Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rest in Peace Heroes

Copter Downed by Taliban Fire; Elite U.S. Unit Among Dead

Published: Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.
NOTE: By Tracy L. Karol - This is an American tragedy. It is more than that. It is a tragedy of evil over good. Just months ago, this same troop squad was involved in the death of Osama bin Laden, who was evil personified. He was evil on the level of Hitler, Lenin and Saddam Hussein, and so many others. Our troops were on the side of the angels and May 1 was a great day, a day of triumph, of good triumphing over evil. We cannot give up. Otherwise, these brave soldiers who were killed now, as well as all the troops killed in the war on terror, will have died in a vain effort. Yes, we need to get out of that forsaken country. Bomb it to pieces for all I care. But avenge the deaths of our troops. Get our people out and ensure that we wipe the evil off the face of this planet. For if we do not, it will just come back, like it did after the death of bin Laden -- to kill again. They want us dead. If you are reading this and you are American, British, Canadian -- make no mistake -- they want you dead too. You are an infidel to them. Our lifestyles will never be compatible with radical Islam. They have perverted that religion to the point that it is not recognizable as anything near what it might once have been. And their stated goal is to kill us. Why should we wait around and let them do it? Why should we not take the initiative and wipe out the radicals first? Personally if it comes to them and their families or me and my family, I won't hesitate -- I know where my loyalty lies. And diplomacy does not work. I'm sick of our troops coming home injured, in body bags, with PTSD, with post-traumatic epilepsy. This chapter needs to end. And we need to end it. Before another life is lost. If you haven't read about Lt. Michael Murphy, who gave his life in the last major loss of special forces (the only survivor was Marcus Lutrell, who wrote "Lone Survivor"), you haven't learned about our true heroes. And we need to keep our heroes ALIVE.

This article is by Ray Rivera, Alissa J. Rubin and Thom Shanker.
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The attack in Wardak Province killed seven Afghans.
The New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — In the deadliest day for American forces in the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan, insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter on Saturday, killing 30 Americans, including some Navy Seal commandos from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as 8 Afghans, American and Afghan officials said.
The helicopter, on a night-raid mission in the Tangi Valley of Wardak Province, to the west of Kabul, was most likely brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade, one coalition official said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and they could hardly have found a more valuable target: American officials said that 22 of the dead were Navy Seal commandos, including members of Seal Team 6. Other commandos from that team conducted the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Bin Laden in May. The officials said that those who were killed Saturday were not involved in the Pakistan mission.
President Obama offered his condolences to the families of the Americans and Afghans who died in the attack. “Their death is a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifice made by the men and women of our military and their families,” Mr. Obama said. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan also offered his condolences to the victims’ families.
Saturday’s attack came during a surge of violence that has accompanied the beginning of a drawdown of American and NATO troops, and it showed how deeply entrenched the insurgency remains even far from its main strongholds in southern Afghanistan and along the Afghan-Pakistani border in the east. American soldiers had recently turned over the sole combat outpost in the Tangi Valley to Afghans.
Gen. Abdul Qayum Baqizoy, the police chief of Wardak, said the attack occurred around 1 a.m. Saturday after an assault on a Taliban compound in the village of Jaw-e-Mekh Zareen in the Tangi Valley. The fighting lasted at least two hours, the general said.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, confirmed that insurgents had been gathering at the compound, adding that eight of them had been killed in the fighting.
The Tangi Valley traverses the border between Wardak and Logar Province, an area where security has worsened over the past two years, bringing the insurgency closer to the capital, Kabul. It is one of several inaccessible areas that have become havens for insurgents, according to operations and intelligence officers with the Fourth Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, which patrols the area. The mountainous region, with its steeply pitched hillsides and arid shale, laced by small footpaths and byways, has long been an area that the Taliban have used to move between Logar and Wardak, local government officials said.
Officers at a forward operating base near the valley described Tangi as one of the most troubled areas in Logar and Wardak Provinces.
“There’s a lot happening in Tangi,” said Capt. Kirstin Massey, 31, the assistant intelligence officer for Fourth Brigade Combat Team in an interview last week. “It’s a stronghold for the Taliban.”
The fighters are entirely Afghans and almost all local residents, Captain Massey said, noting that “We don’t capture any fighters who are non-Afghans.”
The redoubts in these areas pose the kind of problems the military faced last year in similarly remote areas of Kunar Province, forcing commanders to weigh the mission’s value given the cost in soldiers’ lives and dollars spent in places where the vast majority of the insurgents are local residents who resent both the NATO presence and the Afghan government.
The dilemma is that if NATO military forces do not stay, the areas often quickly slip back under Taliban influence, if not outright control, and the Afghan National Security Forces do not have the ability yet to rout them.
When the Fourth Brigade Combat Team handed over its only combat outpost in the Tangi Valley to Afghan security forces in April, the American commander for the area said that as troops began to withdraw, he wanted to focus his forces on troubled areas that had larger populations. But he pledged that coalition forces would continue to carry out raids there to stem insurgent activity.
“As we lose U.S. personnel, we have to concentrate on the greater populations,” said Lt. Col. Thomas S. Rickard, the commander of 10th Mountain Division’s Task Force Warrior, which has responsibility for the area that includes Tangi. “We are going to continue to hunt insurgents in Tangi and prevent them from having a safe haven.”
Within days of the transition, the Taliban raised their flag near the outpost, said a NATO official familiar with the situation. Afghan security forces remained in the area but were no match for the Taliban, the official said.
Local officials in Wardak said that residents of the Tangi Valley disliked the fighting in the area, and that though they had fallen under the Taliban’s sway, the residents were not willing allies.
“They do not like having military in that area — no matter whether they are Taliban or foreigners,” said Hajji Mohammad Hazrat Janan, the chairman of the Wardak provincial council. “When an operation takes place in their village,” he said, “their sleep gets disrupted by the noise of helicopters and by their military operation. And also they don’t like the Taliban, because when they attack, then they go and seek cover in their village, and they are threatened by the Taliban.”
However, when local residents are hurt by the NATO soldiers, then, he said, they are willing to help the insurgents.
This was the second helicopter to be shot down by insurgents in the past two weeks. On July 25, a Chinook was shot down in Kunar Province, injuring two people on board. Of 15 crashes or forced landings this year, those two were the only confirmed cases where hostile fire was involved. 
Before Saturday, the biggest single-day loss of life for the American military in Afghanistan came on June 28, 2005, during an operation in Kunar Province when a Chinook helicopter carrying Special Operations troops was shot down as it tried to provide reinforcements to forces trapped in heavy fighting. Sixteen members of a Special Operations unit were killed in the crash, and three more were killed in fighting on the ground.
Although the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan has steadily risen in the past year, with a 15 percent increase in the first half of 2011 over the same period last year, NATO deaths had been declining — decreasing 20 percent in the first six months of 2011 compared with 2010.

NOTE: This is an American tragedy. It is more than that. It is a tragedy for good against evil. Just months ago, this same troop squad was involved in the death of Osama bin Laden, who was evil personified. He was evil on the level of Hitler, Lenin and Saddam Hussein, and so man others. Our troops were on the side of the angels and May 1 was a great day, a day of triumph, of good triumphing over evil. We cannot give up. Otherwise, these brave soldiers who were killed now, as well as all the troops killed in the war on terror, will have died in a vain effort. Yes, we need to get out of the forsaken country. Bomb it to pieces for all I care. But avenge the deaths of our troops. Get our people out and ensure that we wipe the evil off the face of this planet. For if we do not, it will just come back, like it did after the death of bin Laden -- to kill again. They want us dead. If you are reading this and you are American, British, Canadian -- make no mistake -- they want you dead too. You are an infidel to them. Our lifestyles will never be compatible with radical Islam. They have perverted that religion to the point that it is not recognizable as anything near what it might once have been. And their stated goal is to kill us. Why should we wait around and let them do it? Why should we not take the initiative and wipe out the radicals first? Personally if it comes to them and their families or me and my family, I won't hesitate -- I know where my loyalty lies. And diplomacy does not work. I'm sick of our troops coming home injured, in body bags, with PTSD, with post-traumatic epilepsy. This chapter needs to end. And we need to end it. Before another life is lost. If you haven't read about Lt. Michael Murphy, who gave his life in the last major loss of special forces (the only survivor was Marcus Lutrell, who wrote "Lone Survivor"), you haven't learned about our true heroes. And we need to keep our heroes ALIVE.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Awful… President Obama Makes Horrible Mistake Dishonoring Medal of Honor Recipients (Video) | The Gateway Pundit

Awful… President Obama Makes Horrible Mistake Dishonoring Medal of Honor Recipients (Video) | The Gateway Pundit

Why? Rascal Flatts - Suicide

Obama Worst Gaffe?

Epilepsy Foundation PSA #1 Greater Los Angeles

Epilepsy Foundation PSA #3

YouTube - End Epilepsy Campaign - Woman in tub (PSA #2)

YouTube - End Epilepsy Campaign - Woman in tub (PSA #2)

Epilepsy Foundation PSA Greater Los Angeles

Friday, June 10, 2011

AddThis Social Bookmarking Sharing Button Widget

AddThis Social Bookmarking Sharing Button Widget: "AddThis is a free way to boost traffic back to your site by making it easier for visitors to share your content"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Koran Burning Leads to More Violence

So an obscure so-called pastor in Florida has decided to make a name for himself by burning the Koran and now violence in Afghanistan and other areas is worse than ever.

Terry Jones, the pastor, announced last year that he was going to burn Korans. After public pressure not to do so, he finally backed down and agreed that he and his little band of followers would not pull such a stupid stunt while we are in the middle of a war and our troops are fighting over there.

But Jones changed his mind two weeks ago and actually -- get this -- put the Koran on "trial" and found it "guilty," as if he has the right to do so in the first place. The punishment was to burn the Koran. Now, just as expected, violence has spread, uprisings are worse than ever, our troops are in more danger (and they are spread way too thin as it is) and reports have already come in of beheadings.

I know many of you will say, so what if he burned the Koran? You hate Islam, you hate everything to do with it. I hate the way Islam has been perverted. I hate when any religion is perverted into extremism (the same could be said for Jones and his followers). Some Muslims over there have fought with us and vowed never to turn Taliban. They don't hate America. Yes, many do. I'm not going to argue that point. I am disgusted when I see people in other countries burning our flag, or burning Bibles. Why should we resort to the same? We shouldn't.

The end result is that now our troops, along with civilian works, UN workers, and others caught up in the mix are in more danger than in months. Some who may have come home will not make it. Terry Jones has gotten Americans killed. He didn't pull the trigger and he didn't use the blade, but he incited what he knew would be riots and he knew would endanger our troops. I doubt they appreciate his actions.

I've heard from some who say they are fine with what he did, that there will always be someone, it is free speech, and we can't stop them...well these soldiers, sailors and marines are the reason he has that freedom so maybe he should consider that before he does something as dangerous as put their lives at risk.

As for me, I think Terry Jones is an attention-seeking moron who just cost American and other allied lives, and more will be lost in the coming days and weeks. He should be in jail. This should not be allowed during the middle of a war. But maybe that's just my common sense kicking in, and the fact that someone I love is fighting over there. How about we drop ole' Terry off in the middle and let him burn his Koran right in Afghanistan, and see how long he lasts? If he wants to play the game, let him step into the fire, not play it from the comfort of his cozy Florida home.

Afghan Violence Spreads Over Terry Jones' Quran Burning - ABC News

Afghan Violence Spreads Over Terry Jones' Quran Burning - ABC News


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Fray - How To Save A Life + Lyrics

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This is dedicated to my friend, actually to several of my friends. I've spoken some of these words to you. You know who you are. You mean the world to me. I would stay up with you all night to save your life. Please be safe. Please. I'm posting this on several pages just so people know that hurting yourself is never the answer. I love you and care about you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Change in a Moment

Beautiful song and video of what it's like to live with epilepsy. Your life changes in a moment. But as the words show, she may have epilepsy, but it does NOT have her.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

US company stops making key death penalty drug | Toledo Newspaper

US company stops making key death penalty drug | Toledo Newspaper

Note:

By Tracy L. Karol


Melissa Northrup




I am unabashedly in favor of the death penalty. Those who say it doesn't deter crime need only do a Google search for the name "Kenneth McDuff." When the US Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in the 1970s, requiring individual states to revisit their respective laws, his sentence, like those of all others, was commuted to life in prison.

Louise Sullivan
However, McDuff, a brutal murderer, was actually up for parole later. That certainly doesn't sound like "life in prison" or "life without parole" to me. Even today, "life in prison" in Texas is, unless I'm mistaken, 40 years. So a 17-year-old who commits a multiple homicide will be out of prison by age 57. That, again, is due to a fairly new law imposed on the states by the US Supreme Court, which determined that anyone under the age of 18 is not mature enough mentally to be held accountable to the greatest degree for his or her actions. I suppose, if it was a day before the murderer's birthday, they would suddenly mature overnight enough to know the next day that what they were doing was truly wrong.

Colleen Reed
But I digress. I understand that people are opposed to the death penalty. I understand that some feel it is morally wrong. I happen to disagree with them. I worked in law enforcement for a number of years and I saw some of the most depraved criminals imaginable -- and I worked in a city that doesn't have a terrible crime rate. At the same time, I know there is always the fear of putting an innocent man or woman to death. Obviously no one would ever want that to happen, and I believe there should be every safeguard in place to ensure it doesn't occur. Today, with DNA evidence and other scientific advances, I think we can assure, with the proper laws (possibly new ones) in death penalty cases, that innocent people are not sent to death. I don't want, after all, to see an innocent person spend his or her life in prison, either. Yet I've also seen a man on death row for more than 30 years, despite three trials in which three different juries found him guilty of killing a young police officer, though he confessed to the crime, was found with the weapon shortly after the murder, and there was eyewitness testimony (I know this can be problematic, but he never denied committing the crime -- rather he blamed drugs, his girlfriend, anything to get away with it). The amount of time, media attention, public money, and family torment this murderer put everyone through after the brutal slaying of a heroic police officer is simply a travesty.


Back to Kenneth McDuff. He was a serial killer. When he was imprisoned and sentenced to death the first time, he'd already served time for burglary. Within a few years he was back, surfacing in Fort Worth where he shot two teen boys in the face (both died) and raped their female friend, also strangling her with a broomstick. That got him the death penalty in 1968. Those were the crimes he is known to have committed at the time, though it's likely he got away with more.

Amazingly, and this is what not only shocks me and should shock and disgust everyone who reads this, Kenneth McDuff was paroled. Not because of good behavior (it's doubtful he ever behaved well in his life), not because of time served, not because of any good reason at all. Kenneth McDuff was sentenced to death for the murders and rape he committed. That sentence should have been carried out. But it wasn't. Because the US Supreme Court decided to impose its will on the states - and I'm not stating that individual states at the time might have been wrong in how each carried out death penalty cases, but clearly a blanket moratorium without safeguards was not the answer either - a known sadistic serial killer, namely Kenneth McDuff, was paroled in Texas.
McDuff

Why? Why was Kenneth McDuff paroled? That is a question that has been hotly debated, but basically it comes down to overcrowding in Texas prisons. There was a breakdown in the system and a man sentenced to death, who never should have seen the outside of a prison (he should have been put to death, period), was set free. And within a very short time after his release he was on a murdering spree again.

Kenneth McDuff spent 17 years in prison the first time he was on death row. It's unclear how many people he killed before and after he got out, but in 1991 he crossed paths with a beautiful Austin accountant, 28-year-old Colleen Reed, when she stopped to wash her car and was abducted by McDuff and an accomplice. She was never again seen alive. Though her body was never found before his trial, witnesses placed McDuff at the scene and his accomplice testified that McDuff kidnapped, tortured and raped her before killing her and burying her body at a dump site. I believe the words his accomplice used in testifying against McDuff were that he said he was "going to use this bitch up." I could be wrong on the exact details, but frankly I'm too sickened to look them up again.

Rap Sheet
Though Colleen Reed's body was never found at the time, Kenneth McDuff was charged with her kidnapping, rape and murder - a rarity indeed without a body, but McDuff was a known serial killer. His sentence was the death penalty. However, he wasn't apprehended until more than a year later and by that time he had murdered again, and this time there was a body, so again - police knew he was a serial killer.

On March 1, 1992, McDuff kidnapped Melissa Ann Northrup from the convenience store where she worked. She was a 22-year-old pregnant mother of two young children. Her body was found a few weeks later in a gravel pit, her arms tied behind her. She had been strangled with a rope. Up until the minutes of his execution for her murder, his attorneys were trying to delay his sentence. Though Northrup's murder took place a few month's after Reed's, he was sentenced to death by two different juries for the crimes and the penalty for Melissa Northrup happened to come first.

When Kenneth McDuff committed his killing spree between Austin and Waco -- and police believe he may have killed as many as a dozen other people - I was a young mother myself, living in Austin and going to college at the University of Texas. Like most women, I was afraid. If Colleen Reed, a bright, successful woman who happened to stop at a car wash mere days after Christmas, could go missing without a trace, it could happen to anyone. The story was everywhere. Fear was in the air. It was within weeks of the infamous "Yogurt Shop Murders." (Four teen girls were killed at a yogurt shop where two of them worked, then the store was set on fire to hide the crime; it was almost a decade before arrests were made and the case is still hotly debated).

Kenneth McDuff never told, during the trial or while he was in prison, where Colleen Reed's body was buried. His accomplice did not remember the exact spot. Her family had no closure on that point; they could never put her to rest.

By the time Kenneth McDuff was scheduled to die for the murder of Melissa Northrup, things had changed for me. I had graduated from UT, worked as a reporter, then went to work for the Austin Police Department in what is basically the media relations department (I no longer work there; I have disabling epilepsy and don't work at all, but that's not relevant to this story).

Melissa Northrup's murder was not an APD case, but Colleen Reed's most definitely was, and detectives had never given up on finding her body. I give tremendous credit to the officers of the Austin Police Department - they are among the finest men and women I have ever worked with, and their commitment to victims is absolute. These officers and detectives take a lot of heat from the public for a variety of reasons - mostly because of special interest groups, but that's another story for a different time. Still, they work the cases and Austin remains one of the safest large cities in Texas with a homicide solve rate that is excellent.

Back to the execution of Kenneth McDuff for the murder of Melissa Northrup, who was kidnapped from Waco. He still had the death sentence for Colleen Reed hanging over him, not that it mattered at that point, except that her body had never been found. But in those last frantic days, Kenneth McDuff's nephew was in jail on a drug charge. I suppose there was someone he must have cared about, at least a bit, because in exchange for lenience against his nephew, McDuff finally agreed to lead detectives to the body of Colleen Reed.

As I stated, I worked at APD during that time (1998), and while I was sickened by McDuff, I was relieved that Colleen Reed's family finally was able to bring her home. I remember detectives saying that had McDuff not shown them where she was buried, they likely never would have found her. At the same time, the skeletons of several other bodies were found nearby - little doubt that they had met the same fate as Colleen Reed, Melissa Northrup, and  so many others.

Kenneth McDuff, one of the most evil monsters I ever came across, finally died by lethal injection on November 18, 1998. He was 52.

Kenneth McDuff
I know this was a long story. I know you may be wondering why I'm writing it right now. Actually I've wanted to write it for a long time. I am in favor of the death penalty. That may not win me any friends. That may actually lose me some. I don't hold it against those who oppose the death penalty, but I brought up one case, one of thousands, that demonstrate the evil that men do. And in this case, whenever I hear people say, "the death penalty is not a deterrent," I want to scream out the name KENNETH MCDUFF. It most certainly would have deterred him from murdering Melissa Northrup, Colleen Reed, and God knows how many other women - because he would have been dead the first time he was sentenced to die.

Kenneth McDuff wasn't executed until he was 52 years old. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that, if he had been released at that age, he would have gone right back to murdering women. He had been doing so since at least 1968.

Now the US Supreme Court has commuted all death penalty sentences in all states for those who committed the crime when they were younger than 18. I'm not sure what "life" is in every state, but in Texas it is 40 years. "Life" in prison should mean exactly that -if you are sentenced to life, you stay in prison until you die. Instead someone like Kenneth McDuff could commit multiple murders at 17, get out of prison at 57, and start killing again. Trust me, I've seen older monsters than that.

But what really has me concerned is that other countries that make one of the key drugs used in lethal injection (deemed the most humane way to execute someone, and what set me on the path to writing this story, as you see in the link at the top of this page) are threatening  to withhold it from the United States because they do not like our stance on the death penalty. Well, I don't particularly like many of the policies of these countries. I think they border on socialism. I don't think they have a right to dictate to us what we do with our country. Maybe we need to rethink our trade policy, because for the most part they certainly need us more than we need them. But that isn't going to happen, I'm sure.

I doubt that I've changed the mind of anyone who is against the death penalty, and that really isn't my purpose in writing this. But every time I read a story about the death penalty, the writer seems to inject groups of homicide survivors who oppose it. I'm here to tell you that there are plenty of homicide survivors who have no problem with seeing the person who murdered their loved one executed. Both the families of Melissa Northrup and Colleen Reed were interviewed when Kenneth McDuff was executed; neither showed remorse at his death.

There are monsters among us. If the US Supreme Court is going to continue to chip away at states' rights in these matters, then there must be a better method for keeping these monsters put away for good. When someone hears that a criminal is going away for life, they should have the assurance that it actually means something, that it is not an arbitrary number. I know the climate is changing. I know that there is little I can personally do about it. But I will always advocate for crime victims.

I hate that this story was about Kenneth McDuff, but it had to be to make a point. I wish I could have told you more about the lives of Melissa Northrup, Colleen Reed and the many other victims he killed. They are the ones who matter. Their lives mattered. The sum of a story should not be about their deaths. I apologize for that. In this case, I needed to show you what a monster Kenneth McDuff was - and I didn't even come close. But his victims mattered. They had lives that had nothing to do with him. They were beautiful people who should still be alive today, raising their families, going to work, living their dreams. Please take the time to learn a bit about them, to learn what was stolen from this world.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dallas Cowboys!

By Tracy L. Karol

Well, for what it's worth, the Cowboys pulled out a win for the final game of the season. (How 'Bout Them Cowboys?!) It was one game I could watch without worries about any of my Fantasy Football players, since the championship game (after the playoffs) was last week, and I came in second place. Not bad for my first season.

I think all Cowboys fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jerry Jones finally fired Wade Phillips. Not that the former head coach isn't a nice guy, but he just might be too nice to be a head coach. At least in Dallas, and certainly for Jerry Jones. Jason Garrett has more than proved himself capable of the permanent job, and after proving that he can work with Jerry Jones for several years already, we don't have to worry about personality clashes. Let's all just hope JJ makes the right decision.

With Tony Romo looking healthy again (and engaged, so hopefully his head will be fully in the game), and some top draft picks, next season should be much better than this sadly disappointment turned out to be. Pick up some offensive linemen and a good defensive coordinator and the Dallas Cowboys will be back. We still have powerful weapons like Jason Witten, Demarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and many others.

Sadly, the situation with the Texas Longhorns doesn't look as promising. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert hasn't proven to be the breakout he looked like he might when he filled in for an injured Colt McCoy during the National Championship last year. Colt McCoy, however, has proven himself in the few games he started for the Cleveland Browns.

It's been an interesting football year, both in the NFL and the NCAA. I'll be watching the playoffs, though none of my favorite teams are in it. I'm rooting for the New York Jets -- I grew a fond spot for them during the Fantasy season.

Good luck to you with your teams. As for me, I'll always be a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, and never abandon my alma mater, the Texas Longhorns. Hook 'Em!