Is WikiLeaks a Dick Cheney Front?

November 29, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Lee Smith has a fascinating article over at Tablet.  His conclusion: WikiLeaks must be in cahoots with Cheney and Netanyahu because the revelations are a vindication of what the neoconservatives have been saying all along.  An excerpt:

“Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has positioned himself as a left-wing whistleblower whose life mission is to call the United States to task for the evil it has wreaked throughout the world. But after poring through the diplomatic cables revealed via the site yesterday, one might easily wonder if Assange isn’t instead a clandestine agent of Dick Cheney and Bibi Netanyahu; whether his muckraking website isn’t part of a Likudnik plot to provoke an attack on Iran; and if PFC Bradley Manning, who allegedly uploaded 250,000 classified documents to Wikileaks, is actually a Lee Harvey Oswald-like neocon patsy.

With all due apologies to Oliver Stone (and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey), what the Wikileaks documents reveal is not a conspiracy of any kind but a scary and growing gap between the private assessments of American diplomats and allies in the Middle East and public statements made by U.S. government officials. The publication of these leaked cables is eerily reminiscent of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed a decade-long attempt by U.S. officials to distort and conceal unpalatable truths about the Vietnam War, and manipulate public opinion. The difference is that while the Pentagon Papers substantially vindicated the American left, the Wikileaks cable dump vindicates the right.”


Big Journalism

American Exceptionalism Front and Center

November 29, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The Washington Post looks at the recent appearance in political discourse of “American exceptionalism,” a term that “until recently, was rarely heard outside the confines of think tanks, opinion journals and university history departments.”

“But with Republicans and tea party activists accusing President Obama and the Democrats of turning the country toward socialism, the idea that the United States is inherently superior to the world’s other nations has become the battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars. Lately, it seems to be on the lips of just about every Republican who is giving any thought to running for president in 2012.”

Deeper look: “Some, however, wonder whether Obama’s conservative critics are sounding an alarm about the United States’ place in the world – or making an insidious suggestion about the president himself.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

The Front Lines of Reality: An International Perspective on the Battle over Free Speech

November 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

by Reverend Manny and The Twilight Empire

With the FBI crackdown on peace activists rapidly buried in the election reporting, I thought it might be nice to take a longer look at just how far into the international horizon the fight for free speech goes. The United States does not always find itself on the side that supports free speech. Saudi Arabia, our oil-based bed-buddy, for example, is essentially a Stalinist religious state with little to no free press or open debate.

On the whole, the September FBI crackdowns are symbolic, and a local reminder, of an international repressive wave against transparency, criticism and rational, open dialogue. As usual, the more violent and centralized the power, the more likely they are to be intimidated by the power of open oversight — i.e. public discourse of the government’s actions by either people or independent institutions.

For example, staying in America for just a quick second, on November 20, 2010, two American journalists working for Moscow-based Russia Today were arrested for merely covering the protest of America’s assassin school, formerly known as the “School of the Americas”

New York, November 23, 2010–Two journalists from the Moscow-based broadcast outlet Russia Today were arrested on November 20 while covering a protest against the U.S. military training center formerly known as the “School of the Americas” at Fort Benning, Georgia. On-air correspondent Kaelyn Forde and cameraman Jon Conway, both of whom are U.S. citizens, were charged with unlawful assembly, demonstrating without a permit, and failing to obey police orders, according to The Associated Press. They were both held for 29 hours before each was released on a US$ 1,300 bond.

Journalists and bloggers alike are finding that free Speech, as they say, isn’t exactly free. There’s often quite a serious price to be paid.

Sometimes it means living under occupation and exposing midnight raids.

  • Israeli soldiers had entered Bil’in late last night, intending to arrest Mohammed Abu Rahmah, son of Adeeb, one of the prominent organisers of demonstrations against the Wall. Adeeb has served the past 17 months in prison on charges of ‘incitement’. Mohammed, 15, lives with his mother and six sisters, the youngest aged four. All had been asleep when the soldiers barged in. On resisting arrest Mohammed was beaten and dragged off by soldiers.
  • Haitham hurriedly made his way over to the house with his camera, only to be stopped by the soldiers, keen to keep their antics off camera. Haitham describes the soldier’s anger when they saw he was filming. “Sometimes a camera can stop violence” he told us, “but not that time”. Sensing violence he told them he worked for the Israeli Human rights groups B’Tselem, hoping they’d show some restraint. However after shouting at him to leave they hit him in the chest, which is still bruised, and struck his camera, damaging it severely.

In case you thought simply filming an arrest was too aggressive of a democratic action, did you know that sometimes you can even be arrested for trying to give Allah a Facebook page? Listen friends, Allah almighty hasn’t started his own, so maybe he is technology illiterate and needs just a little help and encouragement to get him going… I thought you “true-believers” would do anything for your unrenderable deity! And you dare call other people infidels? Are you gonna really begrudge a local barber trying to help the exalted one move into the realm of Web2.0? Apparently yes.

  • Palestinian blogger, Waleed Khalid Hasayin (pen name: Waleed Al-Husseini), a 26-year-old barber from the West Bank city of Qalqilya, has been arrested by the Palestinian authorities for creating a facebook page named “Allah”. According to blogger Marwa Rakha, the page has been reported and shut down, but Waleed has created another page. It’s worth noting that other facebook pages carrying the same name “Allah” are still active here and here:

On his blog “Nour Al Akl” or The enlightened Mind, he refuted all religious arguments – specially Islam – and he wrote long detailed posts on the fallacy of religions. In the beginning of Summer 2010, a facebook page titled “Allah” was created by an anonymous user. The creator of the page used his excellent command of the Arabic language and composed poetic stanzas that mimic Qura’anic verses. The page attracted many fans; there were those who liked the creativity of the author, those who were offended and joined to defend their religion, and those who were merely curious.

  • According to this report, an Internet cafe worker, where Waleed has been spending several hours a day, after his mother canceled his Internet connection at home, has provided the Palestinian intelligence services with a snapshots of his Facebook pages. His online activities have been monitored for few months before arresting him in the cafe on October 31, 2010. Waleed has not been charged yet. A Facebook group and a petition dedicated to his support have been created recently:

But if you happen to be one of the bloggers arrested for something ridiculous, at least be grateful that you were given any reason at all, unlike notable Saudi Blogger Fouad al-Farhan who spent 5 months in a Saudi prison without being charged with a crime.

Al-Farhan was detained in December for “violating regulations,” according to official statements that made it clear that charges against him had nothing to do with national security concerns. No charges were ever pressed or outlined. The Interior Ministry issued no statements about the release yesterday.

Al-Farhan has said in the past that he was detained for comments he had made in defense of a group of Saudi citizens who had been meeting to discuss public participation in governance and other reforms.

Sometimes just standing there with a camera, as happened to Brian Conley, will be enough to instigate a 20-hour interrogation, theft of materials and near-instant deportation.

Police arrived at his hotel room in the middle of the night, saying they were investigating alleged threats against foreigners in China. But then the questioning got intense (they repeatedly asked Conley what he was doing in Beijing and what his role was in the Tibet protests) and dragged on for nearly 22 hours, according to Conley. They confiscated his gear and his asthma inhaler—but not before some footage was distributed online (see above). He was also able to send a text message, to his pregnant wife, letting her know that he had been detained. Conley was taken to the Chong Wen detention center, given a prison uniform, and locked in a cell with nine other prisoners from around the world. He was told that he’d be held for 10 days, but after aggressive intervention by the American Embassy, he was released after six, on the final day of the Games. He was then driven to the Beijing Airport, and ordered to buy a $ 1,800 ticket on Air China to Los Angeles—even though he already had a return flight booked on a different day.

Sometimes, though, the big bully authority will promise safe passage for a rabble-rouser. Meet Hossein Derakhshan, also known as the “Iranian BlogFather.” He received one such promise from Iran… and then was summarily arrested.

Hossein Derakhshan, known as the Iranian “blogfather” for starting one of the first Persian-language blogs, has been sentenced to 19 1/2 years in prison on charges related to his writing and his visit to Israel, according to the Iranian website Mashreq News. He was also banned from joining any political or journalistic organization and fined over $ 40,000.

Derakhshan was arrested two years ago when he returned to Iran after receiving assurances from the High Council of Iranian Affairs Abroad that he would not face any penalties apart from questioning, his family has said.

The report comes on the heels of rumors that prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty on charges of espionage. If true, the Mashreq News report indicates that the charges against Derakhshan may have been downgraded from spying to “cooperation with hostile governments.” In 2006, Derakhshan blogged about traveling to Israel using his Canadian passport.

Khodor Salameh of Lebanon was given a less coded message. One day in March after midnite he was called in for 8 hours of intense interrogation followed by “suggestions” that he stop talking about politics and write exclusively about poetry.

On March 15, Lebanese blogger and journalist Khodor Salameh or“jou3an“(Hungry in Arabic) wrote a post[Ar] on his blog where he criticized the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. A few days later, he was called for an interrogation by the Lebanese security forces, where they threatened him with being prosecuted for defamation if he doesn’t change his tone, close the blog or write poetry exclusively.

The Lebanese bloggers were united, despite their opposite political opinions, and showed their support to Khodor -whether they agreed with what he said or not. Here are their reactions below:

While Lebanon has the fewest free speech limitations of any Middle-Eastern countries, the military has started cracking down on bloggers who criticize the military or executive branches of Lebanon.

By way of comparison let’s consider the case of Khaled Said an Egyptian businessman and critic of the US-sponsored Mubarak dictatorship. Police grabbed him from an internet cafe in Alexandria, tied his hands behind his back and beat him to death. Only after a virtual riot involving a Nobel Peace Prize winner broke out in the street did the Egyptian authorities realize that people weren’t about to accept their answer that Said “died after choking on a joint he swallowed when police sought to arrest him.” The truth is, this was a political execution in a long line of political executions.

This is nothing new to journalists and truth seekers everywhere. Consider this rapidfire tidbit from Amnesty International in 2008

  • Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced last week to eight years in prison on charges of espionage after a flawed trial.
  • Gambian journalist Ebrima Manneh who continues to be detained despite a court’s ruling in June 2008 that his rights had been violated by the Gambian government and should be released.
  • Sri Lankan writer J.S. Tissainayagam who was imprisoned in 2008 for writing two articles that criticized the government’s military offensive against the opposition group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Unfortunately for us, this type of stuff keeps happening under regimes we support (often-times for the resources).

Police intimidation is apparently one of the last few American Exports. Hey, I’m not saying we invented it… we’re just the number one supplier at the moment.

One Love, One Beautiful Struggle,
–Reverend Manny of the Human Tribe.

©2010 BlueBloggin. All Rights Reserved.

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BlueBloggin

After the mosque: jihad on the home front

November 26, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Last Friday at Restoration Weekend I participated in this panel, along with Frank Gaffney, Karen Lugo, Mark Thiessen, and S. E. Cupp.

(For the record, S. E. Cupp misunderstood what I was saying, which was as far from “Give up” as light is from darkness.)

Jihad Watch

US Treasury designates Lashkar-e-Taiba’s charitable front as terror group

November 25, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The US Treasury Department has targeted a charitable front for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and three senior leaders of the terror group by designating them as global terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba receives support from Pakistan’s military and its intelligence service.

Today under Executive Order 13224, the Treasury added the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation (FIF) as a terrorist entity, and FIF leader Hafiz Abdur Rauf, along with Mian Abdullah and Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan, to the list of specially designated global terrorists. The designation allows the US to freeze the assets of the three senior leaders, prevent them from using financial institutions, and prosecute them for terrorist activities.

“Few individuals are more integral to LET’s fundraising than Hafiz Abdur Rauf and Mian Abdullah,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba has launched multiple terror attacks against India, including the 2008 terror assault on the city of Mumbai which killed 165 people, including civilians and members of Indian security forces. Operating in conjunction with the Jaish-e-Mohammed, another Pakistan terror group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba also executed the December 2001 terror assault on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. In addition, both groups carry out attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, and serve as al Qaeda affiliates in the region.

The designations took place just 20 days after the US Treasury sanctioned Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Azam Cheema, a top military commander involved in the planning of the Mumabi terror assault, and Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, a political official. Jaish-e-Mohammed and its leader, Maulana Massod Azhar, were also designated as terrorist entities at that time.

Pakistan has refused to crack down on homegrown terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, despite their covert and overt support for al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terror groups. Inside Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, which are the real powers in Pakistan, groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba are seen as ‘strategic depth’ against India, and are used as instruments of foreign policy.

Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who has been designated by the US and the UN as a terrorist, remains a free man in Pakistan despite openly supporting jihad in both India and Pakistan, and regardless of his group’s involvement in the Mumbai attack as well as other terror attacks. Pakistani Army corps commanders, who occupy some of the senior-most positions in the military, openly cavort with Saeed.

Falah-i Insaniat Foundation

The Falah-i Insaniat Foundation is a known front for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which in itself is a charitable front for the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba. Falah-i Insaniat was established in 2009 after the United Nations added Jamaat-ud-Dawa to its list of proscribed terror groups. FIF established relief camps and delivered aid to Pakistanis fleeing military operations in Swat and the Malakand District that began in the spring of 2009. These camps also served as fertile recruiting grounds for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba.

FIF received global attention this summer after Rajiv Shah, the USAID chief for Pakistan, visited a camp in Sukkur on Aug. 26, and donated truckloads of supplies. Lashkar-e-Taiba seized on this to claim that the US views Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a legitimate organization.

“JuD [Jamaat-ud-Dawa ] is actively taking part in relief operations,” Yahya Mujahid, the terror group’s spokesman quoted Shah as saying. “The work being done by the group is appreciable.”

Hafiz Abdur Rauf

Rauf has been in the top tier of the leadship of the Lashkar-e-Taiba since 1999. He currently serves as the leader of the FIF, and funnels money to the Lashkar-e-Taiba through the charitable front.

In the past, he has served as Lashkar-e-Taiba’s spokesman, the Director of Humanitarian Relief, and the Director of Public Service. Rauf also served as the head of the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, another charitable front which was designated by the US Treasury as a terrorist entity along with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa in April 2008.

Mian Abdullah

Abdullah is a longtime member of Lashkar-e-Taiba; he has been with the group since it was founded in 1989 by Hafiz Saeed and Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s mentor. Abdullah currently is the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Traders’ Department. “In this capacity, he liaises with prominent Pakistani businessmen and solicits financial support for LET,” Treasury stated.

Abdullah previously served as the group’s Director of Finance, “a position he assumed from Haji Muhammad Ashraf following Ashraf’s designation as a SDGT in May 2008 and his addition to the UN 1267 Consolidated List in December 2008.”

Abdullah also has a pedigree in Lashkar-e-Taiba’s training and operations wings. He has served as a commander in Peshawar and as an instructor at a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Afghanistan. As recently as July 2009, Abdullah was appointed the chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s training camps.

Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan

The US Treasury described Khan as “a key financial facilitator for LET who supports the organization through an international counterfeit currency and smuggling network.” In this capacity, he “recruited members to LET’s smuggling network, provided them with counterfeit currency and facilitated the network’s operations.”

Khan also is involved in Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operations in Bangladesh, where he was detained in April 2008 “for laundering approximately $ 125,000 worth of counterfeit Indian rupees.”

“As of 2008, Naushad was also a close aide of a senior Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) leader, with whom he fought in Afghanistan,” Treasury stated.

The Bangladeshi branch of HUJI was established in 1992 “with assistance from Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front,” according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, and has been instrumental in providing recruits and support to terror groups in South Asia. HUJI-B was designated a terrorist entity in April 2008.

1 The Long War Journal

The Reality of 24/7 Home Care of a Loved One With Alzheimer’s: The Family Caregivers who are front line soldiers doing all the work, are seen by government as only ‘informal support…’

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

During this holiday, we can be thankful for those who labor 24/7 to care for our elderly and our broken mind ones. This is a Guest Contributor on The Reality of 24/7 Home Care of a Loved One With Alzheimer’s: The Family Caregivers who are front line soldiers doing all the work, are seen by government as only ‘informal support…’

by Carol Wright
Far from the purple banners of the recent “Alzheimer’s awareness” events sit an estimated 6.6 million family caregivers for an estimated 5.5 Alzheimer’s sufferers (nobody really knows the exact figures for either group.) Compare that with 300 million people in the US total +/-. It’s a lot of disabled people, a lot of caregivers who cannot work outside the home while caregiving in the home.

Some of these caregivers include supportive extended family, but all too many caregivers are toiling alone and unpaid, caring for a frail senior suffering from dementia. This often means, an aging woman caring for her elderly parents, a senior spouse struggling to keep their loved one home, out of the nursing home just one more month.

The recent “Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s,” emphasizes that it’s the women who overwhelmingly take on caregiving duties.

But some light should fall in the corners too: More than a few families have forsaken their own. Often just a single brave, compassionate soul steps forward for that end of life walk with the afflicted one. Their other relatives, their own children, their own sisters, brothers, former friends, even spouses, turn away or come around only once in a very long while for a very few minutes.

“Informal support.” This is what we 24/7 caregivers are most recently called by government and parroted by media, we who tend to our loved ones day in and day out.

“Informal.” Inferring not serious work, when in fact each day caring at home for an Alzheimer’s patient is deadly serious work of lifting, hauling, hefting, guiding, feeding, issues of urine, feces, medicine, cooking, cleaning, bathing, laundry and so much more.

Sole caregivers are especially brutalized by this burden, and they catch the flack, the very bulldozing brunt impact of frontline dementia care. The hours can be 24 on and zero off. Days are seven on and on and on.

Perhaps a neighbor comes for a few hours to seniorsit so the caregiver can get a break that is not a break. It’s scramble to shop for groceries, medicines. To rake up the leaves so the grass doesn’t die. Take dying cat to the vet and have put to sleep. Get back before patience of friend wears thin, or person with dementia gets out of control. Hope for no sudden feces situation, or friend will not return again.

“Informal support.” Caregiverscannot snag a full night’s sleep. Often their charges are up half the night, pulling out drawers and emptying on the floor. There is assistance needed always with trips to the commode and changing protective pads on the bed. Start first load of laundry for the day at 3 am. In our house, my mother wakes up screaming about something “out there…out THERE!…oh gawd gawd!” Last night it was a fire she saw, which was really a shiny birthday hat. I spent hours extinguishing a birthday hat, reassuring my mother, and even after removing such and other items from environs, my mother continues to no longer be able to tell the real from the imagined.

“Informal support.” Communicating with someone who has dementia is often like herding cats, and one has to, in order to help with the most simple actions, give repetitive instructions for every phase of aid. “Put foot through here, no through …. the pant leg…this here. Put your foot through here. Your FOOT. Point your TOE, now foot…”

“Informal support.” Often the day comes when the outbursts need more meds (some will say). This happened to my mother. She had unexplained nausea after a fall, and I took her for many tests in the ER. No answers, and not better. Finally a four-day stay in the hospital. She had a few delusional/puzzled episodes while there, and she pushed away prodding, hurtful hands. She was labeled “combative; they said, We’ll try Seroquel.”

Two months later, my mother slumped to the side her chair so much I had to tie her in to keep her from falling. I stood guard so she wouldn’t be hurt while she thrashed in bed, now padded everywhere. Sometimes she stiffened, slid from her chair like a 2×6 board. Now on the floor, face contorted, tongue choking, eyes rolling.

I see a Seroquel TV ad with voice-over droning “Not for use by elderly dementia patients.” I see Mom writhing on floor. Is this advancing Alzheimer’s demanding a larger dose or ?? Who will tell us? I plead. Doctors don’t know. Or different docs give different answers. I research online. So many of the bad side effects -she has them! Her doctors have made my mother straightjacket insane. We stop the Seroquel, but Mom is switched then to Ativan to stop paranoia. The Ativan leads to chilling paranoia as Mom channels cold eyes up from the DeadZone.

“Informal support.” Each family caregiver is front line to strong daily challenges like these, often complicated by illnesses anyone might come down with. Deafness and dementia. Leukemia and diabetes…and dementia. Colon cancer…and dementia. Congested nasal passages and dementia.
“Informal support.” Caregivers carry the brunt of the work at great personal sacrifice on every level, their health and dental go downhill, they are not able to earn income, a certain amount of sanity that one has charge of one’s own life goes out the window. A social life; there is none. An eroded future occurs because a dedicated caregiver has no idea when this vigil might draw to a close, and can only plan to remain in situ.

For caregivers, there is little outside direct assistance available. We’re not even in the system noted as having a need. No cash grants, no benefits, no medical or dental coverage for us in any quarter; there are no unemployment checks. Some benefits overshoot the caregiver; the patient is qualified (vets qualify for some home caregiving hours) but payments go to licensed caregivers only, not to family members. Government sees the home caregiver as a resource until worn out, then tossed aside when parent dies or is placed in a nursing home. The governments, state, local, federal…the corporations… call it “informal support.”
I cannot quite tell you what it is like to be surrounded on almost all sides by government ‘officials,’ people who say do this or that with what meagher resources are left to us, medical personnel of many different and often opposing ideas, deadbeat relatives, drug companies… too often many wear a smug face of impunity. Something goes wrong, say a bad drug reaction, or financial abuse by a government employee who is supposed to have squeaky clean and timely oversight… it is only the sole caregiver who is cornered, totally responsible for others’ errors, lateness, underperformance. It’s the caretaker who has to scrounge, beg, step up threadbare. Everyone else walks free.

The Shriver Report and Alzheimer’s Association step up their action plans. I poked around the Alzheimer’s Association website to see if there was a hint of direct aid to family caregivers. In the report at http://www.alz.org/documents/national/World_Alzheimer_Report_2010_Summary%281%29.pdf
I read the summary report and recommendations. There I could finally see myself. Twice was I, the unpaid family caregiver, mentioned as “informal support.” Unpaid family caregiver. Excuse me, INFORMAL?? Recommendations to help us, even informally? There was nothing written to help us. Nothing. Big report, but nothing’s changed. Things are stable and predictable according to report writers. No support will be given to ‘informal support’ that is, human beings who nearly single-handedly are giving all they’ve got, now, again or it seems ever.
I wondered: Was this moniker “informal support” commonly used in studies, theses, and legislation. I Googled the term, and found this to be true. Basically, it means our caregiving is a “contribution.” Not a life and death necessity to keep a loved one as safe as possible, clean and fed and helped in whatever way we can… and without leave.
And as Maria Shriver points out in “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s,” three-fifths of the US caregivers are women. “The truth is,” she writes, “it’s women who are the ones who generally do the hands-on grunt work of caregiving—cleaning their parents or spouses and changing their diapers, feeding them, babysitting them, dispensing medicine to them. While men do represent about a third of family caregivers, they tend to arrange or supervise outside services.”

http://www.shriverreport.com/shriver.html

The time is now for direct support for the family caregiver.
Researching the cause and treatments for Alzheimer’s or other diseases tends to draw the most attention and official funding.
But please, it is now time to actively support the real FORMAL caregivers on the front lines of eldercare, the family caregiver. Caregivers need assistance with respite care (typically the only aid offered), and though there is now some protection for caregivers to some day, perhaps, return to a job they may have left to take on caregiving duties… that assumes a short duration and no pay throughout. But, Alzheimers disease, is not a killer like cancer per se. It is a disorder that makes a person eventually as helpless to care for themselves as a new born infant, though often combative as well but with the body of an adult. And a person with dementia and no other illness can live to be in their nineties, as my mother is presently, and beyond.
What about people like me with so far over eight years sacrificed of sole caregiving? We need help with medical and dental, and with reentry into the work force.
I suggest a few simple approaches to help the formal family caregiver continue in their important duties and caregiving. One idea is to give the family caregiver payments in a “like amount” in a kind of disability pay. If their loved one is fully disabled from dementia, then the caregiver is also “disabled from being able to earn a living”—which is so true—anyone who has ever cared for a person with dementia, in home, knows one has to stop even a home business, for the loved one needs constant aid and supervision.
Another solution is to make the family caregiver eligible for welfare, full Medicare and Social Security benefits while care giving. If the caregiver returns to the workforce, then benefits are stopped until normally eligible at x age. This kind of approach does not add a whole layer of bureaucracy, no new programs; it just extends eligibility to a new level, to a new recipient.
But, how to replace the phrase “informal support” that so covers over the often desperate reality? I note a visible name change in the daily news is the change from “illegal alien” to “undocumented immigrant.” However, the immigrant issue is always hot news, where family caregiver headlines (until last month’s of Maria Shriver’s media appearances) are nonexistent. The term “Informal support” generally shows up in studies, scholarly theses, and reports; and these reports and studies are often the basis for legislation and grant requests, and carry the profound bias of naming THE essential caregiver as some seeming ‘nice but not necessary’ support. But what an impact this diminuizing term has had on the real front line for PFCG? That’s me, primary female caregiver.)
My next article will deal with what is called the Beers Criteria, a list of medications and protocols for weaning elderly patients off some of their prescription drugs. This drug free approach has resulted in a dramatic improvement in my mother’s mental and physical condition for periods of time. Three months ago, she was slumped over and headed for hospice. Most recently, she is attentively watching a DVD about a Cuban jazz musician while reading “National Enquirer.” This past week, we had to go to the ER, however. It is as they say, a roller coaster ride, of needs and aid to the one who has Alzheimers. It does not have an ending point.
_____________
Guest columnist Carol Wright was 54 when she left her home where she’d lived for the past eighteen years, to travel across three states to care for her mother in her final few months of life. That was 8.5 years ago. Carol has been primary, sole caregiver for her mother all this time, and has had some respite caregiver assistance only for the past year. She recently was honored as Caregiver of the Month by the Caregiver’s Voice here.

You can read and see more about her caregiving experience at her blogs here and here, and at and at YouTube

The Shriver Report’s book, written with the Alzheimer’s Association, is titled “A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s”; it is available in ebook format for $ 9.99. You can read excerpts here.
Government report from 1998 showing expectation that women shoulder the burden and take on the sacrifices of eldercare, and that their growing preference to stay in the workplace will rock the boat. Basically, the government assumes women will/should contribute this service, and their choice to now stay at their careers is a troublesome trend. Read more here.
There are a few programs to help pay family caregivers, and resources will vary from state to state. Read this article from the Alzheimer’s Association website.


The Moderate Voice

Rahm Way Out in Front

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

With the field of candidates set, a new We Ask America poll finds Rahm Emanuel leading the race for Chicago mayor with 39% among likely voters, followed by former Sen. Carol Mosely Braun at 12%, Gerry Chico at 9%. Rep. Danny Davis at 7% and 19% still undecided.

The election is on February 22 and if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held April 5.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Union Steward’s Guide Is Survival Manual for Labor’s Front Line

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

AFL-CIO Unionshop

Being a union steward is one of the toughest jobs there is. The Union Steward’s Complete Guide 2nd Edition book has become invaluable for tens of thousands of union stewards and members across North America. First published in 1997 and updated and expanded in 2006, the 404-page, fully indexed guide is a survival manual for the labor movement’s front-line troops.

Edited by David Prosten, editor and publisher of “Steward Update newsletter,” the guide offers procedures for handling a grievance on potential drug abuse to help in dealing with an out-of-control supervisor.

The Union Steward’s Complete Guide is published by Union Communication Services (UCS), based in Annapolis, Md. UCS has just released a catalog of its wide array of union-building tools and publications. Check out the new catalog here.

Noting that effective stewards are key to the growth and success of unions, David Bonior, chairman of the advocacy group American Rights at Work, says “there is no more valuable a tool than:

The Union Steward’s Complete Guide to help these front-line activists in labor’s struggle for workplace justice and dignity.

UCS’s newest publication for union members and leaders is the pamphlet, “Welcome to the Union,” a long-needed resource to help union officers and stewards explain to new members what being in a union really means. It helps answer some of the most frequently asked questions of new members, including how your union works, your rights and responsibilities and what to do if you have a problem on the job.

To order The Union Steward’s Guide, “Welcome to the Union” or any other UCS publications, click here.

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG

Anti-semitic Saudi sheikh spouts off in front of 300,000 in Mecca

November 16, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

From Arab News:

Imam and Khatib at the Grand Mosque Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais warned Muslims against drifting away from the noble values of Islamic culture.

“A people achieve glory by holding fast to the noble values of their culture. In the absence of such values, deviant ideologies threatening global peace and stability emerge,” Al-Sudais said while addressing hundreds of thousands of worshippers that filled the Grand Mosque and its squares for the Eid Al-Adha congregation and the millions watching around the world Tuesday morning.

The imam also warned against being the victims of the global media controlled by Zionist extremists.

He cited the strategy of the global media, which is under the influence of the Zionist lobbies, to downplay or ignore the suffering of the Palestinians worsened day after day by occupation forces that deny them food and medicine, raze their homes and Judaize the features of Islam and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

A captive audience of hundreds of thousands of Muslims listening to anti-semitic stereotypes – and not one thought he was out of line.

This was tame for al-Sudais. From the BBC in 2005:

Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, Imam, Ka’ba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia: The history of Islam is the best testament to how different communities can live together in peace and harmony. Muslims must exemplify the true image of Islam in their interaction with other communities.

John Ware: Sheikh Sudais is a leading Imam from the great mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

He had one voice for his Western audience – another for his followers in Saudi.

Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais: The worst … of the enemies of Islam are those… whom he… made monkeys and pigs, the aggressive Jews and oppressive Zionists and those that follow them: the callers of the trinity and the cross worshippers… those influenced by the rottenness of their ideas, and the poison of their cultures the followers of secularism… How can we talk sweetly when the Hindus and the idol worshippers indulge in their overwhelming hatred against our brothers… in Muslim Kashmir…

‘Eid in the Holy Mosque.  Peace, love, brotherhood, forgiveness, and incitement.

Sudais’ statement about “Zionist” control of the media, and Israel denying Palestinian Arabs food and medicine has been completely ignored by every Western media outlet. The Saudi Gazette details his speech and specifically leaves out the part about Jews and Israel.

One possible reason: no non-Muslim reporter is allowed anywhere nearby. So we have a bit of self-censorship as well by Muslim reporters who want to downplay or ignore the rantings of the sheikh.



Elder of Ziyon

Anti-Union O’Keefe Video Smears Teacher Who Jumped In Front Of Van To Save Students, Gets Her Suspended

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

There are few members of the teaching profession who more symbolize the sacrifices that exemplary instructors make for their students than New Jersey teacher Alissa Ploshnick. In 1997, Ploshnick, upon seeing a runaway van about to strike a group of students, threw herself in front of the vehicle to save the students, landing herself in the hospital “with broken ribs, a fractured wrist, a badly bruised pelvis and glass cuts in her eyes.” Following the accident, President Bill Clinton sent her a letter thanking her for her act of courage, writing, “You are an example for all of us, and I applaud you for your sense of duty.”

Yet as the Shirley Sherrod scandal showed earlier this year, even exemplary public servants can fall prey to the antics of smear artists. Late last month, right-wing video activist James O’Keefe released a set of YouTube videos titled “Teachers Unions Gone Wild.” The videos feature various New Jersey teachers opining about Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), using crude language, and criticizing the state’s teachers unions.

In one segment, Ploshnick is recorded explaining an incident she witnessed as a teacher. She explained that she saw another teacher refer a student as the n-word, and that the teacher was demoted, but was allowed to continue to teach. O’Keefe’s video crew then showed up at Ploshnick’s personal residence and tried to get her to repeat her story on video tape. She refused, understanding the repercussions that would come to a teacher who used that language on video. Watch it:

Following the release of the video, Ploshnick was suspended for seven days and denied a pay raise for being recorded using the n-word. Passaic Superintendent Robert Holster defended the decision to suspend her, explaining that they were “getting hammered” by local reaction to the video. “Politically correct is the theme of the day,’’ he went on to say, well aware that the teacher did not use the language to describe anyone else but rather to explain what another teacher had said.

Yet the truth is that Ploshnick never intended to use crude language in a public setting where she was being recorded. O’Keefe’s staff obtained the audio not by requesting an interview with her but by secretly recording a private conversation. The O’Keefe operative “hit on” Ploshnick at a local bar, buying her drinks and engaging in casual conversation. At one point, the conversation turned to Ploshnick’s job, which is when she relayed the anecdote about a fellow teacher using the n-word. At no point did she know the conversation was being recorded, so she did not see the need to truncate the use of the n-word in her anecdote. Yet the secret recording without Ploshnick’s consent is not presented as such — it appears that the teacher is using the crude language in a public way, well aware that it will be broadcast to thousands of people and will likely reach the ears of her students and their parents.

Unfortunately, O’Keefe’s video — despite completely disregarding basic journalistic standards — has been having a real impact in New Jersey politics. “If you need an example of what I’ve been talking about for the last nine months — about how the teacher’s union leadership is out of touch with the people and out of control — go watch this video,” Christie said at a town hall in South Brunswick last month, referring to O’Keefe’s work. For her part, Ploshnick has hired Alan Zegas, one of the state’s top trial lawyers, to investigate the behavior O’Keefe and his staff took in recording her. Zegas calls O’Keefe’s behavior “deeply disturbing.” But the New Jersey teacher’s greatest priority isn’t taking O’Keefe to court, it’s returning to her work. “I just wanted to get back to my kids,” she said.

ThinkProgress

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