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Archive for October 2008

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America With No Plan for Oil Interruption

Doomsday in an Oil Barrel

October 27th 2008

Energy / Environment - Oil Barrels

Just say this: There will be an attack on one of Saudi Arabia’s major oil terminals (e.g. Ras Tanura or Abqaiq) within the next six months.

As a consequence, more than six million barrels per day will be taken off the global market, leading the price of oil to rise overnight to more than $200/bbl – and stay there for as long as a year until the terminal is repaired. The President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Japan, and heads of government  in Europe will open sustained crisis consultations, coordinate the release and sharing of strategic petroleum reserves, and agree on other measures to try to manage the crisis.  Notwithstanding these efforts, the global economy – already over-burdened by the collapse of financial markets – will sink rapidly into the chaos of a deep and prolonged depression.  Japan, which imports 99% of its fuel, will be first to go, but the interdependence inherent in our globalized world will assure that all industrialized countries will suffer essentially the same fate. Read more ..


America Must Stop Sleepwalking While Addicted Oil

An extraordinary and turning-point summit convened in the northern Chicago suburbs on October 24-25, 2008, under the auspices of Set America Free and its coalition of left, right, liberal, conservative, Democratic, Republican, Independent, green and otherwise concerned American citizens. Packed into one large conference room were scores of the nation's most informed and clear-thinking experts on the economic, scientific, commercial, industrial, and political ramifications of America's perilous addiction to oil. There was so much energy intellect concentrated in that one room, the expertise and the sheer shock value of the dioverse revelations was literally palpable. It was all there: the fine points of our growing economic disaster, details on viable technologies new and old, the roadmap to alternative fuels, the stunningpolitical malaise, land use issues, the chemistry and chicanery, the terorrist implications, the petropolitics and pyrotechnics of what is ahead.

Speaker after speaker--from former CIA director James Woolsey to Set America Free co-directors Gal Luft and Annie Korin to EV World editor Bill Moore to investigative journalist Edwin Black to former national security advisor Bud McFarlane amid a talented cavalcade of others--laid out the case against oil and what needs to be done now. It's not rocket science and, in many cases, the technology, ideas and infrastructure are either well-entrenched, overlooked, subverted or trivialized by a nation asleep at the switch, asleep at the wheel and asleep as the collapse nears. 

Quickly it became apparent during the many sessions that the nation's leadership, mass media and citizenry are sleepwalking through a gauntlet of passionate, informed experts shouting from the sidelines for them to wake up and implement real change now. Now does not mean years from now. It does not mean decades from now. It means immediately. During one interview, Edwin Black was asked why America has not yet reacted with any real plan for either energy independence or a response to an oil interruption. His answer was this: "While the knife is at the throat, it has not yet pierced the skin. Only when the wound is felt will the body politic react. But, by that time, it may be too late." Read more ..


Coping with Fear

The Truth About Hell

October 27th 2008

Israel Topics - Hell

Below the Old City walls in Jerusalem there is a ravine that begins as a gentle, grassy separation between hills, but then quickly descends south into the rocky earth. Eventually, the ravine becomes a steep, craggy depth, scarred on the far side by shallow caves and pits that vaunt hollowed-out chambers and narrow crypts.

Until recent years, everywhere one could see the scorches and smolder from trash fires. Rivulets of urine trickled down from open sewers at the cliffs above, watering thorn bushes, weeds and unexpected clumps of grass among the outcroppings. One could smell the stench of decaying offal, the congealed stink of putrefied garbage, and the absorbed reek of incinerated substances seared into the rock face. Crows circled low. Worms and maggots slithered throughout.

Listen. Imagine. Some cannot help but hear the tormented screams of babies being burned alive, the macabre incantations of the idolatrous in gruesome celebration, the agonized cries of helpless victims, and every other echo of death and disconsolation that dwells here so pervasively that not even the centuries can silence them.

Welcome to Hell. The real Hell. This is Jerusalem's Gei Ben Hinnom, the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom. The Valley was named for an alien non-Semitic family, the Hinnom clan that predated the First Temple period and immediately established the locale as a place of abomination. Gei Ben Hinnom became Ge Hinnom (Valley of Hinnom, and eventually Gehenna in English or Gehennem in Arabic and Hebrew. Read more ..


Edge on Terror

Outraged Syria says America Acts by “Law of the Jungle” in Cross Border Anti-Terror Raid

October 27th 2008

Military - US Attack Helicopters
U.S. Attack Helicopters

Syria on Monday accused the United States of "applying the law of the jungle," the day after a US military raid inside Syrian territory, which killed at least eight people.

Jihad Makdissi, a spokesman for the Syrian embassy in London, also said it was "outrageous" that a UN Security Council member like the United States should behave in this way. "In the midst of the crisis they did not do this sort of act of aggression. Why now when the security situation in Iraq is getting better?" he told BBC radio. "It's unjustifiable."

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem was set to meet his British counterpart David Miliband in London later Monday for talks likely to be dominated by the US raid. A US military official said the raid by special forces targeted a network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area struck because Syria was out of the military's reach.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids. The attack came just days after the commander of US forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq. Read more ..


Bad Arolsen Conflict

USHMM and Paul Shapiro Offer Spurious Excuses to Holocaust Survivors While Monopolizing Archive Access

October 27th 2008

Jewish Topics - Bad Arolsen stacks

Recently, the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen, Germany, also known as the ITS, issued a press release declaring:

“ITS has scanned and indexed over 6.7 million documents (around 13 million images) concerning forced labor during the Nazi regime and immediate post-war period. The digitalization serves the protection and conservation of the original documents.”

The release explains, “These [documents] primarily include employment records of slave laborers, patients’ files and insurance documents, as well as registry cards from the authorities, health insurance agencies and employers. In addition, the ITS also scanned lists that had been compiled in early 1946 by command of the Western Allies. All German municipalities had to report the residency of foreigners and German Jews during World War II to the allied tracing service bureaus. The lists contain details of places of residence, employers, employment periods, marriages, births and gravesites.”

The ITS adds, “Over 70 percent of the documents stored at ITS have been able to be scanned and indexed so far. Digitalization of the entire archive is expected to be completed in 2011.”

The release explains, “The documents being handed over today are original files from the Nazi period that concern individual people.” Read more ..


Petropolitics

OPEC Regimes: The "Change They Need" in U.S. Foreign Policy

October 27th 2008

Contributors / Staff - walid Phares new

Americans should not be surprised to learn that a number of regimes on three continents badly want a fundamental change of direction in U.S. foreign policy. But let’s quickly note that what binds these ruling establishments together in their desire for a different America is that they are authoritarian, afraid of democracy and oil producers. Furthermore, they control the destiny—and thus the economic firepower—of a collaboration of the wealthiest rulers in history, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, better known as OPEC.

Indeed, it initially was formed in September 1960 in Baghdad to "coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries in order to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers." It mutated gradually, however, into a world cartel that lobbies for the comfortable survival of most of its member regimes.

The free world witnessed OPEC's first "economic terrorism" against consumer states, including against the United States and Europe during the 1973 oil boycott. That year, European citizens were forced to bike in freezing temperatures to their jobs and homes, and Americans were humiliated at the pumps in their own country. Since that shock, and because of the West’s need for oil, OPEC's hard core regimes exported immense political influence into the West; multinational corporations, universities and foreign policy chanceries were virtually colonized by the imperial power of the oil producers. Read more ..


Election Edge

Neither Obama or McCain Understand How to Tackle the Oil Crisis

October 27th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Edwin Black
Edwin Black

This continuing coverage on the oil weapon arises from the just released book, The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

A detailed examination of the Obama and McCain energy platforms and track records reveal that neither man has tackled the issue of a potential oil catastrophe which would quickly tear this nation apart. Nor does either reflect the sense of urgency such a looming catastrophe—constant, continuous threats by Iran, Venezuela and other OPEC activists— requires.

For example, Obama’s regularly promised remedy for gasoline consumption is to ensure that 1 million plug-in hybrids are on the road by 2015. That prodigious lack of awareness towers over the bitter facts of national oil consumption.

Some 250 million gas consuming cars and trucks travel America’s highways. Detroit adds 1.5 million more to that per month. The scrappage rate on a modern American vehicle is about a decade. In order to counteract such mammoth numbers in such an emergency—or even to make a meaningful dent in our energy future—the nation would have to immediately retrofit and do so at a rate far more than a million cars per month to alternative fuels or propulsion. An early scrappage program would be necessary, such as Canada operates for its fuel inefficient program. Read more ..


Terrorism on the Internet

Hamas's AqsaTube in Cat and Mouse with Israeli Intelligence

October 27th 2008

Terrorism - AqsaTube

An Israeli intelligence think-tank and a Hamas video Web site seem to be playing a game of cat-and-mouse with each other.

Last week the Intelligence Terrorism Information Center, a Ramat Hasharon-based research center closely associated with Israel's Shin Bet and Military Intelligence, released a report detailing the establishment by Hamas of AqsaTube, a video-sharing web platform closely modeled on the popular YouTube, but filled with videos praising suicide martyrdom and showing how to build bombs and carry out attacks.

Following publication of the story in The Jerusalem Post, Google removed its AdSense program from the Hamas Web site, and one day later, AqsaTube's French Internet Service Provider OVH took the Islamist site off-line. But within days, AqsaTube was back up, bigger and more brazen than before.

The Hamas site obtained a new service provider, a new logo, brand new videos and some new ads. The graphic design of the site underwent a number of changes. The original logo, whose color was almost identical with that of YouTube, was now yellow and gray and bore its name in Arabic and a picture of the Aksa Mosque. The site was still registered to Abu Nasser Skandar, from Dubai. Read more ..


Election Edge

To Bury McCain, and Yet to Praise Him

October 27th 2008

Presidential - John McCain posed

Sometimes the right candidate comes along at the wrong time. They have just the amount of wisdom and experience, gained over a lifetime of dedicated service to their country. They have placed party over principle, sacrificing short term political gains and making a clear demonstration of putting the American people ahead of their own career advancement. John McCain is such a good man; but unfortunately, this may not be his season of triumph.

Barack Obama, arguably a lesser candidate in terms of experience and judgment, nonetheless appeals to voters looking for a change. This popular sentiment has driven him from obscurity to célèbre Dom in a remarkably short period of time. So quickly has Obama risen, in fact, that no ones really knows where he stands on crucial issues; in fact it can be argued that he himself doesn’t know where he stands, because he has never really had to take a stand in a time of crisis. He voted “present” on tough votes in the Illinois senate, passing on the blame, but not the credit for decisions made by that legislative caucus.  

He spoke out against the Iraq war, but conveniently after the vote had already been taken (no one knows what decision he would have made in the Democratic caucus had he been in office at the time of the vote).  Nonetheless, his personal qualities, academic credentials and critical stance on the war brought him to prominence, as news of the carnage in Iraq, the wounded veterans returning, and astronomical war costs drove Americans to question our nation’s decision to go to war. Read more ..


Election Edge

Should Anyone Care About Barack Obama's Past Associations?

October 27th 2008

Presidential - Barack Obama

Past is prologue, or so we often say.

But the consensus among the intelligentsia seems to be that this aphorism does not apply to Barack Obama—at least not when names like William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright come up. Should it?

Let’s be clear that many esteemed politicians at one point or another in their careers have unlovely associations. Harry S. Truman was a loyal henchman of Kansas City’s Pendergast machine in its heyday and never renounced it. Boss Tom’s creative voting manipulations (which ACORN would envy) launched Truman into the U.S. Senate. (Of course, in those days the other side was also creative.) Franklin D. Roosevelt made peace with New York City’s Tammany Hall. As Governor of New York, needing its support for his 1932 presidential run, he desperately tried to avoid prosecution of its multiple corrupt practices.

Roosevelt and Truman almost surely would not have established relationships with Ayers and Wright. Does that say something about Obama, or about ourselves in the present day?

Rev. Wright is a bitter and polemical black nationalist, who demonstrated in his National Press Club appearance that his “God damn America” line had not been taken out of context. I doubt that Barack Obama bought into his worldview. I suspect that an aspiring young politician looking for a church to affiliate with saw Wright’s large and influential black Chicago congregation as ideal place for networking. Read more ..


The Edge of Infrastructure

Bridge to Somewhere Needs Money

October 27th 2008

Economy - I-35 Bridge
I-35W Bridge

In the months since the fatal collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, concern for the safety of the nation’s 600,000 bridges has become a leading symbol of what many contend is America’s crumbling infrastructure. And while a federal report noted that design flaws—not a lack of money—may have been the chief cause of that collapse, many have used the tragedy to justify more government spending on the nation’s infrastructure.

We may ask, "Where did the money Go?" Congress, under the impression that a lack of money is the main problem, appropriated an additional $1 billion for bridge repair for FY 2008, and is attempting to add another $1 billion with H.R. 3999 for FY 2009.

Read more ..

Book Review

The Method, Morality, and Madness of Killing Civilians in Warfare

October 27th 2008

Book Covers - Killing Civilians

Hugo Slim. Killing Civilians: Method, Morality, and Madness in War. Columbia University Press. 300 pages.

“War is cruelty and you cannot refine it,” Gen. William Sherman proclaimed in self-justification to the civilian population of Atlanta a few days before taking the city. In Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer doubted and resisted Sherman’s dicta, especially the refusal to refine or restrain. War may be hell, Walzer explained, but “[e]ven in hell, it is possible to be more or less humane, to fight with or without restraint.”

In Killing Civilians: Method, Morality, and Madness in War, Hugo Slim provides a panoramic perspective to this debate. Some readers will decide that the book is not their cup of tea when, early in the second chapter, he sets forth his seven-part categorization of civilian suffering. To abandon the book, however, would be to miss out on an illuminating, if necessarily superficial tour of the costs of war.

To take Slim’s catalogue of horrors at face value, more wars have been fought in Sherman’s mould—less humanely rather than more. While most religious traditions, including all three of the great monotheisms, have longstanding traditions of just war, it has been in only the past 150 years that governments have made concerted, coordinated efforts to restrain themselves in advance. The 1863 Lieber Code, adopted by the Union army, and the First Geneva Convention of 1864, mark the modern advent of coordinated efforts to make war more humane, first by establishing minimal rules of humane conduct, and then by putting the force of (international) law behind those rules. Most recently, international tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the International Criminal Court have added potent muscle to law. Read more ..


Honda Disappoints on Both GX and Hydrogen

October 27th 2008
As a loyal Honda driver, I am flabbergasted that Honda would let America down with both its natural gas and hydrogen cars (see Hondas related Investigation September 29, October 06 and October 20, 2008). I now see that these cars are strutted out to distract the media and governmment into thinking the company is commited to high fuel economy and alternative fuels. I am now buying another vehicle from Honda or anyone unless it is an alternate--electric, natural gas, hydrogen or the others. If necessary, I will wait for until 2010 when GM and other companies will be selling their electric cars. "Wake Up" Honda. Your loyal base will dry up. And buy the way, sell one car to Spokane please.

America's Economic Collapse

What to Expect in the Coming Three Years as America's Economic Collapse Worsens

October 20th 2008

Economy - Economic Collapse

It has been excruciating watching your retirement portfolio disappear day by day. The S&P 500 has declined by 26% in the last three weeks and 43% in the last year. Everyone has been waiting for the bounce that always comes. The brilliant financial gurus on Wall Street have convinced us that we are supposed to buy the dips. The market always goes up in the long run. These experts have been lying to you. Are you surprised?

There have been many long periods when stocks did not go up in real terms. Most disappointing was the 25 year period from 1929 through 1954, when investors would have secured an adjusted 0% return. From the mid 1960’s until 1980 the market did not go up in real terms. Indeed, if inflation is taken into account, the market didn’t really recover until 1990, 24 years after the 1966 high. The 2000 high was reached for a brief time in late 2007, but has fallen 43% since then. We have entered a period of time when the economy will go into a deep recession for at least two years. It is likely that our economy will not be strong for 5 to 10 years based on a continuing decline in the housing market and crumbling banking system that will not lend. The PE ratio of the market is still high and corporate earnings will collapse in 2009. Based on this bleak environment the market will likely decline by an additional 20%, before reaching its ultimate low. The S&P 500 Index will not reach its 2007 high until, at the earliest, 2015. That would be a 15 year period with no return. Evidently, stocks don’t always go up in the long run. Read more ..


The Global Economic Collapse

UK and Europe Seek to Retard Global Economy

October 20th 2008

Economy - Corporate Cube

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom asserted earlier this week that the financial crisis revealed the need to "rebuild our fractured financial system." The European Union echoed this sentiment in a call for "a genuine and complete reform" of the world's financial architecture. The heart of Brown's proposal is to enhance the power and authority of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (known collectively as the Bretton Woods organizations) to create an unprecedented level of global governance to supervise financial institutions, impose universal standards for accounting and regulation, and serve as an early warning system for future crises.

The financial crisis certainly is serious, but Mr. Brown's suggested solutions would, for the most part, do little to prevent future crises; on the contrary, they could do great harm.

Brown's proposal coincides with ongoing meetings between the Bush Administration and European officials, and the announcement of a special G-8 summit as early as November to focus on the global financial crisis. The Bush Administration should not make the creation of a powerful new international regulatory authority a part of its legacy. Read more ..


America with No Plan for an Oil Interruption

Honda Hunkers Down—Carmaker Silent on CNG Suppression as Spokane Still Without Cars and Fuelmaker Deal Terminates

October 20th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Edwin Black
Edwin Black

This continuing coverage on America’s oil crisis arises from the just released book, The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Honda is hunkering down in the face of widespread criticism over its mismanagement and reported suppression of its much-heralded compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle technology, both its Civic GX and its home refueling appliance known as the Phill. Together, the car and refueling appliance allow Americans owning the car and device to completely severe their addiction to oil and even their reliance on gas stations.

Recent media reports that Honda has been suppressing proliferation of its Civic GX, hailed by environmental advocates as “the greenest car in America,” have stung the otherwise respected carmaker. It has refused to answer those in the CNG industry and media asking for a response and has dubbed some of its critics as “extremists” that the company need not answer or engage. At the same time, the company has persisted in its refusal to sell GX cars to those who want them and has now abruptly terminated the much-touted deal to sell T. Boone Pickens its control of the Fuelmaker company which produces the all-important home refueling device, Phill. Sources at Honda suggest the firm may be waiting to see if the negative attention dies down.

Honda only manufactured about 1000 Civic GX vehicles in the past year, and denies them to almost all American markets. The few GX cars it produces are mainly sold in just two states, New York and California. Honda denies the vehicle to even the most insistent dealers throughout the nation. In fact, having sold out its 2008 fleet, the Japanese carmaker simply suspended production altogether. The company claims it will double output by the middle of 2009 to roughly 180 cars per month, but many observers still see that as a token number. By contrast, Honda recently inaugurated mass production at its newest North American factory in Indiana, where it will produce some 200,000 gasoline-burning Civics, and made a similar move in a Canadian plant. The company produces more than one million cars annually in North America. Read more ..


AIG Execs Should Be Prosecuted and Politicians Not Re-elected

Reports that AIG fat cats celebrated America’s painful trillion dollar bailout of their misconduct with a nearly half-million dollar weekend retreat at a plush California spa has outraged the nation. The idea that our legislators as well as our men and women on main street convulsed for two weeks while their wealth diminished by billions of dollars at high velocity should never have been the cause for a lavish, high-fiving free-for-all on the golf course and massage tables by AIG executives.

Then, even as congressional investigators railed about the excess, as even more billions in bailout were required, it was learned that yet another lavish AIG event was in the offing. It seems partying big-time is a corporate habit at AIG.

Now, stung by an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the insurance conglomerate has agreed to cancel 160 more of these lavish conferences and events. Some exceed $750,000 per event, for a total savings of $8 million. Here are some examples of the cancelled events and why one to two generations of taxpayers will have to suffer deficits. A “best operator” conference scheduled for Las Vegas was expected to cost $750,000.  A risk management conference scheduled for this month—not at the Holiday Inn but at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay--was expected to cost $500,000. A sales conference at Sea Island scheduled for November, 2008, was projected at $350,000. A cozy little get-together in Scottsdale, AZ, was scheduled for 2009 to the tune of $190,000. These are just a few examples of your hard-earned, bailout dollars at work. This type of abuse of a publicly owned company with hundreds of thousands of devastated shareholders and millions of citizens worldwide who depend upon the liquidity of this insurance giant is certainly criminal. Read more ..


Feeding the Planet

Wheat, Fertilizer, Ammonia and Land Realities Threaten Global Food Supply

October 20th 2008

Farming - wheat fields
Wheat fields

Farming has changed dramatically in the last century. The horse as a source of power, the cow as a source of fertilizer, and triennial mix of corn, alfalfa or soy, and letting the land lay fallow is gone.

Today on the fertile lands of Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska--our precious midwest farmbelt--the biennial dance of corn and soy is giving way to economic pressure from ethanol and advancing technology. Unthinkable even five years ago, today "corn on corn" is the norm.

Things are changing in equally dramatic ways in the drylands of the Dakotas, but the trend runs opposite to that seen in the wetter, richer lands to the east. Skyrocketing ammonia prices and limited moisture are driving lands out of annual wheat production and into a biennial rotation of fallow and wheat production.

This sounds like something only an agronomist could love, but the reality of the matter is that lives are on the line eighteen months from now based on the decisions farmers are making today. Read more ..


Election Edge

Obama vs. Economics 101

October 20th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Every four years or so, American voters go to the polls to choose political leaders who enact public policies that shape and direct our nation’s economy.  Yet, the vast majority of Americans lack an analytical framework required to adequately evaluate the true impact these policy decisions will have.  While Americans may understand how much money they will get up front from tax relief or government assistance, the broader impact of the policies come from the way they influence certain types of economic behavior in the future. 
 
These secondary effects will have a much more fundamental impact on jobs, income and wealth creation than the immediate impact of the policies promised by politicians.  To clarify things, perhaps we should look at a few of these proposed policies from the prospective of a student in Economics 101.
 
Senator Obama has promised voters that the government can raise money for social programs by increasing taxes on the rich.  He defines rich as anyone making over $250,000 per year.  While a person earning that amount does make more than 95 percent of other income earners, taxing them disproportionately might not necessarily create a larger government pot.  Consider, for example, that most of the people in the top income class own businesses and derive their income from the sale of goods and services at a profit.  If the Government decides to tax their profits at a higher rate, they will earn less income, and there will be less incentive for them to go into business.  Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

OPEC Is A Convenient Villain In Current Economic Collapse But Not The True Culprit

October 20th 2008

Energy / Environment - Saudi Group

There is so much blame to go around in the wake of the financial crisis that there is no wonder OPEC’s name shows up high in the list of culprits. After all, soaring oil prices and loss of wealth in 2008 to the tune of $1.2-$1.9 billion each and every working day, depending on the price of crude, not only helped pop the U.S. mortgage bubble but have also helped create the economic conditions that brought the U.S. economy to its current dire straits.

I don’t like the oil cartel and have even been called "the most hated man in Riyadh." My positions on OPEC and its methodical price manipulation and looting of the world’s poor are well documented.

Read more ..

Election Edge

Take Back the Airwaves With Campaign Advertising Reform

October 20th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Liz Black headshot
Elizabeth Black

If you hate the negative campaign ads sweeping the airwaves this week, now is the time to think how to prevent this same scenario from reoccurring four years from now. Savvy political consultants have informed us that with three weeks to go before the presidential election, we can expect two weeks of increasingly nasty negative ads, then the last week we’ll see more sedate tactics as the candidates try to stress statesmanship and appear “presidential” so as not to leave a bad taste in the voters’ mouths just before they head out to the voting booth.

Call me naïve, but I don’t think the usual tactics will work this year. The pundits scoff at people who say Americans are tired of negative ads, reminding us that if negative ads didn’t work, politicians wouldn’t use them. They say we complain about the tone of the campaign but privately love it when things get nasty. I’m not buying it. At a time when our economy is going down the toilet, the attacks, name-calling and guilt by association seem petty. This time I think it’s the campaign strategists who are being naïve. I’m not sure they understand what is going on outside their war rooms.

But looking to the future, the American people should take back the public airwaves and demand respectfulness from their political candidates, and I’m not just talking about the presidential contenders. Read more ..


Edge on Terrorism

France's War with Jihadism--More Than Most Know

October 20th 2008

Islamic Topics - French Muslim protesters
French Islamic Protestors

France's war with the jihadis is more intense than most Americans or even most Europeans would imagine.

With French troops engaging the Taliban in Afghanistan often coming under attack, jihadist cells have started targeting France as well as French presence in the Sahel, the north African Sahara. Now active jihadist cells are indeed deploying inside France just as they are inside many other Western European countries.

In a recent interview with Parisian daily Le Figaro, French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, provided significant revelations about France’s vulnerabilities and response. Added to information provided by other French defense and counterterrorism officials and legislators, the picture undeniably affirms that France now joins Britain and other western European countries as pivotal points in the scheme of international jihad. Read more ..


The Grey Edge of Green

Gore’s Dangerous Call for Environmental Civil Disobedience

October 20th 2008

Energy / Environment - Al Gore and Earth
Al Gore

As the case of Yasser Arafat shows, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee does not revoke laureates’ prizes even when they go astray, turning from peacemakers to promoters of violence. If that was not the case, members of the committee would have been well advised to keep a watchful eye on the statements coming from 2007 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore. Last month, in a speech before the Clinton Global Initiative, he called for young people to engage in "civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration." This was not the first time such calls came from the man who used to be the "next president of the United States." Last year he told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof: "I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants."

Gore’s call to arms is typical of his environmental conduct: asking others to do what he himself wouldn’t — sacrifice. His massive carbon footprint, his frequent use of private jets, and his inflated electricity bill — more than 20 times the national average — have all been widely reported. Calling for young climate activists to engage in unlawful, albeit non-violent, action takes the hypocrisy to a whole new level. Unlike the symbol of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, who led millions of freedom seekers and who spent years in prison for his convictions — Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times but was never awarded — or civil rights activists who through their personal sacrifice won equality for blacks in South Africa and the U.S., Gore prefers to send young activists to chain themselves to bulldozers and potentially spend their best months, if not years, in prison while he himself continues to tour the world and attend carbon-neutral Hollywood parties.

Read more ..

Book Review

Edwin Black's "Plan," a Much-Needed Rational Roadmap For Oil Interruption

October 20th 2008

Book Covers - The Plan

The Plan: How to Rescue Society the Day the Oil Stops — or the Day Before. Edwin Black. Dialog Press. 192 pages.

I was expecting a dark tale of gloom and doom, a post-apocalyptic tableau of a born-again, prehistoric oil-free society. After all, Edwin Black is the author of the chillingly revelatory IBM and the Holocaust, a disheartening exposé of America's disgusting attraction to the racist pseudo-science of eugenics, War Against The Weak, and other sobering and impeccably researched investigative works.

Surely Black's new book about ending our country's self-destructive addiction to fossil fuels would be brilliant, but dark and deeply depressing.

Wrong!

Black states the problem clearly and without hyperbole or hysterics. He then presents a sane and remarkably rational step-by-step scheme for quitting our fossil fuel dependency. Along the way, he cites published, noncontroversial works plus his own primary research, which keeps the proceedings well out of the realm of science fiction, except perhaps for one element (I'll get to that in a bit).

 

IT'S NO ACCIDENT

The fact that this unending and expanding thirst for oil is the world's economic and political choke point is no accident, as Black recalls from his previous book, Internal Combustion. Throughout history, fuel has been controlled by political and commercial interests that were, as now, two sides of the same coin. And despite the fact that oil pollutes, affects all other prices and forces us to play nice with interests that are antithetical to our own, a huge socioeconomic infrastructure supports and promotes its perpetuation. But rather than pound the obvious, Black calmly sets the table, then moves on to his recommendations for extricating ourselves from the nightmare. Read more ..


Honda Falls Off Its Pedestal

October 20th 2008
Now we finally see that Honda is as bad as the other bad actors in the country's automobile-driven addiction to oil, thanks to the Cutting Edge and Mr. Black's revelations. It is a quite a disappointment, as a lifelong Honda fan, to see this fine company join the ranks of GM and Ford in keeping this country hooked on oil and keeping the alternative cars we need from our roads. Honda will never be able to explain to me why they don't mass-produce their natural gas and hydrogen cars. Even GM has announced it is preparing the mass-produce hydrogen cars. I suppose money talks and the gas guzzlers provide the most profit. But America will pay for that profit and continues to pay, not only in cash but in our national independence. Honda needs to get back on the right road.

Election Edge

McCain Must State The Obvious: Obama Is A Socialist

October 20th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker right crop
Star Parker

As John McCain tries to salvage his presidential campaign over the few weeks he has left, he ought to think about the Coca Cola Company in 1985.

That was the year that Coca Cola, based on what the company thought was good internal market research, introduced a new, sweeter formula to replace the taste that American consumers had always associated with Coke.

The result was disaster. Consumers were unhappy with the new flavor that replaced a product that was more than a drink. It was a time-tested American tradition. In short order, Coca Cola brought the traditional Coke back to market, and in a real feat of marketing gymnastics, was selling both New Coke and Coca Cola Classic.

Sales of Coca Cola Classic swamped sales of New Coke, and shortly thereafter, New Coke was gone.

Today John McCain heads the ticket of a Republican Party that many Americans have fallen out of love with. It's a Republican Party that Americans once knew, but now, like New Coke, has confused its customers, the voting public. Read more ..


The Oil Weapon

Libya Unleashes Oil Weapon Against Switzerland over Arrest of Qaddafi’s Son

October 13th 2008

Arab Topics - Muammar Qaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi

This continuing coverage on the oil weapon arises from the just released book, The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Libya has become the first Arab nation to once again unleash the oil weapon as the petropolitical Cold War has suddenly heated up in the most unlikely of nations: Switzerland.

In the roiling dispute—ignored by a national media distracted by presidential politics and an economic morass—Libya is close to declaring total economic war against Switzerland. The incident vividly demonstrates how frivolous and unpredictable petropolitical blackmail can be—and how costly. Switzerland has a plan for oil interruption but the United States does not.

The conflict began on July 15 when Swiss authorities arrested Hannibal Qaddafi and his wife at a Geneva hotel for allegedly beating two servants. Hannibal Qaddafi is the son of Libya’s volatile strongman Muammar Qaddafi. One of five Qaddafi sons, Hannibal has accumulated a record of run-ins with police departments across the Continent over allegations of violence and drunk driving. In 2005, France issued him a four-month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay a 500 EU fine for causing bodily harm against his pregnant partner—who later became his wife—and illegal possession of a firearm.

A year earlier, Hannibal was taken into custody by the Paris police after speeding through red lights on the Champs Elysees in his expensive Porsche. Reportedly, the Arab playboy was under the influence and driving on the wrong side of the famous Paris boulevard. Read more ..


Edge on Terror

Iran Appoints Successor to Terrorist Mughniyeh

October 13th 2008

Iran - Mughniyeh
Imad Mughniyeh

Eight months after he was assassinated in a meticulously-planned car bombing in Damascus, Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh has been succeeded by a senior Iranian intelligence official, an Italian newspaper reported Thursday, indicating an Iranian determination to consolidate its control over the Lebanese group.

According to the report in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Hizbullah's new chief military commander is Muhammad Riza Zahdi, aka Hassan Mahdawi, who in the late 1980s served in the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.

According to the report, Zahdi will be in charge of coordinating weapons smuggling to Hizbullah from Syria as well as the construction of military positions in southern Lebanon. The paper said that the appointment was part of an Iranian plan to restructure Hizbullah in the wake of the Second Lebanon War.

Mughniyeh, who had been one of the world's most wanted men for decades, met his demise last February. Since his assassination, Hizbullah had entrusted his duties - including international operations as well as relations with Iran and Syria - to a council of several officials. Read more ..


Honda Should Lose Patents if It Will Not Remove Sales Restrictions on Natural Gas and Hydrogen Vehicles

Improving automobile performance and alternative fuel has long been plagued by calculated patent sequestration and the use of restrictive licensing agreements, too often designed to keep good technology suppressed. Critics of the auto establishment like to talk about the advanced battery designs, alternative fuel systems, nanotechnology and other technical accomplishments sequestered by energy and automotive companies for the sole purpose of keeping them off the market. We see this now in dramatic fashion with the Japanese auto marvel, Honda, which is so visibly restricting sales of its two alternative fuel vehicles, the Civic Natural Gas GX and the Hydrogen Clarity.

As part of a plan to get off of oil rapidly, the nation needs to establish an Energy Patent and License Intervention Office so government action can enable good energy technology to rapidly proceed in the marketplace. This office would be empowered, on public complaint, to investigate whether alternative fuel technology was being expeditiously deployed in the marketplace, or withheld. For example, such an office could examine Honda’s license agreement with Plug Power for the Home Energy Center, or Fuelmaker for the Phill unit to determine whether the country could benefit from the more rapid deployment of the technology. Such an office could compel the patent holder to grant compulsory licenses so that the technology may be exploited for the sake of the country, and encourage competition. Under this scenario, a third party would be authorized to exercise the patent, but required to pay a fair fee to the original holder.
 
In other words, in a true emergency, if the technology was workable, the controlling company would be obligated to deploy it or see it deployed by another company. In everyday parlance, “use it or lose it.” Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

The Gathering Storm—Is Another Great Depression Approaching?

October 13th 2008

Economy - Jump obscured

"Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time, and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin!"

President Andrew Jackson 1832

Contrast those words to these of our current president, George W. Bush:

"The bipartisan economic rescue plan addresses the root cause of the financial crisis -- the assets related to home mortgages that have lost value during the housing decline. Under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the federal government will be authorized to purchase these assets from banks and other financial institutions, which will help free them to resume lending to businesses and consumers. I know many Americans are worried about the cost of the bill, and I understand their concern. This bill commits up to 700 billion taxpayer dollars, because a large amount of money is necessary to have an impact on our financial system. However, both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget expect that the ultimate cost to the taxpayer will be far less than that. In fact, we expect that over time, much -- if not all -- of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.” Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

Peering Inside the Bailout Bill

October 13th 2008

Economy - Secretary Paulson
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

During the early negotiations, a number of particularly bad policy options were added to the original Treasury proposal -- the final agreement appears to drop all of them

Administration and congressional negotiators reached agreement early September 28 on a package of actions to address the alarming financial situation facing the U.S. economy. Although several drafts of legislative language have been circulating, it is not yet possible to provide an overall assessment until the agreement’s final language is examined carefully.

The devil is always in the details, and so it is wise to look at the details. But several concerns and questions arose with earlier versions of a proposed package during week of September 21-27. So far, it appears that the negotiated agreement addresses these concerns in the following ways:

The agreement creates a new Office of Financial Stability within Treasury that is empowered both to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions and other bodies and to use other methods to address the current financial situation. This office would be immediately empowered to purchase up to $250 billion worth of troubled assets at any one time. If necessary, the Secretary of the Treasury could increase that amount by an additional $100 billion after notifying Congress that this additional sum is necessary. Read more ..


Economic Terrorism

Is OPEC Warring Against America's Economic Independence?

October 13th 2008

Energy / Environment - Saudi Oil

In the fog of economic mayhem ravaging American and international economies, experts are having a hard time determining the root causes of the current financial crisis. One parameter is established: The Ground Zero of this economic fear is located in Wall Street, a few blocks away from the other Ground Zero, where al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center and massacred thousands of Americans and other nationals.
 
While we know who caused the destruction of the Twin Towers and why they did it, the question of who is causing the crumbling of the world economy, starting with America, and why, remains unanswered. It will take probably years and the best economists to investigate the web that led to the most dangerous crisis in international finance since the late 1920s. But to political economists and international relations analysts, there are some leads to explore while pure economists are proceeding with only their reconstruction of the crisis.
 
The latter may not ever reach definitive conclusions, and for political reasons. Too many strategic interests are at stake in the convulsions we are witnessing. From a stratospheric view, we see a U.S. economy bleeding intensely; and as its government, in the midst of an electoral transition, is trying to administer some financial medicine, we can see that serious illnesses are breaking out in several economies around the world. The international community is waking up to watch another dimension of globalization: the lethal domino effect. When the greatest economy goes down, the international economic system follows.  Read more ..


Kicking our Oil Addiction

Breaking the Oil Cartel--Gal Luft Interview

October 13th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Gal Luft 1
Gal Luft

Cutting Edge News energy analyst Gal Luft is one of America's most influential energy independence advocates. He is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) a Washington based energy policy think tank and co-founder of the Set America Free Coalition, an alliance of groups promoting ways to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Luft specializes in strategy, geopolitics, terrorism, energy security and economic warfare. He was interviewed by Jamie Glanov, managing editor of Frontpage.com.

Your thoughts on the oil cartel and what it is doing to the world?

The oil cartel is looting the world economy and is by far the main culprit behind the current oil crisis. This is a cartel that owns 78 percent of world oil reserves but produces only 33 percent of the world's supply. Stunningly, OPEC's production is less than what it used to be 35 years ago, just before the Arab Oil Embargo. Then they produced 30 million barrels per day. Today their quota is just under 29 million barrels per day. So in 35 years the world economy essentially doubled, non-OPEC production nearly doubled, but the oil cartel, despite the fact that last year it brought in two new members, Angola and Ecuador, with combined daily production capacity equivalent to that of Norway, hasn't ramped up production. In fact, only this month OPEC decided to reduce its production by more than half a million barrels per day.

The consequences of this daylight robbery are dire, particularly to the poor people of the world. Developing economies are hemorrhaging and this will increasingly become a destabilizing factor. Even more troubling is the fact that the two main engines of radical Islam-Saudi Arabia and Iran-as well as the top two obstructionists of U.S. foreign policy-Russia and Venezuela-are now on the receiving end of hundreds of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues. As long as we continue to enrich those countries while depleting our own coffers we will not be able to prevail in the long war of the 21-Century. Read more ..


Edge on Immigration

Killing Fields of California’s Sanctuary Cities

October 13th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

“Sanctuary Cities” are replicating throughout the country. These make-shift communities serve as safe havens for illegal immigrants, with sometimes tragic results. Just ask Jamiel Shaw, a 17-year-old Los Angeles resident, who was allegedly gunned down by a 19-year-old "Sanctuary City" resident named Pedro Espinoza. Espinoza, an illegal immigrant and member of the 18th Street gang, allegedly murdered Shaw without reason. Even worse, Espinoza was allowed to seek cover for his murder by hiding out in "Sanctuary Cities."

Espinoza’s motive for killing Shaw, prosecutors say, was imprinted on the two-letter tattoo that stretched across his neck: "BK." The letters are an acronym for “Black Killer.” In Espinoza’s case, the “B” was crossed out. The crossed out “B” means that he has killed black people. For assassins like Espinoza, part of their gang initiation is to go out and randomly gun down someone who is black. This and similar incidents should never happen, but obviously they do. Espinoza, who was also raised in the American Juvenile system, should have been deported early on due to his run-ins with the law. Instead, he was allowed to seek refuge in a "Sanctuary City."

In many ways, Sanctuary Cities are a threat to our national security. Illegal immigrants should not have a right to stay in America illegally. They should be fined, given a reasonable time to earn citizenship, and monitored or deported. Many legal immigrants will tell you the same. After going through the hard work of earning their citizenship, they recoil at the notion of being associated with such activities. Indeed, legal immigrants consider the “Sanctuary City” phenomenon as a threat not only to their reputations, but also to their communities. They will tell you that illegal immigrants who commit crimes should not be given sanctuary; they should be jailed or deported. Read more ..


The Edge of Wind

Freeing the Wind

October 13th 2008

Energy / Environment - Wind Farm

 If you've done any reading at all on renewable energy, you'll have heard the marvelous phrase "The U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of wind." Like the Saudi Arabian oil, lying almost entirely under their country's Empty Quarter, the wind resources of the United States are found in our Empty Quarter—the plains from north Texas up through the Dakotas.

When natural gas exists in small pools or in oil field caps with too little volume to be economically exploited it is referred to as stranded gas. When wind resources exist in areas without the transmission lines required to send their power somewhere else and without local consumers to use them they are said to be stranded as well. Read more ..


Book Review

Hotel California: The True Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young...and Their Many Friends

October 13th 2008

Books - Hotel California

Hoskyns, Barney. Hotel California: The True Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends (Wiley&Sons, New Jersey, 2006).

In Hotel California: The True Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends (Wiley, 2006), esteemed music historian Barney Hoskyns provides an intelligent, engaging chronicle of the “singer-songwriters and cocaine cowboys” of the Los Angeles canyons, circa 1967-76. “This is an epic tale,” Hoskyns declares, “of songs and sunshine, drugs and denim, genius and greed…It’s about the myriad relationships, professional and personal, between these artists and the songs they wrote…(and) it’s a narrative of rise and fall…from the hootenanny innocence of boys and girls with acoustic guitars to the coked-out stadium-rock superstardom of the mid-1970s.”

In addition to examining the private lives of the canyon artists, Hoskyns explores the financial side of the story. He shows how such tough, savvy businessmen as David Geffen, Elliot Roberts, and Irving Azoff guided the careers of the L.A. musicians. Hoskyns also discusses the vibrant club scene where much of the action took place: the Whisky a Go Go, the Roxy, and Doug Weston’s Troubadour.

Hoskyns paints vivid pictures of his subjects. Consider, for instance, his colorful rendering of Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Linda Ronstadt. “A tenacious Texan with thinning blond hair, Stills had spent time in a military academy and brought the discipline of the place to bear on his musical career.” Young, Stills’s partner in Buffalo Springfield and CSNY, “was skinny and quiet and more than a little freaked out by the bright automotive sprawl of Los Angeles. His intense dark eyes in a face framed by long sideburns mesmerized women…The unearthly fragility of his voice paradoxically gave it strength and intensity. His guitar playing, too, was unique: instinctual, primitive, spat-out.” And Ronstadt “had deep, soulful eyes and a big, gutsy voice. She’d grown up in Arizona dreaming of freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” Read more ..


Honda Should Be Ashamed and Assessed Extra Taxes

October 13th 2008
I was shocked that Honda--I consider them one of the best--would hold back on their best fuel efficient and alternative technology, keep us enslaved to oil and still driving their gas guzzlers, all to keep their profits high. Here's an idea. Cancel Honda's tax deductions for any vehicle development such as the GX natural gas car and the Clarity hydrogen car, that the company is refusing to sell. And if they won't sell the best vehicles to any city, then by all means cancel ALL their tax deductions for operations in that city. I expected this from GM, but never from Honda. Honda should be ashamed.

America with No Plan for an Oil Interruption

Honda Hydrogen Hoax: Carmaker Says Hydrogen Car Must Await Filling Stations While Suppressing Home Refueling Device

October 6th 2008

Energy / Environment - Honda Clarity with refueler
Honda Hydrogen Vehicle with Home Refueler

This story is adapted from the just released The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Japanese Honda is delaying for years a national rollout of its dynamic new Clarity hydrogen car, and manufacturing just a handful of test cars, mainly for the Los Angeles area, because the company claims cities lack hydrogen filling stations. But the claim is an apparent hoax. Honda’s Clarity was designed for home refueling and was developed with a companion Home Energy Station, now undeployed and forgotten.

Unquestionably, Honda again achieved the alternative energy limelight with the rollout of its sleek and stylish hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Clarity. Boasting kinetic body styling, an exquisite interior, par excellence handling and roadability, the Clarity is a feat of automotive engineering. Most remarkably, the car uses no petroleum. Instead, its fuel cell uses hydrogen reformed from natural gas or electrolyzed from water. Hydrogen can also be made through a bacterial reaction, and several laboratories are trying to improve the yields. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

NATO Chief Concedes: “I'm Not Positive World Will be Able to Stop Iran”

October 6th 2008

Iran - Iran's Bushehr Reactor
Iran's Bushehr Reactor

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has expressed concern over whether the international community would be able to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

"I am not positive about the world being able to stop Iran from fulfilling its ambitions," he said during a conference in France which was quoted by Reuters.

"It is a major challenge to prevent Iran from continuing to strive to get the bomb," Scheffer said, adding that his concern was "that the Security Council, as we speak, is rather incapable of coming to further conclusions on further sanctions.”

Scheffer said that while Iranian nuclear capabilities would be dangerous, he was not opposed to a nuclear Israel.

"As we all know, Israel never admits to what it has, but I do not see very many arguments for the Jewish state to abandon its potential," he said. "What is as dangerous (as the nuclear program) is the missile technology which (Iran) is also developing at a fast pace. Read more ..


Burma After the Flood

Burma's Muslim Rohingya Minority Dwell at the "Brink of Extermination"

October 6th 2008

Burma - Rohingya Village
Rohingya refugee camp

It is not often you meet someone who tells you that he is from “a people at the brink of extermination.” But the testimonies from refugees in a remote corner of southern Bangladesh, on the border with Burma, justify that assessment. For the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority in northern Arakan State, western Burma, are a stateless people whose very identity is denied.

All the people of Burma are suffering at the hands of one of the world’s most brutal, and illegitimate, military regimes. From time to time Burma’s crisis hits the headlines, as it did with protests led by Buddhist monks last September, and Cyclone Nargis in May this year. In between such events, however, Burma fades from the world’s attention.

If Burma as a whole is under-reported, the people on its western borders are almost unknown to the world. Journalists, activists and aid agencies who visit the region tend to head for the Thailand-Burma border, where access to refugees, displaced people and democracy groups is greatest. Read more ..



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