The government’s war on the rights of conservatives isn’t just being waged by the IRS; the U.S. Army apparently is also participating. According to this report from Fox News, Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a 25-year Army veteran and conservative Christian based at Fort Myer in the Washington, D.C. area, has been harassed and persecuted for expressing conservative views and for reading books by Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and David Limbaugh.
USA, the guns that were used in these past US mass shooting atrocities were not automatic military style weapons. Some were semi automatic and some were handguns and shotguns. And while we are on the topic the word “assault weapon” can be used in place of ANY weapon for that is what weapons are meant to do, either defend the assault or prevent by offensive measures an impending assault. The Obama Administration’s support of Senator Feinstein’s Gun Ban is not meant to prevent future atrocities instead its ultimate goal is to control the masses and general law abiding populace in order to rule by “fiat” more readily -PBN
INFORMATION NOTICE: This product contains unclassified information that is for official use only ( U//FOUO ).
Imagine the worst-case scenario if the sequester goes through. The market nosedives. The economy implodes. Empty shelves. Riots. The feds hit the streets in force to restore order in a “national emergency.”
The former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee believes the federal government is “stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest.”
Palin says the feds are afraid of what might happen if the sequester goes into effect.
She writes on her Facebook page: “If we are going to wet our proverbial pants over 0.3% in annual spending cuts when we’re running up trillion dollar annual deficits, then we’re done. Put a fork in us. We’re finished. We’re going to default eventually and that’s why the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest.”
The sequester will trigger $85 billion in immediate cuts to federal funding and $1.2 trillion over 10 years unless lawmakers reach a deal by Friday.
The prospect of civil unrest puts a chilling spin on an off-teleprompter remark then-candidate Barack Obama made in a Colorado campaign speech in July, 2008.
“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded,” said candidate Obama.
Palin’s warning echoes a WND report Feb. 17 citing radio host Mark Levin’s point that federal non-military agencies have purchased enough ammunition recently not only to shoot every American five times but also engage in a prolonged, domestic war.
Why do federal agencies need all that ammunition?
The government’s official explanation for the massive ammo buy is that law enforcement agents in the respective agencies need the bullets for “mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.”
The staggering number and lack of details in the official explanation, however, has led to rampant speculation, including concerns DHS is arming itself to fight off insurrection by Americans.
“To provide some perspective,” Levin noted, “experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month. At that rate, the [DHS] is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war. A 24-year Iraq war!
“I’m going to tell you what I think is going on,” Levin offered. “I don’t think domestic insurrection. Law enforcement and national security agencies, they play out multiple scenarios. I’ll tell you what I think they’re simulating: the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses.
“I suspect that just in case our fiscal situation, our monetary situation, collapses, and following it the civil society collapses, that is the rule of law, they want to be prepared,” Levin said. “I know why the government’s arming up: It’s not because there’s going to be an insurrection; it’s because our society is unraveling.”
As WND reported last August, news that the Social Security Administration was set to purchase 174,000 rounds of hollow-point bullets for 41 locations across the country followed word of major ammo buys by the DHS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A solicitation posted by the SSA on the FedBizOpps website asked for contractors to supply 174,000 rounds of .357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow-point pistol ammunition.
An online ammunition retailer described the bullets as suitable “for peak performance rivaling and sometimes surpassing handloads in many guns,” noting that the ammo is “a great personal defense bullet.”
WND has been at the forefront of reporting growing federal police power across dozens of government agencies for more than a decade and a half.
- In 1997, WND blew the lid off 60,000 federal agents enforcing over 3,000 criminal laws, a report that prompted Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America to remark, “Good grief, that’s a standing army. … It’s outrageous.”
- Also in 1997, as part of a ongoing series on the militarization of the federal government, WND reported on the armed, “environment crime” cops employed by the Environmental Protection Agency and a federal law enforcement program that had trained 325,000 prospective federal police since 1970.
- WND also reported on thousands of armed officers in the Inspectors’ General office and a gun-drawn raid on a local flood control center to haul off 40 boxes of … paperwork.
- WND further reported on a plan by then Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to hire hundreds of armed Hong Kong policemen into dozens of U.S. federal agencies to counter Asian organized crime in America.
- In 1999, WND CEO Joseph Farah warned there were more than 80,000 armed federal law enforcement agents, constituting “the virtual standing army over which the founding fathers had
nightmares.” Today, that number has nearly doubled.
- Also in 1999 WND reported plans made for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to use military and police forces to deal with Y2K.
- In 2000, Farah discussed a Justice Department report on the growth of federal police agents under President Clinton, something Farah labeled “the biggest arms buildup in the history of the
federal government – and it’s not taking place in the Defense Department.”
- A 2001 report warned of a persistent campaign by the Department of the Interior, this time following 9/11, to gain police powers for its agents.
- In 2008, WND reported on proposed rules to expand the military’s use inside U.S. borders to prevent “environmental damage” or respond to “special events” and to establish policies for “military support for civilian law enforcement.”
- Most recently, WND reported that while local police have found themselves short of necessary ammunition, the federal government has been stockpiling billions of rounds for its non-military, non-FBI law enforcement officers.
Recently, other media outlets have begun to take notice of the alarming trend.
Andrew Malcolm wrote Feb. 8 for Investors.com: “In a puzzling, unexplained development, the Obama administration has been buying and storing vast amounts of ammunition in recent months, with the Department of Homeland Security just placing another order for an additional 21.6 million rounds.
“Several other agencies of the federal government also began buying large quantities of bullets last year. The Social Security Administration, for instance, not normally considered on the frontlines of anything but dealing with seniors, explained that its purchase of millions of rounds was for special agents’ required quarterly weapons qualifications. They must be pretty poor shots.”
Another recent report questions the motives of the DHS.
On Jan. 4, Ryan Keller wrote at Examiner.com: “DHS has stockpiled nearly 2 billion rounds of ammo. This is an unusually large amount for a federal agency to be stockpiling. The agency has refused to give an explanation for these purchases, going so far as to black out information on another solicitation, which is illegal without Congressional authorization or in response to national security issues.
“The typical response from the media has been that the rounds are for target practice; however, hollow points are not used for target shooting. Hollow points are too expensive and not designed for target practice; instead, full metal jacket rounds are used for training.”
By Garth Kant
Federal, non-military agencies, noted radio host Mark Levin last week, have purchased enough ammunition recently to not only shoot every American five times, but also engage in a prolonged, domestic war.
The numbers are based on recent reports that put the total federal ammunition buy in the last 10 months at approaching two billion rounds.
“To provide some perspective,” Levin noted, “experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month. At that rate, the [Department of Homeland Security] is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war. A 24-year Iraq war!”
Obama has a knack for betraying those closest to him. But when dissenters or military are in his path, he will do all he can to destroy them. Truly, the only way to be on a the side of those against the USA is to take a stance against the USA. Obama and his cabinet are an enemy within our country, they are practicing taqiyya and the only way to rid ourselves of these parasites is by sharing the truth and doing your part at every opportunity.
The heroine police sergeant who helped stop the Fort Hood killing spree and went on to sit with the First Lady at President Obama’s State of the Union speech three years ago has been laid off and says she and other victims of the shootings have been “betrayed” by the commander-in-chief.
“Betrayed is a good word,” former Sgt. Kimberly Munley told ABC News in an interview Tuesday. “Not to the least little bit have the victims been taken care of. In fact, they’ve been neglected.”
Maj. Nidal Hasan is accused of the November 2009 spree, which left 13 dead and 32 shot at the military base in Texas. Munley was shot three times as she and her partner confronted Hasan. Prosecutors say Hasan was a disgruntled Army psychiatrist and Muslim who had become radicalized through communications with Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
Hasan is awaiting a military trial on murder charges.
Munley said she has been laid off from her position on Fort Hood’s civilian police force.
The White House and Pentagon have refused to characterize the attack as terrorism, instead terming it “workplace violence.” The victims have been denied Purple Hearts and are suing the military because they claim the “workplace violence” designation gives them diminished access to medical care and financial benefits normally available to those whose wounds are designated as “combat related.”
An Army spokesman told ABC none of the military victims have been neglected and that it has no oversight of Veterans Administration policies.
Munley told the network the White House used her for political advantage by having her sit next to Michelle Obama during the president’s 2010 State of the Union address.
Some of the victims “had to find civilian doctors to get proper medical treatment” and the military has not assigned liaison officers to help them coordinate their recovery, said the group’s lawyer, Reed Rubinstein.
“There’s a substantial number of very serious, crippling cases of post-traumatic stress disorder exacerbated, frankly, by what the Army and the Defense Department did in this case,” said Rubinstein. “We have a couple of cases in which the soldiers’ command accused the soldiers of malingering, and would say things to them that Fort Hood really wasn’t so bad, it wasn’t combat.”
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the Department of Defense is “committed to the highest care of those in our military family.”
“Survivors of the incident at Fort Hood are eligible for the same medical benefits as all servicemembers,” said Little. “The Department of Defense is also committed to the integrity of the ongoing court martial proceedings of Major Nidal Hasan and for that reason will not at this time further characterize the incident.”
Secretary of the Army John McHugh told ABC News he was unaware of any specific complaints from the Fort Hood victims, even though he is a named defendant in the lawsuit filed last November which specifically details the plight of many of them.
“If a soldier feels ignored, then we need to know about it on a case by case basis,” McHugh told ABC News. “It is not our intent to have two levels of care for people who are wounded by whatever means in uniform.”
Some of the victims in the lawsuit believe the Army Secretary and others are purposely ignoring their cases out of political correctness.
Despite extensive evidence that Hasan was in communication with al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack, the military has denied the victims a Purple Heart and is treating the incident as “workplace violence” instead of “combat related” or terrorism.
Al-Awlaki has since been killed in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen, in what was termed a major victory in the U.S. efforts against al Qaeda.
Munley and dozens of other victims have now filed a lawsuit against the military alleging the “workplace violence” designation means the Fort Hood victims are receiving lower priority access to medical care as veterans, and a loss of financial benefits available to those who injuries are classified as “combat related.”
Let the president be duly warned. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., has introduced a resolution declaring that should the president use offensive military force without authorization of an act of Congress, “it is the sense of Congress” that such an act would be “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.”
Specifically, Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution reserves for Congress alone the power to declare war, a restriction that has been sorely tested in recent years, including Obama’s authorization of military force in Libya.
In an exclusive WND column, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo claims that Jones introduced his House Concurrent Resolution 107 in response to startling recent comments from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
“This week it was Secretary of Defense Panetta’s declaration before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he and President Obama look not to the Congress for authorization to bomb Syria but to NATO and the United Nations,” Tancredo writes. “This led to Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., introducing an official resolution calling for impeachment should Obama take offensive action based on Panetta’s policy statement, because it would violate the Constitution.”
In response to questions from Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., over who determines the proper and legal use of the U.S. military, Panetta said, “Our goal would be to seek international permission and we would … come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress – I think those are issues we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.”“Well, I’m almost breathless about that,” Sessions responded, “because what I heard you say is, ‘We’re going to seek international approval, and then we’ll come and tell the Congress what we might do, and we might seek congressional approval.’ And I just want to say to you that’s a big [deal].”
Asked again what was the legal basis for U.S. military force, Panetta suggested a NATO coalition or U.N. resolution.
Sessions was dumbfounded by the answer.
“Well, I’m all for having international support, but I’m really baffled by the idea that somehow an international assembly provides a legal basis for the United States military to be deployed in combat,” Sessions said. “They can provide no legal authority. The only legal authority that’s required to deploy the United States military is of the Congress and the president and the law and the Constitution.”
The exchange itself can be seen below:
The full wording of H. Con. Res. 107, which is currently referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, is as follows:
Expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.
Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under Article I, Section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.
by DREW ZAHN
Source & Complete Article Here.
The site explained that not only did the legislation he referred to applied to both security and non-security spending, but that a considerable part of the deficit reduction came from tax increases and not spending cuts.
The worst part? The senator made the same erroneous statement twice. Reid made the affirmations on ABC’s “This Week” on Feb. 3rd, were he also added that further deficit reduction should include more tax increases and cuts in military spending.
Later on, after host George Stephanopoulos probed the Senator on the issue, he repeated his claim saying,
According to FactCheck.org Reid inflated the $2.6 trillion figure for the show. The senator referred to the same figure as being $100 billion less, three days before on the Senate Floor.
“We have already made nearly $2.5 trillion in historic, bipartisan deficit reduction,” he said on the floor Jan. 31.
Feinstein was the target of terrorists in the mid-90′s which led to her proudly and publicly declaring she had a licensed gun and concealed carry. She stated “if someone was going to take me out then I was going to take them out with me.”
It turns out that Rep. Ellison’s and Nancy Pelosi’s friends were the terrorists who bombed her home. They were unsuccessful in their attempt however as Feinstein explained in her statement to Congress. Ellison and Pelosi had in their inner circle (and probably still do) a group of murderers and traitors. “He who walks with the wise grows wise but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 -PBN -
Sen. Dianne Feinstein rolled out sweeping legislation that would ban more than 150 types of military-style semiautomatic rifles on Thursday, kicking off the congressional debate on a new assault-weapons ban that both sides say faces a steep uphill climb on Capitol Hill.
The measure is by far the most ambitious of the number of gun-control bills introduced in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last month.
“This is hard to do. It’s not easy to do,” Mrs. Feinstein, California Democrat, said. “I think if the people in a red state want their representative to vote for this, they should weigh in, and the representative should listen.”
Her bill seeks to reinstate and expand the ban on assault weapons that was first enacted in 1994, but which lapsed in 2004.
It would prohibit semiautomatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature, such as a pistol grip or telescoping. Purchasing the AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, which was used by the shooter in Newtown, would be illegal under the ban.
Mrs. Feinstein’s measure would exempt more than 2,200 types of hunting and sporting rifles; guns manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action; and weapons used by government officials, law enforcement and retired law enforcement personnel.
It would also ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden said in a White House video chat Thursday that high-capacity magazines are a bigger focus for him right now than assault weapons, though he did say that fewer police officers were “outgunned” when the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004 was still in effect.
He argued that such a ban might have made a difference in Newtown if the shooter had been forced to reload.
“Maybe if it took longer, maybe one more kid would be alive,” Mr. Biden said.
The Sandy Hook shooting has created an opening for pushing through broader background checks and some gun controls, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat.
“The center of America has moved in a sea change as a result of Newtown and other tragedies,” he said. “I think that elected officials may be politically vulnerable, but what we see is ordinary citizens physically and emotionally vulnerable as a result of assault weapons, but most importantly criminals, mentally ill people, domestic abusers, felons and fugitives all buying firearms and ammunition without sufficient background checks, and I think the assault-weapon ban and prohibition on high-capacity magazines is a part of that comprehensive strategy.”
In a statement, the National Rifle Association pushed back, saying that “the American people know gun bans do not work, and we are confident Congress will reject Sen. Feinstein’s wrongheaded approach.”
Efforts to renew the ban have repeatedly failed on Capitol Hill, where Second Amendment supporters have defeated nearly every gun-control measure for the past two decades.
Mrs. Feinstein acknowledged that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s recent comment in a television interview that an assault-weapons ban probably couldn’t pass the Senate “clearly wasn’t helpful.”
“He has a right to say it, and it doesn’t mean he’s always right,” she said.
But Mr. Reid insisted to reporters Tuesday that “this is an issue that we’re not going to run from.”
“It may not be everything everyone wants,” he said, “but I hope it has some stuff in there that’s really important.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, has scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on gun violence. Mrs. Feinstein has already introduced legislation to combat illegal purchasing by straw buyers, where a person buys a gun for someone who is not able to buy one legally, and to strengthen existing laws to combat gun smuggling.
“I’m not going to go away,” she said. “I’m second in seniority on that committee, and I will do it on the floor if it’s not in the bill. I am not going to quit.”
Her legislation also requires background checks on all future transfers of assault weapons covered by the legislation, mandates that “grandfathered” assault weapons be stored safely, and prohibits the sale or transfer of high-capacity, ammunition-feeding devices currently in existence.
Full article here.
|[jwplayer mediaid='32159 ']|
|Obama: The Enemy of Israel|
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama heads into his second term weighed down by an American government snarled in partisan gridlock, but also by an unproductive relationship with the leader of Israel, the bedrock U.S. ally in the tumultuous Middle East.
And the puzzle that is the U.S.-Israeli relationship under Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is only growing more complex.
“It’s troubled. It’s the greatest dysfunction between leaders that I’ve seen in my 40 years in watching and participating,” said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center who served under six secretaries of state in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was deeply involved in negotiations involving Israel, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinians.
“I don’t think we are headed for a showdown,” he said, “but the relationship will continue to be dysfunctional.”
Even so, the United States routinely backs Israel when much of the world is deeply critical of the Jewish state. For example the U.S. was among the few nations opposing the Palestinians’ successful bid for upgraded status at the United Nations and did not criticize Israel’s bombardment of Gaza late last year in retaliation for rocket attacks from the tiny Palestinian enclave.
Still, an array of issues muddies the alliance.
Netanyahu likely will win re-election on Jan. 22, two days after Obama is sworn in for a second term. Netanyahu is a hardliner on making peace with the Palestinians, a goal that Obama said was foremost on his foreign policy agenda at the beginning of his first term. Beyond that, Netanyahu has been pressing Washington to adopt policy specifics that would trigger a military strike if Iran does not pull back on its nuclear program — widely believed to be aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran claims its program is for generating electricity.
A further complication is Obama’s nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.
Known as a maverick when he represented Nebraska in the Senate, Hagel is viewed by many in Washington and Israel as insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state. He has castigated what he called the “Jewish lobby” in the U.S., prompting some to label him anti-Semitic. While he voted for billions in aid for Israel, he has also called for engagement with its Hamas and Hezbollah enemies.
What’s more, he opposed unilateral American sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, which the Netanyahu government believes is an existential threat to Israel.
Netanyahu’s office refused comment on Hagel when contacted by The Associated Press in Jerusalem. But Reuven Rivlin, parliament speaker and member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, told AP that Israelis are worried because of Hagel’s “statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel.”
But Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, a Jewish group that pushes for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, said fears of Hagel are wrongheaded.
“Talk of anti-Semitism is unjust and over-the-top,” Nir said.
Republican lawmakers’ opposition to Hagel is the latest in the partisan battles that have snarled the U.S. government.
Disputes over the budget almost led to major tax increases for middle class taxpayers, which neither party wanted. Other fights are pending over spending cuts and the government’s borrowing authority — both with potentially dire consequences for the economy. The newly elected Congress, with a Republican-led House of Representatives and a Democratic-led Senate, is similar to the previous one, which passed fewer laws than any Congress since the end of World War II.
While most of the partisan disputes have been on domestic issues, Republicans have continually accused Obama of not doing enough to support Netanyahu’s government.
The bad blood between Obama and Netanyahu began early.
In their first public appearance together at the White House in 2009, Netanyahu pointedly rebuffed Obama’s call for Israel to stop building Jewish housing on land the Palestinians want in a future state. Obama dropped the issue after it became obvious that it was a waste of political capital at home and that Netanyahu would not budge. Netanyahu’s government has continued to announce plans for new settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.
During the presidential campaign, Netanyahu hosted Obama opponent Mitt Romney in Israel as if he were already a world leader. Netanyahu denied backing either candidate, but his words and actions clearly showed favoritism for Romney.
On Iran, Netanyahu called at the United Nations in September for the United States to draw a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program, beyond which Iran would face military action. Obama continues to insist there is time for diplomacy, but has said he would not countenance a nuclear-armed Iran.
“The more Netanyahu believes Obama is serious about preventing Iran from getting a bomb, the better they will manage their relations,” said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “If not, the issue of an Israeli first strike on Iran becomes more likely.”
Miller, of the Woodrow Wilson Center, said Obama will be too consumed with battling Congress on the budget, gun control legislation and other issues to spend much time on disagreements with Netanyahu.
“Is he going to go after Israel-Palestinian peace talks or war with Iran given all his domestic challenges?” Miller asked. “He will go to extreme lengths to avoid war with Iran.”
He said the two leaders are moving further apart on the Palestinian issue, but have found some consensus on Iran. “For the next six to eight months, I don’t think the president is going to push on those issues.”
But Nir, of Peace Now, says time is running out for a peace deal with the Palestinians and Israel could face another armed uprising like the one that bloodied the region in 2000.
“There’s more and more an atmosphere among Palestinians that there is no political horizon,” he said, “a feeling that diplomacy doesn’t work.”
Associated Press writer Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Full article here.
Pakistan allegedly shelters the Islamist Rebel Militants within North Waziristan. North Waziristan is the equivilent of a Swiss Bank account for weapons and ordinance for terrorists. Why then do the US and UN want to bring them into the political fold?
It is a point of contention between the US & Pakistan’s relationship specifically because the worst rebels end up in Afghanistan shooting our US Troops. “The most powerful group in the area, the Afghan Haqqani network, is also believed to be seen by the army as a potential ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw, making a military offensive even more complicated.” All that said, our strategically challenged president is announcing our draw-down to the enemy putting our troops in even graver danger. -PBN
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani leaders dismissed the government of southwest Baluchistan province early Monday in response to the demands of protesters angry about an attack on minority Shiite Muslims there that killed 86 people.
In another part of the country, a roadside bomb killed 14 Pakistani soldiers.
Over the past three days, thousands of Shiites have blocked a main road in the Baluchistan capital of Quetta with dozens of coffins of relatives killed in the twin bombing of a billiards hall in the city Thursday. They demanded the provincial government be dismissed and that the army take over responsibility for the city.
Last year was the deadliest ever for Shiites in Pakistan, with over 400 dead in targeted killings. Violence has been especially intense in Baluchistan, home of the largest number of Shiites in the country.
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said in a televised address shortly early Monday that the governor has been made head of Baluchistan province, replacing the chief minister. Also, paramilitary forces will receive police powers and launch an operation against militants behind the billiards hall attack.
The prime minister flew to Quetta on Sunday after other efforts to pacify the protesters failed. Human rights organizations have accused the Pakistani government of not doing enough to protect Shiites targeted by radical Sunni Muslims who believe they are heretics.
The billiards hall attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian militant group allied with al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban.
Taliban militants and their allies have also been waging a bloody insurgency against the Pakistani government over the past several years.
A roadside bomb hit a Pakistani army convoy Sunday in a mountainous militant stronghold in the northwest, killing 14 soldiers, one of the deadliest attacks against the army in that sector, intelligence officials said.
The North Waziristan tribal area is a major trouble spot that the military has been reluctant to tackle. The remote region is home to Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida militants at war with the government. It is also used as a sanctuary by other militants who have focused their attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.
The attack Sunday occurred near Dosalli village in North Waziristan, said Pakistani intelligence officials. The blast destroyed two vehicles and damaged a third, they said.
The 14 dead and 20 wounded were brought to a military hospital in the nearby town of Miran Shah, the officials said.
Pakistani military officials confirmed the bombing but said four soldiers were killed and 11 others wounded. The discrepancy could not immediately be reconciled.
Then officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
The Pakistani military is worried that if it targets its enemies in North Waziristan, that could trigger a backlash whereby other militants in the area turn against Pakistan. The most powerful group in the area, the Afghan Haqqani network, is also believed to be seen by the army as a potential ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw, making a military offensive even more complicated.
North Waziristan has been a sore point in relations between Pakistan and the United States. Washington has repeatedly pushed Islamabad to launch an operation in the area, especially against the Haqqani network, considered one of the most dangerous groups fighting in Afghanistan. But Pakistan has refused.
North Waziristan has also become an increasing problem for Pakistan. It is the only part of the tribal region where the army has not conducted an offensive, and many Pakistani Taliban militants have fled there to escape army operations. The Taliban and their allies have staged hundreds of attacks across Pakistan that have killed thousands of people.
Also Sunday, a Pakistani cleric and thousands of his supporters left the eastern city of Lahore on a “long march” to demand sweeping election reforms before national elections expected this spring.
Police officer Suhail Sukhera estimated the crowd to be at least 15,000. They left for Islamabad in hundreds of buses, cars and trucks. Some waved flags and pictures of the 61-year-old Sunni Muslim cleric, while others shouted, “Revolution is our goal, brave and religious leader Qadri.”
Critics of Qadri, who returned last month after years in Canada, are worried he is bent on derailing elections, possibly at the behest of the country’s powerful military — allegations the cleric has denied.
Qadri has a large following that extends outside Pakistan and has a reputation for speaking out against terrorism and promoting his message through hundreds of books, an online television channel and videos.
Now, Qadri’s focus is on Pakistan’s election laws. He is suggesting vaguely worded changes, such as making sure candidates are honest as well as ending exploitation and income disparities so that poor people are free to vote for whomever they want.
His plan to hold a massive rally in Islamabad on Monday has alarmed many members of Pakistan’s political system. The government has deployed a large number of police throughout the capital and set up shipping containers to block protesters from reaching sensitive areas.
Qadri accused the provincial government of Punjab, where Lahore is the capital, of harassing his supporters Sunday to make it difficult for them to participate in the march.
“These negative tactics will not work, and God willing the march will reach Islamabad with a sea of people,” Qadri told reporters.
Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, Rasool Dawar in Peshawar, Pakistan, Zaheer Babar in Lahore, Pakistan, and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad contributed to this report
Full article here.
BAMAKO/PARIS (Reuters) – French fighter jets pounded Islamist rebel strongholds deep in northern Mali on Sunday as Paris poured more troops into the capital Bamako, awaiting a West African force to dislodge al Qaeda-linked insurgents from the country’s north.
The attacks on Islamist positions near the ancient desert trading town of Timbuktu and Gao, the largest city in the north, marked a decisive intensification on the third day of the French mission, striking at the heart of the vast area seized by rebels in April.
France is determined to end Islamist domination of northern Mali, which many fear could act as a base for attacks on the West and for links with al Qaeda in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France’s sudden intervention on Friday had prevented the advancing rebels from seizing Bamako. He vowed that air strikes would continue.
“The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country and Europe,” he told French television.
Residents and rebel leaders had reported air raids early on Sunday in the towns of Lere and Douentza in central Mali, forcing Islamists to withdraw. As the day progressed, French jets struck targets further to the north, including near the town of Kidal, the epicenter of the rebellion.
In Gao, a dusty town on the banks of the Niger river where Islamists have imposed an extreme form of sharia law, residents said French jets pounded the airport and rebel positions. A huge cloud of black smoke rose from the militants’ camp in the city’s north, and pick-up trucks ferried dead and wounded to hospital.
“The planes are so fast you can only hear their sound in the sky,” resident Soumaila Maiga said by telephone. “We are happy, even though it is frightening. Soon we will be delivered.”
Paris said four Rafale jets flew from France to strike rebel training camps, logistics depots and infrastructure around Gao with the aim of weakening the rebels and preventing them from returning southward.
“We blocked the terrorists’ advance and from today what we’ve started to do is to destroy the terrorists’ bases behind the front line,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told LCI television.
France has deployed about 550 soldiers to Mali under “Operation Serval” — named after an African wildcat — split between Bamako and the town of Mopti, 500 km (300 miles) north.
In Bamako, a Reuters cameraman saw more than 100 French troops disembark on Sunday from a military cargo plane at the international airport, on the outskirts of the capital.
The city’s streets were calm, with the sun streaking through the dusty air as the seasonal Harmattan wind blew from the Sahara. Many cars had French flags draped from the windows to celebrate Paris’s intervention.
“We thank France for coming to our aid,” said resident Mariam Sidibe. “We hope it continues till the north is free.”
AFRICAN TROOPS EXPECTED
More than two decades of peaceful elections had earned Mali a reputation as a bulwark of democracy, but that image unraveled in a matter of weeks after a military coup in March which left a power vacuum for the Islamist rebellion.
France convened a U.N. Security Council meeting for Monday to discuss Mali. French President Francois Hollande’s intervention has won plaudits from leaders in Europe, Africa and the United States but it is not without risks.
It raised the threat level for eight French hostages held by al Qaeda allies in the Sahara and for the 30,000 French expatriates living in neighboring, mostly Muslim states.
Concerned about reprisals, France has tightened security at public buildings and on public transport. It advised its 6,000 citizens to leave Mali as spokesmen for Ansar Dine and al Qaeda’s north Africa wing AQIM promised to exact revenge.
In its first casualty of the campaign, Paris said a French pilot was killed on Friday when rebels shot down his helicopter.
Hours earlier, a French intelligence officer held hostage in Somalia by al Shabaab extremists linked to al Qaeda was killed in a failed commando raid to free him.
Hollande says France’s aim is simply to support a mission by West African bloc ECOWAS to retake the north, as mandated by a U.N. Security Council resolution in December.
With Paris pressing West African nations to send their troops quickly, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who holds the rotating ECOWAS chairmanship, kick-started the operation to deploy 3,300 African soldiers.
Ouattara, installed in power with French military backing in 2011, convened a summit of the 15-nation bloc for Saturday in Ivory Coast to discuss the mission.
“The troops will start arriving in Bamako today and tomorrow,” said Ali Coulibaly, Ivory Coast’s African Integration Minister. “They will be convoyed to the front.”
The United States is considering sending a small number of unarmed surveillance drones to Mali as well as providing logistics support, a U.S. official told Reuters. Britain and Canada have also promised logistical support.
Former French colonies Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso have all pledged to deploy 500 troops within days. In contrast, regional powerhouse Nigeria, due to lead the ECOWAS force, has suggested it would take time to train and equip the troops.
France, however, appeared to have assumed control of the operation on the ground. Its airstrikes allowed Malian troops to drive the Islamists out of the strategic town of Konna, which they had briefly seized this week in their southward advance.
Calm returned to Konna after three nights of combat as the Malian army crushed any remaining rebel fighters. A senior army official said more than 100 rebels had been killed.
“Soldiers are patrolling the streets and have encircled the town,” one resident, Madame Coulibaly, told Reuters by phone. “They are searching houses for arms or hidden Islamists.”
Analysts expressed doubt, however, that African nations would be able to mount a swift operation to retake north Mali — a harsh, sparsely populated terrain the size of France — as neither the equipment nor ground troops were prepared.
“My first impression is that this is an emergency patch in a very dangerous situation,” said Gregory Mann, associate professor of history at Columbia University, who specializes in francophone Africa and Mali in particular.
While France and its allies may be able to drive rebel fighters from large towns, they could struggle to prise them from mountain redoubts in the region of Kidal, 300 km (200 miles) northeast of Gao.
Human Rights Watch said at least 11 civilians, including three children, had been killed in the fighting. A spokesman for Doctors Without Borders in neighboring Mauritania said about 200 Malian refugees had fled across the border to a camp at Fassala and more were on their way.
In Bamako, civilians tried to contribute to the war effort.
“We are very proud and relieved that the army was able to drive the jihadists out of Konna. We hope it will not end there, that is why I’m helping in my own way,” said civil servant Ibrahima Kalossi, 32, one of over 40 people who queued to donate blood for wounded soldiers.
(Additional reporting by Adama Diarra, Tiemoko Diallo and Rainer Schwenzfeier in Bamako, Pascal Fletcher in Johannesburg, Joe Bavier in Abidjan, Catherine Bremer, Leila Aboud and John Irish in Paris and Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Will Waterman and Roger Atwood)
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NEW YORK — A New York police detective shot and killed an unarmed man, whose hands, a witness said, were on the steering wheel of his Honda, after he had been pulled over early Thursday for cutting off two police trucks on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens, the authorities said.
The shooting, which occurred at 5:15 a.m., was the latest in a series of episodes in which police officers fatally shot or wounded civilians. While the Police Department had explanations in the other instances, it could not immediately provide one for the shooting on Thursday.
The detective, Hassan Hamdy, 39, a 14-year veteran assigned to the Emergency Service Unit, fired one bullet through an open window of the car, which his squad had just pulled over with the help of a second police vehicle. The bullet struck the driver, Noel Polanco, 22, in the abdomen. He was declared dead less than an hour later at New York Hospital Queens.
Hassan Hamdy is a Muslim name. Family, friends and authorities are still trying to determine why an NYPD detective fatally shot and killed an unarmed driver on the Grand Central Parkway on Thursday.
Detective Hassan Hamdy, identified by police as the officer who fatally shot Noel Polanco, 22, was one of several officers named in a 2007 brutality lawsuit by a Queens grandmother and her grandson who said they were terrorized by police after being subjected to an illegal search of their home. The suit was settled for $235,000.
Fred Lichtmacher, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said the NYPD moved swiftly to settle the case out of court. Under the terms of the settlement, the officers admitted no fault or liability for the incident.
“The city was very anxious to get rid of this,” Lichtmacher told The Huffington Post. “I never got to see what the cops’ records were like.”
Attempts to reach Hamdy for comment were unsuccessful.
A spokeswoman for New York City’s legal department said Hamdy did not appear to be a “major player” in the Queens brutality case. But the city also said that Hamdy was named in another civil rights complaint that the city settled for $291,000 in 2001, and that details of that case were not immediately available.
According to police officials, Hamdy was one of two officers who approached Polanco’s car after he was pulled over at around 5 a.m. Thursday for speeding and driving erratically near LaGuardia Airport. After Hamdy approached the driver’s side, he fired his gun into the car, striking Polanco in the abdomen. Polanco died about an hour later after being taken to a nearby hospital.
Polanco had been a specialist in the New York Army National Guard since 2008, according to a military spokesman.
Initial statements by the police indicated that Polanco was shot after he ignored a command to keep his hands in the air and reached under his seat. No weapon was recovered from the car.
But Diane DeFerrari, a bartender sitting in the front passenger seat of Polanco’s car, has contradicted the police account, telling news outlets that Polanco had his hands on the steering wheel at all times during the stop.
DeFerrari described the officers who made the traffic stop as aggressive, saying they screamed obscenities and extended the middle finger toward the car before Polanco pulled over. She said Polanco had no time to reach under the seat before being shot.
“All you had to do was pull him over, ask for license and registration and take him to jail. There was no reason for this innocent kid to be killed,” she told CBS News.
A third passenger, off-duty police officer Vanessa Rodriguez, 29, was asleep in the backseat, police said.
The shooting is under investigation by Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Division. “The public can be assured that the investigation will be full, fair and complete,” Brown said in a statement.
Brown said his office would not comment on the specifics of the case until the investigation was concluded.
Court records do not indicate whether Hamdy was disciplined by the NYPD for his involvement in the 2007 brutality incident.
But according to Dorothy Garcia, 74, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Hamdy was one of several officers who broke down her front door in pursuit of her grandson, who they mistakenly believed was involved in a violent crime.
Garcia identified Hamdy after being shown his photograph by reporters on Friday.
“They stormed up. They were screaming,” Garcia said. She answered the door and the officers demanded to see her grandson, Tyrell Garcia, who was then 23.
When Ms. Garcia refused to let them in her house without a warrant, Hassan and the other officers began forcing their way into the house, she said. The officers broke down the door and chased after Tyrell, who hid in a neighbor’s garage.
According to the lawsuit, the teen surrendered and walked out of the garage peacefully, but was thrown to the ground and beaten by officers. A police dog was allowed to bite him repeatedly, the complaint said.
Several minor criminal charges were filed against Garcia for fleeing the police, but were later dropped, said Lichtmacher, the attorney. Garcia was cleared of any involvement in the crime that prompted the initial search.
“They were extremely aggressive with very little information,” Lichtmacher said. “They had no warrant. It was a very strange incident.”
Lichtmacher, who frequently represents plaintiffs in brutality cases against the NYPD, said he was unaware of Hamdy’s specific role in the 2007 incident. But he said it was unsurprising to see Hamdy involved in another event involving allegations of unjustified use of force.
“We see the same guys over and over,” he said.