Pakistan Not Convinced By Defense Report

The Department of Defense issued a report and apology to the Pakistani government last week regarding a NATO airstrike that resulted in the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan has rejected the report calling it “short on facts.”

“Pakistan’s army does not agree with the findings of the US/NATO inquiry as being reported in the media,” a statement from the Pakistanis said, according to Russia Today.

A vital U.S. supply route to Afghanistan was blocked by the Pakistanis in response to the November killings. Soon after the U.S. report and apology, the State Department said it hoped that Islamabad would lift its blockade on the transportation of military cargo to Afghanistan through its territory.

Pakistan’s response is likely to worry Washington since the country is of critical importance to the United States in the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan not only provides a key route for supplies, but is important for peace negotiations with the Taliban which have recently been part of the American agenda.

Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the future relationship between the Pakistani and U.S. militaries will likely be defined in a “very stern, formal way … with well-defined limits of cooperation,” according to The Associated Press.

 

Justice Department Strikes Down Voter ID Law

The Justice Department on Friday rejected South Carolina’s measure requiring photo identification at the polls as discriminatory against minority voters.

The decision may heighten political tensions over the new laws, which critics say could depress turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Barack Obama in 2008. A dozen States have passed laws requiring voters to present State-issued photo identification this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to The Washington Post, under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, several of the States that enacted voter-identification laws are required to receive Federal preclearance to ensure that the laws don’t have unfair impacts on minority populations.

Some of the voter-identification measures would impose restrictions on early voting and make it harder for former felons to vote in addition to requiring identification. One study estimated that the changes could affect more than 5 million voters throughout the country, according to the article.

South Carolina now has the option of trying to get the law approved by a Federal court or passing another law and submitting it to the Justice Department.

Christmas Cheer With A Side Of Liberty

The Christmas season means multiple gatherings with family and friends, filled with holiday cheer. This weekend will be the culmination, as many people cart off to multiple destinations to have wonderful festive meals and enjoy lively conversations with loved ones. But there is one thing that can turn any holiday gathering into a disaster; and given the heightened political awareness over the coming election, it may be hard to avoid.

Some of you may already be thinking about that one holiday destination that you wish you could avoid. Maybe you have a devastatingly liberal in-law; or you’re going to see a relative who was once a bright kid, now home from college for the holidays with a head stuffed full of ideas from left-leaning professors; or maybe you will see the loved one with whom you always end up entangled in a political argument. Whatever the case, getting into a heated political discussion wherein everyone wants the last word can put a damper on the festivities.

For many of us who are liberty-minded or who live according to our conservative principles, sitting idly by as one of our relatives — whom we will affectionately call Joe Liberal — spouts off his most recent ideas about the fundamental importance of addressing global warming, re-electing Barack Obama or continuing the OWS protests is hardly an option. But how are we to approach Joe in such a way that doesn’t send the conversation spiraling out of control into a full-fledged Christmas-dinner argument? That may be the oldest question in political discussion.

If you are interested in getting your point across — and maybe winning a few hearts and minds along the way — as you tell your wayward friend or relative of the importance of the Constitution, conservative values and being prepared, you may be able to do so with some basic philosophy and tactics of debate.

The first and probably most important thing to do when discussing a sensitive issue is to be wary of your emotions. Nothing can make a person look ill-informed like an emotional outburst, so stick to what you know and discuss your side of the issue calmly and with reason. If you avoid emotional outbursts, you will also make it easier to avoid the death knell of many debaters: logical fallacies. A logical fallacy is, to put it broadly, an error in reason while trying to convince another person to take your position in a discussion. There is a very long list of fallacies that pertain to philosophical debate, but being able to avoid just the most common ones can make you a very effective communicator.

A list of five logical fallacies to avoid and examples of some your liberal relative may commit:

Slippery Slope: This is a conclusion based on the premise that if A happens, eventually through a series of small steps (B,C,D…),  Z will happen, too. So if we don’t want Z to occur, we must avoid A. Example:

If Ron Paul is elected, he will take us back to the 18th century and bring back slavery.

Hasty Generalization: Is a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. Example:

Some OWS protesters showed up because they lost their jobs, so they must have suffered injustice because of a system stacked against them.

Begging The Claim: Making a claim that is not validated. Example:

Coal is filthy and it pollutes the Earth and we can do everything we do with it by using green energy, so we should ban coal.

Ad Populum: An emotional appeal to a positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concept rather than the real issue at hand. Example:

The government passed the Defense Authorization Act, which allows Americans to be detained indefinitely, because some Americans are terrorists linked to al-Qaida. If you loved America, you’d support the act.

Red Herring: This is a diversionary tactic that avoids the key issue, usually by dodging opposing arguments rather than addressing them. Example:

We need tighter gun-control laws, because if we had them, the Justice Department would have never needed to implement Operation Fast and Furious to track illegal guns.

This list of fallacies to avoid is by no means exhaustive, but chances are you will hear and recognize one of these in a holiday conversation if there is any political discussion. Imagine young Joe Liberal’s surprise when all of his professor’s talk about how conservatives are anti-intellectual is shattered as you point out his ad populum, and therefore invalid, argument when he tries to explain to you that not supporting OWS means not being a patriot in support of the 1st Amendment.

Also very important to avoiding argument and possibly winning over a few liberal minds is sticking to what you know. Simply saying something is right or wrong “just because” will infuriate; but being able to provide examples of why, using the vast knowledge acquired over a lifetime, can change the tune.

Sticking with what you know goes hand in hand with allowing the person with whom you are speaking to use what they know to reach a conclusion that is in line with your point. This is similar — albeit a simplified description — of the method of teaching created by the classic Greek philosopher Socrates. Using the Socratic Method, you present each of your points as a question rather than a command and build upon each of the other person’s answers with another question until they have reached your point for you. If you use this method and are able to avoid fallacious questions, you will have built a solid argument and possibly learn things even you didn’t know about the point you sought to make.

If you are at all able to avoid talking politics at holiday gatherings, do so. This is the time of year that should be set aside for loved ones and joy, a time that should be difficult to be fouled up even by incompetent lawmakers, a woefully inept Presidential Administration and an election season that is heating up. You do, however, need to be prepared. The liberals are.

Planned Parenthood recently posted an article on their website titled “Talking Turkey: 8 Easy Steps for Discussing Reproductive Health and Justice at the Holiday Table” in an effort to bring words like contraceptive, abortion and rape to your holiday table and help your liberal relative convince you why you should support abortion. The article, before giving ideas about winning the debate, begins:

The holidays are upon us! Going home or getting together with relatives for the holidays is always a stressful time, but if your family members are the type who regularly protest outside the local Planned Parenthood, you know that this holiday is going to be a doozy.

And if you thought Barack Obama was going to allow you to escape during the holidays from the reality that he will be running for President again in 2012, you were wrong. Last week, his campaign announced that it was a perfect time to donate to the cause of destroying America in the name of a conservative as a Christmas gift. Obama supporters were also told to threaten to donate $3 to Obama’s campaign every time their conservative loved ones “say something outrageous” about the President during holiday gatherings. Fortunately, it should be quite easy to make logical arguments against Obama at this point and avoiding fallacies makes any argument decidedly not “outrageous.”

Merry Christmas and good luck! We at Personal Liberty Digest™ hope you are able to bring all of your liberal family and friends to the cause of freedom, liberty and Constitutionally guaranteed rights during the holidays. We may need them in the coming elections.

Maxine Waters Ethics Case Drags On

The House Ethics Committee has extended the special counsel investigation over conflict-of-interest allegations against Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and whether the panel itself improperly pursued the case against the lawmaker.

As part of an investigation that may cost taxpayers as much as $800,000, the bipartisan panel voted unanimously to give Washington lawyer Billy Martin until July 31 to assist the committee in its handling of the Waters case.

Waters is accused of using her legislative power to intervene on behalf of a bank where her husband owned stock and served on the board. The case against Waters has been delayed twice. First, the committee delayed trial to further investigate the case and then the committee came under investigation for its handling of the case, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Waters has a particular interest in getting any charges cleared. The 73-year-old lawmaker is in line to succeed retiring Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts as the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.

Sam Brownback’s Tea Party Kansas

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas is on the way to making his State a showcase for the virtues of limited government.

The Governor has said his main concerns are creating jobs, cutting taxes and bringing new businesses; and he is working toward those goals in true Tea Party fashion.

Over the past year, the State has cut three agencies and 2,050 government jobs. Brownback also rejected a $31.5 million Federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, according to The Washington Post.

The Governor has also established a new “Office of the Repealer” who canvasses the State searching for places to reduce the number of laws and regulations. Some people in the State believe that Brownback’s sweeping Tea Party reforms as Governor may be used as fodder for a future Presidential bid.

Report: Local Police Becoming Increasingly Militarized

Police forces in cities across the Nation are becoming increasingly militarized, concludes a new report from the Center For Investigative Reporting.

Police, like those in Fargo, N.D., have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets similar those used by soldiers in foreign wars. The onslaught of purchases for military-style equipment is being carried out with Homeland Security funds allotted since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. In Fargo, the police are equipped with a $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. Because opportunities to use such heavy firepower are rare, the truck makes routine appearances at town picnics.

Since 9/11, the Federal government has shelled out more than $34 billion in an effort to militarize police forces throughout the country. Following is a list of some of just a few of the things the report says that America’s now quasi-military police forces have purchased with the money:

  • In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone.
  • In Garland County, Ark., a local law enforcement agency acquired four handheld bulletproof protective shields costing $600 each.
  • In East Baton Rouge, La., local law enforcement purchased $400 ballistic helmets.
  • In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer has not died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests.
  • Police in Des Moines, Iowa, purchased two $180,000 bomb robots.
  • The city of Ogden, Utah, is about to launch a 54-foot, remote-controlled “crime-fighting blimp” with a powerful surveillance camera.

Besides the military-style equipment being provided to officers on many forces, training procedures are taking on an increasingly martial style. Law enforcement officials in places like Fargo say that despite the fact that crime rates do not appear to be on the rise, concerns over terrorism and some right-wing militias and white supremacists have been long-standing threats.

 

Defense Department Apologizes For Accidental Killings

Already frail U.S.-Pakistan relations were strained last month when a cross border air raid resulted in the death of two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan responded to the killings by shutting off key U.S. supply routes into Afghanistan, according to International Business Times.

The Defense Department in a recent statement said of the military action, “given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self-defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon. [We] also found that there was no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials.”

The department blames “inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistani military officers operating through the border coordination center” for the accidental killings of the Pakistani soldiers.

“For the loss of life — and for the lack of proper coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses — we express our deepest regret,” said the Defense Department statement. “We further express sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government, and most importantly to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded.”

The Pakistani government, at the time this article was written, had not responded to the apology.

ACLU: Drones Pose Serious Privacy Issues

A recent report published by the American Civil Liberties Union says that the increasingly common use of military-style drones in domestic U.S. airspace is creating a considerable need for American privacy protections against drone surveillance.

In early 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose new rules to make it much easier for law enforcement agencies to gain permission to use drones in the United States. The ACLU says that Congress must act to ensure that provisions are in place that do not allow for encroachments on personal privacy.

The report details expanded domestic surveillance applications of aircraft ranging from larger drones like those currently being used to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border to large blimps that can stay aloft for days that could be used for surveillance at altitudes much higher than winged aircraft.

The ACLU report also outlines the nature of the high-tech video software that many drones are equipped with, which has the capability to monitor any and all public spaces and some private. The report notes a new Air Force project called Gorgon Stare which would use multiple video cameras on drones to capture live images of entire cities with the capabilities to zoom in on individual targets and track their every move. The Air Force is seeking to put the system on a craft that can stay airborne for up to two weeks at a time.

Despite strong interest in deploying drones for law enforcement, so far the domestic use of drones has been held back by the FAA, which has proceeded cautiously, the report says. ACLU officials contend, though, that pressure from the multibillion-dollar defense industry may soon lead to widespread domestic drone use if the FAA lessens regulations.

Hillary 2012

A robo-call being received in many States is pushing Hillary Clinton to enter the 2012 Presidential race.

“America would be better off today if Hillary Clinton was our president,” says the call. “The Wall Street robber barons would be jailed, young people could afford college and find jobs and 6 million homeowners wouldn’t face foreclosure.”

The call then directs people to go to runhillary2012.net and sign a petition to persuade the onetime Presidential candidate to run again. The call claims to be a “project of the 99 percent.”

This is not the first time that a Clinton 2012 suggestion has been mentioned; Former Vice President Dick Cheney in September suggested on ABC News that the Secretary of State make a Presidential bid.

“I think she’s probably the most competent person they’ve got in their– in their cabinet.  And– frankly, I thought she was gonna win the nomination last time around,” Cheney said. “Maybe if– the Obama record is bad enough– and these days it’s not very good, given the shape of the economy maybe there will be enough ferment– in the Democratic Party so that there will be a primary on their side.”

More Calls For Holder To Step Down

Representative Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) said he “has seen enough.” Schilling is the 61st in the House of Representatives to say Attorney General Eric Holder should resign over Operation Fast and Furious.

“Rep. Schilling has seen enough to feel that Attorney General Holder should have known and done more with regards to Operation Fast and Furious, and is supportive of calls for his resignation,” Schilling’s spokeswoman told The Daily Caller.

Now, between independent calls and a “no confidence” resolution drafted by Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), more than 90 lawmakers have called for Holder to step down from his position.

A letter sent to Holder from the House Oversight Committee last week, asks the AG to testify to “examine flaws in the management structure of the Justice Department as demonstrated in the genesis and structure of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious” in January.

Holder said last week that the criticisms against him and the Justice Department are a Republican attempt to attack the Administration of Barack Obama and even suggested that racial motives were at play.

 

Payroll Tax Extension May Be Dead

The pressure mounted on Wednesday to approve the Senate-passed payroll tax measure to temporarily extend a payroll tax holiday, with several GOP Senators and President Barack Obama pushing the issue.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board issued a critique this morning of Republicans’ handling of the tax fight, saying they “have thoroughly botched the politics” of the issue and have “achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter.”

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) agreed with the editorial, which called for House Republicans to “cut their losses” and move the bill, according to The Washington Post.

House Speaker John Boehner dismissed the Wall Street Journal editorial, and said that the Republican Party is “the party of lower taxes for the American people” but that further negotiation over the measure was necessary.

“We have fought for lower taxes for the 21 years that I’ve been in this Congress; we’re going to continue to be the party of lower taxes,” he said. “And the fact is that we can resolve these differences between the two parties and give the two parties a real Christmas present.”

The House rejected the measure in a vote of 229-193 on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he is not open to further negotiations over the measure. House Democrats continue to push for Boehner to give in and rekindle chances for a passage of the measure, but most members of the chamber have left for the holidays and will meet “as necessary.”

Obama Administration Says Kim Jong Il Died Amid Nuclear Talks

The United States was close to announcing a deal that would put a stop to North Korea’s uranium enrichment program when the country’s leader, Kim Jong Il, died,  according to a senior U.S. official.

The Obama Administration was allegedly planning an announcement that the United States would make a large donation of food aid to North Korea; and, in turn, the country would end its controversial uranium enrichment program.

The leader’s death came just as Glyn Davies, U.S. envoy for North Korean nuclear issues, returned to Washington for consultations after talks in Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing over the nuclear issue.

Officials are now worried about North Korea’s intentions, and doubts have grown amid reports that Kim Jong Il’s health problems would open the leader’s position to his son Kim Jong Un — a man believed to be in his late 20s, about whom little is known.

Iowa Republicans Afraid Of Paul Win

In Iowa conservatives and Republican elites are very worried; they believe that a win for Ron Paul in their State’s caucus will signify the death rattle of its relevancy.

The elites say that because Paul has little chance to win the overall GOP nomination, if he wins in Iowa, the once-prophetic caucus will have been discredited, according to POLITICO. Many of the elites who are saying that a Paul victory in Iowa would be a fluke contend the reason that he polls so well is due to support from Democrats and independents who will vote for Barack Obama in 2012.

If Paul does win the Iowa caucus, the political elite in the State are encouraging voters to ignore the victory.

“People are going to look at who comes in second and who comes in third,” said Governor Terry Branstad. “If [Mitt] Romney comes in a strong second, it definitely helps him going into New Hampshire and the other states.”

The Paul campaign has said GOP insiders are attacking the candidate because they fear his “principled, antiwar, Constitution-obeying, Fed-hating, libertarian Republican” views.

Bradley Manning Linked To WikiLeaks Through Chats, Letters

Prosecutors say they have found evidence that there was direct communication between the Army intelligence analyst blamed for the biggest leak of military secrets in U.S. history and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Pvt. Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables to the whistle-blowing website, entered the fourth day in a hearing to determine whether he will face court-martial.

A witness for the prosecution at the hearing claimed to have found chat logs between Manning and an online chat user who was identified on Manning’s computer as Assange, according to The Independent. Few details about conversations between the two have emerged.

Digital-crimes investigator David Shaver said he also found a letter accompanying some of the data Manning allegedly sent to WikiLeaks, in which the private declared he was changing history.

“This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st-century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day,” the letter read.

Manning’s lawyers have yet to acknowledge or deny his responsibility for the leak of the U.S. war and diplomatic cables, and a classified military video of an American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 men and injured two children.

Publishing classified information is not usually considered a crime in the United States, but if the Federal grand jury that is currently investigating Assange finds that he directed Manning, prosecutors may be able to build a case against him more easily.

U.S. Officials Consider Release Of Taliban Members As Part Of Peace Talks

After 10 months of largely secretive talks between U.S. officials and the Taliban, officials say a diplomatic plan is emerging which involves measures like the release of many Taliban prisoners into Afghan government custody.

According to Reuters, the United States is considering the transfer of an unknown number of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay into the custody of the Afghan government. U.S. officials have asked the Taliban to meet the release with confidence-building measures such as denouncing international terrorism and entering formal political talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The diplomatic strategy is aimed at creating stability in the Afghan region to give the United States an opportunity to stabilize the area before the expected withdrawal of many troops in 2014. Once U.S. troops are gone, the Taliban will have less reason to negotiate. U.S. officials say if the diplomatic efforts fail now, the region could be thrown into violence in 2014.

While the U.S. – Taliban peace talks represent a shift in the attitudes of some Taliban factions, it is clear that the network as a whole is not open to diplomacy; many Taliban members have pledged to continue “sacred jihad” against NATO and U.S. soldiers.

Poll: Paul Surges In Iowa

A Republican primary poll released on Sunday by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Newt Gingrich’s campaign is falling apart in Iowa as Ron Paul surges ahead.

Paul leads with 23 percent favor among Iowan voters followed by Mitt Romney at 20 percent; Gingrich at 14 percent; Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry all at 10 percent; Jon Huntsman at 4 percent and Gary Johnson at 2 percent.

Paul continues to pick up support from voters who are not commonly major factions in the GOP. Among voters younger than 45 years old, 33 percent favor Paul. And 22 percent of people who say they have been Democratic or independent voters in the past favor Paul.

The question of why Gingrich has slipped recently in comparison to Paul may be answered by the PPP query: “Do you think Newt Gingrich has strong principles?” Only 36 percent say that he does. When asked the same question about Paul, 73 percent of those polled said they believe he is principled.

It appears that Romney, for the moment, is Paul’s strongest contender in the Iowa race. Much of the former Massachusetts Governor’s support comes from older voters and those who identify as traditional Republicans. Romney is winning the electability primary, as 25 percent of voters think he would have the best chance to defeat Barack Obama compared to 17 percent  for Gingrich and 16 percent for Paul.

McCain: No Incumbent Is Safe In 2012

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has predicted the rise of a third party in the 2012 elections that will not tolerate the kind of spending included in the recent $915 billion omnibus spending package.

McCain has taken issue with the fiscal year 2012 omnibus, pointing out that in defense spending alone it included $3.5 billion in spending the Department of Defense didn’t want or need. The Senator said the money is simply to pad the pockets of contractors who are friends of lawmakers, according to The Hill.

McCain said that he believes during the 2012 election, incumbents from both parties will be in electoral danger.

“I believe that for long enough we have done this, for long enough the American people, who are now in a more dire state then they have been since the Great Depression, are fed up with spending,” McCain said. “I say to all my colleagues… I think in the next election no incumbent is safe.”

Eric Holder Plays Race Card

The New York Times published an interview with Attorney General Eric Holder over the weekend that many people have said was written in defense of the embattled AG.

According to a report in The Daily Caller, Charlie Savage — the Times author of the Holder piece — made use of factual inaccuracies as “a defense of Holder from his chorus of critics.”

Despite the fact that Holder’s office was provided with multiple briefings and memos about Operation Fast and Furious by top Justice Department officials, Savage wrote (without attribution) that there are no “documents or testimony” to support allegations that the AG knew of the gunwalking tactics used  in Operation Fast and Furious.

Savage also printed a Holder quote in the Times piece that sheds light on the AG’s view of why many members of Congress have called for his immediate resignation. Holder said it was not only political rivals but “also a broader universe of conservative commentators and bloggers” that were playing Washington “gotcha games.”

“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, “both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

Republican Representative Allen West told The Daily Caller on Monday that Holder’s use of the race card as a way to attack those who are criticizing him is “reprehensible.”

“I think this is absolutely the last card in the deck, and that shows how weak their ground is,” West said in a phone interview. “But, what that means is they want to make white individuals afraid of continuing to put the pressure on Eric Holder because they don’t want to be seen as racist, and that is something that we have got to move beyond.”

Selective Service Pushing To Fill Positions On Draft Boards

The Selective Service, last Thursday, issued a statement encouraging school administrators to fill vacancies on nearly 2,000 Selective Service boards throughout the country.

When Selective Service registration requirements were resumed by Congress in 1980 after the end of the Vietnam draft in 1973, the agency also revived the local board system. The purpose of the board members is to hear claims for exemptions, deferments or postponements to a young man’s military draft in the event that the practice is reinstated.

Currently, there is no draft, and local boards are not hearing claims. But the agency is urging school administrators to volunteer to serve a 20-year term as a Selective Service board member in the event of a national emergency.

The statement says little of the agency’s reasoning behind the renewed urgency to staff the boards, but does say which individuals it believes are best suited for the job:

“[T]here are vacancies on the roughly 2,000 boards. Selective Service would like to fill them. In the agency’s reasoning, who would make better board members than school administrators? Who understands the lives and needs of young men better than school teachers and staff? Who would be better equipped to adjudicate claims of young men facing induction?”

The military draft has not been an issue discussed heavily in the United States in recent years, though it was mentioned by one Democratic lawmaker on this year’s anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Representative Charlie Rangel of New York said he believes the decision to engage in war would be handled more carefully under draft circumstances, according to The Hill.

“It’s abundantly clear that everybody does not assume the same sacrifices, whether we’re talking about taxes or loss of life,” said Rangel to fellow House members. “I submit that we have to have a draft … not a plea for those people who for economic reasons have to protect themselves.”

Rangel introduced a bill in March, The Universal National Service Act (H.R. 5741), that would mandate two years of national service for all adults 18 to 42 in any capacity that promotes national defense.

According to Huffington Post, this is not Rangel’s first attempt at pushing a draft bill. The House of Representatives voted down a draft measure he introduced in 2004 by a 2-402 vote.

 

Bloomberg Using Dead Cop To Push Gun Control Agenda

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg invited Congress to attend the funeral of a slain cop with him on Monday, saying that it might urge lawmakers to do something about the flow of illegal guns.

Bloomberg said on his radio show on Friday that he wants members of Congress to come to the funeral of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, who was shot and killed last week with an illegally purchased handgun, according to POLITICO.

“If you could get Congress to come with me and sit with me in this church on Monday — wouldn’t that be wonderful if they finally got some understanding, and in memory of this officer said, ‘We can’t bring him back, but we’re going to make sure his kids and his parents are protected by getting guns off the streets out of illegal hands,’” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg was responding to a Twitter user who asked why New York wastes so much time pushing for additional gun control measures.

“When I read that I thought to myself, maybe the guy wants to join me out in Babylon on Monday sitting in the church where the funeral is for Officer Figoski,” Bloomberg said.

 

Study: Teen Drug Use Rises, Alcohol Use Falls

A study by researchers at the University of Michigan finds that alcohol use among American teens is at a historic low, but the number of young people choosing to use drugs is at a 30-year high.

The number of young people using any illicit drugs, especially marijuana, has risen gradually over the past four years.

In 2011, 50 percent of high school seniors reported having tried an illicit drug at some time, 40 percent had used one or more drugs in the past 12 months, and 25 percent had used one or more drugs in the prior 30 days.

The figures are lower for younger teens, though still high: among 10th graders, 38 percent reported having tried an illicit drug, 31 percent used in the past 12 months, and 19 percent in the prior 30 days.

The report indicates that the number of high school students who say they used marijuana 20 or more times over the course of a month is also on the rise.

The report says that while marijuana use is on the rise, from 1991 to 2011 alcohol use among teens dropped sharply. The number of 8th graders reporting any use of alcohol in the prior 30 days has fallen by about half to 13 percent, among 10th graders by more than one-third to 27 percent and among 12th graders by about one-fourth to 40 percent.

Putin: McCain Is Nuts

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has lashed out at Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) over his threats that Putin may face the same fate as the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi following a voting scandal.

The Russian leader said that the U.S. Senator had likely been traumatized by his experience as a prisoner of war.

“Mr. McCain was taken prisoner in Vietnam and was put, not just in jail, but in a pit! He sat there for several years. Any person would go nuts from that!” Putin said during a television appearance.

The Prime Minister also said that the United States played a much bigger role in the ousting of the former Libyan dictator than has been reported, according to Russia Today.

“All the world saw him being killed, all bloodied. Is that democracy? And who did it? Drones, including American ones, delivered a strike on his motorcade. Then commandos, who were not supposed to be there, brought in so-called opposition and militants. And killed him without trial,” Putin explained.

Putin also said hawkish politicians like McCain are targeting Russia because it has the strength to protect its sovereignty and its international interests rather than submit to U.S. attempts at world domination.

“They still fear our nuclear capabilities,” he said in reference to the West. “That is why we are such an irritant. We have our own opinion and are conducting our own independent foreign policy… And it clearly bothers someone.”

Detention Bill Passes Both Chambers

Congress cleared a $662 billion defense bill Thursday and will send the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The National Defense Authorization Act and its controversial provisions regarding detention of American terror suspects was passed in the House of Representatives Wednesday night by a vote of 283-136.

The bill split Democrats down the middle, as 93 voted in favor and 93 against legislation that President Barack Obama endorsed earlier that day by retreating from a veto threat after a “change in the language” of the detention provision, according to POLITICO. The bill was met with opposition from 43 members of the GOP.

“We have ensured that as we fight terrorists around the world, we also protect the civil liberties of Americans at home,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement issued following the vote.

The Senate voted 86-13 for the bill on Thursday. The bill would authorize money for military personnel and operations as well as indefinite detention of American terror suspects.

The White House initially threatened a veto but dropped that warning, saying last-minute Congressional changes no longer challenge the President’s ability to prosecute the war on terror, according to The Associated Press.

Human Rights Watch has described the President’s failure to veto the bill as a destruction of the rule of law both in the United States and abroad.

“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”