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Human Rights Campaign endorses Obama

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Published on, the Washington Blade staff reports, June 06, 2008.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights group, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president today, according to a press release.

“HRC is proud to throw our full support behind Senator Obama’s presidential campaign,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Senator Obama has consistently shown that he understands, as we do, that, GLBT rights are civil rights, and human rights. Senator Obama has said that embracing ‘our gay brothers and sisters’ is true to Martin Luther King’s vision; I know that Senator Obama’s vision is one of equality, fairness, and justice for all of us,” he said.

“The Human Rights Campaign has been at the forefront of the fight for GLBT equality and opportunity, and I am proud to have its endorsement,” said Senator Obama. “Too often, the issue of GLBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. I look forward to working with HRC to end discrimination against GLBT Americans and to ensure that all of our citizens are treated with dignity and respect” … (full text).

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Obama faces tough task healing rift with women

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Published on SFgate, by Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer, June 6, 2008.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s final bow on the 2008 Democratic primary stage Saturday will officially give her longtime rival, Sen. Barack Obama, the undisputed starring role in the party’s presidential election drama.

But she still holds a key to Obama’s biggest challenge – winning over Clinton’s loyal supporters, including millions of female voters who remain resistant, even hostile, to his candidacy.

“I don’t know if it will be neat and easy,” said Simon Rosenberg, who heads NDN – formerly the New Democrat Network – a powerful party advocacy group based in Washington. “He’ll have to work hard, and there needs to be enthusiastic outreach to the Clinton base. It’s not an automatic.”

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was a high-profile supporter of the New York senator in the snows of Iowa and small towns in Indiana, spoke Thursday of the sensitivity required in the coming days as her followers – some of whom dedicated more than a year to her cause – come to grips with reality. “Everyone’s going through a mourning phase … it’s going to take some time,” he said …

… Longtime Clinton friends said they are confident the former first lady will – as she often has – rise to the challenge of what her party needs.

“She is a gracious person. She’s not vindictive – and those of us who’ve known her believe it will absolutely happen, no question,” said longtime Clinton friend Martha Whetstone. “She knows she has to get on board.” (full text).

(E-mail Carla Marinucci).

Electronic System for Travel Authorization

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DHS Announces Pre-Travel Authorization for U.S.-Bound Travelers from Visa Waiver Countries, June 03, 2008: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today the Interim Final Rule for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a new online system that is part of the Visa Waiver Program and is required by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.

“Rather than relying on paper-based procedures, this system will leverage 21st century electronic means to obtain basic information about who is traveling to the U.S. without a visa,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Getting this information in advance enables our frontline personnel to determine whether a visa-free traveler presents a threat, before boarding an aircraft or arriving on our shores. It is a relatively simple and effective way to strengthen our security, and that of international travelers, while helping to preserve an important program for key allies” …

… For more information about ESTA, please visit’s Travel Section … (full text, 06/03/2008).

Fact Sheet: Electronic System for Travel Authorization Launched for Visa Waiver Travelers Visiting United States, 06/03/2008.

Frequently Asked Questions About ESTA.

View all Google-search results for Electronic System for Travel Authorization ESTA, and Google NEWS-results about the same question.

Beauty, Culture and History hidden in Afghanistan

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Published on EDsiteMent, May 25, 2008.

On May 25, “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul” opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the first stop in a two year tour of the United States. The nearly 230 artifacts in this exhibit were thought to be lost forever, casualties of the years of warfare, looting and destruction that followed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the rise of the Taliban in 1996. Instead most of them had been secretly hidden in crates in the Central Bank within the presidential palace in Kabul …

… The exhibit, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is organized by the National Geographic Society and the National Gallery of Art. After its Washington DC run, it will travel to museums in San Francisco, Houston and New York.
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Sharp increase in mental illness among US troops during 2007

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Published on WSWS, by James Cogan, 29 May 2008.

American military personnel deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan are being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in rapidly increasing numbers, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the US Army Surgeon-General.

In 2003, 1,020 army personnel and 206 marines were diagnosed while on deployment. The figures had climbed to 6,876 and 1,366 by 2006. Last year, PTSD cases leapt to 10,049 and 2,114—ten times the number before the Bush administration launched the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Including Navy and Air Force cases, 39,366 members of the US military were officially diagnosed as suffering from the debilitating illness between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007, during their deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan.
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A Jihad Between Neighbors

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Posted on Newsweek, by Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, June 2, 2008.

Pakistan talks peace with tribal radicals but may just be pushing their fighters across the border into Afghanistan. – Mullah Jihad Yar didn’t want the Pakistani recruits when they were assigned to his Taliban unit a month ago. He still has reservations: the Afghan likes the Pakistanis’ fighting spirit, but sometimes they get on his nerves. Like now. Scanning the main Kabul-to-Kandahar highway from a brush-covered knoll in Ghazni province, Yar calls spotters he has stationed miles to the north and south on the road. If they report Americans or Afghan police approaching, the Taliban officer and his men—three Afghans and two Pakistanis on this mission—will close in for an ambush.

One of the recruits, Abrar Ahmed, can hardly control his itch for combat. The 25-year-old Pakistani keeps interrupting—”Is it time to go?” With a hint of irritation, Yar tells a NEWSWEEK reporter: “These Pakistanis are too hot-blooded. They want to fight every day.” Taliban commanders say hundreds of impatient young militants like Ahmed have poured into Afghanistan from Pakistan this spring. It’s impossible to pin down the numbers precisely, but Western diplomats, NATO brass and U.S. military sources all say there’s been a “significant increase” in cross-border attacks and traffic since March, and it worries them. It’s not just the usual spring offensive, they say.

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The last Briton in Guantanamo faces death penalty

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Published on, By Robert Verkaik, May 30th, 2008.

A British resident who is facing the death penalty in Guantanamo Bay has made a final desperate plea to Gordon Brown to end his six-year ordeal and bring him home today.

In a letter delivered to Downing Street, Binyam Mohamed, the last Guantanamo inmate with the automatic right to British residency, calls on the Prime Minister to use his influence with President George Bush to stop an American military “kangaroo court” sending him to his death.

Mr Mohamed, 29, from Kensington, west London, who is expected to be charged by the Americans with terrorism-related offences in the next few days, claims he has suffered horrific abuse during more than six years in detention without trial.
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Pain And Conscience

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Published on, by Charles Sullivan, 30 May, 2008.

3 excerpts: … It is evident that a substantial majority of U.S. citizens are, in principle, opposed to the most destructive governmental policies stemming from the nation’s capital. These include, but are not limited to—the continuing war and occupation of Iraq, as well as the pervasive consumer fraud that preys upon the innocent and the unwary and causes them undue hardship. These charges are born out by the abysmal approval rating of Congress and the president …

… Many years ago I questioned my mother about eating meat and the suffering it caused so many innocent animals. Her response revealed much about the American consciousness. She did not witness the suffering of those animals. She did not hear their cries of pain. She saw no blood in the sanitized product that was sold in the grocery store, wrapped in clear plastic and served up on pristine styrofoam. So their suffering was not real to her; it was too far removed from her experience. But the suffering of those animals and their cries of pain are very real indeed; and so is the suffering the United States government is inflicting upon the world …
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