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Barnes and Noble--The Book Business will be Better without Them

January 21st 2013
I take the position that Barnes and Noble has done more to kill quality bookselling in our country than any other company. Like many in the Bay Area and beyond, I witnessed what Barnes did to the independents that tried to survive. It ran them out of business with predatory locations and operations and predatory pricing. The company has been arrogant through and through. It snubbed local authors and never stocked the books I wanted to read. I no longer go in to the store nearest me. What better justice than to have this bad company disappear from the American landscape. Once it does, independents will slowly come back. The book business will be better without Barnes and Nobles.

Barnes and Noble Nook is Destined to Same Doom as the Stores

January 17th 2013

I think the Barnes and Noble Nook is destined to same doom as the stores that I have been reading about. My cousin has a book recently senht up to both Nook and Kindle. She just told me me this report: In the first two weeks of January, she sold 41 Kindles and only 3 Nook copies. Sounds like a few people received Nooks for Christmas, and then gave up. She also told me the Kindle production site is easy to use--and the Nook site is a nightmare.


Barnes and Noble Campus Store Too Stupid to Order Harry Potter

January 16th 2013
On the issue of BN's survivability...consider this. I recently called my campus Barnes & Noble and asked if I could order a book...not a course book, but a regular well-known book. The store clerk, after checking, said, "It is our policy not to order any books unless they are required for courses." That would include Harry Potter and Gone With the Wind. At this point, I suggested to the clerk that it might be a means of delaying bankruptcy if B&N would actually order a book that was not on its book shelf--you know, act like a book store. He laughed and agreed. I rest my case. If B&N is too stupid to order Harry Potter, how long can you expect this company to remain in business?

Barnes and Noble Coverage is Spot On

January 13th 2013
Your coverage of the Barnes and Noble implosion as reported in your publication and elsewhere in the business and tech media is clearly spot on. I have witnessed the shelf space disappear in my own Barnes, particularly on Civil War books. These shelves--and others--formerly given to good books have been transformed into displays for teddy bears, calendars, and cutesy journals--none of which I go to a bookstore for. I have lived through the destruction of the independent bookstore world because of the bullying tactics of Barnes and Borders. As soon as Barnes and follows Borders into bankruptcy, I can only imagine that our nation will be left with no bookstores where one can browse and discovery literary works. Shame on Barnes for what they have done and what they are doing.

Hagel is Bad for Israel and Should be Opposed

January 7th 2013

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama nominated former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be his next Secretary of Defense in succession to Leon Panetta. Chuck Hagel’s record is one of being a frightening and dangerous apologist for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hizballah, as well as for the Iranian terrorist regime, while being arguably one of the most vicious and hostile critics of Israel. The ZOA believes that appointing Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary would also serve to confirm the fears that many have that President Obama is no friend of Israel and is not serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program. 

In 2009, Hagel signed a letter urging President Obama to begin direct negotiations with Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist group committed in its Charter to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, a position President Obama has not taken up. In 2008, Hagel was “solely responsible” for blocking an Iran sanctions bill (Seth Colter Walls, ‘Dems Blame Senate GOP For Blocking Iran Sanctions Bill,’ Huffington Post, March 10, 2008). In a 2006 interview with former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, Hagel said that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people” on Capitol Hill (‘Hagel named to intelligence board,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 29, 2009). In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to formally call upon the European Union to designate as a terrorist organization Hizballah, which in 1983 murdered 242 U.S. marines in Beirut ('NJDC Criticizes Senators for Refusing to Call on EU to add Hezbollah to List of Terrorist Organizations,' National Jewish Democratic Council press release, August 7, 2006). In July 2006, at the outbreak of the Lebanon war, Hagel argued against giving Israel the time to break Hizballah, urging instead an immediate ceasefire (‘Key Republican breaks with Bush on Mideast,’ CNN.com, July 31, 2006). December 2005: Hagel was one of only 27 senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush urging him to pressure the Palestinian Authority (PA) to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections. June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit and was one of only two senators in to vote against renewal of the Libya-Iran sanctions act. In November 2001: Hagel was one of only 11 senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yasser Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel. In July 2001, Hagel was one of only two senators to vote against extending the original Iranian sanctions bill.     October 2000: Hagel was one of only four senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.

 


Current TV to Al Jazeera Troubling for its anti-Israel Rhetoric

January 4th 2013

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has ongoing concerns about the pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera, which it says has “a troubling record” of providing a platform to all manner of virulent anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic extremists and of serving as a propaganda tool against the State of Israel, particularly in its Arabic-language broadcasts. While it is true that Al Jazeera has toned down its anti-Israel propaganda in the network’s English broadcasts, the Arabic-language channel’s content “continues to be of great concern.”  The League voices these concerns following the Qatar-based network’s acquisition of Current TV in a deal which will provide unprecedented access for the network’s English-language programming to a potential audience of millions of viewers in the United States. Al Jazeera, whose major broadcast focus is in the Arab world, has a troubling record and history that is very disturbing, particularly in its Arabic language broadcasts. It has exploited and exaggerated the Arab-Israel conflict in a heavy-handed and propagandistic manner, and always at the expense of Israel, while giving all manner of virulent anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic extremists access to its airwaves. However, in its English version lately Al Jazeera has toned down its anti-Israel propaganda. Yet it continues to be of great concern. We will be watching and monitoring the broadcasts as they become available to a much wider audience in the United States.
 


Where Are The Palestinian Arab Refugees From, Why Are They “Refugees” And Who Is Supporting Them?

January 3rd 2013

I recently read a headline: “SYRIA -Islamist Rebel Faction Captures Base in Aleppo”. It mentions, “Syrian warplanes blasted a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus”. My questions are: where are the Palestinian Arab refugees from, why are they “refugees” and who is supporting them?

The answers are: The Palestinian Arabs left their homes in 1947-1948 because The Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, on March 8, 1948 ordered women, children and the elderly to leave their homes: “Any opposition to this order...is an obstacle to the holy war...and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts” (Morris, Middle Eastern Studies, January 1986). “The invading Arab armies also occasionally ordered whole villages to depart, so as not to be in their way” see “The Birth Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem ” Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 592).  
Had the Arabs accepted the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, not a single Palestinian Arab would have become a “refugee” and an independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel.

UNRWA the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was established by United Nations (GA Resolution 302 December 8, 1949), to carry out direct relief and works programs for “Palestinian Refugees”. The Agency began operations on May 1, 1950. UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees - four generations of Palestine refugees. No other group, ever, has been especially selected for this perpetual hostage taking by their totalitarian leaders to be used as propaganda tools and fodder for hate and incitement against the West and Israel. Through 2011 UNRWA has doled out $4,119,000,000 (mostly US tax dollars) specifically to the Palestinian Arabs in the derelict UNRWA camps in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West bank. Of all the displaced people since 1947; India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Eastern Europe, Africa, the 800,000 Jews displaced from Arab lands – only the Palestinian Arabs remain “refugees” under UNRWA’s handouts.

Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL), amendment to the State Department Authorization Bill for 2013 requires the Administration give a count for the number of refugees serviced by UNRWA who were actually alive at the time of Israel’s independence, and who qualify for the widely accepted definition of a refugee used in all other conflicts around the world. It is estimated that of the 5 million Palestinian Arabs receiving benefits from UNRWA, as few as 30,000 would meet the normative definition of a refugee used by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the amendment.


America Mourns with India over Gang Rape

December 31st 2012
The men and women of India should know that all those in America who have learned of the monstrous gang rape of the a young woman on a New Dehli bus mourn with the Indian nation. This is an unspeakable act. In an era of massacres at Newtown, and at movie theatres in the USA, it seems evil dwells everywhere--and must be confronted.

Rape Against Girls Must Stop Throughout India

December 30th 2012

The All India Council has stated that the Christian community hangs its head in grief and shame as India loses yet another Braveheart girl to sexual violence. It offers prayers for the family members of the victim who has passed away. It demands immediate punishment under law for those who carried out the crime. In recent years the nation has watched with horror the growing crimes against women and girls and the sad comment by the UN that India is one of the most unsafe countries in the world for women and girls. There is not a single day now in India where there is no report in the Indian newspapers of some sexual crime occurring against women. The rape of Dalit and tribal women is common place. Rape of girls within extended families is widely reported. Those who prey on minor girls roam free in the land. We have yet to see justice for countless victims of rape including those who were gang raped in Gujarat in the communal violence and those who were gang raped in Kandhamal in Orissa. For too long we have allowed a culture that targets our young girls under flimsy excuses of them following some outside culture, dress code and fashion. Any element of society that targets the way our women dress, appear and carry themselves should be condemned and brought under the law'. We cal upon the national government to immediately institute a national registry for all sexual offenders. Sexual offenders have a pattern and history and turn out to be habitual. We cal upon the Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister, Mr Kiran Reddy to take the lead and begin a registry for such sexual offenders and to immediately act on complaints filed by victims. This menace of violence against women will not end unless there is a complete change of mindset in the culture towards women. A culture that allows degradation of human beings will not be able to effectively fight this menace, said the All India Christian Council.

The writers represent the All India Christian Council, Rev Dr. Joseph D'souza president, Rev Dr G Samuel, vice president, and Dr. John Dayal, secretary general.


Staples Well-Practiced Trick to Wear You Down--They Ignore You

December 24th 2012
Seeing the Washington customer frustrated with Staples for flubbing their computer repair (see Staples Computer Tech Support Becomes Flop Squad--Leaves Customers Stranded and Stapled, Action Line November 30, 2012), I was reminded of my own company's aggravation with this horrid company. Staples employs a now well-practiced trick to wear you down and reject your claim. Part One: delay responding to your complaint by weeks and then months. Part Two: after you get all intense, the company finally replies that your complaint is too old to act on. Now that is being Stapled.

Staples Should Never be Trusted

December 9th 2012
I find it hard to believe that a Washington company with any savvy whatsoever could possibly trust Staples for computer or other tech support (see Staples Computer Tech Support Becomes Flop Squad--Leaves Customers Stranded and Stapled, Action Line November 30, 2012). Staples should never be trusted for anything more complex than stocking file folders, pencils, and cartons of cheap too-thin paper. Its store people are confused. Its customer service is atrocious. I am amazed this company has not yet shuttered its doors out of sheer incompetence.

An Open Letter to Stevie Wonder

December 6th 2012

Please permit me a moment of your time to express our collective dismay and disappointment at your decision to cancel your scheduled performance for an IDF (Israel Defense Force) fundraiser. I understand it was with a “heavy heart” that you cancelled and that it was recommended by the UN because you are “a messenger of peace”. Herein lies my confusion. You have been the voice of a generation, you once sang with so much conviction That’s What Friends Are For and that Ebony and Ivory could live together in perfect harmony. You campaigned vociferously to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday in the US. He was one of the greatest supporters of Zionism and the rights of the Jewish people to call Israel home. You were a champion of the civil rights movement and used your voice effectively to help end the heinous system of Apartheid in South Africa, my country of origin. You proved with Ghandi-esque effect how peaceful protest could bring about great changes and you have proclaimed time and again that you are “against war, any war”.

Well Mr Wonder, we here in Israel are also against war. The fundraiser which you have pulled out of follows a month where once again, Israeli citizens faced a barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza based terrorists. This time, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were not spared. Hamas showed us their intentions without compunction for the civilians under threat. And once again the visuals of buses blown up permeated our psyche. The hideous twist of metal post explosion is all too familiar. Mr Wonder, we could do with a messenger of peace. Sadly you have fallen prey to the anti-Israel lobby who disguise their hatred with concern for human rights. Odious accusations of Apartheid are not only libelous and fiction but greatly insult and diminish the suffering of the real victims of Apartheid. The anti-Israel lobby bully and intimidate with their petitions and accusations but fall silent on Palestinian incitement against Jews. No Mr Wonder, you may not hear “I just called to say I love you” on Palestinian radio or see the video for “My Cherie Amour” on Palestinian television, instead your fans in Gaza may be treated to songs about how much they would love to slaughter the Jews or become a martyr for Jihad. Hardly Billboard 100 material!

Mr Wonder, I would implore you, as a messenger of ambassador of peace, the next time (should there be one) you are invited to perform at a Pro-Israel fundraiser, please remember that peace is not a solo effort but rather an ensemble that requires dialogue from both sides. Please use your considerable voice and celebrity to advocate for positive change.

Consider this Signed, Sealed, Delivered.


Staples Tech Support Like Calling the Three Stooges for Serious Drama Lessons

December 5th 2012
Your earlier writer had it right. The company that contracted with Staples for computer support (see Staples Computer Tech Support Becomes Flop Squad--Leaves Customers Stranded and Stapled, Action Line November 30, 2012) must have been nuts. That would be like calling the Three Stooges for serious drama lessons. My company tried them on a printer and it was a nightmare of polite apologies and never-ending delays. I learned my lesson and I think the Washington company in question learned theirs.

Customer who Trusted Staples was Naive

December 4th 2012
I could not help but laugh at the recent Action Line about the DC company that was dumb enough and naive enough to trust Staples with computer repair (see Staples Computer Tech Support Becomes Flop Squad--Leaves Customers Stranded and Stapled, Action Line November 30, 2012). Of course he or she got stapled. Why would anyone expect reliability from this company. If they can't deliver their supplies correctly, why would they deliver service correctly to the same address. I blame the customer. You don't ask a barber to do brain surgery.

Condemning those in Pakistan who vandalize Ahmadiyya Gravestones

December 3rd 2012
According to recent reports, over one hundred Ahmadiyya gravestones were vandalized early this morning in Lahore, located in Pakistan's Punjab province. In a press release issued by Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, 12 to 15 people, several who brandished weapons, beat the cemetery's night watchman before desecrating 120 graves at approximately 3:00 AM on Monday, 3 December. Twenty guests and family members of the cemetery caretaker and security guard were locked up during the attack. It has been reported by witnesses that the attackers said they were members of "a banned organization and the Taliban". As of Monday afternoon, no action has been taken by Pakistani police to bring those behind the violence to justice. Ahmadi Muslims represent approximately 0.2 percent of Pakistan's population, but they are not recognized as "Muslims" by Pakistani law. In 2010, Anti-Ahmadi militants carried out coordinated attacks on Ahmadi mosques, killing 93 people and injuring many more. The number of attacks on Ahmadis continues to steadily rise, and Ahmadis live in constant fear of being violated for their beliefs. The Institute on Religion and Public Policy condemns the continued persecution of Ahmadis and calls upon the government of Pakistan to take immediate action to bring the individuals behind the recent attacks to justice.

Hillary Clinton and the Muslim Brotherhood

November 22nd 2012
You can't argue with success. Hillary Clinton took the winning side with her assertion that the Muslim Brotherhood is becoming a central player in the region: “Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.” She continued by expounding the American angle on the violence emanating from Gaza: “the United States will work [to] improve conditions for the people of Gaza.” Clinton ended the joint American-Egyptian production in Cairo with a promise that should worry Israel: “Now that there is a ceasefire (with the Islamic terrorist group Hamas), I am looking forward to working with the Foreign Minister and others to move this process.” This is to say: from now on the Muslim Brotherhood is to be involved in political developments in Judea and Samaria (“the West Bank”), in the spirit of the Islamic Spring that the Americans helped bring to the region.

Obama Fantasy About Libya Led to the Massacre at Benghazi

October 23rd 2012
The truth is out showing I think conclusively that our president Barack Obama was more concerned with pretending that Libya was a success story to focus on the threat. What a fantasy. Our men in Benghazi were massacred. No one in Washington would respond to their cries in advance for sanity and help when everything went to flames. This is Obama's fault and I think voters will express themselves. I never thought I would vote for a Republican. But I will in November.

Obama Sent Our Libyan Diplomats to Slaughter--Switching Votes

October 15th 2012
I am so sad about where our country has gone. It now it seems that our president was too busy being a rock star and pretending the Arab Spring was all blossoms to pay attention to our security in Libya. He sent our diplomats to slaughter. For shame. I am switching my vote. I voted my Obama last time. Not this time.

Lawsuit Challenges Hostile Environment at UC Berkeley

October 1st 2012

I am pleased to report some important and encouraging news in our efforts to combat hostile environments confronting Jewish and pro-Israel students on campuses throughout the country. In July, San Francisco attorney Joel Siegal and I filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice and Education Departments alleging that Jewish students at the University of California at Berkeley have been subjected to a pervasive hostile environment and that the university has failed to take effective measure to cure the situation. In a major development, we have been officially advised that the federal authorities have accepted our complaint and that a full investigation will be undertaken.

Central to our complaint are the on campus activities during "Apartheid Week", which is nothing short of a modern day version of the “Passion Play”, the notorious anti-Semitic German theatrical performance which portrays Jews as bloodthirsty and treacherous villains. During Berkeley’s Passion Play, student activists from the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine - both officially registered student organizations which receive funding from  the university and operate with the blessing of school officials -  resort to depictions of  Jews which are clearly racist and anti-Semitic. Moreover, they have been authorized by the University to carry realistic looking assault weapons which they brandish as they interrogate innocent students on campus about their religious and ethnic backgrounds. All this in an effort to convey a portrayal that “all” Jews are blood-thirsty barbarians. Regrettably, the university has effectively put its imprimatur on this despicable behavior.

It is also significant that the decision to investigate Berkeley comes on the heels of an internal U.C. Berkeley report regarding anti-Semitism on campus as well as California House Resolution 35 which acknowledges campus anti-Semitism. The OCR investigation sends a strong signal not only to Berkeley officials and trustees, but to all other college administrators as well, putting them on notice that “Apartheid Week” demonstrations, including Passion Plays, mock check points, mock guns, mock walls, instances where Jews are depicted using racist anti-Semitic stereotypes and intimidation of Jewish students will be subject to OCR investigation. Schools which violate Title VI run the risk of forfeiting federal funds.


Does Anyone Remember Anderson Cooper Keeping Us Honest on Egypt?

September 18th 2012
The article reporting CNN's big drop in audience (see CNN Suffers Massive Drop in Viewership in Features August 31, 2012) rang a bell with me. Anderson Cooper talks the talk about "Keeping Them Honest." But does anyone remember him "Keeping Us Honest?" on the Muslim Brotherhood? During the Egypt uprising, Cooper over and over again told us the Muslim Brotherhood could never garner 20 percent or so of the power or the vote? I guess we saw what happened.

Democratic Convention an Exposé of Ideology and Expediency

September 8th 2012

The recent 2012 Democratic Convention was a masterful, albeit unintended, exposé of both the ideology and expediency underlying the current directions motivating the DNC. First "God" and then "Jerusalem as the capital of Israel" were removed from their convention platform, a pre-existing platform subject to many reviews, discussions, focus groups and conscious design. Then the proverbial **** hit the fan. Furious complaints and outrage filled the media to the obvious consternation of those politicians at the DNC that were hyper-focused on reelection at any price, any cost. By the end of this same short convention, these two principles were inexplicably back in the platform. First we had a blatant, yet honest and clear expression of the core ideological issues of the extreme-left faction seemingly running the DNC's platform. Now we have incontrovertible proof of the Machiavellian expediency of their spin masters. Which is it? The art of flip-flopping endemic to both parties has just been taken to a new high. Either way, any confidence in the bottom line, in the DNC's final and reliable position on these two seminal issues is shattered. Who now believes they won't again move the goal posts? To many it's a shame and a scandal. I had hoped for more from this revered party, this crucial election.


Who is Keeping Anderson Cooper Honest--Remember the Muslim Brotherhood?

September 7th 2012
Your article on CNN dropping dramatically in viewers (see CNN Suffers Massive Drop in Viewership in Features August 31, 2012) could not have been more timely. Focusing on Anderson Cooper is more than perfect. Cooper likes to talk about "Keeping Them Honest." Who is "Keeping Anderson Cooper Honest?" Remember the Muslim Brotherhood?During the Egypt revolution Cooper and his guests kept putting down warnings that the Brotherhood would seize power. How many times did Cooper and his guests assure the world that the Muslim Brotherhood could never poll more than 20 percent? Has Cooper ever apologized for misleading the world so thoroughly?

CNN's Dramatic Drop and Anderson Cooper's "Ridiculist" Performance

September 5th 2012
I knew CNN was dropping dramatically because after a life of viewership I could not stand to watch them babble any more (see CNN Suffers Massive Drop in Viewership Features August 31, 2012). In my case, I just could no longer stomach Anderson Cooper. Here is a guy who wants us to take him seriously as a dead serious journalist who breaks up his reporting to giggle away a segment called the "Ridiculist." I would look at Anderson Cooper and then look at his ratings drop and CNN's overall ratings drop. Can we draw any conclusions?

Obama Supporter Switched to Romney--Hoping for a Change

September 3rd 2012
I am a life-long Chicago Democrat. My family gave money to President's Obama campaign--not much, but for us it was money. I began to sour on my decision some months ago when I lost my job and I took a hard look at Obama's policies. I am now at a point I thought I would never be--voting for a Republican. I realize now that "Hope and Change" really was an empty slogan. I am hoping for a change. I now trust Romney has a better chance of helping me and our country.

Switching from Obama Because Romney Allows us to Change our Sense of Hope

August 31st 2012
After watching the Republican convention last night I am saying something I never thought I would say. I will switch from Obama. Why? Because Romney it seems allows us to change our sense of hope. Hope and Change from Obama did not work. So I will change my hope. I am voting for Romney. Not a Republican but voting for Romney. Who would have guessed it.

BioFuels Industry Rebuts Calls to Curtail Production

August 20th 2012

Responding to various calls to dramatically reduce the use of biofuels across the world, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance released the following statement: "Calls to curtail biofuel production and use because of one bad growing season in the U.S. is putting the cart before the horse. We don’t yet know how extensive the damage from the drought in the U.S. will be, nor do we know how farmers in the rest of the world will respond to stronger markets for their crops. Biofuels have proven to be an effective way to help lift rural communities worldwide out of poverty. Stronger grain prices have spurred investments in agricultural production that are yielding more crops from the same acre of land.  In turn, this is helping traditionally food and energy poor nations become more self-sufficient. Eliminating the market created by biofuels would be a setback to progress made in these areas and could very well increase poverty rates. Investments made by nations around the world in domestic biofuel production is spurring innovation and evolution in the industry.  Removing policies that drive that innovation would stall efforts to develop new biofuel technologies and relegate the world to an increased reliance on an ever-depleting supply of oil. Farmers in the U.S. and across the globe are a resilient group and will respond to the signals being sent by the market. In fact, farmers around the world responded after the commodity price spikes in 2008 with one of the largest corn crops in history in 2009. Biofuels are an important part of that market and are in no small part responsible for the increase in global grain production over the past few years. It may seem pennywise, but it is pound foolish to be calling for an end to biofuel production and use."

 


Egyptian Blockade of Gaza Not Foreground

August 10th 2012
Until I read Edwin Black's story on Egypt's blockade of Gaza--air, land, and sea for five years (see Cairo Tightens Egypt's Blockade of Gaza After Sinai Terrorist Attack, Page One, August 7, 2012), I had zero idea that the Arabs next door blockaded Gaza for the same reasons Israel does--terrorism. It has been going on for five years. Why has the media ignored this? From everything I have read the blockade is from the Israel side. Now it seems the bigger blockade is from Egypt. Now THAT is news. Thank you for turning on the lights.

Sinai Tourism No More--Egypt a Danger

August 6th 2012
I regret to agree with your other letter writers. As one who has trekked through the Sinai five times, I am very sad that I must cancel my plans to visit this year. I love the desert air and the desert night. I have ventured across the highlands and lowlands of Sinai and loved the people. But the last time, three years ago, I felt endangered by the bribes my guide had to nervously pay the police. This year, the rampant lawlessness I read about and the whole danger of Cairo are enough. Sinai trekking no more--Egypt is a danger for foreigners. Not like it was. This year I will choose from two other outstanding desert realms: the Negev in Israel or Death Valley in America. I will be safe in either. I hope one day to return to the Sinai. But since we visit only every other year, that return will not probably not take place until late this decade if at all.

Christian Tourists in Cairo--Everyday Headlines Remind us of the Peril

August 4th 2012

Just check the newspapers to determine if Christian tourists in Egypt are high value targets. The headlines everyday tell the story of peril and persecution. Just yesterday, my newspaper reported that a luxury hotel in Cairo was attached by a mob--one shot dead. The hotel is next door to desperate slum of agitation. That same day, a few miles south, a Christian church was burned and Christian homes ransacked. Need anyone say more?


Agree that Christian Tourists are Big Target in Egypt

July 25th 2012

I could not agree more that Christian tourists are great big targets in Egypt. How many pastors need to be kidnapped for little more than Bedouin bartering chips and Arab anger before the community gets the message? English-speaking Christian tourists are the most prized. When the question of a visit to the Pyramids came up at our church last month, it was rejected out of hand. I will rent a video.


Christians Are High Value-Targets in Egypt

July 21st 2012
By now it must seem obvious that Christians are the most highly valued tourist targets in Egypt. My cousin came back a year ago and never felt safe. She always wondered if the waiters were not spitting in the food, especially when people crowded around her in a cafe to argue political questions. The latest kidnappings of the Pastor and his group are just the ones we hear about. Like the earlier letter writer, no way will I travel to Egypt for any vacation. I urge all Christians to think carefully before they venture to that land.

Tourism to Egypt is Now Off My List

July 19th 2012

I could not agree more with the writer who declared Egypt to be a high-risk area for tourism. When tourist buses are not regularly eyed by Bedouin kidnappers, and when English speakers are not routinely assaulted, I can think about returning to Cairo. I was there some years and was never made to feel as unsafe as when I walked through the main streets looking for a restaurant. I was told the so-called Tourist Police were there to protect us. It was only then that I learned that European tourists had been gunned down in a calculated assault some time earlier. My next destinations are elsewhere.


Beware Tourism in Egypt

July 18th 2012

Our congregation was relieved to hear that a pastor from another church was released after extensive negotiations by Bedouin kidnappers who line the routes to the Mt. Sinai destinations. This American pastor was dragged from a tourist bus just to secure the release of the Bedouin's uncle who was due to be released from a temporary jail sentence within two weeks. Such kidnappings in Sinai are now all too common. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's motorcade in Egypt was pelted with shoes and water bottoms a few days ago, and she was harassed by hateful chants of Monica. This was done even though she tried to give support to the new leadership in Cairo. Female journalists are ganged raped and gang groped in the public square. Americans working for democracy are mass-arrested. I hear on CNN and other media that Egypt is asking tourists to return to its streets, to its Pyramids, and to Mt. Sinai. I pray that every thinking person will think twice and not place themselves at their families at extreme risk. If you have a Mediterranean vacation need, or a desire for religious pilgrimage, consider Greece, Israel, Spain, Cyprus. But do not go where Americans are hated, and are targets. No American tourist is safe in Egypt.


Coke Continues its Nazi Link with Muhtar Kent

June 25th 2012

Coke was the company that helped raise the morale of Nazi soldiers with Fanta. Now they spend a fortune to preserve the theft of Jewish property in Egypt and to claim Hitler was not acting illegally  (see Jewish Egyptian vs. Coca-Cola Chairman Muhtar Kent in Lifetime Struggle over Stolen Family Property, Page One June 07, 2012). Coke chairman Muhtar Kent should be ashamed for himself, his stockholders, and his own father's memory. All should remember this when they drink and enjoy a Coca Cola.

 


Kent's Father Would Turn over in His Grave to See His Son Arguing for Nazi Legality

June 17th 2012
How sad is the saga of Egyptian Jew Refael Bigio whose factories were stolen by Nasser purely out of anti-Semitic hatred and then Coca-Cola rubbing its hands rushes in to make a killing off the stolen land (see Jewish Egyptian vs. Coca-Cola Chairman Muhtar Kent in Lifetime Struggle over Stolen Family Property, Page One June 07, 2012). Author Edwin Black shows brillantly that Coke chairman Muhtar Kent leads a company that now advocates a legal defense based upon the absurd notion that Hitler's persecution of the Jews was legal. Edwin Black goes further and demonstrates how Kent's own father endangered his life to rescue Jews in Vichy France. No one unearths corporate connections to the Holocaust like Black and once again he shows what a cold-hearted company can do for profit. In this case, the company not only acted with disgrace, its chairman Muhtar Kent disgraced his father, diplomat Necdet Kent who worked to fight the Nazis and would turn over in his grave if he learned that his own son was now vaunting the legality Hitler's genocide.

Muhtar Kent Has Dishonored His Father's Legacy

June 17th 2012
I was astonished to read the fascinating story of Egyptian Jewish businessman Refael Bigio whose beverage property was stolen by the Nasser regime and then handed to Coca-Cola for a song--in other words, with Coke waiting in the wings to take the stoeln property (see Jewish Egyptian vs. Coca-Cola Chairman Muhtar Kent in Lifetime Struggle over Stolen Family Property, Page One June 07, 2012). As if that is not bad enough, Coke chairman Muhtar Kent allows his company to stand by the legal theory that what Nasser did to Jews was legal because what Hitler did to Jews was legal. For shame. Edwin Black's revelation that Kent's own father repeatedly risked his life to save Jews during the Holocaust is a masterpiece of historical digging that Black is known for and only Black could have excavated. It shows how far this greedy company is willing to go--which includes dishonoring the legacy of Kent's father Necdet--just to avoid taking responsibility. For shame on Coke and Muhtar Kent. My next cola is a Pepsi.

Protesting SNCF and Yad Vashem

May 29th 2012
This past week, Yad Vashem, the Israeli National Remembrance for the Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust joyous and without compunction or a second thought, announced in a press release that it had received a donation from the SNCF, French National Railroad, to promote research. Said research would be based on the massive work done by Serge Klarsfeld concerning the deportation of the Jews from France during the Shoa. Yad Vashem had previously been the recipient of a collection of SNCF documents concerning the period, they say. Did Yad Vashem bother to ask for reassurance and confirmation that the files concerning the deportation trains--the cattle cars taking Jews from French soil mainly to Auschwitz, but also to Sobibor and Majdanek, were included in that collection? Because we know they are not. Who, brokered this horrendous agreement? Is Yad Vashem the National Memorial created by the State of Israel not meant  to work for the survivors and aide by its research in bringing war criminals to justice? Or has it long since forgotten the Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Law which used to be their banner and staff? Or  does it consider its bank accounts for the construction of never ending series of beautiful and luxurious exhibitions, synagogue classrooms and memorials  over the survivors and the second and third generations? The SNCF and France are wealthy, very wealthy. The SNCF spewed forth fortunes of dollars francs and euros to ensure that the Jews deported from France and their rightful heirs would not receive commensurate compensation for the suffering, they or their parents, grandparents, siblings endured, by assuring that the lawsuits were thrown out of the courts both in France and in the US, for some twenty years now. So to assuage their guilt, they ask for pardon, so they say. But was this not more to be able to participate in various tender offers in the United States?

Despite Volatile Financial Markets NY Retirement Fund is Strong

May 24th 2012

Despite a volatile year in the financial markets, the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) earned an estimated 5.96 percent rate of return for the state’s 2011-2012 fiscal year. The estimated value of the Fund is $150.3 billion, the highest since the global economic meltdown in state fiscal year 2008-2009. The financial markets took investors on an up and down ride last year, but the New York State Common Retirement Fund’s diversified investment portfolio coupled with a long term view have helped us weather these large swings. Over the last three years, the Fund has experienced strong gains during a period of economic instability. We remain one of strongest pension funds in the country, providing retirement security to more than one million New Yorkers. The Fund, the third-largest public pension fund in the nation, remains among the highest funded plans in the country according to the Pew Center on the States. In September 2010, the Fund lowered its assumed long-term investment rate of return from 8 to 7.5 percent. The New York State and Local Retirement System provides benefits to state and local government employees, retirees and beneficiaries. Over the last 20 years, 82 percent of the costs of benefits have been funded from investment returns.

Thomas P. DiNapoli is New York State Comptroller.


Supreme Court Faced with Solomon's Choice on Obamacare?

May 24th 2012

The fight over Obamacare remainds me a personal situation. I work “graveyard shift” alone. I’m allergic to cats. A day foreman, unknown, had been feeding some feral cats. Eventually, their meowing at dusk caught my empathy and I began feeding three of them—a year and 384 pounds of dry cat food ago. Correction: I only appease their empty stomachs with a bedtime snack. On near-minimum wages I can’t afford the 1.5 cups/cat/day, now that there are 8-12 of them at any given time now. I heard a mewing in the spreading yews at the entrance a few nights ago. So thick I couldn’t  see where it was coming from, I parted several layers of branches. Surprised, I glimpsed a 5-6” kitten, it’s eyes closed—one-week-old? I thought “leave it alone.” Perhaps it’s mother was hiding it there? At midnight, its cries were fewer and weaker. Gently, I picked it up and held it as I noted the eyes of several onlooking cats in my searchlight. I set it down on some mulch and backed away. An adult  inspected it. I left them alone. At shift’s-end the kitten was sleeping where I had set it against a rock, mewing when it saw me. I took it several hundred yards and placed it by the feeding bowls. I saw a few cats approach it as I left work. Twenty-four hours later, I almost drove over the kitten in the dusk as I pulled in to work. The mother had placed it curbside beside the same yews. This time it was fair game for the first coyote or fox to come along. I placed it in a spare shirt in a cardboard box and it fell to sleep immediately. Silent, cozy, and safe; too tired to whimper for food. I called everyone I knew. The list is too long to name. No one could nurse a feral kitten; I couldn’t blame them.

 

Resigned to take it to the SPCA, I made one last-ditch appeal to our feral clan. I gently set the kitten between their feeding bowl and my accepted stance at twenty-feet as all of their eyes watched my every move. I said firmly: “Alright! This is your last chance to claim this kitten or you’ll never see it again!” The kitten mewed weakly as it tried to stand on spindly legs; it’s eyes still unable to see. With only a slight hesitation, one adult came forward, gently picking up the kitten in its mouth and taking it back beside it to nurse it. Is it “just nature’s way?” Whatever your opinion, whatever your belief, whatever your creed, if you could have held this kitten in your hand, and heard its cries, you too might have wished it well. 308,000,000 Americans have been treated as this kitten. Some caring persons have recently filed lawsuits hoping to preserve their freedom from being forced to help to pay to kill more humans. I hope and pray our Supreme Court has the heart of a mother and the wisdom of Solomon.


Protect Singer Shahin Najafi and Close Iranian Embassy in Germany

May 18th 2012

State-controlled Iranian media like Day News are calling upon the international Muslim community to murder Shahin Najafi, an Iranian singer living in Cologne, the online news agency Shia online even put a bounty of $ 100,000 on his head. The media referred to a death fatwa, issued by the Iranian Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani in April. The decree demands that not only Shiites, but also other Muslims kill the convict. The death fatwa proves that the Iranian regime tries to enforce the Islamic law internationally. The German Federal government has not commented publicly on the case, German authorities have instead suggested that the singer who is living in Cologne should leave Germany. The silence of government officials is a scandal. Berlin must condemn the death-fatwa unequivocally and publicly. It is absolutely unacceptable that German authorities suggest that a critic of the Iranian dictatorship should leave the Federal Republic. The German Federal government should follow the example of Great Britain and expel all Iranian diplomats in order to protect Shahin Najafi and other critics of the regime. The murder of three Kurdish opposition leaders and an interpreter in September 1992 in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant proved that the Iranian regime does not hesitate in murdering its critics in Germany. A incomplete list of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre shows that the regime has murdered at least 162 Iranians critical of the government abroad. The Iranian embassies have repeatedly served as the nerve centers of terror. Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, who has pronounced the death fatwa, is a confidant of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This suggests that this call to murder Najafi was made with the consent of the regime. This fatwa therefore has to be taken as seriously as the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, or the fatwa against the Azerbaijani journalist Rafiq Tagi, who was murdered in 2011, following a death fatwa by Iranian Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani.

When Ayatollah Khomeini demanded the murder of British author Salman Rushdie the German parliament rightly declared that this fatwa was "a declaration of war against our laws and values ​​system, as well as against the universal principles of the Charter of the United Nations". This assessment is also true for the order to murder Shahin Najafi. With its silence the Federal Government is suggesting that it will accept this 'declaration of war against our laws and value systems', in order not to burden the forthcoming nuclear talks in Baghdad. In this way the government is encouraging the captors of the regime. The federal government must not give in to Islamist terror neither in the nuclear weapons issue, nor with respect to its duty to protect Iranians living here in exile." We demand the closure of diplomatic missions of the Iranian regime but also an immediate ban of Hezbollah, because the Islamist organization serves as a henchman to the Iranian regime.

Michael Spaney represents STOP the BOMB in Germany. 



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