong," Baiza said. "The reality is all of that has improved immensely since 2007."
Apprehensions in the park were down last month for the first time in three years, Baiza said. Border Patrol would not release park-specific data, but a spokesman, Jason Rheinfrank, said that the Tucson sector overall saw a 40 percent drop in apprehensions last fiscal year, while the number of agents has nearly tripled since 2000. Illegal crossing arrests over the entire border were at a four-decade low last fiscal year, in part because of the flagging American economy.
On March 1, 46 percent of the park--instead of 31 percent--is scheduled to be open to the public. Baiza cited the increased fencing, number of Border Patrol agents, and technology in the park as the reasons for the change.
Organ pipe cactus. (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo)
'What we are trying to do is retake this landscape'
"The real problem we have with safety is drug dealing, not the people looking for work," Hires said from a loudspeaker system at the front of the van. Three different border patrol agents riding ATVs raced by, waving. "What we are trying to do is retake this landscape so we can all be free to be out here," he added.
Twenty minutes later, the vans arrived at Quitobaquito, where two young men toting heavy M14 rifles were already waiting. The rangers arrived at the springs two hours earlier to scour the area and make sure no one was hiding.
"Please be respectful and don't photograph them," Hires warned. The park service is worried that cartel members would retaliate against the rangers if their faces were publicized. Baiza says Organ Pipe never sends out press releases announcing new ranger hires for the same reason.
The armed park rangers didn't greet the group and stayed about 20 paces ahead on the trail. Hires showed the tourists the endangered Sonoran desert pupfish in the pond (the endangered Sonoran mud turtles were nowhere to be found), and answered questions about the names of different plants and flowers. He explained that the springs has been a crossroads for thousands of years, an oasis drawing thirsty desert-dwellers and entrepreneurial shell traders. The tour ended, and two volunteer rangers stood guard as visitors used the restroom in the bushes before the long van ride back.
"You got to show me your visa," one volunteer ranger joked as people began loading back into the van.
On the way out, Hires pointed out the two park rangers at the top of the hill, green specks on the horizon.
Another border patrol ATV zoomed past the van and stopped the law enforcement park rangers who were escorting the group back to the visitor center.  Two brown packages were tied to the back of the ATV.
"See those bundles? Want to guess?" Hires asked. "Marijuana." In 2005, the last year the park released border incident data, Organ Pipe park rangers seized 17,000 pounds of marijuana.
The rangers let out a dog from the back of the SUV, as the visitors craned their necks to watch from the van. The dog jumped out and ran to the bundles. He sat down abruptly and pointed his nose at the packages, then looked back at his masters. "That's the sign," Hires said. The rangers tossed the jubilant dog a toy, and the Border Patrol agent drove off again in the ATV.
"There's been a sighting of a UDA," Hires said a few minutes later, listening to his radio. (UDA means undocumented alien.) "He's sitting next to a trash can which means he's waiting for us to pick him up and give him a ride home. He's given up."
'I feel safer here than in Fresno'
Despite all the excitement on the trip, Hires said he thinks the park is very safe because of the law enforcement rangers and the Border Patrol agents.
"I feel safer here than in Fresno," Hires said after the tour. (He works seasonally in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks near Fresno, California.)
But visitors--or rather, the people who are choosing not to be visitors--still have concerns. In 2010, visits to the park plunged to a 10-year low of 209,600. Baiza says that when state politicians focus on the dangers of Mexico and the border, fewer people visit the park.
"They come here all petrified," Bonnie Auman, a park volunteer, said. "Then they see all the law enforcement, the Border Patrol."
Bishop, the Utah congressman, said that while the stagnant economy may have significantly deterred unauthorized migrants who are looking for work, he doesn't think it has made a dent in the number of drug runners targeting Arizona. "That's why we need to control the border," he told Yahoo News. "They're not going to be affected by E-Verify and the economy, and the Border Patrol needs to have the ability to battle that."
It remains to be seen whether visitors will be lured back. Hires journeyed to the Quartzsite, Arizona, RV show last month to recruit wary RVers to visit the park. "The No. 1 question: 'Is it safe there?'" he said. "And the second one was, 'Are you open?' People thought we totally closed the place."
Memorial to Kris Eggle. (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo)
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