Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Pig In Herndon?

We humans could learn a lesson well taught
By porkers in general who give us this thought.
A laugh a day, a clear conscience at night,
A slight forgiven, a wrong made right.
These things so easy for our porcine friends,
Seem to be hard lessons learned for mortal men.
In this season of Christmas, love and light,
Should we not try harder to do things right?

Phyllis Battoe, 1994
Published at
Propects look good for Bridgette Suder to keep Bacon, in spite of Herndon's zoning laws, which forbid the keeping of swine within the town limits. She recently received a six-month continuance, during which time the Herndon Town Council will contemplate a change in the zoning law. Possibly the above poem, submitted by Ms. Suder to the town council at an end-of-the-year hearing, has something to do with the granting of the continuance.

Bacon is, of course, a potbellied pig. From the January 29, 2007 Washington Post article "Home Is Where Her Hog Is":
Potbellied pigs, originally bred in Vietnam and imported to the United States from Canada, are considerably smaller than their factory farm cousins, which can reach 1,500 pounds. They enjoyed a brief vogue as domestic pets in the 1980s, and several localities, including Seattle and Colorado Springs, have made exceptions for them. Fairfax County does not expressly forbid pigs but requires a residential lot of at least two acres.
Ms. Suder, however, has done her research and is counting on a precedent set by the town council a few years ago:
[S]he looked at Virginia law, which indicates that if Bacon is not destined to be bacon, or otherwise sold for profit, she qualifies as a "companion animal." Herndon's zoning code also revealed an interesting exception. It bars town residents from keeping "more than one female fowl." Officials said that when the Town Council was getting ready a few years ago to crack down on people keeping chickens, roosters and geese, a little girl with tears in her eyes showed up at a hearing to plead for her pet duck, Gertie.

Thus was the Gertie amendment drafted into town law. Suder thinks there's also room for the Bacon exception.
Most of Ms. Suder's neighbors are supporting her efforts to keep Bacon, and it remains a mystery as to which neighbor filed a complaint:
...[M]ost neighbors say they have no objection to Bacon. In fact, after two noisy dogs owned by the house's previous occupant, some consider her an upgrade.

"Most of us were happy to see the pig," said Chris Smith, who has lived on Bowers Lane for 20 years. "We had visions of Arnold from 'Green Acres,' but she's pretty sweet. We hardly ever see her, to tell you the truth."

Bacon leads a good life with Ms. Suder:
She shares the rented ranch home with Bacon, a new boyfriend, an over-caffeinated Jack Russell terrier named Willie and two ferrets. Everybody seems to get along.

Despite some robust snoring, Bacon sleeps in a well-cushioned corner of the bedroom. Her diet is surprisingly light: one cup a day of special food "for less active adult pigs," as the package says, although she gets scones as an occasional treat. Bacon is litter-box trained, Suder said, but prefers the back yard, where she stays. Suder doesn't walk her.
Ms. Suder might just get that zoning exception. After all, the town council made an exception for pet duck Gertie, with the one-female-fowl rule.

I wonder who that complaining neighbor was. As far as I can tell from the article, Ms. Suder's landlord is not complaining. Could it be that Bacon offended a Muslim neighbor's sensibilities? Pure speculation on my part. The newspaper article gives no information as to the identity of the complainant.

Ms. Suder loves Herndon and wants to stay there. As stated in the article,
I love the town, and I'd like to stay here," she said, but not without her pig. "They know I'm gung-ho about it."

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/30/2007 07:00:00 AM  


Monday, January 29, 2007

Toilet Furor

"If We Can't Share a Toilet, Can We Share a Country?"

Multiculturalism taken to extremes.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/29/2007 09:55:00 AM  


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Huge Contrast

While our schoolchildren are being fed drivel about ants and sweet weed (See the video at this posting) and reading Islamic-friendly books such as Clever Ali, children in the Middle East are being indoctrinated in this manner:

[Hat-tip to Gayle for the above video]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/28/2007 06:04:00 PM  


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Stupidity From The Senate

From this article in the January 26, 2007 Washington Times:

Senate Democrats quashed a proposal yesterday that would have dramatically increased civil fines on employers who hire illegal aliens.


Mr. Sessions' proposal came directly out of the employer-sanctions section of the immigration-reform bill approved with overwhelming Democratic support last year.

It would raise the minimum fine on employers from $250 per hired alien to $5,000 per alien. And it would raise the maximum fine from $10,000 per alien to $40,000 per alien.

Though Democrats turned back Mr. Sessions' employer-sanctions amendment, they allowed through a second Sessions amendment aimed at federal government contractors who are caught hiring illegal aliens....
The article also contains this plum, evidencing politics in action, at the expense of the interests of our nation:

After accusing Republicans of stalling, Mr. Kennedy then proceeded to read aloud for five minutes a story in the New York Times about soldiers fighting in Iraq.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/27/2007 07:54:00 AM  


Friday, January 26, 2007

Crisis Management?

Read the details HERE.

In case you didn't see my earlier post about two sad ants, HERE is the story, which, at the end, also includes a video presentation of a booklet brought home from school by Pim's Ghost's child.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/26/2007 07:16:00 AM  


Thursday, January 25, 2007

America Needs A John Howard

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

According to this January 24, 2007 article:
The Australian government, whose leaders have invited Muslims who believe religious law should trump the nation's secular constitution to leave, now has launched an investigation into recordings of messages urging Muslims to kill enemies of Islam.


Prime Minister John Howard has said he believes activities of those in Australia's mosques should be monitored, citing a need for the government to know if members of the Islamic community supported or taught violence.

"We have a right to know whether there is, within any section of the Islamic community, a preaching of the virtues of terrorism, whether any comfort or harbour is given to terrorism within that community,"
Howard told Australian radio earlier.
According to this January 20, 2007 article, police in Australia have seized a DVD, which was available at a Muslim youth center in Oz:
FIREBRAND cleric Sheik Feiz Mohamed's defence of his comments on a DVD calling children to jihad has been undermined by revelations, the video also urges Muslims to kill the enemies of Islam and praises martyrs with a violent interpretation of jihad.

In the DVD, which runs for almost four hours, Sheik Feiz describes inmates of Guantanamo Bay as better Muslims than those in Australia, who would would not forsake their lifestyles for martyrdom.


The sheik, who left Australia in 2005 to live in his father's homeland, Lebanon, exorts his followers to seek the honourable death of the believer, quoting from narrations about the prophet Mohammed.

The DVD was a recording of a series of passionate fire-and-brimstone sermons that told his audience over several weeks nearly four years ago his thoughts on the way to live their lives. "This is our intention that we want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam, loving Islam," he said.


One of Sheik Feiz's former students, Zeky Mallah, who was acquitted of terrorism charges, said the sermon was normal. "That's something that's normal with any Islamic scholar. It's just a way of speaking about things," he said.

Sheik Feiz told The Australian on Thursday that his reference to jihad did not mean violence. He said he was against suicide bombing and violence against others.

However, the DVD is littered with references to violence and a call to arms - most of which is made using examples of historical warriors as an admonishment to modern Muslims for straying from their path.

"If you're a hardliner, you'll say these in lectures; if you're a moderate, you'll keep these views to yourself," Mr Mallah said. "It's not really inciting violence. It is saying to stand up for yourself, to defend yourself and defend your land."
Well, glad that Mr. Mallah cleared up that misunderstanding!

Returning now to the first article, the minister of education and the treasurer have also issued strong statements regarding some of the problems Australia has been having:
Education Minister Brendan Nelson said those members of the Islamic faith who do not support Australian values are welcome to leave. Treasurer Peter Costello, who is seen as heir apparent to Howard, also has made similar suggestions about those who do not accept Australia's Constitution and the laws created by its parliament.

"If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you," he said.

He continued: "I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that that is false. If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option."
This October 26, 2006 article provides a few details as to why certain leaders in Australia are speaking. Excerpt:
Australia's top Muslim cleric rationalized a series of gang rapes by Arab men, blaming women who "sway suggestively," wear make-up and don't cover themselves in the tradition of Islam.

Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly's comments in a Ramadan sermon in a Sydney mosque have stirred a furor in the country with even Prime Minister John Howard weighing in with condemnation.

The cleric also said the judge in the case, who sentenced the rapists, had "no mercy."

"But the problem, but the problem all began with who?" he said, referring to the women victims – whom he said were "weapons used by Satan."


"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?" the sheik said in his sermon. "The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."
The sheik apologized when threatened with deportation, but added this qualification to his apology:
"I had only intended to protect women's honor."
And the sheik's definition of "women's honor" would be _______________?

A six-part series by Laura Mansfield, who is fluent in both English and Arabic, discusses her observations in mosques in the United States. Read it!

[Hat-tip to Ogre for the January 24, 2007 article]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/25/2007 07:30:00 AM  


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First Day Of Class

True story.

My cousin is nearly forty years of age and close to completion of her associate degree at her local community college Certain credits earned there transfer to most of the universities of that state.
Because my cousin was for a long time the working mother of five children — two her own and three her stepchildren — getting all the credits necessary for her degree has been a long, hard slog, with the taking of just a few courses each semester. For the most part, my cousin has been quite laudatory of her professors, particularly of those who require a lot from the students. My cousin is aware that much of what she is learning at the community college will be needed for the job she has in mind.

This past week, the new grading period began. Having tested out of the first semester of English, my cousin placed in the second semester of the course. The following is what happened on the first day of class.

The scene opens in a large classroom, with several students at the ready to begin. My cousin, the oldest of the students by some two decades, is seated in the front row with her notebook and pen at the ready, clearly in a student stance.
(English Professor enters with a flourish}

English Professor: Are you the instructor for this class?

Cousin of AOW (Looks at professor as if the professor has three heads): Noooooo.

English Professor: Is this English XXX?

Cousin of AOW (Incredulously): Yeeeeees.

English Professor (Cheerfully, in a high-pitched voice): Then I must be the instructor!

(English Professor exits. Students look at each other in puzzlement and break out into uproarious laughter.

English Professor returns, with materials in hand and proceeds to hand out what she has brought)

English Professor: Oh, I don't have the last page of the syllabus. There will be no homework this week. (Simpers) Well, I need a writing sample from each of you. Here are the topics. Choose one of the following, and write an essay: Why are you taking this course? or Who is your hero? or How did your childhood compare to that of your parents?

(Class proceeds to write. Once finished, each one turns in a handwritten essay. Cousin of AOW, upon completion of the writing sample, gathers up backpack, approaches teacher's desk, and submits paper)

English Professor (Simpers in a high-pitched voice): Bye, Cousin of AOW!
As soon as class was over, my cousin called me on her cell phone and related what had happened on the first day of a class required for graduation.
AOW (expressing shock): You have no homework? None for the first week? Might we say that you won't be learning anything in this course?

Cousin of AOW (emphatically): Clearly!
It could have been worse, I suppose. The professor might have sent home a booklet similar to the following:

[Hat-tip to Pim's Ghost, whose first grader brought home the above booklet]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/23/2007 03:59:00 PM  


A Few Questions For Hillary

(This posting stuck toward the top for a few days to give commenters time to add their questions. Please scroll down for the latest postings)

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Hillary Clinton is running for President. On January 20, she announced her candidacy on the Internet.

Quite a while back, Beak posted a list of concerns for which Hillary Clinton needs to provide answers. I saved the list in anticipation of the day when she would announce her run for the White House.

Here is Beak's list, as edited by the Grammar Police (me):
1) Highlight the amount of Saudi money the Clinton Library received.

2) Compare her non-record with that of Chucky (Cheese) Schumer. According to Brill, the survivors of 9-11 received zero help from her, but Chuck was everywhere.

3) Replay the booos of the Firemen at the WTC Memorial.

4) Point out she has never been to a Yankees or Mets game. In fact, when her picture was
on the scoreboard in Shea Stadium for a commercial, she was booed. Schumer goes to the games and delivers.

5) Make her comment on the outrageous behavior and comments of Charlie "Red" Rangel. Rangel has praised Castro and has held parties for him. Does she agree with Rangel's obscene comments comparing the Holocaust to Iraq or Bush to Bull Connor?
6) Talk about Marc Rich.

7) Mention her lie on 9-11 that had her worried about Chelsea who was allegedly jogging near the towers.

8) Talk about Filegate and who hired Craig Livingstone.

9) Mention her embrace of Suha Arafat and the fact that Yasser Arafat was the most frequent White House guest.

10) Make her comment on Michael Lerner, who is or was an alleged close friend.

11) Make her separate herself from the Sheehan lunacy. Let her say that any talk of Joooish Cabals or Israel instigating the Iraq war is anti-Semitic.

12) Have her discuss pardons for FALN terrorists.

13) Let us replay the tape of Bill Clinton telling an audience that Sudan did offer Bin Laden well before 9-11. Why was the offer turned down?

14) Ask if Monica Lewinsky was part of the "vast right wing conspiracy." Where does this conspiracy meet, and is Mr Beamish its unofficial leader?

15) Why don't they Democrats take responsibilities for their own failures? She has been preaching this advice to Bush.

15) How can we elect you to represent us if you aren't even courageous enough to sit for a hostile interview with a Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly? The only interviewer who has ever treated her with less than kid gloves is Tim Russert.
Feel free to add to the list.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/23/2007 01:21:00 PM  


Monday, January 22, 2007

A Little Glitz

(Scroll down for recent postings)

Thank you, Debbie and Night Rider!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

You will see the above at the top of each comments page and on the right sidebar.

Night Rider created the graphic for me at Debbie's request.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/22/2007 01:25:00 PM  


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Video: "Is Fox's 24 Anti-Muslim?"

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/21/2007 07:20:00 AM  


Friday, January 19, 2007

Smokescreen: Hezbollah in America

Saturday, January 20, at 8:00 P.M., EST, on Fox News Channel. Read more HERE.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/19/2007 09:01:00 PM  


He Preached In Peoria

Photo from Fox News
Remember this story, "Undercover at the Mosques," and these videos? I posted the story here in "Not To Worry. It Can't Be Happening Here."

Now comes on January 18, 2007, this report from Fox News, via Jihad Watch. Excerpt:
NEW YORK — A New Jersey-born Muslim cleric with links to a suspected Al Qaeda operative who surfaced at a college not far from the cleric's Peoria, Ill., mosque the day before the Sept. 11 attacks has found a new home.

The imam now is spewing his message of hate to a growing group of followers at a mosque in Birmingham, England.

His target: the United States, the United Kingdom, Christians and Jews.

Abu Usamah at-Thahabi, who preached at the Islamic Center of Peoria in 2001, is the subject of a British news documentary that revealed Monday how he regularly exhorts worshippers at the Green Lane Masjid, or mosque, in Birmingham to hate Westerners...
Read more about Abu Usamah at the above links.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/19/2007 06:52:00 AM  


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Domestic Slavery In McLean, Virginia?

See this from the Washington Post and this from the ACLU's web site for information about a civil lawsuit filed against a Kuwaiti diplomat and his wife.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/18/2007 09:16:00 PM  


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bloggers' Party! (Updated Again On January 12)

Steve is organizing a party at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia. In an email to me, he stated the following:
The thing I like about Embassy Suites is that they have free shuttles to the Metro stations nearby. We could plan on museum visits as a group, lunch, dinner, etc. This could be a good event. Embassy also has the Happy Hour - free drinks in the evening for two straight hours....
We're going to have the opportunity to meet our blogging friends face-to-face. Yeehaw!

I'm definitely planning to attend!

See the latest UPDATE from Steve! The new dates for this shindig are May 25/26.

Steve needs feedback from us bloggers as to our preferencea.

RSVP: steve_harkonnen@yahoo.com

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/17/2007 11:59:00 PM  


Monday, January 15, 2007

"Know Your Enemy"

My good friend Mustang has posted an excellent essay, in which he wrote toward the end:
"The fact is that Islamic soldiers, commanders, and generals are each fully represented in democratic societies. They are not here to join us in a celebration of freedom – they are only here to destroy western civilization as it has evolved over the past five hundred years. They can call themselves “Islamic Societies,” or they can call themselves the Spear of Islam . . . it makes no difference. Their purpose is the same. If they cannot blow us apart – and the jury is still out on this, then they will certainly sue us for publishing facts, or expressing opinions, or calling attention to their antics. They have acquired the influence, the resources, and the will to bend us until we break."
CLICK HERE to read Mustang's essay, but first read this link, also posted in Mustang's first paragraph.

[Please scroll down to read my complementary posting, composed simultaneouly and independently from Mustang's commentary]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/15/2007 10:51:00 PM  


Not To Worry. It Can't Be Happening Here.

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

[Photo from Google Images]
According to this source,
Prime Minister Tony Blair recently described tolerance as 'what makes Britain Britain' but in this extensive investigation Dispatches reveals how a message of hatred and segregation is being spread throughout the UK and examines how it is influenced by the religious establishment of Saudi Arabia.

Dispatches has investigated a number of mosques run by high profile national organisations that claim to be dedicated to moderation and dialogue with other faiths. But an undercover reporter joined worshippers to find a message of religious bigotry and extremism being preached.

He captures chilling sermons in which Saudi-trained preachers proclaim the supremacy of Islam, preach hatred for non-Muslims and for Muslims who do not follow their extreme beliefs - and predict a coming jihad. "An army of Muslims will arise," announces one preacher. Another preacher said British Muslims must "dismantle" British democracy - they must "live like a state within a state" until they are "strong enough to take over."

The investigation reveals Saudi Arabian universities are recruiting young Western Muslims to train them in their extreme theology, then sending them back to the West to spread the word. And the Dispatches reporter discovers that British Muslims can ask for fatwas, religious rulings, direct from the top religious leader in Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mufti.

Saudi-trained preachers are also promoted in DVDs and books on sale at religious centres and sermons broadcast on websites. These publications and webcasts disseminate beliefs about women such as: "Allah has created the woman deficient, her intellect is incomplete", and girls: "By the age of 10 if she doesn't wear hijab, we hit her," and there's an extreme hostility towards homosexuals.

The investigation reveals that the influence of Saudi Arabian Islam, Wahabism, extends beyond the walls of some mosques to influential organisations that advise the British government on inter-community relations and prevention of terrorism.

The Dispatches reporter attends talks at mosques run by key organisations whose public faces are presented as moderate and mainstream - and finds preachers condemning the idea of integration into British society, condemning British democracy as un-Islamic and praising the Taliban for killing British soldiers.

Undercover Mosque features interviews with moderate British Muslim figures who are speaking out against the influence of Saudi Arabia's extreme brand of Islam, which is seeking to overturn Islamic traditions of diversity and peaceful co-existence: "We are losing our children to extremists," says Haras Rafiq of the Sufi Muslim Council. Dr Al Alawi of the Islamic Heritage Foundation also warns: "If this continues, you will have extremist mosques in every corner of the UK. You will not have moderate Muslims walking on our streets anymore."
Update: Watch videos

The above is happening across the Pond. But could the same be happening here, in different sessions behind the doors of mosques and Islamic centers? From this source, "Jihad in Small Town America: Part I of a Series," written by Laura Mansfield, who is fluent in Arabic:
...As the meeting drew to a close, the Imam gave a brief speech calling for the protection of Allah on the mujahideen fighting for Islam throughout the world, and reminded everyone that it was their duty as Muslims to continue in the path of jihad...
Ms. Mansfield goes on to describe to a second session at that same mosque:
The same Imam who demanded that the men continue in the path of jihad did a complete 180 degree turn in this session, stressing instead the suras that promoted the “brotherhood” between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. “After all, we worship the same God, and follow the teachings in the books he gave each of us. We are all the same, we are all People of the Book,” he stressed.

The differences between the sessions were striking. Clearly the second session was a recruiting session.


...[T]wo different doctrines are being promoted. One peaceful, friendly, warm, and fuzzy doctrine is being used to draw people in, with a focus on the wellbeing of their children....


[A]s much as we’d like to pretend it hasn’t, Jihad has reached small-town USA. This mosque isn’t in Washington, DC, or New York City. This is a small mosque in a small town in the deep south.

And if it’s in this tiny little quiet southern town, it’s probably in your hometown too.
CLICK HERE for the index to all six parts of "Jihad in Small Town America."

Below is the photograph of a poster in an auto-repair shop in New England:

[Hat-tip to Jihad Watch]

And the following is another graphic for your consideration:

[Hat-tip to Mark Alexander for sending me the link to the first article cited]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/15/2007 08:45:00 PM  


Phone Repair Requested

Verizon is supposed to come today to repair the noise on my line. It remains to be seen

(1) if the technician will actually fix the problem, which has been ongoing for a full year with no lasting resolution,


(2) if the technician can tinker with my line without disconnecting my Internet access as happened a few months ago.

If I suddenly fall silent here, you'll know why!

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/15/2007 07:27:00 AM  


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Monitoring Immigration Status

Centers for day laborers see significant numbers of immigrants every day as these laborers congregate there. According to this item in the January 13, 2007 Washington Post, Herndon, Virginia — which runs a taxpayer-funded center — is seeking a firm not only to manage the center but also to check the status of workers:
The Herndon Town Council has voted to solicit proposals from employment firms interested in operating the town's center for day laborers.

The council, which has promised to crack down on illegal immigration, is looking for a firm that will require workers to present documentation proving that they are in the country legally. Project Hope & Harmony, which operates the Herndon Official Workers Center with Reston Interfaith, does not require extensive documentation....
See additional information about Project Hope and Harmony here and here.

According to Mukit Hossain, founder of Project Hope and Harmony in his May 14, 2006 letter to the Washington Post, humanitarian concerns trump checking on immigration status:

...We felt it was a moral imperative to help those who badly needed help and to solve a community problem with the help of members of that community. Sadly, opponents of the site say that it serves illegal immigrants...The site has done its intended job....But apparently it doesn't matter how well the site works...

Some say the laborers would be better served by returning home and perhaps trying to come back as legal immigrants. Some say they don't want the "illegals" to be put on a path to legalization. But the more I hear these opinions, the more I see them for what they really are: bigotry.
How is the enforcement of the rule of law "bigotry"? Or is the use of the term "bigotry" merely the best way to shut up oppposition in our politically correct society?

A section of today's item in the Washington Post echoes Hossain's views, but without hurling the accusation of bigotry:
Opponents of the plan warned that it could drive immigrant laborers back to the town's streets to look for work. The center opened in 2005 in response to complaints about workers congregating in a 7-Eleven parking lot near downtown.
Laborers might also decide to return to their own countries instead of hitting the street, particularly if local law-enforcement is involved in checking immigration status.

Only one member of the Herndon Town Council voted against the proposal for management of the center to check immigration status. Meanwhile, Herndon has applied for training for the local police to begin enforcing immigration laws.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/13/2007 01:20:00 PM  


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dumbing Down Public Libraries

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

So much for the public library as the poor man's university in Fairfax County!

According to this article in the January 2, 2007 Washington Post, several classics have to go at certain branches so as to make room for books which are more popular:
You can't find "Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings" at the Pohick Regional Library anymore. Or "The Education of Henry Adams" at Sherwood Regional. Want Emily Dickinson's "Final Harvest"? Don't look to the Kingstowne branch.

It's not that the books are checked out. They're just gone. No one was reading them, so librarians took them off the shelves and dumped them....

Public libraries have always weeded out old or unpopular books to make way for newer titles. But the region's largest library system is taking turnover to a new level.

Like Borders and Barnes & Noble, Fairfax is responding aggressively to market preferences, calculating the system's return on its investment by each foot of space on the library shelves -- and figuring out which products will generate the biggest buzz....

"We're being very ruthless," said Sam Clay, director of the 21-branch system since 1982. "A book is not forever. If you have 40 feet of shelf space taken up by books on tulips and you find that only one is checked out, that's a cost."

That is the new reality for the Fairfax system and the future for other libraries. As books on tape, DVDs, computers and other electronic equipment crowd into branches, there is less room for plain old books.

So librarians are making hard decisions and struggling with a new issue: whether the data-driven library of the future should cater to popular tastes or set a cultural standard, even as the demand for the classics wanes.

Library officials say they will always stock Shakespeare's plays, "The Great Gatsby" and other venerable titles. And many of the books pulled from one Fairfax library can be found at another branch and delivered to a patron within a week.

But in the effort to stay relevant in an age in which reference materials and novels can be found on the Internet and Oprah's Book Club helps set standards of popularity, libraries are not the cultural repositories they once were.

"I think the days of libraries saying, 'We must have that, because it's good for people,' are beyond us," said Leslie Burger, president of the American Library Association and director of Princeton Public Library. "There is a sense in many public libraries that popular materials are what most of our communities desire...."
Graphic from this source.
The article's inset, "Books on the Chopping Block in Fairfax," provides a list of some of books being culled at specific branches, including the following titles: The Works of Aristotle by Aristotle, The Great Philosophers by Karl Jaspers, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well by Maya Angelou, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Aeneid by Virgil, and The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. Many of these titles are being removed from the large regional libraries, which offer the most extensive reference desks and have on staff the top-knotch librarians, trusted by teachers and parents to provide reading guidelines for young people. Furthermore, many of the titles being culled are on the required-reading lists for both public and private schools.

Not all library systems are following the method which Fairfax County is using:

As Fairfax bets its future on a retail model, some librarians say that the public library may be straying too far from its traditional role as an archive of literature and history.

Arlington County's library director, Diane Kresh, said she's "paying a lot of attention to what our customers want." But if they aren't checking out Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," she's not only keeping it, she's promoting it through a new program that gives forgotten classics prominent display.

"Part of my philosophy is that you collect for the ages," Kresh said. "The library has a responsibility to provide a core collection for the cultural education of its community." She comes to this view from a career at the Library of Congress, where she was chief of public service collections for 30 years.
Fairfax County readers searching for classics can, for now, request a culled title from another branch or ask for an inter-library loan from another library system. Typically there is at least a week's gap for obtaining material in those ways. And if Fairfax County's model catches on, those wanting to read or to reference certain classics will have to buy their own copies.

The recent article in the Washington Post and the resulting flap in various publications resulted in the posting of the following at the Fairfax County Public Library's web site:

There are classic texts that are widely regarded as some of the most important literature in western culture. These include works by Aristotle, Hemingway, Proust, Faulkner, Bronte, Fitzgerald, Angelou and many others. We are committed to offering classic texts by important writers like these in our library system.

Recent media reports have misled readers to believe that we’ve eliminated all copies of classic titles from our branches. This could not be further from the truth. Although we occasionally have to trim the number of copies we offer in a particular branch, we definitely keep multiple copies of these works in the Fairfax County Public Library. In some cases, we’re even able to offer the text in multiple formats: in large print, on CD, as an e-book, or in languages other than English.

Because there’s a growing demand for more and more books in more and more formats, we have to balance the need to offer classic literature, and satisfy public demand, with the physical limitations of our finite shelf space. We are physically unable to warehouse every book that every resident may want to read. Therefore we have to make difficult decisions about what items to keep in our collection....

In the meantime, as the director of the Fairfax County Public Library, I want to assure you that we take our stewardship of public property very seriously. We make every effort to manage the public’s investment in library materials in a prudent, reasonable and rational way....
By posting the above on the home page, ths public library will likely be able to stay on the good side of the taxpayers. In addition, the library's defense in the above has some validity in that, so far, copies of classics are not being completely removed from the system. Nevertheless, the trend appears to be that of satisfying public demand, tending toward current bestsellers which likely will have few readers once the fad wears off.

The following appeared at the conclusion of a commentary in the January 3, 2007 edition of WSJ's Opinion Journal:

Instead of embracing this doomed model, libraries might seek to differentiate themselves among the many options readers now have, using a good dictionary as the model. Such a dictionary doesn't merely describe the words of a language--it provides proper spelling, pronunciation and usage. New words come in and old ones go out, but a reliable lexicon becomes a foundation of linguistic stability and coherence. Likewise, libraries should seek to shore up the culture against the eroding force of trends.

The particulars of this task will fall upon the shoulders of individual librarians, who should welcome the opportunity to discriminate between the good and the bad, the timeless and the ephemeral, as librarians traditionally have done. They ought to regard themselves as not just experts in the arcane ways of the Dewey Decimal System, but as teachers, advisers and guardians of an intellectual inheritance.

The alternative is for them to morph into clerks who fill their shelves with whatever their "customers" want, much as stock boys at grocery stores do. Both libraries and the public, however, would be ill-served by such a Faustian bargain.

That's a reference, by the way, to one of literature's great antiheroes. Good luck finding Christopher Marlowe's play about him in a Fairfax County library: "Doctor Faustus" has survived for more than four centuries, but it apparently hasn't been checked out in the past 24 months.
Public libraries would do well to take as a model some of Jonathan Yardley's columns in the Washington Post. For example, recently Mr. Yardley wrote this piece about The Great Gatsby as part of
An occasional series in which The Post's book critic reconsiders notable and/or neglected books from the past.
These columns, in effect, help to promote or help us to recall significant works. Perhaps the Fairfax County Public Library could, in special displays, actively promote the reading or rereading of classics in much the same way that the system promotes "Hot Picks."

[Hat-tip to Library Cloud: Libraries in the News for links in the latter part of this posting]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/09/2007 06:41:00 AM  


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Monday Night On PBS

From the PBS web site:
"Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence"

Monday, January 8, 2007

10 - 11:00 pm

Sixty years after the Holocaust, many parts of the world are experiencing a dramatic resurgence of anti-Semitism. This documentary explores the roots of anti-Semitism and examines how and why it continues to flourish today. (CC, Stereo)
Watch the broadcast to see how PBS deals with this topic.

[Hat-tip to Nanc]

Addendum, from Diana West's commentary:
It only took PBS one hour to uncover the causes of anti-Semitism, now in an alarming heyday. In "Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence," narrated by Judy Woodruff, PBS offered the answer: The reason for Jew-hatred, now widely promulgated among Muslim populations, is, well ... Jews! Israel! Even Christianity!...


...The notion that Christians introduced Muslims to Anti-Semitism may well be the conventional wisdom -- indeed, it may even be that nonagenarian Lewis is the source of that conventional wisdom -- but just as surely as Anti-Semitism historically existed in Christianity, it also historically existed in Islam. And I can actually footnote that statement because, quite by chance, the same week the documentary aired, I happened to read the first chapter of a forthcoming book called "The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism" by Andrew G. Bostom, author of "The Legacy of Jihad."

Bostom examines the origins of Anti-Semitism in the Koran (such as in 2:61, which decrees an eternal curse of humiliation and wretchedness on Jews, repeated in 3:112), in the canonical commentaries on the Koran, and in the historical record. And it all begins practically 1,000 years before, say, Queen Victoria made herself an empress. The question is, does Anti-Semitism's origin in Islam, whether Christian or Islamic, become a chicken-egg question for scholars, or does it actually matter?

It matters a great deal, and here's why. The conventional wisdom, as expressed on PBS, does two things. It blames Christianity and the West for introducing Anti-Semitism to a practically Edenic Islamic world, and it minimizes Islam's non-original sin of partaking of it. Indeed, this same conventional wisdom suggests that Anti-Semitism is the natural, if unfortunate, response of "unempowered" Muslims to contemporary political events beyond their control -- namely, the essentially Christian/Western-sponsored establishment of the modern state of Israel....

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/07/2007 06:00:00 AM  


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Write Your Elected Representatives!

(The following is a long read. Please take the time!)

Received via email from the author of Escape! From an Arab Marriage: Horror Stories of Women Who Fled From Abusive Muslim Husbands, with a few links added:

5 January 2007

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

House Representative John Conyers
5426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker of the House Pelosi and House Representative Conyers:

I understand that you are co-sponsoring the “End Racial Profiling Act” and that, among other things, this is prompted by the expulsion of six Muslim imams from an airlines in the United States because of their provocative behavior.

Do you realize that you are being misdirected by CAIR and other Muslims about what is labeled “racial profiling”? Race has nothing whatsoever to do with the problem. It is the demonstrated and proven behavior patterns that we are trying to bring under control and eliminate. Color and ethnic descent do not matter—but what does matter is the ongoing, demonstrated behavior patterns of violence, murder, and continuous determination of destroy this wonderful, beautiful, and free country and yank it back to the religious nightmare of 6th century Islam.

Are you aware that Muslim imams are not just religious clerics of their belief system as are the clerics of the various Christian and Buddhist churches? Imams are very much political players who have been proven to continually preach and promulgate murder of all infidels and Jews. They preach the Qur’anic requirements of hate, violence, lying, and deceit where non-Muslims are concerned, and loyalty and allegiance only to Islam in the United States and in every country in which they are to be found. It is they who promote subversion and endless war against anyone and everyone who is not Muslim because it is the goal of every “good” Muslim to Islamize every country in the world. If every imam was expelled from the United States, the incidence of terrorist activities, planned subversions, dissemination of hate literature to all age groups, and the health and prosperity of Muslim terrorist groups would decrease exponentially. None of this has to do with “race”. It has to do with thinking patterns, incitement to murder, and violent overthrow of our country’s government and institutions fought for and won for us by our Founding Fathers.

If you wish to verify what I am saying, check with (1) Daniel Pipes, Ph.D., author of Militant Islam Comes to America among many other seminal texts on the subject, and the foremost Islamic scholar in the United States, (2) Robert Spencer, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and The Truth About Muhammed, and an authority on the reality of Islam, who has 20 years’ background in Islamic studies—so much so that no Muslim will consent to a public debate on the subject with him, and recipient of death threats on a regular basis, (3) Ali Sina, Ph.D., Director of Faith Freedom International and an ex-Muslim who has received hundreds of death threats for telling the truth and welcoming apostates, (4) Walid Shoebat, author of Why I Left Jihad, and an ex-Muslim who, because he preaches the truth about Islam everywhere in the world, is the recipient of thousands of death threats (5) Bat Ye’or, author of Eurabia,and Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, among others, and the foremost scholar on dhimmitude (institutionalized subjugation and subsequent degradation of non-Muslims in Islam) in the world who writes under a pseudonym to protect herself from assassination by Muslims, (6) Laura Mansfield, translator of His Own Words: A Translation of the Writings of Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri (Second-in-Command of al Qaeda) and One Nation Under Allah: The Islamic Invasion of America, and a recognized analyst of Muslim terrorism and never photographed for her own protection, (7) Steven Emerson, author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us and Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US, and a terrorist group analyst living in hiding because of death threats, (8) Joseph Farrah, an ex-Muslim, author of Taking America Back, and director of World Net Daily, (9) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, co-creator of the film “Submission” and author of The Caged Virgin, recipient of hundreds of death threats, now living in the United States and working at the American Enterprise Institute right there in Washington, DC, (10) Serge Trifkovic, Ph.D., author of The Sword of Islam . . .if you wish more verifiable sources, please let me know.

Are you also aware that there is an umbrella game plan for destruction of the freedom and independence of every person in the United States (and in every other free country) called “The Project”? It is the same pattern that Muslims have used for centuries to infiltrate and destroy every society with which they came into contact.

Anis Shorrosh, Ph.D., an ex-Muslim, has an excellent version of “The Project” which is in actuality the classic game plan for societal destruction which he calls the “20-Year Plan for USA: Islam Targets America”. Muslim invaders have used this same methodology ever since the 7th century in their ruthless destruction of non-Muslim societies. It can be found on at least 14 different websites. Go to Google and put in 20-year plan for USA and it will come up in dozens of entries. Dr. Shorrosh also receives death threats for telling the truth about what we face in this country and must live at five different addresses in the course of each year so the Muslims cannot find him to kill him.

These resources are provided so that both of you can verify what I am saying for yourselves. However, to make it easier for you, I am enclosing a copy of the Front Page Magazine article by Patrick Poole called “The Muslim Brotherhood ‘Project’” and the translation from the French of “The Project” itself also found in Front Page Magazine. Compare it with Dr. Shorrosh’s 20-Year Plan (also enclosed) and draw your own conclusions about the purpose of the many offices of CAIR, the huge Muslim walled enclaves are mini-Saudi kingdoms inside our country, and the ever-growing Muslim colonies in Virginia, Michigan, and California, just to mention some of the largest and boldest foci of subversion of this country.

Samuel Huntington, Ph.D., author of The Clash of Civilizations, after years of research into Islamic societal characteristics throughout history, was confronted with the undeniable conclusion that “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards.”

Another resource you can use to inform yourself further is the DVD (readily available on Amazon.com) called “Islam: What the West Needs to Know: An Examination of Islam, Violence, and the Fate of the Non-Muslim World”. It is not a boring presentation--it will likely give you nightmares.

House Speaker Pelosi, if your remarks in the press release on Wednesday, March 29, 2006, titled “Real Security for All Americans is Democrats’ First Priority” truly mirror your concern, you will follow up on the resources I have suggested, especially the DVD, and you will re-think your eagerness to instigate the act which will allow free and unfettered access to the United States of every single terrorist in the world.

This is not a matter of racism and the Muslims well know it. They are playing games with semantics, and the present concern for political correctness with its associated terminology in the United States which, by the way, has no legal basis and cannot exist in this country because of our Bill of Rights guaranteeing freedom of speech and right of assembly wherever about whatever subject.

Muslim activists are practicing double-speak, using words that have a particular meaning and association in this country to make it appear that they are saying one thing while, in reality, in their frames of reference, mean something entirely different. For example, the simple word ‘justice’. We define the term as equal and fair treatment for all concerned regardless of ethnicity, religion, color, etc. In Islam, ‘justice’ means fair treatment for Muslims only. Another example is the term ‘peace’. Americans define it as everyone living and associating with one another without strife and allowing each to pursue his or her own activities without being persecuted. In Islam, ‘peace’ means that everyone alive has been converted to Islam and that the entire society is under Muslim rule. Everyone else is either dead or a dhimmi.

House Representative Conyers, you appear to be more concerned with being re-elected than with protecting the integrity of this country’s freedoms and the preservation of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Do you wish to help create an environment wherein there is wholesale slaughter of non-Muslims (Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Bahais, etc) as is occurring in India where 80 million Hindus have been slaughtered by Muslims, and in Africa where millions of non-Muslim indigenous inhabitants are considered offal to be tortured, maimed, raped, sodomized, and killed at every conceivable opportunity because they are not Muslim?

The longer you pander to the Muslims, the more they will demand from you. I ought to know. I have personal experience with them and if you do not push back and prevent special treatment and recognition for any reason, you will be helping to sell this country out. You will be discarded the instant you are of no further use to your Muslim constituents because anyone who is not Muslim does not count in their thinking. Don’t let flattery and fine words fool you. You are a tool to be used to the furthest extent possible to help with the overthrow of our government to be replaced with Shari’a law, and, from what I have read about your activities, you are falling for it hook, line, and sinker. This is leading you straight to dhimmitude. If you are an American by birth, act like it and do your job in the way that would make our Forefathers proud and confident of your integrity and loyalty to your country.

Neither of you can say that you “did not know” or “could not find out”. I have given you ample resources to check the truth of what CAIR and every Islamist terrorist organization in this country and abroad are really trying to accomplish.

I know for a fact that many of the members of Congress take bribes from the Saudis in the form of promised compensation and “consultantcies” after retirement, usually in the millions of dollars, in return for favorable legislation—or no legislation against Muslim interests. I do not need to mention names because all of you know who you are and who else is taking ‘Judas money’ to betray the United States.

Do not sell us out as Charles DeGaulle did France in the 1970s to the Arab League in return for money and oil because his ego was dented by the wane of French influence and because he wanted to be a dominant figure on the world scene and “show” the United States. He told himself that it was “for France”.

The French people are suffering, and suffering greatly, from the millions of Muslim immigrants who were relocated to French soil with no intention of their adjusting to French culture, obeying French laws, contributing to French economy and well-being, or respecting French people. French girls are being beaten bloody, raped, and sodomized by Muslim males because they aren’t wearing headscarves, there is wholesale destruction of property and churches, the banlieus (Muslim enclaves) in the cities are now a violence-based law unto themselves, and the French police have no control over the huge numbers of Muslim colonies in what was once a country with a lovely ambience which was a delight to any visitor.

Do not allow the Muslims to colonize the United States further. If you do, when they become a majority in America, they will then proceed to declare the United States a Muslim country and move actively to overthrow all of our institutions, replace them with Islamic law, and try to force everyone to convert to Islam by whatever means necessary.

It was Omar Ahmed, the chairman of the board of CAIR, who blatantly stated in an interview, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Qur’an should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”

Is this what you want for your sons and daughters and your descendants? Is this what you want for our sons and daughters and our descendants? Or is being re-elected and taking bribes to betray the United States of America of more interest to you and the members of Congress?

Sincerely yours,
Author of Escape! From An Arab
Marriage: Horror Stories of Women Who
Fled From Abusive Muslim Husbands
Cassandra also included the following attachments:
Inroads into every country, including the United States, take the form of organizing, funding, and establishing (1) mosques and Islamic schools; (2) providing bought-and-sold imams to preach hatred and contempt for host countries and funding terrorist cells within the mosques; (3) forming Islamist special interest groups such as the Council for American Islamic Relations to lobby for privileges for Muslims alone; (4) infiltrating the media for propaganda and censorship purposes; (5) gaining control of the computer industries to control communications; (6) infiltrating the public educational system by means of textbooks which whitewash and promote Islam; (7) funding entire university Islamic Studies departments chaired by Islamist Ph.D.s and using Islamist professors to teach the Saudi Islamic party line of peace, love, and similarity to Christianity along with lies about the actual mature of Islam and Muhammed; (8) forming Muslim student organizations which purpose it is to keep Muslim foreign students hostile to their host countries, proselytize for Islam, recruit as many new converts as possible, and to set up terrorist cells within the host countries at every opportunity; (9) buying off political leaders with staggering sums of money to influence them to betray their countries and assist in the extinction of their citizens’ national heritages, rights, and freedoms in favor of Islamic dhimmitude; (10) bring fear to the society at large by indiscriminate violence and killings; and (11) establish Muslim rule by force after the fabric of the society and government have been destroyed; (12) threaten to cut off the supply of oil to the United States; (13) terminate American freedom of speech by replacing it with hate crime bills state-wide and nation-wide; (14) Nominate Islamist sympathizers for office; (15) encourage Muslims to penetrate the White House; (16) accelerate Islamic population growth; (17) marry American women and Islamize them, then divorce them and remarry; (18) present resident Muslims as deprived victims of the American system; (19) intimidate anyone who speak out against Islam; (20) open false ‘charities’ and bilk Americans of funding money; and (21) convert angry blacks to militant Islam, but do not tell them that it was the Arabs who originally sold blacks as slaves for centuries; (17) according to Dr. Anis Shorrosh, a former Palestinian terrorist who converted to Christianity and whose knowledge of Islamist goals and strategies for achieving them is firsthand and from experience.
Additional attachments are here and here.

On January 5, 2007, Conservative Beach Girl posted this essay about the importance of knowing the enemy and about fighting that enemy's desire to curtail our freedoms. Last two paragraphs:
Cast off that guilt or shame; shame and guilt are self-defeating and can paralyze you in your efforts. One letter to the editor, one letter to your Congressman, one letter to your Senator advances our cause of keeping our nations free, of keeping the lamp of Liberty bright.

And recall that "gridlock" is a beautiful thing. Support your Congressmen and Senators who support Liberty and Freedom. withdraw support from those who wish to enslave us, who wish to destroy our freedoms, and who wish to appease an implacable foe.
Your letters to your Representative and Senators on Capitol Hill, to editors, to whomever, don't have to be as long as that of Cassandra's. As Conservative Beach Girl has pointed out, you don't have to write mounds of letters. Start by writing just one. Make your voice heard!

Note: See important additional reading at Gates of Vienna's "Free to Say What?"

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/06/2007 08:45:00 AM  


Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Lt. Dan Band

Received last month, via email, with links and a graphic added:
We just got back from the 3rd Annual Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Road to Recovery Conference. The girls and I missed the first three days of the conference due to classes and finals, but Dave said the speakers and the sessions were unbelievable.

We all were able to attend the closing banquet, where Gary Sinise provided the
entertainment. What an awesome guy! You could just see how much he enjoyed playing for these wounded and disabled heroes. He and his band played for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours without a break, then said that they would play a few more songs. Twenty minutes later, he said they would play one more song. The song was Lee Greenwood's, "Proud to be an American." Wow! You've never experienced that song until you've been in a room of American heroes singing along! You could see how tired Gary Sinise was, but he offered to sign autographs and pose with each person that wanted a picture. What a guy! Gary Sinise has also played at many USO shows abroad.

Just a note about the Coalition. The organization hosted 100 veteran families from Wed. to Sun. at Walt Disney World, provided the flights as well as the hotel rooms and passes to the Disney park and some of the group meals. The conference covered a wide array of subjects from how to make yourself marketable for job interviews, a job fair, sessions for the kids to learn how to cope with their parent's disabilities or injuries to the difficult-to-approach subject of sexuality.

I was just so impressed! I'm ready to start volunteering again...

Take care,
Cathie also sent me a link for The Lt. Dan Band. The name for the band derives, of course, from the acclaimed film Forrest Gump, in which Gary Sinise portrayed a double amputee who received his injuries during the Vietnam War. For many people who watched that movie, Gary Sinise will forever be Lieutenant Dan, Forrest's commanding officer who finally learned to manage his injuries and get back to enjoying life.

At the bottom of the Lt. Dan Band Webspace is mention of the conference alluded to in the above email:
We ended our 2006 schedule with a pair of performances. The first was a concert for wounded soldiers and their families at a conference in Orlando, FL (saluteheroes.org) We then traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to play for the troops stationed there....

The Lt. Dan Band web page provides links to further information about the band's mission and activities.

Additional information about the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes is HERE.

[Source for pictures]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/04/2007 08:25:00 PM  


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Keith Ellison To Use Special Koran

Reproduced in its entirety, the following is an item which appeared in the "Style Section" of the January 3, 2007 Washington Post:
Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

"He wanted to use a Koran that was special," said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison's 5th District, was happy to help.

Jefferson's copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson's collection and has his customary initialing on the pages. This isn't the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies -- the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Ellison will take the official oath of office along with the other incoming members in the House chamber, then use the Koran in his individual, ceremonial oath with new Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers' belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself," said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert.

One person unlikely to be swayed by the book's illustrious history is Goode, who released a letter two weeks ago objecting to Ellison's use of the Koran. "I believe that the overwhelming majority of voters in my district would prefer the use of the Bible," the Virginia Republican told Fox News, and then went on to warn about what he regards as the dangers of Muslims immigrating to the United States and Muslims gaining elective office.

Yeah, but what about a Koran that belonged to one of the greatest Virginians in history? Goode, who represents Jefferson's birthplace of Albemarle County, had no comment yesterday.
Thomas Jefferson was noted for his research on all religions. He could also have read the Koran for the purpose of doing research related to the motivation of the Barbary Pirates.

It is unlikely that Mr. Ellison will mention the following when he holds that special Koran in his photo-op ritual:
Jefferson was always reluctant to reveal his religious beliefs to the public, but at times he would speak to and reflect upon the public dimension of religion....


...[A]s he writes to William Short on October 31, 1819, he was convinced that the fragmentary teachings of Jesus constituted the "outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man."...
In contrast, Mr. Ellison does not hesitate in proclaiming his religious preferences. See "Ellison: Muslim Activism As Part Of Allah's Plan."

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/03/2007 09:00:00 AM  


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Student's Short Story: "Another Tom Sawyer Adventure"

(Graphic from The University of Virginia)

This 2006-2007 school term, my high-school composition class is focusing on creative writing. After having read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, students were assigned to write "A Further Adventure of Tom Sawyer," with specific instructions to imitate Mark Twain's writing style.

The short story below was written by M.B., one of the ninth graders in my homeschool classes. Enjoy!

Up in Smoke

The schoolroom was hot. Like a dungeon, it kept the prisoners closed in.

Tom and the rest of the children were miserable, and beads of sweat formed on all brows. He listened silently to the everlasting drone of the schoolmaster’s voice. Although it was only April, the day had brought a heat wave so amazingly warm that even water left outside for ten minutes began to increase so much in temperature that drinking it was out of the question. As the teacher droned on, Tom imagined himself swimming with Huckleberry and Joe. How nice it would be to just jump in the river and swim from morning until nightfall! Finally, with nothing better to do, Tom started to actually listen to the teacher’s lesson.

“And so, by adjusting a magnifying glass in just the right manner, you can magnify the sun’s heat,” the master droned.

With those words the teacher’s speech was no longer a drone to Tom’s inviting ears but like sparks of joy. A thought struck him: What if he could make a fire with a magnifying glass? He waited anxiously for school to end.

Once the master had announced that studies were over for the day, Tom rushed home where he anxiously looked for a magnifying glass. “I’ll be darned ef I dernt find that magneefying glass,” Tom said, searching under pillows and books.

Finally, his eye caught hold of something shiny. Under closer inspection, he found his desired object, let out a war whoop, and scrambled out of the house and toward the river.

Presently he came upon Huckleberry Finn, who was fishing. “Huck, Huck. It’s a long story, but, ya see, in school today I paid attention and…”

Tom couldn’t finish before Huck interrupted him. “Leapin' lizards, Tom!” Huck yelled. “You were payin' otenshun in class? Are you eell?”

“No, listen,” Tom answered. “I learnt that a body could make a fire with a magnifying glass!”

“No, cain’t be so.”

“But et's true, I think. You see, the schoolmaster says that you can a make a fire reeflectin' the sun with a magnifyin' glass.”

“Let’s see et dun then.”

Tom picked up a dry leaf and stood in the sun. He positioned the magnifying glass over the leaf. The boys waited patiently. Even Huck, the skeptic in the matter, was eager to see what happened.

But nothing did happen. The two of them sat for a minute waiting in anticipation.

Finally, Huck broke the silence, “Sorry, Tom. I guess that teacher of yers is fool of beens.”

“Wait,” Tom said. “Do you see that orange circle lookin' thang?”

“Why, I do.”

“What ef I pozeeshun et a lettle farder away?”

Tom did this, and to the two boy’s great delight, smoke started to rise; then, a small flame trickled up engulfing the leaf in fire. Huck and Tom leapt with ecstasy.

“I dernt boleeve et, Tom!”

“Et's a dream come true, Huck!”

“Tom, what ef we could make a bonfire?”

“That would be grand!”

Tom and Huck started to gather all sorts of leaves, twigs, roots, and sticks and piled them into a heap. After about fifteen minutes of doing this, they sat down and had a drink from the river.

“I sure am tahrd,” stated Huck.

“Don’t be tahrd!” Tome responded. “All we hafta do is light the fire.”

“By dern, let’s see that fire lit then!” said Huck.

Tom positioned the magnifying glass delicately over the middle of the pile where the leaves lay. Slowly, a tower of smoke started to rise from the pile, like ash rising from a chimney. Then, a small flame suddenly shot up from the middle of the billowing tower of smoke. The flame started spreading all over the pile, and in a matter of seconds, the whole array of leaves and twigs was engulfed in the fire.

“Woohoo! We did it, dint we?” exclaimed Tom.

“We shore did!” Huck cheered.

The two boys danced in delight, jumping up and down and doing handstands. They were so filled up with pride that they didn’t notice that a flame had escaped from the pile and was presently venturing up a tree. Their cheers of joy became cries of horror. They had forgotten to put up a barrier!

The two boys ran about throwing water onto the tree and now onto the bonfire too, for other flames were starting to be adventurous. They used their hats, hands, clothes — anything that they could soak or fill up to douse the fire. Finally, after ten minutes of drenching the area, the fiery terror subsided.

Exhausted, the two boys lay still on the ground a second or two as they contemplated their narrow escape.

Finally, the silence was broken by Huckleberry. “Well, that shore was fun, besides the whole fire satuation.”

“Yeah,” replied Tom in a daze. “Shore was.”

“Well, uh, seeyah toomarow.”

“Yeah, you too.”

The two boys walked away — Tom to Aunt Polly’s house, Huck to his hogsheads — and never spoke of their adventure again.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/02/2007 06:40:00 AM  


Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006

(This posting to remain at the top through January 2, declared National Day of Mourning)

Flags at half mast at the Washington Monument, in honor of the passing of a President.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/02/2007 06:39:00 AM  


Monday, January 01, 2007

The List

According to the Washington Post, what's out and what's in. Read it here.

Turn the page ....

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/01/2007 08:33:00 AM