Monday, September 30, 2013


By shutting down the government on October 1st, the Tea Party Republicans will in effect be campaigning for the 2016 Democratic candidate for president.

Obamacare, like it or not, is now the law of the land and the Tea Party Republicans in the House are acting like crazies by holding the country hostage over the Affordable Health Care Act when they know damn well that they do not have the votes to defund or repeal it.

Once government services have been curtailed by the shutdown and investors see their portfolios shrink as the stock market tanks, it will be all Republicans, not just the Tea Party ones, who will be blamed, thus all but assuring the election of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or whoever else ends up as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.


Back in the days of Wyatt Earp he would have been shot at the poker table if caught cheating.

By Michael Schwirtz and Ravi Somaiya

The New York Times
September 29, 2013

A vice admiral who is second in command at the United States Strategic Command, which oversees nuclear war-fighting forces for the military, has been suspended amid an investigation into his possible involvement in illegal gambling, officials said on Saturday.

The officer, Vice Adm. Timothy M. Giardina, is a highly decorated sailor with more than three decades in the Navy. The suspension occurred on Sept. 3, but was not announced publicly, said Capt. Pamela Kunze, the command’s spokeswoman.

Captain Kunze would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension, citing a continuing investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The Strategic Command was first alerted about the issue in mid-July. A month earlier, Admiral Giardina became the target of an inquiry being conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation into possible use of counterfeit gambling chips at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, said David Dales, the head of the Southwest division of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Mr. Dales said the criminality in question involved poker at the casino, but said he could provide no further information. The agency’s investigation is still open and no state charges have been filed against Admiral Giardina, Mr. Dales said.

It was not clear whether Admiral Giardina’s actions compromised national security or the operations of the Strategic Command.

The commander of the Strategic Command, General C. Robert Kehler, has submitted a recommendation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Admiral Giardina be reassigned, Captain Kunze said. It has not been determined what, if any, additional actions will be taken. The leadership of the Strategic Command is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The Strategic Command, based at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, oversees a web of military efforts including the military’s space and cyberwarfare operations. It also controls the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Admiral Giardina, a career submarine officer, assumed his duties at the Strategic Command in December 2011. Before that, he was the deputy commander and chief of staff of the Pacific Fleet. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1979.

He was scheduled to rotate out of his position at Strategic Command later this year. In early July, President Obama appointed an Air Force general to replace Admiral Giardina.


The international community doesn’t seem to be bothered by the slaughter of Christians by Muslims, but every time Israelis defend themselves against attacks by Palestinians, the Jews are committing a crime against humanity.

The world has an obsession with picking out every perceived flaw with Israel, while ignoring the very real persecution of Christians and other minorities around the world

By Raymond Ibrahim

Israel Today
September 29, 2013

Muslim slaughter of non-Muslim “infidels,” while a habitual thing, saw an especially dramatic weekend in the nations of Pakistan and Kenya. Even so, these are simply the latest in a long list of jihadi attacks on the Christians of both nations.

Last Sunday, September 22, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Islamic suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church compound right after Sunday mass and blew themselves up in the midst of some 550 congregants, killing, according to the latest count, nearly 90 worshippers, including many Sunday school children, women, and choir members, and injuring at least another 120. The now destroyed Protestant church was built in Peshawar some 130 years ago. The Taliban claimed the attacks.

According to Margrette, a parishioner who survived (though her sister’s status was unknown), “I heard two explosions. People started to run. Human remains were strewn all over the church.”

Armed attacks on churches are hardly uncommon in Pakistan, even though Christians are less than 2% of the population, while Muslims are 97%. In 2001 Islamic gunmen stormed St. Dominic’s Protestant Church, opening fire on the congregants and killing at least 16 worshippers, most women and children. Last Christmas, “when Christian worshipers were coming out of different Churches after performing Christmas prayers, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men.” The attack came in response to fatwas condemning Christmas celebrations.

As for Muslim mob violence (as opposed to preplanned terrorist strikes) this is a common fixture that regularly flares up against Pakistan’s Christians and other minorities, most often in the context of “blasphemy,” that is, offending Islam or its prophet. A few months ago, in March, because one Christian was accused of blasphemy, some 3,000 Muslims attacked the Christian Joseph Colony of Lahore, burning two churches and 160 Christian homes.

According to one Christian eyewitness, “The police was doing what it does best—nothing! Their bias towards Christians is quite evident, because when the Muslims were raiding our church and property, they just watched, but when we confronted them, they started hitting us with batons and used live ammunition to deter us.”

In 2009 in Gojra, eight Christians were burned alive, 100 houses looted and 50 homes set ablaze after another blasphemy accusation.

Thousands of miles away in Kenya (83% Christian and 11% Muslim), on Saturday, September 21, Islamic terrorists linked to neighboring Somalia’s Al Shabaab (“the youth”) raided the Westgate shopping mall, slaughtering at least 62 people and injuring at least 150.

Among the Islamic terrorists are several Americans.

Yet, to anyone following events in Kenya closely, this jihadi raid simply follows a long line of attacks targeting, as in Pakistan, Christians, often in their churches. For example, in just the four months between April-August 2012, at least 14 Kenyan churches were attacked by Al Shabaab-linked Islamic terrorists, with many Christians killed. Since then, even more have been attacked, often by hand-grenades, leaving many dead, again, often including women and Sunday school children.

In the mall attack, the jihadis further made it a point to try to differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims, to slaughter only the latter. According to Elijah Kamau, “The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted.” Another Christian eyewitness who managed to escape said, “an Indian man came forward and they said, ‘What is the name of Muhammad’s mother?’ When he couldn’t answer they just shot him.”

Al Shabaab boasted of its care to distinguish between “infidels” and Muslims a barrage of Twitter messages: “Only Kuffar [“infidels”] were singled out for this attack. All Muslims inside #Westgate were escorted out by the Mujahideen (Islamic Holy Warriors) before beginning the attack.”

This is an old jihadi tactic often used when attacking places other than churches, which do not require this extra care (presumably, according to jihadi thinking, everyone inside a church deserves death, whereas a Muslim may be in an open mall). For example, in Nigeria in October 2012, Islamic militants stormed the Federal Polytechnic College, “separated the Christian students from the Muslim students, addressed each victim by name, questioned them, and then proceeded to shoot them or slit their throat,” killing up to 30 Christians.

And in September 2011, Muslim militants “went to shops owned by Christians at a market at about 8 p.m., ordering them to recite verses from the Quran. If the Christian traders were unable to recite the verses [and thus proving they are not Muslim], the gunmen shot and killed them.”

While it is good that the world has been exposed to these two latest attacks on non-Muslim “infidels,” let there be no mistake: these are no “aberrations,” but rather the natural culmination of jihadi hatred for non-Muslims, chief among them Christians, which has been manifesting itself with increased frequency in both Pakistan and Kenya for years.


Thanks to a wise Columbian president, this time ‘Jack-in-the Box’ will not be able to pop up out of his box in front of dozens of news cameras and microphones

I’ve often referred to Jackson as Jesse ‘Jack in the Box’ Jackson for popping up everywhere for any photo-op opportunity.

Columbian president Juan Manuel Santos obviously sees the charlatan blowhard for the phony he is and refuses to give Jackson a publicity-seeking photo-op moment.


September 29, 2013

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia's president rejected the involvement of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson in overseeing the release of a former U.S. Marine kidnapped by FARC rebels, saying on Saturday he would not allow the guerrillas a "media spectacle."

The FARC kidnapped Afghanistan war veteran Kevin Scott Sutay in June as he trekked through jungle in southeastern Colombia despite warnings from the police to abandon the trip through what it said was a "red zone" of guerrilla activity.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, had requested on Saturday that Jackson assist with the freeing of Sutay. They say they are holding the former Marine as a prisoner of war and accuse him of being a mercenary.

Before reaching Colombia, Sutay is thought to have been backpacking through several Central and South American countries.

Jackson told reporters in Cuba, where he is on a visit to try to improve ties between the communist-run island and the United States, that he agreed to help and would aim to arrive in Colombia within a week.

Hopes of an imminent release dimmed by the evening when President Juan Manuel Santos rejected Jackson's intervention via Twitter, reiterating he would deny the FARC an ostentatious liberation it has called a "humanitarian" gesture.

"Only the Red Cross will be authorized to facilitate the handover of the North American kidnapped by the FARC," the tweet read. "We will not allow a media spectacle."

The FARC appeared ready to release Sutay in July until Santos rejected its initial request that a leftist politician, Piedad Cordoba, oversee the release. It then began accusing Sutay of being a mercenary and made no further offer to free him until its request to Jackson.

Jackson appealed to the FARC to release Sutay when he was in Colombia 10 days ago to attend an international conference of Afro-descendant mayors and government officials, saying it would boost its peace talks with the government.

The two sides have been in negotiations hosted by Cuba since last November that aim to end a five-decade conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people. Jackson met a FARC delegation in Cuba during his visit.

The FARC began as a communist-inspired peasant army fighting to reduce inequality and redistribute land. Its numbers have been halved in the last decade by a U.S.-backed offensive.

The rebels said in February 2012 they would stop taking hostages to raise money for their armed struggle, but reserved the right to continue taking prisoners of war.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Investigators now believe the partial building collapse of Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall during the Al Shabaab siege was caused by Kenyan soldiers firing rocket propelled grenades inside the mall.

Now that’s a great big oops! Kenyan authorities still do not know how many innocent shoppers were buried in the pile of rubble left by the rocket propelled grenades.


An attack against Israel would be ‘tantamount to walking across the street’

Charlie says that if Israel gave up all its land to the Palestinians except for one block of Tel Aviv, its enemies still would not be satisfied because their avowed goal is to eradicate the Jewish state in its entirety.

I have been and will continue to post Charlie Daniels’ reports on his trip to Israel, but I overlooked the piece he posted on his website before he left. Here it is:

By Charlie Daniels

The Charlie Daniels Band
September 16, 2013

By the time you read this column I will either be in or well on my way to Israel. My trip this time will fall during the Feast of Tabernacles and, in spite of, all the other less pleasant events going on in the neighborhood should make for an interesting visit.

Israel is a tiny sliver of a nation - roughly the size of New Jersey - bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on one side and with enemies, instability and danger on all the others.

For one of Israel's antagonists to attack it is not a long-range operation at all but tantamount to walking across the street. Having common borders with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, these borders have to be meticulously patrolled and maintained to prevent suicide bombers and other types of insurgency.

Vigilance has to be the national byword for the state of Israel and even a momentary letting down of the guard could be catastrophic, but regardless of the aggressor role so often assigned them by the world's media, no people on earth want peace more or have given up more in an effort to attain it.

It's hard to imagine just how tiny the state of Israel really is and yet it seems that every time some world leader comes up with a new Middle East peace plan it always involves Israel giving up more territory, and the truth of the matter is that Israel doesn't have anything left to give up.

Realistically speaking, the reason these peace plans never work has little to do with Israel giving up territory, they could give up everything but one block of Tel Aviv and their enemies still wouldn't be happy, they simply want the state of Israel to disappear, to disintegrate, to cease to exist and until the "peacemakers" grasp this reality, the Middle East peace talks will yield no meaningful fruit.

Israel is not going to disappear, disintegrate nor cease to exist. It is the one nation on earth whose existence is eternally guaranteed by the word of Almighty God and the sooner the world can accept that ancient truth, the sooner some headway can be made in the peace process.

Israel may be a little dog but their bite is vicious and they are not timid about paying back in spades any attack on Israeli soil. They simply cannot and will not ignore or discount acts of violence against its citizens.

Israel seldom gets a fair shake from the agenda-driven world media who almost always take the side of the "Palestinians", whose homeland they accuse Israel of taking away. Either not realizing or not caring that the Palestinians never had a homeland and Israel only occupies part of the land deeded to the twelve tribes by God in ancient times and United Nations resolution in 1948.

I say only part of the land because what God gave them was much larger and they have even given up some of the land in the original United Nations agreement.

And to further set the record straight, the reason that there is no Palestinian nation is not because it was invaded by Israel, but rather because the land that was agreed to for that purpose in the UN resolution by surrounding nations invaded what is known today known as the West Bank when they attempted to destroy the newly born modern State of Israel in 1948.

I hope to get a little insight into what is going on from the Israeli point of view, to ask some questions and expose some facts the media tends to ignore. I have been invited to tour a strategic Israeli industry and visit in a Jewish home and hopefully develop an overview of current events from the Jewish side of things and report them to you in a series of soapbox columns in the weeks to come.

This will be my third trip to Israel, a land and a people I have developed a deep and abiding love and respect for. Before I ever went to Israel I was told that a trip there would change your life.

I have found that to be so true and so precious.


The Mexican drug cartels have a way of leaving messages that are crystal clear and to the point

Borderland Beat reports that on Wednesday some farmers and students found the decapitated heads of three men at a traffic circle monument near a truck stop in Los Reyes, Michoacan. The three heads were together with a poster board which had a handwritten warning saying that a similar fate would occur to anyone supporting the ‘autodefensa’ (community police).

The bodies of the men believed to be aged 28-32 have not been found. The authorities did find some severed limbs.

The ‘autodefensa’ is a vigilante group of brave citizens that are fighting the cartels because local and state authorities have either refused or failed to do so.

On the remote chance that some residents of Los Reyes might not quite comprehend the warning, my question is: Qué parte de ‘un destino similar’ no lo entiendes? (What part of ‘a similar fate’ don’t you understand?)

UPDATE: The Associated Press reports that the three heads reported by Borderland Beat to have been found Wednesday were actually found on Friday. The day before, on Thursday, police found another three decapitated heads in Los Reyes together with a message, the contents of which they have refused to disclose. And last month, the bodies of two men were found hanging from a Los Reyes tree along with a message threatening the autodefensa.


More of his remains and that of his co-pilot may be at the remote Papuan crash site, but the Air Force recovery team is confronted with the danger of an unexploded 500-pound bomb imbedded in the downed bomber’s wreckage.


Associated Press
September 27, 2013

The partial remains of a World War II pilot who crashed over a Pacific Ocean island nearly 70 years ago will be buried Saturday with full military honors in Utah.

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird disappeared over Papua New Guinea on a 1944 bombing run of Japanese airfields there. He was 25.

The crash site was located 12 years ago, but it wasn't until this summer that the Air Force was able to identify partial remains found there as belonging to Bird.

Those remains — only a single leg bone was recovered — arrived Wednesday inside a flag-draped casket on an airliner at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Relatives are hoping a full excavation of the crash site will yield more remains, Lorna Bird Snyder, the airman's niece, told The Associated Press.

The Air Force is moving cautiously because a 500-pound unexploded bomb is still attached to the A-20G Havoc bomber.

The remains of Bird's co-pilot, Staff Sgt. Roy Davis from New Hampshire, have not been found.

Bird had 13 siblings but only one survives, Snyder said. Elaine Bird Jack, 92, of Eugene, Ore., is in Utah for Saturday's burial at Evergreen Cemetery in Springville.

Jack provided a DNA sample that was used to identify her brother's fibula, the outer and thinner of the two long bones of a lower leg.

The crash site on a forested mountainside was discovered in 2001 by a Papuan national, who delivered the fibula along with engine identification plates of the bomber to an American recovery team.

The Air Force identified the bone as Bird's in July.

In the airman's last letter to his family, he described how he flew his light bomber barely above tree-top level, saying "we fly right in the leaves at times." It was written two days before his bomber went down March 12, 1944.

His niece spent years researching where — over the Pacific Ocean or New Guinea — his plane might have gone down. She compared boxes of the airman's letters against records of the American-Australian effort against the Japanese.

If not for Snyder's dogged efforts, the recovered bone might never have gotten a DNA comparison.

Vernal Bird was born Oct. 29, 1918, in Lindon to Walter F. and Christina Pearsson Ash Bird. He attended schools in Lindon and Pleasant Grove. The family later moved to Springville, another Utah County town, according to an obituary.

About 150 distant relatives showed up at the Salt Lake airport to witness the arrival of his casket. None of them knew the man personally; his younger sister is the only one who has a distant memory of him, Snyder said.

But relatives never forgot him, and they kept the airman's smiling portrait among family mementos.

"My parents of course loved him," Snyder said. "They instilled in us that Vernal was an honorable, brave, intelligent young man. We loved his picture."


Stash discovered when a teacher got a strong whiff of pot coming from a three-year-old girl’s bag

This looks like a case of pot-induced memory loss.

By Carolina Leid

September 28, 2013

NEW YORK -- Police say a teacher got a strong whiff of weed coming from a three-year-old student at New Life School in Harlem.

The employee opened the girl's backpack and found 14 bags of marijuana, and immediately called police.

"My nephew goes here, my daughter goes to school around the corner - that's just crazy," said parent Fatima Mohammed, "where did they get it from? How did they get out of the house with it?"

The incident happened around 1 on Friday afternoon. Police questioned several people, including the girl's parents, eventually figuring out that a family friend is allegedly responsible.

School administrators refused to talk to Eyewitness News, and instead called police to guard the building.

Parents say teachers were tight-lipped as they picked up their kids.

"For them not to inform us, I'm really surprised," said Maxine Smith.

"This place has been around for a long time, it's shocking, said another parent, Shenice Robinson, "no one has ever said anything like that about this place. My child came here because I heard good things about the school."

Kelly Mena, 24, was arrested and charged with Criminal Possession of Marijuana & Criminal Sale of Marijuana

The suspect is a friend of the father, and police say he put the drugs in the backpack the night before and forgot about it.


If you’re gonna coop on the job in a cop car, just make sure there’s no one nearby that can videotape you. In this case, the guy who videotaped the cooping cop got busted the next day for possession of heroin. Just a coincidence, of course. ….. Yeah, right.

By Roman J. Uschak
September 26, 2013

A Belleville police officer has been suspended after he was caught sleeping in a police cruiser in a Bloomfield parking lot, police said.

A video of the officer appeared on the popular site YouTube as well as CNN iReport. "Our tax dollars at work, gotta love it!" states the video's text.

The officer was identified as Jesse McKeough. McKeough, a recent police academy graduate, has since been suspended, although the duration of the suspension is not known.

He was photographed sleeping between 5 and 6 a.m. on Sept. 9 in the Stop & Shop parking lot on Franklin Street near Belleville's First Ward, right on the border between Bloomfield and Belleville, according to Belleville Police Chief Joseph Rotonda. The store's address is Bloomfield, according to Stop & Shop's website, and that particular store is open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.

McKeough was working an off-duty, part-time security job, according to Rotonda, and was permitted to wear his uniform and use a police cruiser. However, the police chief said that off-duty officers are still subject to departmental rules and regulations just like on-duty officers are.

"We don't condone it," Rotonda said of the officer's action.

He added that the department was proactive in the matter, even though there had been no complaints made to police about it.

"We took immediate, decisive action," he said.

The video posted on YouTube was taken by 27-year-old Anthony Telinski, according to The Star-Ledger. Telinksi could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to a police blotter published in the Times, he was arrested Sept. 10, the day after he photographed the officer, on Franklin Avenue for possession of heroin.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Gouging out eyes, castrating, using pliers to dismember fingers and rip off noses, and hanging bodies from hooks in the ceiling

By holding hostages, a small group of jihadists who took over Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall was able to hold off the Kenyan army for four days during which one-third of the huge mall was destroyed.

During the siege, a number of non-Muslim hostages were tortured before being killed. We ought deal with the jihadists the same way they deal with their infidel victims.

Kenyan soldiers say children found dead in food fridges with knives still in bodies; men were said to have been castrated and had fingers removed before being blinded and hung from hooks

By Paul Bentley

Mail Online
September 27, 2013

Soldiers told of the horrific torture meted out by terrorists in the Nairobi mall massacre yesterday with claims hostages were dismembered, had their eyes gouged out and were left hanging from hooks in the ceiling.

Men were said to have been castrated and had fingers removed with pliers before being blinded and hanged.

Children were found dead in the food court fridges with knives still embedded in their bodies, it was claimed.

Most of the defeated terrorists, meanwhile, were reportedly discovered ‘burnt to ashes’, set alight by the last extremist standing to try to protect their identities.

The horrifying details came yesterday as the first pictures emerged from within the wreckage of the building, showing piles of bodies left strewn across the floor.

A third of the mall was destroyed in the battle between terrorists and Kenyan troops.

Lying in the rubble are feared to be the bodies of as many as 71 civilians who have been declared missing by the Kenyan Red Cross.

With detectives, including the FBI and the Metropolitan Police, still unable to reach the wrecked part of the mall for fear of setting off explosives, it could take up to a week to determine exactly who is still inside.

Yesterday, soldiers and doctors who were among the first people into the mall after it was reclaimed on Tuesday, spoke of the horrifying scenes inside.

‘You find people with hooks hanging from the roof,’ said one Kenyan doctor, who asked not to be named.

‘They removed eyes, ears, nose. They get your hand and sharpen it like a pencil then they tell you to write your name with the blood. They drive knives inside a child’s body.

'Actually if you look at all the bodies, unless those ones that were escaping, fingers are cut by pliers, the noses are ripped by pliers. Here it was pain.’

A soldier, who took pictures at a bread counter and at the ArtCaffe, said he was so traumatised by what he saw he has had to seek counselling.

Bomb disposal experts with sniffer dogs were yesterday painstakingly combing the part of the building still standing for explosives before clearing forensic officers, police and troops to search for bodies.

Images also emerged yesterday revealing the true extent of the destruction caused to the centre during the four-day battle between Kenyan forces and Islamic militants.

The first pictures taken inside the site show a gaping hole in the mall's roof after three storeys collapsed when Kenyan soldiers fired rocket-propelled grenades inside the complex, knocking out a support column, a government official said.

Children's buggies are left abandoned just metres from the yawning pit, as cars hang precariously over the edge. Beneath many more vehicles lie on top of each other, smashed to pieces.

The collapse happened on Monday when government troops launched a massive assault on the mall where up to 150 people are thought to have been killed.

During the firefight, hostages reportedly had their throats slashed from ear to ear and were thrown screaming from third-floor balconies as the siege came to a bloody end. Forensics teams, still sifting through the mountains of rubble, fear many more bodies are yet to be found.

Shell-shocked Kenyan troops said the inside of the Israeli-run mall resembled a ‘scene from a horror movie’ with blood spattered everywhere and dead bodies strewn across the floor.

The main thrust of the operation began at 6am on Monday when troops and helicopters surrounded the building, but their efforts were hampered by an Al Shabaab sniper who managed to pin them back for nearly 24 hours.

As tear gas was used to try to flush him out, another terrorist reportedly blew himself up. It is believed the resulting fire may have killed dozens of shoppers in a supermarket.

The following day, the soldiers were ordered to adopt a 'shoot to kill' policy and launched their final attack on the terror group on the roof of the mall at 5pm.

The mall was retaken about half an hour later.


By Charlie Daniels

The Charlie Daniels Band
September 27, 2013

If you consider the proximity the borough of Brooklyn to the borough of Manhattan, you will get an idea of Syria's proximity to the Golan Heights of Israel and begin to realize that any hostility happening there becomes a clear and present danger to the state of Israel.

As with almost everything else concerning the Middle East, there are old vendettas and scores to settle involved in the bloody civil war going on there now. Americans and other people raised in Western cultures have little or no access to the ancient Rosetta Stone required to untangle the twists, turns and tribal loyalties that come in to play here.

The conflict in Syria goes much deeper than a dictator giving up power. It involves old injustices and the lives of millions of people.

Although it goes much farther back let's just start here.

The French controlled post-war Syria up until 1946 when they turned the country over to the people, which was made up of several ethnic groups.

Roughly one million Druze
Twenty percent Kurds
Twenty percent Alawites (a sect of Shia Islam)
And the rest were Sunni Muslims, which make up the vast majority still today.

The French - for some reason known only to them - turned the military over to the Alawites and they have been in power ever since.

Hafez al-Assad who ruled Syria from 1971 to 2000 was an Alawite, an ironfisted tyrant who, in 1982, slaughtered 25,000 of the Muslim Brotherhood which incensed the Syrian Sunnis, and that desire for revenge plays a large part in the politics of Syria's civil war.

Hafez's al-Assad's son, Bashar al-Assad, took over the reins of power when his father died in 2000 and as we know is fighting for his regime and his life. In reality, he is fighting for the lives of a couple of million Alawites because it is all but a forgone conclusion that should Assad's military be defeated, the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni Majority would repay the Assad regime for the 1982 murder of 25,000 Sunnis and basically execute genocide on the Alawite population of Syria.

So Assad's simple falling from power would not necessarily end the civil war in Syria, but could well incite an even bloodier one between the Alawites and Sunnis with the Druze and Kurds caught in the middle and possibly an even more volatile situation on Israel's northern border.

Things are rarely what they seem in the Middle East. You can't understand the branches on the trees without looking deep into the root system, and the politicians in America and the West barely skim the surface and try to plaster over millenniums-old tribal hostilities that they can't even begin to understand, and then draw up some half-baked peace plan that means nothing to anybody except the politicians who get their picture in the papers.

There is a saying in the Middle East, "Me and my cousins against the world, me and my brothers against my cousins."

My friends, that one sentence sheds more light on the subject than all the think tank theses and academic theologies combined.


In two previous cases with this officer, cocaine fell out of bras as a result of bra-shaking.

Officer Dustin Fetz disciplined for misuse of recording equipment

By Rick Rousos

The Ledger
September 26, 2013

LAKELAND, FL -- The Lakeland police officer who asked a woman to shake her bra during a traffic stop May 21 has been suspended for a day without pay.

Officer Dustin Fetz was notified Wednesday that he would be suspended, LPD spokesman Sgt. Gary Gross said.

Fetz was suspended for a "sustained" violation of misusing recording equipment. The audio on his recorder was off during the taping of the bra-shaking incident because Fetz didn't use the microphone he was provided, LPD investigators found.

But the LPD's review of the incident released Wednesday said Fetz's request to the woman to shake her bra to see whether she was hiding drugs did not violate police search policy or the law.

The LPD documents describe it as a "consensual search."

However, in mid-August LPD Chief Lisa Womack said the LPD policy required a same-sex officer to do any strip searches, so the bra shaking never should have happened.

Womack said through a police spokesman Wednesday night that she was unavailable for comment.

The widely-viewed videotape of the bra-shaking incident ignited public outrage. The LPD said there were threats on Fetz's life.

On May 21, Fetz stopped Zoe Brugger, whose boyfriend was her passenger, and she pulled into a Beacon Road apartment complex.

According to the State Attorney's Office, Fetz asked Brugger to lift her shirt and shake out her bra, all without a reason to suspect she possessed drugs.

A main reason for the four-month delay between the date of the incident and the suspension was that Womack wanted the FBI to look at the case.

Included in the documents released by the LPD on Wednesday is a Sept. 16 letter from the FBI to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa saying the case would not be acceptable for a federal prosecution.

"This matter did not rise to a level of investigative significance in which a federal criminal indictment" was warranted, FBI Special Agent Kevin Eaton wrote.

The FBI did not do its own investigation but reviewed LPD documents.

According to the documents released Wednesday, the LPD found two other incidents in which Fetz used the bra-shaking procedure to make arrests in northwest Lakeland, one in November 2010 and the other in March this year.

The bra shaking both times produced cocaine, reports said.

A letter about the bra shaking published by The Ledger spurred Womack to order an in-house administrative investigation. Fetz was placed on administrative duty from June 10 to June 21.

Fetz has been a full-time LPD officer since 2008 and is paid $48,331 a year.

Through the department, Fetz declined comment Wednesday night.

In addition to his unpaid day off, Fetz must successfully complete retraining in arrest and search procedures and seizure laws.


Talk about corruption, it can’t get any better than the cartel intrigue in Columbus, New Mexico where the Juarez Cartel was given city vehicles to conduct its business business and got tipped off about the work of the U.S. Attorney’s office.

By Mike Gallagher

Albuquerque Journal
September 26, 2013

Former Columbus Police Chief Angelo Vega was getting paid more than $40,000 a year from the small village at the same time he was collecting $2,000 a month plus bonuses in $100 bills from the local Juárez Cartel representatives, according to testimony in federal court Wednesday.

Vega testified Wednesday that he didn’t remember exactly how much he was paid or how long he worked for the cartel, but another witness testified later that Vega received $2,000 a month plus bonuses.

Vega is the key prosecution witness in the case against Danny Burnett, who is charged with leaking information about a federal wiretap investigation in a Columbus gun and drug smuggling ring.

Burnett has pleaded not guilty, and his wife, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paula Burnett, has not been charged with any crime. She formerly headed the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office but was walled off from the Columbus investigation once she learned Vega was a potential target.

Burnett’s attorneys, Jacquelyn Robins and Larry Gomez, introduced into evidence emails circulated throughout the U.S. Attorney’s Office that Burnett was no longer to receive any information about the investigation.

Danny Burnett, former Carrizozo Schools superintendent, took Vega under his wing when Vega was a troubled student, helped him graduate from high school and get jobs.

But most of Wednesday’s testimony dealt with how the cartel operated in Columbus.

Vega’s boss in the illicit operation, former village trustee Blas “Woody” Gutierrez, testified that he had village Mayor Eddie Espinosa approach Vega in 2010 to see if he was willing to work for the cartel.

Gutierrez said Vega was receptive and began doing background investigations on people seeking to buy drugs from local Juárez Cartel leader Ignacio Villalobos – Gutierrez’s boss – and running license plate numbers of cars that might be law enforcement undercover vehicles.

Vega admitted running background checks and license plates at the request of cartel members and buying military gear at law enforcement supply stores for members of the Juárez Cartel and its enforcement arm, La Linea.

Vega also received $1,500 each time he allowed the cartel members to use village vehicles – including police vehicles – to deliver drugs, pick up guns and pick up money from marijuana sales on top of the $2,000 a month the cartel was paying him, Gutierrez testified.

Gutierrez, who faces 10 years in federal prison for his guilty plea, said Vega told him that he had a friend whose wife worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and that the friend told Vega their telephones were tapped.

Gutierrez said he was not sure Vega was telling the truth until the two men met in Columbus and Vega destroyed his new phone in front of Gutierrez.

“He did it to show he wasn’t messing around,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said he took the information to his boss, Villalobos, and asked that Vega be paid a bonus. Villalobos hesitated because he wasn’t confident about the information.

Gutierrez said he paid Vega a bonus of $2,000 to $3,000 out of his own pocket.

He and Vega then started buying “throwaway” telephones – cellular phones without contracts using prepaid telephone cards.

The ring had previously used the “throwaway” phones, and Gutierrez said he had bought hundreds of them for use by members of the smuggling ring.

Gutierrez testified that Vega claimed his friends could make the case go away for $20,000.

Other government witnesses testified that no one in the U.S. Attorney’s Office could make a criminal case “go away” and that it would be impossible in an investigation as intensive as the one targeting the Columbus gun smuggling ring.

Assistant U.S. attorneys involved in the investigation testified that the quantity and quality of telephone conversations dropped after Feb. 17, 2011, the day Vega had lunch with Danny Burnett at an Albuquerque restaurant.


Seam Pendergast’s reports on the party bus brawl are a classic. In this report, Jacoby Jones apologizes for letting his face get in the way of Sweet Pea’s flying champagne bottle.

By Sean Pendergast

Houston Press Hair Balls
September 27, 2013

Ain't no party like a Bryant McKinnie party. This is known.

As debauchery and salaciousness goes, the gold standard for a McKinnie-approved throwdown is still the 2005 Minnesota Vikings boat party scandal, and frankly until another scandalous party gets its own Wikipedia page, it will always be the gold standard.

I would imagine any of the strip club visits during which McKinnie rung up his unpaid $375,000 tab back in the day was probably pretty good, too.

What the most recent McKinney party (his birthday bash this past Sunday, complete with party bus) lacked in debauchery it made up for in bloodshed.

As you will recall, the party found its way to Opera Ultra Lounger in Washington, D.C. After the place had closed at about 3:00 a.m., injured Raven wide receiver Jacoby Jones found himself in a dust up with professional "waitress" Sweet Pea. (She claims she was on the party bus as a waitress, but worth mentioning that she's been paid to be naked before. The rule of thumb, if you have multiple jobs, whichever one pays you to be naked, that's your primary job.)

The confrontation began with words and ended with Sweet Pea playing Whack-A-Mole on Jacoby's face with a bottle of Ace of Spades champagne. Jones found himself bleeding significantly, the cops were called, but no charges were filed.

The incident was the next one in a string of off the field embarrassments for the league this past week, an unusually busy week in the crime department. The fallout was embarrassing enough for Raven legend and current ESPN analyst Ray Lewis (who knows a little something about crime) to suggest that there is a leadership vacuum in Baltimore.

Well, on Wednesday night, Jones finally made his first public comments since the incident. On his radio show with 105.7 The Fan, Jones addressed the situation:

"I'm going to take the responsibility that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Jones said. "There was no altercation. There's nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong but I take responsibility for being in wrong place at the wrong time. Enough said. I apologize to my teammates and everybody."

Asked about a meeting that he had with coach John Harbaugh, Jones said: "We're fine. Everything is good."

Webster's defines "apologize" as "express regret for something that one has done wrong," so either Jacoby is unsure exactly what the definition of "apologize" is (a 20 percent chance) or he's trying to pull off the moderately difficult "apologizing while admitting no wrong doing," the younger cousin of the "if I offended anybody, I apologize to them" apology.

Frankly, Jacoby owes nobody an apology for anything. He was doing something perfectly legal (partying his ass off) while he was off the clock (wee hours of Monday morning), and the only thing that was in the wrong place at the wrong time was his face when it found itself in the path of a large bottle of champagne that was moving at a high rate of speed.

Frankly, I think the Ace of Spades bottle owes Jacoby's face an apology!

The moral of the story: If you're trying to stay out of the news, make sure you stay away from Bryant McKinnie after dark.


The Onion
September 27, 2013

WASHINGTON—According to a poll released Friday by the Pew Research Center, the favorability rating of the U.S. Congress has sunk so low that the legislative body is now looked upon more negatively than the death of a close relative.

“When asked whether they would prefer to select a casket for their child or endure the forthcoming congressional showdown over the debt ceiling, 89 percent of Americans said they would rather bury their own offspring,” said Pew spokesperson Diana Shostak, adding that the figure went up to 96 percent when it was specified that the political brinksmanship could go on for weeks without a single piece of legislation ever making it to the floor for a goddamn up-or-down vote. “Watching one’s grandmother weep uncontrollably at the impending death of her husband of 60 years, having the agonizing conversation about whether to pull the plug on his life support unit, and looking on as he gasps for his final breaths—these situations all enjoyed higher approval ratings than any individual member of the House or Senate.”

The poll also found that the prospect of suffering one’s own death by slow asphyxiation was viewed four times more favorably than anything having to do with filibusters.

Friday, September 27, 2013


O.J. Simpson, the once highly-touted media-headliner, has really gone downhill

First the former football-great slashes his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman to death. Then he robs some memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino-hotel, a crime for which he is serving a 33-year prison term. And now the 66-year-old diabetic tub of lard has been caught pilfering oatmeal cookies from his Nevada prison cafeteria.

According to The Daily Mail, Simpson's prison guards recently observed him hiding something under his shirt as he was leaving the prison cafeteria at lunchtime. When they questioned him, he gave up more than a dozen oatmeal cookies. Instead of writing him up for stealing the cookies, the correctional officers let him off with a warning. The cookies, of course, were seized.

Prison doctors have warned him to cut out high-fat and sugary foods, but according to O.J., eating oatmeal cookies and other sugary snacks is the only enjoyment he has left.


By Greg ‘Gadfly’ Doyle

PACOVILLA Corrections blog
September 26, 2013

According to the Fox News report, a legislative bill (Assembly Bill) AB4 will move to Governor Brown's desk soon that will force law enforcement agencies (who detain illegal aliens for committing certain low-level crimes) from cooperating with federal immigration authorities (ICE) on securing deportation holds. Known as the “Trust Act” the law would act similarly to a shield law for illegal aliens, only this time the shield being used is the badge worn by all law enforcement officers across the State.

Not only does the law fly in the face of common sense and the rule of law, it is arguably unconstitutional because State law cannot supersede federal law. Unfortunately, going outside Constitution boundaries seems to be the forte of liberals in power in this current political season, thanks to the lead of the top Democrat in the White House. It will be interesting to see if Governor Brown signs the bill. If that happens, then the response from Eric Holder and the federal AG will be even more compelling.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Superseding federal law is exactly what the States of Washington and Colorado did when they legalized pot. The same can be said for the states that enacted medical marijuana laws. And for the most part, in both cases, Holder has had the DEA sit on its ass.


The Wall Street Journal claims that, contrary to CNN’s report, Rouhani did not acknowledge the Holocaust. The Iranians claim that CNN misinterpreted Rouhani’s remarks and accused CNN of omitting certain parts of the interview.

The Iranians say that CBS got it right in reporting their interview with Iran’s president. CBS reported Rouhani as saying: "We simply say that we condemn any killing, any massacre, and therefore we condemn the massacre of the Jewish people by the Nazis, as we also condemn the other massacres that took place in the course of the war. I'll also add that many groups were killed by the Nazis in the course of the war, Jews in specific, but there were also Christians, there were Muslims. ... Why would I want to deny it? Not only do I [not] deny the criminal acts of the Nazis, we condemn it."

By Lisa Barron

September 26, 2013

CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is hitting back at claims that the network mistranslated her interview with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Wall Street Journal claims that Rouhani did not make conciliatory remarks about the Holocaust as CNN claimed. But Amanpour — who is herself half-Iranian — went on a Twitter tirade on Wednesday to defend her employers.

According to CNN's translation, Rouhani, who was interviewed in New York where he was attending the United Nations General Council, said "whatever criminality [the Nazis] committed against the Jews, we condemn." That was in stark contrast to his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who infamously called the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews a myth.

But the Journal insisted CNN had gotten it wrong, quoting Iran's semi-official news agency Fars as saying he did not say any such thing.

"Our independent translation of Mr. Rouhani's comments confirms that Fars, not CNN, got the Farsi right," the Journal reported.

"So what did Mr. Rouhani really say?" it continued. "After offering a vague indictment of 'the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and the non-Jews,' he insisted that 'I am not a history scholar,' and that 'the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers.'"

"Pretending that the facts of the Holocaust are a matter of serious historical dispute is a classic rhetorical evasion," maintained the Journal, adding, "Holocaust deniers commonly acknowledge that Jews were killed by the Nazis while insisting that the number of Jewish victims was relatively small and that there was no systematic effort to wipe them out."

"We'll leave it to CNN to account for its translation, and why it made Mr. Rouhani seem so much more conciliatory than he was," continued the Journal. "Meantime, points for honesty go to the journalists at Fars, who for reasons that probably range from solidarity to self-preservation aren't disposed to whitewash their President's ideological predilections."

That enraged Amanpour.

__“Stunned by willingness of @WSJ ed page and others to jump into bed with Iranian extremist mouthpiece like Fars....”

__“Points for honesty go to the journalists at Fars? Really???...”

A CNN spokeswoman told The Wrap that Rouhani's translator was hired by the Iranian government.

But the Daily Beast's Michael Moynihan also argued in a piece on Thursday that CNN's version of what Rouhani said was wrong.

Pointing to the Journal's assessment of the two versions of the translation, Moynihan wrote, "So to recap: CNN probably botched a Farsi translation and an official Iranian news agency rushed to its leader's defense, lest the libel spread that he acknowledged the Holocaust as a real historical event."


Even if college football players do not go to class, they learn many meaningful educational lessons in investment, management, law and marketing.

By Ron Hart

Jewish World Review
September 25, 2013

Southeastern Conference football teams have won the national title seven years in a row now. Before that it was the University of Texas. Southern teams dominate this fanatical American pastime. You have to go back to 2002 to find a Northern team that won the national championship (Ohio State). We Southerners take pride in football like Northerners do in corrupt politicians, high taxes, cold weather and potholes.

In last year's championship game, Alabama beat Notre Dame and imaginary linebacker Mante Te'o 42 to 14. The Fighting Irish were distraught. Too bad the Irish do not have some sort of time-honored custom in which they commiserate with each other and drown their sorrows.

It is an article of faith here in the "Bible Belt" that SEC football is holy. You are to have no other gods before it, or even at halftime, not even NASCAR or the lottery.

If you drive south in the fall, about the time you start seeing Elvis artwork and shot glasses with the Confederate flag on them, folks will be watching SEC football. That pastime stretches from Kentucky south to Orlando. South of Tampa, you are back in Michigan.

The only college football weekend I missed was opening weekend, when I had to go shopping for wedding preparations with my daughter. It was torture, tantamount to violation of the Geneva Conventions. To no one's surprise, I got all ADD and kept trying to find a TV. Do you know how hard it is to find football on a TV in a bridal shop? It is like trying to find a romantic comedy on ESPN.

Northern elites resent pretty much anything Southern. That is why it is fashionable to be snarky about colleges in the South. To be fair to Northerners, if I lived in a state that smelled like bong water and lost its top football recruits to the South each year, I'd be angry too. They are kind of just left with hockey.

Rest assured, the South beating the North in football is rooted in far deeper issues than an amateur college football contest. It could be maneuvers in preparation for secession.

It's not like Northern schools have some moral high ground here or are not trying. Look at that Rutgers coach yelling at players. You really cannot have a championship football program where coaches are required to ask nicely that players achieve team goals and have to vet their remarks through the university's Human Resources Department.

While the sport is not perfect, a lot of good is derived from college football. Before I judge these 18 year-old kids, I remind myself that I have hip replacements older than they are. Even if the players do not go to class, they learn many meaningful educational lessons:

Investment 101: Athletes learn about getting a high return on investment (ROI). Auburn University spent $100,000 to get Cam Newton and won a national championship. The highest ROI ever---allegedly.

Management 101: Athletes learn discipline. When players at Oklahoma State U. get in trouble for violating team rules, they are often suspended without pay.

Law 101: While only 3% of college players end up playing professional football, those few will learn a good bit about the legal system. It is a goal of all of great athletes like Ray Lewis and O.J. Simpson to someday achieve the NFL star's ultimate dream: a hung jury.

Marketing 101: I read a story about a "hostess" at The University of Tennessee whose ability to enhance the college visits of football recruits was quite remarkable. She was skilled in the art of persuasion and was affectionately called "The Closer" by fellow "Orange Pride" hostesses. Coaches loved her. Apparently she would put something on these football recruits that Ajax would not take off.

All this is preemptive banter for my buddies from California who come to different SEC football games each year. This year the six Stanford alums decided to host our trip to California for the first time. They have us scheduled to see Oregon vs. Stanford and USC vs. Cal-Berkley. I asked if these were real football games, or just flag or Frisbee football played on the campus green where every student had to participate equally and all scores had to be ties so there would be no losers. They assured me these college football games included helmets and pads. Intrigued, I plan to attend.


Shellie Zimmerman, now divorcing George, has doubts about his self-defense story but insists he did not profile Martin

Shellie Zimmerman appeared on Thursday’s NBC Today Show with her attorney and was interviewed by Matt Lauer. She told Lauer that she now doubts his story that he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

Shellie Zimmerman, who is divorcing her husband, is on probation after having been convicted of perjury for lying to a court about her and George being broke.

Earlier this month, she called the police to say Zimmerman had punched her father in the nose and was threatening her with a gun. She also claimed he had smashed her laptop. The responding cops briefly detained Zimmerman but found no gun. He claimed that her father attacked him and that she hit him with the laptop. When she refused to file charges against him, Zimmerman was released.

She admitted to Lauer that she never actually saw Zimmerman holding a gun. She said she saw a scary look in his eyes that she had never seen before and that his hand was inside his unbuttoned shirt. She told Lauer that as an afterthought, she now wished she had filed a complaint against George, but at the time, because she was on probation, she did not want to go to jail. She claims the cops told her that both of them would go to jail if she pressed charges.

While she told Lauer that she now doubts Zimmerman’s claim that he acted in self-defense, she did insist that he did not profile Trayvon Martin.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Once again, Obama has been humiliated, recently by Russia’s Putin and now by Iran’s Rouhani

In foreign policy affairs, Obama has not been and still is not ready for prime time.

By Dan Weil

September 25, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's rejection of President Barack Obama's offer of an informal meeting at Tuesday's United Nations gathering represents a "diplomatic humiliation," according to a Wall Street Journal editorial.

The Obama administration tried to put the onus on Iranian politics for Rouhani's snub, with a senior official telling reporters that the Iranians "have an internal dynamic that they have to manage."

"That's one way of putting it," the Journal observed. "Another way is that Iran's ruling clerics and Revolutionary Guard Corps remain ideologically incapable of reconciling themselves to the Great Satan."

The Journal said the rebuff of Obama's overtures should have been no great surprise, given the 34-year-history of Iranian dismissals of U.S. diplomacy, the editors say.

The Journal noted that in the days leading up to the U.N. gathering, White House aides played up the possibility of an Obama-Rouhani meeting in one form or another. That was a mistake, the newspaper said, because "having thus turned down the lights and turned up the mood music, it made the snub that followed especially potent.

"What the Administration is trying to spin as a function of complex Iranian politics was, in blunt fact, an expression of lordly contempt for what Iranian leaders consider to be an overeager suitor from an unworthy nation."

The editorial went on to say that Iran's hard attitude was highlighted in Rouhani's U.N. speech Tuesday that followed Obama's own in which he extended an olive branch to Tehran, but insisted that the U.S. would "not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction."

"It could not have been lost on the Iranians that Mr. Obama is in the process of tolerating exactly that in Syria," the Journal observed.

Rouhani used the speech to blast international sanctions as "violence, pure and simple" and railed against the influence of "warmongering pressure groups" intent on stopping Iran's nuclear development program.

The bottom line is that "politics in the normal sense doesn't exist in Tehran, where the rules are set and the players chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who is accountable to nobody," the editorial concluded.

"What Iran's leaders do understand is how to humiliate adversaries they consider to be weak. We hope Mr. Obama appreciates how he has been schooled."


Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin has been highly critical of Netanyahu’s agreement to renew ‘peace’ talks with the Palestinians and wants to stop any further prison releases of terrorists. Elkin recalls Netanyahu’s words 11 years ago: “The Palestinians should enjoy full rights, except for one right: the right to destroy the State of Israel. An independent government, yes. A state, no.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week punished his Likud colleague Deputy Foreign Minister MK Zeev Elkin, cancelling the latter's seat on board the premier's flight to the United Nations in New York next week • Elkin will take commercial flight

By Shlomo Cesana

Israel Hayom
September 25, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week punished his Likud colleague Deputy Foreign Minister MK Zeev Elkin, cancelling the latter's seat on board the premier's flight to the United Nations in New York next week.

Instead, Elkin will take a commercial flight to the United States, with Homefront Defense Minister Gilad Erdan taking his place alongside the prime minister.

Netanyahu is speaking at the U.N. General Assembly next week. He decided to bump Elkin after the deputy foreign minister made comments critical of the prime minister during a recent Likud party event, and because Elkin joined other deputy defense ministers signing a letter calling to halt the release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners as part of the negotiations process.

Elkin, who lives beyond the Green Line, is an increasingly vociferous and public opponent of the two-state solution and the peace talks with the Palestinians, talks his party boss has committed to.

"Eleven years ago, at the center of the Likud party stood the question of whether we should allow the establishment of a Palestinian state. The individual who led that discussion is today prime minister. [Netanyahu] said, during that central and well-known meeting, things that are still true to today. The Palestinians should enjoy full rights, except for one right: the right to destroy the State of Israel. An independent government, yes. A state, no. Such prophetic words have been totally fulfilled," said Elkin.

Elkin is not the only right-wing Likud MK as of late to criticize the prime minister for supporting renewed peace talks with the Palestinians. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said the prime minister would have "no place in Likud" should he sign a peace deal with the Palestinians.


Israel has no better friend than Charlie Daniels. He puts Israel-bashers like George Soros and many of America’s liberal Jews to shame.

Charlie is planning a series of his ‘Soapbox’ writings on Israel and I will post each of them. This is the first one.

By Charlie Daniels

The Charlie Daniels Band
September 23, 2013

If the only thing I knew about Israel and the events going on in the Middle East were only the things I read and heard about in the world's media, I would probably feel like so many others, that Israel was a nation of highly nervous, reactionary and mean spirited people, intent on seizing every square foot of territory they could possibly grab, unmindful of who or what they are dispossessing or at what cost.

This seems to be the picture the majority of those in the media wish to portray, laying every misstep in ill-fated "peace talks" at their doorstep and painting them as modern day Crusaders and mercenaries intent on flying their flag over the entire area formerly known as Palestine.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In my next few soapbox articles I would like to shed some light on what is really going on in Israel, the ramifications of Obama's fumbling litany of incompetent, unrealistic and many times, juvenile proposals to remedy a convoluted conundrum he doesn't seem to know, or worse, care about.

I was honored to have a conversation with a gentleman who is considered to be one of the wisest men in Israel in political matters and he says that Obama had some terrible advice and made some catastrophic mistakes in dealing with Syria and that America had been brought low on the international scene.

This is not a game going on in the Middle East and every word and every promise not backed up by action is viewed by the Muslim nations as signs of weakness to be exploited. President Obama has done more damage to the image and prestige of the United States of America than most people in the west will ever know.

Not only that, but his ambivalence and self induced lack of credibility created a power vacuum that Vladimir Putin rushed into and now he is viewed as the real power player by the Muslim nations, creating a status for the U.S. about two cuts above a nonentity when it comes to respect and authority.

This damage, as well as a lot of other damage on Obama's watch, will probably never be repaired, or at least won't be for many decades.

The political situation in the Middle East is like an onion, when you peel back one layer there is another, then another in a never ending veil of mystery involving thousand-year-old vendettas, religious sects, and prejudice drilled into children before they can crawl, manifesting itself in blind obedience to creeds of hatred so strong it can motivate healthy young men with their whole lives ahead of them, to strap on a suicide vest and board a bus full of innocent people they don't even know.

When you pick a side in the Middle East there is a good chance you're going to eventually be wrong and there again the media comes into play, because they never seem to have trouble picking a side and reporting the atrocities of the opposition, but what they don't tell you is that the side they support is doing just as many atrocities. Check out the treatment of Christians in Syria and Egypt by the supposed "good guys".

The only ray of sanity in the Middle East is Israel and in the coming columns I hope to tell you some things you probably don't know and shed some light on Israel's 24-7-365 struggle for existence, surrounded by enemies, discriminated against by the world's governments and unfairly represented by the world media.

It's extremely hard for Americans born into freedom and a democratic political system to understand the mindset of Muslims born into a world of ancient enemies and ruled by whoever has the most guns and biggest army.

We interfere in things we don't understand and try to bring democracy to people who have lived by tribal loyalties for thousands of years, who have no respect for central authority and believe that our way of life and religious beliefs are decadent and pagan.

Maybe it's time we reaffirmed our loyalty to our allies, warned our enemies and just stay home.


Harry Mitts, Jr., 61, was executed Wednesday for the 1994 murders of a black man and a Garfield Heights police sergeant. His appeal, based on him having found God in prison, fell on deaf ears.

Mitts, a white man, went on a shooting rampage in 1994 at his suburban Cleveland apartment complex. Shouting racial slurs at his victim, he shot dead a neighbor’s black boyfriend. He then shot and killed the responding officer, a white police sergeant. Mitts also shot and wounded two other cops.

The State of Ohio used up its last batch of pentobarbital to carry out Mitts’ execution. The State is expected to announce its new execution drug early next month.

Death penalty abolitionists and human rights groups have coerced the manufacturers of pentobarbital into refusing to supply the lethal drug to capital punishment states for use in executions.


The Unconventional Gazette
September 25, 2013

Crave Canada, The Canada Travel Guide, disparages American beer:

“Americans can’t brew beer – hence the joke; how is sex in a canoe like American beer? They’re both fucking close to water.”


The Unconventional Gazette
September 25, 2013

A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter and the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. He asked, “What are all those clocks?”

St. Peter answered, “Those are Lie Clocks. Everyone on earth has a Lie Clock. Every time you lie, the hands on your clock will move.”

“Oh,” said the man, “whose clock is that?”

“That’s Mother Teresa’s. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie.”

“Incredible,” said the man.

St. Peter then pointed to another clock and said, “That’s Abraham Lincoln’s clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life.”

“Wow, only two lies. That’s amazing when you consider that Lincoln was a lawyer. Now, where’s President Obama’s clock?”

“Obama’s clock is in God’s office. The Lord is using it as a ceiling fan.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The American Ban Bullets Coalition receives infusion of money from Michael Bloomberg and the strong backing of President Obama

By Pamela Putz

The Unconventional Gazette
September 24, 2013

NEW YORK – Standing in front of city hall Monday at a press briefing with Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and Sarah Brady, Dr. Ellie Phant, president of the American Ban Bullets Coalition (ABBC), announced that the organization she formed in February has been joined by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the parents of children killed and wounded in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and other gun control groups, in a joint campaign to ban the possession of bullets by the American public.

Dr. Phant, professor of gender studies at the University of California-Berkeley, said that Senator Schumer and Rep. McCarthy will introduce companion bills in Congress that would ban the sale to and possession of bullets, gun powder and cartridge cases by American civilians. Dr. Phant said the new law, if passed, would allow Americans to possess handguns, shotguns, sporting rifles, AR-15s, AK-47s and other military-style rifles in line with the Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. Possession of ammunition, other than during wild game hunting, would be restricted to licensed law enforcement officers and the military. A first offense would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. A second offense would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Mayor Bloomberg handed Dr. Phant a check in the amount of $450,000. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of this myself,” said the mayor. “This law will effectively put an end to gun violence. My check to Dr. Phant’s coalition should help to get the ABBC campaign going.” Sarah Brady echoed Bloomberg’s remarks, saying that “If only the Brady Campaign had thought of this when we first organized, we wouldn’t have run into the Second Amendment arguments.”

Rep. McCarthy, whose husband was shot to death in 1993 on a commuter train, said the new law would not ban wild game hunting. “Under the bills Sen. Schumer and I are introducing, the U.S. Department of the Interior will establish and operate ammunition outlets near hunting areas. There will be guns for rent, but hunters can bring their own rifles or shotguns. The hunters can purchase ammunition, but they will have to leave their driver’s licenses or passports at the ammo shops. They will be required to return all spent cartridge cases and any unused bullets in order to retrieve their licenses or passports.”

Sen. Schumer explained that “The hunting aspects of this law will be similar to those in Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries that ban the possession of not only ammunition, but guns as well. We are not banning guns. As a matter of fact we are loosening restrictions on firearms. We believe that by banning bullets, we will drastically reduce gun violence and eventually eliminate it altogether.” Sen. Schumer emphasized that “Once gun violence had ended, there will be no need for law enforcement officers to be armed with lethal weapons.”

Fred Werdlin, executive director of ABBC, read a statement of support from President Obama. “As President of the United States, I have been obsessed with ending gun violence. I am pleased to give my wholehearted support to the American Ban Bullets Coalition and its campaign to keep ammunition out of the hands of civilians. This is a simple solution to ending America’s disgraceful gun violence. A ban on bullets will allow our children to attend school without fear of getting shot and it will make our neighborhoods, theaters and work places safe again. And it will allow our citizen to keep and bear arms in line with the Second Amendment. I am sorry that I did not come up with a bullet ban myself. I can’t wait until Carolyn and Chuck’s bill reaches my desk so I can sign it. I want to praise and thank Dr. Ellie Phant for her efforts to reduce gun violence. Dr. Phant has the gratitude of our great nation.”

Dr. Phant ended the press briefing by saying, “I want to thank Congresswoman McCarthy and Senator Schumer for their support and for introducing legislation banning the possession of bullets. And, of course, I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his very generous support on behalf of our mission.”


If it takes the use of nuclear weapons for Israel to survive a military attack, so be it!


Israel Today
September 24, 2013

As the Iran nuclear crisis lingers, international experts and think tanks have again taken to speculating over Israel's supposed nuclear arsenal.

A report recently published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists concluded that Israel possesses 80 functional nuclear warheads, and has enough fissile material to at least double that number if it sees fit.

For the time being, the researchers believe Israel is content with its current nuclear arsenal, and that the Jewish state ceased building additional warheads in 2004.

Also notable is that the report lists Israel's nuclear arsenal as "Deployed Warheads" rather than "Stockpiled Warheads," suggesting that the weapons are poised and ready for use at a moment's notice.

Israel has never officially commented on whether or not it actually possesses nuclear weapons, but previous assessments by American intelligence also pegged the Israeli nuclear arsenal at around 80 warheads.

By comparison, India and Pakistan are both estimated to possess 100-120 nuclear warheads each.


So far, American diplomacy has combined boundless idealism with fatal naiveté

Obama is hoping his legacy will be that of a peacemaker. Of course, he also wants to be known as a health care giver.

Although both Obama and Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani were in New York to give speeches before Tuesday’s session of the U.N. General Assembly, they never met face-to-face. Rouhani did not attend a luncheon hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Obama and other world leaders, some say because wine was to be served.

Stalin played FDR in 1945; Iran's Rouhani now attempts to do the same with President Obama

By Bret Stephens

The Wall Street Journal
September 23, 2013

Yalta, Ukraine

Why are democratic leaders so easily suckered and rolled by dictators when it comes to diplomacy? That's the question to ask as the Obama administration, fresh from getting rolled by Russia over Syria's chemical weapons, now tempts getting suckered by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani over his country's nuclear ambitions.

Part of the answer lies here, at the Livadia Palace in Yalta, where Joseph Stalin hosted Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in February 1945 to negotiate the political map of postwar Europe. For the people of central Europe, especially Poles, Yalta has long been a byword for betrayal: betrayal of Allied assurances that they would be allowed to determine their own futures democratically; betrayal of Western ideals of freedom and human rights at the altar of power politics.

Yet the truth about Yalta is more complicated, and more instructive. Roosevelt may have betrayed the principle of Polish freedom. But there was little he could do to change the fact that the Red Army owned Poland anyway. He also thought that, in exchange for accepting Stalin's terms on one front, he got Stalin's agreement on two others: Soviet entry into the war against Japan, and Soviet participation in the United Nations—two long steps, he thought, to ending the war faster and consolidating the peace better.

"In our hearts we really believed a new day had dawned," Harry Hopkins, FDR's closest aide, recalled about Yalta. "We were all convinced we had won the first great victory for peace. . . . The Russians had proved they could be reasonable and farsighted and neither the president nor any of us had the slightest doubt that we could live with them and get on peaceably with them far into the future."

It didn't turn out like that. But contrary to the suggestion that Yalta was an example of American cynicism or cowardice, it typified a style of American diplomacy that combined boundless idealism with fatal naiveté, an exaggerated confidence in the power of persuasion to bridge differences—and a fatal indifference to the importance of ideology in creating them.

Sound like any American president you know?

It was certainly true of FDR. The man who got what he wanted from the American public like no other president could be forgiven for thinking of himself as someone who understood people and their motivations. Returning from his first meeting with Stalin in Tehran in 1943, Roosevelt told reporters: "I got along fine with Marshal Stalin. He is a man who combines a tremendous determination with a stalwart good humor. I believe he is truly representative of the heart and soul of Russia; and I believe we are going to get along very well with him."

Yet the fundamental problem in encounters between democrats and despots is that, while the former understand the psychology of motivation and seduction (political and otherwise), the latter are masters of the arts of deceit and domination. Millions of Americans wept for FDR when he died in 1945 because he had given them hope. Millions of Russians wept for Stalin when he died in 1953 because he had given them terror. The human heart can be a dark place, even if people born in the happy countries rarely know it.

Historians of the Yalta conference have often noted that the Russians had every room in the palace bugged, and that Stalin was provided every morning with transcripts of Roosevelt's and Churchill's private discussions with their staffs. But Stalin's advantage at Yalta wasn't that he was better briefed. It was that he was a better psychologist. He knew how to turn Roosevelt's illusions to his own purposes.

Above all, FDR cherished the illusion that, through universal participation in the U.N., World War II could be what the first one had not: the war to end all wars. Stalin was more than willing to nurture FDR's idealism—provided FDR returned the favor by granting Stalin the run of his ambitions.

So it is with so many negotiations between democrats and tyrants: When there is a deal, it usually winds up being a trade between the theoretical and the tangible, the immediate concession and the long-term promise, the paper agreement and the territorial prize.

Which brings us back to the present. President Obama has spent five years giving abundant evidence of his desire to reconcile with autocrats, as he did with his Russian reset; to overcome mistrust by demonstrating the purity of his intent, as he tried in his Cairo speech; to seize on any enabling fiction that will relieve him of his commitments, as he has done with Syria. A deal with Iran, arranged via a first-of-its kind meeting with Mr. Rouhani, is a personal and ideological temptation Mr. Obama is incapable of resisting.

Should it happen (I'm betting it will), Mr. Obama will be hailed as a master diplomat and a triumphant peacemaker. As with Yalta, it won't take long to learn who is betrayed, and what is lost, in the service of an illusion.


Seam Pendergast’s report on the party bus brawl is a classic.

By Sean Pendergast

Houston Press Hair Balls
September 24, 2013

When sports figures go from a career of anonymity or ineptitude to sudden stardom, a lot of people in my business go looking for reasons.

Why has Eli Manning been largely average (and kind of dopey) for his entire career and yet strung together two of the most courageous postseasons in NFL history?

Why was Tommy Maddox a complete bust as a first round pick in Denver, and then out of nowhere has one good season in Pittsburgh AFTER selling insurance for a few years?

And seriously, what in the blue hell do we make of one game wonders like Larry Brown or Timmy Smith?

The fact of the matter is that sometimes there just are no good, tangible reasons for sudden impact by an athlete. It's the beautiful randomness that makes sports the ultimate reality show. We have no idea how or why these things are happening.

I am, however, a big believer in karma, in sports homeostasis, and in the natural balance of the sports world recalibrating itself at some point. When something happens for no good reason, oftentimes the market corrects itself. Put simply, what goes up, must come down, and in the end these outliers and their All-World performance can only be categorized as a "deal with the Sports Devil."

And if that's the case, then Jacoby Jones' pact with Sports Satan might have the most painful severance payment in the history of sports karma.

I think it's critical we understand how we arrived at this point, so let's recap, for just a moment, the last 16 months in the life of Jacoby Jones:

* After a five year career in Houston where he was best known for never improving as a wide receiver, getting pinched for a DWI, and committing the biggest gaffe in the short history of the Texans when he muffed a punt in the playoff loss to Baltimore, Jacoby Jones was released in May 2012.

* After signing with the Ravens shortly after his release from the Texans, Jones had a 2012 regular season that was a lot like his five seasons in Houston, making some impact in the return game, but showing minus skills and doing almost nothing as a wide receiver (30 catches).

* As soon as the calendar flipped to 2013, something happened. For three legacy changing plays, Jacoby Jones, morphed into a combination of Jerry Rice and Devin Hester -- the Hail Mary pass against Denver to tie that playoff game at 35, the Super Bowl bomb from Joe Flacco right before the half to give the Ravens a 21-3 lead, and the 108 yard kickoff return to start the second half of the Super Bowl and give the Ravens a 28-6 lead.

* Suddenly, Jacoby Jones found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated, making an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and making it all the way to the final three on Dancing With The Stars.

* It all culminated with Jacoby Jones' being named the 87th best player in the league in the annual NFL Top 100 Players poll, a sporty accomplishment considering Jacoby was never even the 87th best player at his own position.

Jacoby Jones' star had risen, but anyone with half a brain knew that karma, that insidious bitch, was waiting around the corner to bring him back down to earth, waiting to belt him in the face with her restorative hammer and return the corner of the sports universe occupied by Jacoby Jones to the clown show that it should be.

The homeostasis storm clouds had been gathering for the last few weeks, what with Jacoby sustaining a knee injury in the season opener courtesy of some "keystone cops" level friendly fire from rookie teammate Brynden Trawick as Jones was calling for a fair catch.

However, karma's ultimate revenge came on Sunday night, ironically after a game in which Jaocby Jones' Ravens teammates had just beaten his old Texans teammates by a score of 30-9. Jones didn't play in the game, but he did show up ready to play Sunday night at teammate Bryant McKinnie's birthday party.

Now, as a brief aside, if the Pavlovian reaction that you're getting to the four words "Bryant McKinnie's birthday party" is some sort of tingly anticipation, then your body is functioning properly, because Bryant McKinnie has an unhealthy love for strippers. How unhealthy? Well, unhealthy enough to where stories surfaced last year of a $375,000 lawsuit against McKinnie for charges rung up at South Florida strip clubs. The lawsuit was reportedly filed by the father of rapper Trick Daddy, who for simplicity's sake will heretofore be referred to as "Trick Granddaddy."

Also, going back to his Vikings days, McKinnie was a central figure in the 2005 Minnesota Vikings boat party scandal, a booze and stripper fueled sex romp involving a handful of Vikings players, various strippers and hookers, a couple boats, and dozens of dildos that was salacious enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page.

In short, if the wait for Jacoby Jones' fall from grace feels like some sort of karmic constipation, then Bryant McKinnie was the giant laxative we've all been waiting for.

So Sunday night was McKinnie's birthday party, and in the one responsible move of the evening, he decided to rent a party bus for transportation (although I would submit that it may have had more to do with the bus' ability to transport dozens of ample booty "performers" than its DUI prevention capability.)

Among those on the party bus were Jacoby Jones and a stripper by the name of Sweet Pea, who quite frankly doesn't appear to be all that sweet.

I don't know if it's because Sweet Pea had Jones on her fantasy team last season or if improperly conjugated verbs make her angry, but somewhere along the way Sunday evening, Pea and Jones apparently grew to dislike each other.

Such mutual disdain when manifested at, say, noon on a Tuesday can often be resolved through reasonable, rational conversation.

Such mutual disdain manifested at 3:00 a.m. after a night at the Opera Ultra Lounge is usually resolved with one party getting cracked with a champagne bottle and wallowing in a pool of his or her own blood.

And, according to TMZ, that's exactly what happened:

One eyewitness tells us he saw a bottle being swung at Jacoby Jones -- it connected with his head and hurt him. We're told an ambulance was called "for a bleeding male" but he was not taken to the hospital.

Our sources say a stripper named Sweet Pea is the one who hit Jacoby with a gigantic Ace of Spades bottle and this may have triggered the brawl. We're told the bottle smashed over his head and he was "bleeding everywhere."

We're told Jacoby's friends tried to retaliate against Sweet Pea but Bryant McKinnie tried to stop him, and a fight broke out between the friend and Bryant.

If there is a place in this world that is the polar opposite to "widely adored Super Bowl hero," it's probably somewhere at the bottom of a pool of your own blood with shards of a shattered Ace of Spades bottle embedded in your skull and a stripper named Sweet Pea standing over you like it's the end of an episode of Monday Night RAW.

In other words, the sports gods finally crossed that "Jacoby Jones thing" off of their to-do list and sent him swiftly and violently back from whence he came, presumably with the Fastpass from the McKinnie Express still dangling from his back pocket.

(In other news, the Cincinnati Bengals have given Sweet Pea a second round grade and added her to their list of draft eigible three techniques in the 2014 NFL Draft.)

From playoff goat in Houston to Super Bowl savior in Baltimore, from clownish sideshow to dancing king, it's been an unbelievable ride for Jacoby Jones this past year. It really has. In fact, if Jacoby Jones were to write a book on the last two years of his life, I would purchase it, but on one condition -- it would have to be an audio book read by Jacoby Jones.

And as we move to Jacoby Jones' next chapter, all we know is it won't be nearly as interesting as the last chapter. How can it be? I mean, party bus, Ace of Spades bottles, Sweet Pea? It's impossible.

So Jacoby Jones will play out the rest of his contract with the Baltimore Ravens this season, but his contract with Sports Satan? Well, that ended on Sunday night.

Sweet Pea just delivered the buyout.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Obama on Monday endorsed extreme leftist Bill de Blasio for N.Y. mayor, releasing a statement that said, "Progressive change is the centerpiece of Bill de Blasio's vision for New York City, and it's why he will be a great mayor of America's largest city,"

The Democratic nominee has been an outspoken opponent of NYPD’s stop and frisks.

I wonder why The New York Times waited until after the Democratic primary to reveal, also on Monday, that the winner Bill de Blasio worked to help Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandinistas against the U.S. supported Contras, and that he broke the law by honeymooning with his lesbian bride in Cuba?

By Melanie Batley

September 23, 2013

New York City Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio spent time as a left-wing supporter and activist for Nicaragua's ruling Sandinista party at a time when the Reagan administration characterized it as "tyrannical" and "Communist."

He also honeymooned in Cuba in violation of the United States' ban on travel to the Caribbean Communist stronghold, the New York Times reported Monday.

The revelations immediately sparked outrage from Joe Lhota, de Blasio's Republican opponent in November's election. "It’s pretty obvious we think very, very differently about the way the governments of the world should work and the way the people should interact with their government," said Lhota when asked about the Times piece.

"Quite honestly, there are words that I don’t like to use, but in his own words he called himself a Democratic socialist. It’s really unfortunate that that’s the level that we’ve come to in this city."

De Blasio was 26 when he went to Nicaragua in 1988, during Daniel Ortega's first term as president. He traveled to the western city of Masaya to help distribute food and medicine during the conflict with the contras, reported the Times.

He later returned to Maryland to work for the Quixote Center, a group that shipped food, clothing, and supplies to the country, often to Sandinista families.

"My work was based on trying to create a more fair and inclusive world," he said in a recent interview, according to the Times. "I have an activist's desire to improve people's lives."

De Blasio was twice arrested during rallies against United States foreign policy that were held in the Washington area, the Times reports.

He later moved to New York where he helped raise funds for the Sandinistas as a volunteer for the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York. He worked alongside peace activists, Democrats, Marxists, and anarchists to continue to highlight the cause in Central America after the Sandinistas lost power in 1990.

His interest in revolutionary Latin American politics even extended to his honeymoon destination following his 1994 marriage to former admitted lesbian Chirlane McCray, the Times reports.

That decision too was blasted by Lhota. "Going to Cuba illegally is never a good thing in this country," he said.

The Times reports that de Blasio, who studied Latin American politics at Columbia University, continues to be interested in Latin America and speaks with admiration of the Sandinistas' campaign.

"They had a youthful energy and idealism mixed with a human ability and practicality that was really inspirational," he said in a recent interview, according to the newspaper, though he is critical of the party's attempts to crack down on dissent, saying the revolutionary leaders were "not free enough by any stretch of the imagination."


Our failing public school system is leading us down a path to where we will end up with a shortage of scientists, engineers, doctors and skilled workers. But I suspect we will always have a surplus of lawyers.

By Sandy Fitzgerald and John Bachman

September 23, 2013

American schoolchildren have fallen dangerously behind other students worldwide, especially when it comes to math, a dilemma that could have far-reaching implications into the United States' future, Harvard government professor Paul Peterson says.

"We know that math skills are in scarce supply in our society," Peterson told Newsmax TV's John Bachman, explaining that students with higher math skills "translates into a higher quality workforce and the economy as a whole prospers."

Peterson, along with Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessman, wrote the book "Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School," which, among other things, shows how American students are running behind their counterparts worldwide not only in math, but other subjects as well.

Peterson said math is in high demand at this point because "you just really can't do a lot of things unless you've got some basic skills in math."

In addition, if math skills could rise to the level of those in other countries, Peterson said, "you could grow the whole American economy by an enormous amount. We figure it's about a 20 percent increase in wages if we could get up to the Canadian level."

But the loss in wages could be astronomical if the learning level of American students is not increased, he said.

"If you look over the whole course of the 21st century, what's left of it — and there's a lot of it left — it adds up to about $77 trillion," said Peterson. "If you translate that down in wages, it's 20 percent a year. You don't see it in the first year. It shows up only gradually as more educated people enter into the workforce, but the long-term impact is enormous."

In some states, scores are rising, noted Bachman, with Florida being a particularly interesting bright spot because it's not only throwing extra money at the problem. Other states showing marked improvement include Maryland and Massachusetts.

Nationally, Peterson said, about $12,000 is spent per pupil, "which is a very large sum of money — as much as any other country in the world, except perhaps Switzerland." However, some states have poured a great deal of money into their school systems, but not seen a great response.

In Florida, though, where there is very little additional money going into schools, students are succeeding because schools have a "clear accountability system," said Peterson.

"They tell parents, teachers, principals just exactly how each school is doing," he said.

"They have a reading program that is very rigorous, they have a math program. They're holding students accountable, they're giving students choices, they're giving families choices."

Massachusetts, which has always had good schools, has improved a great deal in recent years because of programs such as a high school graduation exam.

"That's what countries around the world do that we don't do," Peterson said. "They expect kids to learn something in high school, and they say you need to pass this examination when you leave your high school and that's going to determine the rest of your career."

With such exams, Peterson said, "high school students are given a very clear indication of what it is they're supposed to know and what they're supposed to learn, and that just can change the nature of a high school experience."

While there have been federal programs, such as President Barack Obama's "Race to the Top" and former President George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind," educators and teachers often resist sweeping changes in their schools, and Peterson said states will need to take leadership.

"I don't think we can expect something to happen just at the local district level," said Peterson, noting that very few people turn out to vote in local school-board elections, and members are often too influenced by school employees.

"If we're going to have leadership, it's going to have to come at the state level," said Peterson. "The federal government is probably too far away. We have had a lot of presidents very committed to trying to bring about change and our current president's as committed as any of them, but it's really hard to do something in Washington and make the local districts pay any attention."

Peterson is optimistic about online education, though.

"The secret to this is to make sure that we have online education that's available on a course-by-course basis so that students can pick the teacher that they would like the best," he said. "If you have good teachers online, then they don't have to take a course from a weak teacher in their local high school. But they can take other courses from their local teacher in their high school if that's where the best course is."