April 1, 2013
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Sgt. Michael Cable, 26, of Philpot, Kentucky, was stabbed to death in Afghanistan on Wednesday. (Facebook/Daily Mail)
KABUL, Afghanistan (TheBlaze/AP) — An Afghan teenager fatally stabbed an American soldier in the neck as he played with children in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Monday, as the U.S. death toll rose sharply last month with an uptick in fighting due to warmer weather. The soldier was scheduled to return home for a vacation in two months and then permanently in September, the Daily Mail reports.
Last week's calculated attack shows that international troops still face a myriad of dangers even though they are increasingly taking a back seat in operations with Afghan forces ahead of a full withdrawal by the end of 2014.
Just one U.S. service member was killed in February – a five-year monthly low – but the American death toll climbed to at least 14 last month.
Overall, the number of Americans and other foreign forces killed in Afghanistan has fallen as their role shifts more toward training and advising government troops instead of fighting.
But a series of so-called insider attacks on foreign troops by Afghan forces of insurgents disguised as them has threatened to undermine the trust needed to help President Hamid Karzai's government take the lead in securing the country after more than 11 years at war.
The attack that killed Sgt. Michael Cable, 26, of Philpot, Ky., last Wednesday occurred after the soldiers had secured an area for a meeting of U.S. and Afghan officials in a province near the volatile border with Pakistan.
But one of two senior U.S. officials who confirmed that Cable had been stabbed by a young man said the assailant was not believed to have been in uniform so it was not being classified as an insider attack.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said the attacker was thought to be about 16 years old. He escaped so his age couldn't be verified.
Cable's brother Raymond Johnston, a 42-year-old waiter in Owensboro, Ky., said the Army told the family the basics of what happened and that his brother was stabbed in the neck from behind.
Johnston said his brother, who also did a tour of duty in Iraq, was "prepared before he left for anything that happened" in Afghanistan.
Cable met individually with Johnston and three other family members before leaving for Afghanistan and had similar conversations with each – that the deployment was extremely hazardous and that his family and friends should "continue to enjoy life" if he was killed.
"He was able to communicate to the family about if the worst was supposed to happen, what we were supposed to do," Johnston said.
Cable's body was scheduled to return to Owensboro in western Kentucky on Thursday. Visitation was scheduled for Friday with the funeral set for Saturday.
The Afghan and American dignitaries were attending the swearing-in ceremony of Afghan Local Police in Shinwar district in Nangarhar province, senior district official Zalmai Khan said. Afghan Local Police, or ALP, recruits are drawn from villages and backed by the U.S. military.
The soldier was playing with children outside when the attacker came from behind and stabbed him in the neck with a large knife, Khan said. Other guards nearby didn't immediately notice what had happened because there was no gunshot, and the assailant was able to flee to neighboring Pakistan, he added.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid identified the attacker as a 16-year-old local man named Khalid. He said Khalid was acting independently when he killed the soldier but had joined the Islamic militant movement since fleeing the scene.
The district official Khan did not provide a name or confirm the Taliban's claim.
The Pentagon said in a statement last week that Cable, died from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by enemy forces.
The killing comes as the U.S. death toll rose to 14 in March, compared with four in the previous two months of the year, partly fueled by the start of the spring fighting season when the Taliban and other insurgents take advantage of improved weather to step up attacks.
By contrast, at least 67 members of the Afghan security forces were killed last month, compared with 42 in February and 55 in January.
In a success story for the Afghan government, the intelligence service announced that it had foiled a plan to attack the Sulma dam in the western province of Herat.
Agency spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri said an Afghan man identified as Sayed Gul was arrested with 1,300 kilograms (about 1.5 tons) of explosives. He blamed the Pakistani Taliban for plotting to bomb the dam in a bid to destabilize the country.
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March 30, 2013
Rep. Charlie Rangel falsely claimed there are "millions of kids dying, being shot down by assault weapons." In fact, fewer than 100,000 persons younger than 20 years old died of gun violence, including suicide, over a 30-year period through 2010, government data show. About two-thirds of those deaths — or nearly 65,000 — were homicides.
That's for all guns, not just assault weapons. We don't know how many of them were killed by assault weapons, but federally funded studies have shown that such weapons are used in a small percentage of crimes.
Rangel, a New York Democrat, discussed the prospect of the proposed assault weapons ban on MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." The host, Chris Jansing, asked Rangel why the Senate bill, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, did not have the support it needed for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to post the bill for a vote. Rangel blamed politics and money, particularly the lobbying of the National Rifle Association. He called it a "moral issue."
Rangel, March 21: We're talking about millions of kids dying, being shot down by assault weapons. We're talking about handguns where it's easier in the inner cities to get these guns and to get computers. This is not just a political issue. It's a moral issue.
Millions? That's simply not supported by the facts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control database shows that over a 30-year period — from 1981 to 2010 — there were about 939,782 violence-related firearm deaths. That includes all ages, not just children, and all types of violence-related deaths, including suicides and legal interventions, such as justifiable deaths caused by police action. (The CDC provides its data over two time periods: 1981 to 1998 and 1999 to 2010.)
Of those nearly 1 million firearm deaths, 99,622 — or about 11 percent — involved those 19 years old or younger. About two thirds of those — or nearly 64,899 — were homicides. That's an average of not quite 2,200 a year.
We also looked at violence-related nonfatal gunshot injuries. CDC data show that over an 11-year period, from 2001 to 2011, there were 130,697 people younger than 20 who had such injuries. That includes all guns and all nonfatal gunshot injuries, including those that were self-inflicted. Of those, there were 126,470 firearm assault injuries or nearly 11,500 a year.
So, the number of kids who were injured or killed by gun violence is in the thousands, not in the millions. And that's by all guns, not just assault weapons.
Christopher Koper, a gun violence expert who teaches criminology at George Mason University, told us "there isn't a good estimate as to the number of people killed each year by assault weapons." He said the national databases used to track murders "don't have detailed information on the particular gun models that are used in homicides."
Koper coauthored a 2004 study, "An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003." It was the final of three studies of the ban, which was enacted in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and expired in 2004.
In that report, Koper wrote that assault weapons (AWs) and large-capacity magazines (LCMs) "were used in only a minority of gun crimes prior to the 1994 federal ban, and AWs were used in a particularly small percentage of gun crimes."
Koper, 2004: The most common AWs prohibited by the 1994 federal ban accounted for between 1 percent and 6 percent of guns used in crime according to most of several national and local data sources examined for this and our prior study.
The study includes a chart that shows, for example, that only 2 percent of all the guns recovered by Baltimore police in 1992 and 1993 were assault weapons.
Koper said he's unaware of any systematic data and analysis since then on the use of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in crimes nationwide.
We have no intention of minimizing the impact of gun violence on America's youth. Having said that, though, Rangel adds little to the overheated debate on gun control by grossly inflating the number of children who are killed and injured by assault weapons.
– Eugene Kiely
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January 13, 2013
SC Restaurant in Hot Water for 'How To Catch an Illegal Immigrant' T-Shirt
(Photo via the Huffington Post)
The South Carolina restaurant "Taco Cid" is under national fire over the t-shirts it sells, and which a number of employees wear.
The shirt says "how to catch an illegal immigrant" above what appears to be a hunting trap with a Taco Cid taco inside. Presumably it is meant to be a statement on the authenticity of the tacos.
MSN Now writes:
Looking for a food-service job? The management team at West Columbia, S.C., Mexican restaurant Taco Cid might have some openings soon. The restaurant is being slammed for its use of a racist design on its employee T-shirts…The restaurant reportedly used to be a chain in South Carolina, but has since shuttered three of its four locations. And with such amazing social awareness, we can only wonder how long the lone surviving location will last.
According to the Huffington Post, which described the restaurant's service as "tacos with a side of racism," a man identifying himself as the photographer said the person wearing the shirt was an employee.
Think Progress adds that the restaurant "appears to have cribbed the design from the 'Offensive Obscene & Sex Related Tees' section of an online apparel designer."
Meanwhile, Taco Cid has released a statement insisting that the shirts are not meant to be racist. After reiterating for several sentences that they are committed to the same level of quality for every customer, the restaurant takes a surprisingly bold stance on illegal immigration:
As most tax paying Americans, we do believe ILLEGAL immigrants are taxing the system we support and live under, thereby, causing us to work harder and pay more taxes in support of their illegal activities which our government has simply chosen to look the other way. Is it racist to disagree with those who are not supporting the American system?
We are an equal opportunity employer and will hire anyone who meets our needs and is a legal citizen or immigrant. We do not hire illegal immigrants. Our employees pay taxes.
We are open Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays — in observance of a day of worship.
If you do not agree with our views on ILLEGAL immigrants, please do not visit our establishment. If you agree with our view on American Equality in citizenship and tax fairness, then show your support and come join us for lunch or dinner.
We look forward to serving you! [Emphasis added]
What do you think of the shirt?
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