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Archive for May 2008

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Election Edge

In New Trinity Church Sermon Video, Obama Spiritual Adviser Wails that Clinton Thought "Black Man Stealing My Show"—He Then Mocks White America

May 29th 2008

Politics - Michael Pflegler
Michael Pfleger
photo: barackobama.com

A close associate and spiritual adviser of Sen. Barack Obama, speaking at the Illinois senator's Chicago church, Trinity United Church of Christ, mocked both Hilary Clinton specifically and white America generally on Memorial Day Sunday. VIEW VIDEO

In histrionic derision, Chicago Catholic pastor Michael Pfleger speaking Sunday at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ, stated that Sen. Hillary Clinton, recognizing her inevitable loss, cried in public because she thought being white entitled her to the Democratic presidential nomination. Pfleger implied Clinton was a white supremacist who believed she would win the nomination because of "white entitlement."

Pfleger, who practices black liberation theology, is a regular guest speaker at Trinity church. He was introduced at Sunday's sermon by Obama's new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss III, who called Pfleger a "brother beloved," and added, "He is a preacher par-excellence, he is a prophetic powerful pulpiteer."

After Pfleger's remarks about Clinton, Moss thanked Pfleger repeatedly.

Pfleger told the Trinity congregation, "We must be honest enough to expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head." He continued: "Reverend Moss, when Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don't believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought, 'This is mine. I'm Bill's wife. I'm white. And this is mine. I just got to get up and step into the plate.'" Read more ..


Election Edge Exclusive

Pastor John Hagee and the New Inquisition

May 26th 2008

Unknown - Pastor John Hagee
Pastor John Hagee

Breathe in deeply and you can still smell the embers smoldering around Pastor John Hagee’s public persona.

The recent controversy over Pastor John Hagee is about much more than one man and his “crazy comments,” to use John McCain’s words. The nature of the attacks on Pastor Hagee and the rapidity with which they spread and hardened into the ugliest of conclusions revealed something far deeper and far more disturbing about our public discourse on faith in America.

What was most breathtaking about the “debate” over Pastor Hagee’s statements on the Holocaust was the complete absence of one. This was not a case where thoughtful arbiters discussed his words in the context of a rich Judeo-Christian tradition of theodicy. There was no respect given to a quite common worldview. There was no trial. We skipped right to the auto de fé, that is, the final humiliating parading of the guilty during the Spanish Inquisition.

With an ever-increasing ferocity, large swaths of the media and the blogosphere are enforcing a new orthodoxy of post-modern contempt for literal religious faith. The heresy they hunt is the belief in an omnipotent God who intervenes in history. And the punishment they impose is public death, banishment from the public square. Their power is sufficient to give pause to even the most secular-minded among us. Read more ..


Tracking “Project Better Place” Electric Cars

Shai Agassi's Electric Car Plan Good Enough to “Wipe out Gasoline Cars” says Deutsche Bank

May 26th 2008

Energy - E-Tank
Better Place E-Tank

Imagine your cell phone transforming into an electric car. Sound far-fetched?  

Not if you're Shai Agassi, the founder of Project Better Place (PBP), and you believe you have finally created the concept that could transform the notion of car ownership and make the vehicle you own an electric one. The underlying premise of his paradigm-changing business plan is to sell clean, green transportation services on the cellular telephone model.

Israeli-born Agassi's idea, for which he's received some $200 million in venture funding, led by The Israel Corporation is to create the electric car equivalent of a cellular phone network. Where forests of cellular phone towers and repeaters are the most visible manifestation of the networks that make cell phone service possible, in PBP's case, the network will consist of hundreds of thousands of battery charging stanchions and scores of battery swapping centers. Just as it isn't the cell phone that generates revenue for the likes of Sprint, Verizon and ATT&T, it won't be the electric cars in Agassi's model. Instead, it will be the convenient, affordable and environmentally-sustainable transportation services that he hopes to offer.  

A recent study of Project Better Place's plan by Deutsche Bank concluded that not only can it be financially successful, but that it has the potential to "wipe out gasoline cars." Read more ..


UNRWA: Refuge for Rejection

Hamas Bombmakers and Fighters Need Not Quit Their UN Day Jobs

May 26th 2008

Islamic - Palestinian Rally

Today, Hamas is a central beneficiary of a bizarre system of refugee perpetuation operated under the auspices of the United Nations. A multimillion dollar internationally funded program employs Hamas fighters and even nourishes its ideology and agenda. That UN agency in question is UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East). UNRWA was virtually developed by the PLO, and today stands as a monolithic nexus between the international community and terrorism.

It began shortly after the State of Israel declared independence in 1948. About eighteen months later, on December 8, 1949, the United Nations General Assembly (GA) passed Resolution 302, establishing an agency dedicated to "direct relief and works programs" for the Palestinian Arab refugees. Thus UNRWA was born with a clear humanitarian mandate.

Clearly, UNRWA is a unique body within the UN system. Millions of refugees worldwide—over 130 million since the end of World War Two—had previously come under the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), charged with resettlement and rehabilitation of refugees. UNRWA was created as a separate body with jurisdiction solely over the Palestinians. Read more ..


Hate on Campus

A California Campus Event Intended to Encourage Violence and Spread Hate

May 26th 2008

 - Brad Sherman
Rep. Brad Sherman

In mid-May, I wrote a letter to Chancellor Michael Drake expressing my concern with the University of California at Irvine’s (UCI) Muslim Student Union’s campus event entitled "Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust," which was held on the campus from May 7th to May 15th. This event appears to have intended to encourage violence against the State of Israel and propagate the spread of anti-Semitism.

The title of the event itself is particularly inflammatory. Comparing current Israeli policies to the Holocaust, the systematic murder of the Jewish people of Europe, is clearly anti-Semitic. It wholly demeans the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and vilifies the Jewish citizens of Israel. The United States Department of State has officially declared that such a comparison is a prototypical example of anti-Semitism. In a recent report to Congress, the State Department adopted the following definition of anti-Semitism:

"Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. Such manifestations of anti-Semitism could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity . . . . Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to: Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis." [emphasis supplied] (Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report, Released by the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. Department of State, March 2008).

The titles of some of the lectures at the event -- "Death to Apartheid: A Farewell to Zionism" and "Silence is Consent: Stop the Palestinian Holocaust" -- are also disturbing. And, the guests invited to give these lectures have a record of making anti-Semitic statements. As is observable on YouTube, one of the lecturers, Amir Abdel Malik Ali, stated in a speech at UCI in May 2006, "The truth of the matter is: [Israel’s] days are numbered. We will fight you until we are either martyred or until we are victorious." It should be of concern that a speech given at UCI calls for "martyrdom" – the euphemism for suicide bombing. Read more ..


Persecution in Iran

Iran Arrests National Baha’i Leaders in Dawn Raids

May 26th 2008

Unknown - National Baha'i Leaders

The six leaders are being held at Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison.
The names of the arrested in the photo are, in the front row
seated from the left, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Saeid Rezaie.
Standing from the left are Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm,
Jamaloddin Khanjani, and Afif Naeimi. On the far right is
Mahvash Sabet, detained since March.

RELATED: IRAN APOSTASY LAW INVOKES DEATH PENALTY

For Baha’is around the world, May 14 came as a chilling reminder of how bad things can become for their community in Iran. In dawn raids that dragged on for hours, Intelligence Ministry officers arrested six of the seven members of Iran’s national Baha’i leadership, the worst assault on Baha’is in almost 30 years. The seventh leader has been in detention since March 5. No one knows why.

The last major round-up and detentions of national Baha’i leaders came in the early 1980s. In 1980, all nine members of the national leadership were abducted and then disappeared.

“The manner in which the six individuals were taken from their homes (is) frighteningly similar, and we are concerned for their safety as well as about further persecution of the Iranian Baha’i community,” said Kit Bigelow, director of external affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S.

Baha’is in Iran are already feeling the shock waves of losing their main administrators: even days after the arrests, the outside world could glean few details about why or how the arrests had happened. Some government agents present at the arrests indicated that the six leaders would be taken to Evin Prison--a fact the Baha'i community initially publicized. But at the end of May, the community discovered with dismay that their leaders' whereabouts are still unknown, including that of the seventh missing since March. Officials are giving relatives conflicting stories. In such cases, relatives often have to move from court to court to learn the location of their loved ones.

Baha’is have no official clergy, and since their spiritual assemblies were outlawed after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, they have relied on electing national and local committees as leaders of the faith. With all seven national leaders in detention now, Iran has succeeded in severely disrupting the life and communication of its Baha’i community. Read more ..


Inside Islam

Rescue of Christian Girls from Muslim Kidnappers Triggers Destructive Tempest in Nigeria

May 26th 2008

Islamic - Nigerian Christian Church Destroyed

Police in Nigeria on May 12 rescued two kidnapped Christian teenage girls – Mary Chikwodi Okoye, 15, and Uche Edward, 14. The girls were kidnapped in the Islamic enclave of Ningi three weeks ago in an attempt to force them to marry Muslim men. Police transported the two rescued girls to safety in southeastern Nigeria where their biological parents live.

Kidnapping of teenage Christian girls by Muslims has become a regular practice in Ningi. Muslims have kidnapped at least 13 Christian girls in the town, Christian sources said.

But after the two most recent girls were rescued, the Hisbah Command, a paramilitary arm of Kano state’s Sharia Commission, went on a rampage, attacking Christians and setting fire to churches. Damaged churches include the Deeper Life Bible Church, St Mary's Catholic Church, All Souls Anglican Church, Church of Christ in Nigeria, Redeemed Christian Church of God, and the Redeemed Peoples Mission.

Islamic stalwarts argue that forced marriages of young Christian girls to older Muslim men in Africa are a legitimate attempt to regain demographic growth of Islam in Africa. Islam is now waning on the continent. According to Sheikh Ahmad Al Katani, President of The Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law in Libya – an institution specializing in graduating imams and Islamic preachers, “There are now 1.5 million churches [in Africa] whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Ever year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.” Read more ..


Kicking the Oil Addiction

New Zealand Sees Wood Waste Ethanol Breakthrough

May 26th 2008

Energy - Pine Vista
Pine--a viable corn ethanol alternative

New Zealand believes it may have discovered a solution to global warming and diminishing energy with its own alternative fuel. Scion, a state owned forestry research corporation, says that  can be used for biofuel production. The announcement could presage an alt fuel breakthrough.

The investigation by Scion via bio refineries has been the target and hopes of this company. They are currently able to process waste from pulp and paper mills. There is a processing plant in the Central North Island of New Zealand that has the potential to produce over ninety million liters of ethanol annually. This would surpass the Government’s target of a 3.4 per cent biofuel component of gasoline and diesel by 2012.

Scion has been successful in working with other companies to help with the growth of this alternative energy. Agresearch, another state-owned company is just one of the partners. A wood process, Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) is investigating the potential of adding a bio-ethanol manufacturing plant to its corporate infrastructure. This plant could be implemented at one of CHH’s pulp and paper mills in the Central North Island of New Zealand as well. This would allow them to test the product for long-term use and potential. Read more ..


Big Business and Bad Business

Urban Outfitters Pulls T-Shirt Glorifying Children as Terrorists

May 26th 2008

Unknown - Urban Outfitters Victimized Tee

Last week, international retailer Urban Outfitters offered the world a provocative hate-inspiring T-shirt with a blatant anti-Israel message that offends Jews, Israelis, and anyone interested in the truth. Perhaps worse, it glorifies child abuse and exploitation, as well as terrorism.

The T-shirt portrays a young Palestinian youth with a keffiya around his neck, clutching an AK-47 in three images. Also pictured on the shirt are the Palestinian territories, and the Palestinian flag. The shirt’s bottom is emblazoned with the word “Victimized” embellished with a red blood image threading through the word. Numerous emails and blogs picked up on the item. A barrage of complaints to Urban Outfitters ensued. Read more ..


Book Review

Syria--The Cycle of Wishful Thinking

May 26th 2008

Unknown - The Truth About Syria
The Truth About Syria

The Truth About Syria. Barry Rubin. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 304 pages.

 

The age of illusions is over,” the historian Walter Laqueur wrote recently, referring to the illusions the West continues to entertain about the confrontation with radical Islam. Needless to say, Laqueur did not mean that we in the West no longer have any illusions on this subject; those still abound. He meant, rather, that we can no longer afford to harbor them and that the time has come to shed them. Yet human beings have great difficulty in freeing themselves from illusions—even quite dangerous ones—as long as they offer comfort and provide peace of mind. The best place to start the freeing process is by heeding those who are willing to tell us disturbing truths. Barry Rubin, the distinguished scholar of the Middle East, falls into this tiny minority. His brilliant and provocative new book, The Truth about Syria, not only challenges the illusions of those naturally inclined to prefer lovely daydream over harsh reality; it also challenges the illusions of those in the West who, by their own definition, are hard-nosed realists and wily pragmatists.

Consider the case of the Iraq Study Group and its recommendation that the United States engage Syria in an attempt to bring stability and peace to post-Saddam Iraq. The authors of the report included James Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger, each of whom had served as Secretary of State during the administration of George H.W. Bush. Both are generally known for being tough pragmatists, the kind of men one bets would be good poker players even among the toughest competitors in the game. Indeed, the members of the Study Group might be said to represent our contemporary version of the famous “wise men” who guided us through the Cold War with signal success; and if we were still in the midst of the Cold War, we could perhaps sleep more easily at night knowing that the fate of the West was in such shrewd and prudent hands. But today the challenge is radically different. We are not confronting another great superpower in the poker-like game called the balance of power, and even our wisest wise men have yet to grasp that they are currently playing a game about whose rules they have no clue. Read more ..


Inside Africa

Mugabe Threatens to Eject US Ambassador, Implies Coup if He Loses Run-off

May 26th 2008

Headshot - Robert Mugabe headshot
Robert Mugabe

Rumors of a coup are flying in Zimbabwe if the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, loses the presidential run-off.

"There's no way we are going to lose the run-off," a senior ruling party figure said. "We are going to make sure of that. If we lose … then the army will take over…Never be fooled that [opposition leader Morgan] Tsvangirai will rule this country. Never," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in Harare.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the rank and file are disgruntled at conditions and jealous of the farms and fancy lifestyles of commanders. Young officers predict a coup would split the army.

“It's the senior officers running the terror campaign in the rural areas," said Morris, 35, an army captain who did not want his last name published. "It's being done by colonels and lieutenant-colonels. The lower ranks don't want what is happening. If the old man lost, he should just give up," he said, referring to Mugabe.

At the same time, Mugabe threatened Sunday to kick out U.S. ambassador James McGee, accusing him of meddling in the country's internal affairs.

"Tall as he is, if he continues doing that (meddling), I will kick him out of the country," Mugabe said in a speech to launch his campaign ahead of a presidential run-off election next month. "As long as he carries on doing that, I will kick him out of the country," Mugabe said of McGee, a Vietnam War veteran. "He says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out.” Read more ..


Inside the Caribbean

Fernandez First Dominican Republican President Gains Unprecedented Second Term

May 26th 2008

Headshot - Joe Griebowski headshot
Joe Grieboski

President Leonel Fernandez recently claimed a resounding third term in the Dominican Republic, thrust back into office by what many see as his accomplishments in dragging the Caribbean country out of a deep economic slump. This grants him an unpredecented second presidential term.

The Associated Press reports Fernandez as saying that he will keep focusing on improving the Caribbean country's economy. He is credited with helping the country mend from a bank collapse in 2003, calming inflation and stabilizing the peso.

Fernandez defeated his primary rival – center-left construction magnate Miguel Vargas – with 54% to 40% of the vote, according to a final tally released by election officials. The remaining votes were shared by six other candidates. Election officials said voter turnout was 71%.

Fernandez told CNN en Espanol, "I understand that democracy implies the sharing of a common place, a civilized coexistence for the good of the nation," Fernandez said. "Therefore, yesterday I called upon the [opposition] Dominican Revolutionary Party to join in. I will expect for them to answer to my call positively, because we are no longer campaigning, the elections are over. The country needs to unify again and start thinking as a nation and face the challenges that await." Read more ..


Paul Shapiro and USHMM vs. Holocaust Survivors

May 26th 2008
It must be painfully obvious to all by now that Paul Shapiro and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are not working for the benefit of survivors in the Bad Arolsen records controversy. Just read the newsletters of survivor groups, the letters to the editor they have written, and their opinion pieces. Also look at Shapiro stonewalling the press and the Museum imposing media blackouts. The question remains: why can't survivors check out their own files online with local helpers? Why must they travel to Washington to check their files, or work with one one of the Museum's not-too-enthusiastic staffers via telephone. Survivors are all pushing for one thing in this matter--the right to see their own files where they live while they are still alive. Instead, the Museum and Shapiro have obviously set themselves up against the survivors so the Museum can raise money, and use the victim files as a gate attraction. Eventually, there won't be enough survivors to complain any more. Then the matter will be finally resolved in Shapiro's favor.

Very Worried About Obama's Foreign Policy

May 26th 2008

As a U.S. citizen I am worried. I am worried about exactly who is Barack Obama. If he becomes our next president, do I move to Canada or just hope what I see and fear is not really a problem. In today’s world we are losing our allies, money, stature, property, jobs, and just about all that we hold near and dear to us as Americans. If there ever was a time for a forceful and strong leader is now. All I see and hear coming from his mouth is he will talk to this murderer or this leader of killers. It reminds me of Neville Chamberlain talking to Hitler and being told to go home and all will be alright. I am a life long Democrat but I really feel I need a president who dictates to killers rather than listening to them.


Election Edge Analysis

The Three Presidential Candidates and the Iranian-Israeli Nuclear Conflict

May 19th 2008

Headshots Leaders - Three 2008 Candidates

Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama 

Clinton: If Israel is attacked, I will obliterate Iran.
McCain: I will not allow a Second Holocaust.
Obama: I favor tough diplomacy without preconditions.

 

Where the three presidential candidates stand on the looming nuclear stand-off with Iran and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated promise to wipe Israel off the map?

When recently asked by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly about support for potential pre-emptive Israeli military action against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear infrastructure, Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, in unmistaken words, declared he would “not allow a second Holocaust.” In fact, McCain repeated his promise twice for crystal clarity. McCain added that it is necessary by any means to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear superpower.

For her part, Senator Hillary Clinton has been a strong, lifelong supporter of Israel and outspoken advocate of the US-Israeli relationship. She recently made clear that if Israel was attacked by Iran that she would “obliterate” Ahmadinejad’s nation.

In response to being branded an “appeaser” on the issue of Iran, following the remarks of President George Bush in Israel’s Knesset, Obama stated he favors “tough diplomacy” with Iran and bilateral talks without preconditions.

What does it all mean? Read more ..


Inside the Middle East

President Bush Addresses Members of the Knesset

May 19th 2008

Headshots Leaders - President Bush
President George W. Bush

President George W. Bush addressed the Knesset on May 15, 2008. on the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary. An edited transcript follows. VIEW VIDEO

President Peres and Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Speaker, thank you very much for hosting this special session. President Beinish, Leader of the Opposition Netanyahu, Ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests: Shalom. Laura and I are thrilled to be back in Israel. We have been deeply moved by the celebrations of the past two days. And this afternoon, I am honored to stand before one of the world's great democratic assemblies and convey the wishes of the American people with these words: Yom Ha'atzmaut Sameach. (Applause.)

It is a rare privilege for the American President to speak to the Knesset. (Laughter.) Although the Prime Minister told me there is something even rarer -- to have just one person in this chamber speaking at a time. (Laughter.) My only regret is that one of Israel's greatest leaders is not here to share this moment. He is a warrior for the ages, a man of peace, a friend. The prayers of the American people are with Ariel Sharon. (Applause.)

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence, founded on the "natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate." What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David -- a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.

Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel's independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel's closest ally and best friend in the world.

Read more ..

Inside Lebanon

Lebanon's "300" Hold Out Against Hezbollah Takeover

May 19th 2008

Islamic - Burning of TV Stations in Beirut
TV Stations Burning in Beirut

While the West is busy living its daily life, a beast is busy killing the freedom of a small community on the East Mediterranean: Lebanon. Indeed, as of last week, the mighty Hezbollah, armed to the teeth with 30,000 rockets and missiles and aligning thousands of self described "Divine soldiers" has been marching across the capital, terrorizing its population, shutting down media, taking its politicians and the Prime Minister as hostages, and looting at will. The hordes of Lebanon’s "Khomeinist Janjaweeds" have conquered already half of the Middle East’s cultural capital, Beirut. As I have reported before, Hezbollah has occupied West Beirut and has since sent its storm troops in multiple directions to resume the blitz.

Unstoppable, including by the Lebanese Army, which Commander Michel Sleiman has allowed the slaughter to occur, the Pasdaran-founded militia is now hurtling towards the Druze Mountain and positioning its forces against the Sunni North and the Christian Mount Lebanon. Ironically, the geographical bases of Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon, are well guarded by the United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL). Per UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701 in 2006, more than 10,000 international troops are stationed across the southern parts of Lebanon, technically protecting the 200 Shia towns and villages from where the bulk of Hezbollah fighters came from. Hence, free from guarding their own areas, a dozen thousands well trained "Hezbollahis" have marched north to join another 5,000 already based in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Read more ..


Edge on Disaster

The Time to Invade Burma is Now—and Time is Running Out

May 19th 2008

Unknown - Burma Cyclone
Burma cyclone corpses

ALSO SEE: Burma Generals

Every day, the death toll in Burma rises, following Cyclone Nargis over two weeks ago. Every day, the calls for international action grow. Every day, the diplomats and politicians talk. Every day, the efforts to negotiate with the regime yield little result. And every day, the regime tightens the noose around its people.

Even today, although there are reportedly small signs of improvement, aid is still restricted. Aid workers are obstructed. British Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch Brown, visiting Rangoon, claims the aid operation is “starting to move,” but admits that only 25% of the cyclone victims have received assistance. The regime now claims 78,000 dead, but the real figure is much, much higher. Several days ago the International Committee of the Red Cross put the death toll at almost 130,000 – and that figure has certainly increased further by now. The UN has said as many as 2.5 million people are in urgent need of help, and has called for an air or sea corridor to be opened to channel aid to Burma. Lord Malloch Brown has called the crisis “a huge human catastrophe.”

Even if more aid reaches the country, the suffering will continue unless international aid workers are allowed in to monitor the distribution, assess the situation and provide much-needed expertise. Yet Burma’s military regime continues to refuse access. Last week the military put up roadblocks to prevent foreigners from entering the affected areas, saying the situation is under control.

An under-reported but important dimension to this, is that a large proportion of the population in the affected Irrawaddy Delta region come from the Karen ethnic group. The Karen ethnic group has been the target of the military regime’s policies of ethnic cleansing bordering on genocide for decades. The regime is hostile not only to all forms of opposition, but to non-Burmans and non-Buddhists. The fact that the Karen are a different ethnicity, and that many of them are Christians, may well have featured in the regime’s decision to put a stranglehold on aid efforts. Read more ..


UNRWA: Refuge for Rejection

Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries Receive No UN Help While Palestinians Get Millions

May 19th 2008

 - Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard

For the last 60 years, the issue of Palestinian refugees has been held out as one of the principal obstacles to peace. In truth, the problem could have been resolved years ago if the Arab states had not preferred to use them as pawns in the conflict with Israel.

The United Nations took up the refugee issue and adopted Resolution 194 on December 11, 1948. This called upon the Arab states and Israel to resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations either directly, or with the help of the Palestine Conciliation Commission established by this resolution. Furthermore, Point 11 resolves:

"that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which under principles of international law or in equity should be made good by Governments or authorities responsible. Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation..." (emphasis added).

The emphasized words demonstrate that the UN recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that might endanger its security. The solution to the problem, like all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Palestinians to be resettled in Arab lands. Furthermore, the resolution uses the word "should" instead of "shall," which, in legal terms, is not mandatory language.

The resolution met most of Israel’s concerns regarding the refugees, whom they regarded as a potential fifth-column if allowed to return unconditionally. The Israelis considered the settlement of the refugee issue a negotiable part of an overall peace settlement.

As President Chaim Weizmann explained: "We are anxious to help such resettlement provided that real peace is established and the Arab states do their part of the job. The solution of the Arab problem can be achieved only through an all-around Middle East development scheme, toward which the United Nations, the Arab states and Israel will make their respective contributions." Read more ..


Journalist Crusades Against Saudi Billionaire as She Pushes for Libel Terrorism Protection Act—aka Rachel’s Law

May 19th 2008

Americans complain of the billions the Saudis spend in the U.S. to buy influence, strategic assets---and even media outlets.

Now, the public can benefit from the New York Libel Terrorism Protection Act, aka “Rachel's Law,” unanimously passed in the New York State' Assembly and Senate---and signed by Governor David Paterson on April 30th.

U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has now proposed the Freedom of Speech Protection Act (H.R. 5814). On May 7, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) unveiled their Free Speech Protection Act of 2008.

With very little financial support, and a bare trickle of major U.S. media coverage, a lone individual has waged the fight to protect U.S. free press rights from interference by bogus libel suits and rulings in foreign courts.

New York-based investigative journalist Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld countersued Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz in U.S. federal court, after he sued her in London in January 2004 following U.S. publication of her book Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed - and How to Stop.

Dr. Ehrenfeld refused to acknowledge British court jurisdiction over a book written and published in the U.S. The London High Court awarded Mahfouz a default judgment, $225,900 in damages and expenses, enjoined British publication of Funding Evil and ordered Dr. Ehrenfeld to publicly apologize and destroy the book---all of which she refused to do. She is now effectively barred from traveling to Great Britain.

British law includes nothing like U.S. First Amendment protections for a free press. Rather, its libel laws favor the plaintiff. Dr. Ehrenfeld therefore asked a New York federal court to grant a declarative judgment, and to find the British Mahfouz default judgment a violation of her First Amendment rights---and unenforceable here.

In Ehrenfeld v. Mahfouz, New York's Court of Appeals (the state's highest court), however, ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to protect Dr. Ehrenfeld from Mahfouz' British High Court default judgment. If allowed to stand, this could undermine the ability of American journalists to expose financial and logistical networks backing terrorism. If U.S. courts lack jurisdiction to protect U.S. journalists writing and publishing---on U.S. soil---the First Amendment will lose its enormous traction.

“Rachel's Law” corrects the problem in New York, by declaring overseas defamation judgments unenforceable there---unless the foreign jurisdiction provides, in substance and application, the same free speech protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The law enables New York residents and publishers to have their day in court.

The law won't have teeth until it is tested. Dr. Ehrenfeld now hopes to return to court to win a U.S. federal declarative judgment against the Saudi libel terrorist. She cannot do so, however, unless Americans fund this ripe opportunity to stop Saudis from silencing the U.S. media. She is seeking tax-deductible contributions to the legal defense fund at the non-profit 501(c) American Center for Democracy that Dr. Ehrenfeld heads (http://www.acdemocracy.org).


Hate on Campus

Muslim Groups at UC-Irvine Create a Hostile Environment for Jewish Students

May 19th 2008

Jewish Topics - Anti-Israel Protest at UC Irvine
Anti-Israel Protest at UC Irvine

The first time I went to University of California Irvine was a life-changing experience. The year was 2002. I was asked to come as one of the co-founders of an educational organization called StandWithUs to witness "Palestine Awareness Week" being held by the Muslim Student Association. I received the phone call to witness what was happening by pro-Israel students. They felt they had no support and were alarmed by both the virulent posters and the size of the demonstration.

Ten activists who work within the Jewish community joined me and we walked upon a quad of black trash bags filled with papers to look like dead bodies strewn across the student walkways. Written on each bag was a name, in Arabic, of a "victim" of Israeli "genocidal brutality" while chants of "Death to Israel, and "Sharon is a baby killer" were repeated over an over again. Young women with hijabs came and videotaped the few pro-Israel protestors that had the courage to show up.

Teachers and administration told the Jewish students and their supporters to stand behind the yellow police tape, and "be quiet." We were told this was the MSA's rally, and not to "incite them" or respond to their statements. The students, who had little time to prepare for this event, held hand written signs colored in pencil proclaiming "Israel wants Peace" and "HAMAS, stop suicide bombs." We watched ourselves being watched by campus police, and had to indeed remain "well-behaved" while men with keffiya came close to our faces, with cameras, and took our pictures and yelled that we ate the bodies of Palestinian children. We watched as professors who taught at the university walked amongst the "body bags" calling out "2-4-6-8, Israel is a racist state" while we, the Jewish students and their supporters had to remain "silent."

The phrase "Never Again" at UCI does not mean "Never Again" but rather that Jewish students must witness a repeat of the type of hostile actions that occurred at universities in Nazi Germany and Austria, but here at home in the new day and yet again remain silent. This first event was the beginning of the hate fest that was to take place annually at University California, Irvine, and other campuses across the United States. Read more ..


Book Review

Conservatives Happier Than Liberals

May 19th 2008

Logo - Gross National Happiness
Gross National Happiness

Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America--And How We Can Get More of It. Arthur C. Brooks. Basic Books. 277 pages. 

Conservatives are happier than liberals, according to a new book by Arthur C. Brooks entitled, "Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters to America and How We Can Get More of It.”

"You find that all the way back to the early 1970s, as long as we've been keeping data on the subject, conservatives have consistently shown greater life satisfaction than liberals," say Brooks.

In one study, people who identified themselves as conservative were nearly twice as likely to say they were very happy as people who said they are liberal.

In contrast, Brooks says, "Liberals are less likely to be optimistic about the future, and they're more likely to say they feel like a failure." The question is, why?

About half the reason conservatives are happier than liberals is that they are more likely to attend a house of worship or be married. Such people tend to be happier anyway.

How each group see things accounts for the rest of the difference, says Brooks. “Conservatives have a more optimistic, hopeful worldview," he says.

Conservatives are not happier because they have more money. In fact, they are not necessarily better off financially than liberals.

Moreover, money doesn't necessarily make us happier, says Brooks, who is a Louis A. Bantle professor of business and government policy at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Whitman School of Management. Read more ..


The Way We Are

What We Love vs. What We 'Use'

May 19th 2008

Headshot - Liz Black headshot
Elizabeth Black

I usually hit delete even before reading sappy e-mail forwards. The older you get, the more of them come your way. They come from friends who’ve lost husbands through death or divorce, or newly retired women who sit at their computer early in the morning — as you get older you start waking up ridiculously early. As they sip their coffee, they begin reading and passing on the forwards that have come in from other friends who are also up way too early.

I wonder what women alone did in those early morning hours before computers? Men alone with too much time on their hands seem to pass on raunchy jokes. Well, actually, quite a few of my women friends also forward raunchy jokes. The butt of their jokes are usually men — the same kind of men passing on their brand of raunch. God bless them all.

Anyway, I was deleting a nice little sentimental forward from someone I’m very fond of, but happened to read the last two lines just before I hit delete.

“People are made to be loved, and things are made to be used — there is so much confusion in this world because people are being used and things are being loved.”

That line cut through my morning haze, and stayed with me throughout the day.

I’m at that crossroads with “things” again as I’m packing up to move from one house to another. I just did this a year ago prior to my cross-country move from Washington, D.C., to Lawrence. I thought I had stripped my “things” down to the bare minimum but now am discovering I kept a lot of things I don’t need. But this time it’s easier. Anything I haven’t used or haven’t worn in the year since moving to Lawrence is going out — that is unless it carries sentimental/historical significance that outweighs the usefulness factor. Therein lies the rub. I’m pretty sentimental ... and obsessed with family history. Read more ..


Poll Results

72% of Polled Readers Believe Coca-Cola Should Fairly Compensate a Family Whose Property the Company Acquired After Anti-Jewish Seizures in Egypt?

May 19th 2008

Unknown - Poll Vote

The overwhelming majority of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted that they believed Coca-Cola must fairly compensate a family whose property the company acquired and benefited from after anti-Jewish seizures in Egypt? 

In response to the question: Coca-Cola Should Fairly Compensate a Family Whose Property the Company Acquired After Anti-Jewish Seizures in Egypt? the results were:

 

    * 72 percent "Yes"
    *   5 percent "Not Sure"
    * 23 percent "No"


During the poll period in April 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 249,492 hits. Hundreds of votes supports supprted Coke from two sources in rural Pennsylvania and Atlanta were disqualified when security features on the poll detected two specific computers voting dozens of times during a several hour period.


Inside Lebanon

Lebanon Factions Meet to Find Truce While at the Brink of Civil War

May 19th 2008

Islamic - Beirut Hizbollah Street Violence
Hezbollah gunman

Lebanon's rival factional leaders met in Qatar to resolve the political conflict that drove the country very close to another civil war.

Qatar's prime minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, has directed the negotiations be carried out under the umbrella of the Arab League. Nearly all of Lebanon's leaders have participated, with the exception of Hasan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's secretary general.

Fourteen of Lebanon’s factional leaders met formally for less than two hours. In their most concrete step, they agreed to form a committee consisting of three representatives from each side to devise an electoral law for parliamentary elections in 2009.

Both sides agreed last week to renew a dialogue to try to resolve the protracted political impasse after the Cabinet of the Western-backed Lebanese Government reversed its previous decisions regarding Hezbollah’s communications network and the firing of a ranking airport security official linked to Hezbollah. Read more ..


Election Edge

Obama and Democrats Slam Bush visit to Israel

May 19th 2008

Headshots Leaders - Presidnt Bush
President George Bush

A speech by President Bush that was supposed to have been the apotheosis of U.S.-Israel solidarity instead sparked a toxic political exchange in the partisan battle for American votes.

Bush's remarks to the Knesset about appeasing terrorists also showed how determined the Obama campaign is to hit back hard against perceived smears, drawing lessons from John Kerry's slow-footed response in 2004 to attacks on his military record.

Bush did not specifically reference Obama in his speech Thursday, the high point of three days of festivities marking Israel's 60th anniversary.

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.'"

"We have an obligation to call this what it is: the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history." Read more ..


Iraq War Edge

Quran for Target Practice by U.S. Solders in Iraq Leads to Heart-felt Apologies

May 19th 2008

Headshot - Joe Griebowski headshot
Joseph Grieboski

A United States soldier used the Quran, Islam's holy book, for target practice, leading the U.S. commander in Baghdad to issue a formal apology.

Iraqi militamen found a bullet-riddled Quran on a small-arms range near a police station in Radwaniyah, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad and home to loyalists of the former regime of Saddam Hussein. The rounds penetrated far into the volume, the pages were shredded, and two handwritten English words—"F*** yeah"—were scrawled in pen inside.

Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, was flanked by leaders from Radhwaniya at a press conference in which he apologized for the staff sergeant, a sniper section leader assigned to the headquarters of the 64th Armored Regiment.

General Hammond also read a letter of apology from the sergeant.

It was the first time the incident—which has seriously strained the relationship between U.S.-backed Sunni militiamen and the U.S. military—was made public since it was discovered May 11.

"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," General Hammond proclaimed to tribal leaders and others at the ceremony. "In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers." Read more ..


Inside the Media

JTA reconfigures editorial team

May 19th 2008

Headshots Contribs - Ami Eden Headshot
Ami Eden

As part of a reconfiguration of its editorial management team, JTA has named a new editor.

Ami Eden, the managing editor since June, becomes editor in chief, effective immediately. He will be responsible for managing JTA’s editorial team and coordinating worldwide coverage, with a focus on domestic and political coverage in the United States.

Associate editor Uriel Heilman takes over as managing editor. His primary responsibility will be managing coverage of the Middle East.

Lisa Hostein, editor since 1994, will assume the new role of senior editor. She will manage foreign coverage outside Israel and assist with general editing.

"I am excited, honored and humbled to be taking the reins of such an important organization," Eden said. "Our plan is to build upon JTA’s stellar history of journalistic excellence by continuing to improve our coverage of religion, philanthropy, politics, the Middle East, and arts and culture while bolstering our multimedia offerings."

Before coming to JTA, Eden was the executive editor of the Forward newspaper, where he also served as the founding editor of the Jewish Daily Forward Web site, a Webby Award official honoree. He previously worked as an editor at the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia.

Eden is the recipient of numerous journalism awards. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Ha'aretz, the International Herald Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Toledo Blade, Philadelphia Magazine and The Philadelphia City Paper, as well as on Beliefnet.com.

"Under Eden’s energetic leadership, I am confident JTA will soar to new heights of journalistic excellence," said Mark Joffe, JTA’s executive editor and publisher. Read more ..


Edge on Disaster

Burma’s Generals—Blending Nazi-like Thought, Astrology, Brutality and Greed

May 12th 2008

Headshots Leaders - Burmese Generals
Burma's Generals

Over a week since Cyclone Nargis struck Burma, the death toll is estimated to be at least 100,000—and still rising. Yet as the bodies decompose, Burma’s ruling Generals continue to refuse access to international aid workers. The limited aid supplies that have reached Burma have been seized by the military, either to distribute themselves for propaganda purposes or, according to some reports, to sell on the streets. And now the regime has taken a three-day public holiday and closed its embassies, causing another delay for international aid workers trying to find a way in to help.

Who are these Generals who are prepared to stand by and watch while thousands of their people die and more than 1.5 million are left homeless? How could they ignore the warnings they received of the cyclone’s advance? India issued 41 warnings from April 26 but the regime did nothing. Why?

The regime is the latest in a succession of military juntas which have ruled Burma since Ne Win took power in a coup in 1962. In 1990, following a mass uprising two years earlier which was violently suppressed, the military held elections. Despite the junta’s efforts to intimidate and harass voters into supporting their continued rule, the opposition’s National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won 82 percent of the parliamentary seats. The military, however, disregarded the results, imprisoned the victors, and intensified its grip on power. Read more ..


UNRWA—Refuge for Rejection

UNRWA: A Refuge for Rejectionism—How the UN Perpetuated a Refugee Crisis

May 12th 2008

Islamic - Palestinian Refugee Camp

There is no other body in the UN system like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Millions of refugees worldwide—more than 130 million since the end of World War Two—have fallen under the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which aims to resettle and rehabilitate the refugees. But UNRWA was created as a separate body and its jurisdiction is solely the Palestinians. UNRWA has defined the term “refugee” in the broadest terms by including not only those Arabs who fled from territories held by Israel, but also those who stayed in their homes and lost their source of livelihood as a result of war. Today, this would include all third and fourth generation refugees, even those children of just one Palestinian refugee parent.

Not a single Palestinian has ever lost his refugee status. There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees -- or their descendants -- who are citizens of Jordan. Yet, as far as UNRWA is concerned, they are still refugees. Read more ..


Edge on Burma

Cyclone’s Winds May Change Burma’s Political Landscape as Well

May 12th 2008

 - Lord DAvid Alton
Lord David Alton

Throughout the 18 years since Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest, the Burmese military regime have repeatedly promised and failed to deliver democratic change. These are the same secretive leaders who gave orders for Buddhist monks to be mown down in the streets and who are now impeding rescue efforts as hundreds of thousands of their countrymen die following the decimation of their homes and land by Cyclone Nargis. They are the same men who have ignored 28 United Nations General assembly and Human Rights Commission resolutions.

What is sometimes less well known and reported on is the way in which they have accelerated their cruel campaign of attrition against the country's ethnic minorities. In the case of the brave Karen people it is nothing short of genocide.

Take, for instance, the story of a nine-year-old Karen girl who was shot at point blank range, having watched her father and grandmother being killed. There are also shocking reports of beheadings and mutilations of Karen villagers - 18,000 of whom have been displaced in the past few weeks. Some will doubtless join the 120,000 who have lived for years in make shift camps along the Thai border - which, as I have seen for myself - barely allow people to do more than cling on to life. Read more ..


The Next Mideast War

The Palestinian "Right of Return" Remains a Lasting Threat to Lebanon

May 12th 2008

Islamic - Palestinian Rally

 

In 1948 tens of thousands of Arabs fled the war in Palestine to take a "temporary refuge" in neighboring countries. In 2008, their numbers have swollen to over 5 million. They remain stateless while living in squalid refugee camps mainly in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

As the years went by, Israelis have grown more adamant towards allowing the detrimental return of millions of hostile Palestinian refugees to their midst. Despite this fact, the Arab and Palestinian leaders refuse to consider any feasible and practical solution to the refugees’ problem besides the "Return" and, out of blind fanaticism, do equate any other suggestions as treacherous advancements of the "Zionist plot." Meanwhile the refugees’ sufferings continue and the impoverished camps remain the fertile breeding grounds for futureless and hopeless generations of expendable youth that are easily attracted by radical and extreme ideologies.

After the 1964 establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Refugee camps, under the pretense of fighting Israel, where quickly turned into armed bunkers. While the totalitarian regimes of other hosting nations succeeded in ruthlessly controlling and violently restraining the Palestinians living on their lands, the consensus governed Lebanon failed to effectively confront their growing military presence.

Read more ..

What Society Has Come To

Austria’s Painful Soul-Searching: The Frizl Incest Scandal

May 12th 2008

Headshot - Ken Bobu headshot
Ken Bobu

In the wake of the Josef Frizl incest scandal that has rocked Austria, the public has been drawn into a veritable vortex of self-recrimination, denial, defensiveness, utter helplessness, and anger at way in which the spectacle has unfolded—shocking even the most callous observers of criminal endeavors.

To summarize the case: Mr. Frizl began raping his daughter, Elizabeth (now 42), when she was eleven. When she was 18 and had already attempted to run away, he incarcerated her in the basement, tied with a leash, and occasionally gave her the option of starvation or sex. He later built a windowless nuclear fallout shelter-like bunker in his back yard, and designed the interior so as to have a secret dungeon hidden behind heavy key-coded doors that were locked electrically. Into this dungeon he secreted his daughter, while telling his wife that she had run away to join a cult. For the first number of years she was kept in her new dungeon alone. Then, as a result of repeated rapes, she became pregnant with the first of what were to become seven children—born of criminal incest.

Of the seven children, one, which was a twin, died at birth and was swiftly discarded in the furnace. The other six children were split up over time, with the babies "showing up" at the Frizl doorstep with "a note from the daughter" indicating her inability to care for them and requesting the parents to take care of their grandchildren. Three of the six children were thus reared "normally" in the grandparents’ household with the state agreeing to the grandparents’ assumption of custody and care, while the other three remained in the dungeon with their mother. After 24 years in her cell, one of the children in the dungeon, Kerstin, 19, became extremely ill, and Elizabeth persuaded her father to release the child to be treated at a hospital.

Read more ..

Edge on Healthcare

McCain is Right on Health Care

May 12th 2008

Headshots Contribs - Star Parker right crop
Star Parker

A gold star goes to John McCain for his just-released plan for reforming American health care.

Analysts will pick apart details and surely find shortcomings, but directionally, McCain's approach is on the money. Contrary to the vaporous rhetoric of change offered by the Democrats, he proposes real structural health care reform.

The plan boldly takes on key problems in how we deliver health care that contribute to out-of-control cost escalation. According to a recent University of Minnesota study, health insurance premiums have increased over recent years ten times faster than personal incomes—by 30 percent from 2001 to 2005.

The key salvo is aimed at the central pillar of our health care system—tax-subsidized employer-provided health care. About 70 percent of Americans obtain their health care at their place of work.

McCain's plan offers a $5,000 tax credit to families and $2,500 to individuals to purchase health care on their own. This would end the inherent inequity of some people receiving tax-free health care from their employers, while others who are on their own or working for small businesses purchase it with after-tax dollars. Read more ..


The Next Middle East War

Lebanon Slides Deeper Into Crisis

May 12th 2008

Islamic - Beirut Hizbollah Street Violence

The long-brewing political crisis in Lebanon has reached critical mass as violent clashes broke out between the Western-backed Government and supporters of Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah. The confrontations have caused the country's worst internal crisis since the 1975-90 civil war and has aggravated sectarian tensions between Sunnis loyal to the government and Shi'ites who support the opposition.

In what many describe as an army-negotiated surrender, Western Beirut had come under Hezbollah control. CNN reports that "Soldiers went to several offices of pro-government political parties in western Beirut overnight...They persuaded pro-government gunmen who had battled Hezbollah militants to leave the offices as the opposition forces hovered nearby."

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, part of the pro-government coalition, told CNN that "conditions for surrender will be offered sooner or later… I think... it's a coup. The Lebanese army is in total paralysis."

The army released a public statement decrying the situation and argued that it threatened its unity: "The continuation of the situation... harms the unity of the military establishment," the statement read. Lebanon’s total collapse was brought about in large part due to the fragmentation of the army along sectarian lines in 1976.

Read more ..

Election Edge

Obama Embraces New 'Caustic' Pastor

May 12th 2008

Headshot - Ronald Kessler
Ronald Kessler

Can you imagine the president of the United States attending a church where the pastor says everyone has a bit of "thug" in him and praises a rapper with a criminal record as a prophet? How about a pastor who calls the biblical patriarch Abraham a "pimp" and says Noah and Moses were thugs, Jesus has a "soft spot for thugs," and everyone has some "thug proclivities."

If Barack Obama is elected president, that is exactly what will happen. Now that the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. is retiring from Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama has said he will continue to attend the church. Explaining his decision, Sen. Obama said that the "new pastor, the young pastor, Reverend Otis Moss, is a wonderful young pastor." He said he also still values the Trinity community.

Known as the "hip-hop pastor," Otis Moss III has served as assistant pastor of the church for two years. Moss officially takes over in June. While Moss has not expressed hatred of America and of whites, as Wright did, in a sermon on YouTube, Moss derides middle-class America for not accepting the "prophetic brilliance" of thugs.

Referring to these thugs, Moss says sardonically, "There are times when our prejudice keeps us from hearing ghetto prophets, who preach a brand of thug theology which keeps us from hearing the truth from their lips because of their course language and ragged subject-verb agreement."

To applause, Moss approvingly cites Tupac Shakur, a "gangsta" rap star with a long arrest record. Before being fatally shot in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas in 1996, Shakur faced a 120-day sentence for probation violations stemming from offenses including assault and battery and a 1994 sexual abuse conviction in New York. Read more ..


Gas Prices Are Sending a Surge of Riders to Mass Transit

May 12th 2008

Americans, known for flaunting their waste of energy, are finally feeling pain at $4 per gallon. Combined with the steady rise in electricity and natural gas prices, a global lesson in resource scarcity and how it affects the economy is being experienced. Like it or not, we're all in school again.The auto industry bet on inefficiency and lost. The American public bought into this inefficiency and now, instead of having several alternatives to oil, including and especially renewable electricity, we have virtually none. What we failed to make happen through the democratic process, the market will ultimately mandate. Unfortunately, instead of this stream of wealth going to our tax coffers where we have at least some semblance of control over how it's spent, it's going into the hands of the oil companies, the Saudis and others of their ilk. Welcome to the beginning of peak oil. This is how it starts.

Paul Scott is with pluginamerica.org.


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