Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The State Department has bought more than $70,000 worth of books authored by President Obama, sending out copies as Christmas gratuities and stocking “key libraries” around the world with “Dreams From My Father” more than a decade after its release.
The U.S. Embassy in Egypt, for instance, spent $28,636 in August 2009 for copies of Mr. Obama’s best-selling 1995 memoir. Six weeks earlier, the embassy had placed another order for the same book for more than $9,000, federal purchasing records show.
About the same time, halfway around the world, the U.S. Embassy in South Korea had the same idea and spent more than $6,000 for copies of “Dreams From My Father.”
One month later, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, spent more than $3,800 for hardcover copies of the Indonesian version of Mr. Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope,” records show.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Recent United States military triumphs in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and against suspected international terrorists anywhere on the planet have evoked hallelujahs by politicians, the media, and the American people. Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Anwar al-Awlaki are dead. Libya is no longer tyrannized by Gaddafi. Iraq has been emancipated from Saddam’s villainies. Afghans are not oppressed by Taliban. And Pakistan and Yemen have not been overrun by international terrorists or Islamic extremists.
Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.
Steven Preckwinkle, the political director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow union lobbyist David Piccioli were the only people who took advantage of a small window opened by lawmakers a few months earlier.
The legislation enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.
Preckwinkle’s one day of subbing qualified him to become a participant in the state teachers pension fund, allowing him to pick up 16 years of previous union work and nearly five more years since he joined. He’s 59, and at age 60 he’ll be eligible for a state pension based on the four-highest consecutive years of his last 10 years of work.
His paycheck fluctuates as a union lobbyist, but pension records show his earnings in the last school year were at least $245,000. Based on his salary history so far, he could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives.
His pay for one day as a substitute was $93, according to records of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., has made a name for himself by railing against federal government overreach.
After remarks at Politics & Eggs, a popular political forum in Manchester, N.H., one Granite Stater in attendance asked Paul to describe his foreign policy position. Again, Paul mentioned federal government intervention, this time our behavior as “policeman of the world.” That activity, according to Paul, has cost America money, safety and created foreign enemies in the process.
Paul cited the animosity that our foreign entanglements have created, comparing suicide attacks against the U.S. and its allies before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Suicide terrorism has been around for awhile,” Paul said. “There was a bit of it before 9/11, obviously, but if you look at all the suicide terrorist attacks prior to 9/11, if you equate that number, it’s equivalent to the attacks on us and our allies every month, compared to all the years before 9/11, which means that we’re under systematic attack.”
Really? As many per month as all the years before?
His campaign e-mailed us a list of articles and news stories before 9/11 with a list of four al-Qaeda plots and attacks against the U.S., including its embassies, before 9/11. Not all of the incidents listed were suicide attacks (the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center) or even carried out (the thwarted Bojinka plot in 1994).
The list of attacks post-9/11 provided by Paul’s campaign included 30 or more al-Qaeda actions against U.S. troops, foreign citizens working for the Defense Department, attacks in foreign nations in which Western tourists — including Americans — were killed, and suicide attacks carried out against U.S. allies, including Israel, Great Britain and Australia. The links ranged from October 2002 to January 2011, but the incidents were sporadic and not monthly. So what Paul’s office provided didn’t square with what Paul had said.
When we tried to get additional information, Paul’s campaign did not respond.
We decided to look for additional resources for a more accurate listing of the suicide attacks that have occurred against America and its allies before and after 9/11.
The University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST), features a database of all suicide attacks from 1981 to 2011, which includes the location of attacks, the target type, the weapon used, as well as information on the demographic and general biographical characteristics of the suicide attackers.
The database, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense since 2004, according to Robert A. Pape, Professor and Director of the CPOST project, uses 1981-2011 as parameters because that’s when suicide missions as they are understood today began.
“It goes back to the early ‘80s because that’s when suicide attack really begins,” said Pape, who is also the author of Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. “Before that you have people who kill themselves to avoid capture — that’s different than killing yourself to kill someone else. Then you have the Kamikazes in World War II. …But in terms of the modern phenomenon – it goes back to the early ‘80s.”
Because Paul’s campaign specified al-Qaeda as attackers in their lists of sources, we searched the CPOST database for its category “al-Qaeda vs. U.S. & Allies” suicide campaigns from 1981-2011.
Pape said CPOST means by that category, “Americans and those working with or for Americans.”
The database revealed al-Qaeda carried out 42 suicide missions against the U.S. and its allies from 1981-2011. Four were prior to 9/11, in 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000. After Sept. 11, 2001, there were 37 suicide attacks.
With 37 suicide attacks in the 121 months post-9/11, clearly there are some months with no attacks. In the months when attacks occurred, they numbered from one to three a month. The maximum number occurred twice: in April 2007 and January 2011.
So the monthly levels of al-Qaeda attacks post-9/11 is not equivalent to all the suicide attacks on the U.S. and its allies that predated that date.
But since Paul’s campaign provided a list that was broader than just suicide attacks by al-Qaeda — some of them were not suicide attacks, and others, foiled plots — we figured they might have also misinterpreted which group Paul meant in his remarks. Paul didn’t actually identify a specific group. We decided to see how the data compared if we searched all suicide attacks committed against the U.S. and allies before and after 9/11 — not limited to al-Qaeda attacks, but also those carried out by Afghani rebels, Hezbollah, Iraqi rebels, Pakistani militants and Uzbek rebels.
With expanded parameters, the database revealed 1,844 suicide attacks against the U.S. and its allies —10 of which happened before 9/11.
The 1,833 suicide attacks in the months following 9/11, from the end of 2001 into 2011, occurred from once a month (Nov. 2002) to 48 times (July 2007).