American-Born Terrorists Killed in Yemen

Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born al-Qaeda leader operating in Yemen, has been killed, senior administration officials confirmed Friday. Details of al-Awlaki’s killing remain murky, but his death marks a significant blow to al-Qaeda. Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and spent time as the imam of a mosque in Northern Virginia, Yemen’s Defense Ministry says another American militant, Samir Khan, who produced an English-language al-Qaeda Web magazine, also died in the U.S. airstrike that killed al-Awlaki. Khan, in his 20s, was an American of Pakistani heritage from North Carolina who produced “Inspire,” an English-language Web magazine which spread al-Qaeda ideology and promoted attacks against U.S. targets, even running articles on how to put together explosives.

U.S. intelligence said Saturday that the top al-Qaeda bomb-maker in Yemen also died in the drone strike that killed radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Ibrahim al-Asiri is the bomb-maker linked to the bomb hidden in the underwear of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. The FBI pulled al-Asiri’s fingerprint off that bomb. Authorities also believe he built the bombs that al-Qaeda slipped into printers and shipped to the U.S. last year in a nearly catastrophic attack.

Targeted Killing of al-Awlaki Raises Legal Questions

The drone strike that killed al-Awlaki raised prickly legal questions and provoked measured complaints as critics condemned al-Awlaki while bemoaning the killing as an assassination that flouted U.S. and international law. When Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen placed on the CIA’s “kill or capture” list, his father sued to challenge the government’s authority to kill a U.S. citizen outside a war zone. In December, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit filed on Nasser al-Awlaki’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. It had argued that targeted killings violate the Constitution and international law because they allow the government to execute its own citizens without judicial process. Today critics are arguing that U.S. leaders must think hard about “assassinating American citizens without charges” — even those with strong ties to terrorism.

  • Any citizen who is actively supporting our enemies and advocating attacks against our country has forfeited their rights as citizens and should be unequivocally declared to be a legal wartime target

Precision Drone Strikes Increasingly Employed

The United States will increasingly turn to precision airstrikes to counter the threat from radical Islam as it shrinks its military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. Friday’s strike in Yemen was the latest in a growing U.S. reliance on airstrikes to target al-Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the region. The drone strikes allow the U.S. to target militants far and wide, reflecting the growing dispersal of al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The increase in drone strikes comes as the United States is reducing its military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars that were costly in American lives and money. Drone strikes are seen as far less expensive and less likely to risk American lives.

NATO Captures Senior Terrorist Leader in Afghanistan

NATO captured a senior leader of the al-Qaeda- and Taliban-allied Haqqani network active inside Afghanistan, the alliance said Saturday, describing it as a “significant milestone” in disrupting the terror group’s operations. NATO said Haji Mali Khan was seized during an operation in eastern Paktia province’s Jani Khel district, which borders Pakistan. It was the most significant capture of a Haqqani leader in Afghanistan, and could dent the group’s ability to operate along the porous border with Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. The Pakistan-based Haqqani network is affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda and has been described as the top security threat in Afghanistan. The group has been blamed for hundreds of attacks, including a 20-hour siege of the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters last month.

Obama, Boehner Condemn Iran for Pastor’s Death Sentence

The White House and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, condemned Iran’s plan to execute a pastor for refusing to renounce Christianity and rejoin Islam. The White House says the planned execution “crosses all bounds of decency and breaches Iran’s own international obligations.” Boehner said, “While Iran’s government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity.” Pastor Youcef  Nadarkhani, now in his 30s, became a pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran after converting from Islam at the age of 19. Iranian authorities arrested him for apostasy in 2009 and sentenced him to death under Islamic Sharia law. The pastor was spared by a supreme court appeal ruling in July, but was again condemned to death after the case was reheard at a court in his home town of Gilan.

Hispanic Students Vanish from Alabama Schools

Hispanic students have started vanishing from Alabama public schools in the wake of a court ruling that upheld the state’s tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration. Education officials say scores of immigrant families have withdrawn their children from classes or kept them home this week, afraid that sending the kids to school would draw attention from authorities. Several districts with large immigrant enrollments — from small towns to large urban districts — reported a sudden exodus of children from Hispanic families, some of whom told officials they would leave the state to avoid trouble with the law, which requires schools to check students’ immigration status.

  • If they’re here illegally then they shouldn’t be getting a free education as well as other benefits reserved for legal immigrants

U.S. Military Chaplains Allowed to Perform Same-Sex Unions

The Pentagon has decided that U.S. military chaplains may perform same-sex unions, whether on or off a military installation. The ruling announced Friday by the Pentagon’s personnel chief follows the Sept. 20 repeal of a law that had prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Some members of Congress have objected to military chaplains performing same-sex unions, saying it would violate the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The Pentagon says a military chaplains may officiate at private ceremonies but is not required to if it would conflict with their personal or religious beliefs. The Pentagon also says Defense Department property may be used for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies such as same-sex unions, as long as it is not prohibited by state or local laws.

  • Marriage’s slippery slope is turning into a high-speed plunge off the cliff into an abyss of social dysfunction

Mexico City Lawmakers Propose ‘Renewable’ Marriage Contracts

Some Mexico City lawmakers are proposing “renewable” marriage contracts instead of lifetime commitments so that newlyweds could avoid the often torturous process of divorce. Under the proposal, couples planning marriage would decide on the length of their commitment, with the minimum contract being for two years. If they decide not to renew the contract, they would be able to opt out without a legal hassle. Around half of Mexico City marriages end in divorce, usually in the first two years. A spokesman for the Mexican archdiocese as calling the proposal “absurd” and a contradiction of the nature of marriage. A USA Today online poll finds 57% of respondents favor this proposal.

  • Another indicator of the relentless attack on marriage and God’s prescribed social order. Create the expectation of divorce and it will become self-fulfilling. Commitment is a rapidly declining virtue in virtually all aspects of life.

Pastors Challenge IRS Again from Pulpits

This Sunday, many churches across the country will use their pulpits to openly challenge the Internal Revenue Service. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is a day when Alliance Defense Fund encourages pastors to look at positions taken by candidates, evaluate them on the basis of the Bible, and then take a stand for or against the office seekers. The IRS has been more or less forbidding that for the past 50 years. Kerion Theriot, an ADF attorney, explains the situation. “Since the Johnson Amendment was enacted back in the [19]50s, many pastors have avoided addressing any political topics whatsoever — and that has led to our country losing an important part of its moral compass; and that is what pastors have to say about candidates from behind the pulpit.” Theriot says the pulpit is one of the places that has the most protection when it comes to free speech and freedom of religion in the country. “However, this is one small area that the government has decided that they’re going to interject and intervene and tell pastors what they can and can’t say.” If enough pastors follow what ADF is encouraging them to do this Sunday, Theriot is convinced the IRS and Congress might consider changing the situation.

Cellphone Firms Keep, Track Customer Data for Years

A Justice Department document obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that cellphone companies keep customers’ information for several years, raising concerns about possible tracking, the National Journal reports. Retention periods vary for subscriber data, towers used and text-message contents, but all major carriers keep tower information for as long as two years. The document release is part of a campaign to get local law enforcement agencies to reveal when, why and how they are using location data to track Americans. The ACLU says 35 affiliates have filed more than 380 requests in 32 states.

  • Sometimes the ACLU is on the right side. The threat is the potential to spy on and track people who the government decides are ‘dangerous’ – a classification that has increasingly been expanded to cover veterans and right-wind tea-partiers who protest the increasing socialistic control in America.

State Lawmakers Push to Allow Guns on College Campuses

State lawmakers across the USA are pushing a growing number of bills this year that would legalize carrying guns on college campuses, according to groups tracking the trend. This year, at least 14 states have introduced 35 bills that would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on state colleges and universities or loosen restrictions on gun bans on campuses. In Texas alone, six bills introduced this year would make it legal to bear arms on campus. Meanwhile, two states, Maryland and Washington, have introduced bills to prohibit guns on campuses. None of the bills has passed so far.

More People Claim Black-White Heritage

The number of people who say they are black and white has more than doubled in the past decade, a trend demographers say reflects a growing acceptance of a diverse society. Blacks who reported more than one race grew at a much faster rate from 2000 to 2010 than those who listed themselves as black-only. The black-white multiracial population showed the highest increase of any multiracial combination, jumping more than 133% to 1.8 million from 2000 to 2010, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. People who say they are black and white make up 59% of the USA’s 3.1 million multiracial blacks, up from 45% in 2000. The nation’s black population stands at 42 million.

$737 Million Green Loan to Pelosi Kin Fuels Outrage

Claims that the Obama administration’s green energy loan guarantee program is mired in cronyism grew on Friday after a company tied to Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law got the lion’s share of the final government hand-outs made before Friday’s end of the fiscal year. The decision to guarantee $737 million comes hard on the heels of the loss of more than $500 million of government money due to the bankruptcy of solar panel company Solyndra. The new grant went to Tonopah Solar Energy, a subsidiary of SolarReserve, which started building Crescent Dunes, a massive solar-thermal plant in the Nevada desert in early September. One of SolarReserve’s major financial backers is the PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East), whose second-in-command is Ronald Pelosi, the brother of the House Minority leader’s husband, Paul. Another investor is Argonaut Private Equity, a company that lost heavily in the Solyndra debacle. GOP Rep. Joe Barton, former chairman of the Energy Committee called for closer investigation before more money is paid out. “Are these good investments or political favors?” he asked. “The American people just lost a half billion dollars and they deserve answers to these questions before more money is wasted.”

Economic News

Consumers spent slightly more last month, but they earned less for the first time in nearly two years. The new data on spending and incomes suggest Americans tapped their savings to cope with higher gas prices and a weaker economy. The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.2% in August. Incomes fell 0.1%.

The worst quarter for the U.S. stock market since the financial crisis ended on another down note Friday. Stocks fell broadly on fresh signs that Europe’s debt problems and the U.S. economy continue to languish. Makers of raw materials, industrial companies and banks — which would have the most to lose if the economy turns sour — had the biggest losses. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 240.60 points, or 2.2%, to 10,913.38.

Middle East

The Jerusalem Prayer Team reports that, “The threat posed to Israel by the demand for a Palestinian state is much worse than what is being reported by the news media. The actual submission for statehood that was presented to the UN last week does not reference the 1967 borders (which would be a disaster for Israel)…instead it references the 1948 borders. This would force Israel to relocate millions of its citizens, give up the airport at Tel Aviv, and of course, surrender complete control of all of Jerusalem. But even that is not the Palestinians’ true intention. The enemies of the Jewish state will never rest until Israel is destroyed. They may make promises of peace in exchange for some land now, but it is only a ploy to give them time to get what they truly want.”

Pakistan

A U.S. missile strike targeting a vehicle killed three suspected militants in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border on Friday. The victims were the associates of Maulvi Nazir, a prominent militant commander in the region. The region has witnessed scores of American drone attacks. The latest strike comes amid increasing tensions between Pakistan and the United States following a recent claim by top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, that Pakistan’s main spy agency backed militants who carried out attacks against American targets in Afghanistan.

Iraq

A car bomb exploded Friday near a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad where mourners had gathered for a funeral, killing 17 people, Iraqi officials said. The explosion triggered new anger at Iraq’s leaders and their armed forces, who will soon take over responsibility for the country’s security on their own as U.S. troops rapidly leave the country. Violence has dropped since the height of Iraq’s bloodshed a few years ago, but Iraqi forces have failed to stop attacks that continue to claim lives daily.

Syria

Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters Friday as thousands rallied across the country to call for the downfall of President Bashar Assad’s regime, activists said. Troops also clashed with armed anti-regime forces in central regions. The protests spread from the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs to the southern province of Daraa, the northwestern province of Idlib as well as Hama and Homs. Many of the protesters expressed solidarity with residents of the rebellious town of Rastan just north of Homs, where fighting has been raging for three days between troops and army defectors.

Yemen

Heavy gunfire and explosions rocked the Yemeni capital on Thursday as clashes between government troops and rival tribesmen erupted anew Thursday, leaving at least three people dead. Yemen has been rocked by seven months of near daily mass protests demanding the overthrow of Saleh’s regime, plunging the impoverished nation into deep political crisis. Armed tribesmen and defecting military units who support the protesters have joined the fray in a dangerous escalation that has raised prospects of a civil war.

Bahrain

The U.N. human rights office on Friday questioned the fairness of a Bahrain court that sentenced an anti-government protester to death and gave lengthy prison sentences to medical staff who treated the injured during the country’s uprising. Bahrain’s military-run National Safety Court reportedly gave defendants and their lawyers little time to prepare, failed to investigate allegations of torture and conducted some trials in just 10 minutes, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said. The court sentenced one protester to death for killing a policeman, and gave 20 doctors and nurses prison sentences ranging from five to 15 years. At least 33 protesters — among them union leaders and professional athletes — also received sentences of three years or more.

Zimbabwe

An independent human rights research group says political tension remains “very high” in Zimbabwe ahead of proposed elections and it reports more than 20 rights violations each day over a four week period. In its latest bulletin, the Zimbabwe Peace Project says supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s party are accused of leading political violence and intolerance toward perceived opponents, some within their own ranks. It says tension is heightened by WikiLeaks cables claiming deep divisions and internal backstabbing in the nation’s 30-month-old coalition. The U.S. embassy in Harare, also criticized police and judicial officials for bias and failing to stop continuing violence.

Weather

Another typhoon made landfall in the Philippines on Saturday, just as the nation was recovering from deadly Typhoon Nesat. The powerful storm could wreak havoc on Central Luzon, a region north of Manila that was battered by Typhoon Nesat earlier this week. Typhoon Nesat hit the Philippines on Tuesday, damaging 31 provinces and leaving at least 52 people dead. That storm has since moved on to China. The new storm, Nalgae, had strengthened earlier Saturday to a super typhoon, packing maximum sustained winds of  149 mph. In addition, heavy rainfall was expected. Low lying areas and coastal areas could be hit with flash floods.

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