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War on Drugs

What's Good for the Marijuana Industry is Good for America

May 2nd 2011

Mexican Topics - Mexico marijuana seizure

Few topics of debate are as stigmatizing and polarizing as the legalization of marijuana. For the majority of the U.S. population, the idea invokes one of two reactions: a firm guffaw at the ridiculousness of it, or a tenacious, almost blind, support of it. Regardless of their stance, most people derive their opinions from personal beliefs and unsubstantiated myth rather than unassailable fact. Disinformation on marijuana is rampant and several U.S. presidents have been stubbornly opposed to any serious discussion about marijuana legalization. National interest in the subject is evidenced by the myriad of legalization-related questions directed at the White House, yet President Obama cannot stifle his laughter every time the topic is brought up. Read more ..

Egypt after the Revolt

Understanding Post-Mubarak Egypt

May 2nd 2011

Egypt - Bye bye Mubarak

As Egypt lurches into a new era, a look at its complexities and subtleties helps to understand the country's likely course. Some thoughts on key issues:

The spirit of Tahrir Square is real and alive but exceedingly remote from the halls of power. Revolutionary ideas – that government should serve the people, not the reverse; that rulers should be chosen by the people; and that individuals have inherent dignity and rights – have finally penetrated a substantial portion of the country, and especially the young. In the long term, these ideas can work wonders. But for now, they are dissident ideas, firmly excluded from any operational role.

A military court sentenced liberal blogger Maikel Nabil to three years in jail. And military rule will continue. Soldiers did not seize power with Hosni Mubarak's departure two months ago; they did so in 1952. That's when the Free Officers overthrew the constitutional monarchy and took office. Read more ..

Edge on Travel

Sleeping Like the Air Traffic Controllers Do

May 2nd 2011

Transportation Topics - Night-time air traffick controllers

You may well have heard by now that five U.S. air-traffic controllers — a rather shocking number — have been found literally asleep at the switch on the overnight shifts of several U.S. airports just since late March. So many — including a supervisor — that federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood has ordered that a minimum of two controllers be on duty at those airports where a decent number of flights land after dark.

Catching a flick's not cool on MANY jobs.

LaHood has used words like “ridiculous” and “outrageous” to discuss the on-the-job naps and other embarrassing lapses by controllers. They included an incident at Cleveland’s air transportation center in which a controller who was watching a movie — let me say that again: he was watching a MOVIE on a DVD player — while planes were landing, couldn’t be reached by the incoming pilots. He compounded his apparent stupidity by leaving his microphone open for three minutes while the soundtrack from the movie blared into the pilots’ headphones. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

America's Stake in Stabilizing Syria

April 27th 2011

Syrian Issues - Syrian Protests March 2011

The Obama administration says it may look for "targeted sanctions" on Junior Assad's Syria, and "condemns" the violence there, but - hey, look guys, it isn't Libya, for Pete's sake. Asked the difference, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "We had a Gaddafi regime that was moving against its own people in a coordinated military fashion and was about to assault a very large city on the promise that it would show...that city and its residents no mercy...We had an international consensus to act. We had the Arab League." Read more ..

Edge of Debt

Deficit Spending is the Biggest Threat to America

April 25th 2011

Economy - One Million Dollars
Sen. Mark Kirk (R)

All across Western Europe—the land of platinum-plated social benefits, the 35-hour work week, tony retirement plans and government-funded health care—countries are coming to the realization that they can no longer afford these luxuries amid skyrocketing deficits. Yet here in the United States, as we face a $14.3 trillion deficit, some are calling for increasing our government’s ability to borrow even more money without any concern for spending reform. Congress can’t allow that to happen, lest we become the Europe of the West. Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

Something Fishy In Libyan Assets Discovery

April 25th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

There’s something distinctly fishy about the Treasury Department’s lightning fast and allegedly “surprise” discovery of more than $30 billion in Libyan government assets stored in U.S. banks.

The Obama administration has lauded this as a major and unexpected victory in its effort to dislodge Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s regime. That may be so, but the implications of such a large deposit by Libya have deeper and far more disturbing implications. Could Libya have been in the process of purchasing a major stake in America’s critical infrastructure?

First, it is strange that Libya—a government that has traditionally been wary of storing its assets in a place where they could be confiscated by the U.S. government—would keep almost half of its estimated $70 billion sovereign wealth fund (Libyan Investment Authority, or LIA) in U.S. banks. After all, Libyan assets had been frozen before, most notably in 1986. In fact, most Arab nations, even those friendly to the U.S., had been reluctant to keep their assets within U.S. jurisdiction after the U.S. froze Iranian government assets in 1979. Admittedly, relations with Libya have warmed in recent years since it was removed from the U.S. list of official state sponsors of terrorism in 2005. Still, the old wounds run deep, and Col. Gadhafi is, if nothing else, a shrewd operator. Clearly, if he were taking such a big risk he must have had assurances from on high. Read more ..

Inside Washington

Forcing Contractors to Disclose Contributions is a Good First Step

April 25th 2011

Economy - Dollar Bills

Each year, government contractors spend mountains of money to influence politicians, and then—in a remarkable coincidence—are richly rewarded with billions of dollars in government contracts. It’s a pay-to-play scheme government officials try to keep hidden from the American public, but is common knowledge inside the Beltway.

A step in the right direction is the White House’s proposed executive order that would require government contractors to disclose political contributions totaling over $5,000 before receiving government contracts. Read more ..

Campus Hate

The Wrong Statement on Campus Anti-Semitism

April 22nd 2011

Jewish Topics - Anti-Israel Protest at UC Irvine

On April 20, Cary Nelson and Kenneth Stern issued a widely discussed but troubling statement in response to recent allegations that anti-Semitism has gotten out of hand at three universities:  the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Rutgers. See it at  http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/about/pres/let/antisemitism.htm

On each of those campuses, activists have alleged a pattern of intimidation and harassment of Jewish students who support the State of Israel.  These two authors carry weight because Nelson is president of the American Association of University Professors and Stern is the top anti-Semitism expert at the American Jewish Committee.  Having spear-headed the federal government’s work on campus anti-Semitism for several years, I am pleased that these two figures are turning their attention to the topic, but I am disappointed that their statement is more critical of activists who are fighting this problem than of the perpetrators who have created it or the administrators who tolerate it.

Let’s start with the positive in Nelson and Stern’s letter. Nelson and Stern are right to highlight campus anti-Semitism, which has become a real and ugly problem involving harassment, intimidation, vandalism, threats, and occasional violence. Contemporary campus anti-Semitism is difficult to address because in many cases it is intermingled with criticism of Israeli politics, which is protected by both the First Amendment and the doctrine of academic freedom. Read more ..

Inside the Mideast

Judge Richard Goldstone's Recanted Report on The Gaza War

April 18th 2011

Israel Topics - Richard Goldstone
Richard Goldstone

In a remarkable April 1 article published in the Washington Post, Judge Richard Goldstone -- chairman of the UN fact-finding mission that investigated the military conflict in Gaza in 2008-2009 -- expressed regret for some of the most damning findings against Israel in his mission's report. His article declares that "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone report would have been a different document."

In significant contrast to his initial report, Goldstone now asserts that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy during the Gaza campaign and that estimates of Palestinian civilian casualties may have been exaggerated. Importantly, he gives credit to Israeli efforts to investigate operational misconduct, while denouncing Hamas's tactics and its failure to investigate its own wrongdoing. Whether Justice Goldstone's about-face on these issues will help reverse or limit the trends enabled by his initial report is yet to be seen. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

As Unrest Spreads in the Arab World, Syria Now Teeters on the Brink

April 18th 2011

Syrian Issues - Day of Rage in Syria Urged

After three weeks and more than 200 deaths, the uprisings against Syria's Asad regime appear to be gaining momentum. In recent days, the protests spread to the coastal city of Banias and, more important, to Aleppo. Smaller demonstrations have even occurred at Damascus University.

The Aleppo protests pose a significant challenge to the regime. The second-largest city in Syria, Aleppo has been a traditional flashpoint of Sunni-Alawite tension. Historically, the city has also been known as a repository of support for Syria's Muslim Brotherhood. In 1982, Aleppo, along with Hama, bore the brunt of the regime's brutal crackdown against Islamists. Read more ..

Iran’s Nukes

The Pipeline Paradox: Why is the U.S. Helping Iran Sell Natural Gas?

April 18th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Gal Luft

Despite the harsh sanctions imposed on it by the United States and United Nations, Iran continues to steadily accumulate geopolitical clout. Many commentators point to the fact that the cascading series of revolutions in the Middle East has given the region’s Shiite communities, which are allied with Iran, greater influence. But even more important is Tehran’s recent success in strengthening its role as an indispensable international energy supplier. By focusing on financial sanctions rather than the Islamic Republic’s plans to become a global energy superpower, Washington policymakers have enabled Iran’s rise.

Hundreds of millions of people are dependent on Iran for their energy. But while the West tends to associate Iran with oil, of which it is the world’s fourth-largest producer, Iran’s real power derives from its vast natural gas reserves, which are second only to Russia’s. Driven by technological breakthroughs in the United States and demand in China and elsewhere, natural gas is already ascendant as a source of energy for power generation that is substantially cleaner than the old standby coal; in a post-Fukushima world, it is likely to be second to none. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

A White House Divided on Syria

April 11th 2011

Syrian Issues - Syrian Protests March 2011

More so than the conflicts in Tunisia, Libya, and Bahrain, and perhaps even more than the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the recent violence in Syria has posed a challenge to the Obama administration’s strategy in the Middle East. The conflicting impulses within the administration can be seen in recent statements made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; days ago, she described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer”; in London on March 29, she issued a “strong condemnation of the Syrian government’s brutal repression of demonstrators.” Which view of Assad prevails, and how the United States responds to events in Syria, will go a long way toward determining how deeply U.S. policy in the Middle East is altered by the recent turmoil there. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Speaker Boehner in the Temple of Tea Party Doom

April 11th 2011

Politics - John Boehner smiling
Speaker of the House John Boehner

Speaker of the House John Boehner looked as tanned and dashing as Indiana Jones escaping the Temple of Doom last week. He came out alive. He captured some treasure in the form of budget cuts. His friends shake their heads in amazement. But the worried look on our hero’s face is a sly clue that he knows this is not the end of the movie. It is the start. And the worst is yet to come.

When the Speaker told ABC last week that there is no “daylight” between him and the Tea Party Caucus it was because they are wrapped around his neck like an albatross.

The Tea Party’s tremendous success in the mid-term elections elevated him to the speaker’s chair. But the Tea Party freshmen are all about talk radio rhetoric, campaign slogans and reveling in the widespread discontent with American politics. They have yet to display any capacity to govern.

By forcing the nation to wait on a last-minute deal, the Speaker was able to go back to his Tea Party freshmen and claim he got the best deal possible from the Democratic majority in the Senate and the President. But what he demonstrated to moderate and independent voters, as well as Republicans not entranced by the Tea Party, is that the least experienced, most extreme elements of the party are now defining the Republican brand with hysterical stunt governing. Read more ..

Inside the Mideast

Israel Draws Lessons from the Currently Chaotic Situation in the Mideast

April 11th 2011

Israel Topics - Israeli school bus attacked by Hamas

Last month, the Israel Defence Force's Trophy anti-tank missile defense system successfully completed evaluation at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground. During six weeks of testing the system on the Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV), the system successfully defended the vehicle against attacks by numerous missiles and rockets. A spokesman for Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Trophy's maker, said, "We chose to be evaluated on a Stryker to show Trophy's diversity - on one hand, the system protects Merkava 4 main battle tanks along Israel's borders and on the other hand it can protect light and medium AFVs as they are part of the current battlefield." Read more ..

Budget on Edge

Congress Should Consider Cutting Funds for Wasteful Radio/TV Marti Broadcasts to Cuba

April 11th 2011

Cuba Topics - Radio TV Marti

As budget battles continue, representatives of Congress are scrambling to pass a budget while addressing the staggering U.S. debt. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has proponed a goal of USD 40 billion in government spending cuts, and members of Congress are searching for a painless way to slash expenditures. While House Republicans showed no difficulties in placing National Public Radio (NPR) on the chopping block in mid-March, they have overlooked conservative pet projects that are far more costly, of lower quality, and ineffective. Two such projects are the anti-Castro broadcasts Radio and TV Martí, both funded by the U.S. government and aired in Cuba. Both are expensive and fruitless remnants of Cold War-era propaganda battles. Their termination would go largely unnoticed by Cubans and be applauded by most U.S. taxpayers, who presently shell out roughly USD 30 million every year to fund the broadcasts. Read more ..

The Arab Awakening

The Arab Spring: A Fair Weather Illusion

April 11th 2011

Egypt - Bye bye Mubarak

We are currently witnessing contradictory and confused responses by the Obama administration to the upheavals sweeping the Arab world. They highlight the failure of previous US governments to pressure autocratic Arab allies to introduce domestic reform.

With media support, the administration has been promoting an utterly misleading image of an “Arab Spring” led by peaceful, secular Arabs revolting against tyranny. For example, in its frenetic efforts to provide an idealized spin to the upheaval in Egypt, the State Department even suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood poses no threat because it has adopted a “low profile” and is becoming “secularized.” In fact, the young liberal protesters who initially led the uprising have been shunted aside. Read more ..

Edge of Space

Human Spaceflight Began Fifty Years Ago This Month—But Not Much Has Happened Lately

April 11th 2011

Science - Gagarin News Apr 1961

Half a century ago on April 12, 1961, Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first person to reach outer space and orbit the Earth. Eight years later the Space Race ended in an American victory when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon.

Since then, it’s been all downhill for human space flight.

Racing to the moon in the 1960s was possible for two reasons: First, major military investments—more than $12 billion by 1957 ($90 billion in today’s dollars)—laid the technological foundations for the imposing rockets that sent satellites and men into orbit and beyond. Second, broad political support provided this expensive technological undertaking with the resources it needed. Read more ..

Edge of Terror

Do Gaza Rockets Cause Enough Damage to Justify Israeli Military Retaliation

April 6th 2011

Israel Topics - Samage in Ashkelon
Damage from rocket fired from Gaza

Since the start of the Palestinian War in 2000, terrorists from inside Gaza have fired no fewer than 12,000 Kassam rockets, GRAD missiles and mortars at southern Israel, including more than 6,000 since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the area in 2005, and nearly 100 since the beginning of March 2011 alone. These explosive weapons have killed 28 Israeli civilians, injured hundreds more and have inflicted heavy damage on schools, synagogues, houses and hospitals in the region. Read more ..

Ivory Coast on Edge

With Focus on Libya, World Ignores Bigger Humanitarian Crisis in Ivory Coast

April 4th 2011

Africa Topics - African immigrants at Lampedusa island italy

As NATO planes enforce a No-Fly zone in the skies of Libya, the most serious and complicated of the present North African-Middle East conflicts, and as two self-proclaimed presidents in Ivory Coast avoid negotiations and remain adamant in their positions, unreported human dramas are being played out on the ground beneath: the lives of countless refugees and displaced persons. Africa has a famous saying: when two bull elephants fight, the grass gets trampled on.

Latest news is that the Ivorian administrative capital, Yamoussoukro, has fallen to the soldiers backing the internationally-recognised president Outtara, while the population of the financial capital, Abidjan, which is mainly Gbagbo territory, are getting out as fast as they can. Estimated numbers of refugees and displaced range between 500,000 and 1 million. Some will have fled to their village homes—if they’re in safe areas—others (cocoa plantation workers), back to their countries of origin and others wherever they can find refuge and food. One Catholic church compound in Ivory Coast is providing shelter for as many as 30,000 refugees. Read more ..

Battle for Libya

Clear As Mud in Libya

April 4th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

For all those who got lathered up over Mr. Bush’s “rush to war” ... what must they think of Mr. Obama? Whatever you want to say about the rationale for war in Iraq, given its location, oil reserves, and history of invading its neighbors, US vital interests were undeniably at stake. What, please tell me, are the vital interests at stake here that the President avoided like a plague in his speech on Libya? I am anxious to see how the Washington pundits and foreign policy experts score President Obama following his national address. For me, the speech was okay, but it didn’t tell me much as a concerned American citizen.

In typical Obama fashion, the speech was delivered with an adept style, less the Lecturer-in-Chief and more with a forceful emphasis on key points the White House knew it had to make, but that’s where the “good” ends and the questions begin. It’s apparent by Obama’s words that the United States will not forcefully remove Gaddafi from power. Whew. Guess who’s resting easy in Tripoli! Sure, the Obama Administration wants the tyrant tossed. Why else would U.S. warplanes be pounding his military? But dropping a hint and showing him the door are two different things.

It is clear that President Obama has begun an illegal war—and if not illegal, then an unwise and unauthorized one. War on the cheap is not new, and has predictable outcomes. I’m intrigued by how some reporters have actually said counterfactual things like, “allied air power prevented a blood bath.” Read more ..

Inside the Mideast

As Arab World Revolts, Palestine Needs Regime Change Too

April 4th 2011

Palestine Topics - Palestinans for Yeshua?
Palestinian police

While Arabs throughout the Middle East engage in a largely nonviolent effort to overthrow the dictatorial regimes that have enslaved them for decades, the Palestinians have watched helplessly as their plight has fallen off the media’s radar.

The longstanding claim that the “Palestinian question” is the crux of all problems in the Middle East has once again been exposed as a fallacy as the Arabs in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and elsewhere have shown no interest in them or Israel. The Palestinians now are responding to the lack of attention by launching new terror attacks, which may garner headlines but also remind Israelis and the rest of the world they are not interested in peace. Read more ..

Edge on the Economy

Unintended Consequences

March 30th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Unfortunately, President Obama does not understand the basic laws of physics. Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. Nor does he understand the basic principles of economics including the law of unintended consequences and creating a “Moral Hazard.” A moral hazard is created when a person behaves differently than he would have if he had to bear the risks of his behavior.

Every time Obama attempts to repair a problem by government intervention, he creates a more serious problem. An example of the law of unintended consequences is the President’s attempt to solve the financial crises by increasing the regulation of the American financial system.

These attempts over time “to fix and regulate” the financial markets have resulted in the loss of U.S dominance in the financial sector. The most recent egregious example of this loss is the potential German acquisition of the iconic NY Stock exchange. Another example of the law of unintended consequences includes the stimulus spending programs that fail to create additional jobs but result in the ballooning of our national debt.

The stimulus spending took money from the efficiently run private sector in the form of higher taxes and reduced availability of debt and spent it in the inefficient public sector. Jobs created by public sector spending merely displaced jobs lost by forgone private sector spending. There are too many moving parts to the American economy for one individual, even a very smart one, to consistently predict the outcome of government intervention in the economy. Read more ..

Battle for Syria

Time for the White House To Turn up the Heat on Syria

March 28th 2011

Syrian Issues - Syrian Protests March 2011

You may not have noticed between the new war in Libya and the nuclear crisis in Japan, but the latest Arab country to see popular protests is Syria. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, Syria has been an opponent of the peace process and allied with Iran.

Yet, like President Mubarak and President Ben-Ali, President Assad is following what seems to be the traditional playbook in response to a week of intensifying and pitched protests, again making noises about reexamining the country’s decades-old emergency law barring free political expression. Unlike these gauzy allusions to “reform,” however there has been nothing vague about the soldiers and anti-terrorism units attacking Syrian citizens in the streets. Read more ..

Campus Hate

Confronting Intellectual Hooliganism and Twitidiots in Modern Academia

March 28th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Gil Troy

I want to shoot everyone in this room,” a McGill University student recently announced using his online Twitter feed, claiming he had surreptitiously “infiltrated” what was in fact an open film screening of Indoctrinate U, hosted by Conservative McGill and Libertarian McGill. “I should have brought an M16,” read another of his messages. In short toxic tweets, the student called the conservative gathering “a Zionist meeting” and a “Satanist ritual,” while sprinkling in insults about Jews.

Having taught thousands of students during 20 years at McGill, I will not allow one idiot tweeter—a twidiot, if you will—to define my McGill experience. But his story of intellectual hooliganism is sadly familiar. And the timing—during the two weeks in March that anti-Israeli activists call “Israeli Apartheid Week”—was telling. The student broadcasting this poison had breathed in the intellectual and ideological equivalent of second-hand smoke.

Fanatics and borderline personalities are feeding off the anything-goes hysteria demonizing Israel. (At Queen’s University, the student rector himself recently, and nonsensically, decried “the genocide happening in Palestine,” which he described as “perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation.”) Shrill language—and even threats—apparently now are seen as a normal part of the campus experience, both offline and online, when they are directed at the Jewish state and its supporters. Read more ..

Arab World Revolts

Why Doesn't Obama Call for Democracy In Saudi Arabia?

March 28th 2011

Obama Bows to Saudi King

Has anyone noticed that President Obama’s newfound affection for democracy in the Middle East has not resulted in a call for an end to the autocratic regime of Saudi Arabia? We also have heard of no serious protests in Saudi Arabia -- although we will see what the planned "day of rage" for March 11 will bring --despite the fact that the country is one of the most serial abusers of human rights in the world and practices a policy of apartheid toward Saudi women. How can this be explained?

Obama’s failure to speak out against Saudi Arabia reflects a 70-year-old policy of U.S. administrations ignoring Saudi abuses against not only their own people, but American citizens. In fact, the only president to stand up to the Saudis was John Kennedy when he demanded that the kingdom abolish slavery in the early 1960s. And, contrary to the State Department Arabist views that you can’t impose our values on the Arabs, the Saudis complied.Every other U.S. president has been afraid to confront the Saudis because they have been led to believe by diplomats more sympathetic to Arab interests than American values, that oil supplies could be jeopardized.

The Saudis have cleverly played on our fears by warning the oil would be threatened by our relations with Israel, then the threat of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser followed by the Soviet Union and now Iran.

The truth is our oil supplies have never been in danger because the prime motivation for Saudi policy is to guarantee that the royal heads remain connected to the royal shoulders, and the Saudis decided very early in their history that the United States was the only country that could guarantee their security.

In the 1960s, we sent troops to defend the helpless Saudis from Egyptian troops in Yemen. Thirty years later, despite selling them $60 billion worth of arms, we had to send 500,000 troops to save them from Saddam. Obama recently agreed to sell $60 billion more in weapons they don’t need and can’t use to appease the Saudis who still know it will require U.S. troops to save them again from threats from Iran.In 1973, the Saudis used the American resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur War as a pretext for embargoing oil to the West. Privately, however, the Saudis said that the American airlift was proof of the need to be an ally of the U.S., because they believed only American could rescue them in that fashion – as we did in 1991.

Now why doesn’t Obama call for democracy in Saudi Arabia? One reason is fear. While the administration is happy to ignore warnings about the possibility of a radical Islamist regime taking power in Egypt, the administration is petrified of that happening in Saudi Arabia. But could a different regime be worse than the Sauds who undermine American interests and values in the region and threaten our security as the leading sponsors of international terror.

Oil, of course, is the entire reason for our interest in Saudi Arabia. What would a different regime do with the oil if not sell it to us? Drink it? Our fear of losing access to oil, however, has allowed the Saudis to blackmail us for 70 years. They act like pushers, manipulating the supply of oil to discourage us from pursuing alternative energy sources. Thus, when prices peaked at $149 per barrel, the Saudis said the ideal price of oil was $70-$80. The average price last year - $79 per barrel. The Saudi oil minister recently made a similar remark and pledged to increase supply to make up for price spikes created by turmoil in Libya and elsewhere in the region. The message to Obama is that the Saudi monarchy will help his reelection bid by minimizing the oil shock to the U.S. economy. Why rock the boat by pushing for democracy?

Meanwhile, inside Saudi Arabia, the king is staving off any democratic insurrections the way his family has kept power since the establishment of the kingdom - by buying loyalty. The Sauds have stayed in power by marrying their rivals and paying them off. This is why there are thousands of princes who all drink from the royal trough and benefit from oil profits as well as the commissions they receive on deals made with foreign countries. To further ensure that Saudis don’t get too inspired by events elsewhere, the king has announced minimal political reforms while pledging $35 billion in new government benefits. He has also banned demonstrations.

The Saudis are certainly scared. They saw Obama abandon a long-time ally overnight. They already believe he is weak and have doubts whether he will keep their heads on their shoulders because of his failure to take military action against Iran. They also see the restive Shiite population in their neighbor Bahrain making trouble for the Sunni government there which may embolden their own Shiites, who will be egged on by Iran. Read more ..

Palestinians and Israelis

Palestinians One Step Closer to Control of Western Wall

March 28th 2011

Israel Topics - Western/Wailing Wall

Be scared. Be very scared.

In a shocking article in the Jerusalem Post, editor-in-chief David Horovitz reveals that Israel is totally unprepared for the possibility that the UN might grant the Palestinians a state in September and then try to impose this state on Israel against its will.

Previously, Israeli diplomats were complacent because they thought that even if the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for the establishment of “Palestine,” such a vote would be merely “declaratory” and have no teeth, writes Horovitz.

But this is wrong. Research conducted by the Israel Project reveals that there is an obscure UN resolution, UNGA Resolution 377, that allows the General Assembly to press for sanctions and military force against a country that fails to implement its recommendations. Read more ..

Edge on Equality

King’s Dream as the Goal

March 28th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

When it comes to race relations, we of course would not be returning to virtues of a golden era of racial understanding; rather, we are overcoming our past failings. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, but history tells us that we are loath to put that ideal into practice. As Americans, we tend to act like “it only happens here,” for better or worse. At the same time, we hear other nations berating America’s sordid, racially divided past. But guess what—most countries are much, much worse. Australia’s discrimination against the Aborigines; France and Germany’s treatment of Muslim immigrants; Africans’ wholesale slaughter of fellow Africans from other tribes, China’s oppression of its non-Han minorities; Japan’s underlying prejudice against all gaijin, and so on and so forth.

This doesn’t excuse America’s past or current behaviors; instead, it serves as an illustration that this is a long-standing human problem, one that America addresses quite publicly for the world to see, and a problem we have made great strides in overcoming. America has been upfront about its race problems, even if it makes us uncomfortable. This is commendable, and demonstrates that America continues to address her problems and has used the ideal that “All men are created equal,” as our ultimate goal, expanding the idea well past its original scope—property-owning white men—to include the entirety of humanity. Read more ..

Battle for Libya

After Gaddafi: Democracy or Jihadists?

March 23rd 2011

Libya Topics - Muammar Qaddafi

We all agree that Colonel Gaddafi is a dictator, that he supported terrorism against the U.S. and France, was responsible for the tragedy of PanAm 103, that he funded, armed and trained radicals in many African countries such as in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Haute Volta, and in a few Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon. We all are aware that his regime oppressed his people and tortured and jailed his opponents for four decades. I observed Gaddafi ruling Libya unchecked during and after the Cold War before and after 9/11 and he was received by liberal democracies as a respectable leader.

My first question is: Why has the West been silent so long and why is it so late in taking action against this dictator? Of course it had to do with oil. Western elites were morally and politically encouraging him by buying his oil and empowering him with endless cash as Libyan dissidents were dying in jails.

Now, as missiles are crushing Gaddafi’s air defense systems and tanks, Western governments should be invited for serious self-criticism for having enabled this regime to last that long. Squeezing or even defeating Gaddafi should prompt a comprehensive review of past decades of Western policies towards this regime and its abuses of human rights. The military operation should not end with the departure of Gaddafi from power. It must open the door for an examination of US and European policies that have aligned themselves with Petrodollars interests for over half a century. Such self-criticism was supposed to start with the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, but unfortunately, it hasn’t taken place yet, precisely because of the mega-influence inside the West and the United States by powerful lobbies representing the interests of OPEC, the Arab League, and the OIC. Read more ..

Edge on the Mideast

What the Indigenous Peoples of the Mideast Really Think about Israel

March 23rd 2011

Africa Topics - Berber women
Berbers of north Africa

Martin Peretz decries Obama's attitude towards the Middle East as a kind of "orientalism" that idealizes the Arab status quo. He is infatuated with Arab societies, writes Peretz, without knowing anything about them. In service to this infatuation, he has been cold and hostilely indifferent to Israel.

Obama has also been cold and indifferent to the Middle East's other indigenous peoples.

And what's interesting is that these indigenous peoples, the nations that inhabited the region before it was overrun in the 6th century  by Muslim conquerors,  for the most part love and identify with Israel. Read more ..

Global Financial Meltdown

When’s Crossing the Street Safer than Standing on a Curb?

March 21st 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Learning to cross the street safely is one of the first things a child is taught after he or she learns to walk. The first lesson: Cross at the cross walk. Second, only cross when the pedestrian light is on. And, the cardinal rule: Always look both ways before crossing.

The financial markets have made folly of these rules of thumb over the past three years, transforming once seasoned street-crossers in mere toddlers overnight. People withdrew their investments from the roiling equity markets and sought safe havens in cash. Mattresses replaced major financial institutions as the most trusted stewards of national wealth.

Pedestrian investors came to no longer believe in the safety signals. After all, they had lost money on home mortgages that, up until 2008, were considered among the world’s safest investments. Almost all the economic models showed that housing values would never decline. But decline they did. For those who lost their investments, it was like getting hit when the light was green. A few of the more cautious investors even looked both ways and foresaw the bursting of the mortgage bubble. They wisely moved into other investments, thinking that the crisis would be contained within the housing industry. They were wrong. The mess spilled into the overall economy, causing a global financial meltdown. The goody-two shoes got hit, too. Read more ..

Palestine on Edge

Only Palestinians Are Not Held to a Standard

March 21st 2011

Palestine Topics - Palestinian Authority police

It appears that members of the American-trained Palestinian Security Force on the West Bank abetted the Itamar terrorists, prompting outrage over the fact that American military personnel are training Palestinian Security Forces in the first place. The outrage looks through the back end of the microscope—minimizing and magnifying the wrong things. The problem is not the training; it is the political decision-making in Washington that deliberately disconnects the Palestinian military from its political leadership. The same is true in Lebanon, where the United States arms and trains the Lebanese Army without regard for the nature of the current Lebanese government. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Hispanics a Prime Market for GOP

March 21st 2011

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker, CURE

New Census data show that Hispanics in California, our most populous state, are now a minority in name only. Of California's 37 million residents, 38 percent are Hispanic and 40 percent are white. Nationwide, the median Hispanic age is 27 compared to a national median of 36 and a median white age of 41. So Hispanics are not just our most rapidly growing demographic, they are our youngest. Projections show Hispanics reaching 30 percent of our population by 2050 from about 15 percent today.

All our growing big government failures, now being institutionalized instead of being reformed, will be dumped disproportionately into their laps.

The absence of real reforms coming out of Washington should be of particular concern to these youthful Hispanic Americans. All our growing big government failures, now being institutionalized instead of being reformed, will be dumped disproportionately into their laps.

Take health care.

A central pillar of Obamacare is the government mandate that everyone buy health insurance. This was sold as some great act of compassion to get everyone insured, but there is nothing compassionate about government forcing someone to buy what they don't need. Of the 50 million Americans without health insurance, about 65 percent are under 35. Although it might be tempting to view these uninsured youth as irresponsible, they are often making sensible choices. Read more ..

Edge on Geopolitics

As Obama Tours South of the Border, Hillary Clinton Gets Her War in Libya

March 21st 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Hillary Clinton in Tunisia

The United Nations Security Council, at the urging of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, approved a resolution on March 17 authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians, including a no-fly zone. This means that military force is now authorized to stop Libyan dictator Muammar Gadafi’s military as it advances along the Mediterranean shore towards the east—the last bastion of resistance in Benghazi.

Some see this as a political victory for Secretary Clinton, who has been advocating a muscular approach to Libya as President Barack Obama deliberated over the last month. President Obama made light of the apparent disparity in their positions at a March 12 Gridiron dinner for journalists where he apparently said that she had lobbied the White House by lobbing rocks through his window. Obama departs March 18 on his visit to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador in the hopes of inking deals on trade and nuclear issues. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

How the GOP Can Capture the Youth Vote Next Year

March 14th 2011

Politics - Young Republicans

In the current political upheaval in the Middle East the high percentage of young people in the region is being cited as key to the overthrow of a rigid, outdated authoritarian rule.

American political leaders might want to take a peek at the youth movement at home and its potential to shake up old bones and old agendas here in the very near future.

Nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population is under the age of 18. In fact, more than 20 percent is under 15. And if the population graph extends out to “Millenials,” people younger than 30, then more than 40 percent of the population fits the category of young people. Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

Libyan Protesters Seek Justice—and Exiled Jews Should, Too

March 14th 2011

Jewish Topics - Libyan Jewish Women

I left Libya more than 42 years ago when the mobs were roaming the streets. They were not chanting for democracy or yearning for freedom—they were looking for Jews.

I am a Libyan Jew, though I have now lived in the Bay Area for 40 years. The upheavals sweeping Libya open old wounds. Violent political culture has often been part of Libyan society, especially toward its Jews.

There had been a Jewish presence in Libya since the 3rd century BCE—one millennium prior to the advent of Islam in the region. We were “tolerated” to varying degrees by successive rulers and continued to be part of a rich and ongoing thread in the fabric of Libyan society. Read more ..

Islam on Edge

Congressional Hearings on Muslim Radicalization in America Are Long Past Due

March 11th 2011

Islamic Topics - Praying on Madison Avenue
Muslim prayer on Madison Avenue, New York City

The hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community, scheduled to begin on March 10, 2011, are past due. The reluctance to confront this disease affected American policy makers, monitoring organizations and the media, and judging by the wide spread dhimmi supported demonstrations, the revelations expected during the hearings could do little to stop the progression of the aggressive indoctrination to the radical Islamic agenda, recently  dressed as  “Islamic democracy, ” a contradiction in terms.

The principal Islamic text, the Quran, is riddled with edicts calling for violence to establish the supremacy Islam over all other religions. The threat posed by the rise of “political Islam” that calls for the establishment of Islamic state governed by Shari’a (Islamic law), was ignored by most Western and U.S. experts for decades. The Islamic agenda evolved and penetrated Muslim communities everywhere as well as Western educational institutions, political movements and economics with little or no objection. It seemed to have gained momentum after al- Qaeda’s successful attacks on the U.S. in 2001. A 2007 Pew survey found that more than 47 percent of Muslims in America “think of themselves first as Muslims,” not Americans, creating the prefect environment for Islamic radicalization. Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

Human Rights Watch and Libya

March 7th 2011

Libya Topics - Gadafi is bummed out

Where governments and statesmen can afford to be cynical about trade relations and security agreements with rogue regimes, human rights groups are supposed to operate at a higher level – the ultimate goal being for those regimes to alter their behavior. When NGOs traffic in realpolitik, it has a more scandalizing impact. Nothing better showcases this phenomenon than Human Rights Watch’s kid-gloved and self-interested approach to Libya in the past several years.

In 2009, Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s director of the Middle East and North Africa division, penned an essay for Foreign Policy magazine titled “Tripoli Spring,” which argued that Libya was opening itself up to reform and “self-rehabilitation in the international community.” Whitson’s piece started out with a troubling anecdote about the fate of Fathi al-Jahmi, who had just six days before died in a Jordanian medical center after being tortured and abused in the five years he spent in solitary confinement in one of Muammar Qaddafi’s prisons. Read more ..

Battle for Libya

The Consequences of Inaction in Libya

March 7th 2011

Libya Topics - Libyan unrest

The sanctions which have been placed on Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, his family members, and his senior officials are strong. They include asset freezes, travel bans, and threats of criminal prosecution. All of which add up to a powerful signal to the Libyan regime that the war it is waging on its own people is illegitimate and unacceptable, and to the Libyan people that our sympathy is with them and we will act to prevent their national assets from being pillaged. The world is now a considerably less inviting place for Libyan officials, who have been known to carouse in the capitals of Europe, the Caribbean, and elsewhere. Read more ..

Unions on Edge

Principle over Political Expediency

March 7th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Some startling revelations have come out of the fracas going on in Wisconsin over Gov/ Walker and the GOP controlled legislature facing off against public sector unions, namely the teachers’ union. From 2001 to 2010, Wisconsin taxpayers paid more than $8 billion for state employee health care coverage, while state employees contributed only $398 million, less than 5 percent of the total costs. From 2000 to 2009, taxpayers paid $12.6 billion for public employee pensions, while the employees only contributed $55.4 million, less than 0.5 percent of the total cost.

Public employees are guaranteed final salaries for life. Not only that, you get to add on other positions for mega pensions. So if you were a firefighter and a teacher, you get two pensions at your last salary in both jobs. Retired public employees regularly receive pension in excess of $100,000, again- guaranteed for life. And who pays for these folks not to work? You and I, the taxpayers. We are their meal ticket for their entire lives, yet when times are tough and we ask them to share the burden, they yell and scream that they are entitled to every penny they never had to contribute.

And many will claim the disparity between private and public sector pay as a reason that public employees should receive such largesse. However, study after study is showing that government employees are now making more than their private sector contemporaries, especially on the lower/mid end of the economic scale. So not only do they get paid better, they get an annual cost of living increase, locality adjustments, inflation adjustments, full medical, and of course the obscenely great pension. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Congressman King Rejects Pressure to Drop Notable Scholar of Islam from Congressional Testimony

March 4th 2011

Congressional issues - Cong Peter King
US Representative Peter T. King (R-NY)

In the wake of the Council of American Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) call to block Middle East expert Dr. Walid Phares from testifying on Capitol Hill; Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY) has rejected the Islamist organization’s call to silence Phares.

King, who chairs the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement: “Professor Walid Phares is a respected author, scholar and expert on Islamist Jihadism.  For several months Professor Phares has been advising the Homeland Security Committee staff and me in preparing for Committee hearings on Islamist or Jihadi radicalization. Professor Phares has been extremely helpful and cooperative, even agreeing to my request that he consider being a witness at a hearing, should the need arise. His only caveat was to warn me that certain elements would charge that as a Christian he is not qualified to testify as a representative from Muslim communities. I assured him that would not stop me from asking him to testify. Read more ..

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