Israel Attacks Hamas-Run Gaza [Including Video & Photo Links]

12/27/2008 07:36:00 PM

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1230432095gaza_massacre_8Israel left Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year occupation, but still controls the border crossings, blockaded for months in an effort to pressure militants to halt their fire.  Islamic Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June 2007, after routing security forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Dec. 19, 2008

Hamas originally said that Israel violated the ceasefire terms by not opening Gaza crossings to goods and supplies, which Israel said it upheld all of its commitments of the Egyptian-brokered arrangements.  Back in November, the main border with Israel and Gaza had been closed because a rocket was fired at Israel from Gaza.

Thus, six days ago, Hamas began to fire rockets back over into Israel, ending a six-month cease fire that expired last Friday.  Hamas declared last Friday that it would not continue the truce.  As a result on last Friday Palestinians fired 10 rockets and 23 mortar shells from Gaza into Israel, causing some property damage, but no casualties.  Meanwhile, an Israeli airstrike against a Palestinian rocket squad killed a militant.

Dec. 23, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Edud Olmert had warmed Hamas to stop firing rockets or pay a heavy price.  “I will not hesitate to use Israel’s might to strike Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad,” he told Al Arabiya television, an Arab broadcaster widely watched in Gaza.

Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu called for tough military steps against Hamas.  He added:  “In the long-term, we will have to topple the Hamas regime.  In the short-term… there are a wide range of possibilities from doing nothing to doing everything, meaning to conquer Gaza.”

Yossi Alpher, a leading analyst stated, “We want Hamas to disappear, but we can’t make them disappear.  We’ve tried economic warfare, ceasefire, and limited military responses with a price tag.  A fully-fledged invasion hasn’t been tried because the costs are too high, there is no exit strategy, there could be heavy casualties, there could be [negative] international focus, and there is no guarantee it will stamp out Hamas.”

Meanwhile, Hamas agreed to a “cease fire” that was brokered by Egypt.  Egypt had been putting pressure on Hamas to renew the “truce” and got a 24-hour “cease fire” out of Hamas.  Even with the cease fire, Hamas managed to “only” send across three rockets and one mortar shell.  Israel agreed on this day to ease the blockade, although the rocket attacks had slowed down, but not stopped.  And the rockets increased back after a short time, with Hamas not keeping their word however, Israel did keep their word on the blockades.

Dec. 24, 2008

The day before Christmas, Hamas bombarded southern Israel with dozens of mortars and rockets.  Hamas said the bombardment came in retaliation for the deaths of three fighters in a clash with Israeli troops late Tuesday.  Israel said the militants were planting explosives along the Gaza border fence.  About 80 rockets and mortars pelted southern Israel by the afternoon.  Although there were no injuries, a home and other structures were damaged.  A rocket slammed directly into a house seconds after a father rushed his children from the living room into a bomb shelter.

One of the mortar shells landed at Israel’s passenger crossing with Gaza just as a group of Palestinian Christians was going through on their way to the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations.

Dec. 25, 2008

Israel moved closer to invading Gaza on this day, saying it had wrapped up preparations for a broad offensive after Palestinian militants fired about 100 rockets and mortar shells across the border in two days.  Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a direct appeal to Gaza’s people to pressure their leaders to stop the barrages.  By nightfall, three rockets and 15 mortar shells had exploded in Israel.  Olmert issued his appeal in a rare interview with the Arabic language satellite channel al-Arabiya, saying Israel would not hesitate to respond with force if the attacks continued.  “I am telling them now, it may be the last minute, I’m telling them stop it.  We are stronger,” he said.

Dec. 26, 2008

Then on Dec 26th, Israel reopened three vital border crossings with Gaza, and allowed trucks carrying humanitarian aid, including fuel, food and medicine to enter the strip after Hamas said that Israel violated the cease-fire terms, by not opening Gaza crossings to goods and supplies.  Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the humanitarian shipments were intended to be a message to the people of Gaza that they are not Israel’s enemy.  “We are sending them a message that the Hamas leadership has turned them into a punching bag for everyone,” he told Israel Radio.  “It is a leadership that has turned school yards into rocket launching pads.  This is a leadership that does not care that the blood of its people will run in the streets.” 

Even after the border crossings were open on this day, Hamas continued to rain down on southern Israeli cities.  Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, “Enough is enough. … When there’s shooting, there’s a response.  Any state would react that way.”

Meanwhile back in Gaza, a resident Abu-Aslli said, “We are not afraid of these invasions and people in Gaza are steadfast and they offer 10,000 of great sacrifices.  Even if only one person remains alive, we will protect our land, our holy places and our refugees, and this siege will not scare us because we are a great nation and capable of facing this siege even if there is one person left from us.”

Dec. 27, 2008

2008_12_27t112440_450x329_us_palestinians_israel_violenceIsrael retaliated in response to the almost daily rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militant, which intensified after Hamas ended a six-month ceasefire a week ago.  Those attacks including some 300 rockets and mortars, caused a few injuries but due to political pressure  and an upcoming election on February 10th, Israel said “enough”.

Israeli warplanes pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip today with more than 100 tons of bombs  in an operation dubbed “Solid Lead,” (actually the translation is “the poured lead”) targeting "terrorist infrastructure”. The operation began by carrying out intensive airstrikes on Hamas police installations, militant training camps, rocket-manufacturing facilities and weapons warehouses all over the Gaza strip.  Witnesses also reported seeing Israeli planes bombing sites along Gaza’s border with Egypt.  Palestinians use hundreds of tunnels under the border to bring in everything from goods to weapons, making them prime Israeli targets.

img_faf33f98db_gaza_massacre_6Israel said that the airstrike was the first stage of a large-scale military operation against the Hamas movement that has been ruling the Gaza Strip after it routed President Mahmoud Abbas’ security forces last year.

Reports vary on the number of people killed, some as low as 120 with others as high as 230. Hamas estimated that at least 100 members of its security forces had been killed.

The number wounded varies from 400 up to 750.  Smoke billows over Gaza City after Israel bombed more than 40 security compounds, including two where Hamas was hosting graduation ceremonies for new recruits.  It is being called the highest one-day death toll in 60 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Video from AlJazeera


One Story
I am safe, and yet I feel like a walking dead person.  Everything around me shows it.”

During the bombing I opened all the windows in my apartment to avoid them imploding as a result of the vacuum shocks sweeping through Gaza City after each enormous bang.”

Mobile phones did not work, because of electricity outages and the flood of attempted calls.  I flipped the electricity generator on so that we could watch the news.” …”However, this was impossible.  Israeli surveillance drones flew overhead, scrambling the reception.  All I could do was step outside, where I found crowds of frantic people, lines of rising smoke and the smell of charred buildings and bodies that lay around targeted sites nearby.”

Another Story
The family I am staying with has moved into the internal corridor of their home to shelter from the bombing.  The windows nearly blew out just five minutes ago as a massive explosion rocked the house.  Apache’s are hovering above us, whilst F16s sear overhead.”

Sires are wailing on the streets outside.  Regular power cuts that plunge the city into blackness every night and tonight is no exception.”

There was blood on a broken plastic yellow slide, and a crippled, dead donkey with an upturned vegetable cart beside it.  Aubergines and splattered blood covered the ground.”  “An elderly man with a white kuffiyeh around his head threw his hands down to his blood drenched trousers, ‘Look!  Look at this!  Shame no all governments, shame on Israel, look how they kill us, they are killing us and what does the world do?  Where is the world, where are they, we are being killed here, hell upon them!’”

img_e3868f6569_gaza_massacre_7Behind a small tile and brick building, a man was sitting against the wall, his legs were bloodies.  He couldn’t get up and was sitting, visibly in pain and shock, trying to adjust himself, orientate himself.”

The police station was a wreck, a mess of criss-crossed piles of concrete – broken floors upon floors.”

We walked on, hurriedly, eyes skyward at four apache helicopters – their trigger mechanism supplied by the UK’s Brighton-Based EDM Technologies.  They were dropping smoky bright flares – a defense against any attempt at Palestinian missile retaliation.

Arriving at the police station, we saw the remains of a life at work smashed short.”  “A crater around 20 feet in diameter was filled with pulverised walls and floors and a motorbike, tossed on its’ side…”

Raw video taken from the streets.


Bodies-of-Palestinians-ar-001 At a hospital in Rafah, a large town on the border of Israel and Gaza, friends and relatives dragged their loved ones into wards and demanded treatment for them.  Men, women and children lined up outside the hospital, waiting for the attention of a doctor.

Hospitals in Gaza City also struggled to cope with the large number of injured, piling three children on a single bed while a constant stream of wounded arrived in cars and vans.

Inside Shifa Hospital, overwhelmed hospital staff seemed unable to help.  One doctor said:  “We are treating people on the floor, in the corridors.  We have no more space.  We don’t know who to treat first.”

Outside the front of the hospital, scores of dead bodies were laid out waiting for family members to identify them.  For many it is an impossible task, as many corpses were dismembered and some were headless.

Health officials appealed for outside help.  “We lack everything, medical equipment, anesthesia, bandages, fuel for ambulance vehicles, medicine, everything,” cried Muawiyah Hassanein, head of Gaza’s ambulance and emergency department.  “What happened was unexpected and our hospitals were neither ready nor prepared to receive such huge numbers of casualties.”

AP raw Video


1227-is-002There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and now the time has come to fight,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a televised statement.  He also ruled out a new truce with Hamas, telling the U.S. Fox news network: “For us to be asked to have a ceasefire with Hamas is like asking you to have a ceasefire with al Qaeda.  It’s something we cannot really accept.”  When asked whether Israel would follow up the air strikes with a ground offensive, Barak said, “If boots on the ground will be needed, they will be there.”  “Our intention is to totally change the rules of the game,” he said.  “There is a time for truce, and there is a time for fighting.  Now is the time for fighting,”  he has also said.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the goal was “to bring about a fundamental improvement in the security situation of the residents of the southern part of the country.”  He added, “It could take some time.”  He has also said, “Israel has done all it could to preserve the ceasefire with Hamas, but our desire for quiet was met with terror.”


Hamas has vowed to revenge with rocket attacks and suicide bombings.  Just an hour after the Israeli airstrike, militants in Gaza bombed southern Israeli towns with rockets, killing one Israeli woman.

Abu Ubaida, Hamas armed wing spokesman, threatened to unleash “hell” on Israel, saying the Islamist group would “teach the enemy a lesson they will never forget.”  Hamas said it was considering a new suicide bombing campaign.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli air campaign was “criminal” and urged world powers to intervene. 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said “Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre” accusing Israel for committing “awful massacres against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said in a statement that the Islamic movement “will not surrender,” adding the Palestinian people and Hamas “would keep their resistance against the Zionist enemy.”

In Damascus, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called for a new Palestinian peoples’ uprising against Israel.  “We will not leave our land, we will not raise white flags and will will not kneel except before God,” Haniyeh said.  “Even if you kill thousands of us, you would never kill our pride and our resolve.”  I call upon you to carry out a third intifada [uprising],” Meshaal said on Al-Jazeera TV.  He had called for two Intifada against both Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).  “I call for a military Intifada against the Zionist enemy as well as a peaceful Intifada internally,” a reference to Hamas’s power struggle with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose government is based in the West Bank.

1227-is-005Hamas has vowed revenge including suicide bomb attacks in the “cafes and streets” of Israel, as Israeli air strikes continued late into the night.  Israel said the offensive would continue as long as necessary and suggested it may also involve land forces.


Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah said Saturday that they were prepared to assume control over the Gaza Strip if Israel succeeds in overthrowing the Hamas government.  “Yes, we are fully prepared to return to the Gaza Strip,” a top PA official has said.  “We believe the people there are fed up with Hamas and want to see a new government.”  Another PA official said Fatah had instructed all its members in the Gaza Strip to be prepared for the possibility of returning to power.  “We have enough men in the Gaza Strip who are ready to fill the vacuum,” he said.  “But of course all this depends on whether Israel manages to get rid of the Hamas regime.”

Fourteen Palestinian human rights organizations banded together to warn the world of the consequences of Israel’s current attack on Gaza, stressing Israel’s violation of human and internationally recognized rights.  The Human Rights organizations said the decision represented a “criminal intention of deliberately causing mass casualties and destruction in addition to intimidating civilians.”  They urged the signatory countries on the Geneva Fourth Convention to hold an urgent meeting to discuss ways and procedures that might make Israel to respect this convention and implement it in the Palestinian territories.  They also said a tribunal should be convened to charge Israel with war crimes.

The fourteen organizations are:  Al-Haq, Al-Damir, Ad-Dair for Prisoners and Human Rights, Al-Mizan for Human Rights, Defense for Children International, Insan Center for Democracy adn Human Rights, The Independent Organization for Human Rights, The Al-Quds Center for Legal Assistance, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judicial System, Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies, Women’s Center for Legal Assistance and Guidance, Women Studies Center and PNGO.


The United States is Israel’s strongest ally and the Bush administration has taken the position that Israel has the right to defend itself.

The White House called for the cease-fire to be restored, yet in another report the White House did not call for an end to the Israeli attacked, but urged it to avoid civilian casualties.

White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said it was “completely unacceptable” for Hamas, which controls Gaza, to launch attacks on Israel after the six-month truce.  “These people are nothing but thugs, so Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas that indiscriminately kill their own people.”  “They need to stop.  We have said in the past that they have a choice to make.  You can’t have one foot in politics and one foot in terror.”  When asked if the U.S. would back a continuation of the retaliatory strikes by Israel, Johndroe said, “The U.S. doesn’t want to see any more violence.  I think what we’ve got to see is Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel.  That’s what precipitated this.”  Johndroe said the U.S. was concerned that humanitarian needs were being met in Gaza.  He urged Israel to avoid striking civilians, but he refrained from commenting specifically on positions that had been hit on the ground.  “I know they are targeting security and Hamas headquarters facilities.  We urge them [Israel] to avoid civilian casualties.”  “The message from the United States is that Hamas is a terrorist organization that is firing rockets into Israel and they fired them onto their own people as well.  Hamas has done nothing for the people of Gaza.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued the following statement, “The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza.”  She also stated, “The ceasefire should be restored immediately.” 

Obama’s comment on the situation?  None, he did not comment on the Israeli air strikes as he’s on “vacation” in Hawaii.  His national security spokesman, Brooke Anderson, said the president-elect was “closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza, but there is only one president at a time.”


The UN of course, and the European Union called for an immediate halt to all violence.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has condemned Israel’s ‘Massacre’ in Gaza.  “Despite the public ‘green light’ given to the Israeli military b y the Bush administration, American Muslims join our fellow citizens who respect international law and the sanctity of human life in repudiating this massacre carried out using U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons.”  “We therefore call on President-elect Obama to demonstrate his commitment to change our nations’ one-sided Mideast policy by speaking out now in favor of peace and justice for all parties to this decades-long conflict.”  “We also call on world leaders to take direct action to end Israel’s counterproductive and wildly disproportionate attacks and to end the humanitarian siege of Gaza, which led to the recent breakdown of the ceasefire.”  [Interesting how they forget that Israel opened three major crossings, yet Hamas continued to send rockets to Israel.]

Egypt has summoned the Israeli ambassador to express condemnation and opened its border with Gaza to allow ambulances to drive out some of the wounded.  However, not a single Gazan turned up at Rafah crossing.  Hospitals stated the only way they could take up Egypts offer was if Egypt sent helicopters woudl the majority of serious cases be able to accept the offer.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit stated, “Today everybody has to stand by the Palestinian people’s side and stop this blind military action,” calling on Israel to immediately halt its attacks.  However, he also blamed Hamas for ignoring warnings that Israel would attack if rocket fire from Gaza didn’t cease.

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir called for a united Arab stand against the ongoing Israeli aggressions on the Gaza Strip.  On al-Jazeera TV, al-Bashir called for an urgent Arab summit meeting including the Arab Leagyue and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, hoping that strong statements would come out of the meeting to condemn the Israeli action.  Al-Bashi also urged the Arab countries to review their relations with the United States.  It also called on the UN Security Council and the world society to shoulder their responsibility and exert pressure on Israel to stop the aggressions and lift its blockade against the Palestinian people.

The ruling Sudanese National Congress Party led by al-Bashir also issued a statement, denouncing that the Israeli aggressions using the American weapons has demonstrated the savagery and barbarianism of the military mechanism of Israel.  It called on the international community, specially the Arab and Islamic world and their governments to stand on the side of the Palestinian people to confront the Israeli aggressions and to provide them with material and moral supports.

In Lebanon, 4,000 protestors marched through Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in the southern part of the country, condemning the attacks in general, and Egypt in particular.  “Hosni Mubarak, you agent of the Americans, you traitor!” they shouted.  They also called on Hizbullah to attack Israel.  Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Fuad Saniora, described the Israeli attacks as a “criminal operation” and “new massacres to be added to its full record of massacres.” 

Hizbullah called the attacks, “an Israeli war crime and a genocide that requires immediate action from the international community and its institutions, especially the United Nations and the Security Council, because their suspicious silence is a clear collusion with this aggression.”


Israel is not stopping on the airstrikes.  A second wave was directed at squads who fired about 180 rockets and mortars at Israeli border communities.  In an attack early Sunday, Palestinians said Israel aircraft bombed a mosque near Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, destroying it.  The Israeli army said the mosque was a base for terrorist activities.

Three more Palestinian militants were killed on Saturday night in two separate airstrikes on eastern Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia.  A Hamas security spokesman also said that Israeli warplanes launched missiles at a group of Palestinian fighters east of Gaza City, killing two of them, while another airstrike on Beit Lahia town in northern Gaza Strip killed one.  One of the two airstrikes targeted a metal workshop, which Israel said it is used in manufacturing makeshift rockets, and the other airstrike targeted Asda’a Media and Communication center that belongs to Hamas.

Hundreds of Israeli infantry and armored corps troops headed for the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion, military officers said, speaking on condition of anonymity under army guidelines.


More than 30 years ago, American political philosopher Michael Walzer wrote:  “First oppression is made into an excuse for terrorism, and then terrorism is made into an excuse for oppression.”  It is a good description of the Israel-Palestine problem there.

I’m not endorsing anyone on their actions, but I can’t help but wonder why when Hamas ended a six-month cease fire and began sending rockets and mortars over to Israel it was okay, and not a big deal.  I mean Hamas has been sending rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel since 2005, and it was okay.  However, when Israel basically took an attitude of ‘we’re not gonna go through this again’, its so wrong and reminds me of high-school days.  When someone was picked on constantly by a bully, nothing is done.  Yet when the bullied retaliates, and basically kicks the bully’s butt, then the bullied gets in trouble for his actions saying “its better to turn your cheek and walk away, that makes you a better person.”  So I guess its okay that Hamas broke a cease fire and continues to kill Israelis, but when Israeli retaliates, its wrong… instead of pointing a finger back at Hamas saying “knock it off.”

Israel  should make it a priority to keep civilian casualties at a minimum however, it’s a little difficult when Hamas decides to build offices adjacent to schools.  But then again, Hamas didn’t seem to care about civilian casualties, now did them, when they were sending rockets into Israel or bombing schools.  And if those who are on the Gaza Strip don’t care for Hamas, then why are they there?  Aren’t they supporters and endorse Hamas then?  And thus they approve of Hamas sending rockets into Israel and killing innocent victims?

I mean come on, Hamas chooses to put police stations near schools and hospitals just because only those spots were available?  No, they chose those locations because there is a high civilian count around them.  And also, they use mosques to hide weapons.  But when Israel destroys these locations, it’s Israel’s bad doing.  It’s all part of the game to use these locations for Hamas.  “You won’t bomb us because of the women, children and civilians nearby,” but yet continue to send rockets across the border to Israel civilian targets.  Then when Gasa is bombed, Israel is the monster.

But ultimately Hamas is not going to disappear.  Israel is not going to disappear.  Muslims are not going to disappear.  Jewish are not going to disappear.  There are 1.3 million people on the Gaza Strip, they are not going to disappear.  It does not matter how hard either side tries, I mean, they’ve been in a religious war since basically the beginning of time, along with the entire Middle East.  And all of this war and killing and threats of death to enforce their agenda in the name of God.

And let me give you this question to ponder.  Hamas has said what Israel is doing is genocide, yet if Hamas had a nuclear weapon, do you think they wouldn’t send it over to Israel? 

There are no sides to this that are right or wrong.  It’s a way of life for these people.  What kind of life do both of these countries provide for their citizens.  A generator at hand, not running for cover when your area is being bombed.  Or having a bomb shelter because of the fear of daily bombings? Or just walking out your door and being killed, just because you are on the wrong side of a boundary.  We as American’s can’t even relate to this lifestyle.  And what is sad, is that Hamas and Israel allow their citizens to be subject to such lifestyle as normal life.  I mean seriously, what do Hamas do, go “Its a Saturday night and I’m bored, lets go fire some rockets at Israel for fun.  What do you say, you up for it?”

Or you can just fill in the blanks for a reality check:

The ________________ were wrong to bomb the ________________, because the _______________ were there first.  If the ____________ had better leaders, then (Israelis and Palestinians) that region would have a better chance at peace.  If only the ______________ would realize their decisions have caused more harm than good, then the ________________ may react differently in the future.  If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always done.  And isn’t insanity doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, but always resulting in the same thing?

But both will ask for world wide support in what they are doing, and personally, I think the entire world should keep their nose out of the Hamas and Israeli argument.  It is between them, and them alone.  Is it right that this is happening?  No, but was it right that Hamas sent rockets over to Israel for years, killing innocent people, and nothing was done?  Israel got tired and said enough.  You want to play, fine, lets go, and its being condemned.  Sorry, turn about is fair play.  And the US’s current stance is the best one to take. 


What Obama’s opinion on this situation will be very interesting.  Obama has over the past taken the sides of Israel, saying they have a right to defend themselves, and that he will not negotiate with Hamas.  Of course months back, in an infamous video and commercial comparing Obama and Hilliary Clintons views, Obama stated he would meet with terrorists.

In January of 2008, Obama went out of his way to take Israel’s side in a letter to U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, urging the United States not allow a resolution condemning Israel’s illegal collective punishment of the Palestinians to pass unless it acknowledged Palestinian rocket attacks, which Israel’s latest closure was a response to.  “Israel is forced to do this,” Obama wrote.

Back in February of 2008, the Obama Camp stated, “Barack Obama’s longstanding support for Israel’s security is rooted in his belief that no civilians should have to live with the threat of terrorism.  In Gaza, Hamas continues to fire rockets indiscriminately at Israel civilians every day, and that’s why it is long past time that Hamas renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”

In March, 2008 Obama defended Israel’s right to self-defense and expressed “admiration and support” for its commitment to negotiations with the Palestinians.

In April, 2008 Ahmed Yousef, Hamas adviser in a WABC Radio Interview stated on Obama, “We like Mr. Obama and we hope that he will win the election and do believe that he is like John Kennedy a great man and great principles'”

In June 2008, Obama reaffirmed his support for Israel and said Jerusalem should remain Israel’s “undivided” capital.  He also said he would push for a negotiated settlement to the conflict if he was elected President.  Obama also reiterated that he will not negotiate with Hamas.

Then there is July 2008 when Obama gave a speech in Sderot, Israel when he gave an indication on his views of the Israel-Palestine conflict.  “I don’t think any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens.”  “The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens.  And so I can assure you that if – I don’t even care if I was a politician.  If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.  And I would expect the Israelis to do the same thing.”

In terms of negotiations with Hamas, it is very hard to negotiate with a group that is not representative of a nation state, does not recognize your right to exist, has consistently used terror as a weapon, and is deeply influenced by other countries.  I think that Hamas leadership will have to make a decision at some point as to whether it is a serious political party seeking to represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people.  And, as a consequence, willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence as a tool to achieve its aims.  Or whether it wants to continue to operate as a terrorist organization.  Until that point, it’s hard for Israel, I think, to negotiate with a country that – or with a group that doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

Obama also had to say on the matter, “I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel.  And I have said that before and I will say it again.  And I also have said it is important that we don't’ simply slice the city in half.  But I’ve also said that that’s a final status issue.  That’s an issue that has to be dealt with with the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis.  And it’s not the job of the United States to dictate the form in which that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long history.”

When Israel invaded Lebanon, in response to the kidnapping of Israel’s soldiers, I was one of the first people to state that Israel had an unequivocal right to defend itself and to rescue soldiers that had been captured.  And that is what any country would do.  On vote after vote I have demonstrated my support of the state of Israel.”

I wonder exactly how much influence that speech had on what the Israelis have decided to do.  And obviously Obama believes that Israel has a right to defend itself, yet the UN the EU and just about every Arab, Palestinian and Muslim country and organization has denounced what Israel has done.  It will be very interesting as to what he has to say.

But right now, Obama’s stance is “there is only one President at a time”, although in the past Obama has always had an opinion on everything… interesting that he’s “mum” now.  Maybe he’s trying to remember everything he’s said in the past year or so.

we-refed And Obama gets handed another crisis in addition to the worsening economy, a worsening recession, high unemployment, increased homeless, increased poverty, the Wall-Street bailouts, the auto bailout, the stimulus package, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an unstable situation in Pakistan.  Lets hope the man, who has absolutely no Washington experience, can handle it all.. time will tell.  Oh wait.. he’s on holiday in Hawaii…….  The man can comment on everything else, but here’s another test for him.. and he’s speechless.



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JibJab’s ‘2008 Year In Review’ [Video]

12/27/2008 01:49:00 PM

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I absolutely love these guys.  JibJab also has this as a free sendable.

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Woman Finds $10K In Box of Crackers [Whole Foods Returns Open Boxes of Food to Shelves For Sale.]

12/27/2008 02:41:00 AM

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IMG_3943 Discover new foods, tastes, and ideas along with opened boxes of food with $10,000 inside at Whole Foods in Tustin, CA!

A woman bought a box of crackers from a grocery store in Irvine, California.  Upon “opening” the box of crackers, what was found was cracker jack and an envelope with $10,000 in it.  [I wonder if there was a green “value” sign for the product?]

As the story goes, the woman called the police to report the money.  Later store managers at Whole Foods in Tustin called to reported an elderly woman had come in a few days earlier, hysterical because she had mistakenly returned a box of crackers with her life savings inside.  In a “mix-up the store restocked the box rather than composting it.”

The woman returned the box to the store, and never heard from the elderly woman, not even an offering of a reward.  This however, is not the point of my post.

So, the moral of the story is that a box of what was suppose to be crackers, was opened, emptied, and refilled with cracker jack and an envelope, mistakenly returned to the store, and placed back on the shelf, to which, someone else purchased said box, thinking it was an unopened box of crackers.

How can a grocery store “mix up” an unopened box of crackers with an opened box of crackers filled with cracker jack?  If I were a resident of Tustin, I’d be very leery of purchasing ANYTHING from Whole Foods Market at 2847 Park Avenue.  

Via the AP.

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Is the UAW the next AIG? UAW Has $33 Million Lakeside Retreat That LOSES Money. [Black Hole]

12/27/2008 02:25:00 AM

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10486550Last month Congress gave the Big 3 serious grief over them flying in private jets to Washington, to the point, they are to be sold according to the terms of their bailout.  But has anyone even thought to take a look at the UAW’s balance sheet, assets or income?

So where do the UAW big-wig execs and workers go to relax?  They head up to Onaway, Michigan to the UAW’s own personal golf club, as part of the union’s Walter and Mary Reuther Family Education Center.  The UAW continues to own and operate a the $33 million lakeside retreat in Michigan, complete with a $6.4 million designer golf course.  And it’s costing millions in upkeep to the UAW, at a loss.

First there is the Walter and Mary Reuther UAW Family Education center, which is located on Black Lake near Onaway, MI.  According to the UAW’s website, the education center conducts conferences geared to the responsibilities of union officeholders.  On the UAW website, you can see a video tour of the property.  The center generally operates 11 months of the year and accommodates up to 450 students at one time.

The Center accommodations include 241 completely remodeled guest rooms, featuring lakeside rooms at Maxon Lodge, hotel-style rooms and fully equipped condos.  Then there is a campground which is open to all UAW members.  Campsites are equipped with sewer, water and electrical hookup with nearby indoor shower, toilet and laundry facilities.  There is also a boat launching ramp and dock.  But this is not the “black money hole.”  It’s the adjacent golf course.

blgc The Black Lake golf club and retreat, is the newest addition to the UAW’s Reuther Center, which are among the union’s biggest fixed assets which total $1.2 billion for net assets, is situated on “1,000 heavily forested acres along the southeast side of Black Lake.”  According to Michigan Magazine, “Native trees such as ash, aspen, beech, birch, hemlock, maple, oak, red pine and white pine outline the course and provide habitat for an array of wildlife species in the area, including bald eagle, beaver, coyote, duck, fox, osprey, owl, stork and white tailed deer.”

According to it’s website, compliments include “the Center’s recreational facilities, which now include a beautiful gym with two full-sized basketball courts, an Olympic-size indoor pool, and exercise and weight room, table-tennis and pool tables, a sauna, beaches, walking and bike trails, softball and soccer fields and a boat launch ramp.”  According to “Butcher and Associates”, the golf clubhouse has a pro shop, restaurant, full kitchen, locker rooms, a dining room for 150, an outdoor terrace, and refrigerated storage.  Other related projects at the Club include a cart storage facility, maintenance garage, and the course restrooms and shelters.  On the Black Lake Course website, is a video tour of the course.

And it’s lost $23 million in the past five years alone and yet the UAW tries to manage about a multibillion dollar pension plan that the Big 3 “owes” them.

04bl2 The UAW covers costs for the Reuther Center from the interest it earns on its strike fund, according to tax documents, but massive losses in the past five years have forced the union to make heavy loans to keep the center afloat.    While the UAW International has a huge reserve of money, the union filed financial records with the federal government stating that it spent about $2.7 million more than it took in during 2007 --  the third time over the past five years that the union spending exceeded receipts, records show.  The 2007 UAW receipts – union dues, fees and other income – was $327.6 million, and it had spent $330.3 million.

The golf course and the resort are held by UAW=controlled holding corporations called the Union Building Corp, which is a not-for-profit organization that holds real estate for the union, records show.  However, the golf course is operated by a for-profit corporation called UBG Inc., which was set up for just that purpose, according to Labor Department records.  The education center, which reportedly has rooms to sleep 400 people, is operated by the for-profit UBE Inc.  The operations were hit hard last year by a $5.9 million payment to an employee pension fund.  [Hmmm… is this why the UAW is crying and screaming about their pension fund?  Oh it gets better…]

1224694455Hole-14-Par3 Audits of both UBE and UBG by Clarence Johnson, a certified public accountant from Royal Oak, MI, said UBE had a negative retained earning of $20.6 million and UBG had a $4.2 million negative retained earning at the end of 2007.  The two entities had loans payable to the UAW International worth a total of $24 million.

Aside from the loans, UAW International’s financial statements show expenses to the UBE for several conferences and other activities.  In 2007 alone, the UAW International paid UBE $3.3 million for services.

Critics call it a resort for union leaders that wastes money from union dues.  “it’s the members’ money that they’re spending on this thing,” said Justin Wilson, managing director of the Center for Union Facts, a union watchdog group.  “The union has bigger issues at hand than managing a golf course.”  “It’s funny that they call it an education center – it’s a resort.  If I was a union member, I would prefer that they rented out a room at the Ramada Inn, ” Wilson added.

Gregg Shotwell, a UAW activist, is not troubled to learn that the education center is losing money.  “When you are educating and training union members, that’s the business of the union.  That’s never a loss,” Shotwell said.  But the golf course is a different story to him.  “We should be running a union – not a country club.”

Roger Kerson, a UAW spokesman has said that “The UAW family education center is an integral part of our union.  It provides very important training and education activities for our members.”

It would seem that paying Union dues would give UAW members free access to the resort, however, that’s not the case.  Union members are charged to belong.  For a individual member, its $800 per year for a UAW retiree, and $1000 a year for a UAW member.  Public membership is $1,200 per year.  And if you wish to stay at the Black Lake Golf Club, it will cost you $74 a night if you are a UAW member for a single, and $92 if you are a guest.

So bailing out companies to support other “organizations” to keep properties, continue to allow junkets, and waste taxpayers money “par” for the course now?

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Detroit Is In Depression, According to Residents.

12/27/2008 01:09:00 AM

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MI-Detroit1bIn Detroit, they aren’t calling it a “recession” they are calling it a “depression.”  Warlena McDuell who is 81-years-old and has lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s says, “It’s a depression – not a recession.  It will get worse before it gets better.”

WXYZ conducted a telephone poll of 500 people in Detroit.  Sixty-five percent believed the country was headed towards a second Great Depression.  Nearly all. 99 percent, gave the economy a negative rating.  Seventy-six percent said things in the country are headed int he wrong direction.  And 81 percent believed that Michigan's economy will be worse off in 2009.

According to the South Florida Times, Detroit’s crime, poverty, unemployment and school dropout rates are among the worst of any major U.S. city.  The bus system is widely panned; car and home insurance rates are high.  Chain grocery stores are absent, forcing many Detroiters to rely on high-priced corner stores.

Meanwhile the 11th-largest US city is running out of money while the two of the Big 3 are needing loans from the Feds.  Detroit isn’t even sure exactly how short of revenue it is, the largest estimate from the mayor’s office puts the deficit at $300 million and climbing on an annual budget of $3.1 billion.  Mayor Cockrel ordered all city departments to cut their budgets by 10%.

And then there is the issue with the ex-mayor in jail for a text-messaging sex scandal.  Even the football team is in tatters, the Lions are within one loss of an unprecedented 0-16 season.

And then there is a new issue that Detroit has been illegally taking water from Canada for 44 years.


The unemployment rate in Detroit is currently 21%, meaning nearly 1 our of 4 people are unemployed.


Michigan regulators recently approved electricity and natural gas rates for customers of Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy.  The $83.6 million in hikes for Detroit Edison included a rate “realignment” for commercial customers designed to cut energy costs for businesses, while apparently raising the cost for residential consumers.  Consumers Energy’s hike in natural gas prices totaled $22.4 million.


The average sale price of a Detroit home so far in 2008 was $18,513, in the first nine months of the year, down from $40,011 in 2007, a drop of 55 percent, according to the Detroit Board of Realtors.  According to The Detroit News, home values in Detroit plummeted to an average value of less than $10,000; some foreclosed homes, gutted by scrappers, were placed on the market for $1.00; many other stand vacant or are burned to the ground.

Protestors recently picketed Bank of America, chanting “Bail out the people, not the banks.”  According to one protestor, her 30-year, fixed interest rate requires a monthly payment of $1,030.  Bank of American then received $25 billion in federal bailout money.  Under the terms of the restructured mortgage offered by the bank, her payment would go up $300 monthly and she would have to make a $2,000 payment in ten days.  But this would only put off the sale of her home until some time in January.


The chronically homeless community makes up 20% of the 19,000 people in metro Detroit who at any given time have no place to live.  According to Amber Arellano, a columnist on Detroit News, “Tent cities are sprouting up like winter grass in public parks here.”  “Doctors say they’re seeing suicide and depression skyrocket.”


DeWayne Wells, president of Gleaners Community Food Banks of Southeastern Michigan, said demand is up by 25 percent from a year ago in the region’s food banks.  “Many people are first-timers – they have no idea how to navigate the system, how to qualify for food stamps.”  In a different report, Gleaners was reporting a 70 percent increase in need for food help this fall compared to fall 2007.

By next year, Gleaners anticipates local emergency food needs will rise as much as 50 percent.  “Its going to take much more than just food banks,” Gerry Brisson, Gleaners’ senior vice present said.  “The food bank network was designed to be a short-term stop gap.  It’s going to take good government to really help families who are really going to need the help in the mid-term.”


Detroit is contemplating the closure of 63 schools by 2013.  At two area high schools there is now a lack of heat and lights in the classrooms and a shortage of teachers.


According to the most recent numbers from 2007, 47.8 percent of Detroit children lived below the poverty line of $21,000 for a family of four while the national rate at the time was 18 percent.  Detroit’s overall poverty rate was 33.8 percent, the highest of any major city.


The FBI’s latest statistics, for 2007, show Detroit with the highest violent crime rate of any major city. 

According to Jeriel Heard, chief of jails and courts for Detroit’s Wayne County, he reported that property crime in some Detroit neighborhoods had actually stabilized or declined because targets of opportunity were fewer now that most remaining residents are poor and many of the homes have been abandoned and cannibalized.  About 44,000 of the 67,000 homes that have gone into foreclosure since 2005 remain empty.

But yet, Detroit’s closure rate on homicides this year is expected to be 30 percent, half the U.S. average.


Jeriel Heard, chief of jails and court for Detroit’s Wayne County, said jail conditions may deteriorate because of budget-related pressure to eliminate a quarter of the roughly 800 jail deputy positions.  He also confirmed that some offenders, notably those without homes of their own, were now expressing reluctance to leave jail when their sentences were done.

For the first time, I’m seeing guys make a conscious decision they’ll be better off in a prison than in the community, homeless and hungry,” Joseph William of New Creations Community Outreach said, which assists ex-offenders.  “In prison they’ve got three hots and a cot, so they commit a crime to go back in and come out when times are better.”


The Salvation Army of Detroit expected to feed as many as three thousand homeless and needy people on Christmas Day.  A breakfast was provided by the Salvation Army and consisted of eggs, French toast, fresh fruit and a variety of breakfast meats that was served at Detroit’s Masonic Temple.  In addition to hot meals, the homeless and needy were also given gifts of winter hats and scarves, and counseling by a social worker if needed.  A full turkey dinner was also handed out to thousands of needy individuals and families via the Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread program.

Christmas day was also Mitzvah Day – the day many in the Jewish community do good deeds, or mitzvahs.    There were nearly 1,000 Mitzvah Day volunteers at more than 40 metro Detroit locations.  At one church, 18 volunteers handed out clothes and served a Christmas meal to nearly 300 people gathered at the church.


According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, Michigan is the only state in the union that experienced both a drop in personal income and a rise in the poverty level in 2007.  According to a New York Times story in Nov, 08; Michigan is in its fifth year of a recession, leading the nation in unemployment and 130,000 residents have been out of work for so long that they have run out of unemployment benefits.

Michigan’s overall unemployment rate rose again to 9.6 percent in November, the highest monthly rate since March 1992, and the highest monthly state unemployment rate in the country.  About 113,000 jobs were eliminated through November.  And meanwhile, Michigan has now lost people for a third straight year, the only one of the 50 states to do so.  And the state unemployment fund is in the red.  The state borrowed about $566 million from the U.S. Department of Labor, which is nearly $100 million more debt than just three weeks ago.  Next month, Michigan will begin levying a special “solvency” tax, said The New York Times.  This “solvency” tax will charge employers whose workers have cost the unemployment insurance fund more than the companies have paid in an additional $67.50 per employee.

Michigan faces a $1.8 billion deficit.  Governor Jennifer Granholm and lawmakers have approved a plan to cut $146 million from the state budget, including the closure of prison facilities in Ionia and Coldwater.  The plan reduces state spending on welfare programs by more than $63 million, due largely to fewer cases as a result of tighter eligibility requirements.  The state also recently increased its income tax rate from 3.9% to 4.35%.  Gov.

Medicaid enrollment was up 70,000 in the last year, according to the health department, for the entire state of Michigan.

Gleaners has secured additional food via the USDA to help reach the target goal of about 9 million donated pounds through Dec. 31 for more than 400 area soup kitchens, shelters, churches and pantries.  That figure is a 30 percent jump from 2007, which stems partly from greater need in outlying areas of Macomb and Livingston counties.

Demand for food is high at the Salvation army Eastern Michigan Division’s Farmington Hills corps who at one time only needed to restock its shelves once a month, is now restocking once a week.  “Our food is flying off the shelves.”  The Salvation Army hoped to have netted $8.5 million from its annual Red Kettle Campaign however, as of the beginning of the week of Christmas, donations were down about $623,000 from the same period last year, but overall demand for services was up 20 percent.

Homeless is up in cities in Michigan and nationwide, by an average of 12 percent, according to a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors 0 and the worst could still be to come.  The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness reports there are at least 80,000 homeless people in the state.

About 71 percent of more than 300 nonprofits statewide noted a spike in demand for services this past year.  Meanwhile, 63 percent of the Metro Detroit agencies surveyed reported a drop in financial and in-kind support.  Many of the states' approximately 43,000 nonprofits are reducing staff, scaling back operations or exploring partnerships to offset a steep decline in funding. 

A once thriving auto hometown of Pontiac according to one columnist, resembles war-torn Baghdad.  Recently it’s unemployment rate hit the Great Depression-level of 20 percent.  GM is its only large-scale employer left.  The city is too broke to pay for adequate police staffing.  Vigilantes have begun patrolling neighborhoods to counter the community’s rising murder rate.  Even the columnist was not immune to this new rage.  On a recent evening her husband and brother walked along Pontiac’s Main Street, a truck load of four 30-something men, two armed with gun, drove up and asked if he had seen a man they were looking for. 

In Kalamazoo, the average number of children staying at the Gospel Mission on any given night is up 19 percent over last year, with an average of 64 children staying each night.  An average of three newborns a month start their lives at the Gospel Mission, after their mothers are discharged from the maternity ward.  Additionally in Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo County Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Council reported that their agency is getting more and more reports from concerned neighbors and others who are worried about children being left home alone by parents who cannot afford childcare while they work.

In Saginaw County, the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Saginaw County reportes that overall their agency has seen a 23 percent increase in demand for services over last year.


In Grand Rapids, at the Guiding Light Mission, a steak dinner was served to just over 100 people on Christmas Day.


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Obama’s Team Clears Itself With Own Investigation. [So Why Doesn’t An Accused in Court Have The Same Right?]

12/24/2008 02:39:00 AM

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gm081219Isn’t it just so convenient that the date dictated by Patrick Fitzgerald for releasing the results of the internal investigation on  Obama’s Team just happen to fall at a time that is most convenient for trying to contact people,?

Rahm Emanuel took a flight to Africa today  to take his family on safari, before the Obama Team released their report on the Illinois senate seat investigation.

According to the report, Obama’s attorney cleared the team of wrong-doings by their inside investigation regarding the Illinois senate seat.

Whew!  Obama’s Team found no evidence against Obama’s Team.  I worried that the Obama Team just might get the Obama Team in trouble!  And I was scared that someone on the Obama Team might just admit readily that they did speak to Blago or his office on the Senate seat.  Such a good thing that all politicians tell the  truth 100% of the time since Obama is looking at our hearts, confirming that we have always had the best intentions and that he is loyal to the American people..  There’s nothing to see here… move along!  And if you do have anything to say about it, then you a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, Islamapohibic or is generally an awful human being.  And don’t ask Obama about it, because then you are just having some fun with it, bring up the past.  Time to publically chastise you… and pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain.

Okay, time to end the sarcasm.  Since when does the party being investigated also do the investigating?  Meanwhile, the AP reported:

An internal review prepared for President-elect Barack Obama says his incoming chief of staff had multiple conversations with Illinois Gov. Rob Blagojevich’s office, but no one close to Obama suspected that the governor might be trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat as prosecutors allege.

The report was released Tuesday as an Obama transition official confirmed that Obama and two of his top aides, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarret, have been interviewed in connection with the federal investigation into Blagojevich.

Incoming White House attorney Greg Craig, who conducted the internal review at Obama’s request, found that the president-elect had no contact with Blagojevich or any of his staff about the Senate seat he vacated to take over the presidency.

Looking at the report that was released by the Obama Team, the review of contracts with Rod Blago will show that Rahm Emanuel had only “one or two” phone conversations with Blago.  The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the FBI captured 21 tape-recorded conversations between Blago’s office and Emanuel.  However, the report does say that one Obama “friend” who is not employed in the transition effort DID HAVE a brief conversation about the subject with a member of Blago’s staff.  Isn’t that just convenient?

This contact, described as a “pro-forma” courtesy call, was allegedly when Emanuel reportedly gave Blago a “heads up” that he was accepting Obama’s offer of the chief of staff job, and as a result, would be resigning his congressional seat.  As of this date, Emanuel has still not resigned his seat although he is working full time on the Obama Team, thus still receiving taxpayers money for doing absolutely nothing.

And why would anyone need to call the Governor of Illinois when you are a US Representative?  Why do you need to tell a state governor such information? 

Additionally, the report stated that Emanuel had “about four telephone conversations with John Harris, Chief of Staff to the Governor, on the subject of the senate seat.  In these conversations, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Harris discussed the merits of potential candidates and the strategic benefit that each candidate would bring to the Senate seat.”  So just thoughts to ponder, is the merits of a potential candidate based upon how much is in their bank account, and how much they have to offer from said bank account?

And what the main stream media isn’t reporting, is that Obama, Emanuel and Valerie Jarret were interviewed last week by federal prosecutors probing the Blago’ seat bid.

Additional thoughts to ponder are if there were no conversations between Obama or his team and Balgo’s office, then why was Blago so mad?  Based on taped conversations cited by prosecutors, suggested Obama wouldn’t be helpful to him and called him a “vulgar term.”  Told by two other advisers Blago had to “suck it up” for two years, the FBI says it heard Blago complain “he has to give his motherf***er, his Senator.  F*** him.  For nothing?  F*** him!” 

As for the Feds investigation, one member described in Fitzgerald’s complaint hinted that Blago was frustraited by contacts with Obama and his staff.  “Blago said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat, the complaint states, referring to an individual many believe to be Jarret.  And even if the governor were to appoint a candidate favored by the Obama team, Blago said, “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”

If Obama or anyone on the Obama Team did not have a conversation about the senate seat, then why does Blago have the attitude he does towards Obama?  The memo does not address the issue if anyone on Obama’s Team did know that Blago was trying to sell the seat, and if they did know, why did they not contact the authorities.

The Washington Post states:

The report helps explain the first part of the statement [about Obama wanting Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat"]  In his early conversations with the governor, Emanuel touted Jarrett as the best candidate, according to the Obama memo, before learning from Obama that he wanted to remain neutral on the subject.

“The President-Elect believed it appropriate to provide the names of multiple candidates to be considered, along with others, who were qualified to hold the seat and able to retain in a future election, Craig wrote.

But the report does not make clear why Blagojevich stated that he thought the Obama staff was “not willing to give me anything.”  It states that none of Obama’s staff ever suspected that the governor was seeking anything improper in exchange for the Seante Seat. […]

Emanuel offered six names as possible candidates after Jarrett withdrew hers to accept a job in the White House:  Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Jesse L. Jackson Jr.; Illinois Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes; Illinois Veterans Affairs Secretary Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq war: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson.

I would be very curious as to see what an outside attorney would find on the matter, especially considering that The New York Times reported last week that “Emanuel Had Contact With Governor’s Office on Senate Seat”.  And The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that “Emanuel, Blagojevich Aides Discussed Senate Seat.”

And according to the Chicago Tribune, another source said that contact between the Obama camp and the governor’s administration regarding the Senate seat began the Saturday before the Nov. 4th election, when Emanuel made a call to the cell phone of Harris.  The conversation took place around the same time press reports surfaced about Emanuel being approached about taking the position of Chief of Staff in Obama’s administration if Obama should win.

Emanuel delivered a list of candidates who would be “acceptable” to Obama, the source said.  On the list were Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth, state Comptroller Dan Hynes and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Chicago, the source said.

Sometime after the election, Emanuel called Harris back to add the name of Democratic Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to the approved list, the source said.

Blagojevich and Harris, who resigned his state post Friday, are charged with plotting to sell the selection of Obama’s replacement in exchange for lucrative jobs or campaign cash for the governor.

In the meantime, let’s all go back to pretending that Obama is “The One” and has nothing to do with the corrupt Chicago politicians that all know each other, all have worked with each other at one time or another, and all that got him where he is today.

Meanwhile Rahm Emanuel still remains a congressman from the 5th District of Illinois, while working full time on the Obama Team, receiving income for doing nothing with his congressional seat, and has skipped a vote, yet he’s still a lawmaker.  On Emanuel’s personal office website, the last press release was two weeks before the election on Oct. 14.  Meanwhile, Obama has resigned his position effective Nov. 16th, as U.S. Senator, leaving the position open.  Illinois Governor Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell Obama’s seat in Congress, and many wanted him impeached however, the court ruled against a trial.

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Man In Hawaii Charged With Threatening To Kill Obama.

12/23/2008 02:32:00 AM

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mark-miyashiroHere’s one I haven’t heard of, and it happened 11 days ago. 

As everyone knows Obama is in Hawaii on Christmas holiday.  Well, federal agents arrested a 56-year-old Hawaiian man after he allegedly threaded to attack and kill Obama when he visited Hawaii. 

Mark Miyashiro allegedly made threats December 3rd to a doctor who is treating him for a schizophrenic disorder.  Miyashiro apparently told his doctor that he planned to take Obama “out” with a slingshot and marble to prove that Obama is the antichrist and to test to see if after being killed Obama would come back to life.

Miyashiro then allegedly made more threats when Secret Service agents interviewed and arrested him at his home in Kaneohe after the doctor notified authorities.  Miyashiro repeated his plans to them explaining that he planned to take them out first in order to get to Obama.

They also confiscated a Russian SKS assault rifle.

Miyashiro is charged with one count of threatening the life of the president or the president-elect, which is punishable by up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years probation.  He was being held at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu without bail.

I did find a Mark Miyashiro on Facebook and fifdififdi from Hawaii with the same picture, and I did find a listing for a Mark Miyashiro in Kaneohe on “Merchant Circle” and he has written several articles on Helium.  Topics include gun ownership, racism, the death penalty, censorship, education and many touching on spirituality and mental illness.

He is also on “PrintNPo$t” and describes himself to be known as “The Unemployed Comic” and as the “first Okinawan-Jew Stand Up Comic in Hawaii.”

According to one of the articles, he had done his final broadcast on Mar 14, 97 after 20 years of TV.  He says that afterwards he traveled to Israel, NY, St. Louis and to Ghana and made documentaries and that he also became sick with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

According to his bio on Helium, he worked for “many video production companies and worked for several TV stations, at one time I was Production Manager for a Japanese Ind. TV station.  Currently I am teaching a class on editing for the Mentally ill.”

In one article titled “Schizophrenia:  what it is”, Miyashiro talks about fighting his demons with mental illness.  “.. I thought everyone had their voices.”  “I also go involved with conspiracy theories, the govt was out to get me, that I must stop the govt from it’s evil plans.  I still believe this is true it’s just that I keep my opinions to myself.”  “Yes life is an adventure, I accept my condition and try my best, there are times I feel I don’t need my meds anymore, but my family helps me with that area.”

Chances are this man “fell off the wagon” with his meds, and thus the paranoid delusions came back.  He’ll be found unfit to stand trial due to mental illness, and confided to a state hospital until a later time.

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Greyhound: You Won’t Be Home For Christmas

12/23/2008 01:58:00 AM

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OriginalThere is a problem in mass transportation, specifically, the bus industry.  The bus industry has very little regulation.  To drive an 18-wheeler one must get a CDL, or Class-A license, must pass a physical every 2 years, and is heavily regulated via the DOT in the number of hours they can drive and are limited to 72,000 pounds between their rig, trailer and the contents of the trailer. 

In the bus industry, it is a combination between simply driving people around giving them rides without fare, a Class-C license, and a Class-A license, which is considered a commercial license.  Bus drivers only need a Class-B license, no matter the number of the riders.  And, they have no regulations like the airline industry.  If a bus is cancelled due to the weather, you are on your own to fed for yourself for lodging and food.  If you lose your baggage on a bus, according to federal laws, the bus line only reimburses you up to $250 max, at their discretion upon submitting a report.

If the DOT kept track of on times and delays with Greyhound like the FAA does with airlines, Greyhound would be well…. in a lot of trouble needless to say.

I have my own personal horror story with Greyhound, and Ill convey it to you after the current story.

Due to the weather conditions in Seattle on Sunday, Greyhound decided to kick 60 riders who had been waiting at least two nights at the station out of the station, saying they had made arrangements for the riders to stay at a shelter.  When they got there, they were told the shelter was full, leaving them abandoned in 25 degree weather.

seattle_drop_3_-_456 First, on Sunday night, Greyhound passengers, many of whom had been at the downtown Seattle station at least two nights, said they were told by Greyhound staff that they had to leave because the company had run out of food and water at the terminal.

They were feeding us two meals a day, trying to do the best they can, and they said they were going to put us in a shelter because buses were going to be down for the next couple of days,” a woman stated, adding that Greyhound officials promised to pick them back up as soon as the buses were running again.

Passengers were told Greyhound had found someplace better for them to stay, and they were bused to the Seattle Center emergency center, a homeless shelter.  A Greyhound passenger said that Greyhound, “told us that people would be expecting us.  We would have our own space with a bed and pillows and [services].”

The Greyhound bus dropped the people off at the shelter and advised them again they could stay there. 

The shelter “opened the doors for the homeless people at 9 [p.m.], but not for us.  They told us we couldn’t go in,” an abandoned Greyhound rider said.   Another abandoned rider said, “We got here, and they didn't know we were coming.  I can’t believe they did this!”

Unfortunately, the shelter at the Seattle Center turned the passengers away because the shelter does not take children.  Stacy Howard, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army, said staff members had to turn away passengers because they were following protocol that calls for men to be sheltered separately from women and children.

That left families, kids and at least one pregnant woman outside on the Seattle Center property in sub-freezing temperatures Sunday night.

Another rider stated, “They said there was going to be beds, cots for us and blankets, and then they just kind of dropped us off here and apparently Salvation Army doesn’t know anything about what’s going on.”

So 60 men, women, and children weren’t allowed into the shelter.  The Greyhound bus that was used to bring the passengers to the shelter was still there when the group was told they would not be allowed in the shelter with their kids, but the driver drove away.

Eric Wesley, a spokesman for Greyhound, told KOMO/4 that Seattle police told them they could take the passengers to the shelter, and passengers had the option to stay at the Greyhound station, which is near the West Precinct contradicting what the stranded passengers said.

081221_Greyhound_center Seattle police spokesman Renee Witt told KOMO/4 a lieutenant was contacted by Greyhound, and a police lieutenant made arrangements with the shelter to take some of the stranded passengers, but because the shelter could not accept children they had to turn the group away when they arrived.

Meanwhile, around 9:48 p.m., 911 received a call involving 60 people outside the Pavilion Shelter, at the Seattle Center.  The caller relayed the story to 911 and police responded to the Greyhound bus station, only to find it closed.

At the Seattle Center, riders were left wondering where they would go and were frustrated with the lack of communication.  A police officer addressed the crowed at the scene saying, “I went to the Greyhound station, and it’s locked down.  I couldn’t get answers.”

The Seattle Police Department had to step in to help the passengers who were abandoned by Greyhound to find shelter.  The officers then responded to the Seattle Center, and with the assistance from the Seattle Police Communications, found available shelters. 

Three families with young children were transported to the YWCA.  The rest of the displaced individuals (about 40) were taken to “DESC” at 517 3rd Avenue.

Metro or Greyhound were not available to assist with the transportation, so all transports were completed by patrol and West Anti Crime Team. 

They were all in shelters, 1 1/2 hours after the original call. Greyhound spokeswoman Abby Wambaugh said the riders were picked up and taken to the Greyhound terminal Monday morning.

A Greyhound spokesman told the Seattle PI that the company has no plans to issue refunds to any of their passengers, although they will allow them to sleep in “heated buses” until they’re allowed to depart again.

As of Monday, Greyhound spokesman Wesley said no buses were rolling in or out of Seattle because the company did not want to endanger passengers on icy roads.  Wesley said more than 100 stranded passengers were sent to three homeless shelters or allowed to stay at the station.

In a light of good news, a catered meal by FareStart was called in by the Seattle Police Department.  The menu included halibut, chicken penne, grilled asparagus, salad and cheese and fruit plates.

And KIRO radio put out a call for drivers headed to Portland who were willing to take stranded drivers.


Meanwhile in Salt Lake City, dozens of Greyhound passengers, estimated around 50, headed to WA and OR are stranded at the SLC terminal.  By Monday, several passengers are called the “five-dayers” since the arrived at SLC last Thursday.

We can’t keep on like this,” said a woman, who left Tampa FL, to resettle into Portland, saying people have slept for days in the corners of the public terminal and the closest thing to a shower was the bathroom sink.

Some said Sunday they have been there for several days, sleeping on the floor and getting food from homeless charities.  Many can’t afford to pay for a hotel room or go out to eat.

On rider says he thinks Greyhound never should have sold him a ticket in the first place.  “The road was already closed when they sold me a ticket,” he said.  “They knew.  They knew the buses couldn’t get out.”  The bus terminal manager told KUTV off camera the reason Greyhound sold the person a ticket to Portland, and continues to sell tickets to cities buses can’t currently travel to is because unlike an airline, Greyhound doesn’t have a reservation system, meaning the bus tickets can be used today, or a year from today, whenever the bus can travel there.  The tickets however, are non-refundable.

Since the media coverage, the five-dayers said an anonymous donor paid for 20 rooms at a motel for Sunday night, hamburgers and french fries were donated, and several people have brought toys, children’s books and food.

When Kathryn Jenson learned there were soldiers stranded, she took her laptop to the terminal and started buying plane tickets with the extra money she had in "Let’s Fly Em Home.”  The charity buys airfare for needy soldiers.  Thanks to her efforts, about 17 enlistees left the terminal.

Until there was media attention on their situation Sunday, several travelers say the company did little.  That night, Greyhound brought them pizza said spokeswoman Wambuagh.  “We do everything within the resources we have to assist our customers,” she said though she was unaware of similar situations in the past. 

She said Greyhound’s policy is to provide what the terminal can, as well as work with the Red Cross.  She said she was unable to reach the SLC Red Cross earlier, but called the organization on Monday, requesting 50 cots.

Wambaugh added that the Greyhound passengers do not usually get hotel vouchers during weather delays, but the company provides them a “warm, safe place to say,” she said, indicating the SLC bus terminal. [I guess that doesn’t apply in Seattle, eh?]

She also said that people had been waiting up to three days at the terminal, contradicting passenger stories, because of closures on Interstate 84 heading to the Northwest.  There, Wambuagh said, the company has provided food vouchers.

According to the travelers in SLC, those “food vouchers” haven’t been seen, saying all they’ve been given is occasional pizzas.  “Pizza is another means we consider of giving them food,” Wambaugh said.

Also, the company is offering to return people in SLC to where they started for free, unlike the stranded travelers in Seattle.


Last Friday, Greyhound began cancelling service north of Sacramento as road conditions north of Eugene, Oregon became to dangerous.  Many people are still stranded at that terminal.

There obviously Greyhound is not helping those passengers, as one  couple stated they were running out of money to buy food.

Sunday night, Greyhound began offering Sacramento travelers free rides back home.  The Red Cross began distributing blankets.

Monday morning Greyhound allowed Sacramento passengers to board a bus to Eugene, OR.  But Wambaugh said, “Once they get there they’ll have to stay.  We don’t know when the’ll be able to get out of there because of the road situation.”

Weary stranded travelers were happy when a man showed up at the terminal with food however, once the man tried to bring the food in for the people, a restaurant manager threw him out of the terminal.

Most have been told to not expect to get a bus out of the terminal until Christmas.


Now I understand that the weather is causing the delays with Greyhound however, I’m pretty sure that the travelers lives are miserable between the delays and the way Greyhound handles things.

Several years back I had to take a bus from Jacksonville, NC to Las Vegas, NV on short notice and knew that my car would never make it.  I threw around the idea of renting a car however between the cost of renting the car and hotels, I began to look at airlines.  Once seeing their price for a one way ticket, I looked at trains and that was inaccessible.  So I looked at bus fares, which I was somewhere between $172 and $198 and decided to leave the driving to someone else.  I’d never been on a bus before and was up for the adventure.  I wish I had spoken to other people of their experiences with Greyhound before deciding on a bus.

The bus was suppose to leave on a Friday at 6:10 pm from Jacksonville, NC and arrive in Las Vegas, NV on Monday at 6:35am.  All I have to say is.. never again.

As soon as I got to the terminal, I knew I had problems.  First the bus was to arrive at 6:10 pm, but did not show up until nearly 6:45.  The driver hurried and pushed us on to the bus, and then he set the rules.  No one talking on cell phones or he would kick them off the bus.  If someone had headphones on, and he could hear the music as he walked by, he would kick them off the bus.

Needless to say, once we arrived in Raleigh we were suppose to transfer buses however, because our bus was late, we missed that bus.  It took about 30 minutes, but the called a driver in and made arrangements for us to get to Charlotte, NC.  This driver didn’t even have on any kind of uniform for Greyhound, and was wearing street clothes, and he drove like a maniac, nearly pushing a car off the road while changing lanes.

Of course we arrived in Charlotte, NC late, and the bus had left.  More than 40 of us stood around wondering what to do.  Me being the brave person, decided to ask what was going on.  The girl at the counter had no idea what I was talking about and said I had missed my bus and would have to wait 24 hours for the next bus.  I informed her that there were more than 40 people waiting, and we would all have to wait 24 hours?  She said hold on and yelled across the terminal to a man.  The man came up and I asked him the same.  He immediately gave me attitude and told me that if I didn’t stop asking questions about having to wait 24 hours for a bus, that he would kick me out of the terminal.  I immediately looked at his badge and reached for a pen and paper in my laptop bag.  I said “Your name is…..” and he immediately covered his badge up and said he didn’t work for Greyhound.

About 45 minutes later, while all of us are wondering what to do with no one telling us anything, there is an announcement that there will be a bus leaving for Charlotte in 15 minutes.  We all line up and as I hand my ticket to that same man that gave me attitude, I say to him “Thank you very much, you have a great evening”.  The man looked at me and yelled “You better get on that bus right now or I’ll kick you off and you’ll be left here waiting for 24 hours for the next bus.” 

This driver was a rather nice driver.  He was very well dressed in his uniform.  And he drove us safely through the night to Atlanta, GA and I felt that the worst of times was behind me.  Little did I know.

We arrived in Atlanta, GA late of course and the terminal was standing room only.  As picked up my luggage, I learned that I could “pre check” luggage for my next bus, which I did and I was glad to not have to lug around two bags, leaving me with my laptop bag and a backpack with my makeup, books, disks, personal information, you know, like what a woman would have in her purse.  My next bus was to go from Atlanta, GA to Dallas, TX.

As I entered the terminal, lines were already lined up at every gate clear to the far wall.  A girl and I had paired up and took turns waiting in line for what seemed like hours.  Our bus had left at 9:25 am, and here it was just after 10.  I don’t remember the exact time the next bus left but it seemed like it was around 2pm in the afternoon.  Two pm came and went, and then 2:30 and then 2:45 and finally they called the gate.  Needless to say, they overbooked and we were not allowed on the bus. 

I remembered immediately that my luggage was on the bus to Dallas and hurried to customer service asking them what to do.  The woman told me to not worry about it, that if my luggage wasn’t there when I got there, it would be because it got forwarded to my final destination but if I asked to get it off the bus, it wouldn’t happen as they weren’t going to take all the luggage off the bus just for me, and then repack it.

So we waited… and went across the street to this little convenience store, all the while hoping that I wouldn’t get shot, solicited, or approached since the Atlanta terminal isn’t in the best neighborhood.  While there, I learned of someone getting mugged on the other side of the terminal building.  It wasn’t a fun place.

We finally learned that we could get a bus out of Atlanta if we didn’t want to wait another 24 hours however, it was not going to Dallas.  It was going to Nashville, TN.  We both said fine and managed to be one of the first 10 in line.  My trip was now going off my own personal map. 

I don't’ remember much of the ride to Nashville as I think I finally slept for the first time on that bus.  I do remember we got into Nashville around midnight.  While there, we were harassed by the Nashville PD asking to see our tickets accusing us of being homeless people.  I wanted to say to the PD, excuse me, but do homeless people wear Izod, and Ralph Lauren?  As we waited in line, the PD started yelling to everyone, “If you have any drugs or weapons in your bags, you better pull them out now, because we are going to find them” and began doing random searches on people, which is a Constitutional violation.  Our next stop?  St. Louis, MO.

I don’t remember much of this trip either as I again tried to sleep.  We arrived that morning at St. Louis to what could only be described as a building that looked as if it was right out of the 1800s, and it was packed like a cattle pen.  Some people had been waiting there for 24 hours out of the terminal, especially for our bus, which the entire queue area was full.  There was nearly a riot here where people who had been waiting for the bus were arguing with the people who had just gotten in line.  It was a very, VERY interesting time, where about 30 people nearly began fighting with each other and was definitely NOT a safe situation.   But yet the few security that were there were laughing, and making jokes while pointing fingers at people. 

There must have been at least 300 people in this small terminal, and only one person working at the food counter.  And was rather disappointed when I asked for an egg sandwich and was told they were out of eggs.  So I asked for something else, now I can’t remember what, and she said it would take 20 minutes to fix.  So I said just coffee, she said sorry were out.  So I asked for bottled water.  Sorry…. try again.  I said forget it.

Greyhound finally must have noticed that all the passengers for the bus to Denver were a little “upset” and did a smart thing.  They brought out two busses to take us all, and let me tell you, I still think some people had to be left behind.  So off to Denver we go.

I don’t know what time we arrived in Denver anymore, but it was night but this was to be my last leg to Las Vegas.  I don’t remember much here other than when we got on the bus, the driver got lost because he didn’t know how to get to the Interstate, and a rider had to tell him the directions……

Once where were down off the mountain that driver got off the bus and another driver got on.  This guy was a total maniac.  He nearly took out several cars during this leg of the trip, and also got pulled over for speeding, and he did get a ticket.  And he left approximately 10 people behind on one stop.  We yelled at him to stop that people were running after the bus, but he did not stop.  I do not know what happened to them.

We finally arrived in Las Vegas, but not at 6:35 am on Monday, but on Tuesday at 2:00pm in the afternoon.  I immediately got off the bus and headed to check about my baggage.  It wasn’t there.  So here I am in Vegas wearing the same clothes I had put on Friday with no clothes to change into, nothing but my laptop bag, makeup, personal items and that was it.

I called Greyhound on Wednesday and my luggage still wasn’t there.  Finally on Thursday, it was there and I went downtown to pick it up.  I knew immediately I was in trouble.  My luggage had holes in it, the handles broken, zippers were busted, and I was missing quite a lot of items, including a leather jacket.  Total in all, I lost nearly $1,000 worth of items out of my luggage and my actual luggage containers themselves.  I filed a claim only to learn the max according to Greyhound was $250.  It was over a month later I received a check.

During this entire time there were similarities I noticed about Greyhound the entire way.  First, most drivers are unprofessional, rude, sexist and extremely unsafe.  Second, the actual bus itself is not in the best shape and most were dirty inside, including one where the toilet was overflowing.  Third, Greyhound overbooks all the time.  Most everyone I talked to along the way, and I talked to ALOT of people since we had nothing to do but wait since the buses were late or overbooked, is that most had their entire trip plans changed either from routing changes or having to actually wait anywhere from 4 to 48 hours for a bus.  Most Greyhound bus stations are NOT in the safest areas of town with most of them being filthy, and the bathrooms leaving a port-a-potty to be desired instead.  And most employees are either lazy and/or rude.  I also noticed while I was in Charlotte and Atlanta employees in “secluded areas” smoking pot.  How do I know they were Greyhound employees?  Simply, they were wearing uniforms.

My luggage was trashed an unusable at the end of the trip and I will honestly say that Greyhound employees are thieves.  Why do I say this?  Because the locks were broken on my luggage, and you could see were they used something sharp to cut open the luggage around the zipper.  I hope whoever got all my “stuff” thoroughly enjoyed them.

But yet, I feel lucky because I did arrive safe, although I don’t know how, and I arrived only 1 day later than I should have.  Never again though.  Next time I am in a situation where I need to take a long trip due on a short notice, I will spend the extra $150.00 to take a airline and forget leaving the driving to someone else.



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