AFP -- The US Department of Defense plans to deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 to help state and local officials respond to terror or nuclear attacks and emergencies, The Washington Post said Monday.
Citing Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces.
The first 4,700-strong unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade, is based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and is already available for deployment, according to General Victor Renuart, commander of the US Northern Command, it said.
Two additional groups will later join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops to support local and state authorities nationwide, The Post said.
They will all would be trained to respond to domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks.
The newpaper said that civil liberties groups and libertarians had expressed concern that the plan could undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.
A California pastor told his parishioners to attend confessional if they had voted for President-elect Barack Obama because of his stance on abortion, the McClatchy Tribune reported.
The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Modesto, Calif., said voting for a pro-choice candidate amounted to a punishable sin.
"If you are one of the 54 percent of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position and you knew the gravity of the question, I urge you to go to confession before receiving communion. Don't risk losing your state of grace by receiving sacrilegiously," Illo wrote in a letter dated Nov. 21.
Illo sent the letter to more than 15,000 members of his parish, one of 34 parishes in the Stockton diocese.
Illo also delivered this message in a homily, the Modesto Bee reported.
But not all priest agree with Illo's point of view.
Rev. Stephen Blaire, bishop of the Stockton diocese, said Catholics don't need to confess if they voted for Obama and should not be compelled to reveal their voting choice by their priest, the Associated Press reported.
"There were probably many priests, and I suspect many bishops, who voted for Obama."
Many religious leaders warned voters against Obama during the campaign because of his stance on abortion. Earlier this month, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops cautioned Obama against enacting an "evil law" that would deregulate the "abortion industry", saying it would alienate millions of Americans and sow disunity, Agence France Presse reported.
Wire services contributed to this report.
The Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is seeking a judicial review into six activists arrested during a police raid on a group organizing protests against the Republican National Convention, The Minnesota Independent reported Sunday.
A representative of the National Lawyers Guild said the police officers are simply trying to prevent the activists from their right to protest as no charges or official complaints have been filed.
“If they have evidence of a criminal act, then they should charge them,” he says. “And if they can charge [my client, Monica Bicking] with a complaint, then we will go defend that in court. But right now they are just holding them. You can’t just hold [Bicking] to prevent her from exercising her free speech.”
The activists were arrested when the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department stormed a rented meeting place of the RNC Welcoming Committee, a self-described "anarchist/anti-authoritarian" group, in St. Paul, Minnesota Friday night, CNN reported.
As many as 30 police officers entered the building with guns drawn, temporarily detaining and photographing at least 50 people.
St. Paul Police spokesman Tom Walsh said the men acted under a search warrant, but said "the cause for the search warrant is not public at this time."
Although no one in the building has been charged with anything, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher issued a press release which called those in the building "criminal anarchists" and listed materials for bombs and hazardous materials police found in the building, including "assorted edged weapons", "wrist rockets", "large amounts of urine" and many others.
A statement from the group maintains that the meeting place "is not used for illegal actions" and that members were "watching films and sharing food" when police raided the building.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman defended the actions of the county sheriff's department as necessary to keep other protesters of the Republican National Convention safe.
“We are making sure that people here to legitimately protest have the right to do that, but people engaging in criminal activity are not going to be able to do that," Coleman said.
The following is a press release from the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild castigating the police raid and calling for judicial review of the “probable cause holds” used to detain the six activists:
August 31, 2008 – The Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is seeking prompt judicial review of the preventative detentions of six citizen activists ordered by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.
Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Nathanael Secor, are all currently being held on “probable cause holds” in the Ramsey County Jail after being transferred late last night from the Hennepin County Jail. In Minnesota, a probable cause hold can be ordered by a police officer without a prosecutor or a judge reviewing a criminal complaint. Due to the arrest occurring on a weekend holiday, all six citizens can be held until Wednesday, September 3, 2008, without the filing of a formal charge.
Three of the arrestees are life-long residents of Minnesota. Two previously worked in early childhood education and passed background checks to obtain that employment. All have extensive ties to Minnesota, including employment and family members. One is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. None of the six arrestees have ever been convicted of a felony or crime of violence. One person arrested on Saturday morning, August 30th, was previously detained on Friday night at the St. Paul convergence center where he was photographed and identified. Despite being labeled a “key member” of a “criminal enterprise” and a planner of a “criminal conspiracy,” he was released on Friday night even though Sheriff Fletcher had conducted a months long investigation, using informants, and presumably identified the “key leaders” who he claims were organizing riots and civil disorder.
All six arrestees appear to face maximum charges of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. Absent death or use of a firearm, a criminal charge of “Riot” in Minnesota is a gross misdemeanor. Minn. Stat. §609.71. A charge of “civil disorder” is a gross misdemeanor and requires proof that a person made or instructed another to use a firearm, explosive, or incendiary device to cause civil unrest. Minn. Stat. §609.669. Property damage in Minnesota under $1,000.00 is also a gross misdemeanor. Minn. Stat. §609.595.
Despite the incendiary and alarmist language used by Sheriff Fletcher, there is no evidence that the common household items and tools seized in the pre-emptive house raids were intended to be used to cause death or civil unrest. No judge or prosecutor has reviewed the allegations made by Sheriff Fletcher.
In light of the fact that none of the arrestees appear to face felony charges, their extensive ties to Minnesota, and their lack of any serious prior criminal record, attorneys for the National Lawyers Guild are seeking to have a Ramsey County judge review the detentions on Sunday, August 31, 2008. This would be an informal review at which a judge could dismiss the charges or set conditions of release. Media updates will be provided if such a review is held.
Sen. John McCain said he supports raising minimum wage on Fox News Sunday with host Chris Wallace as he admits voting against it at least 17 times.
Wallace asked McCain about his voting record on minimum wage after Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden used it to criticize the candidate during a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Wallace eventually corrected his original question by informing McCain that the senator had actually voted 19 times to keep wages at the current level, to which McCain responded, "Well, or 29 or 49, whatever it is."
"The point is I voted to keep taxes low," McCain said, who went on to blame Obama for voting to raise taxes.
When Wallace pressured McCain again on the question, the senator argued that he only voted no to wage increases to prevent unrelated spending packaged with the bill.
"I’m for the minimum wage increases when they are not attached to other big-spending pork barrel. The practice in Washington is attach a good thing to a bad thing. And that way, then you have to vote yes or no," McCain said. "When I’m president, I’m going to veto every bill that doesn’t have straight up or down votes on the issues that are important to the American people. … The fact is that I am for a living wage for all Americans."
Apparently, McCain doesn't think unrelated spending includes funding the Iraq war because the senator did vote for minimum wage increases in May 2007 as part of a $120 billion war spending bill quickly passed by the Senate and signed by President Bush.
PolitiFact.com, a Web site devoted to fact-checking for the presidential campaign, found Biden's accusation that McCain has voted against raising minimum wage 19 times to be accurate, though not all were pure votes on that issue.
However, the site points out that McCain did vote for raising minimum wage in 2007 from $5.15 to $7.25 as part of a bill that also gave tax breaks to businesses to soften the blow of the wage increase.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says it is unlikely that President Bush will attend the Republican National Convention on Monday as scheduled because of concerns about Hurricane Gustav.
The convention schedule has the president set to speak late Monday night in St. Paul, Minn. But those plans appear to be on hold because of the monster storm that could make landfall along the Gulf Coast as early as Monday.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says it is unlikely right now that Bush will go to Minnesota on Monday. She says alternate plans are being prepared.
The White House was likely to confirm Bush's plans later Sunday. That could mean possible travel to the Gulf Coast and perhaps speaking to the convention by video.
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