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Archive for June 23rd, 2011

President Barack Obama’s speech on Afghanistan, June 22, 2011

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Good evening. Nearly 10 years ago, America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security — one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield, but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives.

In the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al-Qaida and routed the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, our focus shifted. A second war was launched in Iraq, and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there. By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al-Qaida’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al-Qaida, and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as president, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al-Qaida; reverse the Taliban’s momentum; and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al-Qaida is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al-Qaida’s leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al-Qaida had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. “The message,” he said, “is we don’t forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.”

The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al-Qaida under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al-Qaida has been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that have been killed, and that al-Qaida has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam — thereby draining more widespread support. Al-Qaida remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al-Qaida on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.

In Afghanistan, we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country. Afghan security forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, and in some provinces and municipalities we have already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people. In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war.

Of course, huge challenges remain. This is the beginning — but not the end — of our effort to wind down this war. We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made, while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government. And next May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.

We do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement. So as we strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban. Our position on these talks is clear: They must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al-Qaida, abandon violence and abide by the Afghan Constitution. But, in part because of our military effort, we have reason to believe that progress can be made.

The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply: no safe-haven from which al-Qaida or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland, or our allies. We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people; and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace. What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures — one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.

Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe-havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region. We will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keep its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am president, the United States will never tolerate a safe-haven for those who aim to kill us: They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.

My fellow Americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country. We have learned anew the profound cost of war — a cost that has been paid by the nearly 4,500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1,500 who have done so in Afghanistan — men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended. Thousands more have been wounded. Some have lost limbs on the field of battle, and others still battle the demons that have followed them home.

Yet tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm’s way. We have ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.

As they do, we must learn their lessons. Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America’s engagement around the world. Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face. Others would have America overextend ourselves, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.

We must chart a more centered course. Like generations before, we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events. But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force — but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we are doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their destiny.

In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power — it is the principles upon which our union was founded. We are a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire but for self-determination. That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab World. We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals, with the power of our example, and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.

Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource — our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industry, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep and no horizon is beyond our reach.

America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.

In this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. To our troops, our veterans and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you, and provide you with the care, and benefits, and opportunity that you deserve.

I met some of those patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell. A while back, I spoke to the 101st Airborne that has fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan, and to the team that took out Osama bin Laden. Standing in front of a model of bin Laden’s compound, the Navy SEAL who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost — brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas, and on headstones in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten. This officer — like so many others I have met with on bases, in Baghdad and Bagram, at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital — spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one — depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril.

That’s a lesson worth remembering — that we are all a part of one American family. Though we have known disagreement and division, we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish. Now, let us finish the work at hand. Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story. With confidence in our cause; with faith in our fellow citizens; and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America — for this generation, and the next.

May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.

Statement of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk on the President’s Afghanistan withdrawal announcement

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS


Washington, DC -  United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)  released the following statement in response to the President’s Announcement regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan:

“I am concerned that the President has not followed the recommendations of General Petraeus on the timing of our withdrawal from Afghanistan.  The General was successful in Iraq by maintaining American momentum while the Iraqi army grew to the size needed to maintain long-term security.  To repeat his victory formula in Afghanistan, we would need to maintain military momentum against Al Qaeda and the Taliban until the Afghan army reaches critical mass of 400,000 troops— estimated to be achievable by 2014.  We withdrew our support and ignored Afghanistan in the 1990s and paid a high price in 2001.  We should learn from that mistake and back the Petraeus strategy.”

Atty. General Madigan warns consumers of recall on Fuel Gels

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Recall Comes Days After Attorney General Issues Consumer Alert on Gels’ Dangers

Chicago, IL ─ Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alerted Illinois consumers to a national recall on fuel gels used in firepots due to serious safety concerns. Madigan said the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today recalled fuel gels sold by Napa Home & Garden Inc.

Madigan said that in announcing its recall, the CPSC cited 37 incidents and 23 burn injuries nationwide due to the Napa Home & Garden products, which are sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Shopko and Restoration Hardware stores, among other furniture, home and garden and specialty shops.

“Illinois consumers should immediately stop using fuel gels in light of today’s recall and return them to the store where they were purchased,” Attorney General Madigan said. “Fuel gels have proven to be extremely dangerous, in particular because consumers have been largely unaware of the product’s burn risk.”

Recent media reports have detailed life-threatening burns and injuries caused when consumers used the fuel gels, which are poured into firepots for use as candles. Madigan said reports have shown consumers were injured when they added more fuel into the pot in an attempt to light or re-light the firepot, causing the product to explode into a fireball.

Late last week, Napa Home & Garden Inc. pulled its products from Bed Bath & Beyond stores nationwide as it reviews the product’s labeling to ensure safe use.

Madigan said any consumer who suffers an injury after using fire gel should immediately report it to the CPSC by calling its hotline at (800) 638-2772 or (800) 638-8270 for the hearing impaired.

Consumers seeking more information can contact Madigan’s Product Recall Hotline at (888) 414-7678, TTY (800) 964-3012 and (866) 310-8398 for Spanish speakers.

The “Black” Drug That Isn’t

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

New America Media

By Harriet A. Washington

 

SYNOPSIS: Health disparities bedevil ethnic Americans. To make matters worse, drug firms lift sales of their products with racism, “ghostwriters” and other deceptions, and many doctors believe them.

 

Ethnic Americans — whether black, Hispanic, Asian or members of other groups– face different and usually more serious health risks than our majority-group compatriots. We face higher rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as greater difficulty in accessing the U.S. healthcare system to get needed technology and medicines.

Although healthcare disparities often result in higher disease rates and lower life expectancies for ethnic groups, you and your family do not have to fall victim to an imperfect healthcare system.

Patients can help level the playing field when they partner with their doctor to take responsibility for their health. The savvy patient — that’s you — knows that finding an expert doctor you trust is the first step to evening the odds.

A doctor you trust, who keeps up with the most current solutions to the healthcare challenges Americans face, can make all the difference in avoiding or managing chronic illnesses that bedevil people of diverse ethnic or racial groups. But disturbing revelations in recent years raise concerns about the trustworthiness of the sources doctors look to for the latest medical information.

To learn what is new, what works and what doesn’t, doctors trust peer-reviewed medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the National Medical Association and Journal of the American Medical Association to stay on top of current medical research.

But what happens when the doctor you trust cannot trust what those journals publish?

Consider the case of BiDil. In 2005, BiDil, a congestive heart-failure medication, became the first medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for African Americans only. But BiDil is not the “black” drug that medical-journal reports have claimed it is.

BiDil was not tailored for African Americans, as its proponents and journal reports often claimed, but it began life as the only patented drug of the Lexington, Mass., biotech firm NitroMed.

BiDil’s proponents — some of whom had a financial interest in the success of the drug — published studies supporting their claim of a racial genetic anomaly that made BiDil an ideal drug for blacks, but not for whites.

However, physicians who wrote papers arguing for this genetic racial difference, could do so only by giving short shrift to critically important environmental and behavioral differences between black and white patients, such as disparate diets, smoking rates, environmental exposures and exercise levels.

The journal articles made BiDil seem like a special blessing for black patients, but was it really?

The clinical trials on which the FDA based its approval were deeply flawed. For example, the researchers tested no white subjects to provide comparison data. Furthermore, BiDil was tested not alone, but only together with heart medications that are already known to work, such as diuretics, beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme or ACE inhibitors. Yet, these journal articles helped convince the FDA to allow tests of BiDil in black patients and to approve it for blacks only.

How could researchers exclude whites from a study meant to show that a drug worked better in blacks than in whites? Excluding whites was a medically illogical but financially strategic move because it eliminated the possibility that the drug would test well in whites, thereby robbing NitroMed of its thin rationale for calling BiDil a black drug.

The “black” label was crucial, because BiDil’s patent covering use in all ethnic groups expired in 2007. The patent for blacks only allows NitroMed to extend its patent protection — and profit from the drug until 2020.

Not only is BiDil not a “black” drug, it can actually be more harmful for some blacks because one of its components, hydralazine, is associated with an increased risk of lupus, which strikes black women at four times the rate of whites.

BiDil is no isolated exception. Some journal articles have been manipulated by the $310 billion pharmaceutical industry. The journals are financially dependent on drug-company advertising, which is often deceptive and is sometimes used to induce journals to publish favorable reports of advertised drugs.

Researchers whose work is funded by drug companies find that those companies forbid them from mentioning side effects or poor trial outcomes. Researchers often have conflicts of interest and will benefit financially, if a drug does well in studies. So they use strategies that are calculated to make a dodgy drug look good on paper, for profit. For example, they will end a trial early, if they see signs that it is about to reveal side effects or other problems.

Ploys for Rigging Clinical Trials

Journals also publish “advertorials,” frequently misleading mixtures of advertising and editorial content. Moreover, journals often selectively publish good drug outcomes and bury the bad ones.

Company-sponsored clinical trials have been rigged by a strategy, such as pairing the tested drug with one known to work well. This can make the tested medication look effective whether it is or not and can mask the fact that its “efficacy” is due to synergistic effects of the two drugs. Or researchers may test the company’s drug against a competitor’s medication in the wrong strength: Too low a dose makes the rival drug look ineffective. Too high a dose tends to elicit worrisome side effects.

In addition, journals are also haunted by “ghostwriters.” These are unnamed writers, who tend to be neither doctors nor scientists. Drug companies have hired them to clothe the company’s marketing messages in medical-journal language. Then a doctor signs the ghostwriter’s report without acknowledging the writer’s role.

Even though medical journals claim to reject this use of ghostwriters, internal drug company documents entered into evidence during court trials have exposed this practice. No one knows how many company-paid ghostwriters actually produce the manuscripts signed by the official “authors.”

From pharmacological race-baiting to the haunting of journal articles by paid scribes, interpreting medical journal articles presents yet another hurdle that separates ethnic Americans from the top-flight healthcare they so desperately need.

Rep. Monique Davis: “Don’t single out the Black Caucus” to vote for the Concealed Carry Bill

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Says HB 148 is 6 votes shy of passing

 

By Chinta Strausberg

 

The controversial Illinois Concealed bill, recently shot down by a 65-31 vote because it failed to muster the 71 requisite votes, is allegedly six votes shy of passage, Rep. Monique D. Davis (D-27th) warned Sunday predicting a successful showdown vote would allow citizens to arm themselves. 

Davis said the resurrection of HB 148 is a real possibility but she doesn’t like the public heat Black Caucus members are getting especially from some black talk radio hosts who are urging the Black Caucus to vote in favor of the controversial bill.

“The Black Caucus has not taken a formal position” on this legislation, she said. However, Davis said it is unfair for critics to apply pressure on them to vote in favor of the bill. If they want to lobby some lawmakers, Davis said, “They should go after the 53 who voted against the bill.” That number included the 19 black lawmakers.

According to Davis, the sponsor, Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), “will be asking for the reconsideration of the vote. They may do this Wednesday during the special session or more likely in November during the veto session,” warned Davis.

Opponents of the bill, Davis said, should “go after those 53 who against the bill rather than applying pressure on the Black Caucus.”

Most lawmakers from the Chicago and suburban areas are opposed to the legislation given the increased in shootings that continue to plague the area.

Gov. Pat Quinn said he would veto the bill. Reportedly, Illinois along with Wisconsin are the only two states that do not have a semblance of a concealed carry law. However, a similiar bill is now on the governor’s desk making Illinois the lone state that has no conceal gun legislation and sources say the pressure for the 53 who opposed the bill to change their vote is mounting.

After the bill was voted down last May, Illinois Carry and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) sued the Illinois Attorney General and the director of the Illinois State Police. The Illinois State Rifle Association also sued. It was filed by Mary Shepard, victim of a violent assault.

 Reliable sources say the bill will mostly likely come up during the veto session, the last week of October and the first week of November.

With the killings that are taking place in Chicago, the pro-gun stance in downstate Illinois and pressure from the Illinois Rifle Association, sources said the legislation will most likely pass.

“We have two Illinois’–downstate and urban Illinois,” said the source. “Downstaters would not think of not having guns. They like their guns they use for hunting and leasure. Their children grow up with guns, respect them ae are trained how to use them, but in Chicago those who are doing the shooting don’t even know what a clip is. “They are six votes shy of getting the 71 votes needed to pass this legislation,” said the source who is leaning towards voting in favor of the bill.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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