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Edge of Terrorism

The Importance of Latin America to U.S. National Security Policy

January 11th 2010

Latin American Topics - Chavez and Latin American Presidents

The Christmas attempt at blowing up a Northwest Airline flying from Amsterdam to Detroit has rightly raised the level of concern regarding national security.

If some still believe that the 9/11 attacks were isolated cases that were not likely to be repeated, the Christmas event, as well as the massacre perpetrated by a radical Islamist at a military base at Fort Hood Texas and the capture of five Pakistani-Americans who tried to enlist with Al Qaeda, confirm that national security issues need to be comprehensively addressed. This is why paying full attention and giving priority to events occurring in Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan is imperative.

However, a national security policy cannot be subject to emotions or to the ideology of people who profess mere pacifism or wrongly believe that the enemy would not be our enemy if we treat it differently. Likewise, it is reasonable to say that no national security policy should be based only on a reaction to one specific dramatic event. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

A Restaurant in Tel Aviv and Hannah Rosenthal

January 4th 2010

Jewish Topics - Hannah Rosenthal
Hannah Rosenthal

In December, in a Tel Aviv restaurant, while I sat casually discussing my successor at the State Department with my dinner companions, I mentioned Hannah Rosenthal's J-Street affiliation, suggesting that this affiliation concerned me. Nearby sat a former US Foreign Service officer who upon the conclusion of her meal took it upon herself to—quite rudely—interrupt our meal to inform me in front of several other people, that in her opinion, J-Street was “a friend of Israel, not an enemy.” She then ran off out of the restaurant in a huff, shooting me a dirty look as she left. As publicly offensive as this woman proved to be, her rude declaration seemed to suggest a bothersome arrogance. Worse was the very public repetition of this effrontery by Ms. Rosenthal, the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism when she publicly criticized and insulted Israel's Ambassador to the United States for purely political reasons.

Ms. Rosenthal suggested that Ambassador Oren “could have learned something” by attending the recent J-Street conference, which he refused to attend due to his differences over policy with the group. She attacked him in an Israeli newspaper in her official capacity, a position which dictates that she fights anti-Semitism, not breed it by openly picking a fight with Israel's Ambassador to the United States, thereby aiding and abetting anti-Semites around the world. Read more ..

Sports on the Edge

The Absurdity of Athlete Worship

December 28th 2009

Sports Topics - Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

For me, it started with Muhammad Ali. I can perfectly recall sitting in the living room with my father, watching as Ali danced around the ring. He moved with a rare mix of fluidity and power, dispatching one rough, plodding opponent after another. He seemed the perfect embodiment of masculine striving. But the best part was after the match had ended. That's when Ali would unleash one of his verbal rants. Full of braggadocio, Ali would proclaim to the world, "I am the greatest." And I believed him.

But why? Why was I so willing to listen to Ali? Why do we take any guidance from athletes? In the midst of Tiger Woods's Thanksgiving day car wreck and his apparent infidelity with multiple women, I can't help but wonder why we bother to make heroes of our sportsmen.

After all, everything about the lives of our celebrity athletes encompasses abnormality. From a young age, they are conditioned to believe that they are superior in a Darwinian sense. The moment these physical outliers are spotted on playgrounds, they are courted by "street agents" who fill their heads with dreams of dollars, endorsement deals, celebrity and all those other things that fulfill their adolescent desires to be "feared and worshiped." These promising youths (the fittest, the strongest) are promptly shipped off to shoe-sponsored sports camps where their talents are honed under the adoring gaze of coaches. Money, gifts, promises and special favors from unscrupulous agents, shoe executives and recruiters inevitably follow. And if they hit the big time, their images are beamed across the world with a dreamlike quality based on the persona of the hero. Read more ..

The American Way

Should American Heritage be Preserved?

December 21st 2009

Architecture - Ruins of Windsor Mississippi
Ruins of Windsor Plantation, Mississippi

Today we are bombarded with allusions to the “culture war,” the conflict over the basic values that govern public life in the West. The war is grounded in a clash between the traditional West with its roots in the Christian heritage and a growing disillusionment with truth and meaning itself arising from a materialistic and secularistic world view.

The full dimensions of the conflict are seldom recognized primarily because of the superficial understanding of the intellectual heritage of the West, a superficiality spelled out by E.D. Hirsch in his Cultural Literacy (1987). Furthermore, Stephen Prothero has maintained in his book Religious Literacy (2007) that even among Americans--who overwhelming purport to believe in God--there is a “lack [of] the most basic understanding of their own religious tradition.”

Paradoxically, despite our cultural illiteracy, we are absorbed in preserving, promoting, and disseminating what is touted as heritage. Under the banner of “historic preservation,” government agencies, private organizations, and specialists constantly urge us to preserve heritage in the form of vast quantities of buildings and artifacts. The rationalization is that these things will help us understand “who we are, where we came from, and what is the legacy that shapes. . . us,” as Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation once noted. Read more ..

Education on the Edge

The Dropout Crisis

December 14th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

In his second inaugural address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt lamented: “I see one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished.” From that lament the New Deal took root.

More than a pinching of the bare necessities, the nation President Barack Obama sees is plagued by ill-education featuring high school dropout rates routinely soaring past 50 percent in major urban areas where the underprivileged predominate. The ailment threatens the nation’s democracy, economy, and social fabric. It is aggravating racial or ethnic divisions. It confirms the insight of H.G. Wells that “human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan deserve some praise for embryonic federal steps to address the dropout problem by encouraging charter schools and offering hundreds of millions of dollars in economic stimulus funds to innovative non-profit educational programs with promising or proven track records. But the national effort is vastly incommensurate with the magnitude of the high school dropout danger. President Obama needs to provoke a national conversation and high voltage concern over the disaster that is already upon us Read more ..

Academic Freedom

Darwish Engagement Cancelled at Princeton--It's All Academic

December 7th 2009

Arab Topics - Nonie Darwish
Nonie Darwish

For more than a generation, people who follow the Arab-Israeli War wonder if articulate Arab spokespeople will emerge to express genuine recognition of Israel, with a clear and unambiguous desire for peace.

Seven years ago, when Israel marked the 25th anniversary of the 1977 visit by the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Israel — which led to the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab State — a young Egyptian native, now an American citizen, Nonie Darwish, whose late father fought against Israel, made a presentation for a large mixed audience of Arabs and Jews at the same place President Sadat had landed — at Jerusalem’s posh King David Hotel.

At the same hotel where Sadat first proclaimed his desire for peace with Israel, Nonie Darwish, announced that she had formed a new organization, calling it Arabs For Israel. Ms. Darwish described her passion and pride for Arab nationalism and the need for every Arab nationalist to embrace the state and people of Israel as a neighbor in the Middle East.

Skeptical reporters who felt that Nonie Darwish was, perhaps, too good to be true began to bombard her with questions after her erudite presentation. After all, one reporter said, this has been a “cold peace” and very few Egyptians have come to visit Israel with any such proclamation. Read more ..

Edge of Economic Recovery

Black Friday Spells a Bleak Future

November 30th 2009

Economy - Black Friday

Black Friday represents just about everything that is wrong with our country and our culture. It is a disgusting example of our debt-based materialistic society. People getting killed in human stampedes to grab one of the 50 HDTVs on sale in a Wal-Mart are revolting. The mainstream media whips the boorish masses into a materialistic frenzy. The day brings out the worst in Americans.

The financial pundits refer to us as “consumers.” What a repulsive term to apply to human beings. Indeed, retailers see Americans as nothing more than animals that consume their products. Advertisers manipulate the young and uneducated through misleading advertising and false promises. Virtually the entire population has bought into this consumer idea. Read more ..

Mideast Peace

Syria is Still Not Ready for Peace Talks

November 23rd 2009

Lebanon Topics - Basher Assad
Syrian President Basher Assad

In November 2009, after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he would meet Syrian President Basher Assad for direct negotiations, anywhere, anytime, without preconditions to discuss a permanent peace treaty between Israel and Syria. Assad, after meeting with Sarkozy two days later, flatly rejected Netanyahu's offer and half-heartedly countered with the possibility of restarting indirect negotiations through Turkey.

This was vintage Assad. Typically, he meets with world leaders who praise him for privately expressing an interest in peace before he publicly declares he has no intention of negotiating with Israel. This pattern actually began with Assad's father as early as the mid-1970s, when President Carter met with Hafez Assad and extolled his virtues only to recall later in his memoirs that Assad subsequently did everything he could to sabotage his peace efforts. In those years, Israel was reluctant to offer any concessions on the Golan Heights, but starting with Yitzhak Rabin in the early 1990s, successive Israeli prime ministers have offered to withdraw from the area in exchange for peace. Read more ..

Heatlh Care Reform

Legislative Malpractice

November 16th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

It has famously been said that America is a nation of laws not people. Not the case when it comes to applying the laws of this country to its elected leaders. Amazingly, Congress is not covered by many of the statutes that they apply to the rest of the country.   Exhibit A: Health care reform. On a recent Saturday night the House voted to enact President Obama’s health care proposal. The administration hailed the passage as the first step toward ensuring that the public receive the same health care benefits provided to members of Congress. This means that the public would enjoy a wide selection of consumer driven options and lower fee-for-service plans. 

Notably, Mr. Obama explicitly campaigned on the idea of providing the American public with the same health care options available to members of Congress. “You’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves,” promised Mr. Obama during his election campaign. With the House vote, it is worth noting that the administration’s government-run health care experiment will NOT actually provide the public with the same health care benefits provided to members of Congress. The administration’s current health care proposal specifically exempts members of Congress from participation. Despite the rousing rhetoric to the contrary, congressional health plans, with their wide choice of provider options, will not be available to the general public.

If the bill passes in the Senate, the public would receive a watered down version of the benefits available to members of Congress — and at a cost that would dramatically increase the deficit, and ultimately lead to a tax hike on the middle class.

Congress needs to man-up and provide the public with the same health care benefits that they receive. If Congress thinks that having limited choices for health care providers is tolerable, then its members should accept those same limited options for themselves. Instead, they offer rousing rhetoric about giving the American populace the same health care options that are available to Congress, then, in almost the same breath, they turn around and exempt themselves from the plan.

Obama Edge

Outrage and Double Standards: The Lockerbie and Cubana Airline Bombings

November 9th 2009

Cuba Topics - Cubans Protest Cubana Airlines Hijacker
Cubans Protesing Hijackers

The recent release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basete al-Megrahi produced immediate outrage from the White House in reaction to later scenes of jubilation marking his arrival in Libya.

Al-Megrahi had been freed on humanitarian grounds by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. The former intelligence agent for the Libya government has advanced prostate cancer and is not expected to live more than a few months. He was the only person actually convicted in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York, which killed all 259 on board the aircraft as well as 11 residents of the village of Lockerbie. A majority of the passengers were U.S. citizens.

Prior to his release, warnings were given by President Obama and members of Congress to Libya authorities not to celebrate the terrorist’s return. When the images were shown of al-Megrahi waving to a cheering crowd at the Tripoli airport, the rebuke was instantaneous. President Obama said the sight was “highly objectionable.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the media coverage of the scene, “tremendously offensive to the survivors that, as I said, lost a loved one in 1988. I think the images we saw in Libya were outrageous and disgusting.” Read more ..

Sports on the Edge

Who is to Blame for Andre Agassi's Relationship with Dope?

November 2nd 2009

Entertainment - Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi is back in the headlines again, after confessing in his soon-to-be-released life story that he snorted the illegal stimulant crystal meth. And revelled in it: A tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought... I never felt so alive, so hopeful -- and I've never felt such energy," he writes.

I'm not surprised. Agassi cultivated the brash, super-brat image and drugs goes with the territory. But not necessarily lying. In his book Open, which has been serialised in several newspapers, he writes about what he did after he was caught by tennis authorities:

"My name, my career, everything is now on the line. Whatever I've achieved, whatever I've worked for, might soon mean nothing. Days later I sit in a hard-backed chair, a legal pad in my lap, and write a letter to the ATP [Association of Tennis Professionals]. It's filled with lies interwoven with bits of truth.

"I say Slim, whom I've since fired, is a known drug user, and that he often spikes his sodas with meth -- which is true. Then I come to the central lie of the letter. I say that recently I drank accidentally from one of Slim's spiked sodas, unwittingly ingesting his drugs. I ask for understanding and leniency and hastily sign it: Sincerely. I feel ashamed, of course. I promise myself that this lie is the end of it." 

Subsequently the ATP drugs tribunal decided not to impose a penalty -- and not to inform the public of the positive result.

The latest revelation to be drip-fed to the public is that his father may have given him caffeine pills and even the illegal amphetamine speed to increase his concentration before a match.

Why has Agassi confessed now, when he is trying to be a role model to help young kids, medically and socially? Read more ..

Obama Edge

Darfur the Latest Example of Obama's Willingness to Clean Slates

October 26th 2009

Africa Topics - Darfur victim

The July 2008 indictment of Sudan's Omar Bashir by the International Criminal Court includes three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. He is accused of running the campaign in Darfur that killed (using the lowest estimate the Court deemed reliable) 35,000 people directly and 100,000 more by related causes, and turned more than 2.5 million people into refugees. He is supposed to be arrested upon arrival in signatory countries-although his trips to the Arab world and Iran had the air of victory laps. But President Obama's envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force General Scott Gration, declared the genocide over. In June he said, "What we see is the remnant of genocide... the consequences of genocide... the results of genocide." Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Talks with Iran Can Buy Time for Iran's Nuclear Program

October 19th 2009

Iran - Ahmadinejad Nuke

So long as Iran continues to race ahead with its nuclear program, negotiations with the West risk being overtaken by events: the window for talks depends on Iran's inability to manufacture a nuclear weapon. For this reason, the focus has been on convincing Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment so that it cannot produce enough low-enriched uranium (LEU) to use as feedstock for the highly enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear bomb. The October 1 Geneva agreement between Iran and the P5+1, however, resulted in a different means of reducing the risk of an Iranian "breakout."

Rather than reducing the amount of LEU Iran produces, the new approach focuses on reducing the amount of LEU Iran has on its soil. Iran agreed to ship 80 percent of its current LEU stock -- 1,200 kilograms -- to Russia, which would leave Tehran with too little LEU from its declared facilities to make a bomb. If the deal goes ahead, various government estimates suggest that Iran will need eighteen months to produce enough LEU to return to its current level of 1,200 kilograms. For this reason, the P5+1 told Iran -- in no uncertain terms -- that prompt shipment of the full 1,200 kilograms to Russia is essential. Read more ..

Brazil on the Edge

Brazil's Tilt towards Chavez and Iran

October 12th 2009

Politics - Lula Chavez
Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and Hugo Chavez

For those concerned with hemispheric security, the big question has always been how do we contain Chavez‘s expansionist ambitions. Under the Bush Administration, the answer, in the words of a Republican Senator was, “containment of Hugo Chavez should be undertaken by Latin American countries.” This conception was consistent with the idea of a non-interventionist policy in Latin America.

Indeed, even under the hawkish Bush Administration the policy was one of good neighborhood plus trying to develop trade relations. In terms of Hugo Chavez, the policy was basically to ignore his hostile anti-Americanism and even his interventions in neighboring countries. The hope was that Latin Americans would eventually realize that Chavez was the bad guy and thus try to isolate him. This never happened. Read more ..

Iran’s Nukes

Countdown to Armageddon

October 5th 2009

Israeli Military - Israeli Jets Parked

The countdown to a war between Israel and Iran has begun.

Days ago, Tehran announced that it test fired long-range missiles capable of striking Israel, Egypt, Europe and American bases in the Persian Gulf. "Iran has successfully test-fired medium-range Shahab missiles with multiple warheads," the country's state-run media reported, adding that the launch was designed to "boost the armed forces' deterrent capabilities."

The test fire came on the eve of Yom Kippur and just two days after the White House disclosed that Iran had developed a new uranium enrichment facility —the first step to developing an atomic bomb. Read more ..

Confronting the Transfer Agreement

The Zionist - Nazi Transfer Agreement Saved Lives in a Desperate Moment

September 28th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped

This article arises from continuing coverage of the implications of the award-winning bestseller The Transfer Agreement, The Dramatic Story of the Secret Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine --25 Anniversary Edition (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

For years, students of the Holocaust have struggled over whether the Zionists did right or wrong in negotiating the Transfer Agreement with the Hitler regime. This arrangement transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million—almost $1.4 billion in 2001 dollars—from Germany to Palestine during the pre-War years. To do so necessitated protracted commercial dealings with the Nazis, and flew in the face of the global Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott striving to topple the Hitler regime in its first years. The debate back in the thirties briefly tore the Jewish world apart before being relegated to the realm of a hushed necessity.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the whole subject of the Haavara, or Transfer, was reduced to an obscure footnote. Despite the enormity of its economic and human importance to the Jews of Europe and the development of Palestine, the entire subject is conspicuously absent from almost all standard histories of the period.

But the debate was rekindled in 1984 when Edwin Black’s book, The Transfer Agreement, appeared and told the full story for the first time. It vividly describes in tense style the minute-to-minute negotiations as Zionists rushed to save who and what could be saved in the face of a darkening future.

People are still debating the Transfer Agreement, often just as acrimoniously as its proponents and opponents did in 1933. But what the men and women of those terrible years slowly grew to understand and painfully accept has eluded the comfortable among us. Why? Because those who look back were not there, and did not live through the terrifying hours of the twelve-year Reich.

I was born in Poland. I was hidden in Vilna by my Polish Catholic nursemaid who baptized me, and I was reunited with my parents only after the War. That is why I am alive today. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Beslan: Jihad against Children Must Trigger Global Response

September 21st 2009

Terrorism - Beslan Carnage

Wars have always had inhuman results, no matter what is the scale. Since the early 20th century, terrorism has perpetrated mass killing of innocents, condemned by all moral values. Salafi jihadism in particular has produced extreme scales of bloodshed against civilians, comparing with the monstrosity of totalitarian regimes under Hitler or Pol Pot, among others.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and throughout the 1990s, Salafi terror groups operating from the Philippines to Algeria have butchered families, students, journalists, elderly, and the weakest elements of civil society.

Children, too, have been murdered during these ghazwas (jihadi raids). In the post 9/11 era, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Indonesia' Jemaa, the Janjaweed in Darfur, and the Shabab of Somalia, among others, have bombed and slaughtered kids. The al-Muhayya bombing in Saudi Arabia, the Amman bloody wedding, and the Baghdad's surreal infanticides are only examples as to how Salafi jihadists and Khomeinist operatives have gone in their devastation of children's lives. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Obama Must Decry African Genocide

September 14th 2009

Africa Topics - Africa Genocide

If we accept the principle that a half truth is not the truth, we then need to consider that the Africa policy of the U.S. Administration is dramatically incomplete in its essence.

This is the first lesson we would draw from President Barack Obama's speech delivered in front of the Ghana Parliament on July 11th. Hence it is necessary to dissect its policy components and make the needed distinctions between abstract principles, applicable anywhere on the planet, and a host of dramatic African realities, so far ignored by Washington's "New Direction."

There is no doubt that American ideals continue to inspire people around the world and in Africa in particular. Simply because these values, as Obama has reconfirmed after Presidents Clinton and Bush had before him, are part of the international body of democratic ideals. There are no reasons to be shy about principles declared by an American revolution that has inspired sister uprisings in Europe and around the world, centuries before the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written.

Hence, when American presidents visit Africa, they should be comfortable in calling for more freedoms and liberties. Obama's additional contribution to symbolism towards Africa is his natural ancestral link to the continent. Even though he doesn't descend directly from African-Americans who actually were enslaved, and that he is only part African and half European, the story of his father, a goat herder turned student who sought education in America, is very compelling. Along with his beautiful first family he can surely personalize the story of an American’s support for the liberation of Africa.

That is, if the president exposes all real menaces confronting the continent and shatters the taboos. Read more ..

The Bad Arolsen Conflict

Holocaust Museum Snubs Survivors on Bad Arolsen Files But Luxembourg Gets the Data

September 7th 2009

Jewish Topics - BA Camp Documentation

According to a recent press-release by the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, the ITS has transferred copies of data from its archives to the ‘Documentation and Research Center on the Resistance’ in Luxembourg. Around 80 million images and roughly six terabytes of data have been handed over, including documents on concentration camps, ghettos and prisons (ca. 18 million images), the ITS central name index (ca. 42 million images) registration cards of displaced persons (ca. 7 million images, and documents concerning forced labor (ca, 13 million images).

Apparently, the small country of Luxembourg has a greater right and a more pressing need for a complete set of Holocaust related archival files than the families of Holocaust Survivors in New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston and other major cities in the U.S.A.

Unless Holocaust Survivors, Second and Third Generation individuals wake up and start applying pressure and mass protests on the United States Holocaust Museum Memorial in Washington, D.C. to release its sets of Holocaust files and records to major Jewish museums and libraries all over America, the USHMM will continue to monopolize the data for its own purposes. In the process, the Museum will ignore the fact that – absent prompt and widespread distribution of the data – many survivors will pass from this earth without finding out the fate of their martyred relatives; information that very likely could be found in these archives. Read more ..

Inside America

Liberal Intolerance Chills Health Care Discourse

August 31st 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Free speech is such a fundamental principal in the United States that it was codified by the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution.

The First Amendment protects all speech, especially political speech which criticizes the government or proposes unpopular or obnoxious ideas. The founding fathers recognized that unfettered political discourse is the sine qua non of a successful democracy. It is necessary to publicly discuss all sides of issues that may result in laws that affect all Americans.

While the First Amendment protects speech, it does not protect the speaker from the consequences of his speech. Thus, the proponent of unpopular ideas sometimes subjects himself to economic and social sanctions from political opponents who choose not to engage him in challenging responsive discourse. When this happens, it tends to chill discussion and inhibit new ideas.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, found this out the hard way. Mr. Mackey wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal in mid August suggesting a number of health care reforms that do not entail a single payer public option.

He opened the article with a provocative quote from Margaret Thatcher that was bound to offend the far left: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money."


The Obama Edge

Obama Should Encourage Democracy in Africa to Counter the Wahabis

August 24th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Obama in Ghana

Many are still talking about the issues raised by President Barack Obama during his July 11 speech at Accra in Ghana. In particular, not a few critics are struck by his “relative” notion of democracy. In contrast with the previous administration’s call for a U.S.-backing for the “spread of democracy,” Obama underlined that “America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation. The essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny.”

In fact, the difference between the previous and the current U.S. approach is not about the “role,” as no one in Washington’s government has had any project to “impose” democracy, or specific institutions. The George W. Bush approach tried to say that all nations yearn for democracy and freedom with the same intensity, if given the opportunity. Read more ..

Inside Africa

Kenyans Struggle to Find the Reforms Hillary Clinton Called For

August 17th 2009

Africa Topics - Kenya Poverty

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's whirlwind safari of sub-Saharan Africa, to deliver messages from President Barack Obama, has fallen on deaf ears.

The population here is helpless to improve its condition in the face of widespread corruption and elitism. Water rationing in is the norm. Water sources have been drying up, and huge forested areas given out for settlement, for political reasons. Ten million people are at risk of starvation, one third of the population.

As all know, Obama traces his roots to this nation, but he deliberately by-passed it on his lightning trip to the continent, choosing Ghana instead.

So he sent his Secretary of State to give the Kenyan authorities a piece of his mind. Namely that in the wake of the post-election violence last year, reforms are dragging on too long, and the culture of corruption and impunity is not being tackled with anywhere near enough determination.

In more developed democracies like the United States it is unthinkable that anyone should consider himself above the law; in democracies that are still finding their way around, such as those of most of sub-Saharan Africa, it is almost taken for granted that the kind of justice you receive is in proportion to your wealth and power. For example, a couple of days before Mrs. Clinton arrived two youths were sentenced to death in the coastal town of Malindi for stealing forty shillings (half a dollar) from a fisherman. The magistrate issuing the sentence said she was convinced that the robbery had been carried out by violent means. Robbery with violence is a capital offence in Kenya. Read more ..

Obama Edge

A Reversal of Fortune: Mary Robinson, Anti-Semitism, and Israel Policy

August 10th 2009

UN Topics - Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson

President Obama’s recent suggestion that America’s closeness with Israel for the past eight years produced very little and that his policies would produce more credibility with the Arab world, is either shocking naiveté or purposeful diversion. Add to this, his misguided honor of the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, the person who sat at Durban ignoring the anti-Semitism around her and later castigated Israel at every turn at the UN, and we are brought full circle to a perilous policy towards our only democratic ally in the Middle East, Jews in general and the United States itself.  

At the infamous Durban Conference in 2001, Israel was isolated and called a racist state. Israel was treated as the worst kind of pariah. From there on, it only got worse. Synagogues were burned, Jews were beaten and even murdered and Jews around the world were threatened. It was from this point in history that we can arguably trace the reemergence of virulent anti-Semitism at the start of the 21st century. Durban is where it began. In September 2001 when Durban became too much for the United States, President George W. Bush withdrew our delegation from this mockery of a conference. That withdrawal occurred on September 9, 2001. We all know what happened two days later. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

In Search of a Tattoo Archive for Holocaust Documentation

August 3rd 2009

Jewish Topics - Concentration Camp Survivor

My father, George Howard was a member of “The Greatest Generation.” On May 2nd, 1945 as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, he took part in the liberation of a small, but infamous concentration camp in northern Germany. The camp was Wobbelin, which on the outskirts of the town of Ludwigslust.

Before he died in 1968 he told my brother and I of the horrors of the Holocaust. His division ordered the townspeople of the town, at gun point, to bury the dead. I have seen the photographs. That scene was immortalized in the HBO movie “Band of Brothers”. The town has built a beautiful memorial to his division. The people of the town know the truth because they see it every day.

He told us that the Jewish prisoners' dead bodies were assembled like cordwood “five by five by five.” Dozens of these nightmarish piles were stacked throughout the entire assembly area of the camp. He vowed to never let us forget what he saw because; it was the truth.

As the years become decades memories fade and people die. We are one generation from losing the precious resource of the human reminders of the darkest period in human history. Read more ..

Honduras on the Edge

Honduran Crisis Could Lead To Latin America’s "Yalta"

July 27th 2009

Latin American Topics - Chavez and Latin American Presidents
Hugo Chavez and allied Latin American presidents

As the Honduran crisis is still unresolved and attempts at mediation continue, the case has presented an interesting challenge whose outcome could be crucial for the future of the region and the United States.

For the time being Costa Rican President, Oscar Arias, is trying (so far unsuccessfully) to mediate between the current President of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, and ousted Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya. The Obama Administration did the right thing by encouraging President Arias’s intervention as well as opposing Zelaya’s demand that a deadline be set for his return to power.

Yet, the Obama Administration, in principle, has supported the return of Zelaya to power as part of any settlement. This point requires further analysis because we are not merely dealing with an internal Honduran problem but also with a problem that has far reaching regional and international implications. Read more ..

US-Israel Relations

What's Next After Jewish Leadership Meeting with Obama?

July 20th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped
Abraham Foxman

I had the opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House on July 13, along with fifteen other representatives of Jewish organizations. Afterwards, everyone wanted to know whether I now felt reassured about the state of US-Israel relations.

I start off with the premise that pro-Israeli attitudes in this country are so deeply embedded and multi-layered that no particular policy approach can easily change that. On top of that, the President said a number of things that reminded me of the bi-partisan character of support for Israel which has been the hallmark of the relationship.

He said, as he did in Cairo, that the bonds between the countries are unbreakable; that America would never allow Israel's security to be in jeopardy. He talked about the need for the Arab world to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel and indicated, though the media had not focused on it, the many steps the administration has taken to move the Arab world in that direction. He acknowledged the need to deal with public perceptions that he was focusing only on what Israel had to do by speaking more often about the Arab and Palestinian requirements.

In sum, grounds for reassurance.

Where I and others felt less comfortable was in the assumptions that seem to underlie the President's approach. First, is his outreach to the Muslim world. I understand the need to do this as a vital factor in protecting American interests, as long as it is not at Israel's expense. However, I left the meeting with the sense that the Obama administration believes that after the Bush administration, there is a need for the US to demonstrate that it can be tough with Israel to win back credibility with Muslims. We are seeing it already on the settlement issue and once established as a mode of operation, it can emerge again and again.  Read more ..

Russia's Nukes

Next Steps in Nuclear Arms Talks with Russia Invoke Multiple Treaties

July 13th 2009

Russian Topics - Putin
Vladimir Putin

In the aftermath of the Moscow Summit between President Barack Obama and his Russian counterparts, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, a new nuclear arms treaty is in the offing. Moscow and Washington are eying the end of 2009 for completion of negotiations, both because of Obama's usual desire for speed, but also because the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty treaty expires in December unless renewed. But the desire for speed and the pressures of the clock should not infringe the duty to observe the basics of nuclear negotiations going forward. Five rules should govern the next steps.

Step #1: The Administration should not be afraid to let START expire.
START will expire in December unless both sides agree to extend it for five more years, pursuant to the terms of the treaty. This circumstance presents three practical options for the Obama Administration and Russia: allowing the treaty to expire, extending the treaty for five years, or negotiating a new comprehensive treaty to replace both START and the Moscow Treaty. While the April 1 joint statement on arms control implies that the U.S. and Russia have decided to negotiate a new comprehensive treaty, allowing START to expire is the best option.

Letting START expire would remove an unrealistic deadline for negotiations with Russia on strategic nuclear arms limitations. Negotiating a new treaty under such a deadline would prohibit a careful review of the U.S. strategic force posture, which cannot be concluded until the Nuclear Posture Review is completed at the end of this year or early next year. Furthermore, hasty negotiations are much more likely to produce a deeply flawed treaty that is inconsistent with U.S. security requirements. The Senate would be wise to reject such a treaty. Finally, there is no compelling reason to keep START in place. Its expiration will not end numerical limitations on U.S. and Russian operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads because the Moscow Treaty will remain in force through the end of 2012.

However, it should be noted that one school of thought in the Russian policymaking elite argues that Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) may simply cease to exist on its own terms if START expires: Read more ..

Inside Latin America

Time to Reject All Dictatorship in Latin America

July 6th 2009

Latin American Topics - Honduras coup d'etat
Honduran Special Forces on Patrol After Coup

The June 28, 2009 coup d’état in Honduras that deposed President Manuel Zelaya was the result of a decision by Honduras president Manuel Zelaya to hold a referendum aimed at seeking re-election. The move was considered a violation of the Honduras 1982 constitution that forbids an extension of the presidential four-year term limit. The electoral court, the Supreme Court, the attorney general, and Congress declared Zelaya's initiative illegal. Despite this, Mr. Zelaya decided to go ahead with the referendum. This is when the military stepped in. However, this was no classical coup or power grab. This coup transferred power to the President of the Honduras Congress, a member of the liberal party, the party of Zelaya himself.

Yet this coup has raised international concern. Brazilian President Lula Da Silva stated that he will not recognize any other president except Zelaya. Most countries in Latin America echoed Lula’s sentiment. President Obama also indicated the inadmissibility of deposing an elected president.  Read more ..

Surge Against Hamas

Raising Funds for Gaza in the US: Crossing a Line?

June 29th 2009

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

A British Member of Parliament, George Galloway, has been actively courting support in the United States for a “humanitarian” convoy to provide cash and vehicles to representatives of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization that controls Gaza.

The Viva Palestina convoy, led by Galloway, a member of the anti-Zionist “Respect Party” in the British Parliament, donated approximately $1.5 million and more than 100 vehicles to Hamas in March 2009. At a press conference in Gaza announcing the donations, Galloway said: “We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of their contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say. We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine.”

Although the European Viva Palestina convoy was promoted as an effort to show solidarity with the Gazan people and to deliver humanitarian aid, the donation of cash and supplies directly to Hamas, a group that engages in terror operations against Israeli civilians and is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel, defined the exercise as a show of solidarity with Palestinian terrorism.

Since the convoy returned from Gaza, Galloway has gone on two speaking tours around the U.S. in April and May to promote Viva Palestina. During his speeches, which attracted hundreds of attendees, Galloway regularly defended Hamas, describing it as a liberation movement that “just wants to liberate its tiny piece of land from illegal and violent military occupation.” He called Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and imprisoned Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti “the greatest Arab leaders,” while referring to Israel’s newly elected government as “killers” and “fascists.” He claimed that “Zionism has poisoned the well” and has “distorted the face of Jewish people.” Read more ..

Iran's Voter Revolt

Dark Plans Emerge from Mullah War Room to Suppress Iranian Voter Revolt

June 22nd 2009

Iran - Iran Election

Why did the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei decide to suppress demonstrations and not order a reorganization of new elections to solve the crisis? What is the analysis inside the Khamanei/Ahmadinijad “war room?” Based on several assessments, it appears that the regime feels the protest movement is too wide and the regime is too determined not to allow it to expand further.

The ayatollahs in charge of the “revolution” and the top commanders of the Revolutionary Guards as well as their financial operatives fear a popular shift inside Iran’s population along the magnitude of East Europe’s revolution against Soviet rule. The most cataclysmic parallel would be with the fall of Romanian communist dictatorship under Ceausescu.

Even a change a la Gorbachev is too dangerous for the elite that ruled Iran with an iron fist for three decades. Hence, after a minute calculus, the top mullahs and their militia barons have decided not to open Pandora’s Box to bring reform or democracy to their own world.  And, the world should expect them to use all the power at their disposal to do away with the demonstrations and its leaders.

But how will the Khomeinist “war room” break up the uprising? What is their plan? Read more ..

Russia's Nukes

Eight Rules Obama Must Observe in Confronting a Nuclear Russia

June 15th 2009

Russian Topics - Putin

As nuclear crisis worsen all over the globe, from Iran to Korea to Pakistan and India--the Obama Administration myst not forgot the oldest nucleat stand-off: the one with Russia. New rules of engagement ands a new nuclear attitude is developing in Russia with the proverbial MAD concept of "mutually assured destruction" itself being challenged. New treaty negotiations with Moscow are now proceeding.

The Obama Administration should observe the following eight rules in pursuing any new strategic nuclear arms limitation treaty with Russia:

Rule #1: The U.S. should not enter into a negotiation from which it is not willing to walk away.

In arms control, the cost of avoiding failure can exceed the cost of failing. There are numerous examples of U.S. negotiating partners making unacceptable demands. A prominent example that illustrates the importance of following this rule is the exchange between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986. Secretary Gorbachev made the unacceptable demand that the U.S. abandon its Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) missile defense program in exchange for eliminating strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. President Reagan quite properly refused to buckle to this demand, and as a result they failed to reach an agreement. However, this initial "failure" established the circumstances in which the U.S. and the Soviet Union negotiated the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which entirely eliminated intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and START, which signifi¬cantly reduced strategic nuclear forces while preserving the SDI program. Read more ..

America and Israel

Hilary Clinton's Other Face

June 8th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Hilary Clinton

When Hillary Clinton was New York’s junior senator from 2001 to 2009, she was a vocal supporter of Israel. She was especially strong on Jerusalem, stating in a September 2007 position paper that she believed “Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, must never be questioned.” Her spokesman even said “this paper is a reflection of her consistent policy... that hasn’t changed.”

Sen. Clinton also repeatedly warned of the monumental dangers of Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder of Israeli Jews in their schools, media and mosques as having “dire consequences for peace for generations to come.” 

Sen. Clinton even said, “It is clear that the Palestinian Authority (PA), as we see on PA TV, is complicit” in terrorist attacks and that we should condition U.S. aid to the PA on a “cessation of Palestinian propaganda and hateful rhetoric.”

It has taken only a few months to confirm that Secretary of State Clinton bears little resemblance to Sen. Clinton on Israel issues.

Now, she enthusiastically supports an unconditional increase in U.S. aid to the PA and Gaza, of $900 million annually, a significant increase. She also demands a total freeze on all Jewish building in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Interviewed on Al-Jazeera TV on May 19, Secretary Clinton said, “We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth — any kind of settlement activity. We made that very clear. I reinforced that last night at a dinner with Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

She reiterated this even more strongly in Egypt: “not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions ... And we intend to press that point.” She also demanded an end to legal building of Israeli/Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem, which she called “unhelpful.” Yet Secretary Clinton insisted that Israel allow illegal building of Arab homes in eastern Jerusalem to continue. Read more ..

North Korea’s Nukes

North Korea--The Evil of the Axis

June 1st 2009

Asia Topics - Kim Kung II
Kim Jong II

North Korea’s underground nuclear test offers the Obama administration an opportunity to remake American policy on a crucial issue. The Bush administration used the Six Party Talks and the UN Security Council as its chief instruments and pursued policies of varying carrots and sticks to change Kim Jong Il’s calculus about the benefits of nuclear capability. But the Six Party format mortgages any possible progress to the lowest common denominator, generally China, and China’s veto does the same with the Security Council. The Bush administration, often charged with reckless unilateralism, was in this case an instrument of reckless multilateralism.

President Obama can take leadership of the issue by determining what American policies would a) best protect the United States and our allies, and b) reduce the likelihood of future North Korean nuclear successes.

Several potential policies spring to mind – an enhanced Proliferation Security Initiative, enhanced missile defenses, returning North Korea to the US list of terrorism-sponsoring countries and a return to the financial sanctions the Bush administration dropped for no fathomable reason. 

None require Chinese participation – although that would be welcome – and all permit like-minded countries to participate as well as they can. Read more ..

Edge on Palestine

Challenges Lie Ahead for Salam Fayad as New Palestinian Prime Minister

May 25th 2009

Palestine Topics - Salam Fayyad
Salam Fayad

Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has just reappointed Dr. Salam Fayad as PA prime minister. Although Fayad headed an interim government since his resignation on March 7, his formal reappointment carries with it important changes to the composition of the government.

Signaling the failure of Fatah and Hamas reconciliation efforts, the reshuffled cabinet also reflects Abbas and Fayad's desire to expand the government's base to include more Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) factions and independents. The success of the new government will depend to a large extent on how the Abbas-Fayad coalition addresses the challenges ahead -- especially within Fatah itself.

Expanding the Abbas-Fayad Base

Fayad's previous government was criticized for drawing ministers from a narrow political spectrum that included Fayad's Third Way faction, Fatah groups that fled Gaza following Hamas' June 2007 coup, and largely unknown independents. Hastily formed after the Hamas seizure of Gaza, the former government included only fourteen ministers, many of whom directed two ministries simultaneously. The cabinet's composition and makeshift/ nature limited its support among Fatah, independents, and other PLO factions, and led to increasing calls, especially within Fatah, to expand its scope.

The new government seems to have overcome these problems. Comprising twenty-two ministers, the new government includes ten Fatah ministers; one new minister each from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fida, and the Popular Struggle Front; and three new independents well known at the national level. The most prominent of these independents, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, a professor of political science at Birzeit University and the president of the Palestinian Central Election Committee, is the new minister of planning. Read more ..

Crime in America

COPS Improvements Act of 2009 Only Exacerbates Flawed Federal Policies

May 18th 2009

Crime Topics - NY Cops

Created in the middle of President Bill Clinton's first term, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program promised to put 100,000 new state and local law enforcement officers on the street by 2000. Critics said that COPS would fail to meet this goal and that state and local governments would do what they always do when the federal government subsidizes any core responsibility of state or local governments: stop paying for it themselves and become dependent on funding from Washington.

The critics were right on both counts.

As a crime-reduction policy, the COPS program failed to live up to its sponsors' rhetoric and promises, never putting 100,000 additional police officers on America's streets. Undaunted by the program's failure to meet its most important public goals and in response to considerable lobbying by state and local law-enforcement officials, the House of Representatives recently passed the "COPS Improvements Act of 2009" (H.R. 1139), which is estimated to cost $5.4 billion from 2010 through 2014 plus an additional $3.6 billion thereafter. Read more ..

The Bear is Back

Obama Must Not Concede One Inch to Russian Demands over NATO

May 11th 2009

Russian Topics - Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with President Obama at the White House in recent days, a privilege normally reserved for fellow heads-of-state. Moscow has reciprocated this extraordinary display of friendship by pulling out of the NATO-Russia Council meeting set for May 19, and expelling two NATO officials from their Moscow offices after NATO expelled two Russian diplomats suspected of spying.

After meeting President Obama, Minister Lavrov delivered a public speech outlining multiple Russian concerns, including deployment of U.S. missile defenses in Europe and NATO's eastern expansion. Lavrov also stated that Moscow is open for cooperation with NATO allies and regional powers on Afghanistan.

Timed to coincide with Minister Lavrov's visit, Russia's permanent representative to NATO and notorious ultra-nationalist, Dmitry Rogozin, published an op-ed in The New York Times lambasting U.S. policy on key issues, specifically NATO expansion.

Although President Obama has pledged to push the reset button to renew relations with Russia, U.S. policy towards Moscow must be based on a realistic--not rhetorical--agenda which prioritizes the NATO alliance and emphasizes the indivisibility of the transatlantic security alliance. President Obama must also make clear that the United States will not bargain away U.S. support for NATO enlargement to include Georgia and Ukraine, or missile defenses in Europe in exchange for Russian cooperation on other issues, such as its negotiations to stop Iran's nuclear program. Read more ..

Obama Edge

Obama Breaks a Campaign Promise by Rescinding Labor Union Accountability Reforms

May 5th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama with Flag

Contrary to campaign promises to increase transparency and accountability, the Obama Administration has announced plans to rescind union accountability and financial transparency regulations implemented by the Department of Labor (DOL) during the Administration of George W. Bush.

These regulations make union officials more accountable to union members and deter fraud and embezzlement. The DOL has convicted hundreds of union officials over the past eight years. Rescinding these forms will facilitate fraud and harm union members.

On January 21, the DOL published regulations updating the Form LM-2, the annual financial disclosure report unions file with the DOL. Unions collect between 1 and 2 percent of their members' earnings as dues, and union officers are required to spend that money on the workers' behalf--they may not use union funds for their personal interest. The LM-2 revisions required unions to: 1) Disclose the total value of all benefits received by union officers and employees; 2) Disclose the names of parties buying and selling union assets; and 3) Itemize union receipts (currently unions must itemize only expenditures).

The DOL also updated the LM-30 conflict of interest reporting form that union officers and employees must file. These forms bring to light situations where union officers receive gifts or otherwise benefit from companies that their union does business with. They deter sweetheart deals where companies that give "gifts" to union officers get union business on favorable terms. The revisions required more union officials (such as shop stewards) to report potential conflicts of interest. Read more ..

Inside America

The Age of the American Lust Child

April 27th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Recently that the Centers for Disease Control has estimated that nearly forty percent of U.S. births in 2007 occurred outside of wedlock. That number is overall for the nation. It is one thing when teenagers and members of lower socioeconomic classes fall prey to this phenomenon. But the reality of out-of-wedlock births at such a high rate across the social gamut suggests that the problem has spread much wider than ever could have been imagined. This alarming number of out-of-wedlock births across age and socioeconomic sectors signals nothing less than the wholesale disintegration of our American family. Welcome to the dawn of the age of the American Lust Child.

Some would question why it matters. What does society care whether or not children are born to wedded mothers at all? After all if the parents are together but not married, or single but wealthy enough to support the child, then no big deal right? 

Wrong. There is more to raising children than just food, clothing and shelter. There is the quintessential non-material connection that two parents provide that cannot be quantified in dollars and cents, but are just as essential for that child to grow up and become a productive member of society. They include, providing a strong moral foundation, teaching faith, perseverance, and discipline. It’s not that one parent is incapable of doing this alone. It has been done in countless shining examples. But in most U.S. households, where someone has to work to bring in an income, the moral education of children generally requires teamwork if it is to be done correctly. That too has been shown in countless shining examples. Read more ..

The Race for Biofuels

New CARB Rules Could Fuel Oil Dependence and Cripple Energy Freedom

April 20th 2009

Energy Topics - Arab Oil Derick

In the coming days, the California Air Resources Board, or CARB -- the same agency that only five years ago gained notoriety for its role in "killing" the electric car -- could be in a position to deliver another crippling blow to the United States' effort to achieve energy independence.

As part of California's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels, CARB is pushing for the enactment of a low-carbon fuel standard, or LCFS, that aims to regulate the emissions level of petroleum refiners, biofuels producers and others that produce or import the transportation fuels used in California.

The credit or penalty would be assessed according to both the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with each of the steps in the fuel's life cycle, including production, transport and tailpipe emissions. Such "cradle to grave" accounting sounds logical only if it allows all fuels to compete on an equal footing. But this is what the fuel standard in its current version fails to do. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Holocaust Restitution—Prague Conference in June Seen as Last Effort

April 13th 2009

Jewish Topics - Concentration Camp Survivor

The Holocaust Era Assets Conference to be held in Prague in late June 2009 provides the last major opportunity to deal with the assets stolen by the Nazis and their collaborators that remain unpaid. Conservatively, that amounts to at least $125 billion in 2007 prices. Most remaining survivors are in the eighties and there will be few left in ten years.

Several previous conferences—London in 1997 and Washington in 1998—attempted to deal with this unpaid obligation but little was accomplished. The representatives of many countries made heart-wrenching speeches, provided useful research and made calls for restitution. But there was no effort to get beyond the rhetoric and establish an effective means to return or compensate for the stolen assets. The result was that during the next ten years only about 3 percent of the unpaid Holocaust era assets were repaid. It was realized that after more than 60 years any outcome would be "Imperfect Justice." The results, however, did not even come close to meeting that notion.

The Prague Conference thus needs to establish a clear and detailed mechanism to address this issue if it is going to have any meaning beyond diplomatic niceties. So far, however, all the indications are that the Conference will focus on trying to put the best light on the flimsy results of the past.


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