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Archive for June 2010

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Barry Sewell Exposes Himself as Having Zero Credibility

June 28th 2010
I had to laugh at this man in the silly hat, Barry Sewell, being afraid of historian Edwin Black's website and even Mr. Black's public email address (see Society, Mendoza AB2072 Supporters Taunt and Insult the Deaf on Blogs, June 28, 2010) as being part of sinister plot by Edwin Black to impersonate himself. I think Barry Sewell has exposed himself as having zero credibility, so any comments he has about the California legislation as it affects the deaf community should be taken with a grain salt. It seems the supporters of AB2072 will go to any length, but this is pretty far down the road. I just wish Barry Sewell had not dragged his daughter and his family's picture--oh yes and his dog--into the blog website links. Do they need to be party of his silliness? This just proves that bloggers should be careful what they wish for. They want the right to run an uncensored website, but that means there is no one to stop them from making absolute fools of themselves in front of the entire world.

Art Pedroza Should Stop His Cruelty and Learn About History

June 28th 2010
I am not deaf, but I could not help a sense of outrage at the blog pages against the deaf community from Art Pedroza. Although your article (see Society, Mendoza AB2072 Supporters Taunt and Insult the Deaf on Blogs June 28, 2010) did not list the website, I found it. Let me say, I have seen Hitler hero worship on openly neo-Nazi websites. But I would not expect a gentle picture of Hitler on a site that claims to be about contemporary California politics and one that that cruelly refers to the deaf as "loons" and as "crazies." Art Pedroza should stop his cruel online treatment of deaf people, get rid of that Hitler picture on his website, and learn something about history. His advertisers should think about this the next time they or anyone considers being associated with his blog. Art Pedroza, please stop.

Iran's Nukes

Targeting Re-Export Loopholes Give Teeth to Iranian Sanctions

June 28th 2010

Iran - Ahmadinejad at Iranian nuclear plant

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, Undersecretary of State William Burns and Undersecretary of the Treasury Stuart Levey laid out the administration's game plan for leveraging the sanctions mandate created by UN Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted earlier this month. Central to this strategy is "vigorous" implementation, in part through a monitoring committee. The resolution, Burns noted, includes "new platforms" and "new tools," including a tough cargo inspection regime to detect and prevent Iranian smuggling efforts aimed at circumventing the sanctions. Now that these measures have been passed, he emphasized, we "need to make the maximum use of them." One key area that would benefit from greater attention and enforcement is closing the re-export loopholes through which Iran has successfully evaded sanctions in the past.

Deceptive Trade Practices

Mirroring the Iranian banking sector's deceptive financial practices -- which the Treasury Department has studiously exposed over the past few years -- procurement agents, businesses, and transporters in Iran have developed a network of front companies and willing partners as a means of procuring controlled military and dual-use technologies. Some of these fronts are aware of the deception, while others are not. Read more ..

Pro-Mendoza AB2072 Bloggers Twist Deaf Comments

June 28th 2010

I appreciate Martin Barillas's article (see Society, Mendoza AB2072 Supporters Taunt and Insult the Deaf on Blogs June 28, 2010) posted this morning. A number of us has had repeatedly and politely attempted to clarify our positions or corrected some misinformation, only to see our comments being twisted in unbelievable ways to benefit their anti-ASL/deaf agenda. It was really incredulous to see those type of bloggers dismiss our offer of clarifications, and how they interpreted those comments as lies and myths. I respect their disagreement, but, really, they have been arguing vociferously with little to no information about AB2072. They also were "DEAF" to listening to why we initially opposed AB2072. Some of those bloggers/vloggers are unfortunately deaf themselves. As I told one of them, we fought two battles... one against AB2072 and another against "deaf vlogging/blogging detractors."

Edge of Justice

Rubashkin Chief Appeals Lawyer Challenges US Attorney to Public Debate on Rubashkin Prosecution

June 28th 2010

Jewish Topics - Sholom Rubashkin

U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose has decided that "silence is no longer in order" and has opted to defend her prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin in an open letter in the Des Moines Register that was also widely distributed to the media in general.

It is surprising that a United States Attorney takes offense at the exercise of First Amendment rights by American citizens who support Mr. Rubashkin and publicly denounce how he has been treated. Rose has opened the propriety of her conduct to discussion in the media, particularly since her letter makes many assertions that are false and were never proved or tested in court.

Mr. Rubashkin's principal appellate counsel, who criticized her in a letter to the Department of Justice's Assistant Attorney General, is a co-author of this response to her open letter. We now challenge US Attorney Rose to debate Mr. Lewin on the propriety of the prosecution in a public session, hopefully televised, in Des Moines at a mutually agreeable date with a mutually agreed moderator. Read more ..

Mendoza Against the Deaf

Mendoza AB2072 Supporters Taunt and Insult the Deaf on Blogs

June 28th 2010

History-Genocide - Verschuer-Twins-Height

Deaf advocates celebrated a qualified victory last week when they succeeded in amending controversial California legislation AB2072 proposed by that state’s Assemblyman Tony Mendoza. The legislation has been dubbed “Mendoza Eugenics” by critics who accuse it of seeking to subtract the generation-to-generation deaf community by steering parents of deaf newborns to controversial cochlear implants, and nudge the state back to its dark eugenic legacy. The deaf have openly charged Mendoza’s office with exhibiting a denigrating attitude toward them.

After vigorous protests by a coalition of deaf academics and activists, members of the Health Committee backed off the original bill. Safeguard amendments were added to allow the deaf community to have decisive input into the “informational brochures” and other methods by which the state will approach the parents of deaf newborns with alternatives. The drawback in the minds of the deaf community is that the fractured process is still in the hands of audiologists who are "medical equipment technicians," not qualified to make surgical recommendations and are antithetical to American Sign Language which is the culture incarnation that identifies the generation-to-generation deaf.

As part of their sense of qualified victory was the necessity of enduring public taunts, insults and cruel slurs about their deafness from bloggers who support Mendoza’s AB2072. In today’s society, bloggers can publish venomous remarks against any ethnic or cultural group and generally do so with anonymity, hiding behind fake names and pseudonyms. Among the most virulent of taunts appeared on an Orange County California political blog operated by local political observer Art Pedroza. His blog created a special section with a picture of a passive Adolf Hitler intently listening to a household radio. Pedroza headlined the thread by referring to the American Sign Language deaf opponents to AB2072 as “ASL cultists” and “ASL loons.” The thread went on to cruelly portray the deaf with epithets and as “crazy.” Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Where are the Aircraft Carriers Located—or Headed?

June 28th 2010

Military - French Plane-US Carrier
French Navy Rafale Practices on a U.S Carrier

“Any of you boys seen an aircraft carrier around here?” – Maverick (aka Top Gun)

Actually, a couple of them. The USS Truman sailed through the Suez Canal last week with a dozen escort ships all armed to the teeth. The Truman is supposed to relieve the USS Eisenhower on station in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Ike stays around a little longer. Ostensibly, the Truman is supposed to provide support for the Afghanistan war, and several support ships are supposed to peel off for anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia.

French President Sarkozy revealed last week that the French carrier the Charles De Gaulle is heading out to the region “before the end of the year.” How soon will it be before the British HMS Ark Royal will also join the other carriers in the region? Probably not too long, considering that French, British, and American jets have been participating in joint exercises in recent months with pilots landing on each other's carriers. Read more ..

Media on The Edge

The SPEECH Act Nears Closer to Reality

June 28th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Rachel Ehrenfeld
Rachel Ehrenfeld

BP CEO Tony Hayward will likely win his case if he decides to sue American reporters and media outlets for libel in England for exposing his participation in a yacht race off the British Isle of Wight in the midst of the oil spill caused by his company in the Gulf of Mexico. You see, unlike the protections of free expression guaranteed by the American First Amendment, the plaintiff-friendly British libel laws hold the right of privacy of a public figure such as Hayward above transparency and accountability to the public.

The United States has historically led the world in the protection of its citizens' rights to free speech. The introduction of a new bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week reinforces this role by protecting all American writers and publishers from the enforcement of foreign libel judgments, such as the British court might award Mr. Hayward.

On June 22nd, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) introduced the Securing and Protecting our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act, or SPEECH Act. This bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (D-PA), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), and Charles Schumer (D-NY). It will strengthen the protection of American authors and publishers from the enforcement of judgments ruled against them in frivolous and extortionate libel suits in foreign countries that do not have our protections for freedom of speech. Read more ..

The Bear is Back

Are Germany and Russia Getting Cozy?

June 28th 2010

Russian Topics - Merkel and Putin
Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will brief French and Polish officials on a joint proposal for Russian-European “cooperation on security,” according to a statement from Westerwelle’s spokesman. The proposal emerged out of talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev earlier in June and is based on a draft Russia drew up in 2008. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be present at the meeting. Peschke said, “We want to further elaborate and discuss it within the triangle [i.e., France, Germany and Poland] in the presence of the Russian foreign minister.”

On the surface, the proposal developed by Merkel and Medvedev appears primarily structural. It raises security discussions about specific trouble spots to the ministerial level rather than the ambassadorial level, with a committee being formed consisting of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Russia’s foreign minister. Read more ..

Iran's Nuke

Relations between Iran and Russia have Hit a Cold Spell

June 28th 2010

Russian Topics - Russian S300 launchers
S-300 missile launchers somewhere in Russia

Russia has voted for tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran and has frozen a deal to send anti-aircraft missiles to that country.

The conventional wisdom is that Russia's economic interests in Iran have led Moscow to be a strong supporter of that country, opposing any tough United Nations sanctions against Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.

But many experts, including John Parker with the National Defense University, expressing his personal views, say relations between Russia and Iran have been worsening.

"They are probably at their lowest point since 1997 when both sides cooperated in bringing the Tajik civil war to a close," he said. "Right now, trade does not amount to that much, a fact that a lot of people don't realize. Russian-Iranian trade is, at its high point, around $3.5 billion a year. And this is not really much more than Russia's trade with Israel, whose population is about a tenth the size of Iran. Iran does a lot more trading with Turkey, for example, and even more trading with China. So economic relations are not much." Read more ..

Korea's Nukes

Obama Administration Warns North Korea Against Further Provocation

June 28th 2010

Korea Topics - Kim Jong-IL

On June 25, the United States warned North Korea against aggravating regional tensions after Pyongyang declared a no-sail warning for waters off its western coast. Similar warnings in the past have preceded North Korean missile tests.

The State Department is cautioning North Korea against provocative actions after its no-sail warning to international shipping, which coincided with observances on June 25 of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said he could not comment on whether U.S. intelligence had detected missile-launch preparations or other military activity related to the shipping advisory.

But he said the notice is of concern to South Korea and Japan, among others, and that North Korea should refrain from actions that aggravate tensions.

In a prepared statement on the war anniversary, Crowley said the partnership between the United States and South Korea forged in the 1950s conflict is stronger than ever. He said while there is no difference between the capabilities of the people on either side of the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea, the differences in governance and economic growth are compelling, with the South Korean economy now six times the size of its neighbor. Read more ..

The BP Spill

Members of Congress Profit from BP and Transocean Holdings

June 28th 2010

Energy / Environment - Gulf Spill Protesters

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and at least three other federal lawmakers have sold their holdings in companies tied to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it has been learned ahead the June 16 disclosure of 2009 personal financial records by all members of Congress.

According to an analysis, 20 members of Congress disclosed owning at least $1,001 worth of shares in BP or Transocean Ltd in their 2008 financial forms filed one year ago.

Kerry has sold his Transocean stock since the 2008 filing but still owns between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of stock in BP, his spokeswoman confirmed. The annual disclosure forms require members of the Senate and House to specify only a general range of asset values, not specific dollar amounts.

Despite his financial interest in the company, the Massachusetts Democrat has taken a hard line on BP in public statements. “I think we can finally get that oil leak plugged if we stuff it with the BP executives’ bonus money,” Kerry, the lead sponsor of a climate bill, said in a speech the previous week. Read more ..

The Automotive Edge

Car Dealers Try to Wheedle Their Way out of Financial Reforms

June 28th 2010

Automotive - Used Car lot

In Arizona, Hector Maldonado says he ran into trouble with his bosses because he objected to what he claims was his employer’s habit of faking financial information to qualify customers for loans they couldn’t afford. One manager, Maldonado alleged in a lawsuit, cursed and threatened him after he came forward with information documenting dishonest lending practices.

Main Street or Wall Street? Auto Dealer Loans Tied to Wall Street Financing

In Michigan, Matthew Manley claims his coworkers saddled customers with bigger loans by slipping unapproved charges into the deals. One manager, Manley alleges in his own lawsuit, urged him to target vulnerable customers — referring to the elderly as “people with oxygen tanks” and African Americans as “the dumb blacks.”

In the wake of the nation’s mortgage meltdown, Maldonado and Manley’s allegations sound familiar. But the pair weren’t employed in the subprime mortgage business. They worked for car dealers. They are among 20 former auto dealership insiders from Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Hawaii who describe a culture in which forged documents, hidden fees and other questionable practices were tools of the trade. These accounts, provided in court records and in interviews, paint an unflattering portrait of the on-the-ground realities of auto financing. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Obama's Speech at Cairo: One Year Later

June 28th 2010

Obama Admin Topics - Obama Cairo Speech

Although likely eclipsed in the media by recent Israeli naval action against blockade runners, the first anniversary of President Obama's much-quoted address in Cairo occurred on June 4, earlier this month. In his remarks, described as a "new beginning," he identified seven issues at the heart of tensions between the United States and the world's 1.2 billion Muslims: the need to confront violent extremism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons, democracy, religious freedom, women's rights, and economic development. For each issue, the president indicated where American action was required.

On violent extremism, for instance, he highlighted his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within the year. Given that two issues -- the Arab-Israeli peace process and Iranian nuclear issue -- have garnered the lion's share of attention over the past year, it is timely and useful to assess progress on the other five. Read more ..

Argentina on the Edge

Indigenous Peoples had Little to Celebrate during Argentina's Bicentennial

June 28th 2010

Latin American Topics - Argentina Indians

"Los pueblos originarios están acá; están presente,” (the native peoples are here; they are present) an indigenous woman shouted to the camera of Argentina’s Canal 7 news program on May 18th. She was surrounded by fellow protesters from across Argentina. In a period of eight days this group had marched to Buenos Aires in an event called the “Marcha de los pueblos originarios; Camino por la verdad, hacia un estado plurinacional” (March of Native Peoples; Walk for truth towards a plurinational state).

Argentina’s indigenous have used the nation’s bicentennial celebration to raise their visibility and address issues facing their community. On May 24th and 25th, indigenous nations as well as non-indigenous supporters from around the country held an event outside the Congressional Palace called El Otro Bicentenario (The Other Bicentennial). This consisted of speeches, panels, and music promoting indigenous rights and demands. The bicentennial, native peoples say, is not a time “to celebrate [Argentina’s freedom from colonialism], but to reflect on past and present colonial policies.” Read more ..

Bolivia on the Edge

Bolivia Celebrates its First Indigenous President

June 28th 2010

Latin American Topics - Evo Morales in mufti
Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma

Evo Morales Ayma, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, has many promises and expectations to fulfill as viewed by his fellow indigenous. During his two terms in office, he has created many new opportunities for Bolivia’s native people, by enforcing the government’s new constitution and promoting social and political equality. One of his most momentous undertakings has been his stance on climate change and environmental responsibility. Morales’ ascent to power is historically significant to Bolivia, a country with an explosive history of social and ethnic inequality. His party, the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) represents a myriad of social groups and interests and has enjoyed a strong support group among poor, rural, indigenous Bolivians. Morales has offered hope to indigenous communities in his nation, but some skepticism exists over whether he has been true to his roots or if his newfound political power has worn away at his connection to his people. Read more ..

Volcanic Eruptions

Volcanic Eruptions in North America Were More Explosive in Ancient Past

June 28th 2010

Environment Topics - Volcano

Millions of years ago, volcanic eruptions in North America were more explosive and may have significantly affected the environment and the global climate. So scientists report in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

The researchers found the remains--deposited in layers of rocks--of eruptions of volcanoes located on North America's northern high plains that spewed massive amounts of sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere 40 million years ago. The scientists conducted their research at Scotts Bluff National Monument, Neb., and in surrounding areas.

"Combining measurements of the sulfate in ancient volcanic ash beds with a detailed atmospheric chemistry model, we found that the long-ago chemistry of volcanic sulfate gases is distinct from that of more modern times," says Huiming Bao, a geologist at Louisiana State University and lead author of the paper.

"This is the first example showing that the history of massive volcanic sulfate emissions, and their associated atmospheric conditions in the geologic past, may be retrieved from rock records." Read more ..

Film Review

"Of Gods and Men" - a Cannes Grand Prix for a Modern Spiritual Classic

June 28th 2010

Film - Of Gods and Men

Directed by Xavier Beauvois, Des Hommes et de Dieux “Of Gods and Men” – a meditative film based on actual gruesome events – won the Grande Prix on May 22 at the Cannes film festival as well as a prize for works fostering inter-religious understanding. Judged by an ecumenical jury, the picture recounts the lives and deaths in 1996 of a group of French monks who were massacred and beheaded in a Cistercian monastery in Algeria following events that remain mysterious and controversial.

The film’s plot centers on the Catholic monks as they wrestle with whether to flee during a bloody conflict between Algeria’s army and Muslim jihadi insurgents, or to remain in their monastery from which they had ministered to their Muslim neighbors. Read more ..

Book Review

Author McCarthy Reveals Islamic Goals in 'The Grand Jihad'

June 28th 2010

Book Covers - The Grand Jihad

The Grand Jihad—How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. Andrew McCarthy. Encounter Books. 2010. 464 pages

During an address on Thursday May 27, 2010 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan, the Obama administration’s lead counterterrorism adviser, provided a transparently bowdlerized perspective on jihad. Brennan’s statements were breathtaking in their profound cognitive dissonance regarding this uniquely Islamic institution, which continues to wreak daily havoc in our era.

Despite over 15,350 jihad terror attacks by Muslims worldwide, since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism committed against the United States itself, on September 11, 2001, Brennan insisted,

Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

Closing this willfully blind circle of “reasoning,” Brennan further asserted,

 …describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism – that the United States is somehow at war against Islam. Read more ..

Inside Islam

Australia Considers Burqa Ban

June 28th 2010

Islamic Topics - Burqa-o-rama

A legislator in Australia is calling for new laws banning the burqa in public places in the country's most populous state, New South Wales. Reverend Fred Nile has introduced a private members bill to state parliament that would make it an offense to wear a full-face veil in shopping centers and on buses. 

Reverend Fred Nile, a Christian Democratic Party MP in the New South Wales upper of house of parliament, insists the burqa does not fit Australian values.

Only a small number of Muslims in Australia wear the loose garment that covers a woman from head to foot, including the face.

But Reverend Nile believes Australia should follow the example of European governments, including France, that have outlawed the burqa.

The controversial bill has been introduced to the New South Wales state parliament and while Reverend Nile denies his planned legislation is racist, he says it will help oppressed Muslim women and increase national security. Read more ..

Edge on Islam

Democrat in Michigan's Gubernatorial Race Finds Muslim Support Growing

June 28th 2010

Islamic Topics - Dearborn MI mosque
Mosque in Dearborn, Michigan

In an email, distributed on June 24, Farhan Bhatti, the Deputy Campaign Manger for Democrat Virg Bernero’s gubernatorial run in Michigan, called upon fellow Muslims to support his candidate. Bhatti noted that Bernero, currently the mayor Michigan’s capital city—Lansing—has the support of the UAW, AFSCME, the Michigan Educators’ Association, and two popular Michigan politicians who he identified as “dear friends to the Muslim community”—Congressman Dale Kildee (D) and former Congressman David Bonior (D).

Presenting Bernero as a moderate, Bhatti greets readers with the traditional Muslim blessing “As salaam alaikum” and notes that his candidate also has the support of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce, and heralding “His energy, vision, and enthusiasm can help get our state out of the mess we find ourselves in, due to years of failed leadership in the state legislature, beginning with our opponent, Andy Dillon (Ed. fellow Democrat), Speaker of the Michigan House.” Read more ..

Discrimination against the Deaf Mirror Eugenics

June 28th 2010

I am only a Deaf Child in my growing up family. My late father forced me and my two Deaf sons to get the cochlear implants but I refused. He then removed my name from his wills because of this. Last weekend, I bought Edwin Black’s book War Against The Weak after learning about his work on behalf of the deaf in Sacramento, California. The book was painful and stunning to read about life experiences in America. I see those same experiences in my own life.

Can a Judge Require Someone to be not-Deaf?

June 28th 2010

I have written this letter to Judge James Stow in Idaho about a case where he has ordered a Deaf girl's parents to make her wear her cochlear implants “all her waking hours” regardless of whether or not they are working or if the parent feels they are not needed at certain times in the day.

Dear Judge: Before you, you have a very complicated case. You have a Deaf girl with a Deaf father and a Hearing mother. The girl has bilateral cochlear implants (CIs). Recently you ruled that the father must force his daughter to use her bilateral implants all her waking hours. That judicial decision basically says that this girl is forbidden to be Deaf.

I am surprised that in a court room in the U.S. someone can ban someone from being what they are. You are ordering someone to use artificial technology all their waking hours when it is not a medical necessity. You have removed someone's right to their own private property—their body. You have said you can come into their lives and bodies and control them. That decision has serious impact on a child, her relationship with her father, her relationship with her mother, and her relationship with her self. It may also have a severe impact on other children. When a Deaf baby is born, does this mean automatically that a judge can order the child be implanted with bilateral implants and be forbidden to be Deaf? It may also have a big impact on Deaf adults who have CIs. Does this mean if they want or need some type of reasonable accommodation—an interpreter (either oral or sign) or CART (transcription) for a trial or job interview—it can be forbidden? That someone could order them to rely solely on bilateral implants—order them to use their CIs all their waking hours? Read more ..

Was it Really “Humanitarian” Aid to the Gaza Strip?

June 28th 2010

Something bad is happening in the world. The “good guys” are looked at as the “bad guys” and the “bad guys” are looked at as the “good guys.” Unfortunately, today in the world there is a lot of confusion and misinformation. Many people are misinformed. We all watched the reports on the news about the Israeli commando forces that took over six boats of aid to the Gaza Strip. Those six boats and many others are trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip. At this point, we need to ask ourselves if this is the real intention of the organizers of the naval aid? And, if in the Gaza Strip, we really have humanitarian catastrophes, then the answer to those questions is: we have no humanitarian problem in the Gaza Strip.

The Israelis in the past year allowed more than one million tons of supplies to enter the Gaza Strip, after completing a standard security check of the trucks on the Israeli and Egyptian side of the Gaza Strip border. In the past, we had many attempts to smuggle in machineries to build weapon systems and ammunition including long range missiles. In the past ten years, almost one million Israeli civilians have been sleeping in shelters. As a country, we have the right to check everyone and everything that enters into the Gaza Strip as the Palestinians have proven in the past that they have no problems smuggling and using missiles against Israelis. If the condition of their own people is so important to their leaders, I would expect those leaders to invest their money in food, education, medication, etc. instead of relying on the humanitarian aid provided by your taxes. The state of Israel has many times allowed bringing aid into the Gaza Strip checking the cargo on-board. The same thing happened with those six boats that refused to cooperate with the state of Israel who refused to take with them humanitarian aid to Gilad Shalit, a prisoner of war, the soldier who has been held in captivity for the past four years. Hamas is also preventing Gilad Shalit from meeting with the Red Cross, against every civil rights declaration. It brings us back to the question: who are the people on those boats? Read more ..

Edge on Justice

Is A Life Sentence for an Iowa Kosher Butcher Disproportionate Justice?

June 22nd 2010

Jewish Topics - Sholom Rubashkin

This article is an updated version of one published in April 19, 2010 when the sentence for convicted kosher slaughterhouse operator Sholom Rubashkin was expected to be the equivalent of life. Now that the judge has handed down a 27 year sentence--the equivalent of life--the story has been re-reported, augmented with new interviews and updated.


Originally, some people said they wouldn’t mind if kosher butcher Sholom Rubashkin got life in prison and rot behind bars until he dies. Yesterday, June 22, 2010, their wish was fulfilled by U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade in a northern Iowa courtroom. Under the stiff sentence, Rubashkin rots in jail essentially until he dies, a 27-year sentence supplemented by five years of probation to the 50-year man—and then he pays $27 million in restitution. Judge Reade’s sentence exceeded even the government’s request of 25 years. Now many people are outraged at the harsh treatment being meted out to Rubashkin and ask in disbelief, “What's going on?”

Within hours of the sentencing memorandum, issued a day in advance by Judge Reade, legal scholars expressed shock thousands of Chassidim gathered in vituperative video-streamed protests in New York and Los Angeles, and a cadre of agitated appellate attorneys vowed to overrule the judge’s decision.

Who is Sholom Rubashkin and what really happened? Read more ..

Mendoza Against the Deaf

Mendoza Eugenics Stalled as California Legislator Considers Deaf to be Defective Americans

June 21st 2010

History-Genocide - Verschuer-Twins-Height

California Assemblyman Tony Mendoza has been stalled in his effort to pass legislation the deaf community feels will launch a eugenic campaign against them. Although originally scheduled for brief testimony and a vote last Wednesday, June 16, 2010, an informal survey of Health Committee members by Mendoza's office determined he did not have the votes. Other Health Committee members, stung by accusations of a slide back to California's dark history of Nazi-style eugenics, have declared their unwillingness to vote for the measure in its present form.

California eugenics was a system of eliminating unwanted bloodlines of those who were deemed "social misfits" in the twisted pseudoscience. Those targeted included such groups as the poor, prostitutes, Asians, whites with brown hair, those needing glasses, the deaf and many others. The radical early twentieth century social engineering plan became entrenched decades before Hitler came to power. Hitler emulated the California state statutes in his own Nazi eugenic crusade. Ultimately, some 66,000 Americans under 27 state laws were forcibly sterilized for a variety of eugenic reasons, with about a third to a half of the victims in California. That state's legislature has already issued a formal apology for targeting groups for extinction.

Mendoza's eugenic bill, known as AB2072, admittedly seems innocuous enough at first blush, critics argue. AB2072 calls for all newborns to be screened for hearing problems; and if found to be deaf, their parents are to be given an "informative brochure" describing the options. The problem, complain large numbers of deaf people, is that the brochure is under the control of the well-financed cochlear implant industry, the audiology profession and various Alexander Graham Bell foundations--all of which are determined to see deaf culture, and its distinctive American Sign Language, disappear. Alexander Graham Bell was a pioneer of American eugenics. Cochlear implants are controversial medical devices that augment hearing and, in many ways, tend to do away with the need to communicate using American Sign Language.

For their part, the generation-to-generation deaf are passionately determined to keep their special identity which depends upon visual communication, including sign language. They have fought back with mass protests and letter writing campaigns, as well as STOP AB2072 Internet sites and t-shirts. The deaf community also brought in the historical expertise of Edwin Black, author of the award-winning eugenics book War Against the Weak, which chronicled the deep relationship between California eugenicists and the Third Reich. Read more ..

The Hamas Flotillas

Next Flotilla Crisis Sails from Lebanon with Hezbollah Woman's Brigade--Israel to Intercept

June 21st 2010

Israeli Military - Israeli Sub

The next flotilla crisis has set sail from Lebanon intent on confronting the Israeli Defense Forces and running the Gaza blockade. The ship, re-named ‘Mariam’ – the Arabic version of Mary, has been authorized to depart from a port in Lebanon. Originally called The Julia, the ship was renamed for this episode. The stated purpose of the organizers is to embarrass the Israelis by a confrontation with women sailing with large images of the Virgin Mary. The group's backers say they want to help expel "thieving Israelis" and "Jewish garbage" back to Europe.

Permission to sail was originally held up because Lebanese law prevents direct passage to Israeli waters; however, the ship pledged to sail first to Cyprus, so the trip was authorized by Beirut officials.

The group is comprised of Christian and Muslim women under purported Hezbollah aegis, funded by a major Hezbollah financier. Hezbollah banned Lebanese model and pop star Haifa Wehbe from boarding the female-only ship headed for Gaza, according to Kuwaiti daily Al-Seyassah on Friday. Hezbollah sources asserted, her “nudity … and immodest dress will harm the reputation of all women participating in the trip.” Read more ..

Turkey and Israel

Strained Relations between Israel and Turkey Undermines Bridge Between West and Muslim World

June 21st 2010

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped
Abraham H. Foxman

These are sad times indeed for those with a strong attachment to Israel, and an equal and longstanding respect for Turkey. The unique relationship shared by these two countries, down through history and into the present, is being undermined in a stormy environment of disagreement, and charged rhetoric.

We need not go into a rehash of the much-discussed events and the diplomatic rows that brought us to this pass. The strongly critical remarks by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, first at Davos in response to Israel's December 2008 invasion of Gaza, and more recently over the flotilla episode and the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, have cast a deep pall over the Israeli-Turkish relationship.

The echoes of Davos and the flotilla affair seem to be prevailing over calm heads and good will, and we can only wonder, why?

Sadly, an historic era of cooperation may be slipping away, as Turkey appears on the verge of abandoning a role it so proudly played as a bridge between the Muslim world and the West. The inter-governmental and people-to-people relationships are fraying, and the tangible benefits they have brought to both sides are at serious risk.

This is a shared history based on mutual interests and concerns. In March 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim state to recognize Israel, and in 1958, Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion met in secret to sign a military and intelligence cooperation agreement. Ben-Gurion later wrote to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that Israel's "links with the Government of Turkey have grown more intimate in secret channels." Read more ..

The Race For Oil

Brazil’s Black Gold is a Black Stain

June 21st 2010

Energy Topics - Petrobras
Petrobras Brazil

The Brazilian authorities have portrayed a complex issue of huge significance as a simplistic contest between nationalists and sell-outs. On Wednesday, June 9th, the Brazilian Senate passed a bill that alters regulations governing the exploitation of the offshore “pre-salt” oil fields. Discovered in 2007, these are potentially extensive deposits of oil and gas, trapped several miles under the sea bed beneath a hard layer of salt. The regulations’ model will soon change from concessions to partilha, increasing the government’s control over production. One should hasten to underscore the dangers resulting from such a change. Read more ..

Edge of Climate Change

Drastic Recent Ocean Changes Will Have Dire Impact On People

June 21st 2010

Environment Topics - Ocean

The first comprehensive synthesis on the effects of climate change on the world's oceans has found they are now changing at a rate not seen for several million years.

Scientists have now concluded that the growing atmospheric concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases are driving irreversible and dramatic changes to the way the ocean functions, with potentially dire impacts for hundreds of millions of people across the planet.

The findings of a report entitled The impact of climate change on the world's marine ecosystems emerged from a synthesis of recent research on the world's oceans, carried out by two of the world's leading marine scientists, one from The University of Queensland in Australia, and one from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the USA. Read more ..

The Hamas Flotilla

New Footage Aboard Gaza Flotilla Show Preparations to Throw Israeli “Into the Sea”

June 21st 2010

Gaza Topics - Gaza flotilla 2

To the cry “Takbīr,” the crowd shouts “Allahu Akbar” in harmony, as the leader of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), Bulent Yildirim addresses a gathering of men aboard the ship Mavi Marmara on May 30, in a new video released by Israel’s Foreign Ministry last week. The images and dialogue, in Arabic with English subtitles, depict four men standing in front of the crowd; Yildirim, one man labeled as member of Egypt’s Parliament, and two others preparing the group for a planned confrontation with Israel.

“Allah has given us great resources… and a great blessing,” Yildirim said, speaking of the ship they were gathered on. “Not everyone has the opportunity to travel on this ship,” he said. “Allah has given (the opportunity) to those who wanted it the most.”

“In two days, we may encounter some negative matters,” Yildirim said. “They are telling us: We will launch a military fleet, and the soldiers will board the ship!”  “If they board our ship, we will throw them into the sea, Allah willing!” Read more ..

Media on the Edge

News Organizations Refuse to Cover Sweden's Royal Wedding

June 21st 2010

Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling
Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling

Three of the world's top news organizations snubbed Sweden's royal wedding Saturday between Crown Princess Victoria and her former personal trainer, Daniel Westling.

The Associated Press (AP), the French News Agency (AFP) and Reuters declined to cover the lavish ceremony in Stockholm because of restrictions imposed by Swedish state broadcaster SVT (Sveriges Television). 

In a joint statement, the news organizations said a royal wedding is an event of historical importance and should not fall under restrictions normally applied to sports and entertainment events. The news organizations said SVT had barred them from immediately sending video of the wedding and had imposed a 48-hour limit on its redistribution.

The Swedish Royal Court provided descriptions of the extravagant ceremony in a series of news releases that were made public, Saturday, before the wedding. Read more ..

Religious Freedom

UC-Irvine Suspends Muslim Student Association

June 21st 2010

Arab Topics - Arrested punk

Last week, the University of California at Irvine (UC-Irvine) recommended suspending the Muslim Student Union (MSU) there for its actions in protesting the speech by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, on the University campus February 8, 2010.  A university student affairs disciplinary committee recommended the suspension for one year and an additional year of probation requiring the MSU, collectively among its members, to complete fifty hours of community service.  Together these actions, if implemented, would prevent the group from organizing and carrying out campus events until 2011. The MSU is planning an appeal and considering legal actions should the appeal fail.

The suspension comes in the wake of a letter signed by more than sixty UC-Irvine faculty members addressing the anti-Semitic atmosphere at the school saying, “We…are deeply disturbed about activities on campus that foment hatred against Jews and Israelis…" They cited incidents including "the painting of swastikas in university buildings and the Star of David depicted as akin to a swastika." Read more ..

Travel Safe

Security Features for e-Passports Assembled in High-Risk Locations

June 21st 2010

Travel - Passport

Last month, a gunman opened fire on an insurance building in the ancient Thai city of Ayutthaya, piercing the glass windows of the People’s Alliance for Democracy headquarters with 11 millimeter caliber bullets.

A few weeks earlier, bombs made from powerful plastic explosives were detonated near transmission towers in the same city in an unsuccessful effort by terrorists to darken the manufacturing district. The violent episodes hardly registered in the United States. Few Americans have heard of Ayutthaya, after all, or know of a reason to pay attention to it.

But there is a reason, one directly connected to America’s security. The key electronic components for millions of American e-Passports, the crown jewel of a new U.S. border security system, have been put together inside a little-known factory in Ayutthaya for the past four years. Read more ..

Inside Islam

Muslims Continue Demands to Use Christian Places of Worship in Spain

June 21st 2010

Islamic Topics - Praying in Ceuta, Spain

Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain, affirmed on June 12 that any “joint use” by Muslims wishing to worship at the Catholic cathedral in that city is but “a euphemism that means: Catholics, get out! We will not leave, except if we are kicked out, since for 16 centuries there has been Christian worship here.” The cathedral and basilica - a part of which was a mosque for several hundred years until the late 1400s -  has been a Catholic place of worship ever since; it is regarded as one of the architectural gems of Europe. Muslim rights group have been demanding that the Catholic Church allow Muslims to use the space once again as a mosque in an as yet determined joint use agreement.

Bishop Fernandez added, “therefore, the answer to the question about joint use is, no, we will not leave because in this place the Catholic Church has existed for 16 centuries while the Muslims have been here but four and a half centuries.” Nonetheless, the bishop said that the Church maintains a good relationship with Muslims and is constantly seeking “peace, justice, and coexistence of nations; that is one thing, but it is quite another to share the same temple for worship, which is impossible.”

Israel on the Edge

If Israel Goes Down, We All Fall Down

June 21st 2010

Contributors / Staff - Jose Maria Aznar
Jose Maria Aznar

For far too long now it has been unfashionable in Europe to speak up for Israel. In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think of a more unpopular cause to champion. In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship. In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organized a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.

In our dealings with Israel, we must blow away the red mists of anger that too often cloud our judgment. A reasonable and balanced approach should encapsulate the following realities: first, the state of Israel was created by a decision of the UN. Its legitimacy, therefore, should not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology.

Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances. Read more ..

The Hamas Flotilla

Jihad in Humanitarian Clothing

June 21st 2010

Contributors / Staff - Brigitte Gabriel picture
Brigitte Gabriel

As world organizations, nations and international media rally together in their favorite cause célèbre of vilifying Israel the Gaza flotilla attack, the country finds itself again on the defensive, trying to explain to the world why it instituted the blockade of Gaza and what part the terrorist organization Hamas is playing in that blockade.

Hamas’ stated goal is to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, in Palestinian schoolbooks and maps Israel is nonexistent. Hamas has many sympathizers who share its goals politically and ideologically, most notably al-Qaida and Iran. Both are welcomed in Gaza with open arms and are creative in supporting Hamas and smuggling weapons in support of their holy war against the Jewish state. This latest incident, though, sheds light on another ally of the terrorist group, the Turkish-based International Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

So who are these poor “humanitarian” activists Israel tried to stop on the flotilla?

IHH is an associate of Hamas and a member of the Union of the Good. This Union is headed by Yousef Al Qaradawi, one of the world’s most notorious Islamic terrorists (banned in England and America) and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. IHH was already involved in the purchasing of automatic weapons from other militant Islamic groups as far back as 1990 when their President Bulent Yildrim was focused on recruiting “Veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming Holy war [jihad].” Read more ..

Inside Islam

Egypt's Future Hinges on Flawed Islamic Council Elections

June 21st 2010

Iraq - Iraq Election 2010

Amid the diplomatic and media frenzy over the Gaza flotilla incident, Egypt's upper house elections were largely overlooked last week, even though the voting for the consultative Shura Council was marred by low turnout, concerted fraud, and violence. These are disturbing indicators of what the international community and Obama administration should anticipate during the much more important parliamentary elections in November.

Why the Elections Matter

The two rounds of voting for the Shura Council, on June 1 and June 8, were the first in a series of warm-ups before next year's critical presidential election, when eighty-two-year-old Hosni Mubarak, who recently had major surgery, might stand for a sixth consecutive term. Established in 1980 through a constitutional amendment, Egypt's upper house wields little power and is purely consultative. A third of its 264 members are appointed by the president, and only half of the rest stand for election every three years for six-year terms.

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has dominated the body throughout its history. No opposition party has ever managed to establish a substantial presence on the council, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which has never won a seat. Last week's elections proved no exception, as the NDP swept eighty-four out of a possible eighty-eight seats. Although four opposition parties won one seat each, other parties such as the Democratic Front boycotted the elections, declaring them illegitimate. Read more ..

Turkey and Israel

Arabs, Israelis, and the Limits of Public Opinion

June 21st 2010

Turkish Topics - Turkish Flags

Events on May 31 off the coast of Israel continue to resonate. Turkish-Israeli relations have not quite collapsed since then but are at their lowest level since Israel’s founding. U.S.-Israeli tensions have emerged, and European hostility toward Israel continues to intensify. The question has now become whether substantial consequences will follow from the incident. Put differently, the question is whether and how it will be exploited beyond the arena of public opinion.

The most significant threat to Israel would, of course, be military. International criticism is not without significance, but nations do not change direction absent direct threats to their interests. But powers outside the region are unlikely to exert military power against Israel, and even significant economic or political sanctions are unlikely to happen. Apart from the desire of outside powers to limit their involvement, this is rooted in the fact that significant actions are unlikely from inside the region either. Read more ..

The BP Spill

BP's Creaky Ethics in the Gulf Oil Spill

June 21st 2010

Energy / Environment - Tony Hayward of BP
BP CEO Tony Hayward

It has been an eventful week in the 60-day history of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. President Obama delivered a solemn speech from the Oval Office to the nation. The head honchos of BP arrived in Washington with apologies to the American people and agreed to a $20 billion compensation fund for people whose livelihoods have been affected. The British company’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, has fronted up to Congress and admitted that the explosion and sinking of the oil rig “never should have happened” but that “we are unwavering in our commitment to fulfill all our responsibilities.”

Responsibility is a key word in this crisis, although the specifics of whom it attaches to have been elusive. During his grilling by Congressional committees yesterday Hayward stuck to a prepared script and answered many questions with “I can’t answer that question,” “I can’t recall,” “That’s a decision I was not party to,” and “I don’t know.” “I’m not stonewalling,” he told one questioner, “I simply was not involved in the decision-making process.” Why, after almost two months, doesn’t he know these things? Read more ..

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