25 February 2011


"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains."
- 1 Timothy 6:10

Sermon on Loving your Enemy (even if you don't mean it) from Sarcastic Lutheran 20FEB11

A sermon we all (especially me) need to HEAR in these very difficult times.

Sometimes when I’m bored I kinda like to fill in sound effects that I think the crowd listening to Jesus might have responded with. He takes familiar passages And says “you have heard this (and everyones like “yeah!) and then he goes but I say this” (and everyone’s like booo)   he does this with messianic authority several times in the Sermon on the Mount like in today’s reading when he says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (and everyones like “yeah!) 39But I say to you,  if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; (and everyone’s like boo!) 
Jesus takes the part of the law of Moses which prevented disproportional punishment….  the let the punishment fit the crime statute found in Exodus 21 and turns it on it’s head like Jesus loves to do. OK, fair enough.
But then the next part says this.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

So where exactly is it is written you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies?  That’s just not found in the Torah.  I searched for it…it’s not there, sure the love your neighbor thing is in the old testament but hate your enemy?  good luck , it’s like trying to look for “God helps those who help themselves” It’s simply not in the Bible.  But then I realized why love your neighbor and hate your enemy sounds so familiar …. ‘cause, it might not be in the Bible, but I’m pretty sure it’s in my heart.  It’s like, in our DNA.  So if you’re trying to find where Love your neighbor and hate your enemy is found don’t look in the old testament…look here.  When I realized this it felt like a bad horror movie “the phone call is coming from inside the house” See In my heart I want to savor my anger and resentments.  I mean you may be able to turn them into love but my anger and hatred is special.  It’s justified and if I can get other people to hate the people I hate then all the better.  Knowing why each of my enemies clearly deserves to be hated is like a big delicious meal, until I realize I’m the main course.  Because hatred is simply a corrosive form of spiritual bondage.  So Jesus says Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.
          Now before we go on let me say this: loving your enemy and praying for those who persecute you is not the same as saying that it’s ok that someone has caused you emotional, spiritual or physical harm. I don’t think Jesus is saying that we should dismiss, discount or diminish the very real harm done to us by damaged people.

So when Jesus says love your enemies I just don’t think he means try and muster up a positive emotional feeling about despicable people. Loving those who persecute you is simply not the same as saying you should feel affection toward the people who have hurt you, or that you should feel fondness for people who are mean to you at work.  I just don’t think this about our feelings. Because the Greek word Jesus uses when he tells us to love our enemies is Agape and  Agape love simply isn’t about what we feel in our hearts.  It’s not a sentiment. I actually don’t think it has to do with feelings at all…agape is the love that’s only possible through the indwelling of God’s spirit.

 And I don’t think he means think nice thoughts even.  Remember when your mom made you apologize to your brother or sister and you just kind of phoned it in “sorry.” and she was like “say it like you mean it…it doesn’t count if you don’t mean it”  Yeah…this isn’t like that.  I think loving our enemies might be too central to the gospel…too close to the heart of Jesus for it to wait until we mean it.  I don’t mean it. And my heart, remember… the very place where I found that impulse that I am to love my neighbor and hate my enemy isn’t going to purify itself.  So if God is waiting for that same heart to feel nice loving warm pink fuzzy things about someone who is my enemy well, I think God might be waiting awhile. 
So if it’s not a feeling we try really really hard to create in our own hearts maybe Agape-ing… loving our enemies is actually an action.  Because given the choice between feeling the thing and doing the thing I think the doing of the thing that is what’s critical here. And maybe “really meaning it” is not the prerequisite to just doing it and maybe the action we take is simply this: you pray for those who persecute you.  Commend them to God.  You don’t have to feel affection for them…just hand em over.   Because this counter-intuitive act of enemy love requires prayer.  It doesn’t require the right feelings of niceness or generosity, It requires that we commend our enemies to the one who has perfected the love of enemy. It requires being in the prayerful presence of a God who was killed by God’s enemies and then rather than retaliation, rather than violence, rather than an eye for an eye God used that same death to be the very thing that ends up being the source of their salvation.
So maybe when Jesus says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you it’s not so that you can be good.  It’s so you can be free. this freedom from the corrosive distortions of hatred this freedom from having to protect our selves and prove ourselves and preserve our rightness.  Well, this is the freedom of the Gospel.  This is the freedom of a God who loves God’s own enemies enough to die for them.
I’ll end with a story about how you just never know when God might make your enemy your friend.  A man named Chris Roseborough hosts a conservative Christian talk radio show called Pirate Christian Radio. And a couple months after he had spent 2 of his shows talking about me and how I am disobeying God by being a female pastor and how I’m a heretic because I have gay folks in my church and well, you get the idea.  Well a couple months after this he showed up to a conference I was speaking at in the Twin Cities.  Now you should know something about me.  My first response to almost everything is screw you.  Now I almost never stay there but I almost always start there. God usually pretty quickly moves me to something a little more gracious but that doesn’t change my wiring.  I’m a fighter.  So when I heard he was there I went into a little mini rage screw that guy he shouldn’t even be here, don’t show me who he is I’m not talking to him.  Clearly he was my enemy.  But the next day a middle aged guy with a beer gut and a bad goatee walks up to me after I had spoken extends his hand and says “Hi. I’m Chris…” I swallowed hard, extended my hand said a quick “help me” prayer and we proceeded to have a conversation about our need for God’s grace and forgiveness of sins and the Eucharist.  A conversation in which he cried twice.  At the end I said “Chris, I have 2 things to say to you. 1. You are a beautiful child of God and 2. I think you and I were desperate enough to hear the gospel today that we might even hear it from each other.  Now Chris calls me about every couple months and we talk for like an hour.  He hasn’t written about me or talked about me on his radio show and he’s gotten in a lot of trouble form his followers for calling me his friend.  Now…did this happen because I managed to make my heart feel really nice warm fuzzy feelings toward him? clearly not.  I can’t stand the guy.  This was a loving-my-enemy that only could flow from the heart of a forgiving God.  The same God who in the book of Ezekial says I your God will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I  your God will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

And THAT is what freedom feels like.  May it be so. Amen

24 February 2011

Live Blog - Libya Feb 25 from AL JAZEERA

UPDATES via the live Al Jazeera blog (link on this blog) of the civil war in Libya. The picture of Free Libya is beautiful......

[Photo: Reuters]

As the uprising in Libya enters its tenth day, we keep you updated on the developing situation from our headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

 Blog: Feb17 - Feb18 - Feb19 - Feb20 - Feb21 - Feb22 - Feb23 - Feb24
AJE Live Stream  - Special Coverage: Libya Uprising - Twitter Audio: Voices from Libya
Benghazi Protest Radio (Arabic)
(All times are local in Libya GMT+2)
February 25, 2011

1:33am: According UK based newspaper, The Telegraph, Muammar Gaddafi's assets worth billions of pounds will be seized by Britain.

In total, the Libyan regime is said to have around £20bn in liquid assets, mostly in London, according to the newspaper report.
1:26am: Twitter user @Farrah3m posted this to Twitpic:
File 10231
1:22am: Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, have sought to quell fears that unrest in Libya would put oil prices on a long term upward trajectory.
12:30am: Barack Obama, the U.S. president, spoke on Thursday with the leaders of France, Britain and Italy to discuss their "range of options" as they considered how to respond to the crisis in Libya, the White House said.
12:00am: Canada defended its efforts to evacuate its citizens from Libya on Thursday amid problems getting a charter flight into Tripoli. The charter was supposed to pick up some 200 Canadians in the Libyan capital, and Lawrence Cannon, the Foreign Affairs Minister, had planned to welcome them back at Rome's airport.  
11:30pm: As per latest reports, the US government has asked its citizens to leave Libya immediately.
11:10pm  AJE reports:
Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, one of Gaddafi's top security official and a cousin, defected on Wednesday evening, saying in a statement issued by his Cairo office that he left the country "in protest and to show disagreement" with "grave violations to human rights and human and international laws.
Sources tell Al Jazeera that Al-Dam was travelling to Syria via Cairo on a private plane and that he went to Egypt in protest against the violence deployed by the government in Libya.
10:57pm: From our lead story on Libya tonight:
Mustafa Abdel Galil, who resigned three days ago from his post as the country's justice minister, spoke to Al Jazeera at a meeting of tribal leaders and representatives of eastern Libya in the city of Al Baida.

He warned that Gaddafi has biological and chemical weapons, and will not hesitate to use them.

'We call on the international community and the UN to prevent Gaddafi from going on with his plans in Tripoli,' he said.

 'At the end when he’s really pressured, he can do anything. I think Gaddafi will burn everything left behind him.'

Senate Democrats Meet To Find More Cuts For Long-Term Funding Deal With GOP 24FEB11

SHUT THE GOVERNMENT DOWN! The cuts being proposed by democrats, tea-baggers and the gop are immoral, and if they are intent on breaking the backs of the poor and working class then let everyone experience the pain. This is a wake up call America! These politicians are representing the military-industrial complex and corporate America, NOT the needs of the people. If anything needs to be cut it is the bloated, wasteful, destructive Pentagon budget and the tax loopholes for corporate America allowing them not to pay their fair share. As the Rev martin Luther King Jr said 
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.

WASHINGTON - Democratic leadership and Appropriations Committee staffers are meeting Thursday afternoon to find ways to cut social spending from the remainder of the fiscal year 2011 budget, a Senate Democratic aide told HuffPost. The object of the gathering is to identify cuts that will satisfy House Republicans' demands for drastic spending reductions despite the flagging economy.
Multiple leadership aides, however, said that the cuts will be made to a long-term budget resolution, rather than a short-term spending bill, as Republicans insist. That the two parties are now arguing merely over how quickly to make cuts indicates that their positions may be drawing close enough to avoid a government shutdown - without the GOP giving much up yet.
"It sounds like Senate Democrats are making progress towards our goal of cutting government spending to help the private sector create jobs," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "Hopefully, that means they will support the short-term CR with spending cuts that we will pass next week, rather than shutting down the government."
Boehner is traveling on a fundraising tour.
House Republicans have proposed a measure that would keep the government funded for two more weeks past the March 4th deadline -- when money runs out--asking for $4 billion in cuts. Democrats have not budged in insisting any stopgap be drawn along the lines of current funding levels.
The compromise offered to the GOP on Thursday would not change that. "This is not about a short-term CR," said a leadership aide. "We are planning to make a serious offer to the House Republicans on a long-term CR that contains deeper cuts than were originally proposed. And if the Republicans will meet us in the middle of this offer we might be able to avert the need for a short-term CR."
Senate Democrats are hoping that by offering the first concession, House GOPers will either respond in kind or take the blame for a shutdown. Yet each Democratic negotiating tactic has led to additional cuts. As the talks drag on, Republicans get closer and closer to their full goal. Meanwhile, the wrangling over a stopgap measure to temporarily avert a shutdown has the capacity to confuse the debate.
"Someone should pressure them and say 'Why are you so focused on the short term CR when it is it long term CR that matters?" said a top Senate Democratic aide.
The long-term goal would be reached by cutting $8.5 billion in earmarked projects. An additional roughly $25 billion could be cut, said Democratic aides, by moving up reductions that Obama had proposed for the next year so that they take effect sooner. During Thursday afternoon's meeting, lawmakers will discuss what specific programs will be set aside for targeting.



 An Irish daughter had not been home for over 5 years.   Upon her return, her Father cursed her heavily.

'Where have ye been all this time, child?  Why did ye not write to us, not even a line?   Why didn't ye call?   Can ye not understand what ye put yer old Mother thru?'

 The girl, crying, replied, 'Sniff, sniff...Dad...I became a prostitute.'

 'Ye what!?  Get out a here, ye shameless harlot!  Sinner!   You're a disgrace to this Catholic family.'

 'OK, Dad... as ye wish.   I only came back to give mum this luxurious fur coat, title deed to a ten bedroom mansion, plus a $5 million savings certificate. 
 For me little brother, this gold Rolex.   And for ye Daddy, the sparkling new Mercedes limited edition convertible that's parked outside plus a membership to the  country club...(takes a breath)...and an invitation for ye all to  spend New Years Eve on board my new yacht in the Riviera.'

 'What was it ye said ye had become?' says Dad.

 Girl, crying again, 'A prostitute, Daddy!  Sniff, sniff.'

 'Oh!  Be Jesus!  Ye scared me half to death, girl!   I thought ye said a Protestant !  Come here and give yer old Dad a hug!'

In eastern Libya, town keeps shaky hold after fighting off forces loyal to Gaddafi & Gaddafi's son denies crackdown; loyalists reportedly continue attacks 24FEB11

MORE on the civil war in Libya from the Washington Post. After reading these reports and others from NPR and other media it is a reminder for Americans that we can not take our freedom for granted, and that democracy is not a spectator sport....
By Leila Fadel
Washington Post Staff Writer

BAIDA, LIBYA - The young men of this idyllic town nestled in the Green Mountain region of eastern Libya took control here in a days-long battle. First they fought their way into a security camp protected by 2,000 mercenaries and other forces loyal to the government of Moammar Gaddafi. Then they took over the streets.
When Awad Mohammed's five sons joined the battle, he stood on the sidelines with his wife. He felt fear and pride.
"They had nothing - just sticks, stones and bare chests. They took the guns from the mercenaries and used them against them," said Mohammed, an Arabic literature professor. "We never imagined the young people could do this. . . . I will die for them. These are all my sons."
Now these sons of Baida - some just 13 and armed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and knives - man the lawless roads as they brace for the next possible attack. They are keenly aware that their leader of 41 years has shown no qualms about killing his own people.
Throughout Wednesday, opposition activists stayed in touch with one another through weak cellphone connections, gathering news of defectors, attacks in the distant capital and rumors that Gaddafi would send planes here to bomb the town.
The scenic wonder of Baida - with its pure blue sky and lush mountains - belies the strength of its residents, who are threatening to help put an abrupt end to Gaddafi's reign through a nationwide uprising that has already claimed much of the country's eastern half. Within just over a week, the government has gone from total control here to none. But Baida's liberation came at a steep price.
At least 90 civilians have been killed in the 10-mile stretch from Baida to the town of Shahat, according to doctors and witnesses. In just one neighborhood, there have been 17 funerals, including one Wednesday.
Now, everyone is armed. The police stations and other government buildings have been burned, and pictures of Gaddafi lie shredded along the roads.
Outside the local parliament building in Baida, once controlled by Gaddafi's revolutionary committee, men and women demonstrated Wednesday, chanting "Free! Free! Libya!" Others replaced Gaddafi's green flag with the red, black and green flag that predates his rise to power.
Inside the building, community leaders met to plan for the future of an area that has no government and could easily descend into chaos. The leaders formed four committees: street cleaning, security, food supplies and medical services.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil was among those who had gathered here. Only three days ago, he was Gaddafi's justice minister. He resigned Sunday to protest the "coldblooded" killings of civilians by "tanks, bombs, bullets and mercenaries," he said.
Jalil said the area's residents were prepared to defend themselves.
The government has threatened to cut off water, electricity and food supplies to starve residents out. State television has declared, falsely, that the area is now an Islamic state, in an effort to demonize the popular revolt.
"The fundamental thing that we're committed to today is to prepare for the embargo," Jalil said. "We are going to fight, and if we have to, we'll fast for a few days and depend on our neighbors."
Jalil also said he was concerned, not least about the uncontrolled distribution of weapons in a place where teenage boys have begun driving tanks in the streets.
"Our strategy is to collect the arms and use them for good and keep national unity," he said as men gathered around to thank him for resigning and to give him flowers.
While it is tense, there are no signs of infighting here. Everyone is armed, but the people are united by their contempt for Gaddafi.
Just days ago, the picture was far different, with bloody battles in the streets. On Wednesday, spent ammunition from rifles and antiaircraft weapons littered the streets. Fresh blood stained the ground.
Residents said mercenaries flown in from other parts of Africa had gone on a killing rampage.
The town's young men reacted with grief, and with rage.
One man took a tractor and broke down the walls of the Kitab security base in Shahat, where mercenaries were housed, witnesses and participants said. In a battle that lasted a day and a half, the residents overwhelmed the forces, killing some and taking others hostage. The captives are being held in secret locations throughout the area.
At the local airport, residents have blocked the runways with large rocks, car parts and other debris to keep the government from flying in reinforcements.
This area has a history of resistance to unwanted rulers. Every child knows the name of Omar Mukhtar, a fighter who battled Libya's colonial masters, the Italians. An uprising in the 1990s was violently quelled by Gaddafi.
On Wednesday, the young men celebrated their victory in a local square, with a portrait of Mukhtar hanging overhead.
Before the uprising began, it was common for people to disappear for speaking even one word against Gaddafi or his government, residents said.
"The only place you opened your mouth was at the dentist," said Abdul Hamid Gebril, a law professor.
A teacher whose cousin disappeared in 2003 said the fate of those who vanish is widely understood.
"Anyone who enters the prisons of Moammar, we know after a few years that person is killed," she said while speaking inside her home, too afraid to allow her name to be printed. "Even we don't know where they're buried. You say something and the next day the intelligence comes and that's it. You never hear from them again."
The uprising must continue, she said, but it will be bloodier than the ones that succeeded in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt.
"In Egypt, people sat in the square with children, fathers and mothers and slept, and they sang and danced. I saw them on television," she said. "Here our streets are bloody, and our youths are killed."
Gaddafi's son denies crackdown; loyalists reportedly continue attacks

By Leila Fadel, Ernesto Londono and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Foreign Service

BAIDA, LIBYA - Moammar Gaddafi's son denied Thursday that Libya has killed large numbers of protesters through airstrikes and other attacks, while a former top Gaddafi aide said he quit the government to protest its violent crackdown.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Gaddafi's son, disputed the death tolls that have have been reported since the protests began 10 days ago, saying allegations that hundreds have been killed are a "joke."
"Tripoli is quiet," he said in an interview aired on Libyan state television. "Life is normal."
The junior Gaddafi said Libya intends to provide Western journalists on Friday access to Tripoli, the capital, and other cities, so they can corroborate the government's claim that the country remains under Gaddafi's control.
The U.S. State Department issued a warning to Western journalists who have entered Libya in recent days without government permission. Citing information received from top Libyan officials, the warning said some members of CNN, BBC Arabic and al-Arabiya would be allowed into the country, but any reporters not approved by the government as part of that effort would be considered al-Qaeda "collaborators."
"The Libyan government said that it was not responsible for the safety of these journalists, who risked immediate arrest on the full range of possible immigration charges," the State Department warning said.
Libya appears dangerously fractured, with Gaddafi's regime intent on fighting but its authority beyond Tripoli in doubt. The longtime ruler has tightened his grip on the capital, witnesses say, by flooding the streets with militiamen and loyalist troops who were reportedly roaming the streets and shooting opponents from SUVs.
Rebels who launched an uprising last week have consolidated their control of key eastern cities, however, and continued advancing west across the coastal strip, where most of the country's population is clustered. The opposition has called for a large protest Friday.
In the city of Zawiya, 30 miles west of Tripoli, an army unit attacked a mosque where protesters had been stationed for several days, a witness told the Associated Press. The soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and hit the mosque's minaret with anti-aircraft missiles, the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
He told the AP there were casualties, but couldn't provide exact figures. Some of the young men among the protesters had hunting rifles, he said. He said a day earlier an envoy from Gaddafi had come to the city and warned protesters, "Either leave or you will see a massacre."
"What is happening is horrible, those who attacked us are not the mercenaries; they are sons of our country," the witness said, sobbing. After the assault, thousands massed in the city's main Martyrs Square, shouting "leave, leave," in reference to Gaddafi, he said.
The other attack came at a small airport outside Misrata, Libya's third-largest city, where rebels claimed control on Wednesday, AP reported. Militiamen on Thursday attacked a line of residents who were protecting the facility, opening fire with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, said a resident who saw the assault
"They left piles of human remains and swamp of blood," the resident told the Associated Press. "The hospitals are packed with those killed and injured."
In Cairo, a cousin and close adviser to Gaddafi said he had defected from the regime to protest its crackdown on the uprising, the Associated Press reported. Gadhaf al-Dam, who arrived in Egypt several days ago, is a member of the Libyan leader's inner circle, handling Libyan-Egyptian relations.
Dam said in a statement that the crackdown has seen "grave violations to human rights and human and international laws," AP reported. He said he left Libya "in protest and to show disagreement."
Oil prices hit $100 a barrel because of the turmoil in the North African oil exporter, a peak not reached since 2008. In Washington and other capitals, attention turned to the possible responses to the crackdown, including economic sanctions or imposition of a no-flight zone over Libya to prevent the use of aircraft against civilians.
In Washington, President Obama said the United States was developing a "full range of options" and would intensify discussions with other nations to address the violent unraveling of Gaddafi's regime.
"The suffering and bloodshed are outrageous and unacceptable," Obama said. The Libyan government "must be held accountable for its failure . . . and face the cost of continued violations of human rights."
But enormous questions remained about whether any foreign powers could wield the influence necessary to head off Libya's dizzying plunge into disorder, much less persuade Gaddafi to reconsider his vow to fight to the death in defense of his 41-year-old regime.
The independent organization Human Rights Watch has estimated that 300 people have been killed in a week of clashes, although some Libyan opposition groups and Western diplomats have said that they fear the figure may be much larger.
A 600-passenger ferry chartered by the U.S. government was in Libya to evacuate U.S. citizens to the nearby island of Malta, but its departure has been delayed by turbulent weather.
Residents reached by telephone in Tripoli on Wednesday said Gaddafi's loyalists appeared to have reclaimed control of the capital after several days of skirmishes. Stores and offices were shut down, the residents said, while blue-uniformed militiamen set up checkpoints and regime loyalists cleaned up graffiti calling for him to step down.
But opposition groups appeared to have taken control of cities across a broad swath of northern Libya that stretched hundreds of miles from Tobruk, near the Egyptian border, to as far as Misurata, 120 miles east of the capital. The loosely organized opposition protected key roads and government installations, with men in fluorescent orange vests patrolling the area, armed with sticks or rocket-propelled grenades.
A state-run radio station previously known as Eastern Radio was under the control of opposition groups, which renamed it Free Radio. In and around Baida, along the northern coast west of Tobruk, the once-omnipresent portraits of Gaddafi had been ripped down or burned.
"Oh Moammar, dictator, it's your turn now," people chanted.
There was ample evidence of recent fighting in Baida. Buildings on Revolution Street were pocked with bullet holes. At La Braq Airport, spent ammunition from rifles and antiaircraft rounds littered the ground. Civilians and defected soldiers climbed on tanks and blocked the runways to stop planes from landing - a precaution, residents said, after people were gunned down last week by purported mercenaries flown in from elsewhere in Africa.
The ability of the rebels to swiftly push west suggested that Libya's powerful tribes, long a beneficiary of Gaddafi's patronage, were turning against him. In recent days, tribal leaders have declared their support for the opposition after Gaddafi's use of warplanes and helicopter gunships to kill hundreds of protesters.
Indeed, the eastern tribes have long complained of being denied a share of Libya's wealth and resources, and eastern cities such as Benghazi have been bastions of opposition. Such grievances led to a revolt in the 1990s and underpinned the ongoing rebellion that began in Benghazi last week, in a country of as many as 140 tribes.
The east's al-Zuwayya tribe threatened to shut down oil production unless authorities stopped the "oppression of the protesters." The Warfala, one of the country's biggest and most influential tribes, has also reportedly joined the opposition. The tribe controls areas around Tripoli.
"We are seeing more and more tribal defections. A lot of police and military in Tobruk, Benghazi and other eastern cities defected because their tribal leaders had ordered them," Ronald Bruce St. John, an author and expert on Libya, said in a telephone interview. "I think you will see more and more in western Libya."
So far, St. John said, it appears that the major tribes in and around Tripoli continue to support Gaddafi.
The signs of a widening rebellion in eastern Libya came as more senior military commanders and government officials defected. The Libyan newspaper Quryna reported that an air force pilot bailed out of his Soviet-made warplane and allowed it to crash rather than following an order to bomb Benghazi.
Residents of Tripoli said a sense of fear pervaded the capital.
"We have been indoors for the past three days," said Rahma, a Libyan American reached by telephone, who insisted that her last name not be used to avoid any retribution. "Tripoli is like a ghost town, as if nobody exists here."
She said her father, also a U.S. citizen, had been detained during an anti-government demonstration a few days ago in front of Tripoli's courthouse and was being held at a hospital on a military base. She said she fears for his safety after listening to Gaddafi's speech, in which he threatened to execute anyone going against the regime.
"We don't know what's going to happen to him," Rahma said.
She said two sons of a neighbor were killed at a protest. The next day, Rahma said, the neighbor placed a green Libyan national flag by her house to show support for Gaddafi and avoid being targeted by his loyalists.
Londono reported from Cairo. Wilgoren reported from Washington. Correspondent Sudarsan Raghavan contributed reporting from Sanaa, Yemen. Staff writer Howard Schneider in Washington contributed to this report.

Alert: Nationwide progressive rallies on Saturday from CREDO & MOVEON.ORG 24FEB11

IT is time to stand up to the political prostitution of the gop and tea-baggers who are bought and paid for by corporate America. Click the link to find a rally to attend....

CREDO Action | more than a network. a movement.

Come to a rally this Saturday at noon.
with Wisconsin

Republican elected officials across the country are using the pretext of a budget crisis to push through an extremist agenda that does nothing to fix our economy. You can see this in Madison, Wisconsin and you can see it in Washington, DC.
For too long, conservatives have dominated the debate over the economy. But now they've gone too far. And progressives need to stand up together and say "Enough!"
That is why this Saturday we're joining with our friends at MoveOn and dozens of progressive organizations in one massive, nationwide display of progressive solidarity for Wisconsin.
We've joined with allies across the country to organize rallies in major cities — including every state capital — this Saturday at noon.
We'll speak out to demand an end to the attacks on public services and workers' rights across the country. We'll demand investment to create decent jobs. And we'll demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.
It's up to us to make sure the amazing energy in Wisconsin spreads to the rest of the country, so that those who claim we can cut our way out of the economic mess created by Wall Street don't win the day.
But to make that happen, progressives around the country need to stand up right away and speak out against the far-right attacks on public services and workers.
Republicans are launching Wisconsin-style attacks on workers in other states. And in Washington, Republicans are threatening to shut the government down next week unless Democrats agree to massive cuts to everything from NPR to education to food aid for hungry children. This is our chance to shift the debate and put Republicans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his tea party friends in Washington on the defensive.
We've come together with a huge coalition of progressive organizations — from the Netroots to the labor movement, environmental groups to community organizations — to back these rallies and make sure that the folks in Wisconsin know that millions of people across the country are standing with them.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

© 2011 CREDO. All rights reserved. Questions? Send us an e-mail or write us at: 101 Market Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94105.

President Obama Speaks on the Turmoil in Libya: "This Violence Must Stop" 23FEB11

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S condemnation of the Libyan government's violence against it's citizens...
Speaking from the White House, the President says the violence in Libya is "outrageous" and "unacceptable," and that his Administration is looking at the "full range of options we have to respond to this crisis."  His full remarks below:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya.  Over the last few days, my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward.
First, we are doing everything we can to protect American citizens.  That is my highest priority.  In Libya, we've urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support.  Meanwhile, I think all Americans should give thanks to the heroic work that's being done by our foreign service officers and the men and women serving in our embassies and consulates around the world.  They represent the very best of our country and its values.
Now, throughout this period of unrest and upheaval across the region the United States has maintained a set of core principles which guide our approach.  These principles apply to the situation in Libya.  As I said last week, we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya.
The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed and injured.  The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya.  These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency.  This violence must stop.
The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people.  That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny.  These are human rights.  They are not negotiable.  They must be respected in every country.  And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.
In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus.  Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators, and stands with the Libyan people.
This same message, by the way, has been delivered by the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and many individual nations.  North and south, east and west, voices are being raised together to oppose suppression and support the rights of the Libyan people.
I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis.  This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.
Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people.  It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.
This is not simply a concern of the United States.  The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community.  To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.
I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council.  There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.
And even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, let me just say that our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.
So let me be clear.  The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region.  This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power.  It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.
As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.”  We just want to be able to live like human beings.  It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change.  And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.
Thank you very much.

Wisconsin assembly agrees to union bill vote; troopers' search for Democrats comes up dry 24FEB11

THE DICTATOR WANNA-BE gov scott walker continues his assault on workers rights in Wisconsin, and the repercussions will be felt around the nation. The Wisconsin Senate Democrats must stay united and stay out of the state until the union-busting legislation is withdrawn. Go to the Wisconsin Is Us live blog for the latest updates on the workers struggle, there is a link to them on this blog
By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writers

Republicans and Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly agreed to a deal shortly before dawn on Thursday that sets the stage for a vote on a bill that would limit collective bargaining rights for public workers.
The bill has prompted several days of protests at the State Capitol by more than 60,000 union supporters .
The agreement, announced shortly after 6 a.m., follows a marathon 40-hour debate that began Tuesday morning, during which Democrats sought to delay the vote by filibustering. The vote could come as soon as Thursday afternoon and will almost certainly pass, given the chamber's Republican majority.
That would send the bill to the Wisconsin Senate, which has been unable to vote on the issue since 14 Democratic senators fled the state and left it without a quorum. Wisconsin state troopers were dispatched Thursday to the homes of the missing Democrats to try to pressure them to return to break an impasse on a budget bill.
The Senate sergeant at arms said the troopers left after not finding any of the senators at home, the Associated Press reported. The troopers had been authorized by a Senate decision early Thursday to issue a "call of the house," allowing law enforcement to be sent to find missing members.
While police cannot arrest the members, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he hopes they will feel compelled to come back to debate the bill. The Republicans need just a single Democrat to return to vote.
Democratic state Sen. Robert Jauch, a longtime Wisconsin lawmaker, said Thursday morning that despite rumors that some of his colleagues had returned to the state, "everybody is outside of Wisconsin -- all of us."
He said he had just spoken to his wife at their home more than 300 miles north of the state capital and that no law enforcement officials had come knocking at his door.
"They're too cheap to send somebody from Madison up to northern Wisconsin," Jauch said. "If they had, my wife was going to invite them in for hot chocolate."
Jauch criticized what he called the "police state mentality" by Republicans in the capital and took issue with Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's assertions that Democrats who had fled the state were abandoning their duties.
"I'm doing more from the Land of Lincoln to communicate with citizens in my district than he is," Jauch said, adding that the Senate Democrats talk regularly and are "trying to reach out through back channels to see what the solution could be. This governor has dug himself in -- that's very clear."
The scene at the Wisconsin Capitol resembled a siege. Elected officials and their staffers were taking turns sleeping on couches. Some Republican representatives' offices have had to defend themselves from angry protesters who defaced signs supporting Walker. Many Assembly members have had only a few hours of sleep over two nights.
Peter Barca, a Democrat who is the Assembly's minority leader, said that around 4 a.m. he was approached by the speaker, who told him that "his members were tired and they were frustrated."
Barca said in an interview that he was given an ultimatum: "Unless we limited our amendments, they were going to just pull the plug. They were going to use parliamentary procedure to shut down the debate. It would get ugly."
The Assembly's Democrats had no choice, he said. "We very reluctantly agreed."
Under Walker's plan, most public workers - excluding police, firefighters and state troopers - would lose bargaining rights for anything other than pay and would have to pay half of their pension costs and at least 12 percent of their health-care costs. Walker, who took office last month, says the emergency measure would save $300 million over the next two years to help close a $3.6 billion budget gap.
Rep. Tyler August (R), who represents the southeastern part of the state, said that the deal announced by the Assembly is the first step toward resolving the standoff that has triggered protests in state capitals throughout the country.
"I think the Democrats thought they might be able to wear us down. But they have not done so. We certainly plan on still passing the bill," August said.
August said he had heard that several Democratic senators already had returned to the state and was hopeful they would show up so that the bill could be passed.
"This isn't a game. For them to be running around is just so unbelievably irresponsible to their constituents," he said.

Fight For Libya Edges Closer To Tripoli And Gadhafi & Provisional Government Forming In Eastern Libya 23 & 24 FEB11

LIBYA'S revolution has become civil war, and will be one of the bloodiest of all the struggles for freedom and democracy across the Arab world, but that is no surprise considering moammar gadhafi's regime has held on to power through brutality and corruption. And be sure to read the 2nd story about the provisional government being established in Bayda. God help the people of Libya.....

A Libyan policeman who defected to the side of anti-government protesters manned a checkpoint in the opposition-held, eastern city of Tobruk on Thursday.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images
A Libyan policeman who defected to the side of anti-government protesters manned a checkpoint in the opposition-held, eastern city of Tobruk on Thursday.
As Moammar Gadhafi's grip on swaths of Libya faltered, army units and militiamen launched a swift and reportedly brutal counterattack Thursday against protesters who have risen up in cities close to the capital.
In Zawiya, some 30 miles west of Tripoli, an army unit attacked the city's Souq mosque, where regime opponents had been camped for days in a protest calling for Gadhafi's ouster, a witness said. The soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and hit the mosque's minaret with fire from an anti-aircraft gun, he said. Some of the young men among the protesters, who were inside the mosque and in a nearby lot, had hunting rifles for protection.
A protester holds an old national flag in front of a wall covered with graffiti against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the eastern city of Tobruk on Thursday.
AFP/Getty Images
A protester holds an old national flag in front of a wall covered with graffiti against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the eastern city of Tobruk on Thursday.
A doctor at a field clinic set up at the mosque said he saw the bodies of 10 dead, shot in the head and chest, as well as around 150 wounded.
The witness said an envoy from Gadhafi had come to Zawiya a day earlier and warned protesters: "Either leave or you will see a massacre."
"What is happening is horrible. Those who attacked us are not the mercenaries — they are sons of our country," he said, sobbing. After the assault, thousands massed in the city's main Martyrs Square, shouting, "Leave, leave!" in reference to Gadhafi, he said.
In a speech carried on Al-Jazeera, a voice purported to be Gadhafi's chastised the people of Zawiya, telling them to "control your children." He blamed the revolt on al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and said the uprising has been carried out by young men hopped up on al-Qaida-supplied hallucinogenic pills given to them "in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe."
Libya's leader claimed that "no one above the age of 20" was participating in the unrest and that young men get "trigger-happy and shoot, especially when they get stoned on drugs."

Related NPR Stories

Outside Misrata, Libya's third-largest city, militiamen reportedly attacked a line of residents who were protecting a small airport, opening fire with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
"They left piles of human remains and [a] swamp of blood," according to a resident who said he witnessed the assault. "The hospitals are packed with those killed and injured." But he could not provide exact figures.
Independent estimates of the number of people killed range from 233 to as many as 1,000. Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, Moammar Gadhafi's son, said that such reports are exaggerated, although he didn't provide his own figures.
During a news conference Thursday aired on state TV, the younger Gadhafi said the number killed by police and the army had been limited and "talking about hundreds and thousands [killed] is a joke."
In Benghazi, the scene of a bloody battle that ended just days ago, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported that hundreds of people have converged on an army base where they believe secret prisons run by the regime may have existed.
"They say they are shocked by what they found," she said. "In one case, they found an underground prison where 50 people were being held, and they are now digging frantically looking for mass graves."
A senior Libyan army commander who defected to the side of anti-government protesters said Thursday that his soldiers were training volunteers to join the fight to topple Gadhafi.
Maj. Gen. Soliman Mahmoud Al-Obeidy, who commands army units based in the eastern city of Tobruk, allied with rebel forces Wednesday. He told NPR that fresh volunteers were coming in every day.

The Arab World

The Arab World
"They are using some of the army officers that defected here in the east," Garcia-Navarro said. "They are training them on heavy weapons and army tactics to go help protesters in the west of the country who are still under the control of Moammar Gadhafi."
Exodus By Land, Sea, Air Continues
Even as the rebellion moves closer to Gadhafi's bastion in the capital, home to a third of Libya's 6 million people, thousands of people were struggling to leave Libya by land, sea and air.
NPR's Tom Gjelten reported that Tunisians who worked in Libya were streaming back across the border. At one checkpoint, Tunisians "enthusiatically cheered as they crossed the border denouncing Gadhafi."
Two ships braved churning seas Thursday to whisk 4,500 Chinese workers away from Libya to the island of Crete, while rough weather farther west left hundreds of Americans stranded on a ferry in Tripoli.
Americans who eagerly climbed aboard the Maria Dolores ferry at Tripoli's As-shahab Port on Wednesday faced a long delay in their travel plans. Strong winds have been whipping up high waves in the Mediterranean Sea, and the 600-passenger catamaran ferry was not likely to leave for the eight-hour journey to Malta until Friday.

Libyans shout anti-Gadhafi slogans during a demonstration in the eastern town of Derna, between Tobruk and Benghazi.
AFP/Getty Images
Libyans shout anti-Gadhafi slogans during a demonstration in the eastern town of Derna, between Tobruk and Benghazi.

"The ferry will depart when the weather improves. At the moment, we're anticipating this will happen by tomorrow morning, but we're waiting for an updated weather report," said Elijah Waterman of the U.S. Embassy in Malta.
People who managed to flee Tripoli by air described sheer chaos at the airport, with people shoving and climbing over each other to get on planes. Amateur video showed crowds of people jammed shoulder to shoulder, some appearing to be camped out.
"The airport is just a zoo. There's about 10,000 people there, all trying to get out," Ewan Black of Britain told the BBC as he got off a flight at London's Gatwick Airport.
Those who made it out of Libya described a frightening scene, with bodies hanging from electricity poles in Libya's eastern port of Benghazi and militia trucks driving around loaded up with dead bodies. One video showed a tank apparently crushing a car with people inside.
Europe Prepares Sanctions Against Libya
International momentum has been building for action to punish Gadhafi's regime for the bloodshed.
President Obama said the suffering in Libya "is outrageous and it is unacceptable," and he directed his administration to prepare a full range of options, including possible sanctions that could freeze the assets and ban travel to the U.S. by Libyan officials.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy raised the possibility of the European Union's cutting off economic ties.
The European Union said Thursday that it is preparing sanctions against Libya. Some EU governments have had a close relationship with Gadhafi, but all 27 united in a threat of sanctions against him if mass violations of human rights continue.
"I have seen horrible crimes that are unacceptable and must not remain without consequences," European Union President Herman van Rompuy said.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said she wants Gadhafi's regime investigated for war crimes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
With reporting from NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Benghazi and Tom Gjelten on the Libya-Tunisia border. This story contains material from The Associated Press.

Provisional Government Forming In Eastern Libya

An image broadcast on Libyan state television on Sunday shows damage caused by fire to the local council building in the eastern city of Bayda. The city is now in the hands of anti-Gadhafi rebels who are forming a provisional government.
Libyan TV/AFP/Getty Images
An image broadcast on Libyan state television on Sunday shows damage caused by fire to the local council building in the eastern city of Bayda. The city is now in the hands of anti-Gadhafi rebels who are forming a provisional government.
As forces loyal to Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi reportedly held on to control of the capital city Tripoli and continued a crackdown on protesters Wednesday, the eastern part of the country was in the hands of the rebels — who are now trying to organize themselves.
In eastern Libya, in the city of Bayda, a provisional government was being formed. The new leadership also is holding some Gadhafi loyalists hostage.
As the first Western journalists many of the residents of Bayda had ever seen were led into the meeting, the crowd gave a standing ovation — quickly followed by cries of "Freedom, Freedom!" and "Libya, Libya!"

This building had been a symbol of Gadhafi's regime — where his revolutionary council would meet to discuss local affairs.

A new revolution was finding its voice in Bayda, and its fighters were vowing to end Gadhafi's reign. Some people were crying, others pumping their fists in the air.

"Ordinary people, doctors, lawyers are talking about how we can coordinate with all other cities in Libya who are now under the protesters' control," says Ahmed Jibril, a former diplomat at the Libyan mission at the United Nations.

He says this is the beginning of a new government.
"We have a former minister of justice who just resigned three or four days ago," Jibril says. "He's among us and people agreed ... he would be one of the people in control."

In eastern Libya, it's still chaotic. On the streets, heavily armed and masked young men man checkpoints. There are tanks and anti-aircraft guns that have been looted from military bases positioned around towns and cities — and they are all in the hands of the rebel forces.

Jibril says that eastern Libya will defend itself, but they want a united country. "We will not divide Libya. We will not accept a division of Libya," he says.

Libya is a country of huge oil wealth, but also great poverty. Abdullah Mortady, an architect who hasn't built anything for 15 years, says the people here want to use Libya's riches for the people, not just for the enrichment of one family.

"We want to build our country," he says. "Infrastructure is nothing. Building is nothing. Our morality is completely destroyed. Today I can't speak because for 42 years we didn't speak, even our voice completely disappeared."

The new leadership is asserting itself. An elementary school has been converted into a prison, where around 100 pro-Gadhafi fighters are being kept in detention. They are what remains of a group of fighters who had holed up at a nearby airport and then were forced to surrender after a bloody battle that left a dozen people dead on Tuesday.

Many of the men are wounded, but they've been given blankets and medical attention. They are clearly scared. Most of the men say they are Libyans from the south. Among them are four men from Chad who look weak and malnourished. They declined to talk.

There have been rumors of foreign mercenaries being shipped in by the planeload to fight for Gadhafi in the east, but there is scant evidence of them here.

A Libyan soldier in detention, Ismael Salem Abu Salah, acknowledges that he was sent in to quell the initial unrest. He says he was fired upon first by the pro-democracy forces and that is why the troops fired back.

He adds that he's been treated well since he's been in detention.

The fate of these men is unclear. There is no court to try them and many in the city have been calling for their execution, especially among the younger men.

The older generation, which is now trying to form a government, is ensuring they are protected.

"The leaders, the wise people ... they had a meeting and they said they should stop these youth from, you know, from revenge, you know, because some of the youth have two or three brothers killed from the same family," says Dr. Masoud Abdullah, a professor of management science. "I was there in that meeting. It all comes down to the older generation who stopped the youth from taking revenge and ... killing them."

But he adds that they haven't been released yet because "the uprising hasn't finished. We don't know what will happen to this area. They might stop electricity; they might stop sending gas here, milk, food. We don't know."

They will use them as a way to negotiate with the regime, he says, if it should come to that.

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New Report: 'Higher Hate Group Count Than Ever' from NPR 23FEB11

IT is sad this level of ignorance and hate is growing, and is supported by the silence of the majority who are probably against it, in this "Christian" nation. Which of these groups would Jesus belong to??? Click the links below to to the SPLC Hate Map to see the hate groups in your state, and then click the link to go to the nap showing where people in your state are standing strong against hate and add your name, I did...
Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, said he was surprised to discover how much extremist groups had grown from 2009 to 2010.
Enlarge Jamie Martin/AP Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, said he was surprised to discover how much extremist groups had grown from 2009 to 2010.
A new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center describes a big rise in hate groups across the country.
By its count, there are now more than 1,000 active extremist groups in the U.S. Experts say the largest increase comes from militias that consider the federal government their enemy.
Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the law center, has been studying hate groups for a long time. But Potok says even he was surprised when he started counting extremists for his annual report.
"We have absolutely explosive growth of these groups in 2009," Potok says. "And what we have now found is that that growth continued through 2010. We have a higher hate group count than we've ever had."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks extremist movements, says there are three major reasons for the increase: the bad economy, the wide reach of the Internet and changing racial patterns in the country.
Experts say the most negative energy seems to be coming from people who think the federal government is conspiring to take away their freedom.
"It is not ... harmless in the sense that the patriot movement has produced a great deal of criminal violence," Potok says. "There were an enormous number of plots that came out of the patriot movement, particularly in the late 1990s, and we're beginning to see that again."
Jim Cavanaugh, a retired federal investigator at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has built cases against a lot of extremists.
"You know, it's the challenge of American law enforcement to see through the smoke and try to get to the people who are really going to try to hurt somebody," Cavanaugh says.
In many cases, that means people at the fringes of organized groups who carry out plots on their own.
Take the police blotter in January, for instance.
That month, authorities arrested a neo-Nazi headed for the Southwest border. He was carrying a dozen homemade grenades. Police hauled in another man in Dearborn, Mich. They said he had a history of fighting with the federal government, long before he parked near a crowded mosque with explosives in his car.
The FBI and local authorities are still trying to find out who put a bomb on the parade route in Spokane, Wash., just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. day.
Cavanaugh says he thinks more people need to start talking about hate groups, because, he says, a movement gets stronger when it hides in the shadows.
The new SPLC report might help jump-start that discussion.

U.S. Hate Groups Top 1,000

The number of active hate groups in the United States topped 1,000 for the first time and the antigovernment “Patriot” movement expanded dramatically for the second straight year as the radical right showed continued explosive growth in 2010.
Several factors fueled the growth: resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government.
The report is in the Spring 2011 issue of the SPLC’s quarterly investigative journal Intelligence Report. The Hate Map also contains a comprehensive, state-by-state listing of hate groups and their locations.
“Far-right extremists remain highly energized, even as politicians across the country co-opt many of the radical ideas and issues that are important to them,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report. “This success in having their voices heard in the political arena, where they have long occupied the fringe of conservative thought, might eventually take the wind out of their sails, but so far we’re not seeing any sign of that.”
The SPLC documented 1,002 hate groups operating in 2010 – a 7.5 percent increase from the 932 groups active a year earlier and a 66 percent rise since 2000. It is the first time the number of hate groups has topped 1,000 since the SPLC began counting them in the 1980s.
But the most dramatic growth in the radical right came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. These conspiracy-minded organizations, which see the federal government as their primary enemy, grew by 61 percent over the previous year. Their numbers increased to 824 groups in 2010, from 512 groups a year earlier. Previously, the only higher count of Patriot groups came in 1996, during the movement’s heyday, when the SPLC found 858 groups. Militias, the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement, grew from 127 groups to 330 – a 160 percent increase.
“Nativist extremist” groups – organizations that go beyond mere advocacy of restrictive immigration policy to actually confront or harass suspected undocumented immigrants or their employers – saw their numbers increase by 3 percent, from 309 groups to 319.
Taken together, these three strands of the radical right – hate groups, nativist extremist groups and Patriot organizations – increased from 1,753 groups in 2009 to 2,145 in 2010, a 22 percent rise. That followed a 2008-09 increase of 40 percent.
2010 Hate Groups Graph

Mainstream politicians have promoted many of the ideas and conspiracy theories important to these groups. Last April, for example, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070, the harshest state anti-immigrant law in the country, setting off a flood of proposals for similar laws. State legislators also have offered proposals that would roll back birthright citizenship, bar judges from considering Islamic law in state courtrooms, institute an alternative currency, and even allow a state to disregard federal laws and regulations.
Meanwhile, there are growing signs that the extremist movement is already producing significant acts of terrorism.
In an 11-day period this January, a neo-Nazi was arrested as he headed for the Arizona border with a dozen homemade grenades; a terrorist bomb attack on a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., was averted when police dismantled a sophisticated bomb; and a man who officials said had a long history of antigovernment activities was arrested in a car filled with explosives outside a packed mosque in Dearborn, Mich.
That’s in addition to the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, an attack that left six dead that same month. The assailant appeared to be severely mentally ill, but he also seemed to have absorbed certain ideas from the radical right, including the notion that the federal government is evil.
Last May, two police officers in West Memphis, Ark., were murdered when they stopped a van driven by a father-son team from the “sovereign citizens” movement, part of the larger Patriot movement. Eight law enforcement officers have been killed by radical-right extremists since President Obama was elected.
The hate groups listed in this report include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists. Other hate groups on the list target gays or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust. 

23 February 2011

Top Six Revelations in the Call Between Fake David Koch and Governor Scott Walker 23FEB11

gov scott walker is a real piece of work....just listen to this phone call to him by a blogger pretending to be one of the koch brothers...

The call made by a Buffalo blogger pretending to be billionaire right-wing activist David Koch to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is quickly making an impact on the news cycle. (You can listen to the call on YouTube: Part 1 | Part 2.)
Walker is extremely frank with the man he believes to be an important financial supporter, both of his own campaign and right-wing causes. Below are the six most important revelations we learn from listening to the Governor speak his mind.
1. Walker and the Senate Republicans are conspiring to withhold Democratic lawmakers' paychecks.
A minute into the call, Governor Walker describes a plan by the Senate Majority Leader to institute a new rule that would stop automatic deductions of lawmakers' paychecks if they do not appear in the Senate for more than two days. It would require lawmakers to appear in person to collect their checks.
Walker describes this as part of a plan he is working on with GOP Senators: "Each day, we're going to rachet this up a little bit."
2. Walker sees billionaire David Koch as "one of us."
Two and a half minutes in, Walker is describing a conversation he had with a Democratic state lawmaker, Tim Cullen, who Walker says is the "only reasonable" one among the Democrats. When the man pretending to be Koch suggests he calls Cullen, Walker says that although Cullen is reasonable, he is not "one of us." Who is the "us" that includes Walker and out-of-state billionaire Koch, but not an elected state legislator?
3. Walker is planning to threaten state workers with layoffs.
Five minutes into the call, Governor Walker says he is planning to issue between 5,000 and 6,000 "risk notices" to state workers announcing that they are at risk of being laid off. He makes this statement in the context of what he is planning to do to put pressure on Democrats to cave into his demands, not what is necessary due to the budget crunch. "If they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers to be laid off," he says, "sooner or later there's gonna be pressure on Senators to come back. We're not going to compromise."
4. Walker has a plan to lie to Senate Democrats and pass the bill while they are not aware of the vote.
Seven minutes in, Walker describes a plan created by his chief of staff to call Senate Democrats back to "hear what they have to say." While he is discussing the issues with the Democrats, the Senate would be in recess. In actuality, once Democrats come back to the state assembly, Republicans would be able to pass the bill eliminating collective bargaining rights while Walker is in discussions with Democrats.
5. Walker considered planting fake protesters to cause trouble among the real protesters.
Fourteen and a half minutes in, the fake David Koch says that they are considering "planing some troublemakers" among the crowd of protesters. Walker responds with, "we thought about that." He expresses no moral objection to the plan, but says that he thinks it is the wrong strategy, because a "ruckus" would make people think he should compromise.
6. Walker is corrupt.
Although early in Walker says they are investigating the Democratic Senators to see if they are committing ethics violations by accepting union funds, when the fake David Koch says he will fly Walker "out to Cali and really show you a good time," Walker responds by saying "that would be outstanding."