Archives for May 2011
by George E. Curry–TheDefendersOnline.com
On Sunday night, President Obama made good on his promise during his presidential campaign to eliminate Osama bin Laden, announcing that a team of elite Navy SEALs had taken out bin Laden for good with two bullets, one to the chest and one to the head.
The surprise attack on Public Enemy No. 1 took place shortly before 2 a.m. in Pakistan, ending one of the longest and most frustrating worldwide manhunts in history.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, a subdued President Obama said, “Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Jubilant, flag-waving Americans gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero in New York to celebrate. The New York Daily News carried a photo of Bin Laden the next day with the headline, “Rot in Hell.”
For some families, the death of Osama bin Laden, nearly 10 years after the murder of their loved ones, may put them on the road to closure. For others, however, it merely re-opened old wounds, wounds that may never fully heal.
It was George W. Bush who boldly declared shortly after a plane crashed in Pennsylvania and the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon went up in flames, “I want justice. And there’s an old poster out West. I recall, that said, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’”
In 2003, Bush stood on the flight deck of the USS Lincoln and declared, “…Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Mounted on the ship was a huge banner that proclaimed, “Mission Accomplished.”
Of course, the mission in Iraq was not accomplished – and still isn’t – and Bin Laden was never found dead or alive on Bush’s watch.
It was a patient, skilled and underrated Barack Obama who proved to be the real “decider” in the White House. By all accounts, he was directly engaged in all aspects of the carefully planned operation that ended Bin Laden’s life without suffering any U.S. casualties.
Obama was apprised that Bin Laden’s hideaway inside of Pakistan had been pinpointed by CIA operatives last September. Over the next few months, additional intelligence information was developed and on March 13, President Obama held the first of five National Security Council meetings.
When presented with the option of bombing the compound, Obama rejected it and instead favored a riskier plan to airlift Navy SEALS by helicopter, having them storm the compound and conduct a room-by-room search for the terrorist mastermind. Before leaving to inspect tornado damage in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the president gave the green light to launch the attack. On Sunday, the operation was carried out in secrecy as Obama and his close circle of security advisers watched on a secure hookup. Amazingly, there were no leaks to the media in the nation’s gossip-crazed capital.
Instead of being boastful, Obama struck a somber tone, praising those who had carried out the mission, both Democrats and Republicans and declaring, “Justice has been done.” In order to minimize the inevitable pushback from some Muslims in Arab countries, the administration noted that they had observed the Muslim practice of washing Bin Laden’s body and wrapping it in a white garb before dumping it in the Arabian Sea within 24 hours of his death.
On Monday, at a previously scheduled White House dinner of political leaders and their mates, President Obama tried to rekindle the national unity that was on display immediately following the September 11 attack.
“I know that the unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulties of the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in, in the weeks ahead and months to come,” he said.
“But I also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family, whether it was the tragedy in Tucson or, most recently, our unified response to the terrible storms that have taken place in the South.
Last night was one of those moments. And so tonight, it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.”
If Obama had entertained any illusions about duplicating the short-lived post 9/11 unity, they would have quickly dissolved.
Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times carried the headline, “Bin Laden’s sea burial fuels conspiracy theories.”
The story observed, “Conspiracy theorists on both the left and the right were quick to insist that Bin Laden was either still alive or had been dead for years, pouncing on the government’s decision to slide the body of the world’s most wanted man off a board into the Arabian Sea.”
The new conspiracy theories about Bin Laden emerged before the old ones about where Obama was born were put to rest.
On Monday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. granted a client of birther litigator Orly Taitza an opportunity to challenge the summary dismissal of a case heard two years ago questioning whether President Obama was born in Hawaii. Despite the White House release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate and mountains of additional evidence, some conspiracy buffs refuse to drop the issue. The only thing missing from what Obama described as a carnival is Donald Trump demanding to see Bin Laden’s death certificate.
Although former President Bush applauded the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, other conservatives are belittling Obama’s accomplishment.
Brett Decker, editorial page editor of the conservative Washington Times, wrote in a column that Obama made too many references to himself when he made the announcement about Bin Laden’s death. “Not only is this consistent with his view that everything is about him, it also reflected the reality that this president is weak and perceived by the world to be a lackluster leader who has undermined American power,” Decker wrote.
“He needs to grab any opportunity he can to make himself believable as a commander in chief. Crowds flocked to the White House gates to celebrate Bin Laden’s demise, giving this unpopular president a rare glimpse of public support that won’t last long.”
Judging by his critics, Obama won’t have support even when he accomplished something George W. Bush couldn’t. They have already resumed their attacks on Obama’s handling of the economy. Laura Ingraham, spoofing Obama’s comment that Americans can do whatever we set our mind to, tweeted, “Like spending according to my budget and raise the debt ceiling!”
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
Seventy percent of moms would move in with daughters over sons
A new national survey shows mothers may indeed believe that saying, counting on their daughters as they age. Just in time for Mother’s Day, the national poll found 70% of mothers with both a son(s) and a daughter(s) would overwhelming choose to move in with their daughter over their son if they could not take care of themselves. 68% of mothers say that, as they age, daughters will take better care of them than sons will.
And 65% of mothers say their daughters, over their sons, would most likely want them to move in.
The newly released national survey polled 335 Americans over age 55. The survey was commissioned by Senior Helpers, one of the leading in-home providers of senior care and the creators of the Stay At Home Score Quiz, (www.stayathomescore.com).
It’s an eight-question quiz that determines if the elderly can live independently in their own home. Adult children take the short quiz to help them determine their parents’ independence and self-sufficiency.
While sorry sons may need to step it up in their mother’s eyes, it wasn’t all bad news for men:
• Nearly 80% of parents say their own children (both sons and daughters) will take care of them as well as they, themselves have taken care of their parents.
• Almost 70% of both mothers and fathers say their children (both sons and daughters) would pay out of their own pockets to care for them as they age.
• An overwhelming 94% of both mothers and fathers say they would rather live in their own home as they age instead of moving in with any of their children or to a nursing home or assisted living facility.
How The Stay At Home Score Quiz Helps
“The survey clearly shows that most aging parents have faith in their children to take care of them as they age, but they almost always prefer to stay in their own homes,” says Dr. John Bowling, senior care and positive aging expert, and creator Senior Helpers’ Stay At Home Score Quiz (www.stayathomescore.com).
“Aging parents may insist they’re well enough to live in their own homes even if they’re not. I developed this quiz to give adult children a guideline to determine their parents’ needs, whether they are self-sufficient, if they can live at home with help from an in-home caregiver, or if it’s time to move them to a place where they can get round-the-clock care.”
Fathers Are Nearly Split On With Whom They Would Move In
The latest survey reveals fathers view moving in with their sons more favorably than mothers do. Nearly 52% of fathers surveyed say they’d rather move in with their daughters while 48% say they’d rather move in with their sons. And, 57% say their daughters would want them to move in while 43% say their sons would want them to move in.
Fathers Mixed On Who Makes the Better Caregiver
Fathers are also kinder to sons than mothers when rating sons’ care-giving abilities. 65% of fathers say their daughters will take better care of them while they age and 35% say sons will take better care of them.
The survey of 335 men and women over age 55 with both a son(s) and a daughter(s) was conducted by a third party on April 25, 2011.
Question of the Week: “Sunday, May 8, is Mother’s Day. How do you plan to spend this special day?
Photos and question by Yvonne Kemp
Theresa Garrison: “My daughter and her husband always cooks for me a wonderful meal on that day.”
Shirley Warren: “This Mother’s Day I plan on teaching my grandchildren to prepare an amazing meal. My grandsons Xavier and Adrian will BBQ and my granddaughter Taylor will bake”
James Graham II: “This Mother’s Day, I will be preparing a dinner for the two most important women in my life: My mother LaVonda and my wife Monique. After dinner, a night on the town! I am serving as their chauffer, bartender and concierge. I hope they enjoy it.”
Marcellus A. Brown: “God Bless all parents and this precious holiday called Mother’s Day. I will be honoring my mother by cleaning and preparing her annual garden. I show her each day I love her and eagerly sacrifice for her. Everyday is Mother’s Day. Harambee!”
Mrs. Starms has the honor of being the only living person after whom a Milwaukee Public School has been named. Three schools now claim her as namesake: Starms Early Childhood Center, Starms Monumental Baptist Early Childhood Center, which educates three, four and five year olds, and Starms Discovery Learning Center which educates our primary, intermediate and middle school students.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Frances Brock Starms graduated with honors from Spelman College. She continued her education at Atlanta University where she received a Master of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education. Her post-graduate work included scholarly research at the University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Since her retirement as Director of the Milwaukee Public Schools Head Start program, Starms has not rested on her laurels. She continues to her fight as a strong advocate for the educational success of all children.
Starms is a prolific writer and she has received numerous awards and citations for them. She has been published in numerous local and national publications. Her poems recount and express the richness and enduring strength of the African-American heritage. Her collection of poems—Love Is Best—expresses the beauty and texture of that heritage and clearly communicates the title of her book.
Starms’ passion for education and writing have served Milwaukee’s community well, and we need only look at the buildings that bear her name or read her poems to be reminded how blessed we are for her legacy.
George Leon Wallace was a master storyteller. And, as founder of the People’s Theatre, he was able to practice his craft and follow his passion. Wallace served as the artistic and executive director of People’s Theatre in 1968. People’s Theatre was the only African American theatre in the State of Wisconsin.
Wallace was also able to practice creativity through his walking sticks, which he began making when he was young. He was known for using the walking sticks in his presentations to schoolchildren and other groups, thus gaining the unofficial title of the “Walking Stick Man.”
Wallace grew up in Milwaukee, attending St. Mark’s African Methodist Episcopal Church as a youth. He graduated from Lincoln High School and continued his education focusing on the performing arts and theatre at Wilson College, in Chicago, IL, also working at Hull House, where he was active in Chicago theater. During that time, he was also part of an entertainment unit that appeared on the “Ed Sullivan” show
After serving in the Army Wallace returned to Milwaukee in 1968, and was hired by Adolph Suppan, former dean of fine arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as an outreach consultant with the school.
Wallace’s dream was to create a true people’s theater. He began pursuing his dream with what he called “Studio Evenings.” He would organize dramatic presentations, including some of his own poetry and that of major writers such as Langston Hughes, in the homes of well-to-do patrons. Eventually, The People’s Theatre became a reality.
Wallace was instrumental in diversifying and enriching Milwaukee’s artistic community by introducing the voice of Milwaukee’s African Americans. He was a prolific playwright, whose successful productions included the direction of James Baldwin’s “The Amen Corner” starring Claudia McNeil at the Pabst Theater.
For the remainder of his life, Wallace continued giving presentations at Milwaukee schools and libraries, and to prisoners. He loved coaching, producing and giving dramatic presentations. He last worked as a grant writer.
Wallace was recognized, posthumously, by the Historic African American Teachers (HAAT) of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) by naming their Historic African American Artistic Directors (HAAAD) Award for his artistic leadership and playwright talent.
Jestene McCord has always been a fighter. She fought for mentoring programs for Blacks who wanted to enter healthcare. She championed the cause of inclusivity—where she was determined to see people who looked like her in the healthcare industry. And, she worked tirelessly to promote healthcare as a viable and attractive career choice for people of color. Now she is fighting for another cause. She is determined that she will not succumb to Alzheimer’s disease without a fight.
McCord was born in Arkansas and moved to Milwaukee after high school. She attended Milwaukee Area Technical College and took courses to become a practical nurse. She later went on to graduate from Alverno College with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and she received a Master’s degree in healthcare administration from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
McCord started her career in nursing at St. Michael’s Hospital, where she trained and she retired from Aurora Health Care as director of medical nursing. She is most proud of the fact that during her career she was able to design and support a program for young people who were interested in careers in health. She adopted North Division High School as her major healthcare initiative and was able to pair young people who wanted to pursue careers in nursing, become doctors or technicians, with professionals in the field who would mentor them. McCord said that she always put money in her budget to support mentoring programs because she was determined to bring more Blacks into the healthcare industry.
McCord’s work in the community has not gone unnoticed. Recently her son took all her awards and hung them on a wall in her home to remind her of her many contributions to the community.
Though her memory is fading, McCord shared that she gets up each morning with purpose—resolved to keep her mind sharp, engage with people and remain active in the community for as long as she can. McCord took care of her mother and grandmother when they had Alzheimer’s. She insisted that they get out of bed, engage in the world and not succumb to the disease. Her medical background enabled her to understand how best to take care of them and now it helps her understand the importance of engaging in activities to keep her mind active. With fight and vigor she declares that she has the disease; it doesn’t have her.
Sadly at some point McCord may not remember how she lit up rooms with her smile. She may not be able recall the names of the many individuals whose careers she helped guide and launch. She may forget why she received some of awards her son recently hung on her wall, but Milwaukee will never forget Jestene McCord—a mentor, mother, friend, community activist and role model to so many.
by Laura Rozen—Story courtesy of Yahoo News
President Barack Obama gave the final sign-off on Friday for the forty-minute operation that killed al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden on Sunday. The action took place in a compound in Abbottabad, an affluent Pakistani military town just thirty miles away from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, U.S. officials said.
Despite the apparent rapid turnaround for the operation, the raid on the compound was the result of an intensive, multi-year, bipartisan, cross-agency effort, senior U.S. officials stressed in a phone call with journalists Sunday night. Officials called it the most important victory yet in the world’s fight against al Qaeda, but noted bin Laden’s death will not bring about an immediate end to the heightened terrorism risk the United States has faced since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
“Without a doubt, the U.S. will continue to face terrorist threats. We have always understood this is a marathon not a sprint,” a senior U.S. official told journalists shortly after Obama addressed the nation with the news of bin Laden’s death. Still, the official noted that bin Laden’s death “is the single biggest victory” in the war against terrorism to date, “and a major step in bringing about al Qaeda’s eventual destruction.” (You can watch President Obama’s description of the operation in the video clip above, courtesy of the AP.)
In their initial reconstruction of the dramatic raid, the officials explained that the United States got intelligence four years ago about the identity of a particular al Qaeda courier who enjoyed Bin Laden’s trust and confidence. After months of painstaking effort by the CIA, National Security Agency, and other national security agencies, the U.S. government was eventually able to track this courier, as well as his brother, and further determined that the two brothers seemed to be sharing their residence with another family of extremely high importance to al Qaeda.
U.S. officials said they were stunned to discover the extreme security measures in play at the compound. It was surrounded by walls between 12 and 18 feet high, topped with barbed wire; there were also interior security walls; and it was eight time larger than other residences in the area. What’s more, officials on Sunday’s call explained, the families living on the compound burned their trash, while all the other households in the area put their trash out for collection on the curb.
And for a property estimated at about a million dollars, it had no telephone or Internet connection, U.S. officials also noted.
“We were shocked by what we saw: an extraordinarily unique compound, that sits on a large plot of land, relatively secluded, and which is eight times larger than other homes in area,” one official said. The home “was custom built to hide someone of significance,” the official continued. The “extraordinary” state of security at the location helped confirm the suspicions of U.S. officials that it contained a high-value al Qaeda target.
President Obama personally chaired a half-dozen National Security Council meetings on the extremely classified intelligence in recent weeks, U.S. officials said, culminating in his Friday orders to proceed with the operation that killed Bin Laden.
U.S. forces were on the compound for forty minutes today and encountered no local authorities.
In addition to bin Laden, at least three other people were killed in the operation, U.S. officials said, including a man they believe to be one of Bin Laden’s sons. Officials said that the action also claimed the life of a woman whom one of bin Laden’s aides used as a human shield, they said. Two other bin Laden aides were wounded. No civilians or U.S. persons were wounded in the operation, they said.
One of the two U.S. helicopters involved in the operation apparently suffered damage in the operation. U.S. forces blew up the damaged copter before boarding the other helicopter to leave the site, the officials said.
In his news conference tonight, Obama said he had called his Pakistani counterpart after the operation and both leaders agreed it was a great day for their countries. But it was impossible not to wonder how bin Laden could have found safe harbor in an affluent suburb of Pakistan’s capital — one that is filled with Pakistani military officials, no less–without a degree of complicity from Pakistani official elements.
“Abbottabad has a large military cantonment area and the Army college and exam center are located there,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official who has worked in Pakistan told The Envoy. “It is very much off the usual track for foreigners … and I simply do not believe bin Laden could hide there unaided by, or unknown to, the Pakistanis.”
The United States did not notify any other country before the operation, not even Pakistan, U.S. officials said, implying U.S. concern that suspected al Qaeda sympathizers in the Pakistani security services’ ranks could have potentially foiled the operation.