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Ease off the Sugar Until Progress in Cane Worker Illness

December 18th 2011
I am astonished at the revelations in your recent article on the tragedy of sugar cane workers in Nicaragua (see Thousands of Sugar Cane Workers Die as Wealthy Nations Stall on Solutions, Page One, December 17, 2011). It is clear these workers have no power and no voice to stand up to the great industrial forces that profit by their labors. I, for one, say until the public can see progress on the diagnosis and treatment of the widespread chronic kidney disease that has afflicted these workers, that we all ease off the sugar purchases. Everyone will be healthier with less process cane sugar.

Anti-Semitic Falsehoods from Liberals Draw Correct Rebuke from Simon Wiesenthal Center

December 17th 2011

Anti-Semitic accusations and falsehoods from the liberal establishment (see Simon Wiesenthal Center Weighs in on Anti-Semitic Blogger Controversy, Slices, December 17, 2011) have no place in our public discourse--not on campus or on the blogosphere. Simon Wiesenthal Center called it correctly when it slammed the Center for American Progress blogger crowd. Good for Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Agree with Simon Wiesenthal Center for Lambasting Liberal Anti-Semitic Bloggers

December 17th 2011

Finally someone had the courage to lambast the anti-Semitics ramblings of the ultra liberal and ultra left (see Simon Wiesenthal Center Weighs in on Anti-Semitic Blogger Controversy, Slices, December 17, 2011). I applaud the Simon Wiesenthal Center for the moral compass to express what has been on the minds of many.

Wild Animals Now Saved

November 24th 2011

On November 21, 2011, the  Texas bankruptcy court ruled in favor of the transfer of 113 animals — 112 macaques and one baboon — from the now defunct Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in San Antonio, Texas, to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. This is thought to be one of the largest rescues of macaques in history. We at Born Free USA have worked for months with WAO and the Texas Attorney General’s office to find a way to help these animals. This is a heartbreaking situation particularly for this large group of primates who would otherwise likely be euthanized without our humane intervention. Every day wild animals need to be rescued from “pet owners,” laboratories, roadside zoos and other abusive circumstances, but this time it is about a large sanctuary having to shut down completely — and demonstrates just how challenging wildlife rescue work is. Wild animals belong in the wild and the scenarios that create the need for sanctuaries should never exist at all. Sanctuaries are filled to capacity, lack adequate funding, and yet are most captive animals’ only hope for a humane future.

On Aug. 31, 2010, the Wild Animal Orphanage announced the decision to dissolve “due to overpopulation, underfunding and inadequate housing for the animals.” According to the WAO board, they were in a “do-or-die situation.” WAO had to find placement for 112 macaques, 55 tigers, 14 African lions, 16 chimpanzees, six wolf hybrids and 20 baboons. Sanctuaries were found for all of these animals, in part through the leadership of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), of which Born Free USA is an accredited member. Finding a home for the 113 primates presented the biggest challenge. In addition to the huge number of macaques involved, there are other highly complex issues including:

  • Their sensitive social groupings — 12 different animal groupings with troops as small as three and as large as 25
  • The age range — from a 1 year old to some in their 30s.
  • Many physical health conditions, from blindness to cataracts to skin and age-related bone issues.
  • A multitude of mental health issues many of the monkeys still suffer from as a result of the effects of their captivity prior to their rescue by WAO.

At the spacious 186-acre Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, these 113 animals (112 macaques and one baboon) will join the current 532 primate residents and live as freely as possible. Their relocation from the WAO in San Antonio to Born Free USA in Dilley will take place in approximately three to four months after each animal is thoroughly medically tested, sterilized and tattooed, and the Born Free USA facility and staff are completely ready for their highly sensitive transition.

Adam Roberts is Executive Vice President of Born Free USA in Washington, D.C.

Booing the First Lady at NASCAR

November 21st 2011
The NASCAR crowd ought to be ashamed of themselves following the recent booing of the First Lady. The depths to which this nation's political discourse has sunken is now visible for everyone to see and hear. Not only did the crowd boo the First Lady, they booed the mission to assist our military, I hope they all proud. I also hope their boos and heckles ring in the ears of our servicemen so they know who they are fighting for.

UC Davis Police Used Pepper Properly--Should be Praised

November 21st 2011
I write to commend the UC Davis policeman who professionally pepper-sprayed the provocative protesters who failed a lawful directive to disperse. The calm and steady manner in which he worked shows his professionalism in the face of unlimited insults to provoke him by the crowd. Watch the videos closely, especially the one produced by the Associated Press. You will see the protesters are goading the officer, preparing to resist, being coached from the sidelines on how to cover their faces, and doing all in their power to refuse to comply even after the spray is used. The policeman used great restraint and should be praised. The protesters should be prosecuted.

Airlines Should be Fined and Fined

November 16th 2011

I certainly agree with the writer who cheered when American Eagle received a $900,000 fine for a tarmac delay. The feeling of helplessness when you are trapped on the airplane is only matched by the arrogance the airlines show to explain themselves. For them, they are always right and you are always wrong. And they always get to charge full amount for being wrong--even when they do not deliver the purchased services in the fashion they are promised. I think the fines should be automatic and not await complaints. Then we would see a change in their collective conduct. If I ran my business they way they run theirs, I would have no business.

American Eagle Pays $900,000 Fine for Tarmac Delays

November 14th 2011

I cannot tell you how happy I am that American Eagle must a $900,000 penalty for its latest great airport delays. May many more follow. I have been delayed too many times by this airline and many others with that helpless feeling of being kidnapped. And why? American Eagle violated the three-hour delay limit and so they must pay. This is the first such fine, but we hope not the last. More than 600 passengers were inconvenienced on delayed several flights, the media reports. The airlines are very quick to surcharge us for everything, but always have an excuse for not living up to their own obligations. Now I think the excuses may be over. We need a similar ruling on lost luggage.

US Natural Gas Production Obsoletes Proposed Downeast LNG Project

November 14th 2011

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced new information on November 8 that US domestic natural gas production is expected to reach record highs in 2012. Conversely, it also expects liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to drop from a 2007 high of 770.8 billion cubic feet (bcf) for the entire year (2.111 bcf/day) to an amazing low of only 0.7 bcf/day. And, LNG imports from Trinidad — the US's closest and greatest LNG supplier — have dropped 66 percent due to flourishing US natural gas production according to Trinidad and Tobago Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine on November 13.

The proposed Downeast LNG project principals have said for over six years that they planned to build an LNG import facility with a daily capacity of 0.5 bcf/day. The government indicates that the entire country is destined to import only slightly more LNG than is being proposed by still-unpermitted Downeast LNG. Downeast LNG's proposed project is completely unreasonable and unrealistic from any business or logical perspective. And, the US already has 13 other nearly-idle LNG import terminals — with a total capacity of 18.835 bcf/day — 27 times greater than the entire country will use next year. The US already has many times more LNG import infrastructure than it can possibly use due to the industry's previous rush to build unneeded terminals. And now, due to the well-documented, decades-long domestic natural gas glut the country is facing, the industry is actually starting a mad rush to export LNG overseas. Downeast LNG's bald assertion that their ill-conceived, wrongly-sited proposed project it is still needed staggers the mind. There is plentiful natural gas in the US, the Northeast, New England, and downeast Maine without yet another defunct-before-it's-even-permitted, idle LNG terminal — especially an inappropriately-sited one like Downeast LNG.

What planet are the Downeast LNG principals and investors on? Downeast LNG has no permit applications with the State of Maine, having withdrawn their state permit applications in 2007 after going all the way through the process, including formal hearings, before determining permitting would be denied. Downeast LNG is over two years late in responding to questions from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the lead permitting agency. Downeast LNG is also a year late in answering additional FERC questions, and has just notified FERC — on the November 8 date due — that they would be late in answering a third set of questions. The idea of a Downeast LNG terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay is a non-starter. It's time for Downeast LNG's Dean Girdis and cohorts, and their venture-capital partners, Kestrel Energy Partners and Yorktown Energy Partners, to face reality, pack up, and go home. Read more ..

US Should Withdraw From—Not Just Defund—UNESCO

November 4th 2011

We urge the Obama Administration to withdraw from the United Nations Education, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), following UNESCO’s vote to accept the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a full member. UNESCO has become the first United Nations agency to accept the PA as a sovereign state since the PA launched its bid at the UN last month, in contravention of the Oslo Accords, to obtain a unilateral declaration of statehood without concluding a peace agreement with Israel. The US provides UNESCO annually with $80 million, 22 percent of its total budget. Under US law, the US is prohibited from funding any U.N. body that accepts the PA as a member. As the Wall Street Journal notes, “This legislation is clearly worded and offers President Obama no waiver to get around the prohibition” (Editorial, “Back to Unesco’s Future: What the US gets for its money at the U.N.”, Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2011).

White House spokesman Jay Carney described UNESCO’s decision as “regrettable” and “premature” and that it would undermine the international community’s shared goal to a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said UNESCO’s vote triggers a long-standing congressional restriction on funding to UN bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached and that the US would refrain from making a $60 million payment it planned to make in November. However, she said the US would maintain membership in the body. “The UNESCO General Conference’s action does not diminish our determination to work with UNESCO to advance US national interests. Therefore, we will maintain our membership in UNESCO and our commitment to UNESCO … We are very concerned about it, which is why we didn’t want it to happen in the first place and why we're concerned about this move being replicated in other UN agencies.” US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called UNESCO’s acceptance of a Palestinian state “anti-Israel and anti-peace … This is only the beginning … The Palestinians will now seek full membership at other UN bodies.” (Natasha Mozgovaya, “US cuts funding for UNESCO after Palestinian vote”, Haaretz, October 31 2011). Read more ..

Delegates Condemn Kentucky Gubernatorial Candidate’s Offensive Remarks

November 3rd 2011

Aruna Miller of District 15 and Sam Arora of District 19) join me in condemning offensive remarks made by Kentucky gubernatorial candidate David Williams and calling for an immediate retraction and apology. Williams attacked Governor Steve Beshear on Tuesday for participating in a Hindu “Ground Blessing Ceremony” to mark the opening of a new flexible packaging plant designed to bring $180 million in investment and 250 jobs to Kentucky. Williams derisively taunted Beshear for “sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead.” His words were an insult to all Americans, not just to Hindus. I have served in the Maryland House of Delegates for more than two decades and have never heard an elected official use such reprehensible language toward their fellow citizens.

Delegate Miller: “In the difficult times we face, I cannot fathom why anyone would choose to use such inflammatory language instead of celebrating the economic impact and jobs the plant will create.” Delegate Arora: “As a Baptist, I am embarrassed that someone would try to use our faith as cover for such inappropriate remarks. This is the kind of desperate remark we hear from candidates who cling to fear instead of moving our economy forward.” Mr. Arora’s family immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Additionally, Hindus across the globe recently celebrated Diwali, one of the holiest days in the Hindu religion. I believe Mr. Williams could take a lesson from Governor Martin O’Malley, who is hosting his third annual Diwali celebration to recognize the valuable contributions of the Indian-American community. I sincerely hope that every Indian-American elected official will join me, Delegate Miller, and Delegate Arora in condemning Mr. Williams’s hurtful words.

DOJ Should Investigate Those Who Threatened Building Museum and Those Who Gave In

October 16th 2011

I find it hard to believe anti-Israel boycotters forced one of the capital's most respected Museums, the co-called Building Museum, to cancel an honorary award ceremony (see As 9-11 Nears, Pro-Palestinian Agitators Shut Down D.C. Museum Ceremony, Page One, September 9, 2011). The Department of Justice needs to not only investigate those who threatened, but those at the Museum whom abdicated their responsibility and gave the agitators a victory.

UNESCO, Now Politicized as Hamas Tool, Loses Credibility

October 10th 2011
I have supported UNESCO all my years. I respected their efforts to salvage heritage sites and protect minorities. I now see it has become a tool of Hamas and the Palestinians and become just another politicized UN agency. My support and respect has come to an end. A sad day indeed.

UNESCO Vote to Recognize Palestine with Negotiation Dangerous Inappropriate and Policiticized

October 5th 2011

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has today called a vote by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board to recommend that “Palestine” be admitted as a full member of the UN agency “woefully premature and dangerously inappropriate.” Of the 58-member UNESCO Executive Board, 40 voted in favor of the resolution, 14 abstained and four voted against the membership bid. This recommendation will now need to be approved by two-thirds of the 193 member states at the UNESCO General Conference, which meets in late October. This recommendation by the UNESCO Executive Board to extend membership to “Palestine” is both woefully premature and dangerously inappropriate,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The Palestinians have unduly politicized this body, and if this action is approved by the full membership, it risks undermining the truly important work of UNESCO.” The international community has been deeply engaged in efforts to forestall Palestinian unilateral efforts to upgrade their status until completion of a peace agreement with Israel. This UNESCO decision not only helps to complicate those diplomatic efforts, but it also rewards the Palestinians for their confrontational, unconstructive campaign and their deliberate circumvention of peace negotiations. ADL has also expressed great appreciation to the United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania, the four countries who opposed this resolution, for their strong stand against this effort. ADL called upon these nations and other like-minded states to work to prevent the two-thirds majority needed to approve the board recommendation at the UNESCO General Conference. 

Abraham H. Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Hawaiian Airlines Flight Staff Just too Uptight

October 2nd 2011

My experience with Hawaiian Airlines may mirror that of others. Rather than finding the staff a group of bozos, I found them just too uptight and highly regimenting (see Hawaiian Airlines Tries to Bill $105 for Ordinary Permitted Luggage, Action Line, August 1, 2011). I am referring to the flight attendants. If you have been to the islands, you know that the people are easy-going and friendly. But to get there you must endure an airline experience that reminded me more of crossing into East Berlin many years ago. Hawaiian Airlines should think about its attitude on board and the image it projects to people.

Overlooking the Silly Ineptitude of Hawaiian Airlines in an Up Economy

October 1st 2011

People could overlook the silly ineptitude of Hawaiian Airlines during an up economy. But now, with spending down, Japan tourism buckling, and international visitors traveling closer to home, the declines are showing up (see Hawaiian Airlines Tries to Bill $105 for Ordinary Permitted Luggage, Action Line, August 1, 2011). This airline flew fewer passengers in August then a year ago, and the numbers are down from a year ago. As people comparison shop, as they demand value and competence, they make choices other than Hawaiian when flying to Honolulu. I flew them a year ago, and still remember the lousy food and cramped conditions. When I complained, I was treated shoddily. So--when I go back to Honolulu--and I will, it will be flying the friendly skies of any airline other than Hawaiian.

Hawaiian Not a Nightmare--Just Bozos in a Comedy of Errors

October 1st 2011
I read the remark of your other letter writer about Hawaiian Airlines and scamming a passenger for $105 for carry-on luggage (see Hawaiian Airlines Tries to Bill $105 for Ordinary Permitted Luggage, Action Line, August 1, 2011). I flew this funny airline last year for the holiday of our life--we thought. It started with Hawaiian and everything they did was wrong, backward, or hard to figure. Staff was rude. The food was a joke. They handled our luggage badly and broke stuff. But rather than Hawaiian being a nightmare as your earlier writer suggested, I saw them as just a bunch of bozos in a nonstop comedy of errors. We had too many complaints--so we decided it was better to live and learn. Rather than ruin our vacation in Honolulu, by dwelling on their dumb moves and writing letters to management, we just laughed it off. If you fly Hawaiian, just be ready for goofiness.

Hawaiian Airlines a Nightmare

September 30th 2011
I just came across your Action Line article about Hawaiian Airlines trying to scam bill a passenger for $105 for ordinary on-board luggage (see Hawaiian Airlines Tries to Bill $105 for Ordinary Permitted Luggage, Action Line, August 1, 2011). This is an all-too common occurance. I recently flew Hawaiian Airlines and I found the seats to be sardine-like, the food inedible, service uncommonly rude, and the entire experience a nightmare. I applaud the passengers for fighting back on their credit card. I wish I had.

Free the Egyptian Blogger

September 29th 2011

The non-profit Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin (MFFB) urges the German Foreign Minister to plead for the immediate release of the Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad before his hearing of an appeal which is scheduled for October 4, 2011. The 25-year old Maikel Nabil Sanad was sentenced to three years in prison because of his criticism of the military leadership in Egypt. Maikel Nabil Sanad criticized the brutal proceedings of the military against protestors and meticulously described the many human rights abuses. At a military court he was accused of having spread false information and having insulted the military. Without a lawyer present and without the possibility to inform his family, he was sentenced in a summary procedure. To protest for his release and against his unfair treatment Maikel Nabil started a hunger strike in August and a partial thirst strike since the middle of September. A hearing of an appeal is scheduled for October 4. Nobody knows if Maikel Nabil will still be alive at that day. It is against democratic standards to sentence civilians at military courts. The right of free speech of course has to include the right to criticize the military. Maikel's voice is an important voice for democracy, for peace, against Islamism and authoritarian rule; a voice that needs every support, and a voice that points to the possibility that a democratic Egypt will stand for peace in the Middle East. Maikel Nabil Sanad is the first public conscientious objector in Egypt. He calls himself pro-Israel and fights for a reconciliation and friendship with Israel. He is the only blogger who is imprisoned in Egypt at present. In letters to Germany's State Department and the chairpersons of the Foreign Policy and the Human Rights Committee of the German parliament, the MFFB urged Westerwelle and the politicians to plead for the immediate release of Maikel Nabil and to support the democratic opposition members in Egypt who are advocating for a good relations with Israel and therefore for peace in the Middle East.

Sebastian Mohr represents the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin.

Allegations that the White House Extorted Israel on Pal Statehood Veto

September 29th 2011

We are troubled by the allegation that the White House has threatened to withhold its veto in the UN unless Israel expresses support for continued funding of the PA. The allegation was made by the greatly respected Member of Knesset Dr. Arieh Eldad. Although MK Eldad's accusation has not been confirmed by the parties and will probably be denied, Dr. Eldad’s accusation is believable. Over the years he has proved himself to be a highly credible Member of Knesset with unimpeachable integrity. The behavior of both the Israeli government and the Obama administration is consistent with the truthfulness of the allegation. The Israeli government has issued several public statements supporting the continued financing of the PA. There would be no reason for such pronouncements in the absence of pressure from the Obama Administration; at most the Israeli government would make no public statements whatsoever about a US bill concerning financial aid to the Palestinian Authority pending in Congress. Further, the White House has been vigorous in its efforts to avoid having to cast the veto promised by President Obama.  It clearly pains the White House to be faced with the prospect of breaking its pattern of coddling Mahmoud Abbas and the PA. We agree with those members of Congress who support the pending bill to halt all funding to the PA if it proceeds with trying to obtain recognition of a Palestinian state in the UN.

Steven M. Goldberg, Esq. is National Vice Chairman of the ZOA.

Pro-Hamas Building Museum Agitators Should be Arrested

September 11th 2011

The Palestinian and pro-Hamas boycotters who forced the Building Museum in our nation's capital to cancel a public ceremony are little better than those who threaten airports and monuments  (see As 9-11 Nears, Pro-Palestinian Agitators Shut Down D.C. Museum Ceremony, Page One, September 9, 2011). They should be arrested and incarcertaed for long terms. Why has the federal government not moved on this?

BDS Museum Agitators Likened to Nazis Quite Correct

September 9th 2011
A letter writer who termed the BDS movement little more than following in the footsteps of the Nazis in the 1930s was quite correct. The uniforms are different, but the anti-Jewish shouts are similar. The claim back then was that Jews "imprisoned Germans" by their very existence. Today, they claim it is Gaza which is ruled by terrorists in Hamas. So Mr. Black's account of the Building Museum and the Caterpillar award event cancellation (see As 9-11 Nears, Pro-Palestinian Agitators Shut Down D.C. Museum Ceremony, Page One, September 9, 2011) rings quite true to the historical precedent. In the 1930s, the Nazi stormtroopers ran amok. In our society, we cannot tolerate such hatred and interference.

BDS Against Building Museum and Royal Albert Hall Likened to Neo-Nazi Protest

September 9th 2011
Why don't we all just admit it. The so-called BDS movement or whatever they call themselves are exactly what the Nazis were in the 1930s. They boycotted, protested and disrupted Jews in business, the arts, government and anyone who worked with them. Edwin Black's article reciting what has happened to one of America's prestigious museum's (see As 9-11 Nears, Pro-Palestinian Agitators Shut Down D.C. Museum Ceremony, Page One, September 9, 2011) when pro-Palestinian neo-Nazis tried to shut down a simple public ceremony to a United States company for engineering excellence is only the latest example. Disrupting the concert at Royal Albert Hall will not be forgotten. The police need to recognize the threat more than they do and take action.

Duke University, Wake Forest and the various Medical Societies Implicated in North Carolina Eugenics

September 7th 2011
Edwin Black's column on North Carolina and eugenics compensation (see North Carolina's Reparations for Eugenic Genocide is a Mere Down Payment on Justice, Opinion Sept 7, 2011) does not name the names. Why not? Let's admit who the culprits are Duke University, Wake Forest and the various medical societies, not to mention past legislatures. Yes to compensation, but yes as well to what Black calls "illumination." Our schools and colleges should hold courses on eugenics. The medical societies should provide free medical attention to the victims for their crimes.

Wake Forest and Duke Are Silent as North Carolina Eugenics Debate Intensifies

September 7th 2011
I could not agree more with Edwin Black comment that North Carolina and indeed every state needs better "illumination" about the tragic episode of eugenics (see North Carolina's Reparations for Eugenic Genocide is a Mere Down Payment on Justice, Opinion Sept 7, 2011). My question is why is this subject not taught in the high schools and by the colleges. Wake Forest and Duke were among the worst offenders in established this racist ideology. I notice they are greatly silent even though we read about our state's compensation plan almost every day. Is this a coincidence? Wake Forest and Duke should speak up.

PEPCO's Last Chance

August 26th 2011
As we await Hurricane Irene, it is PEPCO's last chance to prove it has a right to exist. If once again, my office and my home are thrown into prolonged blackouts, days-long power outages, than I agree with the others. PEPCO should then pay every penny of the damage, and be liquidated. Its assets should be used to bury the lines and deliver renewable energy. We can only pray.

Dismantle PEPCO and Use the Assets to Create Diversified Energy Community Sources

August 21st 2011
Let me agree with a comment made by an earlier writer. PEPCO is an arrogant company that should be compelled to pay high dollars for the damage they have inflicted during protracted outages. Power lines are not buried as they should be to protect them from weather problems. I lost my computer after the power flickered on and off for several minutes. Let me also agree that big fines should only be the beginning. Dismantle the company entirely. Take its assets and use them to create a diversified community infrastructure of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and even road pressures. The thought that our country's capital is dependent upon this dysfunctional company is unnerving.

Parents Must not Make a Mistake with Deaf Children

August 21st 2011

Monica Davey’s NY Times article, “Among Twists in Budget Woes, Tensions Over Teaching the Deaf” went to the public on July 26, 2011--and like others I have found that comments can no longer be accepted. So, the deaf community, as we have before, turns to the Cutting Edge News. My message as a parent of a lovely deaf girl is that American Sign Language (ASL) is our chosen language. Our desires are constantly distorted by the media, thanks to the well-oiled surgical implant industry. With ASL, our children learn, thrive, and contribute greatly to our society. Parent decisions that ignore this reality because they have been taken in by the press, are decisions that will damage their children forever. Just look at the vibrant conversations that take place among the deaf--visual not spoken.  

Iraqi-Jewish Archive has Been Stolen by Baghdad Government from Expelled Jews

August 4th 2011

Just as the US is allocating $3 million for the restoration of the so-called "Iraqi-Jewish" archive, found in the flooded basement of the Iraqi secret police HQ in 2003, Baghdad has ramped up its campaign to have the documents returned from Washington to Iraq. Regrettably, press coverage of the "tug-of-war" glosses over the fact that the documents, scrolls and books, which Iraq now claims as part of its "national heritage," were stolen by Iraq’s secret police from private Jewish homes and synagogues. Assuming that Iraq has the resources and capability to restore the archives, there is no guarantee that they would be accessible to all, particularly since Iraq remains deeply hostile to Jews. If Iraq wants to learn about its Jewish heritage it should begin by honestly acknowledging its responsibility for brutally ‘ethnically cleansing’ its 2,600-year-old Jewish community--now reduced from 150,000 to seven. It would be a fitting gesture of atonement for Iraq to concede that the collection be returned to its rightful owners in Israel, where 90 percent of Iraqi Jews and their descendants now live.

Fining PEPCO Should Only the Beginning

August 1st 2011

Fining PEPCO should only the beginning. This company has abused customer confidence for too long. I still cannot understand why more lines are not buried where they are immune from weather extremes. In today's world, being disconnected means stopping life. PEPCO is never prepared. If PEPCO can be made to pay stiff fines, whether it's $25,000 per day or $10 million in special penalties, as has been recommended, that will demonstrate that we are serious. But then take the next step. Begin adding sustainable energy sources that will capture the winds, rains, sun, and melting snows.

New York Times Horribly Wrong on the Deaf

July 28th 2011
This is in response to Monica Davey’s NY Times article, “Among Twists in Budget Woes, Tensions Over Teaching the Deaf” of July 26, 2011. Comments are no longer accepted :( We deserve full recognition of American Sign Language (ASL) we hand to Deaf lives. What bugs me more is when editors/reporters state how we are “whining” which is an ongoing misleading judgment of us Deaf people. It just breaks my heart when our views are being misrepresented as we try to share our experiences for you to understand how critical it is when Deaf children do not acquire a language so that they could learn about the world.
Mainly through ASL, Deaf children get information about the world. Deaf children have the opportunity to grow up bilingual. Do not allow our Deaf children fall short of the education they deserve just because the hearing professionals think it is more important to speak. We the Deaf people are the very people who end up being the most affected by parental decisions influenced by hearing professionals. We understand how budget shortfalls are forcing difficult decisions in every state BUT legislators and critics or should I say cronies still do not get it. Deaf people and parents have actually LIVED through the experiences of the educational and medical systems. We know exactly what it takes to raise Deaf children. Why can’t every Tom, Dick, and Harry understand us who have our own language and identity as individuals in our own distinct culture? ASL is a real, visual “spoken” language on a par with any other languages. An interesting contrast was brought up between the belief that exposure of ASL to a hearing baby will aid them in language development, whereas a Deaf baby at times must show the inability to learn a spoken language before they are taught ASL. This notion was originated due to the idea that sign language hinders the development of a spoken language in Deaf children! (Mayberry, 2008)
Attempts to wipe away ASL demonstrate an assault as genocide treaties made clear “…that obliterating a group's culture is a form of genocide." That, we cannot allow such put-down of one's Deaf life. The extreme focus on the medical aspect of fixing the hearing/ears, rather than being focused on language development, has created this situation. An intervention is very much needed to resolve the unrest behind the promotion of cultural destruction that is sure to bring back the slippery slope of eugenics. We. Do. Not. Accept. This. Mistreatment. If that's considered whining, so be it.

PEPCO to be Fined Millions

July 24th 2011

As the public might remember, during the recent session of the General Assembly (which ended in April), we passed legislation which significantly increased oversight of electric utilities, particularly PEPCO. I think all will be pleased to know that the "People's Counsel" has recommended that the Public Service Commission fine PEPCO between $10 to $14 million dollars. This is only a start, but finally perhaps, PEPCO will realize that we are serious in our effort to have secure, reliable electic power. I also want to emphasize that PEPCO will not be able to pass the cost of the fines to electric consumers.They must be absorbed by the shareholders. The provisions of our legislation include:

    * $25K per violation per day on penalties
    * Increased penalties for safety violations
    * The utilities are prohibited from passing on the costs of penalties to the ratepayers
    * The bill is an emergency bill so it takes effect as soon as the governor signs it into law

Kumar P. Barve is the Demoratic Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing central Montgomery County, Maryland.

In Wake of Brutal Ketzky Murder, Seeking Incentives for More Surveillance Cameras

July 21st 2011

I am truly devastated by the tragedy that occurred this July 11, 2011. According to law enforcement officials, 8 year old Leiby Kletzky was abducted and murdered at the hands of Levi Aron. On July 18, 2011, I attended Leiby’s Shiva to pay my respects to his family. I again want to give my sincerest condolences to the Kletzky family and the Borough Park community. I know it is hard to lose any family member; but when it is under horrific circumstances such as this one, it is especially difficult. I too, along with Senator Savino and Assemblyman Hikind represent the Borough Park community. It is one of the safest areas in my district. I will do all that I can to assist the family in their time of need. In an effort to deter any future tragedies, I plan to support the Savino/Hikind legislation to provide economic incentives to our business owners to install surveillance cameras. I also believe it would be helpful to law enforcement if we had a uniform system to address missing persons such as the Lori Ann’s law introduced by Senator Valesky and Assemblyman Reilly (S.659/A.3526). I call on the Governor and Senator Skelos to pass these bills at the next special legislative session. Additionally, I call on the District Attorney to conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute this case to the full extent of the law. Rest assured, I will do all that I can to help the family receive closure and to deter any re-occurrences of such a horrific crime.

Senator Kevin S. Parker represents a large Hassidic Jewish population in his district, and is the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, former Majority Whip and Chair of the Democratic Task Force on New Americans.

Enormous Defeat for Gaza Flotilla Agitators

July 10th 2011

The Greek government was not the only country that helped stop the provocative flotilla to Gaza (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Other nations joined the effort--Cyprus, Russia, and even Turkey. This must be an enormous defeat for the Gaza flotilla agitators. After trying to label Israel a pariah state, it appears diplomatic action and international cooperation won the day and validated Israel's position. The Gaza blockade is legal and has been observed by both Egypt and Israel. Even Egypt which allows humanitarian crossings maintains a blockade on suspect materials and persons. All this completely negates the protester storyline. Plus, it became obvious to all, that anyone who genuinely wanted to bring aid into Gaza could simply dock it in Egypt or Israel and proper inspection would pass it through.

Greece was Thoughtful and Correct in Stopping Illegal Flotilla

July 3rd 2011

I have written to George A. Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece, with the following letter (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Dear Mr. Prime Minister: We are writing to express our sincere appreciation for the action taken by Greece to prevent the ships involved in the Gaza flotilla from leaving Greek ports. Your willingness to act in such a responsible manner serves as an example for the entire international community. As you well know, the Gaza flotilla was not intended to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. It is a provocative effort by anti-Israel activists to bring their skewed view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to international attention by publicly challenging Israeli forces who are defending Israeli territorial waters. Greece’s actions to stop these ships from using Greek ports as a launching point will help prevent the public confrontation with Israeli naval authorities these activists are seeking. We know a great deal of thought and consideration went into your decision and we thank you for this important effort.

Abraham H. Foxman is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Gaza Flotilla Organizers Admit on al-Jazeera Their Mission is Not About Humanitarian Aid

July 3rd 2011

I just heard an activist for Gaza Flotilla 2 repeatedly declare on al-Jazeera TV that their action was not about humanitarian aid. Rather, she emphatically stated it was about delegitimization and confrontation. She actually stated the flotilla organizers were opposed to what she called "a cycle of humanitarian aid." So Athens has clearly stopped a provocative and illegal flotilla to Gaza (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Now the media needs to stop calling this naval provocation a "humanitarian mission." This is about disobeying lawful commands by Cypriot, Greek, and Israeli naval vessels--commands which the agitators cannot pick and choose from and decide which to obey and which to disobey. If the EU, the Quartet, Greece, Cyprus, Washington, Moscow, and even the United Nations oppose the flotilla, maybe this exercise is exactly what it seems: a naval encounter designed to provoke and international incident.

Gaza Flotilla Stoppage by Greece a Stand for International Law

July 3rd 2011

Basically, the world must now take a stand against illegal border pentrations. Or there will be no borders. The Athens government has done that by stopping the illegal flotilla to Gaza (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Last time, the Gaza flotilla from Turkey resulted in an international incident of immense proportions. Gaza is under legally permissible naval blockade because of its daily rocket attacks against civilians and its government's declared desire to mass murder Israeli civilians. America's blockade against Cuba was legal. The international community's blockade against Iranian weapons shipments is legal. Israel is also acting legally. Just imagine what would happen if 1000 Mexican nationals and their sympathizers decided to storm the border at Texas or California to overturn the Treaty of Hidalgo that ceded that land to the United States. Imagine what would happen if 1000 Canadians decided to storm the U.S. Northwest border to reclaim the territory agreed as being transferred to Oregon. Imagine what would happen if 1000 Hispanics decided they have a right to work in Arizona and stormed the border there--which is something actually done almost every day. What if 1000 Armenians stormed the Turkish border to proclaim a state. Greece has shown the way and now others must follow its example. When Gaza recognizes Israel the way Egypt and Jordan have, the borders will be established for all to respect. Until then, international law and treaties will need to be respected.

Greece Shows Gumption in Defying Hamas-Bound Flotilla

July 2nd 2011
Hooray for the Greece government for showing real gumption at a time when its economic house is in disorder and its streets are aflame with austerity rioters (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). I refer to the decision by Athens to arrest the captain of the American ship participating in the second Hamas-bound flotilla, and block other ships in this patently illegal exercise designed to link to an international terrorist group. Clearly, the Greek government does not need another international headache at this moment. That is all the more reason to take notice that the rule of law still reigns in Greece.

Proud My Country Greece Stood Up to Gaza Flotilla

July 2nd 2011
I am proud that my adopted country Greece stood fast against the latest Gaza flotilla (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). With all the black eyes Greece is taking now over the budget crisis and bloody riots, this is a shining moment to show that Greece can stand tall in the face of pressure by the flotilla provocateurs.

Greece Should Ignore Gaza Flotilla Pressure

July 2nd 2011
All Greeks should push back on the Internet war now being launched against our nation by the organizers of the Second Gaza Flotilla (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Hamas is a dangerous terrorist organization that throws its political oppoinents off of rooftops, throws acid at young women who look the wrong way, and supports international terrorism. This includes shooting continuous rockets against school children in Israel. If the flotilla organizers really want to help the Gaza residents, why not deliver their cargo to Egypt which has an open border crossing, or Israel which brings in tons of supplies regularly? Answer: they do not want to help--they want to provoke. To pressure Greece now when the country is struggling to recover from its bailout problems is unconscionable.

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