But don’t take our word for it. In an unearthed copy of Bill Ayers’ and the FBI’s former Ten Most Wanted Weather Underground member Bernardine Dorhn’s book, Prairie Fire, The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism, it was revealed that the book is dedicated to, among others, the Palestinian murderer of Senator Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan.
Not only the Democrats, but how could any American justify this?
When it comes to al Qaeda, Syria gets it coming and going. This past Sunday, U.S. helicopters targeted an al Qaeda operative on Syrian territory who shuttled terrorists into Iraq. Syria condemned the strike as a violation of its sovereignty and a "serious aggression." Earlier in October, a massive car bomb detonated in Damascus, killing 17. Even before the smoke cleared, Syria’s Assad regime accused Sunni Muslim fundamentalists from abroad–i.e., al Qaeda–of perpetrating the attack. Meanwhile, regime spokesmen described Syria as a "victim" of international terrorism.
The characterization of Syria as "victim" was ironic not only because Damascus has been a proactive member of the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1979–sponsoring Hamas and Hezbollah, among others–but because just one day before the attack, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia levied a mammoth civil judgment against Syria for "providing material support and resources to Zarqawi and Al Qaeda in Iraq."
The verdict awarded $414 million to the families of two U.S. contractors–Jack Armstrong and Jack Hensley–beheaded in Iraq in September 2004.
Due to the opaque nature of the authoritarian Assad regime, it will likely never be clear who was actually responsible for the bombing. Syria routinely engages in conspiracies, so it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories have proliferated regarding the culprit, with explanations alternately implicating the Iranians, the Israelis, and even the Assad regime itself. Adding to the uncertainty, some Western-based al Qaeda analysts say the assault lacked many of the organization’s signature traits.
Notwithstanding the speculation, let’s assume for the moment that al Qaeda did sponsor the attack. If so, it should have come as no surprise to Damascus: As the experiences of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan demonstrate, al Qaeda has a track record of attacking its sponsors.
Since 2002, the Assad regime has facilitated the movement through its territory of al Qaeda fighters bound for Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. It has allowed these insurgents to train in Syria and has provided sanctuary to al Qaeda-affiliated killers of Americans. By and large, this policy purchased Syria immunity from attacks. Along the way, however, these terrorists appear to have planted local roots.
In the lead up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, when it became clear that Syria was helping shuttle Islamist insurgents to Iraq, Washington warned Damascus of the folly of this policy. U.S. diplomats in Damascus repeatedly told the Syrian government that Islamists posed a threat to the secular nationalist regime.
Damascus’s logic was based on its opposition to the establishment of a pro-Western government in Baghdad. As then Foreign Minister Farouq Shara said in 2003, "Syria’s interest is to see the invaders defeated in Iraq." But the Assad regime failed to take into account the dynamic of the al Qaeda’s relations with its "friends." In Pakistan, for example, the intelligence service long supported al Qaeda, but the state nonetheless remained a high value target of the organization.
In al Qaeda’s evolving strategy, targeting is not contingent on a state’s political orientation or on the assistance it receives from governments. Basically, the organization has no qualms about biting the hand that feeds it, whether the patron is Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Syria. In this regard, if the Syrians are telling the truth about who perpetrated the attack, it is a clear case of the chickens coming home to roost.
Ultimately, Damascus’s newfound problem with al Qaeda may change the Assad regime’s permissive attitude toward the group, but it’s unlikely to have any impact on Syrian support for Hezbollah and Hamas. These longstanding relationships with Islamist terrorist organizations are closely linked to the 30-year strategic alliance between Damascus and Tehran.
For the next U.S. administration, Syrian support for al Qaeda should prove a cautionary tale about the limits of diplomatic engagement in curtailing Syrian support for terrorism. The Assad regime has trucked with Islamist terrorists for decades, and provides no indication that it would be willing to sever these relationships. Senior Israeli officials–including likely incoming prime minister Tzipi Livni–have stated that a peace deal is contingent on Syria’s abandoning Tehran, forsaking terror, and joining the Western camp. Syria has responded emphatically and repeatedly that this kind of strategic reorientation is not in the cards.
During the presidential debates, there were sharp disagreements as to how Washington should best treat rogue states. Regardless of whether the next administration is led by Barack Obama or John McCain, however, many observers believe that Washington will look to reengage in high-level diplomacy with Damascus and perhaps even consent to mediate Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. Indeed, there are some indications that the Bush administration is already pursuing this tack.
Changing Syria’s orientation would be of great benefit, but experience suggests it’s not a realistic hope. While many excuse Syrian ties to Hamas and Hezbollah as "cards" that will someday be traded during negotiations, the revelations about the ties to al Qaeda highlight just how inimical the Assad regime’s worldview is to U.S. interests. Support for terrorism appears to be intrinsic to the regime. Given this dynamic, U.S. diplomacy with Damascus stands little chance of success.
The Great Black Hope is coming and his victory parties have already been planned.
In baseball parks and school gyms all across America, giant TV screens have been erected and Stars and Stripes bunting strung up.
Thousands of invitations have been distributed, gallons of affordable Californian ‘champagne’ placed on ice, and huge buckets filled with tickertape coloured in Democrat blue.
Obama: His 30-minute TV ad made him look like the new president but should he beware the lessons of history?
But the biggest celebration of them all will be a glitzy extravaganza in Barack Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago, to be addressed – no doubt with emotion-stirring rhetoric – by the Man himself.
At his insistence it will be staged in a huge lakeside expanse named after the great Union general and anti-slavery crusader, Ulysses S. Grant. After all, there could hardly be a more appropriate setting for the first black president of the United States to assume his place in history.
More than one million devotees – one-third of the city’s population – are expected to brave the bitter November chill next Tuesday night to hail the new president elect.
To raised eyebrows among some Obama supporters – many of whom are firmly in the sub-prime bracket – the Democratic Party has even agreed to pick up the £1 million tab. ‘Win or lose’, someone in the Obama team added, raising broad smiles.
For with just five days to go before the election, and every opinion poll showing Obama with a clear lead, no one seems to think it remotely possible that Republican rival John McCain can catch him on the home straight.
Not least, it would seem, Barack Obama himself.
Still deciding? Possible voters watch Obama’s 30-minute TV ad in a pub in Washington DC
At his triumphal mass rallies, he preaches caution, of course, perhaps remembering the so-called Bradley Effect, a phenomenon named after an African-American candidate who lost the 1982 Californian governor’s race despite being well ahead in the polls – presumably because those questioned did not wish to appear racist.
Judging by the hubristic, and excruciatingly cheesy, 30-minute TV ‘infomercial’ which was screened coast to coast on seven major networks on Wednesday night, however, he appears utterly sure that a date with destiny awaits him.
In his latest and longest propaganda film, Obama left us in little doubt that he believes the Oval Office door is wide open and all he has to do is saunter through it. Or that, as one TV reporter preferred, he is ‘already measuring the drapes’.
Gone was the studied, cool rock-star image he presents on the hustings – the black, open-necked shirt and bomber jacket, and battered brown loafers.
Gone, too, were the down-home asides, which so appeal to his trailer-park audiences.
Instead Obama and his team of image-makers decided it was high time that we saw him as he intends to look, if – or rather when – he becomes Commander-in-Chief.
Don’t count your pumpkins yet: Barack Obama visiting a Pumpkin Patch in Florida on Thursday
A grey suit hung from his rake-thin frame, offset by a crisp white shirt and burgundy tie. But more revealing still was the backdrop for his solemnly delivered pledges.
In a thinly-disguised message to those who accuse him of lacking the necessary patriotism to be president, he stood stiffly beside the Star Spangled Banner and spoke from behind a White House-style plinth.
It was also noticeable how often he began sentences with the words ‘when I’m President’.
When he is President, he assured us, he will restore propriety on Wall Street and help struggling families with tax-breaks and universal healthcare.
When he is President, he will get the troops out of Iraq and take on the Taliban in an effective manner. When he is President, he will revive the American Dream.
All this would start to happen in six days time, he said. He made it all sound so easy.
The film featured heart-rending personal stories of struggling families (almost all of them conveniently white) in the Middle American heartland of Ohio and New Mexico – key swing-states he needs to win to secure victory.
They were shot in soft focus and played out to the lifting strains of sentimental music.
Inevitably, Obama harped on about his personal trials: a crucial part of what the pundits call his ‘presidential narrative’. We were reminded of his mother’s premature death from cancer, and her fear that the insurance company might find a loophole to avoid paying her medical bills.
And there was his wife, Michelle, telling America – the fabled land of picket fences and family suppers – that in addition to being a great President, her man would find time for his beloved daughters, too.
‘These girls are the only things that can break him down,’ she cooed, as Malia, aged ten, and Sasha, seven, played cutesy-pie beside her.
‘He doesn’t forget to call them every night, and he talks for as long as they need to talk. He just always has time for them.’
Backing: Bill Clinton campaigns with Barack Obama in Florida on Wednesday
Directed by Davis Guggenheim, whose father made the powerful campaign documentaries for assassinated Robert F. Kennedy (one of the political figures Obama most admires), the film cost around £2.5million to make.
How McCain must wish that he could afford to respond in kind. But American big business likes to back a winner, and the outsider has been outspent by almost four to one. His war-chest is now almost empty.
Obama, by contrast, has dollars to burn – hence Wednesday night’s TV blitz.
‘It is evidence, if you need any, that Obama has more money than there is ad time left to buy,’ explains leading campaign media analyst Evan Tracey. ‘This is flexing the muscles.
‘The strategic brilliance of this for Obama is that he has consumed about 24 hours of the news cycle. It boxes McCain in; takes the oxygen out of the room.’
Maybe so. Yet among some onlookers last night, there was a sneaking suspicion that Obama’s grand production might do him more harm than good.
His sweeping promises – to change not merely America but the world – were delivered with a liberal helping of arrogance (an often-made criticism) and his ‘When I am President’ mantra seems altogether too presumptuous.
Fighting: Can John McCain defy the polls and still win the election?
An interview published in the latest edition of Rolling Stone, in which he discloses his plans to install a basketball court in the White House – so that he can wind down by ‘shooting hoops’ – only adds to the impression that he is taking victory for granted.
His attitude could be as perilous as it is premature. For according to a new opinion poll published in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, McCain is at last fighting back in at least two crucial states, Ohio and Florida.
In the latter, Obama’s lead has been slashed to two points. Less than a week ago it was five.
It remains to be seen whether the endorsement of Bill Clinton, who exchanged mutual appreciation with Obama at a rally in Florida on Wednesday night, will restore his advantage or further dilute it.
Watching Obama in presidential mode, however, one couldn’t help but remember the fate that befell another Left-wing icon at the climax of a not dissimilar ideological struggle in Britain, 16 years ago.
Neil Kinnock was way ahead of John Major when he took the stage in the Sheffield Arena on that April night, one week before the 1992 election. All he had to do was mutter a few platitudes, and the keys to Number 10 were his.
Astonishingly, however, Kinnock appeared to be overtaken by gross egotism and launched into a victorious rallying-cry, in the style of some firebrand Evangelical preacher.
‘We’re all right! We’re all right!’ he bellowed insanely, as his full Shadow Cabinet shuffled around in embarrassment behind him.
I was among the 10,000 crowd who gazed in disbelief at this triumphal spectacle, which at a stroke cost Kinnock the election. Perhaps someone should warn Barack Obama to read up on his British political history.
For if he continues to behave as if he has already won, it is not impossible that the Vietnam War hero John McCain, who is nothing if not a fighter, might just sneak up – and knock him out in the final round.
Less than a week before American’s go to the polls to elect the 44th President, excerpts from declassified FBI files documenting unrepentant terrorist William Ayers and his Weather Underground Organization’s mission to end the Vietnam war, and bring about a Marxist-Leninist revolution inside America, may offer comparables into Senator Barack Obama’s remarkable youth movement and grass roots organization that outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton and is propelling him into the White House. Obama’s political career was launched in Ayer’s home.
According to the 1976 FBI reports, Ayers, and his future wife Bernadine Dohrn traveled to Fidel Castro’s Cuba before the October 1969 Days of Rage riots as part of the Venceremos Brigades.
The Venceremo Brigades was a Cuban spy operation tasked to recruit “individuals who are politically oriented and who someday may obtain a position, elective or appointive, somewhere in the U.S. Government, which would provide the Cuban Government with access to political, economic and military intelligence.” (Story here)
“The ideological mating between the American radical left and the Vietnamese Communist, with Fidel Castro playing matchmaker, exploded in…the streets of Chicago,” the FBI report discloses. “It is love that feeds the inextinguishable hate against the United States.”
While brave warriors fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan against radical jihadists bent on the destruction of Western Civilization, and because Obama has been elusively sketchy about his relationship with Ayers, his education co-chair on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge that radicalized students and showed no academic achievement; it seemed fitting to see how Obama’s Marxist co-chair built up his movement.
Tapping into the frustrations and discontent over the Vietnam war, according to the FBI report, in a speech entitled “A Strategy to Win” Ayers said, “We’re not just saying… bring the U.S. troops home and deploy them some place some other time, we’re saying bring the war home…”
How did Ayers propose to achieve his objectives? By quickly setting up a “National Action Staff,” because “people have to get confident about this– that we can build a revolutionary youth movement…”
Next the FBI report refers to passages from the New Left Notes, the Students for Democratic Society newspaper, dated August 23, 1969.
“The National Action is building fast. All over the country, from Detroit to Houston, from Miami through cities in Ohio and out to Denver, Colorado, people are digging on the action… for the past two months, the National Officers, the National Action staff, and the National Office staff have been busting to get out propaganda, develop a scenario with other organizations for the action itself, build contacts throughout the country, get people in motion, and develop an overall strategy for building the action… we want to fill people in on what’s been going on—and talk about what should be going on—in cities, chapter and regions…
One of the most important reasons for calling the National Action lies with the decision that it was possible and necessary to build an anti-imperialist, working class youth movement in the mother country…
And what became clear to people—through the struggles at Columbia and Chicago, at San Francisco State and at Kent State—was that putting forward our politics in an aggressive way was the ONLY way to organize the masses of people in this country. That only by dealing with the issues of white supremacy, the black liberation struggle, Third World struggles, and the fight against imperialism, only by challenging the consciousness of the people could we ever develop a movement capable of helping topple the imperialist state…
We say clearly that this is an action not to register a complaint or up the percentage points in public opinion polls, but to make a difference, to create the solution.
The National Action is one of the key ways of talking to young people in this country about a building a class conscious revolutionary youth movement…
Chicago is the site…We are coming back to turn pig city into the people’s city.”
After Ayers’ Days of Rage, a four-day declaration of “war on the Chicago police” where 287 people were arrested and 59 police officers “sustained personal injury,” on October 21, 1969, the New Left Notes reported a WUO update: “We did what we set out to do, and in the process turned a corner. From here on it’s one battle after another with White Youth joining in the fight and taking the necessary risks. Pig Amerika–Beware: There’s an army growing right in your guts, and it’s going to help bring you down.”
Ayer’s, who dodged prison because of a prosecutorial misconduct, has reinvented himself as a “distinguished scholar” who holds court in the antechambers of Chicago’s radicals. Why he chose to associate and work with the then unknown Barack Obama remains a mystery.
Perhaps, the FBI report offers an answer, “Good revolutionaries are never deterred by odds.” If so, maybe Ayers’ gamble and investment in Obama’s political career might pay off.
EL PASO — A man who jumped 60 feet to his death from the Spaghetti Bowl on Thursday left a note with a message for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.
A note to "Obama" was found in the man’s car, which was parked on the top ramp of the Spaghetti Bowl.
Officials offered no further explanation nor interpreted the note’s meaning.
About 7:45 a.m., police responded to a report that the 52-year-old El Paso man had jumped off the uppermost ramp of the Spaghetti Bowl. His body was found on I-10 west just before the Copia Street exit. His name was not released.
Police spokesman Darrel Petry said Crimes Against Persons investigators were investigating the death as a suicide.
Two notes on large pieces of paper were found on the dashboard and another part of the car, police said.
The investigation into the death caused traffic to back up near Hawkins Boulevard for at least an hour as the man’s body lay in the far right lane of the interstate. His white tennis shoes, which had fallen off during or after the fall, lay just a few feet from his body.
Police were also seen on Ramp F, the top ramp of the Spaghetti Bowl, next to the white four-door sedan, which was parked unattended. The ramp connects I-10 west to the Bridge of the Americas and Paisano Drive.
Police confirmed that the man left behind a note that read, "Obama take care of my family."
Petry said that the incident was a public safety matter because of its location, and that it required the services of three police units, specialized crime-scene units and detectives. At least three Texas Department of Transportation workers were there, as were members of the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s Office.
"Three units were tied up for three hours (and) four lanes of I-10 were turned into two lanes during rush hour," Petry said. "When something like that happens in that location, we have to ensure the public’s safety so they can continue to navigate the roads safely."
The previous time a person apparently committed suicide by leaping from the Spaghetti Bowl, according to El Paso Times archives, was in February 2007.
Texas Transportation Department spokeswoman Blanca Del Valle said there were no plans to install fencing along any of the Spaghetti Bowl ramps because the ramps weren’t meant to accommodate pedestrians.
"There’s funding issues involved, and it may mean replacing what we have now," Del Valle said. "There are tubes in the barriers along the ramps, and studies would have to be done to determine if the tubes could hold the fencing."
Del Valle said department engineers would also have to consider whether the numbers of suicides and apparent suicides merited more barriers.
Iraqi troops uncovered a massive weapons cache and factory inside the northeastern neighborhood of Sadr City. The cache contained 34 of the deadly explosively-formed penetrators, the weapons that are the hallmark of the Iranian-backed Shia militias. This is the third large cache found in Sadr City since Oct. 20.
The raid was conducted in the northern area of Sadr City, the former stronghold of Muqtada al Sadr’s Iranian-backed Mahdi Army. Iraqi troops from the 44th Brigade of the 11th Iraqi Army Division conducted the operation after receiving tips from residents in Sadr City.
The find is "significant as it included the machines used by the enemy to manufacture explosively-formed penetrators – the number one killer of our US soldiers," said Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover, the chief Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Division Baghdad.
EFPs, EFP cones and other materials siezed int he Oct. 28 raid. Image from Multinational Division Baghdad. Click to view.
The soldiers found 34 EFPs, 53 copper plates and 40 shaped plates, which are used for the EFP’s shaped warhead, 160 blocks of C4 explosives, and 14 107 mm rockets and launch rails. Also found were three presses and a punch, machinery that is thought to be used to mill the copper plates into the cone-shaped warhead.
Since Oct. 20, Iraqi troops found two other large caches in Sadr City. A raid by troops from the 3rd Battalion, 42nd Brigade of the 11th Iraq Army Division on Oct. 20 resulted in the discovery of 61 rockets, 368 mortar rounds, 263 mortar tubes, shape charges, an IED, 32,000 rounds of ammunition, seven DSHKA machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades launchers and grenades, and other equipment.
The same Iraqi Army unit also found a large cache in Sadr City the day prior. The troops found 15 EFPs, an IED, two 72.5 mm rockets, two 64 mm rockets, numerous RPG launchers and warheads and hand grenades, and other equipment.
In all, 49 of the deadly EFPs have been found by Iraqi troops since Oct. 20.
Iraqi and Coalition forces have maintained the pressure on the Iranian-backed terror groups operating inside Iraq during the month of October. Seven Iranian-trained Special Groups fighters have been killed and 118 have been confirmed captured during raids since Oct. 1, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Iraqi forces also detained 180 “suspects” in Basrah during a sweep on Oct. 28, but it is unclear how many are considered Special Groups fighters. One of the men detained was a Pakistani.
Twenty-eight of the Iranian-backed Shia terrorists captured since Oct. 1 are members of the Hezbollah Brigades. The Hezbollah Brigades is an Iranian-backed terror group that has been behind multiple roadside bombings and rocket attacks against US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. This group uploads videos of attacks onto the Internet.
Coalition forces have captured 16 Hezbollah Brigades operatives since Oct 21. A raid in Amarah netted an "Iranian-backed financer" and four associates. More than $50,000 and almost 12 million Iraqi Dinar (approximately $10,000) was found during the raid. On Oct. 28, four operatives, including an "administrator," were captured during an operation in Abd ar Rahman, about 4 miles east of Sadr City. Another three Hezbollah Brigades were captured in Baghdad on Oct. 21.
Taking on Qods Force
Iraqi security forces are also zeroing in on Iran’s network inside Iraq. Iraqi forces have captured nine Iranian Qods Force agents and killed one since Oct. 18. Iraqi soldiers captured an Iranian "infiltrator" during a sweep in Basrah on Oct. 28. Iraqi troops killed one Iranian agent captured another during a clash in Al Kut in Wasit province on Oct. 24. Iraqi police captured three armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers in Al Kut on Oct. 20. Border guards captured four more in Mandali in Diyala province.
US military officers believe Iran is ramping up its operations inside Iraq after its surrogates suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Iraqi military during the spring and summer of 2008. Iraqi troops went of the offensive against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed terror groups in Baghdad and central and southern Iraq. More than 2,000 Mahdi Army were killed and thousands more were wounded. The operation forced Muqtada al Sadr to agree to a cease-fire and disband the Mahdi Army.
Qods Force may also be looking to take a more active role in directing operations at the tactical level inside Iraq, A US military officer told The Long War Journal. Prior to this week, only a handful of Iranian operatives, along with a Lebanese Hezbollah leader, have been reported captured inside Iraq. The more than 3,000 Mahdi Army leaders and operatives that are said to have fled to Iran to regroup and rearm are believed to be infiltrating back into Iraq.
Background on Iran’s backing of the Shia terror groups
Qods Force has supported various Shia militias and terror groups inside Iraq, including the Mahdi Army, which it helped build along the same lines as Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges, but captive Shia terrorists admit to being recruited by Iranian agents, and then transported into Iran for training.
Iran established the Ramazan Corps immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime to direct operations inside Iraq. The US military says Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have helped establish, fund, train, and arm, and have provided operational support for Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the League of the Righteous. The US military refers to these groups as well as the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army as the "Special Groups." These groups train in camps inside Iran.
US and Iraqi forces have captured several high-level Qods Force officers inside Iraq since late 2006. Among those captured are Mahmud Farhadi, one of the three Iranian regional commanders in the Ramazan Corps; Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative; Qais Qazali, the leader of the Qazali Network; and Azhar al Dulaimi, one of Qazali’s senior tactical commanders. The US has imposed sanctions on Major General Ahmad Foruzandeh, the former Qods Force commander, and Abdul Reza Shahlai, a deputy commander in Iran’s Qods Force, for backing Shia terror groups inside Iraq.
The nation’s gun owners have the presidential election in their sights.
Some are up at arms about the prospect of future gun legislation should Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama win the White House. Others are beefing up their personal arsenals, skittish that firearms could become scarce or too expensive in the near future.
"If the economy is down, and gun sales are up, it shows you just how deep-seated the concern is out there about the situation," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
"Most gun owners at least until recently have been misled by Senator Obama. Though he claims to be an advocate for the Second Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois Senate says otherwise. He voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens," Mr. Pearson continued.
"His campaign has done a good job burying his take on firearms," he added.
Hal Goldstein, owner of the Armory gun shop in Annapolis, said, "People should be scared."
"Sales are definitely up," he said. "I’ve got people with Obama stickers on their cars coming in to buy. We’re looking at possible a super- Democratic majority [in Congress], and a president who’s going to do what’s best for the collective. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but the prices could go way out of sight."
Mr. Obama’s campaign Web site cites "the great conservation legacy" of American hunters, including Theodore Roosevelt.
"Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns," the site states.
Not all gun owners are leery of Mr. Obama. He has the endorsement of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), a Maryland-based group that describes itself as mainstream hunters without "a radical agenda."
Mr. Pearson, however, buys none of it.
"This is all just a propaganda mill. And the American Hunters and Shooters Association is a leftist, elitist group." he said. "They’re a front for the Brady Campaign [to Prevent] Gun Violence." The Brady Campaign also has endorsed Sen. Obama’s candidacy.
AHSA President Ray Schoenke said his group is "not a front for anybody."
"The issue that Senator Obama – or Senator [John] McCain, for that matter – is going to take America’s guns away has been hyped up," Mr. Schoenke said. "If people are looking for an excuse not to vote for Senator Obama, then it shouldn’t be on the gun issue.
"If people are nervous, they need to remember the Supreme Court decision this summer, which says the government cannot confiscate or ban guns," he said.
Mr. Obama has not made any points with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a Connecticut-based nonprofit group of 4,000 gun makers, retailers, sportsmen and publishers.
The NSSF claims that on Sept. 27, the Obama campaign "unlawfully obtained and made unauthorized use of a proprietary media list" belonging to the group and has since sent a cease-and-desist letter to campaign officials.
Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has launched get-out-the vote drives, including lawn signs that read "I’m a ‘bitter’ gun owner and I vote."
"We’re arming gun owners, who are a very loyal voting bloc, with the facts. And it’s a fact that gun control has become a political liability. Senator Obama is spending millions trying to camouflage his take on the issue," said NRA spokesman Chris Cox.
A fire in a Wyoming missile silo last spring exposed more problems in the oversight of the nation’s nuclear ICBM arsenal, but posed no threat of nuclear detonation or radiation release, Air Force Space Command said today.
The command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, released an accident investigation report Thursday on the silo, which caused more than $1 million in damage, but had made no previous announcement of the incident. The Air Force has been under fire for months for failure to properly safeguard nuclear weapons in other incidents that led to the firing of the service’s top civilian and military leaders and discipline for 17 officers linked to nuclear problems.
The fire was May 23 at a silo 42 miles east of Cheyenne, Wyo, where the Minuteman III missile is stored, ready for firing in an unmanned, underground launch facility. The command said it waited for the investigation to be completed before releasing a report. An Air Force Space Command spokeswoman said the fire, caused by a faulty battery charger in a storage room, extinguished itself from a lack of fuel and was discovered later by repair crews looking for wiring problems on the cables connected to the missile.
"This was no danger to the public and no danger of release or launch," said the spokeswoman, Maj. Laurie Arellano.
The problems revealed by the investigation include unclear instructions on the installation of parts for the battery charger, quality assurance issues, and the use of duct tape on cables, the command said. The Minuteman III carries a city-leveling warhead that contains plutonium, beryllium and uranium. The warhead has an estimated maximum explosive yield of 330 kilotons, the equivalent of more than 30 of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The nation’s missiles have been kept ready for launch within minutes of a presidential order since the 1960s. Experts said the risk of the fire causing a nuclear catastrophe was miniscule, but still possible.
The Minuteman III is powered by a volatile solid rocket booster that if ignited in a sealed silo would destroy the weapon and possibly damage the nuclear warhead. Safety features on the warhead would prevent fission and a nuclear detonation, but damage to the device would result in a release of radioactive material. The blaze was not discovered immediately because launch crews monitor the silos remotely from control facilities miles from the missiles. The crews did get warning alarms for an electrical problem and excessive heat.
Space Command said the fire never reached the missile launch tube and was limited to the equipment room, meaning the booster and warhead were never in jeopardy. The missile remained on "alert status," ready for launch, until stand down for fire-related repairs, the command said.
John Pike, a nuclear expert with the think-tank GlobalSecurity.org said the report, which revealed that duct tape was being used in the silo, is cause for serious concern. "The notion that you’re patching up your H-bombs with duct tape is not encouraging," Pike said. "You also have to wonder if you have this sloppy activity that is revealed by a fire happened, how much other sloppy activity has not been detected." Pike said if the fire had escaped the equipment room and ignited the missile, radiation could have contaminated the silo and surrounding area. "You could have a pretty good clean-up job," Pike said. Missile silos are designed to protect the weapon from fire, said Chuck Penson, historian with the Arizona-based Titan Missile Museum outside Tucson. "They go through all sorts of disaster scenarios when they are building those things," Penson said.
Fire in a Titan missile silo caused one of the nation’s most serious nuclear mishaps outside Little Rock, Ark., in 1980. Flames ignited the Titan’s liquid-fueled booster and blew the silo’s 750-ton blast door a quarter mile away. Parts of the missile, including its warhead, were sent flying in the blast, that injured 20 and killed one man. The missile’s warhead was recovered, and the Air Force said no radiation was released. The Air Force announced last week that its moving control over nuclear weapons under a single command reminiscent of the Cold War-era Strategic Air Command in a bid to fix oversight problems.
This year, the Air Force found a B-52 bomber crew unknowingly carried nuclear weapons on a cross-country flight. Another investigation found that nuclear missile fuses had been mistakenly sent to Taiwan from an Air Force parts depot. In response to those problems, Space Command examined its nuclear programs and started reviews including no-notice inspections of missile sites. The command said the fire led commanders to examine instruction manuals, inspect battery chargers at missile sites and order the removal of flammable materials, including duct tape, from silos.
Critics say the fire indicates continuing woes in the Air Force’s nuclear deterrent. "I think what it suggests is there is a laxness about nuclear weapons that’s creeping into our military," said Kennette Benedict, publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, an organization best known for its Doomsday Clock, representing the threat of nuclear Armageddon. "If we’re keeping the missiles on such a high-launch readiness we need to ensure we’re keeping them secure and safe."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Two men have been arrested for hanging a Barack Obama effigy from a tree on the University of Kentucky campus.
University police say 22-year-old student Joe Fischer and 21-year-old Hunter Bush turned themselves in Thursday afternoon. Both men were jailed Thursday on charges of disorderly conduct, burglary and theft.
Jail officials did not know who the men’s attorneys were.
UK Police Interim Chief Joe Monroe says university police interviewed the men, who described the incident as a "stunt that had gotten out of hand." The effigy was found hanging from a tree with a noose around its neck Wednesday morning.
Monroe says the men told police they decided to do it after seeing reports about a Sarah Palin effigy.
Imagine a screen so thin, light and flexible that it can be rolled up and carried in your pocket, while consuming almost zero power.
That technology could become reality in two to three years, thanks to U.S. Army-backed research being done at Arizona State University’s Flexible Display Center. According to Army researchers, the displays could be in field trials with soldiers as early as 2010 or 2011.
"The Army’s motivation is to give soldiers the best situational awareness," says David Morton, U.S. Army research laboratory manager for the center. "Flexible display technology can enable us give soldiers information in ways we can’t now."
These flexible displays have been the dream of science fiction authors, wearable-computing enthusiasts and the display industry for nearly a decade. LG Philips, Fujitsu and Sony have shown off prototypes of flexible-display systems, while startups such as Plastic Logic and E-Ink have talked about the possibility of putting their digital ink displays onto bendable backings. But so far the idea has remained more in the realm of Minority Report than the real world.
The research center, formed through a partnership between the the Army Research Laboratory and the university, has been working on creating flexible displays since 2004. So far, the U.S. Army has invested nearly $44 million toward the research.
"We are now at a point where we are making where making high quality tech demonstrative panels," says Gregory Raupp, director for the center.
The Army is interested in small displays that can be folded up, have very little weight and won’t break. They will allow the military to send greater information to soldiers and replace many of the bulky devices that they carry currently.
For instance, a soldier in the field could get information about the surroundings, the position of enemies or the blueprint of a building he or she may be planning to enter. Other applications could include the use of the flexible displays as maps.
Flexible displays — when they arrive — will be a big leap from today’s liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and even organic light-emitting diode-based displays (OLEDs).
Consider the difference in power consumption. The flexible displays will consume 100 times less power compared with LCDs. Even OLEDs, which are two to three times more efficient than LCDs, can’t match that kind of efficiency.
The center is focusing on electrophoretic ink-based displays that are extremely low power and flexbile, says Raupp.
The displays have thin-film transistor arrays on specialty polymer and thin stainless-steel substrates and use electrophoretic ink (E Ink), among other technologies, to render the characters.
E Ink, from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff, is composed of tiny microcapsules, each of which has positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid.
Once a polarized electric field is applied, the particles move to the top or the bottom of the microcapsule, depending on the polarity of the charge. Alternating between the white and the black particles helps render characters and images on the screen.
To form a display, the e-ink is printed on to a sheet of plastic, which is laminated to control circuitry.
An early prototype has a soldier holding a flexible PDA weighing just 13 ounces and featuring an E Ink frontplane and a low temperature amorphous Silicon TFT backplane.
Currently, the center is looking at two kinds of flexible displays: a reflective display (which relies on ambient light) known as a "zero power" version for its almost negligible power consumption and an emissive low-power model that emits its own light. In comparison, an LCD relies on backlight.
The reflective displays are the most promising as they only require power to switch the transistors in the pixel array to update the image and have no backlight so power for fixed image viewing is very low.
"We need to look at technology that is fairly far along in the path towards commercialization," says Morton.
It is also evaluating additional materials and manufacturing issues to get the displays into production devices, says Morton. It hopes to have them in limited field trials within the next two to three years, and is working with companies such as LG to commercialize the technology.
"Our goal is to speed development of the displays and make them available for commercial manufacturing soon," he says.