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Recovery on Edge

Impediments to Wealth

August 25th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

There are literally hundreds of impediments that prevent people from building wealth. Whether they are particularly complex (misreading the stock market) or extremely simple (miscalculating your budget), these impediments can literally keep you and your family from financial stability. Various people face various hurdles, but one thing is for sure: every living person will face obstacles along their wealth-building path.

After careful examination, I have found that most impediments fit into four basic realms: family, education, social, and personal. Within each of these realms, most people encounter at least one obstacle that they need to overcome to reach their potential wealth. By analyzing each realm, you will better understand what impediments to be aware of and how to overcome them.


If you want to build wealth, you must take care of your family life. First, make sure you only marry and begin having children when you are ready. Marrying too early or having unplanned children can greatly impede your chance for financial stability. Those who rush into marriage or parenthood often are forced to take dead-end jobs or sacrifice their education to make money.

Because they become forced to support their family, they lose the opportunity to train for bigger and better jobs that would allow them to reach financial stability. In general, if your family life is stable, your financial life will be a lot easier to improve. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Norway Needs a Single Standard Against Terrorism

August 25th 2011

Israel Topics - Svein Sevje - Norway Ambassador to Israel
Svein Sevje, Norway’s Ambassador to Israel

In a recent interview, Norway’s Ambassador to Israel has suggested that Hamas terrorism against Israel is more justified than the recent terrorist attack against Norway. His reasoning is that, “We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel.” In other words terrorism against Israeli citizens is the fault of Israel. The terrorism against Norway, on the other hand, was based on “an ideology that said that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is foregoing Norwegian culture.” It is hard to imagine that he would make such a provocative statement without express approval from the Norwegian government.

I can’t remember many other examples of so much nonsense compressed in such short an interview. First of all, terrorism against Israel began well before there was any “occupation”. The first major terrorist attack against Jews who had long lived in Jerusalem and Hebron began in 1929, when the leader of the Palestinian people, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, ordered a religiously-motivated terrorist attack that killed hundreds of religious Jews—many old, some quite young. Read more ..

Israelis and Palestinians

Defensible Borders Trump Negotiated Settlements

August 23rd 2011

Israeli Military - IDF On Guard

Events in Israel over the past week have a “back to the future” vibe. Terrorism from over the Egyptian border, renewed rocket attacks from Gaza, threats of violence from the Palestinian Authority and Hezbollah, continuing violence in Syria and shock waves in Jordan all are reminders that ultimate responsibility for the security of the citizens of Israel has to be in the hands of the Israeli government, and that defensible borders trump negotiated settlements.

Chaos around Israel—including along the long-quiescent Israel-Egypt border—and death and destruction inside, mean that Israel has returned to the days that nothing can be taken for granted, including Arab partners and American support. Read more ..

Religious Freedom

Indian Constitution Violates Itself in View of Dalit Caste

August 18th 2011

India Topics - Dalit Protests

Article 15 of the Indian Constitution gives fundamental rights to all Indian citizens against any form of discrimination either by the state or any citizen on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of thesem. Every Indian is proud about this guarantee without much knowing that the same constitution violates itself on the basis of religion. The Scheduled Caste, known as untouchables or Dalits, have suffered under this violation for 61 years.

Presidential Order 1950 enacted Para 3 of Article 341, which discriminates against Dalits on the basis of religion by limiting fundamental rights guaranteed under Indian Constitution. Read more ..

Financial Jihad

The “Boycott Israel” Movement is a “No Peace” Movement

August 17th 2011

Israel Topics - Western/Wailing Wall

Compromise is the cornerstone of peacemaking. In the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the international consensus for ending this conflict is the two-state solution that would create an independent State of Palestine living side-by-side with the State of Israel in peace. Israel, including its current government, explicitly accepts this principle as the basis for peacemaking.

While most of us Israelis support the principle of two-states, we find deeply problematic the unilateral nature of the Palestinian Authority’s statehood efforts that would override bi-lateral peace negotiations. This is an important distinction often lost in the noisy debate over this issue.

In a rejection of peaceful compromise, however, the movement spearheading the effort to impose boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) on Israel issued a statement last week denouncing the Palestinian Authority’s intention to declare independence unilaterally at the United Nations in September. Read more ..

Oil Addiction

OPEC’s New Management

August 15th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Gal Luft

The recent appointment of Islamic Revolutionary Guards veteran Rostam Ghasemi as Iran’s new petroleum minister is not only the Islamic Republic’s latest poke in America’s eye but it is also harbinger of things to come with respect to Iran’s petro-politics. Ghasemi, a notorious hardliner and the head of the economic wing of the Guards, is personally sanctioned by both the EU and the US. In his new position he will be able to do exactly what his patron Mahmoud Ahmadinejad explained in his nomination support speech before the Majlis: “transform this complex [oil industry] in line with national interests.”

Transforming Iran’s oil industry in line with national interests begins in the Vienna headquarters of OPEC. There, Ghasemi’s first goal would be to continue to erode Saudi Arabia’s hegemony in the cartel. Iran is currently the rotating president of OPEC which means that for the next few months Ghasemi is the oil cartel’s de facto president. In this capacity he will be able to influence decisions on production quotas and crude price negotiations. In recent months, Iran has taken upon itself to challenge Saudi Arabia which has traditionally called the shots in Vienna. Last June, in what was described by Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi as one of the worst OPEC meetings he has ever attended, Iran redefined greed. Ignoring the fragility of the world economy it led a radical wing within OPEC to vote against Saudi Arabia’s plan to increase production. All of a sudden, inflated as it was, the Saudi target price of $100 looked like a bargain. Read more ..

England on Edge

England's Riots Give Evidence of Failure in Post-Modern Society

August 15th 2011

Europe Topics - London rioters

Why should anyone be surprised at the rioters when we've been saying for decades there is no right or wrong?

As London burned, pundits rushed to provide rationales for the destruction, and answers to the problem. Some blame poverty, some blame government cuts to services, others blame the breakdown of the family, or the fact that “bankers aren’t moral, why should the youths of Tottenham be?”

But to blame it on these last is to diagnose a symptom as a cause. Why are the bankers immoral? Why has the family broken down? Why are millionaires’ children looting the streets? Why is anyone looting the streets?

A common answer seems to be, “Because they can”. It may shock those who believe in the innate goodness of man -- who have no basis for believing that those who come from good environments could behave like beasts -- that this attitude could be so widespread. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Obama Administration Withholds Pakistani Aid as Goals Differ

August 9th 2011

PakistanTopics - Pakistani military brass

The Obama administration is withholding $800 million of the $2 billion in current aid to Pakistan, angry over the (limited) level of Pakistani pursuit of Taliban elements attacking U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The United States believes intelligence information provided to Pakistan has been shared with insurgents and that the Pakistani government is not committed to "cleaning out" Taliban strongholds in the tribal areas. The Pakistani government, on the other hand, believes the United States violated Pakistan's sovereignty by capturing Osama Bin Laden without prior consultation and by killing Pakistani civilians in drone strikes in the tribal areas. Pakistan is furious about the aid reduction, particularly the $300 million meant as reimbursement for expenses already incurred. Read more ..

Media on Edge

Rupert Murdoch: The Last Titan of Publishing

August 2nd 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Amid the crying of foul and media hype surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World Scandal a fundamental fact seems to have been lost. That is, before Rupert Murdoch came along and almost single-handedly saved it, the newspaper industry as we know it was dying an ignominious death.

To wit, Murdoch’s purchase (at a significant premium) of the Wall Street Journal in 2005 recued a dying operation that the original owners just could not afford to keep anymore. Several other newspaper organizations have not been so lucky. Perhaps the most incredible decline in recent years was the Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, which now languishes in bankruptcy after a breathtakingly swift decline. In 2009, national newspaper revenue fell an astonishing 27% amid a mass advertiser exodus to online media outlets. Since the peak of newspaper circulation in 2000, print circulation has dropped over 44%. The news print industry is undoubtedly undergoing a painful and costly transformation—one that requires entrepreneurs with ambition and deep pockets to drive forward. Read more ..

The Media Edge

A Whiff of Totalitarianism and Anti-Semitic Hypocrisy in Hungary's new Media Law

July 25th 2011

Europe Topics - Hungary Jobbik party rally
Members of Hungary's Jobbik party

Hungary's new media law, which went into effect on July 1, carries a distinctly unpleasant whiff of the country's fascist and communist past.

Under its provisions, all media outlets are required to register with a body called the Media Council. The council is empowered to impose fines of nearly $1 million upon those publications and broadcasters deemed to have "insulted" a particular group, along with an amorphous entity defined as "the majority." If a publication violates "public morality," it faces a fine. If its news coverage is judged "imbalanced," ditto. And woe betide any journalist who refuses an order from the council to disclose his sources.

With this one measure, Hungary has unraveled an emblematic achievement of those largely peaceful 1989-90 revolutions that brought communism crashing down across Eastern Europe -- namely, the freedom of the press. Instead of nurturing an environment conducive to free inquiry, the law creates a climate of fear and distrust, one of the hallmarks of totalitarian rule.

To add insult to injury, two recent cases have emerged that demonstrate that the media law is being applied with a scandalous double standard. Read more ..

Politics on Edge

A Terrible Gamble

July 25th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

If you’ve been living in the United States during the past three months and you’re not aware of this “debt crisis” everyone inside the Beltway is talking about, then you’ve been living under a rock.

The sad truth is, the rest of the world knows about it as well, they’re watching, and let’s just say they’re even more scared than we are on these shores. The reason? The U.S. dollar acts as the reserve currency for hosts of commodities traded every second of every day around the world. Further, the dollar also acts as the “pegged” currency from which many more goods and services are linked, most notably oil.

And anyone waking up yesterday in London would have read this headline in the the London Sunday Times, “Washington Plays Poker with World Economy.” The editorial from which that headline came goes on to say, “It would be unthinkable now were it not for a dangerous stand-off between the White House and Congress over the country’s debt … With this humiliating and destabilising threat hanging over them, one would expect politicians in Washington would be rushing to strike a deal. Far from it. They are engaged in a game of political brinkmanship. The US economy is in danger of looking alarmingly dysfunctional.” Read more ..

Palestine on Edge

“Palestine,” The World’s Most Economically and Politically Coddled Entity

July 25th 2011

Palestine Topics - Gaza aerial shot 2011

SkyNews reporter Tim Marshall points out what other reporters don’t … point out.

“There are well over 200 NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza, and 30% of the GDP here comes from international aid. Palestinians are among the most foreign aid funded people in the world and the place is awash with money …”

“The billions that pour in here mean the Palestinian Authority does not need to try very hard to deliver the services expected by voters, it also stifles the private sector, inflates wages and causes an internal ‘brain drain’ … ”

“No Palestinian business can compete with NGOs which routinely triple what a local firm would pay …” Read more ..

The Philippines on Edge

The Limits of Tyranny in the Philippines

July 22nd 2011

Asia Topics - Sarah Duterte
Mayor Sarah Duterte, Davao City, Philippines

The television images tell it all, imagine how it was last July 1, Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte, daughter of the all-powerful and most feared former-mayor Rodrigo Duterte (now vice-mayor), is surrounded by a crowd of followers and security personnel.  She is agitated, she wants her authority and position to be respected and obeyed without question.

The sheriff has been told by her to delay a court-approved demolition of a squatters' community for whom the city administration has failed to provide a resettlement site for as required by law.  Perhaps she wants the squatters to think she is their saviour and champion rather than part of their problem. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

America’s Heavy-handed Foreign Policy Not Working

July 18th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama Israel speech

The Obama administration is withholding $800 million of the $2 billion in current aid to Pakistan, angry over the (limited) level of Pakistani pursuit of Taliban elements attacking U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The United States believes intelligence information provided to Pakistan has been shared with insurgents and that the Pakistani government is not committed to “cleaning out” Taliban strongholds in the tribal areas. The Pakistani government, on the other hand, believes the United States violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by capturing Osama Bin Laden without prior consultation and by killing Pakistani civilians in drone strikes in the tribal areas. Pakistan is furious about the aid reduction, particularly the $300 million meant as reimbursement for expenses already incurred.

There is, naturally, some justice on both sides, and the money—while important to Pakistan and not insignificant to the United States—is only a metaphor for the difficult relations between the two. The real problem is that the United States and Pakistan do not have the same goal for Afghanistan or for the future of Pakistan and we appear to have forgotten that it is, in fact, their country. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Purchasing Israel—not Stealing Palestine

July 17th 2011

Israel Topics - Titus memorial frieze 70CE
Arch commemorating Titus’s victory over the Jews in 70 CE

Zionists stole Palestinian land: that’s the mantra both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas teach their children and propagate in their media. This claim has vast importance, as Palestinian Media Watch explains: “Presenting the creation of the [Israeli] state as an act of theft and its continued existence as a historical injustice serves as the basis for the PA’s non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist.” The accusation of theft also undermines Israel’s position internationally.

But is this accusation true?

No, it is not. Ironically, the building of Israel represents about the most peaceable in-migration and state creation in history. To understand why requires seeing Zionism in context. Simply put, conquest is the historic norm; governments everywhere were established through invasion, and nearly all states came into being at someone else’s expense. No one is permanently in charge; everyone’s roots trace back to somewhere else. Read more ..

Edge on Terrorism

Obama administration Seeks to Release Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist

July 16th 2011

Terrorism - Abdurahman Alamoudi
Abdurahman Alamoudi

Just when you thought it not possible for the Holder Justice Department to become any more hostile to the national and homeland security interests of the American people, along comes yet another travesty.  This one threatens both, as it apparently would involve turning loose in America a convicted terrorist known to be a top Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan in Arabic) operative and al Qaeda financier: Abdurahman Alamoudi.

According to a short Associated Press report on July 8th:

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to cut the 23-year prison term being served by an American Muslim activist who admitted participation in a Libyan plot to assassinate King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Alamoudi - who famously declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah at a rally in Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. in October 2000 and was recognized by the Justice Department as a Muslim Brother - has been incarcerated with other top terrorists in the Supermax facility in Colorado.  As an American citizen, he would presumably be allowed to stay in this country upon his release.

Alamoudi at Large

Can it be precluded that, once he is freed, Alamoudi would take up again with those he did so much to help sponsor, foster and run as one of the leading Muslim Brothers in the country?  Lest we forget, as a driving force behind many of the myriad MB front organizations in the United States, he previously was deeply involved with the fulfillment of the Ikhwan's mission here as described in its 1991 strategic plan. Read more ..

Edge on Terrorism

Hezbollah's Really Really Bad Week

July 12th 2011

Terrorism - Hezbollah Troops

Back in 2006, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah was riding high. Having fought the Israeli army to a standstill, the organization's leader Hassan Nasrallah declared "divine victory." The war was a public relations coup for the militia, which emerged from the campaign as the most favorable personification of Shiism in the largely Sunni Muslim world. So impressive was the alleged victory that the campaign sparked a widely reported trend of conversion to Shiite Islam in the region. Read more ..

The Grid's Edge

BULB Act is Dim-witted

July 11th 2011

Energy / Environment - 3 kinds of lightbulbs
Lightbulbs: incandescent, LED, CFL

In 1879, Thomas Edison invented a way to create light by heating up a thin strip of material (called a filament) until it was hot enough to glow. This was the incandescent light bulb.

Since then, Americans and people all over the world have been using these same light bulbs that produce 90% heat and only 10% light. I think Thomas Edison, being a man ahead of his time, would agree this makes little sense today. I believe that one of our premier American innovators would be supportive of American innovation making his revolutionary invention just a bit more efficient.

It took us over a century, but a few years ago Congress realized that a simple efficiency standard could spur innovation to make incandescent light bulbs that create less heat and more light while using less energy. Read more ..

Edge on Politics

Where is our Morality President?

July 11th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

These are questionable times in our country’s storied history. The current Congress remains grid locked on nearly every issue of the day, unable to move even basic legislation regarding public safety, transportation, even the Post Office. Meanwhile, a president elected in a modern-day landslide, who vowed to embark on a new era of governing, could go down in history as one who promised so much yet delivered so little.

And while Washington burns with pressing policy concerns, the rest of the nation is swirling in a tempest of questionable practices, poor judgment, and plain stupid behavior that rises to the most elite and highly-regarded in our society.

At a time when the President could stand up and rightly (and righteously) call out the abominable behaviors of our fellow countrymen, silence is his only response. At this time, we need a president willing to decry the injustices perpetrated on the innocent. We need a president who can set a new tone both inside and out of Washington—one of simple morality. Read more ..

Edge on Islam

Academic Upheaval in Mideast Studies May Still Rebound in Sound Understanding of the Region

July 7th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Daniel Pipes bw

The troubled academic study of the Middle East and Islam by Americans is changing in fundamental ways. I offer some thoughts based on 42 years of personal observation:

From Western offence to Islamic offence: Muslim relations with Christians divide into four long periods: from Muhammad's hijra to the First Crusade, 622-1099, during which time Muslims expanded at Christian expense; to the 2nd siege of Vienna, 1099-1683, which saw a mix of Muslim advances (e.g., Anatolia) and retreats (Iberia); to the Arab oil boycott, 1683-1973, with Christians on the offense; and since 1973, with Muslims on the offense.

When I entered the Middle East and Islam field in 1969, Americans looked almost exclusively at the Western impact on modern Muslims; today, the Muslim impact on the West features almost as prominently, from American slavery to the problems of Malmö, Sweden.

From Arab to Muslim: Books on "The Arabs," "the Arab world," "Arab politics," "Arab nationalism," and "Arab socialism" flew off the press during my student years. With time, however, the hollowness of this modern concept of Arabs became evident. I was one of those who argued for Islam as the real defining factor, devoting myself thirty years ago to proving that "Islam profoundly shapes the political attitudes of Muslims." Met with skepticism back then, this understanding has now become so blindingly self-evident that Amazon.com lists no fewer than 3,077 items in English on jihad. Read more ..

Second Flotilla to Gaza

Seizure of Gaza Flotilla by Greece May be Harbinger of Better Days for Israel

July 5th 2011

Palestine Topics - Audacity of Hope seizure

With extraordinary economic problems and its public in a very bad mood, the Government of Greece seemed an unlikely hero in the saga of the Hamas-organized flotillas. But Greece is, indeed, the hero. While several countries - including the United States - denounced the idea of boats breaking legal Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Hamas government in Gaza, and a few - including Turkey - withdrew government support - it was left to Greece to stop the ships. [Ed. Note: Another vessel was stopped shortly after this article was submitted. The Greek Coast Guard and Special Forces boarded a ship leaving northeastern Crete for Gaza and towed it back to port.]

Several ships had been in Greece, awaiting the results of local inspections to be permitted to sail. The inspections themselves were carried out to the letter of Greek law, delaying the ships for more than a week. On Friday, organizers on "The Audacity of Hope" decided to sail without authorization. Read more ..

Edge on Politics

Three Kinds of People

July 5th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

It’s tempting to simplify; to view Washington DC as the lair of three different types of people—Democrats, Republicans, and the growing ranks of the Tea Party faithful. Pundits and political scientists are prone to slide the actors of this political drama into these three columns. When you know where one sits, it’s easier to understand where they will stand on the issues of the day.

Yet when it comes to executing the decisions that matter, that will truly impact this country for generations to come, another set of three come to mind: those who don’t know what’s happening, those who watch what’s happening, and those who make things happen.

I won’t attempt to draw parallels between the three known political factions with the “doers” versus those who dawdle, for all bear some responsibility of seemingly waiting for something good to happen to them through no actions of their own. But let’s single out that specific category of “those who do” and determine what exactly it will take to turn any member of either party into a genuine catalyst for change. Read more ..

Mexico's Drug Wars

The U.S. is Part the Problem and the Solution to Mexico's Gun Battles

July 4th 2011

Mexican Topics - Mexico bullets crime scene

As thousands of U.S. weapons enter Mexico each year, the Mexican government has grown increasingly frustrated with the United States, arguing that the U.S. is not effectively countering gun trafficking. In a speech to the U.S. Congress, President Calderón said, “We cannot ignore the fact that the challenge to our security has roots on both sides of the border.” Mexico argues that the White House has focused almost exclusively on curbing the flow of drugs from Mexico into the United States but has done little to stop the smuggling of guns in the reverse direction. Read more ..

The Toxic Edge

Canada Resists Adding Asbestos to Toxics Blacklist

June 29th 2011

Environment Topics - Indian Woman and Asbestos

Canada reinforced its reputation as a public health outcast this week by declining to support the inclusion of asbestos on a toxics blacklist.

At a United Nations meeting Wednesday in Geneva, the head of the Canadian delegation stunned other attendees by announcing that Canada opposed the listing of white, or Chrysotile, asbestos, under Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. The treaty requires would-be exporters of toxic substances to warn and obtain permission from developing nations before sending their products abroad. Canada remains a major exporter of Chrysotile asbestos to India and other countries in Asia and Latin America. Read more ..

Edge on Immigration

In Immigration Reform, It’s The Consumer that Matters

June 23rd 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

The recent Supreme Court Ruling in Chamber of Commerce v Whiting highlights a fundamental and before now underappreciated factor in the immigration debate: immigrants come here illegally because they know that U.S. companies will hire them. Furthermore, while most of the immigration laws have focused on the status and treatment of illegal immigrants themselves, very few of them have focused on the consumers of their labor: companies, and, by extension the consumers they serve.

Many people at the highest levels of Government and industry have taken a cynical and duplicitous approach to illegal immigration. In a way, it’s symbolic of the approach most average Americans have taken. We rely on immigrant labor to fill jobs that Americans won’t do (at the wages and under the working conditions immigrants are subjected to), while complaining about the side effects—overburdened social services, crime, and cultural dilution in the border states. After all, it’s not hard to spot the illegal immigrants in any given neighborhood. In fact it’s quite simple. They are the only people tending your lawn, babysitting your children, and running your restaurants on the cheap. Illegal immigration in many ways acts like outsourcing for non-exportable jobs in this country. Read more ..

The Battle for Lebanon

Learning from Lebanon’s Cabinet

June 22nd 2011

Lebanon Topics - Lebanon Mosque

Last week, Lebanon served up a reminder for the United States and the partisans of the Arab uprisings: don’t count your democracies before they’ve hatched. Having thrown off the yoke of Syrian occupation in 2005 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, Lebanon once again finds itself under the control of Iran and Syria. Allies of these two countries, including Hezbollah, control the majority of the posts in the new Lebanese cabinet announced on June 15.

This development is a blow to freedom and sovereignty in Lebanon, and a setback for U.S. interests in the region. It holds, however, two lessons which, if taken to heart, can help Arab democrats and U.S. policymakers successfully entrench democracy in places like Egypt and Tunisia. Read more ..

Religious Freedom

With YIISA’s Demise, a Lingering Question: Can Academia Ever Ignore Politics?

June 22nd 2011

Jewish Topics - YIISA

Can a clear line be drawn between academic scholarship and political imperatives? Of all the questions raised by Yale University’s recent closure of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), this one is the most acute.

Even with the news that Yale is going to replace YIISA with a new program for the study of anti-Semitism, it is still instructive to think about what brought YIISA down. The institute’s detractors essentially fell into two categories. Some, like the bloggers Philip Weiss and Antony Lerman, marked its demise with displays of schadenfreude, having long caricatured YIISA as a Zionist advocacy organization masquerading as an academic institute. Read more ..

The Edge of War

Obama Needs to Declare Strategy and Goals for His Five Wars

June 22nd 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama perplexed

The United States is involved in hostilities in five countries across the Middle East and Southwest Asia - Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya. It is not too much to ask that the Administration explain where, why and what we plan to accomplish. Thus far, there are more questions than answers.

President Obama declined to meet the provisions of the War Powers Act as regards NATO's war in Libya because, he said, Libya was not the sort of war envisioned by the Act's framers. The President's report to Congress noted, "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops." Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

How to Get Through the Gaza Flotilla: Prosecute Them

June 20th 2011

Palestine Topics - Flotilla

Within days, anti-Israeli activists plan to launch another flotilla to Hamas-controlled Gaza, the main objective of which is to break the lawfully imposed Israeli naval blockade. Since Hamas has repeatedly and indiscriminately bombarded Israeli citizens with rockets and mortar rounds, there can be no serious doubt as to the legitimacy of the blockade. And although couched in humanitarian jargon, it could not be clearer that the aim of this year's flotilla, as was true last year, has nothing at all to do with the living conditions in Gaza, where plainly there is no humanitarian crisis. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Syria's Assad Regime Raised False Hopes for Palestinians at the Naksa Day Border Clash

June 19th 2011

Syrian Issues - Nakba Protests

On June 5, 2011, in a repeat of the events of "Nakba Day" only two weeks earlier, hundreds of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian demonstrators marked "Naksa Day," a commemoration of the Arab loss in the Six Day War, by sparking deadly riots on Israel's borders. The demonstrators attempted to infiltrate across Israel's border, forcing Israeli troops to disperse the crowds. Unlike the nonviolent protestors who have taken to the streets in Syria to demand governmental reform from President Bashar Assad - and who have been summarily brutalized and killed - the demonstrators on Israel's borders came armed with the intent to provoke Israel's army.

International media reports characterizing the protestors on the Syrian border as "non-violent" and "unarmed" were inaccurate. Armed gunmen were spotted in the crowds that gathered near the border fence and many other allegedly peaceful protestors flung Molotov cocktails and large rocks toward Israeli forces. At one point, the incendiaries launched by the protestors caused a mine field to ignite, leading to the explosion of four anti-tank mines which injured several protestors. The IDF cautioned the mob approaching the border to stay back. Read more ..

Edge on Justice

Sad, Sad John Edwards

June 17th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

I’ve just finished speaking with many of my colleagues and family members who live and work in the Carolinas, where a few reside in Raleigh. Tobacco Road is hot these days, but not just because of the heat wave. Locals in the Research Triangle specifically, and in North Carolina generally, are hopping mad over the federal indictment of their native son, former Senator John Edwards. It’s funny, instead of heads shaking over how far Edwards has fallen, I listened to reactions more along the lines of “come-uppance” – Edwards had finally received what he had coming to him.

You see, for years before John Edwards became Senator, he was a well-known trial attorney, netting millions by shaking down businesses and insurance companies. That trial attorney lifestyle allowed Edwards and his family to live comfortably and never have a care in the world. No one would begrudge their fellow American for making a living, but it was how John Edwards sold himself and his entire public life that causes many Carolinians and Americans to doubt everything about his “everyman” run at the White House. Here was a person who mocked the “haves” in the name of the “have nots.” He ridiculed ostentatious and excessive living. In short, Edwards heralded himself as the messiah of the masses – ready to renew America and unite the two countries we had become. What poppy-cock.

The irony here is we and the media knew of Edwards’ hypocrisy fairly early on. From the $400 haircuts to the lavish spending, to the now million-dollar hush campaign Edwards set up to conceal the illegitimate child he had fathered with his New Age girlfriend. This makes Schwarzenegger look tame, doesn’t it?

John Edwards wished he was the character he played in front of the cameras for those 22 months running on vice- and presidential tickets. He could only hope to understand the plight of workers struggling to make ends meet. And yet, we now learn that he had absolutely no clue what hardship was, in economic or any other form. Read more ..

The Battle for Lebanon

Obama Needs to Get Serious about Confronting Iran and Standing up for U.S. Allies in Lebanon

June 15th 2011

Islamic Topics - Elamin mosque

Just a few years ago, Lebanon appeared to be a foreign-policy success for the United States. Outraged by the brutal 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, likely at the hands of Syria and its allies, the Lebanese people, bolstered by international support, succeeded in expelling Syrian military forces and asserting Lebanese sovereignty for the first time in decades. Again in 2009, the Lebanese affirmed their support for the pro-Western ruling coalition, awarding it a solid majority of seats in parliament during the May general elections.

These days, however, the country looks headed for a frightening crisis. The March 14 Coalition, as the ruling group is known, has been unable to capitalize on its popular mandate due to the overwhelming force wielded by Hezbollah, which is funded, trained, and armed by Iran and Syria. But it's not just Hezbollah's fault. U.S. policy toward Lebanon is significantly to blame for being unwilling to back up bold words with actions. Far from protecting America's allies, consecutive U.S. administrations have not only failed the pro-Western government but also empowered its worst enemies. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Time for the Republicans to Get Real about Government Spending

June 14th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams
Armstrong Williams

Let me tell you a quick story about one of the most marvelous and intriguing beasts in the animal kingdom. The African impala is a graceful animal yet full of raw force and power. It possesses the ability to jump 13 feet high from a standing position and as much as 30 feet out, with little more than a few gallops. Yet if you visit any zoo today, you can view the impala protected only by a three-foot wall. You see, when the impalas are young, they are taught they cannot jump over that tiny wall, despite their great, instinctual abilities - -the reason? Zookeepers manipulate a weakness in the adults to limit their full potential. A full-grown impala will hesitate and ultimately not leap over an object unless it can see where it’s going to land. So long as zoo personnel keep the other side out of view, it somehow hinders the impala from something it is fully capable of doing.

We have a similar inability in Washington today. Congressional leaders are paralyzed by their lack of faith to see this country through to the other side of prosperity and greater economic freedom we have not known in over a generation. The ensuing debate over spending, debt ceilings, and entitlement reforms holds far more than the process hostage. Our entire system of government hangs in a delicate balance.

Government does not create anything. It does not manufacture a good, or yield a product that’s traded on the open market. Instead, it confiscates our individual monies and redistributes those funds in a manner it deems best. So in that regard, money is the lifeblood of government; without which it essentially ceases to exist. Hence the reason that this time, this current debate over repairing and repaying our national debt, is so critical. For if our government falls, the institutions that have come to rely on that “full faith and credit” guarantee are in turn, capable of collapsing as well. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Upcoming UN Vote on Palestine is Loaded with Global Implications

June 14th 2011

Palestine Topics - Hamas-Fatah handshake

For more than 60 years, the United Nations has worked mightily to prevent the Arabs from paying the price of their rejection of the independence of Israel in 1948 and to stoke the fires of Palestinian irredentism: denying resettlement to Arabs who fled the Arab war against Israel; five separate UN committees dealing with "Palestine"; reliably large majorities of the General Assembly and Human Rights Commission regularly castigate Israel (including an inexplicable series of resolutions demanding that Gaza residents be removed from newly built apartments in Gaza and returned to UN-administered camps so that they look like refugees); denying Israel a seat in its regional bloc and its opportunity to serve on the Security Council.

All of this was possible for two reasons: None of it affected any of the other countries - although it did certainly warp the Palestinians; and the Security Council could be relied upon to nix the greatest of the excesses through a U.S. veto.

The Palestinian push for UN recognition of an independent State of Palestine through the General Assembly, however, may have been a bridge too far. Assembly President Joseph Deiss has reminded anyone who will listen that the Security Council must recommend new UN members, without a veto from any permanent member. Currently, the United States is blocking recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which seceded with Russian military assistance from Georgia. Russia is blocking recognition of Kosovo. Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

The Plight of Pakistan's Minorities is Inextricably Tied to the Nation's Future

June 14th 2011

Contributors / Staff - David Alton

In 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave a speech to the New Delhi Press Club, setting out the basis on which the new State of Pakistan was to be founded. In it, he forcefully defended the right of minorities to be protected and to have their beliefs respected:

“Minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion, faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life and their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste and creed.”

These words are a forgotten aspiration in today's Pakistan where minorities, ranging from Ahmadis to Sikhs, from Christians to Hindus, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, face relentless violence and profound discrimination.

It is estimated that, of a population of over 172 million people, at least 4 percent of the population come from the minorities: in 2011 the Pakistan Hindu Council put the number of Hindus alone at 5.5% - some 7 million people, while there are almost 3 million Christians, and Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community is 4 million strong. All of these minorities have suffered grievously, along with those caught up in the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.

Jinnah rightly declared that the Government of Pakistan has a duty to protect all of its citizens, regardless of their beliefs or origins. The international community ought to be asking how the State today honours that pledge. Take the Ahmadis. One year ago, in two separate attacks in Lahore, 98 Ahmadis were murdered and many more injured while they were at Friday prayers. The vicious brutality of these attacks is magnified when considering the Ahmadis' belief: “love for all and hatred for none.” Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

A Great Loss to Our Understanding of Anti-Semitism

June 13th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Andre Oboler

Last month, while visiting New York, Washington and San Francisco, I took a small detour to New Haven and Yale University. As an expert in anti-Semitism, the visit to Yale University, and specifically to the offices of YIISA, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, was an essential stop. I met with YIISA’s director, Prof Charles Small, and Prof Avi Silberschatz, the head of Yale’s Computer Science department.

We spoke of the challenges that result from online hate, and I outlined some new solutions my own team in Australia and Israel are currently designing. We discussed the need for new research to support this work, and how YIISA, with the support of the computer science department, was uniquely placed to carry out this work. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Grounding Iranian Crude to a Halt

June 13th 2011

Iran - Iran gas station brule
Tehran Gas Station Vandalized for Supplies

Through the Comprehensive Iran Sanction Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA), passed in 2010, the United States Congress has taken strong measures to check Iran's ability to abuse the international banking sector and the refined energy space. Despite this act, however, Iran is using its vast crude oil reserves to skirt financial sanctions and gain access to huge sums of hard currency. Nevertheless, there are additional methods that members of Congress should consider deploying to curb Iran's access to much-needed funds.

Iran holds the third-largest known oil reserves in the world and the second-largest natural gas reserves. According to Oil and Gas Journal, as of January 2010, Iran had roughly 10 percent of the world's total oil reserves, with approximately 40 oil fields—27 onshore and 13 offshore—that hold mid-grade-quality crude similar to that found in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. In 2008, Iran exported approximately $73 billion worth of oil, which represented half of its government revenue. Read more ..

Edge on Immigration Reform

In Immigration Reform, It’s The Consumer that Matters

June 13th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

The recent Supreme Court Ruling in Chamber of Commerce v Whiting highlights a fundamental and before now underappreciated factor in the immigration debate: immigrants come here illegally because they know that U.S. companies will hire them. Furthermore, while most of the immigration laws have focused on the status and treatment of illegal immigrants themselves, very few of them have focused on the consumers of their labor: companies, and, by extension the consumers they serve.

Many people at the highest levels of Government and industry have taken a cynical and duplicitous approach to illegal immigration. In a way, it’s symbolic of the approach most average Americans have taken. We rely on immigrant labor to fill jobs that Americans won’t do (at the wages and under the working conditions immigrants are subjected to), while complaining about the side effects—overburdened social services, crime, and cultural dilution in the border states. After all, it’s not hard to spot the illegal immigrants in any given neighborhood. In fact it’s quite simple. They are the only people tending your lawn, babysitting your children, and running your restaurants on the cheap. Illegal immigration in many ways acts like outsourcing for non-exportable jobs in this country. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Rahm Emanuel is All Wrong about the Obama Peace Plan

June 6th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama with Flag

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempted last week to reassure Israel that President Obama’s May 19 speech was misconstrued; Mr. Obama’s repeated calls for Israel’s return to the 1967 lines grew out of his concern for the Jewish state, claimed the former White House Chief of Staff.

In his June 2 Washington Post article, Mr. Emanuel echoed the president’s contention that “the hard realities of demography” threaten the survival of the Jewish state. Clearly, both anchored their arguments in the conjured estimates of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. A 2006 World Bank study found “32 percent ‘inflation’ in the number of Arab births,” alleged by the Palestinians.

A more recent comprehensive study on Jewish-Arab Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel, published earlier this year by Yakov Faitelson, found that “ in 2011 there is a 66 percent Jewish majority … in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria.”

The study demonstrated that:

• “Despite 120 years of demographic calamity projections, the Jewish
population in the Land of Israel succeeded to grow from a 5 percent minority to a 60 percent majority.”

• “In 2010, the Jewish fertility rate is 63 percent higher than Lebanon’s, 53 percent higher than Iran’s, 33 percent higher than Turkey’s and Kuwait’s, 23 percent higher thanSaudi Arabia’s, slightly higher than Egypt’s and only 7 percent and 4 percent lower than Jordan’s and Syria’s respectively.”

• “Israeli Arab fertility rate has collapsed since the 1970s [due to a most successful integration into the infrastructures of education, employment, finance, politics, culture, sports, etc.] … It declined to 3.5 births per woman in 2009.” Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Obama’s Two Pro-Israel Speeches—that You Haven’t Heard About

June 5th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama and Flag

Football, they say, is a game of inches. So too, is Middle East peace making — both figuratively, and in some cases quite literally. President Obama was reminded of that last week when his comments about terms of reference for future Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations provoked a significant public debate, and in some cases, a furious reaction.

Many Republicans—some acting out of purely political motives—and many Democrats, myself included—acting out of genuine concern—reacted quickly and negatively when President Obama adopted as American policy on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks what had previously been described by this Administration as a “Palestinian goal—that is, a Palestinian state “based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps.” Read more ..

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