September 2007


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Signs in Spanish in Denver on Tuesday September 25, 2007. This billboard was along S. Federal Blvd. Cyrus McCrimmon

"The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy."

– Sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset

Americans have an almost blind faith in the melting pot. Not without reason. Our greatest national achievement is fashioning a common identity out of a wide variety of races, nationalities and ethnic groups.

The melting pot melted and we became (with a few lumps) one nation and one people. We did not create a perfect world, but we became a unified nation with a common identity, common language and common allegiances. E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) is both a promise and a challenge.

Today, that unity is at risk. Immigrants make up more than 10 percent of our population, which has only happened once before in our history, and they are disproportionately Spanish-speakers who can (and do) maintain contact with the old country. We have never taken so disproportionate an amount of immigrants from one linguistic group.

Meanwhile, our own assimilative demands have also been dramatically reduced. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., one of the great liberals of my lifetime, warned: "Ethnic ideologues … have set themselves against the old American ideal of assimilation. They call on this republic to think in terms not of individual but group identity and to move the policy from individual to group rights. They have made a certain progress in transforming the United States into a more segregated society. They have filled the air with recrimination and rancor and have remarkably advanced the fragmentation of America."

So the numbers, the proximity, the incessant flow of Spanish-speaking immigrants, year after year, are building up a bilingual, bicultural society within our society. The tradition that people would drop old loyalties and join us in our polity is disappearing under these pressures. Now some immigrants can vote for both president of Mexico and president of the United States (the latter in either English or Spanish), and we have abandoned the idea that we "foreswear all other allegiances."

We are backing into becoming a bilingual, bicultural society despite the fact that there are no happy models out there. Belgium is talking about splitting its 1,000-year-old country because of the tension produced by its bilingual/ bicultural society. Quebec talks about independence from Canada. In Spain, different language groups set off deadly bombs to force more autonomy. India, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Madagascar and numerous other countries are suppressing rebellion by minority cultural groups. Bilingual/bicultural nations seem to be inherently unstable. Switzerland has a distinct and separate French, German and Roma speaking sections, which is hardly an encouraging example.

I would suggest that our Founders got it right and we abandon our assimilative model of nation-building at our great risk. We have to start to give serious consideration to what policies allow us to form community, live at peace with our neighbors and avoid fragmentation and balkanization.

We do not bond automatically to our neighbors. In many parts of the world, neighbors are viewed as strangers and competitors. A cohesive nation needs a shared stake in the future. It needs a shared language, shared culture, shared norms and values. It needs common goals and common dreams. Nations are forged by commitment, dedication, hard work, tolerance, love and a search for commonalties.

It must understand that all members to a certain degree have a shared fate. To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking." A peaceful nation needs, in short, a unifying social glue, including (but not limited to) a common language.

America’s first Puerto Rican- born congressman, Herman Badillo, was the chief sponsor of the Federal Bilingual Education legislation. He now repents his sponsorship because it is balkanizing and "hurts students more than it helps." He warns against a bilingual/bicultural society and demands that Hispanics learn English and "be held to the same high standards as all other Americans."

We can be multi-ethnic but we must have a common language and common culture. We must stay "one nation indivisible."

A sign in a New York classroom late last century warned "Learn English. Be American. Otherwise America will become like the old country."

We are in the process of ignoring that wise advice. What could be the next generation of immigrant success stories is instead bringing a whole second language group to the United States, with its own separate mores, values and culture. We risk instead of having new Americans, having instead "Mexicans living in America" and all history shows that is a prescription for "turmoil, tension and tragedy."

Source Richard D. Lamm

MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico —  As he walks to his recruiting station, Army Staff Sgt. Allan Welchez Rivera averts his eyes when he passes graffiti spray-painted across the street: "The U.S. Army: An ignorant way to die."

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on — and the body count of Puerto Rican soldiers grows — an anti-recruiting US military campaign has emerged in this U.S. territory of 4 million people. High-schools have now become a battleground for recruiters and pacifists anti-US military activists, who have equal access to the campuses and seek to sway island youth into joining or shunning the military.

"I take it personal," said Welchez, a 35-year-old native of New York City. "We’re protecting the Constitution, what we do everyday."

The anti-recruitment US military drive has energized Puerto Rico’s pro-independence movement, though only a small minority have voted for independence in nonbinding referendums. A larger minority wants Puerto Rico to become a U.S. state and most prefer the island keep its loose affiliation with the U.S.

The Puerto Rican Independence Party five years ago began distributing leaflets encouraging high school students to prevent military recruiters from obtaining their personal information. Last year, 57 percent of this Caribbean island’s high school sophomores, junior and seniors signed the forms to keep their information from recruiters.

"Military service has always been the blood tax of the colony," said Sen. Maria de Lourdes Santiago of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. said . "In schools that allows for a lot more fairness for groups that oppose the war US military."

Anti-war anti-US military groups hold workshops at schools where recruiters hand out business cards and chat with students in hallways. School directors are required to reserve equal space for military and pacifist anti-US military brochures.

Over the last four years, military enlistments from Puerto Rico have dropped 20 percent.

A loose network of pacifists anti-US military activists and pro-independence groups claims the decline as a victory, but recruiters say the opt-out leaflets have had little impact because recruiters go after older, college-educated candidates. Still, Welchez and Pentagon officials suspect the anti-military campaign and an anti-war anti-US military sentiment have dissuaded some potential recruits.

Active-duty enlistments across all service branches in Puerto Rico fell from 1,537 in 2002 to 1,229 last year, according to the Pentagon. The Army has taken the biggest hit, from 972 to 733, with recruitment rates over the last four years below the average per-capita contribution of mainland states.

Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, said the "tone of discouragement" is likely hurting recruiting efforts in Puerto Rico. He said the military may spend more on advertising to counter the anti-US military activists’ efforts. Nationwide, the military currently spends about $12,000 on advertising and other recruitment efforts per enlistee, he said.

"Supporters of a volunteer military ought to accept its duty to describe itself to young people, and not throw obstacles in the path of recruiters working to present those facts," Carr said in a telephone interview from Washington.

Military recruiters here must also confront plummeting public opinion of the Iraq war. A recent poll by the newspaper El Nuevo Dia found that 75 percent of islanders oppose the Iraq war. On the U.S. mainland, 57 percent believe going to war in Iraq was a mistake, according to a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll. [Keep in mind, polls usually consist of anywhere between 600 through 1,200 people. Hardly a majority in numbers]

Every month, Mothers Against War the US Military, a Puerto Rican group, stages protests outside the Mayaguez recruiting station in western Puerto Rico. Sonia Santiago, leader of Mothers Against War the US Military, said she believes the U.S. invaded Iraq and Afghanistan to secure energy resources, not to spread democracy or protect the United States.

Despite anti-recruitment efforts, Welchez and other recruiters said they are generally well received, but avoid going to some areas in their military uniforms. University professors have "jumped in my face" and told him to leave campus, he said.

Recruiters are also careful not to provoke any incidents.

After a militant independence leader died in a shootout with FBI agents in the town of Hormigueros in 2005, recruiters were ordered by their commanders to stay away, Welchez said.

Source

Mothers Against War is a by-product of communist Code Pink and they abhor the US military. They label the US military as terrorists and work with Iraq “freedom fighters” in killing the "terrorists". These Marxist mommies are lying POS’s.

Pacifist my ass! How in the hell can someone claim to be a pacifist and make someplace a “battleground” or even protest (whether verbally or physically) for that matter. There is no such thing as a pacifist. Walk up to a self proclaimed pacifist and throw a punch at em’, I guarantee you they will try to block the blow. The minute they block that blow, they’re not a pacifist.  And unless they are a vegetable, as well they should try to block the blow. It’s instinctual and part of personal survival but it’s not pacifism. While were on a roll… Damaging property with spray paint is not pacifism. Standing in the middle of the street protesting the latest cause is not pacifism. Calling active duty as well as deceased US soldiers ignorant because they enlisted is not pacifism. And it’s most certainly not supporting the troops. I could go on but you get the point. No such thing as a pacifist.

Here’s an idea: Hows ‘bout we take the gabillion or so anchor babies who are now 18 years or older and draft their asses to do the fighting in Iraq/Afghanistan. After all, these anchor babies claim they are US citizens and have rights. Fucking fine! As US citizens they now have the right to be drafted into the US military. Instead of killing real US citizens on a daily basis, they can go kill “freedom fighters” instead. And take the pseudo pacifists with em’.

peeing-man1.gifPSEUDO PACIFISM

 

Mumbai: India’s small Jewish community is up in arms against an Indian home furnishing maker that has named its new line of bedspreads "NAZI" and used the swastika in its promotional brochure.

The furnishings dealer says the word "NAZI" stands for New Arrival Zone of India, but local Jewish leaders insisted the name rang of Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic regime.

"We will ask him to stop this nonsense," Jonathan Solomon, head of Indian Jewish Federation told Reuters on Sunday. "We don’t want Nazism to arrive in any zone in India or the world."

The NAZI-named bedspread is being sold at stores in India’s financial capital Mumbai. The new product is promoted with a brochure that displays two red swastikas against a black background.

The brochure reads "Bed and Beyond presents the NAZI collection" with the expanded form of the word written in a very small font. The cover has a picture of two red cushions and a red bedspread.

"The name has nothing to do with Hitler," said the dealer, Kapil Kumar Todi, denying he had chosen the name for free publicity. "It’s just an abbreviation."

But Indian Jews — only about 5,000 remain after most migrated to Israel and the West over the years — say they are outraged by the gimmick. Solomon said they would take legal recourse if Todi did not change the name.

Holocaust awareness in India is limited and Hitler is regarded by many as just another historical figure.

"What this says is there is a severe lack of awareness of what millions of Jews were subjected to by one man," said Solomon. "We will stop all attempts to rehabilitate Hitler in any form, anywhere."

Nazi ideas are largely rejected in India, but a rightist Hindu fringe deifies Hitler’s rabid nationalism. In 2005, the western state of Gujarat, ruled by Hindu nationalists, introduced a high-school book that eulogised Hitler as a strong administrator.

Last year, a small restaurant in Mumbai was forced to change its name from "Hitler’s Cross" to "Cross Cafe" after strong protests.

The eatery had its interior done in the Nazi colours of red, white and black, used red swastikas and a huge portrait of a stern-looking Fuehrer as promotional material.

Source

 Oakland is hosting a Democratic presidential smack-down today, with stars Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tossing made-for-TV block parties in one of the state’s biggest Democratic bastions.

Clinton, who leads Obama in the polls but has yet to prove she can ignite the fans en masse, will take center stage at 14th and Clay streets, just across from the Federal Building, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Campaign spokesman Luis Vizcaino says the Clinton event will include surprise entertainment and a lot of big names in politics and beyond, to keep the crowd hopping.

While it’s definitely a TV-friendly moment, insiders tell us that Clinton’s foray into Obama country is also part of a statewide push for black endorsements, and that one of the main targets is Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who has yet to commit.

Not to be outdone, Camp Obama – which drew thousands to Obama’s Oakland rally in March – has moved the opening of its campaign headquarters at 436 14th St. up a day, to 1 p.m. today, and is offering up big-name hip-hoppers Blackalicious for the festivities.

A free hip-hop concert in downtown Oakland could be a big draw, says Obama California campaign spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh, who is on leave from her post as spokeswoman for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, an Obama campaign co-chair. "It will be really exciting," she said.

And, supporters hope, will make up for Obama being in Florida and South Carolina today.

As long as she’s in town, by the way, Clinton will be shaking the tambourine for money – with Sen. Dianne Feinstein hosting a fundraiser for her tonight at her new Pacific Heights home.

From what we hear, DiFi’s neighbors aren’t too happy with all the security that comes with hosting former first lady Clinton – especially not with Code Pink protesters promising to show up.

Folsom furor: Once again, San Francisco has made it into the national limelight, this time because of a poster for today’s Folsom Street Fair that recreates Leonardo da Vinci’s "Last Supper" – only with leather-clad, seminude men and women playing the Apostles before a table full of sex toys.

"We’ve seen the misrepresentation of the Last Supper before with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and even the Sopranos, but this one is really over the top," said Catholic League President Bill Donohue. "It’s an insult to all faiths."

And faster than you can say Fox News, it was the hot topic of the airwaves as another example of "San Francisco values."

The annual Folsom Street leather and fetish fest is indeed a local tradition, with proceeds going to AIDS charities and shocked tourists going apoplectic when they wander into the event.

This time, however, the poster may be stealing the show.

Folsom Street Events board president Andy Copper defended the work on the group’s Web site, saying, "There is no intention to be particularly pro-religion or anti-religion with this poster; the image is intended only to be reminiscent of the ‘Last Supper’ painting. It is a distinctive representation of diversity with women and men, people of all colors and sexual orientations.

"We hope that people will enjoy the artistry for what it is – nothing more or less," Copper said.

"The irony is that da Vinci was widely considered to be homosexual," Copper said. "I guess it wouldn’t be the Folsom Street Fair without offending some extreme members of the global community, though."

And offend it did, with the Catholic League calling for a boycott of one of the fair’s sponsors, Miller Brewing Co.

We tried to contact Miller, but the beermaker’s spokesman was traveling and unavailable for comment.

Incidentally, the Catholic League was hoping House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, herself devoutly Catholic, would denounce the poster. Alas, the group was disappointed.

"I am a big believer in the First Amendment," Pelosi said Friday. "I do not believe that Christianity has been harmed by the Folsom Street Fair advertising."

What Next: A few updates on the Ed Jew affair:

— The federal eye: Too early to tell what it means, but having filed their mail fraud complaint against the suspended San Francisco supervisor, the feds are now asking around at City Hall about Robert Chan, the political consultant who was Jew’s alleged cohort on a $40,000 pay-for-permit scheme.

Their first stop will be Supervisor Tom Ammiano, for whom Chan briefly worked a couple of years back.

— New kid: Carmen Chu, the 29-year-old budget whiz named by Mayor Gavin Newsom as Jew’s replacement, hit the ground running her first day. After the mayor’s office insisted her name go up on the City Hall office door ASAP, Chu was off to meet Sunset community leaders. Then she stopped in at her first political affair, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s annual party – where we hear she worked the room like a pro.

— Hasta la vista: Jew’s former aide and neighborhood activist Barbara Meskunas, who was abruptly canned along with the rest of his staff when he was suspended, was last seen boarding a flight to Key West, Fla., where she planned to burn off her vacation time, enjoy a Mai Tai and contemplate a possible suit against the city for wrongful termination.

Fox II: It’s not just the Folsom Street Fair drawing howls from the hinterlands.

City Hall has been besieged with protests – including 700 e-mails to the Film Commission alone – after Fox News picked up on a story that the Marines had been barred from shooting a recruitment ad on the streets of San Francisco.

So serious were the threats that sheriff’s deputies were posted outside the Film Commission meeting last week while the issue was aired.

Both the mayor’s office and the ad’s creator said the Marines hadn’t actually been given the brush-off. The city did issue a permit for the Marines to film on a Sunday rather than a traffic-heavy weekday, the story goes, but the Marines couldn’t do it on a Sunday.

Be that as it may, the man who sounded the alarm – police Capt. Greg Corrales, an ex-Marine whose son is serving his third tour in Iraq – insisted Friday that commission executive Stefanie Coyote (as in wife of actor and lefty activist Peter Coyote) didn’t exactly put out the plushest welcome mat.

Source

BAGHDAD – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has secured a pledge from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to help cut off weapons, funding, and other support to militiamen in Iraq, US and Iraqi officials said yesterday.

General David H. Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said there were signs of a slight drop in the types of attacks associated with Shi’ite militants since the deal was reached last month, and he dangled the possibility that US and Iraqi officials might be able to do something in return. But he said it was too early to tell whether there has been a real reduction in Iranian support.

"Honestly, and I really mean this, all of us would really welcome the opportunity to see this, confirm it and even – in whatever way we could – to reciprocate," Petraeus told reporters on a visit to the Baghdad neighborhood of Karada. "But it really is wait and see time right now still."

Iranian officials have made no announcement of such a commitment and could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday. But they have consistently rejected US accusations that members of the elite Al Quds force of the Iranian National Guard are stoking the bloodshed in Iraq by supplying advanced weaponry and other help to rogue Shi’ite militiamen.

Meanwhile, at least 15 Iraqis were killed or found dead yesterday, victims of bomb blasts, mortar fire, shootings and other violence.

The US military also announced the deaths of two soldiers in small arms fire, one during combat operations in a southern section of Baghdad and the other in Diyala.

A US military panel sentenced an Army sniper to an effective 44 days confinement in connection with the deaths of two Iraqi men. Specialist Jorge G. Sandoval, 22, was also demoted to private and ordered to forfeit his salary for the days he spends behind bars.

Sandoval was acquitted of murder charges during the three-day court-martial but convicted of the lesser offense of placing detonation wire on one of the bodies to make it appear that the man was an insurgent.

Members of his sniper team testified that they were following orders when they shot the men on April 27 and May 11 near Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad.

Maliki’s aides characterized the agreement reached during a three-day visit to Iran as a promise to better police the long and porous border between the two countries.

"The prime minister has been saying recently that the Iranians have been giving him strong promises that they will do better in terms of controlling the borders and that the results of these promises are starting to be felt . . . as far as the trafficking of weapons is concerned," said an official from Maliki’s office. He asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to address the media.

Faruq Abdullah, one of Maliki’s political advisers, said: "The agreement included a promise by the Iranian government to increase the number of Iranian forces on the border and to increase the efforts to guard the 1,000-kilometer-long frontier."

But Petraeus said Maliki told him the agreement went further than that.

"The president of Iran pledged to Prime Minister Maliki during a recent meeting that he would stop the flow of weapons, the training, the funding and the directing of these militia extremists that have been such a huge problem really for Iraq," Petraeus said.

He reiterated charges that Iran is supplying rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, large rockets, and armor-piercing bombs known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, which have been used in attacks against US forces.

"Certainly, indirect fire is quite a bit down," Petraeus said, referring to rockets and mortar rounds, "EFPs arguably a bit down, some of these others we haven’t seen for a bit. But it certainly is nothing sufficient to call even statistically significant, much less evidence that there has been a real reduction in the assistance provided." He did not provide the figures.

US-led forces have captured "quite a few" of the weapons during recent operations, he said. The apparent dip in such attacks could also be connected to a decision by Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to suspend the operations of his Mahdi militiamen for six months.

"It was the extreme elements of those, the special groups as they are called, that had been employing those different arms," Petraeus said.

Analysts cautioned against interpreting the commitment as an admission of responsibility by Ahmadinejad.

Source

WALKERSVILLE, Md. — The corn fields and church steeples proudly displayed on Walkersville’s municipal seal reflect traditions that some residents say are threatened by plans for a Muslim mosque and convention site in the rural town of 5,600.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA insists it will be a peaceful, friendly neighbor, but its proposal — including an annual national gathering of thousands of Ahmadis — has met resistance from the town’s overwhelmingly Christian residents who treasure their relative seclusion in a nation at war with Islamic extremists.

"Muslims are a whole different culture from us," said Ralph Whitmore, the town’s mayor, taking a break from stacking inventory at his livestock feed store. "The situation with the Muslims is a touchy worldwide situation, so people are antsy over that."

Two days after Ahmadiyya leaders fielded questions at a public forum on Aug. 20, town Commissioner Chad Weddle introduced a zoning amendment that would prohibit places of worship, schools, private clubs and antique shops on land zoned for agriculture — including the 224-acre farm the Ahmadis have contracted to buy.

If the five commissioners approve the measure in a vote expected this fall, the Ahmadis would be blocked from establishing a mosque on the site but could ask to have the land’s zoning changed to institutional, which includes places of worship and schools. If the amendment fails, the group would need only a special exception — easier to obtain than a rezoning — to proceed. Their request for a special exception is pending before the town’s planning commission, which held a public hearing Tuesday and is expected to vote Oct. 23 on whether to recommend it to the commissioners.

Mr. Weddle said he offered his amendment not to block the Muslims but as part of a plan to preserve open space and help the Banner School, a private, nonsectarian institution for grades K-8.

"My ordinance should benefit that group if they want to build on that property" because without rezoning, the site can’t be served by public water and sewer, Mr. Weddle said.

Syed Ahmad, a federal economist who is managing the Walkersville project for the Silver Spring-based Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said the group plans to use the farm’s private well and septic systems and won’t need public water and sewer.

Mr. Ahmad, a naturalized citizen who emigrated from Pakistan in 1980, says the Muslims won’t go where they’re not wanted. The group’s leaders have gone door-to-door to persuade Walkersville residents that Ahmadis are not terrorists, but Mr. Ahmad acknowledged that the September 11 attacks and the U.S. war on terrorism have made Walkersville residents wary.

"They hear ‘Muslims’ and they don’t know anything beyond that," he said. "To me, it’s natural until they get a chance to ask questions what our beliefs are — and then they realize these are good people."

Some residents aren’t convinced. David Sample testified during Tuesday’s hearing that he is an intelligence officer whose office at the Pentagon, about 40 miles away, was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

"We need to be forthright about our direction and the protection of our community," he said. "I just stress to the board and the community that we pay attention to what’s going on, what the motive is, who the people are."

Source

More than two dozen senior D.C. officials were inappropriately given more than $500,000 in cash bonuses in the waning days of the administration of former Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

"The 28 employees were comprised of agency directors, deputy mayors, the city administrator and senior officials in the Office of the Mayor," according to a report issued Friday.

Among the major findings in the report by D.C. Auditor Deborah K. Nichols:

Employees received a total of $525,846 in bonuses that were not submitted, reviewed or processed under proper procedures, according to D.C. personnel rules and before the chief financial officer had certified that sufficient surplus funds were available in agency budgets to pay for them.

Agency heads received $379,690 in bonuses, despite the lack of contracts spelling out the goals and expectations for their performance. Deputy mayors and other senior employees received $122,465 in bonuses, despite not having individual performance plans or employee evaluations.

City officials paid $89,565 in awards to 10 senior employees based on evaluations the employees wrote for themselves. The employees, who were not identified in the report, received bonuses between 7 percent and 8 percent of their annual salaries.

A $15,600 bonus was paid to a city employee who was no longer serving on the job. The employee is not identified, but the report also indicates that a $15,600 bonus was paid to the city administrator on Oct. 24, 2006.

Former City Administrator Robert C. Bobb left the D.C. government to run for president of the Board of Education in September 2006. The bonus was awarded slightly more than two months after the city administrator received a $15,600 bonus on Aug. 4, 2006.

The auditor recommended in the report that the city take steps to recover the retroactive bonus. It was the only case in which the auditor recommended recovering bonus money.

Mr. Bobb did not return a phone message yesterday seeking comment.

Those receiving the improper bonuses included Mr. Williams’ chief of staff, his three deputy mayors, the police chief, the attorney general, the chief technology officer and the directors of the city’s Emergency Management Agency, Health Department, Transportation Department, Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Unified Communications, among others.

The 28 officials received six-figure annual salaries that ranged from $107,640 for Gustavo Velasquez, the head of the Office of Latino Affairs, to $195,000 for Mr. Bobb.

The auditor found that the head of the D.C. Office of Personnel, who was responsible for authorizing the payments, expedited the bonuses to the senior Williams administration employees in some cases.

In more than half the cases, the report says, the proper paperwork recommending the bonuses was not completed until 60 days after bonus checks were processed. The report also states that required forms containing a written justification for the bonuses for the 28 senior administration employees were never completed.

"In addition to violating the District personnel regulations, the director’s use of this improper practice also permitted some employees, including herself, to receive incentive payments in excess of amounts later recommended by the city administrator," the report states.

The head of the District’s Office of Personnel at the time was Lisa Marin. The records show that the head of the personnel department authorized an $11,053 bonus for herself, which far exceeded the bonus of $5,527 that her superiors recommended for her.

Excessive awards were given in five cases totaling $18,521, according to the report.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty replaced Ms. Marin with Brender L. Gregory and renamed the department the Office of Human Resources.

In a response to the auditor’s report dated Sept. 14, Miss Gregory said her office has begun a review of the findings and suspended the bonus program as of Aug. 31.

During a hearing before the D.C. Council’s Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations, City Administrator Dan Tangherlini referred to the report and said the District had "gone too far" in awarding bonuses.

The bonuses, which are paid from taxpayer funds, can be given for "a suggestion, an invention, a superior accomplishment, length of service, or other meritorious effort that contributes to the efficiency or economy or otherwise improves the operations of the District government."

Source

 

Washington: Annapolis, the 300-year-old city that hosted the Continental Congress and served as the country’s first capital, will add another chapter to its rich history by hosting a Middle East peace meeting late in November at the US Naval Academy.

US officials said the Bush administration selected the academy in part because it provides a secure facility convenient to Washington. Also, they said, unlike the presidential retreat at Camp David and the Wye Plantation, which are both in Maryland as well, the academy is not associated with unsuccessful peace efforts during the Clinton administration.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will host the meeting of Arab and Israeli leaders to discuss terms for a Palestinian state and peace with Israel. President Bush is widely expected to address the meeting at some point.

As news of the meeting spread, local historians drew parallels to the Annapolis of years past. It was in Annapolis that George Washington resigned to Congress as military leader in 1783. The country’s first war, the American Revolution, drew to a close in Annapolis, noted State Archivist Edward Papenfuse.

Welcome

"This was where Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris in 1784, which brought peace and established us as a nation among nations on the international scene," he said. "So it’s very fitting historically to be bringing international discussions of peace here again."

The news was met with surprise, excitement and a measure of trepidation in a city already bracing for a possible special session of the state legislature in early November.

"There’s obviously a great advantage of having the city of Annapolis the centre of the world for a few days," said Bob Burdon, president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce.

Still, he said, "the streets of Annapolis have not been widened since the horse and buggy age".

Concerns about how a city of roughly seven square miles will handle a surge of media and dignitaries were quickly set aside when Annapolitans considered the magnitude of the occasion – and the opportunity to be forever linked to a historic peace pact, like Camp David and Dayton, Ohio.

"I can’t think of a more perfect place," said Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer, who learned of the event from news accounts on Friday. "I’m honoured, absolutely honoured, that we would be connected."

Moyer noted that the city is accustomed to the periodic swelling in population that comes with the annual legislative session and to major events like graduation at the academy, where the country’s presidents periodically have delivered commencement speeches.

The Bush administration has given only a general idea of which parties may be invited and no indication of the agenda or goals. The gap is still wide on many of the basics.

The administration has tried to lower expectations for the diplomatic effort, first announced by President Bush amid much fanfare on July 16. US officials initially billed it as a conference, but quickly changed the framework to a "meeting".

Source

 

Islamabad/ Peshawar: The Taliban has published a shadow Afghan constitution outlining an alternative hardline government to that of President Hamid Karzai.

The 23-page document envisages a country where women would remain veiled and under-educated, "un-Islamic thought" would be banned and human rights would be ignored if "contrary with the teachings of Islam".

The Constitution of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan comes days after Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said that the Taliban would need to take a role in the peace process in Afghanistan.

On freedom of speech, the Taliban charter, which is written in Pashto and Dari, is clear: "Every Afghan has the right to express his feelings through his views, writings or through other means in accordance with the law."

However, "un-Islamic thought" is strictly forbidden and "violators will be punished according to sharia" – under the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islamic teachings.

It provides for the education of women, but only within the limits of sharia and stresses that the government would enforce compliance with Sharai Hejab – that women fully cover themselves.

The document also stresses the importance of jihad as an obligation for every citizen. It offers the Taliban’s support for the United Nations and upholds human rights – "until it is contrary with the teachings of Islam".

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wishes good working relations with all the neighbouring countries and specially those who have supported the Afghan nation during jihad," it adds.

The greatest power is vested in an Emir-ul-Momineen, or leader of the faithful. Like its official Afghan counterpart, the constitution states that no law can "be contrary to Islamic sharia".

The Taliban, which ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and continues to maintain it is the legitimate government, promulgated harsh, unorthodox edicts.

The constitution was approved by the Taliban’s central shura religious council, headed by Mullah Omar, in 2005 but only now has been made public.

Karzai’s calls for peace talks earlier this month were rejected by the Taliban.

One of the 110 articles of the Taliban’s constitution stipulates that all other constitutions are void.

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Fox News Network affiliates in Sacramento and across the nation are to be targeted by demonstrators next Wednesday as part of a national effort to pressure the national news operation to "Tell the Truth."

Protesters plan to hold a news conference, and then confront executives at the Fox News Network Sacramento affiliate Fox 40 studio Wednesday, at 10 a.m. at 4655 Fruitridge Road.

Organizers say similar protests will take place at Fox News Network affiliates nationwide.

"Democracy For America", the demonstration sponsor, says "Despite claims it is ‘fair and balanced,’ numerous studies have shown that Fox News Network is not telling the truth to the American public about the war in Iraq."

"America needs the truth about what’s happening in Iraq. It’s time to demand the truth, instead of faulty White House reporting with cherry-picked facts. It’s time to ‘Tell the Truth,’" said DFA, noting that Republicans will exploit the memory of Sept. 11 to support their failing war of choice.

A press release from the group says "In studies conducted by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Fox News Network has been found to have as many as 57-71 percent of the guests classified as ‘Conservative.’ Viewers were roughly five times more likely to see a conservative interviewed."

"Analysis of Fox News Network shows indicate less than 10 percent of those appearing on the shows are women, and of those the vast majority were conservative, with no one considered ‘progressive.’ Only about 11 per cent of all guests were non-white."

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