“Petman will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents,” the company promises. “Petman will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, all to provide realistic test conditions. “
Like Boston Dynamics’ BigDog robo-mule, Petman stays upright, even when it’s shoved. And the thing walks heel-to-toe at 3.2 miles per hour, just like a flesh-and-blood person. Petman may be just one of a number of attempts by robot-makers to build a simulated set of biped legs. But I haven’t seen one that gets closer to the real deal.
“I, for one, like that the torso section of PETMAN looks like a sweet boom box and I hope that someday Boston Dynamics sees fit to let the robot loose in the business district of a small town, just walking around and taking in the scenery while pumping out some old-school rap,” quipped Doug Aamoth at CrunchGear.
Boston Dynamics is also the creator of the “Big Dog,” a four-legged pack mule of sorts that follows soldiers carrying gear.
WATCH THE PLAYLIST BELOW TO LEARN MORE:
Auto sales analysts at Edmunds.com say the pricey program resulted in relatively few additional car sales.
(RAW STORY) China should step up to the plate as the leader of a new global economic order, and the US shouldn’t fear the establishment of a global currency because it would help the economy, billionaire investor George Soros says.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Soros said that China hasn’t been pulling its weight in reorganizing the global economy after last year’s economic collapse, and the way to convince China to lead is to allow it to “own” the reorganization of the global financial system that is underway.
“You really need to bring China into the creation of a new world order, a financial world order,” Soros told FT. “They are kind of reluctant members of the IMF. They play along, but they don’t make much of a contribution because it’s not their institution. … They have to own it the same way as, let’s say, the United States owns the Washington consensus, the current order, and I think this would be a more stable one where you would have co-ordinated policies. I think the makings of it are already there because the G20, in agreeing to peer reviews, effectively is moving in that direction.”
Peer reviews are a mechanism by which members of the G20 club of economic powers can review other members’ economic performance and warn those members of dangers to their economies.
Soros also advocated for the creation of at least a limited global currency, which he says would help reduce the imbalances in the global economic structure and would actually benefit the United States, whose dollar currently acts as a de facto global currency.
Soros said the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights — a kind of currency that IMF member countries can use to transfer money between countries — could be the backbone of a new global currency.
“I believe that basically the system is broken and needs to be reconstituted,” Soros said. “We cannot afford to have the kind of chronic and mounting imbalances in international finance. So, you need a new currency system and actually the Special Drawing Rights do give you the makings of a system and I think it’s ill-considered on the part of the United States to resist the wider use of Special Drawing Rights. They could be very, very useful now when you have a global shortfall of demand. You could actually internationally create currency through special drawing rights, and we’ve done it.”
Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, were created in 1969 as a way of supplementing countries’ currency reserves. Their value is determined by a formula based on the values of the US dollar, the British pound, the Japanese yen and the Euro.
Recently, the IMF has been using SDRs to help out countries struggling under the weight of the global recession. As Soros noted, China itself has advocated creating a global reserve currency from the IMF’s drawing rights. European leaders such as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have also called for an expanded role for the IMF in the emerging global economy.
Soros said that while the US received “great benefits” from having the US dollar as the default global currency, that time is now past because the US “abused” its currency’s power to create an imbalanced global trade system
“We have abused it and I don’t think we can continue abusing it anyhow,” Soros said. “So it is not necessarily in our interests to have the dollar as the sole world currency because as the world economy grows, it needs an additional currency and, if the dollar is that additional currency, it means that the US has to have chronic current account deficit. And that is not appropriate. I think it’s in our interests as well to reform the system.”
Some critics of the global financial system have argued that SDRs are the thin end of the wedge to the creation of a world government, arguing that institutions like the IMF and the G20 undermine the sovereignty of nations by taking control of economic policy out of the hands of national leaders. Soros’ comments are unlikely to assuage those concerns.
(Reuters) Securities exchanges have a sound network back-up if a severe pandemic keeps people home and clogging the Internet, but the Homeland Security Department has done little planning, Congressional investigators said on Monday.
The department does not even have a plan to start work on the issue, the General Accountability Office said.
But the Homeland Security Department accused the GAO of having unrealistic expectations of how the Internet could be managed if millions began to telework from home at the same time as bored or sick schoolchildren were playing online, sucking up valuable bandwidth.
Experts have for years pointed to the potential problem of Internet access during a severe pandemic, which would be a unique kind of emergency. It would be global, affecting many areas at once, and would last for weeks or months, unlike a disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake.
H1N1 swine flu has been declared a pandemic but is considered a moderate one. Health experts say a worse one — or a worsening of this one — could result in 40 percent absentee rates at work and school at any given time and closed offices, transportation links and other gathering places.
Many companies and government offices hope to keep operations going as much as possible with teleworking using the Internet. Among the many problems posed by this idea, however, is the issue of bandwidth — especially the “last mile” between a user’s home and central cable systems.
“Such network congestion could prevent staff from broker-dealers and other securities market participants from teleworking during a pandemic,” reads the GAO report, available here
“The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for ensuring that critical telecommunications infrastructure is protected.”
Private Internet providers might need government authorization to block popular websites, it said, or to reduce residential transmission speeds to make way for commerce.
The Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, a group of private-sector firms and financial trade associations, has been working to ensure that trading could continue if big exchanges had to close because of the risk of disease transmission.
“Because the key securities exchanges and clearing organizations generally use proprietary networks that bypass the public Internet, their ability to execute and process trades should not be affected by any congestion,” the GAO report reads.
However, not all had good plans for critical activities if many of their employees were ill, the report reads.
Homeland Security had done even less, it said.
“DHS has not developed a strategy to address potential Internet congestion,” the report said.
It had also not even checked into whether the public or even other federal agencies would cooperate, GAO said.
“The report gives the impression that there is potentially a single solution to Internet congestion that DHS could achieve if it were to develop an appropriate strategy,” DHS’s Jerald Levine retorted in a letter to the GAO.
“An expectation of unlimited Internet access during a pandemic is not realistic,” he added.
(WASHINGTON POST) When Matthew Hoh joined the Foreign Service early this year, he was exactly the kind of smart civil-military hybrid the administration was looking for to help expand its development efforts inAfghanistan.
A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.
But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
The reaction to Hoh’s letter was immediate. Senior U.S. officials, concerned that they would lose an outstanding officer and perhaps gain a prominent critic, appealed to him to stay.
U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry brought him to Kabul and offered him a job on his senior embassy staff. Hoh declined. From there, he was flown home for a face-to-face meeting with Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We took his letter very seriously, because he was a good officer,” Holbrooke said in an interview. “We all thought that given how serious his letter was, how much commitment there was, and his prior track record, we should pay close attention to him.”
While he did not share Hoh’s view that the war “wasn’t worth the fight,” Holbrooke said, “I agreed with much of his analysis.” He asked Hoh to join his team in Washington, saying that “if he really wanted to affect policy and help reduce the cost of the war on lives and treasure,” why not be “inside the building, rather than outside, where you can get a lot of attention but you won’t have the same political impact?”
Hoh accepted the argument and the job, but changed his mind a week later. “I recognize the career implications, but it wasn’t the right thing to do,” he said in an interview Friday, two days after his resignation became final.
“I’m not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love,” Hoh said. Although he said his time in Zabul was the “second-best job I’ve ever had,” his dominant experience is from the Marines, where many of his closest friends still serve.
“There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed,” he said of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. “I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys.”
But many Afghans, he wrote in his resignation letter, are fighting the United States largely because its troops are there — a growing military presence in villages and valleys where outsiders, including other Afghans, are not welcome and where the corrupt, U.S.-backed national government is rejected. While the Taliban is a malign presence, and Pakistan-based al-Qaeda needs to be confronted, he said, the United States is asking its troops to die in Afghanistan for what is essentially a far-off civil war.
As the White House deliberates over whether to deploy more troops, Hoh said he decided to speak out publicly because “I want people in Iowa, people in Arkansas, people in Arizona, to call their congressman and say, ‘Listen, I don’t think this is right.’ ”
“I realize what I’m getting into . . . what people are going to say about me,” he said. “I never thought I would be doing this.”
Hoh’s journey — from Marine, reconstruction expert and diplomat to war protester — was not an easy one. Over the weeks he spent thinking about and drafting his resignation letter, he said, “I felt physically nauseous at times.”
His first ambition in life was to become a firefighter, like his father. Instead, after graduation from Tufts University and a desk job at a publishing firm, he joined the Marines in 1998. After five years in Japan and at the Pentagon — and at a point early in the Iraq war when it appeared to many in the military that the conflict was all but over — he left the Marines to join the private sector, only to be recruited as a Defense Department civilian in Iraq. A trained combat engineer, he was sent to manage reconstruction efforts in Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit.
“At one point,” Hoh said, “I employed up to 5,000 Iraqis” handing out tens of millions of dollars in cash to construct roads and mosques. His program was one of the few later praised as a success by the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
In 2005, Hoh took a job with BearingPoint, a major technology and management contractor at the State Department, and was sent to the Iraq desk in Foggy Bottom. When the U.S. effort in Iraq began to turn south in early 2006, he was recalled to active duty from the reserves. He assumed command of a company in Anbar province, where Marines were dying by the dozens.
Hoh came home in the spring of 2007 with citations for what one Marine evaluator called “uncommon bravery,” a recommendation for promotion, and what he later recognized was post-traumatic stress disorder. Of all the deaths he witnessed, the one that weighed most heavily on him happened in a helicopter crash in Anbar in December 2006. He and a friend, Maj. Joseph T. McCloud, were aboard when the aircraft fell into the rushing waters below Haditha dam. Hoh swam to shore, dropped his 90 pounds of gear and dived back in to try to save McCloud and three others he could hear calling for help.
He was a strong swimmer, he said, but by the time he reached them, “they were gone.”
‘You can’t sleep’
It wasn’t until his third month home, in an apartment in Arlington, that it hit him like a wave. “All the things you hear about how it comes over you, it really did. . . . You have dreams, you can’t sleep. You’re just, ‘Why did I fail? Why didn’t I save that man? Why are his kids growing up without a father?’ ”
Like many Marines in similar situations, he didn’t seek help. “The only thing I did,” Hoh said, “was drink myself blind.”
What finally began to bring him back, he said, was a television show — “Rescue Me” on the FX cable network — about a fictional New York firefighter who descended into “survivor guilt” and alcoholism after losing his best friend in the World Trade Center attacks.
He began talking to friends and researching the subject online. He visited McCloud’s family and “apologized to his wife . . . because I didn’t do enough to save them,” even though his rational side knew he had done everything he could
Hoh represented the service at the funeral of a Marine from his company who committed suicide after returning from Iraq. “My God, I was so afraid they were going to be angry,” he said of the man’s family. “But they weren’t. All they did was tell me how much he loved the Marine Corps.”
“It’s something I’ll carry for the rest of my life,” he said of his Iraq experiences. “But it’s something I’ve settled, I’ve reconciled with.”
Late last year, a friend told Hoh that the State Department was offering year-long renewable hires for Foreign Service officers in Afghanistan. It was a chance, he thought, to use the development skills he had learned in Tikrit under a fresh administration that promised a new strategy.
In photographs he brought home from Afghanistan, Hoh appears as a tall young man in civilian clothes, with a neatly trimmed beard and a pristine flak jacket. He stands with Eikenberry, the ambassador, on visits to northern Kunar province and Zabul, in the south. He walks with Zabul Gov. Mohammed Ashraf Naseri, confers with U.S. military officers and sits at food-laden meeting tables with Afghan tribal leaders. In one picture, taken on a desolate stretch of desert on the Pakistani border, he poses next to a hand-painted sign in Pashto marking the frontier.
The border picture was taken in early summer, after he arrived in Zabul following two months in a civilian staff job at the military brigade headquarters in Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan. It was in Jalalabad that his doubts started to form.
Hoh was assigned to research the response to a question asked by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during an April visit. Mullen wanted to know why the U.S. military had been operating for years in the Korengal Valley, an isolated spot near Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan where a number of Americans had been killed. Hoh concluded that there was no good reason. The people of Korengal didn’t want them; the insurgency appeared to have arrived in strength only after the Americans did, and the battle between the two forces had achieved only a bloody stalemate.
Korengal and other areas, he said, taught him “how localized the insurgency was. I didn’t realize that a group in this valley here has no connection with an insurgent group two kilometers away.” Hundreds, maybe thousands, of groups across Afghanistan, he decided, had few ideological ties to the Taliban but took its money to fight the foreign intruders and maintain their own local power bases.
“That’s really what kind of shook me,” he said. “I thought it was more nationalistic. But it’s localism. I would call it valley-ism.”
‘Continued . . . assault’
Zabul is “one of the five or six provinces always vying for the most difficult and neglected,” a State Department official said. Kandahar, the Taliban homeland, is to the southwest and Pakistan to the south. Highway 1, the main link between Kandahar and Kabul and the only paved road in Zabul, bisects the province. Over the past year, the official said, security has become increasingly difficult.
By the time Hoh arrived at the U.S. military-run provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in the Zabul capital of Qalat, he said, “I already had a lot of frustration. But I knew at that point, the new administration was . . . going to do things differently. So I thought I’d give it another chance.” He read all the books he could get his hands on, from ancient Afghan history, to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, through Taliban rule in the 1990s and the eight years of U.S. military involvement.
Frank Ruggiero, the Kandahar-based regional head of the U.S. PRTs in the south, considered Hoh “very capable” and appointed him the senior official among the three U.S. civilians in the province. “I always thought very highly of Matt,” he said in a telephone interview.
In accordance with administration policy of decentralizing power in Afghanistan, Hoh worked to increase the political capabilities and clout of Naseri, the provincial governor, and other local officials. “Materially, I don’t think we accomplished much,” he said in retrospect, but “I think I did represent our government well.”
Naseri told him that at least 190 local insurgent groups were fighting in the largely rural province, Hoh said. “It was probably exaggerated,” he said, “but the truth is that the majority” are residents with “loyalties to their families, villages, valleys and to their financial supporters.”
Hoh’s doubts increased with Afghanistan’s Aug. 20 presidential election, marked by low turnout and widespread fraud. He concluded, he said in his resignation letter, that the war “has violently and savagely pitted the urban, secular, educated and modern of Afghanistan against the rural, religious, illiterate and traditional. It is this latter group that composes and supports the Pashtun insurgency.”
With “multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups,” he wrote, the insurgency “is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and Nato presence in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified.”
American families, he said at the end of the letter, “must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept. I have lost confidence such assurances can be made any more.”
‘Their problem to solve’
Ruggiero said that he was taken aback by Hoh’s resignation but that he made no effort to dissuade him. “It’s Matt’s decision, and I honored, I respected” it, he said. “I didn’t agree with his assessment, but it was his decision.”
Eikenberry expressed similar respect, but declined through an aide to discuss “individual personnel matters.”
Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., Eikenberry’s deputy, said he met with Hoh in Kabul but spoke to him “in confidence. I respect him as a thoughtful man who has rendered selfless service to our country, and I expect most of Matt’s colleagues would share this positive estimation of him, whatever may be our differences of policy or program perspectives.”
This week, Hoh is scheduled to meet with Vice President Biden’s foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken, at Blinken’s invitation.
If the United States is to remain in Afghanistan, Hoh said, he would advise a reduction in combat forces.
He also would suggest providing more support for Pakistan, better U.S. communication and propaganda skills to match those of al-Qaeda, and more pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to clean up government corruption — all options being discussed in White House deliberations.
“We want to have some kind of governance there, and we have some obligation for it not to be a bloodbath,” Hoh said. “But you have to draw the line somewhere, and say this is their problem to solve.”
Trapped in Sudan: 11 airmen in an HC-130 ‘taxi’ run. 150 Sudanese soldiers with weapons. It added up to trouble.
DUFFEL BAGS, BODY BAGS
SPYING CHARGES, RAPE THREATS
NO U.S. SUPPORT, 150 SUDANESE
REPORT MISTAKE, LESSER MEDALS
SEE CITATION FOR CREW’S AIR FORCE ACHIEVEMENT MEDALS:
HOUR BY HOUR ON NOVEMBER 28, 2006
(MILITARY.COM) Now, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan is asking for tens of thousands more troops to stem the escalating insurgency, raising the question of how many more troops it would take to succeed.
The commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the extra forces are needed to implement a new strategy that focuses on protecting civilians and depriving the militants of popular support in a country where tribal militias may be Taliban today and farmers tomorrow.
The White House said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has nearly finished gathering information and advice on how to proceed in Afghanistan, where bombings killed eight more American troops. With October now the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the war, many experts question the need for more troops.
“The U.S. and its allies already have ample numbers and firepower to annihilate the Taliban, if only the Taliban would cooperate by standing still and allowing us to bomb them to smithereens,” said Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations and history at Boston University, and one-time platoon leader in Vietnam.
“But the insurgents are conducting the war in ways that do not play to (allied) strengths.”
The Taliban rebels are estimated to number no more than 25,000. Ljubomir Stojadinovic, a military analyst and guerrilla warfare expert from Serbia, said that although McChrystal’s reinforcements would lift the ratio to 20-1 or more, they would prove counterproductive.
“It’s impossible to regain the initiative by introducing more foreign forces, which will only breed more resentment and more recruits for the enemy,” he said. “The Soviets tried the exact same thing in Afghanistan in the 1980s with disastrous results.”
McChrystal’s defenders say the U.S. has learned from Soviets’ mistakes. At his instruction, NATO troops are increasingly abandoning heavy-handed tactics.
“In the end this (conflict) cannot be solved by military means alone, and in that sense a precise figure of Taliban fighters is not the point,” said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.
The U.S. says it’s already adjusting its strategy to shift the focus from hunting down and killing Taliban fighters to protecting civilians – in some cases allowing insurgent units to remain untouched if they are not deemed an imminent threat.
McChrystal has also insisted that ground commanders use airpower only as a last resort and when they are absolutely sure civilians are not at risk. As a career Special Forces officer, McChrystal is likely to use small maneuverable units rather than large, heavily armed formations.
Also, experts say guerrilla numbers are not the most important factor in a counterinsurgency campaign. Instead, the number of U.S. troops depends on more complex calculations, including the size and location of the population, and the extent of the training effort for the Afghan security forces.
Appathurai said the goals of the Afghanistan strategy are key to determining how many forces are required. The goal is to have enough troops in populated areas to protect the citizenry and to provide the forces needed to train the Afghans.
In addition, while there may be as many as 25,000 Taliban, it is not a monolithic group like an army, with a clear chain of command that has to be confronted soldier for soldier. Instead, it is a scattered and diverse mix of insurgents, some more ideologically motivated than others.
There are currently about 104,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including about 68,000 Americans. Afghan security forces consist of 94,000 troops supported by a similar number of police, bringing the total Allied force to close to 300,000 members.
The 12-1 ratio may be misleading because two-thirds of the Allied force is made up of Afghans, who lack the training and experience. The Taliban usually fight in small, cohesive units made up of friends and fellow clansmen. A more meaningful ratio, then, might be 4-1 or 5-1.
Historically in guerrilla wars, security forces have usually had at least a 3-1 advantage.
At the height of the U.S. ground involvement in South Vietnam in 1968, the 1.2 million American troops and their allies outnumbered the Communist guerrillas by about 4-1. French forces in the 1945-54 Indochina war numbered about 400,000 men, only a slight numerical advantage against the rebels.
In a more recent campaign, Russia’s Chechen war in 1999-2000, Russian troops held a 4-1 advantage over the insurgents.
Publicly, NATO and U.S. officials have been tightlipped about Taliban strength, arguing the guerrillas, split into a number of semiautonomous factions, regularly slip in and out of Afghanistan from Pakistan – making numbers a matter of guesswork.
But several officers at NATO headquarters in Brussels say the alliance does have reasonably accurate estimates of the number of enemy combatants its troops are facing in Afghanistan.
“The internal figure used for planning purposes is 20,000 fighters, with several more thousand auxiliaries – mainly members of tribal militias, clans, and semi-criminal gangs,” said a senior officer based at NATO headquarters in Brussels. He asked not to be identified under standing regulations.
Another senior official – a representative of a non-NATO nation based at alliance headquarters – gave a similar number.
This official added that enemy numbers varied widely over time, depending on the season and other factors. “When the poppy is good, they stay home. When the poppy is bad, they take up guns,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Recent U.S. government estimates have also put the number of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan at about 25,000.
Sometimes remaining small gives guerrillas certain advantages. British forces in Northern Ireland found it relatively easy to monitor and penetrate the Irish Republican Army when its ranks were swollen in the 1970s, but had a tougher time once the IRA slashed staff and regrouped into secretive four-person units.
Some analysts suggest that a NATO force much larger than the one under consideration would be needed to subdue the Taliban.
“The ratio of friendly to enemy forces would be a crucial aspect only if you could actually get at the enemy. But with an enemy that doesn’t wear uniforms and hides among the population, that’s very hard to do,” said retired Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who helped oversee the “surge” of U.S. forces into Iraq in 2007-2008.
“The crucial aspect in this case is the ratio of security force to population – this is much more relevant,” he said. “This would require one security person to every 50 people. In a country of about 32 million, this means about 600,000 security personnel would be needed to clamp it down.”
(MILITARY.COM) “It’s one of those things — like an Academy Award — even if you don’t win you’re always a nominee,” MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force lawyer, told Military.com Monday. He said he felt the nomination would boost the credibility of MRFF and expected those who support the foundation’s work will be reenergized by the nomination. He also predicted that those opposed MRFF will criticize it.
“My hope is the average American will look [at the nomination] and say, maybe there’s something we should look at here,” he said.
Weinstein worked in the White House as a general counsel lawyer during the Reagan administration. He established the MRFF in 2006 after first going to court over instances of proselytizing at his alma mater, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where his sons were cadets. Since then the foundation has been on the front lines of the fight against what Weinstein calls a “fundamentalist Christian, military-parachurch-corporate proselytizing complex.”
Air Force Academy officials did not respond to Military.com’s request for comment by publication time.
Weinstein has been criticized by some both inside and outside the military as anti-Christian or anti-religious. Some argue that Christian chaplains have a right and duty to evangelize, and view rules and regulation restricting those efforts as unlawful.
A redacted version of the Nobel Peace Prize nominating letter that recommended Weinstein is posted online but provides little information on the writer and does not identify the country of origin. The author states he is “the only Christian in [his country’s] Senate,” and so represents “an entire population that is disenfranchised and right-less.” The author says his country once was at war with the United States but is now an ally and “learned from the United States how best to defend and protect people’s most basic rights.”
“American soldiers were and are inspiration to us,” the author states. “Those same soldiers who stand for America need the MRFF to stand for their rights when theirs are under attack at home as the average American’s rights are under attack in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and at the hands of Al-Queda [sic] and other terrorist organizations.”
The letter goes on to state that because of his efforts Weinstein and his family have had their lives threatened and their property defaced and damaged.
Weinstein said that when he started MRFF “we knew we’d be in this fight for a long time.”
“I consider this recognition for all our efforts,” he said. Weinstein added that he could not reveal individual names, but he received congratulatory calls from some flag and general officers.
In California, Elizabeth Sholes, the public policy director for a state council of churches in Sacramento said she was happy with the MRFF’s nomination.
“We were very pleased because the [foundation] is essentially what its name suggests,” Sholes said. “It’s looking out for the religious freedom of all people.” The council she works for — representing 21 mainstream Protestant denominations with 1.5 million members — formally endorsed the MRFF’s work about 18 months ago.
Sholes believes the foundation is “very helpful stopping what we see as a pernicious intrusion of religion into the mission of the military, which as far as we’re concerned is to uphold the Constitution, not a specific version of religion.”