Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obama delays Capitol Hill pitch on health care

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is pushing back a trip to Capitol Hill aimed at discussing the proposed health care overhaul with lawmakers.

Obama had planned to head to the Capitol on Friday. Now the White House schedule shows Obama planning to visit the Capitol on Saturday.

On Friday afternoon, Obama plans to visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

White House officials say the trip to Walter Reed had been scheduled before the fatal shootings Thursday at Fort Hood in Texas. They insist that the visit to Walter Reed, Obama's first as president, is separate from the incident at Fort Hood.


Congress: Lieberman, the public option

The Wall Street Journal writes how Joe Lieberman says he’s opposed to ANY kind of public option -- whether it’s opt in, opt out, or a trigger. “Probe for a catch or caveat in that opposition, and none is visible. Can he support a public option if states could opt out of the plan, as the current bill provides? ‘The answer is no,’ he says in an interview from his Senate office. ‘I feel very strongly about this.’ How about a trigger, a mechanism for including a public option along with a provision saying it won't be used unless private insurance plans aren't spreading coverage far and fast enough? No again.”

More: “Maybe the Lieberman stance is posturing, or a maneuver to force a watering down of the public option into something he and like-minded Democratic conservatives can swallow. In any case, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries to solve the Rubik's Cube that is health legislation, Mr. Lieberman just might represent the hardest piece to flip into place.”

The Hill adds, “If Lieberman stands in the way of the Democrats’ effort to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, Reid will be second-guessed for not stripping Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee."

The New York Times notes how the abortion issue in the health-care debate has a become a fundraising boon to anti-abortion and pro-choice organizations.

Collision Course: "Healthcare reform and climate change will conflict directly next month when lawmakers from around the world gather in Denmark for the United Nations climate change conference and the Senate debates a healthcare bill. As many as 10 senators had planned on traveling to Copenhagen for the conference, which is scheduled from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. But it now appears they may have to stay in Washington to work on healthcare."

"Two days after health reform cleared its first major hurdle in the Senate, two groups launched a joint television ad campaign,” The Hill reports. “The AARP and American Medical Association (AMA) are undertaking the effort to promote the legislation’s effect on Medicare." The ad depicts a doctor and a "spin doctor" (who looks a lot like some Capitol Hill Republicans and insurance company cable talking heads).

Here's the script:
I'm a doctor. I'm a spin doctor.
Doctor: I'm here to give you the fact about Medicare.
SD: I'm here to scare you.
D: AARP and the American Medical Association are fighting to protect your Medicare.
SD: Insurance companies say you'll lose your Medicare.
D: That's not actually true.
SD: [laughs] We don't actually care.
ANNOUNCER: Enough scare tactics. AARP and AMA are fighting to lower drug costs and make sure nothing comes between you and your doctor. Get the facts.
SD: Who cares about facts? [laughs]

Obama, Holder Predict Conviction In 9/11 Case

From opposite ends of the globe, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder firmly rejected criticism Wednesday of the planned New York trial of the professed Sept. 11 mastermind and predicted Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be exposed as a murderous coward, convicted and executed.
"Failure is not an option," Holder declared.
The president, in a series of TV interviews during his trip to Asia, said those offended by the legal rights accorded Mohammed by virtue of his facing a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal won't find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."
Obama, who is a lawyer, quickly added that he did not mean to suggest he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed's trial. "I'm not going to be in that courtroom," he said. "That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury."
The president said in interviews broadcast on NBC and CNN that experienced prosecutors in the case who specialize in terrorism have offered assurances that "we'll convict this person with the evidence they've got, going through our system."
In Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Holder for hours about his decision to send Mohammed and four others from the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York for trial in a federal courthouse blocks from the site of the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
The attorney general said he is certain the men will be convicted, but even if a suspect were acquitted, "that doesn't mean that person would be released into our country."
Tempers flared when Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., challenged Holder to say how a civilian trial could be the best idea, since Mohammed had previously sought to plead guilty before a military commission.
"How can you be more likely to get a conviction in a (civilian) court than that?" pressed Kyl, to applause from some in the hearing room.
The attorney general said his decision was not based "on the whims or the desires of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. ... He will not select the prosecution venue. I will. And I have."
Critics of Holder's decision — mostly Republicans — have argued the trial will give Mohammed a world stage to spout hateful rhetoric.
Holder said such concerns are misplaced, because judges can control unruly defendants and any pronouncements by Mohammed would only make him look worse.
"I have every confidence that the nation and the world will see him for the coward that he is," Holder told the committee. "I'm not scared of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial — and no one else needs to be, either."
Democrats on the panel were largely supportive of the administration's decision.
"We're the most powerful nation on earth; we have a justice system that is the envy of the world. We will not be afraid," said Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Among the spectators were some relatives of 9/11 victims who disagree with Holder's plan to put Mohammed, the most senior al-Qaida suspect in U.S. custody, on public trial.
Opponents of the plan, including Holder's predecessor, Michael Mukasey, have accused him of adopting a "pre-9/11" approach to terrorism.
Holder emphatically denied that.
"We are at war, and we will use every instrument of national power — civilian, military, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic and others — to win," Holder said.
But South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called the decision "a perversion of justice" by putting wartime enemies into the civilian criminal justice system. "We're making history, and we're making bad history," Graham said.
The attorney general said he does not believe holding the trial in New York — at a federal courthouse that has seen a number of high-profile terrorism trials in recent decades — will increase the risk of terror attacks there.
He also voiced support for extra federal money for the city to help safeguard the area while the trials are under way.
Alice Hoagland, whose son Mark Bingham died aboard Flight 93, spoke with Holder after the hearing had ended. One of four jetliners hijacked on 9/11, Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers rushed the cabin.
"We are heartsick and weary of the delays and machinations," said Hoagland, of Redwood Estates, Calif.
Holder sought to reassure her there was evidence, not yet made public, that makes federal court the best place to try Mohammed.
"I guess what I'm saying is trust me," the attorney general said quietly, as reporters and security staff crowded around the pair.
"I will trust you. I will defer judgment," said Hoagland, though she added she still has serious doubts about his plan.

Pollin's Lasting Legacy in D.C.

WASHINGTON - The late Abe Pollin did more than own the Washington Wizards (web | news) . We're hearing from some of the people whose lives he touched and about his lasting legacy.

"I said we're going to take a major risk," recalled Abe Pollin two years ago.

Pollin spoke of a dangerous downtown D.C. Where he decided to build an arena

Mayor Marion Barry remembers that decision well.

Barry told us, "He called me the second week in office. Had this idea of taking the Bullets and the Caps into Washington."

With the city then too broke to do anything, Pollin came forward.

In January 1995, Pollin recalled his thoughts in that moment: "I'm going to show the citizens of Washington and the citizens of this country that I have faith in the city."

The result was a revitalized area, one downtown Pollin fan remembered Wednesday.

Peter Doherty said, "You didn't come to this neighborhood at night, pretty much and now (there are) restaurants, bars before the game, after the game, it's hoppin.'"

But as Pollin loved D.C., D.C. also loved Pollin. He visited the neighborhoods with his players during the holidays.

"We know that you're taking care of these kids, that you have a big heart," said Pollin.

There's Curtis Mozie, 40-something now, who remembers Pollin gave him a job at 14 as a ball boy for the Bullets. He's still got the memorabilia and the memories of Polin walking in the locker room one night after the Bullets beat the Lakers.

"Instead of going by me and going to the players, he came to me and gave me a big hug and a high five and said, 'Yeah, we got 'em,'" remembered Mozie.

And Mozie told us, "Whether you was a ball boy or a janitor at the arena or selling popcorn, he had a heart for everybody."

So it goes to show that one man can make a difference.
President Barack Obama (web | news | bio) issued a statement paying tribute to Pollin, saying that Pollin "believed in Washington, D.C., when many others didn't."

The funeral for Pollin will be held Friday at the Washington Hebrew Congregation but a public memorial service will be held on Dec. 8 at Pollin's Verizon Center, the arena that helped revitalize a downtrodden area of the city.

Washington D.C. couple crashes presidential party

A wealthy couple is under investigation, for crashing a presidential party in our nation’s capitol.
The two crashed President Obama’s first official state dinner Tuesday night, and now the secret service is trying to find out who’s to blame.
Tariq and Michael Salahi are well known on the D.C. social register for their activities on the party circuit. The couple managed to talk their way into the President’s state dinner honoring India’s Prime Minister.
Secret service spokesman Ed Donovan says the President was never in any danger and that the party crashers went through the same security screening as the more than 300 people who were actually invited to the dinner. But the fact that they made it in at all raises serious questions about security.
The Salahis posted pictures of their visit to the state dinner on their Facebook fan page. Michael posed with Vice President Joe Biden, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and other dignitaries and stars at the event. They were also in the same room with the President and First Lady.
The secret service first learned about the breach Wednesday morning. It says it will fully investigate its procedures to insure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Only nice words will be said in public

First Published : 27 Nov 2009 12:12:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 27 Nov 2009 12:18:07 AM IST

Whatever the spin doctors of Manmohan Singh in the South Block may say, it is plain as daylight that the Obama administration in Washington DC is not taking India seriously. True, our prime minister is the first to be formally invited for a State visit after Obama took over the presidency. However, we cannot be blind to the many indicators scattered across the last few months on what the president thinks about the place of India vis-à-vis China in global affairs.

America is upset whenever human rights are violated anywhere in the world. Remember how it had denied visa to Narendra Modi in the wake of Gujarat riots. China which is a centralised authoritarian country does not allow any dissidence; it has imposed censorship on the Internet. If Obama objected to all this, it is not there in the joint statement between the two presidents. What do you make out of this guilty silence?

The president could not get his host to commit on the worldwide demand that China revalue its currency to its natural level, at least 20 per cent upwards. China has contributed to the global imbalance in currency by keeping its currency valued at the same level as in 1980s with only a marginal upward valuation in mid-90s and then withdrawing it. This gives enormous advantage, making Chinese goods cheaper for the rest of the world.

What a climbdown for the great power that its president had to give up meeting the Dalai Lama simply because he did not want to annoy China’s obdurate rulers. Then Obama concedes to China that Tibet “is part of the People’s Republic of China” and a weak rider “the United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama” — this when the Tibetan leader has already announced that such dialogue is futile, after trying this way for several years.

Obama got almost nothing from China’s rulers. But that is only one part of the story. The other part is that he virtually conceded to China the whole of South Asia as its play field by allowing this potent sentence to be part of the joint communiqué: US recognises China’s role in South Asian peace and specifically in India-Pakistan dialogue. The US has endorsed what China has been seeking to do through its support to insurgent groups in India, its aggressive naval expansion in the Indian Ocean and its intervention in Pakistan.

No doubt, our external affairs ministry reacted strongly to this time bomb planted in the Hu-Obama joint communiqué. But its coming right on the eve of Manmohan Singh going to Washington on a State visit was even more significant. It should only make perceptive observers in Delhi wonder whether any purpose would be served in Singh’s visit to the US now.

Newsweek’s international editor Fareed Zakaria has rightly commented on what you could expect from the visit: “There will be nice words said in public about the ties between two great democracies. But underneath this lies an unease.” A historic parallel is in President Nixon’s overture to Maoist China behind the back of India in the early 70s that stunned the Indian foreign policy establishment and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The danger of the prime minister being his own foreign policy maker also and of having a minimal person as external affairs minister was prominent in the history of post-Independence India. But this Congress practice continues even now. S M Krishna was nowhere in the Indo-Pak meeting in Egypt and he could hardly explain the key surrender sentence in the joint communiqué there.

Now once again he is simply a hanger-on and Manmohan Singh seems to believe that he is best suited to conduct foreign policy because he succeeded in winning the previous US administration’s support in getting the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement through. Compare that episode with what Vajpayee as PM did in talks with Pakistan president in Agra, getting his colleagues to go through the proposed agreement. As a result, he clearly rejected the trap that Musharraf proposed in it.

The core of Washington’s perception in South Asia is that it needs a face-saver in Afghanistan to get out of this situation and Pakistan with its influence on the Taliban alone could provide that face-saver. This is a departure from the Bush administration’s determined stand that Taliban should be exterminated. This country wants to know from Singh whether he would stand up to President Obama and tell him that such a move in Afghanistan would be interpreted in India as a surrender to Pakistan’s use of terror as an instrument of foreign policy aimed specially against India and that it would only further endanger India’s security.

If the PM is not able to talk his host in Washington out of such surrender, out of accepting Pakistan’s claim to ‘see a pro-Pak government in Afghanistan’ as Zakaria puts it, all the talk about India being a ‘strategic partner’ of America is simply meaningless chatter. Has Singh an alternative policy in position to tell America that it can move on its own strength and build a strong India that can counter a growing China-Pakistan-US axis once again?

To get Washington administration to perceive the Indian advantage and reorient its foreign policy, India must have a government that believes in building national strength through a framework that inspires a billion people with one purpose. In the ruling Congress in India, nationalism and national culture are dirty words. So Singh has to appeal to his celebrity host. All the while the prime minister’s spin doctors have to spot the glitter in the lunch and dinner that President Barack Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton host and the quality of the reception he gets in Washington to obfuscate the audience back in India.

Brandon mother stays with sick son in Washington D.C. for Thanksgiving

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Families gave thanks even in the midst of overwhelming hardships this Thanksgiving. The Helms family in Brandon is no exception. Leah Helms' purse was stolen as she waited in a Washington D.C. hospital where her new born son is fighting for his life. Governor Haley Barbour stepped in and made sure Helms had a valid identification so she could fly back to Mississippi.

Just as first lady Marsha Barbour was on her way to deliver a replacement driver's license, Leah Helms and her estranged husband Brad Helms got word from the hospital that one month old pierce had a bacterial infection. Doctors suggested she stay by his side.

"He's still very critical. We're not able to get surgery right now for him being so young," said Helms. Pierce was born with congenital aortic stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of his aoritic valve. Helms decided to stay in Washington D.C.

"This is our first holiday without her and I was really upset last night. I was just hurting because she's all I have, but I was here with my family and my brothers were here too," said 12 year old Katie Fulton.

Fulton and her two younger brothers are staying with grandparents. She admits she is anxious for her mother and new little brother to return home.

"I'm just ready for him to get better and get the transplant soon and come home so I can see him," said Fulton.

Helms has already suffered the death of one child. In September 2003 a car accident just outside of Brandon on Highway 468 killed two year old Jonathan Dooley. Now with another child fighting for his life the family hangs on to their faith, even keeping a journal on the Caring Bridge website thanking God for His many blessings.

"We're all thankful that we have each other here, that we're a family and that we all can be together. Even though my mom and the baby is not here, we're still here

Our Views: Seeing D.C. as poetry

With its long-winded lawmaking and posturing news conferences, Washington, D.C., seems more a city of prose than poetry, but a new virtual tour should remind Americans the nation’s capital also has inspired a number of bards.

Sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, the interactive tour, available for free online at, reveals Washington, D.C., through the eyes of many American poets, including Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Elizabeth Bishop, among many others. From the halls of federal buildings to neighborhood side streets, the tour features poems written in and around the District of Columbia, as well as original photographs by poet Thomas Sayers Ellis.

Most of us think of poets as creatures of Washington, D.C., only at inaugural time, when they’re sometimes recruited to offer a poem as part of the ceremony.

But the Poetry Foundation’s virtual tour should help throw light on a city that, for all its foibles, also is worthy of poetic inspiration.

Bulgaria Finance Minister Owns BGN 2 M DC House - Report

Bulgaria’s Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, owns a singe family house with yard appraised at BGN 2 150 000 in Washington DC.

The data comes from the Minister’s declaration submitted with Bulgaria’s National Audit Office (NAO) according to the Public Disclosure of the Property of People at High-ranking State Positions Act.

Djankov is repaying a mortgage in the amount of BGN 729 000 and has bank accounts with BGN 280 000. He also has shares in 5 US companies worth BGN 90 000 and a 4% share or BGN 108 000 in an environmental project in the area of the Bulgarian village of Apriltsi, near the northern city of Lovech.

The information is reported by Darik radio Thursday.

In an interview for the Darik site, Djankov says all his assets are in the US and he does not invest in Bulgaria to keep his affairs “clean.”

The other Deputy Prime Minister, Tsvetan Tsevetanov, declared he and his wife acquired in 2008 2 apartments with garages valued at BGN 250 000.

The PM, Boyko Borisov, does not have any changes in his property status since he took the post in the summer after being Mayor of Sofia.

Economy Minister, Traicho Triackov, has shares in 13 Bulgarian enterprises, most in the “Euro Hold” company, and two bank accounts with BGN 100 000. He is repaying a mortgage in the amount of BGN 115 000 and a lease for BGN 25 000.

Regional Minister, Rosen Plevneliev, and his wife have acquired, since 2007 until now, a house appraised at BGN 3 M.

In 2009, the wife of Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naidenov, has purchased a medical facility with a building permit in the northern city of Vratsa valued at BGN 136 000.

Health Minister, Bozhidar Nanev, and his wife have declared having assets in the amount of BGN 480 000.

In 2008, Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, and his wife have purchased 2 Mercedes cars for BGN 150 000 and a SUV BMW X3 for BGN 74 000. Rashidov has assets fro over BGN 1,5 M.

Sports Minister, Svilen Neikov, has 2 bank accounts with BGN 400 000.

All are Ministers of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party.

Kashmir Communique in the Washington Times

Washington, D.C. Nov 25: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council referred to a communiqu頴hat was published in the Washington Times on page 3 yesterday that says “that the United States paved the way for freedom around the world and the United States can help the people of Kashmir achieve peace, freedom and self-determination.

“That the Kashmir is recognized by the United Nations as a disputed territory whose status is yet to be determined by its people.” “That Kashmir is the most dangerous place in the world. (President Bill Clinton)” “That Kashmir is the world’s most beautiful prison. (European Parliamentary delegation)” “That Kashmir is the largest military concentration anywhere in the world. (International Educational Development)”

The communiqu頡lso reads, “Now is the time for President Obama to listen to Candidate Obama who said on: September 25, 2008, “I will continue support of ongoing Indian Pakistani efforts to resolve Kashmir problem in order to address the political roots of the arms race between India and Pakistan.” October 23, 2008, “Working with Pakistan and India to try to resolve, and Kashmir, crisis in a serious way. Those are all critical tasks for the next administration. Kashmir in particular is an interesting situation where that is obviously a potential tar pit diplomatically. But, for us to devote serious diplomatic resources to get a special envoy in there, to figure out a plausible approach, and essentially make the argument to the Indians, you guys are on the brink of being an economic superpower, why do you want to keep on messing with this?” October 30, 2008, “We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis.”

The communiqu頥mphasized, “That the unresolved Kashmir dispute is a rebuke to the international community for its inaction.”

The communiqu頣oncluded “that the people of Kashmir demand what was pledged to them by both India and Pakistan and guaranteed by the Security Council, with the unequivocal endorsement of the United States, namely demilitarization of Kashmir and a free vote organized impartially to ascertain popular will.”

Dr. Fai said that no international dispute is ever free from complexities and Kashmir dispute is no exception. But conscience does not let itself be distracted by them and statesmanship devoted to peace reaches and grasps the human core of s dispute.

Two Catholic Governors Lash Out at DC Catholic Church for Same-Sex "Marriage" Ultimatum

Both governors pro-abortion: one has very mixed record on same-sex issue and other is supportive of gay "marriage"

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 25, 2009 ( - The Catholic governors of Maryland and Virginia have teamed up to criticize the Catholic archdiocese of Washington, D.C. for stating that they would end their contractual relationship with the district, if a same-sex "marriage" law lacking religious protections was passed. Virginia's outgoing Governor Tim Kaine has been classified as pro-abortion by pro-life groups and has a very mixed record on same-sex issues. NARAL has labelled Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley as "pro-choice" and the governor has been a supporter of marriage rights for homosexuals.

The city's proposed same-sex "marriage" law, the "Religious Freedom and Civil Equality Amendment Act of 2009," would require all groups receiving city funds to give spousal benefits to "married" partners of homosexual employees. While the Archdiocese has said they shall continue privately-funded social services programs, they say the law would force them to end programs that depend on funding from the District. Previous attempts at including stronger religious exemption language have failed.

The archdiocese's position has been widely denounced as an attempt at intimidating the district into not passing the law.

"I'm Catholic, and I think it's wrong. I don't think you take your ball and go home," Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said on Washington's WTOP radio station Tuesday. "I think the strategy of threatening to pull back, it doesn't seem like the church I've come up in."

Joining Kaine on the Hands Across the Potomac program, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley concurred, saying, "I have a hard time believing that the nuns and priests who taught me about the Corporal Works of Mercy would agree that this is an appropriate response for the Church."

"I would be very, very disappointed here or anywhere else if the Catholic Church decides 'Gosh, we don't like something that's happening in civil society, so we're going to retreat into our shell,'" said O'Malley.

In an op-ed piece for the Washington Post last week, D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl responded to critics of the diocese's position, saying that "despite the headlines, there has been no threat or ultimatum to end services, just a simple recognition that the new requirements by the city for religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriages in their policies could restrict our ability to provide the same level of services as we do now."

"It doesn't need to be that way," said Wuerl, who pointed out that the Archdiocese's request for stronger protections for religious freedom in the bill is supported by the ACLU, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and nationally recognized legal scholars.

"We recognize that the council is likely to legalize same-sex marriage," wrote the archbishop. "It is the hope of the Archdiocese and Catholic Charities that council members will work with us to find a way to better balance interests so religious organizations that have served this city well for many decades may continue to provide services without compromising the tenets of their faith."

LaCause Is El Gallo in DC Fantasticks, Set in an Amusement Park, Opening Nov. 27

Arena Stage's new production of The Fantasticks, directed by rising American director Amanda Dehnert, who places the musical in the world of an abandoned amusement park, opens Nov. 27 after previews from Nov. 20 in Washington, DC.

Broadway's Sebastian LaCause plays El Gallo in the fable of love, youth and innocence. Performances of the Tom Jones-Harvey Schmidt musical will play to Jan. 10, 2010, at Arena Stage at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC.


The cast also includes Addi McDaniel (Luisa), Timothy Ware (Matt), Michael Stone Forrest (Hucklebee), Jerome Lucas Harmann (Bellomy), Laurence O'Dwyer (Henry), Nate Dendy (The Mute) and Jesse Terrill (Mortimer/The Handyman).

Musical direction is by George Fulginti-Shakar. Set design is by Eugene Lee.

Travel Rush is Smooth for Many in DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. - While many expected long lines and frustrated passengers at D.C. area airports on Wednesday, this year's day-before-Thanksgiving travel rush appears to have been more like smooth sailing.

At Reagan National Airport, the closest thing to a line was for security. For many frequent fliers, it wasn't so bad. So what's behind the apparent good luck? Travel experts say air travel is down 5 percent this year over last, and that could have something to do with the economy.

Also, folks are getting smarter about when they travel, and they're not all waiting until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to leave. Flights seemed to be on time with few delays, in part because of the good weather in the northeast corridor. But there are also fewer flights, leading to less congestion.

Many arriving passengers told FOX 2 it was smooth sailing cross country, and D.C. travelers were happy to report fewer hassles on their way out.

For those who hit the highway instead, most were already gone by Wednesday. According to AAA, most people did indeed travel by car.

Virginia State Police say if you're on the roads, they'll be doing tough enforcement on seat belts, speeding, and drunk driving laws to make your Thanksgiving travels safe.

Virginia State Police are also enforcing a 2-year-old law that's new to a lot of people-- the move over law. When you see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road, you're supposed to slow down, proceed with caution and move over to an adjacent lane.

Failure to move over could land you a maximum penalty of $2,500 and a jail sentence of up to 12 months.

Things may not be as smooth on the return, as many people are expected to travel on Sunday and Monday when they head home from the holidays

Democrats Make Stride in Healthcare Reform Marathon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democrats in Washington moved one step closer to passage of a massive health care reform measure on Saturday, November 21 when the U.S. Senate voted for cloture on the bill. This vote will now allow the legislative body to begin debate on the health care overhaul. The U.S. House passed its version of the bill earlier in the month.

While the cloture vote marked a sizable victory for democrats, more work remains to be done and the coalition they amassed for the cloture vote may already be unraveling.

The cloture vote required sixty senators to vote “yes” - exactly the number of senators aligned with the democrats who voted for this measure – but several senators signaled right after the vote that their support would be temporary unless the bill was changed before being brought to the floor for passage.

The potential problem facing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is that four of the senators who voted for cloture have threatened to withhold their support for the final bill if the so-called “public option,” which these senators and other critics fear would lead to government run health care, is included. Additionally, there are at least two democratic senators who have asserted that they will not vote for any bill in which the “public option” is not included making it difficult for Reid to just remove the “public option” language.

With no Republicans currently offering their support of the bill, all this places Reid in a precarious position to get back to the magic number of sixty votes he would need to stop any filibuster that might be launched against the bill.

Reid does have the option to court some moderate Republicans like Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine who indicated she might support what is called a “trigger” on the “public option,” meaning that in the future if there is not enough competition among private insurance companies, the bill would “trigger” government involvement. But on the other side of the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is not open to the trigger option.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) speaking on the Today Show indicated that while Democrats would like to have some Republican support for the $848 billion measure, they will move forward without them. Saying, "We're not going to not pass a bill. The future of the country depends on getting something done, or the government will go broke, private businesses will go broke, and people will go broke paying for health care."

Even if Democrats do find a way to resolve their differences on "the public option," there will still remain disagreements within the party over health coverage for abortion and illegal immigrants which could prove even more difficult to resolve. Also standing between them and passage may be Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut who has threatened to filibuster any bill that includes the “public option.”

As the debate rages on Capitol Hill, the American public seems to have made their decision on the bill. A new USA Today/Gallop poll indicates that the majority of Americans do not support the health care reform overhaul. The poll found that 42% of those polled oppose the bill and 35% are in favor of it. While Republicans and Democrats were unsurprisingly in opposition and in favor of the measure respectively, Independent voters were against the bill by a margin of 53% to 37%.

Also opposing the measure are many advocates for the business community and conservative organizations. One such opponent of the current measure is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

While the Chamber has offered their support for health reform that controls skyrocketing health care costs, ends pre-existing condition exclusions and allows everyone to purchase health plans at a fair price, they find the bill in its current state to be a disappointment.

Bruce Josten, executive vice president of government affairs at the U.S. Chamber explained their problems with the bill saying, "This bill still contains a government-run health plan and an onerous employer mandate, it taxes working Americans, slashes Medicare, spends over a trillion dollars, and--after all this- the Congressional Budget Office tells us 24 million Americans will still not have health insurance."

Despite opposition both within and outside Washington, even if the Senate Democrats are able to retain the sixty votes needed to stop a filibuster and then pass their measure, much work will still remain to be done. After the Senate passes their version of the bill, the legislation then goes into conference wherein the House and Senate versions of the bill must be compromised and merged into one bill that must again be passed in both the U.S. House and the Senate before reaching the President’s desk.

Group of Immigrants Buys DC Building

WASHINGTON, D.C. - It’s hard to imagine a better day than Thanksgiving to celebrate an American success story. In this one, a group of immigrants who were tired of paying rent in a neglected building agreed to buy the place and turn it into a co-op. Then, they'll live happily ever after-- or at least they are getting there.

It’s a story passed down from generation to generation. In America, anything is possible.

A total of 18 immigrant families working in hotel laundries, restaurants and blue collar jobs come together to secure a loan for $1.8 million. They purchased the apartment building located at 3121 Mount Pleasant Street NW.

"All of us here, we fight on this property," said co-op vice president Jose Chopin in an interview Thursday.

Oh and it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was touch and go right up until closing. Chopin was getting anxious.

"So what's happening? Is this going to happen or not?" Chopin wondered out loud.

Days went by, emails were exchanged, wrinkles were ironed out, and then the word-- the building is yours.

"I was there signing the papers, they were like a ton of papers-- like this!" Chopin demonstrated by holding his hands about two feet apart.

The 18 families that purchased the building said they came together for one main reason; they were tired of the gentrification that was pushing so many other low-income families out of the neighborhood.

Buying the building was one challenge. Renovating it is another. Saul Solorzano helped the co-op secure the loan.

"There is a need for a new roof, a new electrical system, new plumbing system,” said Saul Solorzano with Carecen, the group that helped the families secure the loan, “and to do some rehab inside the apartments so they can have new kitchens and new bathrooms."

It's a job estimated to cost around $2 million-- a project that requires everyone to move out for at least six months. It's an inconvenience for sure, but so necessary.

"Right now it's good, but the apartment is not very well,” said resident Victoria Chopin, “because it's cold. The heater is not very good. Everything is too bad-- the light."

So the 18 families who live there now give thanks for their dream come true with answered prayers.

In First Thanksgiving Message, Obama Assures A Stronger Economy Next Holiday

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - President Barack Obama used his first Thanksgiving message to assure the nation that the jobless would be working, and struggling families would be celebrating a more joyful holiday next year. In their Thanksgiving address, Republicans thanked service members for their sacrifice and issued their oft-repeated question to the Obama administration, where are the jobs?

"We keep in our thoughts and prayers the many families marking this Thanksgiving with an empty seat - saved for a son or daughter, or husband or wife, stationed in harm's way," the President said. "And we say a special thanks for the sacrifices those men and women in uniform are making for our safety and freedom, and for all those Americans who enrich the lives of our communities through acts of kindness, generosity and service."

"As much as we all have to be thankful for, we also know that this year millions of Americans are facing very difficult economic times. Many have lost jobs in this recession - the worst in generations. Many more are struggling to afford health care premiums and house payments, let alone to save for an education or retirement. These are not strangers. They are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. Their struggles must be our concern."

"The investments we have made and tough steps we have taken have helped break the back of the recession, and now our economy is finally growing again," Obama added. "Though the job losses we were experiencing earlier this year have slowed dramatically, we're still not creating enough new jobs each month to make up for the ones we're losing. And no matter what the economists say, for families and communities across the country, this recession will not end until we completely turn that tide."

"So we've made progress. But we cannot rest - and my administration will not rest - until we have revived this economy and rebuilt it stronger than before... it is my fervent hope - and my heartfelt expectation - that next Thanksgiving we will be able to celebrate the fact that many of those who have lost their jobs are back at work, and that as a nation we will have come through these difficult storms stronger and wiser and grateful to have reached a brighter day."

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), chairman of the House Republican Conference, discussed the economy in the GOP's holiday message.

"Even in times of struggle and trial, we have much to be thankful for, beginning with our men and women in uniform," Pence began. "The tragic events of Fort Hood that whether they serve at home or abroad, we owe our soldiers and their families a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay."

"Millions of families have seen jobs and careers vanish in the midst of the recession," he continued. "Many are asking, when will things get better? Many more are asking, where are the jobs? President Obama told the American people that his last $787 billion jobs bill, the so-called stimulus package, will ensure that unemployment will not go above 8 percent. And the administration continues to insist that their stimulus plan is working. Unemployment is now at a heartbreaking 10.2 percent."

"What is the White House's answer to our struggles? Another meeting next week. A 'jobs summit,' and most likely another proposal to grow government, raise taxes and place more debt on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren... And as if all this wasn't enough. Democrats in Washington continue to push for government run insurance. A government takeover of healthcare will do nothing to lower the cost of health insurance, and will place further burdens on small business owners and working families."

"The way to stimulate this economy and help working families is to let Americans keep more of their hard-earned money, not taking more from their wallets," Pence added. "Republicans have proposals to get our economy moving again, to achieve energy independence and lower the cost of health care."

The messages were after the annual turkey pardoning at the White House.

The President pardoned his first turkey, named Courage, on the North Portico, joking that, "Thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha -- because I was planning to eat this sucker --- Courage will be spared this terrible and delicious fate."

"You know, there are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this -- where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland," the President added.

Courage and an alternate turkey named Carolina were both brought to Disneyland Resort in California after the ceremony, following tradition. Both birds will serve as the grand marshals of Disneyland's annual Thanksgiving day parade. After the parade, the turkeys will live out their days in the Frontierland section where people can visit them.

Obama will be spending Thanksgiving day at the White House with the First Lady and his two daughters. The four-day holiday caps a hectic month for the President in which he made his maiden visit to Asia, marked his first Veterans Day as commander-in-chief with a memorial service at Fort Hood, and successfully pushed for the passage of healthcare bills in the House and the Senate despite the united opposition of Republicans. The President also held his final Afghan war council with members of his national security team, ahead of his announcement about the new strategy in Afghanistan next week.

The church is not a building – a Washington D.C. storefront churches exhibit

You’ve heard that before, right? The church is not a building. The people are the church.
Well, that adage could not be more true in the case of storefront churches. Many times located in buildings that were former movie theaters, laundromats, car dealerships or convenience stores, the church can’t rely on a steeple to attract worshipers.
The Wilmington area has its fair share of storefront churches with a vibrant worship culture inside each Sunday.
I had the privilege last weekend to visit a collection of photographs of storefront churches at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, “Storefront Churches: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara,” is up through Nov. 29.
While the exhibit is a study of the edifices churches inhabit – sometimes without walls as in the case of a homeless church which was a circle of chairs in a field — I was glad the exhibit examined life inside the churches as well with photos of worship and singing. It was particularly fascinating to see the time lapse photography of one church over a period of 20 years. Vergara showed how the building aged , changed congregations and its facade in that time.

8 MoUs during PM Singh´s US Visit

CII organized an MoU Signing Ceremony in Washington DC, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's momentous visit to USA.

Indian corporate members and institutions entered into collaborative agreements with their American counterparts and resolved to work together in their respective fields. A total of eight MoUs were signed across a wide range of sectors, including Pharmaceuticals and Drug Development, Healthcare, Telecom and Information Communication & Technology, Nano-Electronics, Research and Development, Leadership Training as well as Homeland Security. The growing list of sectors is highly reflective of the widening Indo US partnership and the scope for future collaboration.

"The CII MoU Signing Ceremony holds special significance in light of Prime Minister Singh's visit to USA and demonstrates the interest and dedication of Indian industry to work in partnership with American counterparts across diverse sectors," said Hari Bhartia, Vice President, CII and Co-Chairman and Managing Director, Jubilant Organosys.

The MoUs signed at the ceremony included:

Tata Communications - Tyco Electronics
Jubilant Organosys - University of Alabama at Birmingham - Southern Research Institute
Infosys Technologies - Microsoft Corporation
HCL Security - Cisco
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) - Santech Communication
Cadila Pharmaceuticals - Novavax
Aspen Institute India - Aspen Institute USA
Apollo Hospitals - StemCyte

Tata Communications has worked extensively with Tyco Electronics, in the continued expansion of the Tata Global Network over the last five years. Dave Ryan, Executive Vice President - Americas Region, Tata Communications and Mike Rieger, Vice President, Tyco Telecommunications signed their intent to continue to do so. They will be working together in providing low latency routes, additional connectivity and transmission over ultra-long haul distances using dark fibers on the submarine cable system.

Jubilant Organosys Ltd, entered into a joint venture with University of Alabama and Southern Research Institute, which will focus on leveraging innovative and enabling technologies in areas of Oncology, Metabolic Disease and Infectious diseases. This unique US-India partnership is meant to accelerate the development of affordable and successful therapies to the patients in India and worldwide. The parties committed to work together for 10 years in establishing path breaking and affordable healthcare.

Infosys Technologies relies on key technologies from Microsoft Corporation to run its business and has been using Microsoft technologies since 1996. Under a multi-year Enterprise Agreement (EA), the licensing framework and the services to deploy the products are articulated and agreed to. The solutions deployed internally span across infrastructure software, application software and databases. At the CII MoU Signing Ceremony, Infosys and Microsoft inked their plan to continue to work closely in the future and build upon their respective strengths further.

Cisco today signed an agreement with HCL Security Ltd to collaborate on delivering safety and security solutions to help enable safer and more secure communities. The collaboration will combine the strengths of Cisco's Smart+Connected Communities leadership with HCL Security's 'Safe State' architecture to design and deliver safety and security solutions in India initially and later in other countries. The vision of the collaboration is to combine Cisco's technology expertise and experience in network and physical security with HCL Security's market leadership to better address safety and security projects and customer requirements.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Santech Communication Pvt. Ltd. agreed to work together to explore the possibility of establishing a CII Santech Centre of Excellence on Nano-electronics. The joint initiative would aim to serve the needs of industry on nanotechnology based products and services. It would also work to increase the availability of, and access to, national Research and Development and create an innovation infrastructure in the Nano-Technology sector while providing new opportunities to position Indian companies as significant players in emerging technologies.

Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Novavax Inc. joined hands with the vision to enable the vital production of key vaccines in India, including the most recently developed H1N1 Pandemic Vaccine, Trivalent Seasonal Influenza Vaccine and targeting other more India specific Virus Like Particles (VLP) vaccines against Dengue, Japanese encephalitis, Chikungunya among other viral diseases.

Aspen Institute India and Aspen Institute USA resolved to work together with the common goal of providing leadership training and to foster a new generation of values-based action-oriented leaders. The two Institutes will offer programs such as the India Leadership Initiative and the Aspen Seminar, which are designed to enable participants to become better leaders. The two Institutes will also conduct Policy and Strategic Dialogues on various issues which will engage government, industry and civil society into a more comprehensive discussion on the issues at hand. Together, they will evolve programs to develop value based leadership in India by conducting seminars, strategic and policy dialogues.

Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd and StemCyte Inc. signed an MOU designed to establish a cord blood bank facility at Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad. This is envisaged to be the largest for public and private cord blood collection in India. Their collaboration will also provide stem cell therapies to treat patients with certain malignant blood disorders, inherited disorders and immune deficiency diseases. The JV they propose to set up will enable participation in clinical studies to develop cell therapies for indications for which there are unmet clinical needs like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Spinal Cord Injuries etc. This collaboration will further be extended to major research efforts extremely valuable to the medical needs of the country in areas relevant to India and developing countries.

Indian investments in the US have been rising consistently and the Indian corporate are keen to collaborate further. The CII MoU Signing Ceremony marked the commitment of the two countries coming together at the corporate level to deeply engage in economic collaboration and strengthen institutional linkages.

Archbishop Wuerl: Proposed D.C. 'marriage' law does more than redefine marriage

Washington D.C., Nov 25, 2009 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- In an interview with Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. stated that the proposed same-sex “marriage” law in D.C. doesn't only redefine marriage, it lacks the conscience protections necessary to allow the social services of the Church to continue partnering with the civil government. On Dec. 1, D.C. council members are scheduled to vote on a bill which would legalize same-sex “marriage” in D.C. and require Catholic Charities and other religious institutions to “recognize and promote” it as Archbishop Wuerl has previously stated.

The prelate told Haas that the Church has two reservations about the proposed law.

First is the definition of marriage itself. “Marriage has been defined across human history, across cultures, nations, and time, in a very specific way,” Wuerl said.

Secondly, Wuerl noted that the new law would “prohibit us from carrying out our social service ministry if we did not subscribe to this new definition.” If, on December 1, the D.C. city council votes in favor of the law as it is now, the partnership between Catholic Charities and the civil government will be over, and not simply out of spite.

The archbishop noted that Catholic Charities will continue to operate, but only “with our resources.” However, the “long history of partnership with the civil government” will be over.

Ultimately, the position of the archdiocese is that “ if you are going to enforce this law, you have to provide freedom of conscience,” declared the archbishop.

Only a first move by U.S. can inject momentum into climate talks

Is this a “game-changer” or just political game-playing?

By setting a provisional target for U.S. reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the Copenhagen climate-change summit, President Barack Obama may have quieted those who had deplored his silence until now on one of the signature promises of his campaign.

But by issuing a veiled directive to Congress, he risks inflaming his already antagonistic relationship with senators – Democrats and Republicans alike – who like to remind the President that U.S. adherence to any climate-change treaty requires their consent first.

And so far, Mr. Obama doesn't have anywhere near the Senate votes he needs to implement any agreement that may evolve – sooner or later – from the United Nations gathering in Denmark next month, where he will make a cameo before heading to Oslo to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize.

Bill Clinton found himself in the same situation (minus the Nobel) when he boldly signed the Kyoto Protocol more than a decade ago. That treaty was never ratified by the Senate before George W. Bush renounced the deal to reduce U.S. greenhouse gases to 7 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. And Mr. Obama clearly knows his history.

“The Kyoto lesson is pretty clear, but it's also a lesson this White House has learned,” Roger Ballentine, who headed Mr. Clinton's Climate Change Task Force, said in an interview. “What you'll see is the President expressing a strong personal commitment ... but at the same time he's going to be deferential to Congress.”

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, one of the rare climate-change torchbearers in the Senate, may have declared it a “game-changer” that the U.S. delegation will arrive in Copenhagen pledging GHG reductions “in the range” of 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. But only the crowd of urban progressives who swarmed to the polls for Mr. Obama a year ago, but who had grown weary of his tortoise-like pace on this and other issues, may see it that way.

“The subset of Americans that cares about this issue has been watching the President and hoping he would make an appearance at Copenhagen,” noted Sharon Dunwoody, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who specializes in environmental communication. “What I've been hearing is: ‘We're the odd country out. Everybody's doing something, while here in the U.S. we're doing nothing.'”

Still, the “subset” of Americans looking to Mr. Obama for tough action is shrinking, not growing, as ordinary folks focus on pulling themselves out of the worst economic downturn in at least a generation. Two years ago, fully 77 per cent of Americans believed there was “solid evidence” of global warming. Today, the proportion has fallen to 57 per cent, according to an October poll by the Pew Research Center.

Only 35 per cent of Americans now think climate change is a “serious problem” and of those who have heard “a lot” about the cap-and-trade legislation passed in June by the House of Representatives (which sets the same 17 per cent target the administration proposed), almost two-thirds oppose it.

Mr. Obama has to “wrestle with this incredibly complex domestic environment where other issues have taken centre-stage ... and public support for big changes is decreasing,” Prof. Dunwoody conceded.

It may be overly myopic to judge his move uniquely through the lens of near-term domestic politics. Of all the climate-change holdouts, only a first move by the United States can inject momentum into the Copenhagen talks. Mr. Obama has set a benchmark that makes it easier for China and India to come forward with undertakings of their own.

“The more credible the U.S. is, the more we're able to get other countries to take action,” opined Jake Schmidt, the international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.

If that's true, Mr. Obama may just have changed the game, after all.

ALHS publications staffers travel to Washington, D.C.

Eleven Albert Lea publications (Tiger Yearbook, Ahlahasa) staff members attended the national high school journalism convention in Washington, D.C. Nov. 11-15.

The students attended two days worth of sessions about a wide range of journalism issues and topics and plan to bring that knowledge back to their respective staffs to improve the publications.

All 11 students competed in national writing competitions, and three of those students won recognition. A total of 2,267 students from 220 schools in 35 states and England competed.

Senior Ahlahasa editor Jill Jensen, competing in the biggest category, feature writing, earned an excellent award. Senior Ahlahasa design editor Jeff Thorstad earned honorable mention in editorial cartooning and junior Ahlahasa Fever editor Kate Ellertson earned honorable mention in newswriting.

In addition to learning a lot about journalism, the students saw a lot of the nation’s capital. Included were tours of the White House, U.S. Capitol Building, including seeing the House of Representatives floor, the Newseum, numerous branches of the Smithsonian Museum, plus the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and World War II and Vietnam War memorials. The students paid for the trips themselves, with some costs offset by fundraising.

English teacher attains certified journalism educator status

Riley Worth attained certified journalism educator status this fall. The Albert Lea High School English teacher, now in his sixth year at the school, was recognized by the Journalism Education Association at its national convention Nov. 14 in Washington, D.C. at an adviser luncheon at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

He is now eligible to apply for master journalism educator status, which involves an academic-style project benefitting scholastic journalism and passing a rigorous exam about the journalism field.

Worth has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and worked as a journalist for years before becoming certified to teach. He is the adviser to three student publications, Ahlahasa newsmagazine, Tiger Yearbook and I-Mag literary magazine.

Southwest honors veterans

Southwest Middle School started the day Nov. 11 with a ceremony honoring veterans. The Color Guard was present, the choir sang and the band played. Superintendent Mike Funk, who is himself a veteran, spoke. The day of honor did not end there for the students in Melodie Miller’s English classes. Eighth grade students took a few moments at the beginning of class to think of ways they could honor veterans. The following are some excerpts taken from the journals of a few of Southwest students.

“It is Veterans Day today. The best way to honor them is to support them and care about them. My brother is joining the National Guard so he is going to be a veteran soon. He will be loved and supported by my family and me as he goes through basic training and other Army things. The best way to honor a veteran is to support them, love them and care for them. That is what I think is the best way to honor a veteran.”

“Today is Veterans Day. I think the best way to respect them is what we did today; we had a school assembly. We honored them at the assembly. We thanked them. Those are my thoughts.”

“Today is Veterans Day. I think the best way to honor our vets is to salute our vets and hold a ceremony for all who have, or are, serving for us. Also, I think we should write thank yous to our vets to let them know that we appreciate what they have done for us. A ceremony like we had at school today is a great way to recognize Veterans Day. Thank you, vets! These are ways to honor our vets.”

“There are many ways to honor veterans. The best way to honor veterans is to just say ‘thank you.’ It does not sound like much but it can mean a whole lot to a veteran. If you see a veteran any day, you should simply just say ‘thank you.’ Saying thank you is the best way to honor a veteran.”

“I think the best way to honor our veterans is to pay respect to them at the assembly or thank them on the streets. If I ran into a veteran I would shake their hand and thank them for their duty. I think the handshake would be the most respectful. That is how I would honor a vet.”

Early childhood screening slated for Dec. 17

The state requires a check of vision, hearing and developmental growth of all 3- to 5-year-olds before starting kindergarten. The Albert Lea School District conducts free screenings each month at Brookside Education Center. If your child has not been screened, call Julie at 379-4843 or e-mail to schedule your child’s 60- to 75-minute appointment. The next screening will be held on Thursday, Dec. 17, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Title I parents learn about gold standards in math

On Nov. 12, more than 100 Title I parents and students from the district came to Hawthorne Elementary and were introduced to gold standards in math. The night began with dinner. Then parents were invited to a classroom to go over gold standards while their child played games in the gymnasium with members of the Albert Lea Thunder Hockey Team. Later, parents and students learned to play a math game that aligned with a gold standard. Each family left at the end of the night with a bag full of math goodies.The next math night will be held in February at Sibley Elementary.

Citizenship committee holds UNICEF fundraiser

The citizenship committee at Hawthorne School headed up the schoolwide fundraiser for UNICEF for the fourth year. Students brought the little orange UNICEF boxes around when they went trick or treating. This year we collected $416.92. This translates to 1,000 meals for hungry children or immunizations for 820 children against polio and other childhood diseases.

Sibley holds food drive

Sibley’s citizenship committee recently conducted a food drive, collecting food for the Salvation Army Food Shelf. They collected over 400 pounds of non-perishable food items. A contest for the classrooms collecting the most food was held, and the winning classes Ashley Coffman’s kindergarten class for the primary grades and Nancy Sorlie’s class for the upper elementary. Members on the Sibley Citizenship Committee are Caleb Baker, Brianna Lee, Logan Petersen and Alana Skarstad. Teachers on the committee are Nancy Sorlie and Cindy Shahan.

Third-graders see ‘Seussical’

On Nov. 18, Albert Lea High School presented its fall musical “Seussical” to an excited group of third-graders from the surrounding Albert Lea elementary schools. This was made possible from the arts partnership grant with Perpich Center for Arts Education. Media specialists re-read Dr. Seuss books with the students in preparation for the performance. It was an excellent opportunity for students to see books come to life and experience the magic of theater at a young age.

With no freedom to chose within Pakistan, people of Sindh will chose freedom: Iqbal Tareen

Washington DC: November 26, 2009, (PCP) People of Sindh clearly see a Noora Kushty in conflict between PML (N) and MQM: Politically naive people couldn't get the drift of MQM at all. MQM excels in "Use and lose" game. In my book "Harvest will come" I had predicted that MQM will stab PPP in the back because Nawaz Sharrif and MQM have common family tree going all the way to Zia-ul-Haq. Combined with all other rightist parties this is another IJI, which is once again engaged against a party that was not manufactured in GHQ.

Many so-called "progressive and people friendly activists" have been taken for a ride.

Although many rightist organizations used PPP's reconciliation with MQM as a pretext to demean PPP but their real motive was an overthrow of a representative democracy to replace it with GHQ preferred and hand-picked gang of a few. Now that Nawaz Sharif and other pro-Uma parties are ready to baptize Altaf Hussain, the MQM will overnight turn from a Haraam party to a Halaal party.

The dating game between MQM and Muslim (N) actually started when Javed Hashmi came up with his weird idea of 12 provinces. Through him PML (N) actually extended an olive branch to MQM. The idea of 12 provinces and PPP-hate has placed all the bad eggs in one basket.

NRO and corruption issues are nothing less than a stunt pulled by these parties combined together. Nawaz Sharrif lived in Medina Sharrif for almost 8 years under the selective blessings of NRO midwife by the Saudis and granted by Musharraf.

Altaf Hussein and his party leaders including present governor of Sindh live scot free under amnesty from murder and felony cases granted to them by Musharraf government and his kangaroo courts.

As far as corruption and crime is concerned, it is embedded in Pakistani society from top to the bottom and sideways. From judiciary to Pakistani military brass, bureaucracy, politicians, Ulema, business leaders, and civil society members, and educators all are deep into corruption and favoritism.

None of the opposing political and religious parties are free from corruption and crime. Pakistani establishment thrives on systemic corruption and power abuse. Absolute majority of civil and military officers live imperial lives beyond their means. Many are directly and indirectly beneficiaries of drug business in Pakistan and have their hands stained with blood for assassinations and murders of innocent civilians and their political rivals. It is beyond me to see bunch of unscrupulous people preaching scruples.

The menace of corruption should be dealt with by a fair and open judicial process. You don’t overthrow a mandate because some of the members of ruling party are also corrupt.

To the people of small provinces the current hate movement is all about zero tolerance of their representative government by bunch of pro-establishment hate-driven parties, which are bent upon creating environment leading to an overthrow of a democratically elected government in Pakistan.

Baloch people have already lost faith in provincial autonomy or even talk about 1940 Resolution. They are clearly demanding freedom for Balochistan. People of Sindh are also pondering if Pakistan is a viable arrangement for the recourse of their decades old grievances. It is an overwhelming perception of people of Sindh that none of the small province based leadership is ever acceptable to Punjab-Muhajir dominated body of politics in Pakistan, which constitutes a core of Pakistani Establishment.

Many Sindhi and Baloch leaders and parties have worked on the premises that "Whenever Sindhis and Baloch participate in national politics, the Sindh and Baloch rights will are compromised" According to them thus "It is a futile exercise to waste any effort into a lost cause"

They raise a question that if moderate and pro-Pakistan Sindhi and Baloch leaders like ZA Bhutto, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Ghous Bux Bezenjo, Wali Khan, and Akbbar Bugti were not acceptable to Pakistani establishment, how can any Sindh or Balochistan rights party or leaders can find a sympathetic ear in the present setup.

A singled out onslaught on Asif Zardari is also perceived as a zero tolerance for a Sindhi leader in Pakistani national politics. PML (N), PML (Q), MQM, and all religious parties are united in bringing one man down. Entire media has issued a eulogy on Zardari's government already.

Just a friendly warning if you bring down a strong proponent of "Pakistan Khappay", you will be hard-pressed to find any soul in Sindh calling Pakistan Khappay again. A domino's effect in already in action grabbing Muslim world into its grip. Pakistan falling into the hands of pro-Taliban and spineless political forces will trigger downing of various South Asian Muslim states. The fall of representative democracy will give rise to total Talibanization in Pakistan.

Any overthrow of their elected representatives will force people of Sindh to vote with their feet. They will simply walk away from Pakistan. Sindh is nation of Latif, Sachal, Sami, and Lal Qalandar. People of Sindh are not in the business of hate and violence. But they will not allow spin doctors to undo their mandate.

People of Sindh have no part of establishment on its side. Sindhis have only ballot power to leverage. Majority of Sindhis believe that given peaceful and fair elections they hope to witness vanishing of politics of corruption, incompetence, and power abuse within a decade or two. If their mandate is stolen and their power of ballot is diminished Sindhi people will lose their right to choose.

With no freedom to choose within Pakistan, people of Sindh will likely choose their freedom without Pakistan.

Bulgaria Foreign Minister in DC Lecture: Nabucco, South Stream Remain on Paper

Foreign Minister, Rumiana Jeleva, has declared Bulgaria was interested in participating in both Nabucco and South Stream gas transit pipelines as part of its energy sources diversification policy.

Jeleva stated this in her lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC on Tuesday.

In her words, in reconsidering Bulgaria’s participation in major international energy projects such as the EU-sponsored Nabucco and the Russian South Stream, the new Bulgarian government of the GERB party has focused on looking at the sources of funding and the long-term economic efficiency of the projects.

Jeleva has made it clear that Nabucco is a very “strong” project but that Bulgaria is also interested in the realization of the Russian South Stream pipeline.

She did point out, however, that there was currently no clarity regarding when the construction of Nabucco would start, and that the situation with South Stream was pretty much the same. In her words, both projects are being realized “on paper” only for the time being.

Jeleva believes that any common EU strategy on energy security cannot be discussed by excluding Russia which is the major energy supplier for Europe. But she said other former Soviet republics such as Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan must also be included as very important factors.

Obama family donates Jaindl Farms turkeys to Washington, D.C., food pantry

View full sizeExpress-Times File Photo | BRUCE WINTERTurkeys stand together at Jaindl Turkey Farms in South Whitehall Township.President Barack Obama and his family this afternoon donated a couple of turkeys from Jaindl Turkey Farms to Martha's Table, a charitable organization that serves the needy in Washington, D.C.

The president made the announcement after pardoning Courage, a 45-pound gobbler presented by the National Turkey Federation. Now, instead of being served up as Thursday night dinner, Courage will serve as the grand marshal at Disneyland's Thanksgiving parade. Courage's understudy, Carolina, was also spared.

"Now, later this afternoon, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will take two of their less fortunate brethren to Martha's Table, an organization that does extraordinary work to help folks here in D.C. who need it the most," Obama said. "And I want to thank Jaindl's Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, for donating those dressed birds for dinner."

Jaindl Farms is based in the Orefield section of South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County.

Obama wished all Americans a happy Thanksgiving and encouraged them to share their blessings with others this holiday season. "This is an era of new perils and new hardships. But we are, as ever, a people of endless compassion, boundless ingenuity, limitless strength. We're the heirs to a hard-earned history and stewards of a land of God-given beauty. We are Americans. And for all this, we give our humble thanks -- to our predecessors, to one another, and to God," he said. Read his remarks in their entirety.

Fancy holiday in Washington?

YOU can win a trip to Washington, DC for the release of Matt Damon's new film The Informant!
We've teamed up with Warner Bros and Washington, DC Tourist Board to give a lucky Sun reader the chance to create their own Power Trip to Washington, DC courtesy of

The lucky winner will receive a £1000 voucher which can be redeemed against an amazing holiday for two to the U.S. capital at

World-famous museums, inspiring monuments and powerful moments await you in Washington, DC.

A diverse and beautiful world capital, DC invites you to explore charming neighbourhoods like historic Georgetown and trendy U Street, where you'll find hip shops, inviting restaurants, vibrant nightlife and peaceful parks and gardens.

Discover fascinating free attractions like the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, National Archives and the Library of Congress.

For accommodation, choose from luxury hotels, budget-friendly inns and cozy B&Bs.

MATT DAMON'S latest flick The Informant! is based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in US history.

Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a rising star at an agri-business giant, who turns in the company to the government when he suspects them of price-fixing.

When the FBI needs evidence, Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent.

But his ever-changing account threatens to derail the investigation when it becomes impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre's active imagination.

Washington Post Announces Closure Of Domestic Bureaus

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The Washington Post announced on Wednesday it will shutter its remaining domestic bureaus outside of the nation's capital. The move is being done as a cost save measure in the current economic climate.

Bureaus in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles will all be closed as the daily is refocusing its efforts on covering local news and national politics coming out of Washington. Despite the closing of offices in the U.S. the paper will still keep offices in foreign capitals including Moscow, Berlin and Beijing. Reporters from the three bureaus slated for closing will be reassigned to the capital. Officials from the news institution reveal that the paper will continue to rely on traveling reporters to write about news topics around the country.

The paper admits that the closing of the bureaus means the knowledge and experience accumulated by reporters who live in other regions of the country and come to understand the local issues, personalities and culture will be lost.

Over the last few years the newspaper industry has had to deal with falling advertising revenue. Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of recent efforts to keep the daily afloat by it undergoing four early retirement buyouts to trim costs and cut staff.

The Post is currently the country's the fifth-largest U.S. daily by circulation. However in the first three quarters of 2009 the daily lost 166.7 million dollars.

Inventor rides motorcycle from Brazil to Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON — Paulo Roberto Vieira stumbled into the Brazilian consulate, bedraggled, nearly broke and at the end of his rope.

Dressed in a battered black leather jacket and scuffed black jeans, he told consular officials an almost unbelievable story: He had ridden his motorcycle from his home town in southern Brazil to Washington, an 18,000-mile quest for official recognition of his life's proudest work, an automobile accessory he said he invented.

Vieira's arrival last month ended an odyssey that wound through 11 countries, and it illustrates Washington's enduring power as a magnet for ordinary people who think the answer to their prayers can be found in what's seen as the capital of the free world.

Standing next to his Honda CG150 Titan several days later, Vieira, gaunt and looking weary, recounted in his native Portuguese the improbable tale of his four-month journey.

He described how he rode for more than 1,900 miles on mostly unpaved roads through the Amazon, narrowly avoiding becoming lunch for a jaguar, one of the rain forest's most feared carnivores. How a delay in obtaining a U.S. visa forced him to traverse Mexico three times before crossing into Texas. How he hoped for sweet justice in the U.S. capital, perhaps even from the president himself.

"I decided to come here because Washington is where things get done," he said. "Barack Obama is already solving so many other problems — how much more trouble would it be for him to solve



Vieira, 58, followed a well-worn pattern of travel to Washington. Over the years, people have traveled to the city to seek redress for grievances great and small, including the Bonus Army encampment of the early 1930s and the itinerants who make Lafayette Square their home while they fight their causes.

Washington was not the endpoint Vieira had in mind in June when he left his home town of Campinas, an industrial city of a million people about 60 miles northwest of Sao Paulo. He said the trip sprang from his decades working as a motorcycle mechanic.

Vieira, a lifelong tinkerer, developed a device in the mid-1990s that detects low tire pressure in vehicles and alerts drivers with an alarm. He registered a patent for it in Brazil in 1999. Since then, he has waged a battle for international validation of his rights as the inventor, particularly in the United States, where a similar accessory is made under a U.S. patent. His goal is to open a factory in Brazil to produce the alarm.

"This is my family's patrimony," said the divorced father of eight adult children, tapping an inch-thick binder of official Brazilian documents that he said back his claim. "It's for my children, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

The patent fight led him to leave Campinas on June 25 for Brasilia, where he hoped his government could solve his problem. But after several fruitless days sparring with bureaucrats, Vieira decided there was only one place to go: Washington.

From the road, Vieira called his youngest daughter to inform her of his plans. She tried to talk him out of it.

"I cried and begged him for the love of God not to go, but he went anyway," Camila Souza Vieira, 21, said in a telephone interview from Campinas. "When he gets an idea in his head, no one can change his mind."

Over the course of his trip, Vieira said, he went through two wheel rims and four tires, changed the oil 29 times and burned through 250 gallons of fuel. The most difficult stretch was in the Amazon in northern Brazil, where he rode for hour upon hour without seeing another soul.

As he continued north, Vieira amassed a collection of passport stamps: in Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico.

The odyssey nearly ended there. When he arrived in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, officials at the U.S. consulate denied him a visa. So Vieira rode more than 1,000 miles back to Guatemala. From there, he caught a flight home to Brazil, where he secured a U.S. visa in a matter of days. He flew back to Guatemala and resumed his ride north, recrossing Mexico again until he entered the United States on Oct. 21.

"There's no greater thrill for me than when you cross a country's border," he said, "and the greatest moment was when I finally entered the United States."

By the time Vieira dismounted in the District of Columbia on Oct. 28, he was down to his last few dollars. He had gone more than a day without eating.

Knowing no English and having no contacts in the city, he turned to the Brazilian consulate. After leafing through his passport and verifying his story with family members back home, consular officials fed him lunch, spotted Vieira enough money to cover a day or two of living expenses and steered him to a cheap motel in Falls Church.

"His case was a huge surprise for us," said Cyro Cardoso, vice consul of the Brazilian consulate, who is used to dealing with tourists who have lost wallets or passports — not ridden a motorcycle to the point of exhaustion. "It's one for the history books."

Vieira got a money transfer from home, settling basic survival questions. But a big problem remained: He had no plan for what would come next.

Vieira had not set up any meetings with government officials. He had no one to help him wade through one of the trickiest areas of U.S. business law. And the consulate was neither equipped nor authorized to wade into a battle over intellectual property.

So Vieira made a liberating, yet agonizing, decision: He set aside his patent quest and declared victory, at least temporarily.

"You can't put a price on an experience like this," he said with a smile. "For me, it's the equivalent of going to the moon."

For three weeks, Vieira has enjoyed Washington as other tourists do, riding his Honda downtown, snapping photos and soaking up the sights. He has made near-daily visits to the consulate, drinking coffee with officials and chatting up anyone willing to hear his story.

The motorcycle, adorned with Brazilian and U.S. flags, has drawn attention from passersby. The local Brazilian community has embraced Vieira. A worker at the consulate let Vieira sleep in a spare room. Another gave him a new set of motorcycle gloves.

Vieira was laying the groundwork to return to Campinas and planned to leave within days. He said he considered flying to Sao Paulo and sending his bike by boat, but, emboldened by his achievement, he has decided to return the way he came — albeit with a different itinerary, tracing the western edge of South America.

He pointed to the bike's odometer. It registered 35,114 kilometers — 21,819 miles.

"I don't know how many miles it's going to have when I get back," he said. "But it's going to get there well traveled."

Hollywood Comes to Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Medical Association (NMA) in collaboration with award winning actor Egypt formerly Devin T. Robinson X of AIDS Awareness Poets, Inc., will host a free movie premier of "God, Me... HIV?" on the eve of World AIDS Day, November 30th at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW in Washington D.C, 6:30 pm EST. The film, an adaptation of Egypt's 2005 one-man show "God Did Not Give Me HIV" will showcase seven confessional narratives about the HIV pandemic. Egypt will fuse his comedic/poetic acting and motivational skills to... entertain, educate, and empower audiences.

The Nation's Capitol has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Washington Metropolitan area. There are 42,000 persons who are living with HIV/AIDS in Washington, DC, which is 200% higher than the entire nation. Eighty-two percent of persons with HIV/AIDS in the Washington Metropolitan area are African Americans and other minorities.

Tickets to the movie "God, Me... HIV?" which is rated PG-13 are free through the National Medical Association. The program, held at the Newseum, includes a reception starting at 6:30 p.m. followed by the screening of the movie premiere. Moviegoers will also have the opportunity to be tested for HIV/AIDS by the Whitman Walker Clinic at no cost. The evening will end with a question and answer session with a panel of experts.

Founded in 1895, the National Medical Association is the nation's oldest and largest medical association representing the interests of more than 30,000 African-American physicians and their patients. The NMA repeatedly advocates for policies that would assure equitable and quality health care for all people.

Wikileaks Releases Half Million Text Messages Sent On 9/11

Kris Alingod - AHN Contributor
Washington, D.C. (AHN) - Wikileaks has released half a million text messages sent via pagers nationwide during a 24-hour period on Sept. 11, 2001. The intercepts include messages from the Pentagon, the NYPD and other government agencies.

The index of messages begin at 3:00 am on the day of the attacks, and end at the same hour the following day. They are ordered chronologically, and released synchronized to the actual time they were sent, according to Wikileaks so "the world has a chance to objectively see how the tragedy progressed."

Four planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania eight years ago. A total of 2,973 people died.

The first plane hit one tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am. In Pennsylvania, 40 people died after Flight 93 was thwarted by passengers from hitting the U.S. Capitol and instead crashed on Skyline Road in Shanksville. At the Pentagon, Flight 77 crashed, killing all 59 people on board and 125 military and civilian personnel at the Pentagon.

Many of the messages released by Wikileaks were from worried family members.

"WTC 1 just exploded stay away," Henry T. tells someone at 9:01 am.

"Please call Mommy. I am very nevous [sic]. I need to know if everything is okay."

"Report says large, gaping holes in each bldg. Number of casualties/deaths unknown at this time."

"Call your son when you get a chance. Calling to see if you're all right," read a message sent at 9:25 am. And, "Plane crash at world trade. ALL medicine house staff report to hospital now."

At 10:00, someone pleads, "Call me! Your mom is freaking out!" while another says, "Hunny, I know the phones are all busy, but give me a call if you can. I love you."

A message saying "Getting scared! Give us a call! Jenn & Ro" was also sent.

Around the same time, someone named Nigel says, "Admiral, Call when able. We are going to TREATCON C," referring to Threatcon Charlie, which according to a Defense Department manual is a level of response used by the Penagon implementing short-term measures when events or intelligence indicate a terrorist action is "imminent."

One minute later, the post office says, "As a precaution, based on the terrorist activity, if you have any state or federal stops today you will 83 those stops for tomorrow delivery."

Another agency announces, "National grnd stop in effect. All flights in the air will land at the closest aprt and cnl."

"One of the towers just completely collapsed," a message sent at 10:02 am reads.

Then, "You need to take Hunter Home, and stay inside. Turn the TV on. Chris."


Toyota to replace pedals on recalled vehicles

The company will replace approximately four million pedals with potential defects.

Washington, D.C. ( – Toyota Motor Corp. will reportedly replace approximately four million vehicle pedals on their automobiles that have been recalled in the U.S. As reported by the Associated Press (AP), the automaker released a statement regarding the plans Wednesday, in connection to a massive recall in September due to the potentially defective pedals.

The Japanese automaker is quoted by the AP as stating of the plans, “The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern and Toyota has and will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any defect trends that are identified.”

As noted in the report, the recall on the gas pedals resulted following a fatal automobile accident involving a 2009 Lexus ES350, in which the accelerator of the vehicle reportedly became jammed and prevented the driver from stopping.

One year after Mumbai massacre

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev) - During a parade on the embankment of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) on the anniversary of last year's hideous terrorist attack, the police showed new weapons and armored vehicles.

The parade followed the route of the terrorists, passing by the city's two best hotels and the famous railway station, which looks like a huge Catholic cathedral.

Last year ten young people, well-trained and armed to the teeth, arrived by boat from neighboring Pakistan and killed 166 people in the course of 60 hours.

It was a unique act of terror, which called into doubt our ability to stop such actions as a seizure of a city center by a small group of people.

This terrorist attack did not affect India's domestic policy. The ruling Indian National Congress has won the general elections. Surprisingly, no major changes have taken place in India's foreign policy but the reason for that is simple: any attempts to counter the threat emanating from Pakistan seemed pointless.

During this anniversary Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid a visit to Washington D.C. He told the American audience that when Pakistan was ruled by the military leader Pervez Musharraf, who was not an ardent champion of democracy, it was at least clear whom to call. This is no longer possible now that Pakistan is ruled by President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who are not on very good terms.

Needless to say, India broke off political dialogue with Pakistan. After an exchange of letters between New Delhi and Islamabad, which lasted for months, Pakistan finally charged seven people with "complicity" in the events in Mumbai. One of the ten terrorists (others were killed) will go on trial in India.

However, there is no guarantee that these actions will help the world reach its main goal, which Singh described as "the destruction of the infrastructure of terrorism."

It appears that nobody knows how to attain this goal. The unprecedented 9/11 attacks in New York and the massive act of terror in Mumbai originated in the same barely controlled part of the world. For all the reservations about their names, Al-Qaeda, which was in charge of 9/11, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was behind the Mumbai attacks, are links of the same chain. It is believed that this chain was set up by Pakistani secret services, and not without participation of their American colleagues.

Indians maintain that the Pakistani military could easily destroy the infrastructure of terrorism and should be encouraged to do so. The weak Pakistani government should be given some guarantees of survival after doing this.

Americans were much more radical in their moves. They simply occupied Afghanistan after the war in the winter of 2001-2002. The results were negligible in both cases. There is no guarantee against new major raids in any part of the world. There are places like Somalia, where people limit their activities to such trifles as piracy on one of the world's busiest routes by sheer accident. Nobody knows how to cope with these problems.

At any rate, nobody knew this in the strange transitional world which emerged in the 1990s - an uncontrollable world of illusions about the "only super power" and globalization under one and the same pattern. It is obvious now that this world will never come back but it is not clear what system of global management will replace it. It is being created by test and trial before our eyes.

The anniversary of the act of terror in Mumbai is an excellent illustration of this process because on that day U.S. President Barack Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington D.C. Their conversation primarily revolved around Mumbai, Pakistan and terrorism. Obama is expected to announce a new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan on December 1, and it will have nothing to do with retreat or withdrawal. India, a key country in the region, did not take part in U.S. policy before, but this absurdity had long been obvious.

It is not yet clear what the two leaders agreed on in Washington. Obviously, the United States is no longer on Pakistan's side. Now Americans and Indians are fighting terrorism together. India is grateful to Obama for his role in putting the Pakistani "suspects" on trial. The United States alleviated India's discontent after Obama's visit to Beijing, where some statements were made about China's role in the Afghan-Pakistani context. India still distrusts China, which is a weakness on its part, and had to be reassured on this score.

Singh is going to visit Moscow in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether his negotiations in Russia will concern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moscow is seriously concerned about Washington's vague position on Afghanistan. Americans are making some general statements about cooperation, but in anticipation of the new strategy old American officials are discussing Afghanistan with their Russian counterparts as if George W. Bush were still in the White House.

For the time being we do not see any outlines of regional or global policy on what is the main source of the universal threat. Nor do we see anything similar to a precedent, which would help us deal with this threat. Should it be countered with peace, war, occupation or reforms? But something is happening. And that is the difference with the desperate stalemate a year or two ago.