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The Economic Edge

U.S. Government and Industry Collaboration is Required to Jump-Start Industry

May 29th 2012

Smog and Pollution3

U.S. factories produce about 75 percent of what the country consumes, but the right decisions by both business and political leaders could push that to 95 percent, say University of Michigan researchers.

However, a huge portion of U.S. manufacturing—as much as 40 percent—hangs in the balance and could either stay in this country or go elsewhere in the coming years based on policy decisions, they say.

According to Wally Hopp and Roman Kapuscinski of U-M's Ross School of Business, how the U.S. shapes education policy, worker training, the tax code, the regulatory environment and its relationship with Mexico will determine whether manufacturing continues to rebound or spirals into permanent decline.

Hopp and Kapuscinski are co-authors of "Manufacturing's Wake-Up Call," a study by U-M's Tauber Institute for Global Operations and consulting firm Booz & Company.

"This study says there's an opportunity," said Hopp, associate dean of faculty and research and professor of operations and management science at the Ross School. "U.S. manufacturing has declined, but we are not structurally out of the game. Manufacturing is still here, it's big, and it's helping us out right now. Are we going to line up enough factors to keep it here, or will we let it trickle away like we did during the lost decade of 2000-10?" Read more ..


UK on Edge

Muslim Community Hit by Child Rape Scandal

May 28th 2012

Sullen Woman

In spite of British politicians' and activists' adherence to a politically-correct orthodoxy, police officers and citizens are well aware of a rampant crime problem in the United Kingdom -- children being sexually abused by Muslim males -- according to several British news organizations this week. According to a source within the British law enforcement community, Muslim gangs frequently rape women, especially young girls, but cops are told to overlook the ethnicity and religion of perpetrators especially when the victims are white British citizens.

As frequently happens in the United States, Muslim groups are continuously making claims that their rights are being violated by police officers and intelligence officers with the U.K.'s MI5 (Military Intelligence Section 5) who conduct surveillance of terrorist suspects and criminal activity within the Muslim community. The "racial profiling" label is attached to any police or security activity that Muslims find uncomfortable, said the British source. "What recently occurred in New York City when the police officers were condemned by Muslim groups and liberal-left politicians also occurs in London and other British cities. It's difficult to combat terrorism in such an environment," said the source, a member of the Metropolitan Police Service who requested anonymity. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Warning Against Obama's Newest Big Brother Spy Program

May 27th 2012

Data center computer corridor

The US government has been building a top secret facility in Utah that will soon be spying on virtually everything you do. It’s a program that Congress killed in 2003 during the Bush administration because of public outcry. Apparently that outcry wasn’t enough to prevent them from spending $2 billion on project Stellar Wind and implementing it on Barack Hussein Obama’s watch.

Stellar Wind is the codename for the project which is being developed by the National Security Agency. The NSA is building a one million square-foot facility near Bluffdale, Utah to house the largest data capturing and storage monstrosity of its kind. It will cost the taxpayers $40 million a year just to pay the electric bill for the facility. When it goes online in September of 2013, you will no longer have any sort of privacy left.

The mainstream media has thus far ignored reporting on this story that was broken by Wired Magazine on March 15. According to the Wired story, the facility will capture and store every single private email that is sent from anywhere in the world. The contents of every cell phone call will be captured and recorded. Every bank transaction you make, every website you visit, every Tweet you send on Twitter, every book you purchase or check out at the library, every purchase that you make with a debit card, and so on, will be captured and stored by the NSA. Read more ..


France on Edge

The Jews, Israel and the New French President

May 26th 2012

French Presiident Francois Hollande
French Presiident Francois Hollande

The day following the French presidential election, I received a phone call: “This is the Haaretz newspaper, Tel Aviv. Apparently,” said a man speaking Hebrew, “you are a friend of François Hollande?”. “I know François Hollande for over twenty years”, I replied to him. “So,” asked the voice, “can you tell us if his election is good or not for the Jews?”

I burst out laughing: “You remind me of my grandfather Abraham when, during pre-war Poland, he once opened the Yiddish paper Der Haynt, and read that a lion had escaped from the Warsaw zoo. The first thing he was worried about was whether it was good or not for the Jews!”

I think Nicolas Sarkozy does not deserve the hostility he is overburdened with. Even if I believe that a democracy should change political parties once in a while, which is healthy. Read more ..


Marriage on Edge

The Baggage Adult Children of Divorce Carry

May 26th 2012

Clenched Fists

For those engaged in America’s culture wars, it is clear that the welfare of children is the battle ground of choice. We are barely out of the gate with civil unions and same-sex “marriages,” and we have been told, in defense of these new institutions—and with the help of Hollywood—that The Kids Are All Right. And if it be true that “by their fruits ye shall know them,” then, if the kids are all right, so must be their parents. But as we hurtle along in our social experiments, allaying our fears that children may not be getting the best deal in the new domestic arrangements, let’s pause for a moment and pay heed to the many children who, as adults, have come forward to say something about that older, accepted, and more or less “settled” issue: divorce.

Elizabeth Marquardt, author of Between Two Worlds (2005), Stephanie Staal, The Love They Lost (2000), Andrew Root, Children of Divorce (2010) and Susan Gregory Thomas, In Spite of Everything (2011), all have in common is a willingness to fully and honestly examine the perspective of an entire generation of children who experienced their parents’ divorce and have conducted their own hard-won research. Their forthright, painful stories challenge the entrenched doctrine that it is better for children to have a “good divorce” than a bad marriage. Living in the trenches, between two separated households, these authors have been able to put their fingers on what is essentially bad about divorce no matter how much their parents adhered to the norms of the “good” one—avoiding any public conflict, parting “amicably” and sharing the kids equally. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Bain of Our Existence

May 25th 2012

Obama: call me

Anyone who is already tired of hearing about Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital is welcome to leave the country and return after the November election. For those of us remaining here, President Obama has issued an unambiguous warning: There will be no escape. “This is not a distraction,” Obama said Monday of his campaign ads attacking Romney’s years at Bain. “This is what this campaign is going to be about.”

In closing the NATO summit in Chicago and discussing an end to the war in Afghanistan and the eurozone crisis earlier this week, Obama relished the chance to push back against criticism of his campaign’s ads featuring workers devastated when their companies were taken over by Bain Capital, and to assert that Romney’s private-equity prowess has hardly prepared him to rescue the economy.

“When you are president, as opposed to the head of a private-equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot,” Obama said. Or in other words, “You’re so Bain, you probably think this economy is about you.” No, not at all, said Obama. “If your main argument for how to grow the economy is, ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you are missing what this job is about,” he added. If that wasn’t perfectly clear to everyone, Vice President Biden said the following day of Romney’s private-equity experience, “[T]hat no more qualifies you to be president than being a plumber!” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

The Campaign from Hell

May 25th 2012

Charles Schumer

Now here comes Grover Norquist, who compares the senior senator from New York to members of the political party of Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Eichmann.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) believes that when the land of the free and the home of the brave gives an American the gift of being able to use his talents to become an extraordinarily wealthy man, it is wrong for that person to renounce his American citizenship to avoid paying his fair share of taxes.

I cannot think of a proposal more worthy than the bill proposed by Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) to redress this wrong. I believe the overwhelming majority of patriotic Americans would strongly agree with Schumer. Grover Norquist has every right to disagree and rise in defense of tax evaders who renounce their Americanism to avoid their taxes. He even has the right to compare Schumer to the party of Himmler and Eichmann. But I would propose that this is Exhibit A of what I call the campaign from hell, an intolerance and vindictiveness unworthy of our nation, in which one party is exponentially more guilty than the other. I cannot recall a time in American history when so many members of one party questioned the American citizenship or Christian faith of a president, and when so many leaders of that party were incapable of saying in clear and decisive terms that such attacks have no place in American politics. Read more ..


Counting Palestinians

Counting Palestinians

May 25th 2012

UNRWA Relief

"When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict." Abdullah Abdullah, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon.

Senator Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) has offered an amendment to the FY 2013 funding bill for the State Department that would require the Department to provide two numbers to Congress: 1) the number of Palestinians physically displaced from their homes in what became Israel in 1948, and 2) the number of their descendants administered by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA).

Palestinians are the only people for whom refugee status passes along through the generations (a condition adopted by the UN in 1965 over the objection of the United States), so they are also the only refugee population that grows exponentially over generations rather than declining as the original refugees pass away and their descendants become citizens of other places. Sen. Kirk seems to think the numbers would provide insight into whether the billions of U.S. tax dollars that have been provided to UNRWA over the years are making the problem better – or worse. Read more ..


Jewry on Edge

Could this be the Devolution of a Once Advanced People?

May 25th 2012

Hereidim in CitiField

It started with attempts to protect sexual offenders and child abusers –going so far as co-opting a public official into treating justice as a religious choice rather than an American right.  It then moved to vilifying an alleged rape victim with thousands rallying in support of an unlicensed therapist accused of raping a young girl.  It peaked when more than 40,000 filled the otherwise empty seats at Citi-Field in Queens, spilling over into the nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium, to hear about why Jews must avoid the Internet. God forbid anyone would get real information, become more aware, or possibly learn to think for himself.

A few years back, I heard Christian pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, proclaim, “Where are the nations that have persecuted the Jewish people? Where is Pharaoh and his army? Where are the Babylonians? Where are the Greeks? Where is the Ottoman Empire? Where are the Romans? Where is that goose-stepping lunatic Adolf Hitler and his Nazi hoards? All are historic footnotes in the boneyard of human history.  Where is Israel? Where are the Jewish people? They’re alive and well; they’re thriving; they’re prospering; they’re growing…  they’re still going forward.” Read more ..


Israel on Edge

The Nakba Hoax in Retrospect

May 25th 2012

Click to select Image

No revisionist or post Zionist spin can possibly deny that the War of Independence was an attempt by a coalition of Arab states to annihilate us. But as Goebbels used to say “Repeat the same lie again and again and ultimately people will believe it.”

Recent years have witnessed successful efforts by increasing numbers of radical Israeli-Arabs, in conjunction with their kinsmen beyond Israel, to project into the public discourse a narrative which portrays their antecedents as innocent victims of a conflict which led to their dispossession and expulsion. They mourn the consequences of the War of Independence but suppress the fact it was their fathers who rejected the UN partition plan and embarked on a war of annihilation against Israel. Their approach is akin to Germans mourning the tragedy of their losses during World War ll, implying that it was a byproduct of Allied criminality rather than Nazi aggression.

It is understandable that Israeli-Arabs lament the fleeing and even expulsion of their kinsmen in the course of war. But, in lieu of mourning their losses, or commemorating humanitarian tragedies, they are promoting hatred of the people amongst whom they live, garnering support for vengeance and delegitimization of the Jewish State. They also seem quite nonchalant about the fact that they are identifying themselves with those in surrounding Arab countries who aspire to annihilate us. Read more ..


The Arab Winter

Arab Tragedy is a Self-Inflicted Wound

May 23rd 2012

Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

In the Israeli collective memory Holocaust Commemoration Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day embody the story of the creation of the modern State of Israel. These three days represent the modern Jewish experience and the mantra propagated by the founding fathers - From Holocaust to Independence - connoting the concept of the enduring Jewish spirit of survival and the promise of Never Again.

Yet the resilience of Jewish-Israeli survival has been overshadowed by the false Arab-Palestinian notion of being "occupied" and "robbed" from their true destiny. Consequently, Israel is the "oppressor "and Palestinian nomenclature demands that the "occupation" remains the root cause of all problems, from social and economic woes to terrorism.

For the anti-Israel community, these days have embodied the Palestinian-Arab narrative, which argues that Israel had a "master plan" to evict the Arabs of Palestine by any means necessary and rob them of their land. Furthermore, the Holocaust in their view was the only reason the State of Israel came to fruition in the aftermath of World War II. The recurring mantra found in Arab historiography hence maintains a hypersensitive focus on discrimination and inequality. Generally, Arab scholars tend to ignore the huge corpus of materials found in the archives on the war and zoom in on what are legitimate or illegitimate claims, using UN resolutions as the be all and end all. Read more ..


The Arab Winter in Egypt

Egyptian Presidential Election: Why A Moderate Regime is Unlikely

May 23rd 2012

Egyptian Muslim bros
Muslim Brotherhood

Consider one fact that demolishes the apparatus of nonsense about moderate Islamists and the credibility of those claiming there is nothing to worry about. These are the same people who have been declaring for more than a year that the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate. Yet now the Brotherhood’s presidential campaign has shown it to be extraordinarily radical, openly demanding a caliphate and that Egypt become a Sharia state.

Suddenly they change the subject. Nobody acknowledges that they were wrong about the Brotherhood. They focus now on a different candidate who we are told is the true moderate Islamist, as if their previous favorite “moderate Islamist” movement has now thrown off its camouflage.   

“Democracy, as Western democracies have long known,” wrote Shadi Hamid, in predicting a Brotherhood majority in the parliamentary election some months ago, “is about the right to make the wrong choice.” True. But foreign policy, as everyone has long known, is about dealing with the consequences of wrong outcomes and trying to prevent them if possible.

We are told that Abdul Moniem Abul Fotouh is the “moderate Islamist” candidate for president of Egypt whom the West should support. He promises that Egypt will be an Islamic but civil state with equality for all of its citizens. The problem is that Abul Fotouh keeps making statements that belie that image, statements never mentioned by those who ridicule fears about Egypt’s new government.

One ignorant neoconservative wrote in a Canadian newspaper that the regime couldn’t be dangerous because in the presidential debate the question of Israel was only raised near the end. Naturally, the debate structure wasn’t determined by Fotouh and what he said about Israel was quite threatening, namely that it is a racist enemy based on occupation and threatening Muslims with 200 nuclear weapons. At any rate, the main problem is not what the new regime will do to Israel but what it will do to Egypt, eventually followed by what it will do to Israel.

This follows, of course, the national security editor of the National Journal explaining that there’s no danger of a radical Islamist Egypt because he could find one (neo)conservative who agreed with him on that issue. What’s truly funny here is that I’m not exaggerating in describing their best arguments.

Here is a new statement by Abul Fotouh. In an interview on an Egyptian television station, Abul Fotouh said he was against “terrorism” but then explained that Usama bin Ladin was not a terrorist, that the United States only called him one in order to “hit Muslim interests,”  and that the killing of bin Ladin was an “act of state terrorism.” In other words, he’s saying September 11 wasn’t an act of terrorism but that Obama’s policy is anti-Muslim and terrorist. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Spinning the Supreme Court’s “Obamacare” Decision

May 23rd 2012

contemplation of justice/scotus building

I learned that Mitt Romney had won the Nebraska Republican presidential primary last week via a “Breaking News” e-mail alert from POLITICO. It wasn’t the news from the Cornhusker state, however, that caught my eye. It was instead the health insurance industry’s decision to spend our premium dollars on an Internet ad—an ad warning of dire consequences if the Supreme Court doesn’t rule the way insurers want on the constitutionality of Obamacare.

The worst-case scenario for insurers is if the high court strikes down the provision of the law requiring us to buy coverage (the so-called individual mandate), but allows the law’s important consumer protections to go forward. The reason Obamacare is built around the individual mandate is because of the relentless lobbying by insurers, and not just on Capitol Hill. Representatives of the industry made frequent trips to the White House during the debate on reform to twist the arm of President Obama, who had campaigned against the mandate when he was running for president.

The insurance reps were persuasive in arguing that the parts of the bill consumer advocates were demanding wouldn’t work unless an “enforceable personal purchase requirement” (a.k.a., the individual mandate) was also included, along with subsidies from the government to help low-income families pay their premiums. And not incidentally, insurers love the mandate because it forces millions more people to buy health insurance policies. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

The Lockerbie Bombing Hall of Shame

May 23rd 2012

Megrahi waves

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, is finally roasting in hell after dying peacefully in his bed in Libya, surrounded by family and friends, rather than in the cell to which he was condemned for murdering 270 innocent people on Pan Am 103 in December, 1988. But even with the two principal murderers of these innocents&madsh;Kaddafi and Megrahi&madsh;now gone, what remains is a Lockerbie hall of shame of those who were either collaborators or looked the other way at Libyan tyranny. A day of reckoning awaits.

Foremost among them are the Scottish authorities who assured us three years ago that Megrahi—who ironically outlived Kaddafi himself—was at death’s door. All documents detailing the secret deals that were done for the terrorist’s release must see the light of day so that we can know whether the sacred memory of 270 victims was sold so that British oil companies like BP could benefit. We also need to know which British officials negotiated his release. Prime Minister David Cameron himself condemned “the appalling dodgy dealings with Libya under the last [British] government.”

The City of Englewood has played a particularly ignominious role in the Libyan affair. Even after I hosted a rally on my front lawn to ban Kaddafi from taking up residence in the home next door to me and even after Kaddafi began bombing his own citizens in February, 2011, Englewood made absolutely no effort whatsoever to compel the Libyans to pay property taxes, thereby forcing the residents of Englewood to be complicit in supporting the evil regime by paying for things like the Libyan’s police protection and trash removal with local tax dollars. While previous mayor Michael Wildes joined me as an enthusiastic partner in opposing Kaddafi, his successor, Mayor Frank Huttle, broke repeated promises to challenge the Libyans and did nothing.

But while Mayor Huttle, who is now running for a second term unopposed, did not lift a finger against the Libyans, he did find cause, in the application my organization made to establish a Synagogue on my property in Englewood, to dismiss our right to be heard before Englewood’s Planning Board, which he chairs and whose members he appoints. Two days before our hearing this past January, our attorney received a bizarre phone call from Michael Kates—the Planning Board attorney hand-picked by Mayor Huttle—who told him that there would likely be a challenge to the jurisdiction of our application from a member of the board. He would give no further details of these behind-the-scenes maneuvers. Our attorney protested vigorously. The law was on our side. But sure enough on the night of the hearing—one that consumed thousands of dollars in preparation—Kates found a technicality so abstruse that arguably only he and our attorney could even understand it. Read more ..


The Health Care Edge

Dem-backed Law Could Be Downfall of Obama's Birth-Control Mandate

May 22nd 2012

Pregnant

The biggest legal threat to the White House’s birth control mandate could come from a decades-old law that was championed by liberal Democrats, according to legal experts.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been mentioned in nearly all of the more than 30 lawsuits pending against President Obama’s administration over the mandate. One, filed by the University of Notre Dame on Monday, cited RFRA’s protections in the first paragraph. Legal scholars see the merit in challenging the mandate with RFRA, which then-Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced in 1993 to protect religious exercise from laws that might unintentionally restrict it.

But Democrats have dismissed claims that the mandate violates the religious freedom of groups that object to birth control. Now Sen. Schumer said Republicans “walked the plank” earlier this year by voting to weaken the policy. RFRA sailed through Congress with broad bipartisan support in response to an unpopular decision by the Supreme Court that was seen as curbing Native Americans’ religious freedom to use peyote, a traditional hallucinogen. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

Turkish Policy Gobbling Up the Middle East Makes Enemies of Everyone

May 21st 2012

Turkish Military

“Countries may vary, but civilization is one, and for a nation to progress, it must take part in this one civilization. The decline of the Ottomans began when, proud of their triumphs over the West, they cut their ties with the European nations. This was a mistake which we will not repeat.”   –Kemal Ataturk, 1924

Spinning in his grave, indeed. for now his successors not only think they can revive a Turkish-ruled imperium but have made the very mistake of turning their backs on the West that the republic’s founder rightly saw as the downfall of that earlier incarnation of his country. I’d change Ataturk’s wording slightly: the Ottomans turned their backs on the modern world then being developed in the West while still forming alliances with European powers.

Once upon a time there was a country named Turkey whose republic was created by Kemal Ataturk who famously said: “Peace at home; peace abroad.” He and the Turkish people had seen their Ottoman Empire collapse after failing to modernize, engaging in chauvinistic nationalism (under the Young Turks), and entering an unnecessary war that led to 20 percent of its population dead and the country prostrate. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

McConnell: Obama Needs to ‘Become the Adult,’ Raise Discussion on Debt, Deficit

May 21st 2012

McConnell Mitch

Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation on May 20th, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said House Speaker John Boehner was right to focus attention on a possible hike in the nation’s debt ceiling, saying it was a “perfect time” to address the nation’s fiscal health, but placing the burden for moving forward with President Obama. “At some point here, this President needs to become the adult, because the Speaker and I have been the adults in the room, arguing that we need to do something about the nation’s most serious long-term problem,” said McConnell on CBS’s Face the Nation.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) restarted the debate over a possible debt-ceiling hike last week when he called for dollar-for-dollar cuts in exchange for any raise in the limit. Boehner said he feared that without early negotiations on a long-term fiscal plan, lawmakers post-election would only have a few weeks to avoid what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called a “fiscal cliff” with looming cuts to spending and expiring Bush-era tax rates. McConnell told host Bob Schieffer those issues required extensive discussion and that Boehner was right to press the issue. “What the Speaker was saying, I entirely agree with. If the President’s going to ask us to raise the debt ceiling--and he will early next year--we do need to have another serious discussion about trying to do something significant about the deficit and debt,” he said. “A request from the president to raise the debt ceiling is a serious matter,” McConnell added. “Because it underscores the way we have been engaged in deceit spending and borrowing particularly over the last three-and-a-half years. It is the perfect time, Bob, the perfect time to engage in a discussion to do something serious about the deficit and debt.” Read more ..


Broken Taxes

A Tax Increase without the Pain

May 20th 2012

ss card and cash

Each year, the federal government summarizes its financial condition in the Financial Report of the U. S. Government. In recent years, the number that has attracted significant attention is the report’s estimate of the present value of the government’s “unfunded liabilities” for the next 75 years—the present dollar value of the funding shortfall in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over that period if current policies were to remain unchanged. The fiscal 2011 report estimates the net shortfall to be $6.4 trillion (see page 153 of the report). It’s a number that has been setting off alarm bells, but it’s also a number that is prone to misinterpretation. It is not a forecast; instead, it is a what-if scenario: “What if current policies didn’t change for 75 years and the growth rate settled into an unimpressive annual rate of 2.2 percent?”

In any case, there is near-unanimous agreement among politicians and pundits that current policies would result in an unsustainable debt-to-GDP ratio (see page x of the Citizen’s Guide in the 2011 report), which in turn begs the question of how we can fix this scenario before it’s too late. House Republicans have tried to get a conversation going, but the Democrats apparently want to put that conversation off until some unspecified time after the election. There is near-unanimous agreement among politicians and pundits that current policies would result in an unsustainable debt-to-GDP ratio. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

New Evidence is Consistent with George Zimmerman’s Self Defense Claim

May 19th 2012

Alan Dershowitz lecture

Alan Dershowitz

A medical report by George Zimmerman’s doctor has disclosed that Zimmerman had a fractured nose, two black eyes, two lacerations on the back of his head and a back injury on the day after the fatal shooting.  Moreover, the New York Times has reported that traces of marijuana were found in Trayvon Martin’s body and that Martin’s father initially said that the voice crying for help was not that of his son.  It is also been reported that a bruise was found on Martin’s ring finger that would be consistent with Martin having punched Zimmerman.  No other wounds, aside of course from the fatal bullet hole in the front of Martin’s body, were found.

If this evidence turns out to be valid, the prosecutor will have no choice but to drop the second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman — if she wants to act ethically, lawfully and professionally. There is, of course, no assurance that the special prosecutor handling the case, State Attorney Angela Corey, will do the right thing. Because until now, her actions have been anything but ethical, lawful and professional. She was aware when she submitted an affidavit that it did not contain the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. She deliberately withheld evidence that supported Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. The New York Times has reported that the police had “a full face picture” of Zimmerman, before paramedics treated him, that showed “a bloodied nose.” The prosecutor also had photographic evidence of bruises to the back of his head.

But none of this was included in any affidavit. Read more ..


Mideast on Edge

Be Careful What You Wish For

May 18th 2012

Israel pre 1967

Memo to all those hardliners who believe that not getting serious with negotiations with the Palestinians will wear them down and, eventually, lead to a one-state solution, with Jerusalem permanently in control of all the Land of Israel:

Without a doubt, you will get your wish.

Be warned, however. What you will get will not be a Jewish state. At best, it will be a state run by Arabs and Jews, but more likely only by Arabs.

It is what the world is waiting to impose. It is what a small but growing minority of Jews seems to want. It even is what underlies the effort in some quarters to rewrite Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikvah, to make it more comfortable for Israel’s non-Jewish majority to sing. Suggested rewrites water down Jewish claims to the land and downplay two millennia of hopes and prayers for the sake of an unwarranted political correctness.

We understand — we really do — why there is such great reluctance to give up any territory on the other side of the Green Line. It is on that side of the line, on the west bank, that the hope of 2,000 years is truly fulfilled. When we prayed for a “restoration of Zion,” for a return to our homeland, our hearts and minds were focused on Hebron, where our forefathers lay buried; on Beit El, where Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven; of Shechem, where once the Tabernacle stood in all its glory; on the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, where the returning Israeilites conducted a covenant renewal ceremony; on Bethlehem, where Mother Rachel is buried along the way to Efrat, the better to keep an eye on her children. “Re’i Rachel, re’i, hem shavu li-g’vulam,” Look, Rachel, look and see; they have returned to their borders. Your children have returned home. Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Is Iran Preparing a 9/11-Style Attack on the United States?

May 17th 2012

Twin towers burning

New York City: It's the center of the U.S. financial system and for many people, the capital of the world. That's why the Big Apple remains a top terror target.

From the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to 9/11, and more recently, the Times Square bomber, terrorists have repeatedly targeted Manhattan.

Now Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror, is reportedly taking aim.

A recent warning about the threat posed by Iran and its terror proxy, Hezbollah, came from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. "We know Hezbollah operatives are here," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told a House committee on homeland security in March. "The question is whether these Hezbollah operatives have the capacity to carry out attacks on the U.S. homeland and how quickly they can become fully operational," he said.

King said hundreds of operatives are here and that some Iranian diplomats stationed at the United Nations are much more than they appear. "Several of their comrades in the U.N. mission in New York were sent back to Iran after the NYPD caught them photographing the city's rail systems in the years since 9/11," he said. According to one NYPD official, there have been at least five other instances of what he called "hostile reconnaissance" against New York City by Iranian agents. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Obama's Fatal Flaw Revealed In White House Website's Presidential Bios

May 17th 2012

Barack Obama

Everyone knows presidents have larger-than-life size egos.  It goes with the job.  But changes on the official White House website reveal that we’ve never had a self-regarding narcissist quite like the Oval Office’s current occupant. They also reveal a fatal flaw in the Obama presidency, which is bad news for the rest of us if Barack Obama wins a second term. It seems the Obama team has been taking the website’s standard biographies of past presidents and inserting gratuitous references to our Beloved Leader. That’s led to entries like, “On February 22, 1924, Calvin Coolidge became the first president to make a public radio address to the American people. President Obama became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn etc.” and “On August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today the Obama administration continues to protect senior and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations.” 

The only recent president not to get the Obama treatment was Gerald Ford. It seems even Obama’s webmaster didn’t want to link his boss to a president best known for tripping over his own feet and pardoning Richard Nixon. Let’s set aside the colossal ego of someone who treats his predecessors as mere precursors of himself. Indeed, it’s easy to think about how Obama could have extended the comparisons. Eg. “God created the world in six days. President Obama created his first White House jobs summit in just four.” And set aside the drooling sycophancy of those dreamed up this scheme, and then carried it out. What’s chilling is that a president who treats his office as nothing more than a prism for reflecting his own virtues, is never going to admit his own policies might be why we are experiencing the slowest economic recovery in modern history, persistent high unemployment, the collapse of respect for America around the world-–and why 70% of polled Americans say we’re on the wrong track. Read more ..


Jewry on Edge

Peter Beinart: A charming Leftist Critic of Israel

May 17th 2012

Peter Beinart
Peter Beinart

During a recent visit to New York, I had an extended breakfast meeting with controversial author Peter Beinart who in recent months receives enormous media exposure as the most prominent far left critic of Israel in the United States. Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a feisty New York conservative Jewish activist, also participated.

I must confess that I prefer confronting less charming adversaries. Beinart, who is 41 years old, is an amiable, charismatic, and a highly articulate personality. In contrast to many Jewish critics of Israel who are often ignorant and indifferent of their Jewish heritage, he considers himself a committed Jew, maintains a Kosher home, attends synagogue and sends his children to Jewish day schools. He also regards himself as a passionate Zionist and claims that his prime motivation is to contribute to the long-term future of Israel and the Jewish people. But despite his likeable personality and insistence that “disagreements” with Israeli government policies do not detract from his ardent love of Israel, Beinart has unquestionably now assumed a prominent role as a leading Jew engaged in demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish state. Read more ..


The Media on Edge

Tonight on the BBC: Obscene Antisemitism

May 15th 2012

BBC

The British Broadcasting Corporation has long been accused of an anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias, but a recent program laid bare its prejudice for all to see. The introductory monologue to a program called Hard Talk began thusly: "American Presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s unwavering support for Israel."

That kind of language, argues Walter Russell Mead at the American Interest, constitutes "vivid, unapologetic and odious" antisemitism. "The BBC presenter, hopefully just reading a script that some fool of a writer threw up on the teleprompter, (or, as some readers suggest in the comments since this post first appeared, voicing a view that she does not personally endorse) gives voice to some of the dumbest and ugliest classic anti-Semitic tropes. To speak of “the Jews” in the aggregate, as though they form a monolithic super-entity with a single view and agenda, is exactly the kind of thinking that gutter anti-Semitism embraces in every age. To talk of an all-powerful “Jewish lobby” which controls American foreign policy is to embrace the paranoid fantasies of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. " Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

Former Terrorist Group Aligned with Obama Receives DOJ grants

May 14th 2012

Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn
Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn

The Obama Justice Department awarded a group headed by a domestic terrorist, -- and one-time FBI fugitive with close ties to President Barack Obama -- hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars "to reduce racial disparities in the juvenile justice system," according to a leading Inside the Beltway watchdog group. "This is a story you likely won’t see in the mainstream media, but a reputable political magazine exposed it this week," according to officials at Judicial Watch, an organization that investigates and exposes government corruption and abuse.

According to Judicial Watch's Corruption Chronicles, the Department of Justice has already given $400,000 in grants to an organization that blames disproportionately high criminal behavior among minority juvenile delinquents on discrimination. The San Francisco-based nonprofit describes itself as a leading organization in the field of juvenile justice and ethnic and racial disparities reduction.

Among the institute’s board of directors is Bernardine Dohrn, a longtime Obama supporter and fundraiser and proud member of the Weather Underground, a radical group that used explosives to attack the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and other government buildings to protest U.S. policy. She and her group are believed responsible for the killing and wounding police officers, as well. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Palin's Rhetoric Torpedoed Medicare Savings

May 14th 2012

Palin Candidate

We’ll be hearing a lot from politicians this summer and fall about the urgency of dealing with Medicare spending, which will begin to rise sharply in the coming years as increasing numbers of the country’s 75 million baby boomers turn 65.

If we’re fortunate, some courageous candidates will call for renewed debate on a provision of the health care reform bill that had once enjoyed bipartisan support. The one that spineless Democrats decided had to be yanked when a certain former vice presidential nominee claimed, falsely, that it would create government-run “death panels.” Medicare expenditures now total more than half a trillion dollars annually, representing 15 percent of federal spending. The only programs to which the government devotes more dollars are Social Security and national defense, both of which consume 20 percent of yearly federal outlays. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the average annual growth in Medicare spending will be 5.8 percent between 2012 and 2020. It would have been one percentage point higher than that, according to the CBO, if not for the cost-constraining provisions of the Affordable Care Act, most notably the one that will gradually eliminate the bonuses the government pays private insurers to participate in the Medicare Advantage program.

The Affordable Care Act might have been able to curtail spending further if it hadn’t been for Sarah Palin’s reckless rhetoric. It was Palin who charged that a provision of the law allowing Medicare to pay doctors for having end-of-life discussions with their patients would lead to government-run “death panels.” That provision was important because, according to the Congressional Research Service, about one-fourth of total Medicare spending is for the last year of life, and a lot of that spending could be avoided if more folks received counseling from their doctors on what they should do to ensure that their wishes are carried out when the grim reaper comes calling.

No one understands this better than Dan Morhaim, an adjunct professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and deputy majority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates. Morhaim, who also has been an emergency room physician and internist, has seen many cases in which people were hooked up to machines in vain attempts to restore their health—so many, in fact, that he wrote a book that should be required reading on Capitol Hill. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

Six Amicus Curiae Urge Supreme Court To Hear Rubashkin Case

May 14th 2012

Sholom Rubashkin
Sholom Rubashkin

In a sign that the Sholom Rubashkin case continues to roil the highest ranks of the nation’s legal community, six amicus briefs from prestigious legal organizations and renowned legal authorities have called on the Supreme Court to grant the Rubashkin case a hearing.

The briefs are from former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, joined by 86 former DOJ officials and federal judges; the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; The Washington Legal Foundation; The Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers; a group of 40 legal ethics professors; and the Justice Fellowship. Legal observers say it is unusual for so many amicus briefs to be filed at the “cert petition” stage, before the Supreme Court has granted a hearing.  The issues of misconduct and gross sentencing disparity in the case were apparently so disturbing, they compelled legal advocacy groups and ethics experts to file earlier, to urge the Supreme Court to grant a review.

Experts who have read the briefs and noted the signatories’ names say the briefs are not merely casual expressions of support from prominent people. They are passionate and persuasive arguments that harshly criticize the rampant injustices in the case. They raise an alarm about the setting of dangerous precedents unless the injustices are remedied. Taken together, the six amicus briefs hammer home a sense of outrage in top echelons of the legal community over the apparent disregard for judicial ethics and fair play that  drove the misconduct in the Rubashkin case. Read more ..


Russia on Edge

Putin Without a Plan

May 13th 2012

Putin

Remember Putin's Plan? It was all the rage during the 2007-08 election cycle when billboards sprung up around Moscow touting how it would lead to "Victory For Russia."
 
It was never exactly clear what the plan was, but it made for a useful meme as Putin was preparing to temporarily turn the presidency over to his handpicked interim successor, Dmitry Medvedev.
 
The hype about Putin's Plan and the hysteria surrounding the over-the-top "national leader" campaign that materialized around the same time appeared to be an effort to reassure the elite and the public that Russia's hard won stability and newfound prosperity would not evaporate due to a meager presidential transition.

Sure, Putin was leaving the Kremlin in a formal sense, but he was letting it be known that he remained in charge and had a vision of where he wanted to take the country.
 
So with the Medvedev interlude over and Putin sworn in for another six years in the Kremlin, it is worth revisiting whether or not he does in fact still have a plan.
 
The idea that Putin had some kind of master plan has long been something of an obsession for Kremlin watchers, myself included, as we tried to discern whether he had a strategy for Russia's long-term political and economic development.

Here's how I described the apparent blueprint toward the end of Putin's first stint in the Kremlin in an October 2007 piece: "At the heart of that strategy is the establishment of an enduring political system -- a centralized, authoritarian, vertically integrated and unitary executive that can manage a thorough and comprehensive modernization of Russia." Read more ..


Broken Government

Republican Extremism has Checked Compromise, Crippled Congress

May 12th 2012

Juan Williams 02

We now have history’s first draft of the story of this Congress. There is so much political fog right now that it is hard to get a clear view of the reason for the dysfunction on Capitol Hill. But three new books take a step back to get a clear look at the fray, and all three conclude that no-holds-barred, right-wing politics is to be blamed.

Two congressional scholars, Thomas Mann of Brookings and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, authored the first book—It’s Even Worse Than It Looks. They write that today’s Republican extremism has led Congress to be more dysfunctional than at any time after the Civil War. The second book is journalist Robert Draper’s Do Not Ask What Good We Do, a tragic account of far right-wing House freshmen engaging in tantrums and bullying Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The third book, The Passage of Power, is the latest volume by President Johnson’s biographer Robert Caro. It covers LBJ’s transition from his time as Senate majority leader to the White House as the powerful Democrat negotiated with Republicans to pass critical defense, highway construction and civil rights laws.

In today’s Congress that kind of compromise is “near impossible,” Caro is telling interviewers, due to Senate Republicans’ use of the filibuster to block all legislation from President Obama and the Democrats. Caro calls the GOP action “unconscionable.” And in sharp contrast to the GOP’s constant criticism of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Caro is of the opinion that LBJ’s successor as the leader of Senate Democrats is doing a “terrific job” of dealing with “near impossible circumstances.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Mr. Hope and Change

May 12th 2012

Armstrong_Williams

Thales of Miletus, considered one of the first philosophers in history, said, perhaps jokingly, that hope is the most abundant thing in the world, because even when you have absolutely nothing, hey, at least you still have hope.

We’re not seeing a whole lot of hope coming out of the Obama campaign this time around, despite whatever Thales might have said. Remember the good old days, when Senator Obama—without the gray hair!—analyzed for us the concept of hope, its very definition, its meaning, waxing poetically on this magical substance that he had invented and was now selling for 5 trillion borrowed dollars?

“Hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”

What’s curious is that insisting on something despite all evidence to the contrary sounds a lot like blind optimism and ignoring the roadblocks that stand in our path. Regardless, why we need a United States Senator to explain for us what hope means, or how any of this stream of words might bear on policy is still a complete mystery to everyone who was paying attention in those heady days, five trillion dollars ago. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Shiites, Sunnis and Israel

May 11th 2012

Iranian clerics

It has become obvious that the central axis of conflict in the Middle East today is no longer the Arab-Israeli conflict, but rather the conflict within Islam between Sunnis and Shiites. This war lies behind the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, which pits the Alawite regime, backed by Shiite Iran, against the Sunni Muslim majority of Syria, backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

For many years, the Sunni-Shiite war also fed the internal conflict in Lebanon, in which the Shiites emerged victorious through Hezbollah. The Sunni-Shiite struggle was also behind the Shiite insurrection in Bahrain against its Sunni rulers, and it explains a good part of the civil war in Yemen where Zayidi Shiites have been battling the country’s Sunni-led government. Looking at the mounting tensions in the Middle East, Mohammad Kharroub, a columnist for the Jordanian daily al-Ra’I, wrote this month about the possibility of a full-scale war breaking out between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Obama Should Practice What He Preaches on Food Security

May 11th 2012

PBObama contemplative

U.S. President Barack Obama has invited a number of African leaders to join the upcoming G8 summit for a discussion on food security in the continent, White House announced on Monday.  But experts say Obama has failed to address food security at home. They will join leaders at the G8 summit at Camp David on May 19 for "a discussion session on accelerating progress towards food security in Africa," said the statement.

The G8 summit is due to be held at Camp David in Maryland on May 18 and 19, the White House said in a statement. Unfortunately, in a biting reprimand from the Pew Health Organization, officials claim that President Obama has failed to address agroterrorism and food security concerns here in America.

Only months after the Obama Administration boasted of enacting “sweeping” legislation to protect the nation’s food supply, experts at a federal symposium revealed that half of what Americans eat comes from foreign countries not covered by the FDA-enforced measure, according to a public-interest  group based in Washington, D.C. This situation leaves the nation vulnerable to bioterrorism via tainted food, according to experts participating in the FBI’s International Symposium on Agroterrorism. The annual event, that took place in Kansas City last month, hoped to help protect the world’s food supply from terrorism through information-sharing and collaboration among governments, the private sector and academia, states a Judicial Watch report.   Read more ..


America and Israel

Making Iron Dome a Joint U.S.-Israel Missile Defense System

May 10th 2012

Iron Dome

After initially omitting funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system from its budget request, the Obama administration is now backing Congressional efforts to vastly increase funding for the successful system. The House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee has voted to allocate $680 million, which would allow Israel to cover the entire country against the missile threat from Gaza, the Sinai, and from southern Lebanon.

However, instead of an additional booster to speed up national deployment-the U.S. invested an initial $205 million two years ago-Congress and the Administration should go one step further, as a recent news report has suggested, and transform Iron Dome into a jointly owned and managed U.S.-Israeli defense system. Doing so would be a bold and mutually beneficial symbol of the closeness and importance of the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance. Joint U.S.-Israel ownership of such a game-changing technology would have multiple useful effects. For Israel, it would signal American resolve in Israel's battles against Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah. Read more ..


Broken Healthcare

Exposing the Medicare Double Count

May 9th 2012

stethoscope

One of the enduring mysteries of President Obama's health law is how its spending constraints and payroll tax hikes on high earners can be used to shore up Medicare finances and at the same time pay for a massive new entitlement program. Isn't this double counting? The short answer is: Yes, it is. You can't spend the same money twice. And so, thanks to the new health law, federal deficits and debt will be hundreds of billions of dollars higher in the next decade alone. Here's how it works. When Congress considers legislation that alters taxes or spending related to Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, the changes are recorded not just on the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund's books, but also on Congress's "pay-as-you-go" scorecard.

The "paygo" requirement is supposed to force lawmakers to find "offsets" for new tax cuts or entitlement spending, and thus protect against adding to future federal budget deficits. Putting the Medicare payroll tax hikes and spending constraints on the "pay-as-you-go" ledger was instrumental in getting the health law through Congress, because doing so fostered a widespread misperception that the law would reduce future deficits.
Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

ICEgate--High Ranking Intel Officials Linked to Palestinian Money Laundering

May 9th 2012

Euro money

What at first appeared to be government officials involved in embezzlement to the tune of more than a half-billion dollars now appears to be also connected to a Palestinian money-laundering operation, according to several Law Enforcement Examiner sources.

A top U.S. intelligence chief pleaded guilty last week as a result of a far-reaching federal fraud investigation that nabbed a total of five members of the Department of Homeland Security and may be connected to funneling money to a Palestinian ring, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police and the Law Enforcement Examiner. 

James M. Woosley, the acting director of intelligence for DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of more than $180,000 in a scheme involving fraudulent travel vouchers, and time and attendance claims, according to court documents. The 48-year old former resident of Tucson, Arizona, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of conversion of government money, according to the Department of Justice. Read more ..


Broken Healthcare

Meet the Obamacare Mandate Committee

May 9th 2012

obamacare

Offended by President Obama's decision to force health insurers to pay for contraception and surgical sterilization? It gets worse: In the future, thanks to ObamaCare, the government will issue such health edicts on a routine basis—and largely insulated from public view.This goes beyond contraception to cancer screenings, the use of common drugs like aspirin, and much more.

Under ObamaCare, a single committee—the United States Preventative Services Task Force—is empowered to evaluate preventive health services and decide which will be covered by health-insurance plans. The task force already rates services with letter grades of "A" through "D" (or "I," if it has "insufficient evidence" to make a rating). But under ObamaCare, services rated "A" or "B"—such as colon cancer screening for adults aged 50-75—must be covered by health plans in full, without any co-pays. Many services that get "Cs" and "Ds"—such as screening for ovarian or testicular cancer—could get nixed from coverage entirely.
Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

False Quick Fixes for American Health Care

May 8th 2012

medicine and money

You’ve heard it before: Let’s deep-six ObamaCare and replace it with a trio of sure-fire free-market solutions to the problems that plague our health care system. All that’s really needed, we’re told, is to pass tort reform; allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines; and encourage people to set up health savings accounts.

Here’s the problem: there is mounting evidence that all three of these strategies not only are ineffective but may actually be making matters worse.

Let’s start with those health saving accounts (HSAs), which folks can establish if they enroll in a high-deductible health plan. With backing from the Bush administration and the insurance industry, Congress passed legislation in 2003 to encourage people to enroll in high-deductible plans by giving tax-exempt status to the money policyholders contribute to their HSAs to cover out-of-pocket expenses.

Proponents argued that Americans would be more prudent “consumers” and take better care of themselves if they had to spend more of their own hard-earned money for health care and their insurers had to spend less. HSAs, they said, would bring down the cost of care because people with more “skin in the game” would shop around for doctors and hospitals that charged less.

It sounded good. But one of the reasons I left the insurance industry was because of irrefutable evidence that high-deductible plans were great for insurance firms but not so great for many of the people enrolled in them. Here’s what I mean: the median household income in this country is less than $52,000 a year (lower than it was 10 years ago after accounting for inflation), meaning that most families simply don’t have the cash after paying the mortgage and buying groceries to fund an HSA. Read more ..


Religious Tolerance

American Educational Institutions on Notice to Protect Students from Bigotry

May 8th 2012

California anti-Israel rally

At long last an attempt is being made to curtail blatant anti-Semitic commentary at American universities. The Israel Law Center warns that universities "may be liable for massive damage" if they fail to prevent anti-Semitism on campus.

The center sent hundreds of letters to university presidents drawing a line in the sand. This Israel civil rights center is carrying out this campaign in response to an alarming number of incidents against Jewish and Israeli students at U.S. universities.

A center's lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said, "Anti-Israel rallies and events frequently exceed legitimate criticism of Israel and cross the line into blatant anti-Semitism, resulting in hateful attacks against Jews." A student at Rutgers, to cite, one example, said he was called "a racist Zionist pig" in a public Facebook posting. That comment was made when the student questioned a Student Assembly decision to donate money to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, a nonprofit organization with ties to the Holy Land Foundation, a foundation that has funded Hamas - a recognized terrorist organization. Read more ..


Europe on Edge

The Meaning of May’s European Elections

May 7th 2012

Greek Protesters

The results of recent elections in six European countries, particularly France, Greece and Germany, bode poorly for satisfactorily resolving the European Union’s ongoing financial and political crisis. Moreover, from the U.S. perspective, the left turns in France and Greece mean more difficult times ahead for our own anemic economic recovery, and our continuing efforts to lead NATO and other allies in the struggle against Iran’s nuclear weapons program and international terrorism.

Instant analysis: France Although incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat at the hands of Socialist François Hollande had been consistently forecast in public opinion polls, the final result was much closer than expected. Nonetheless, Sarkozy’s fall almost certainly means that France’s domestic policies, and its position in European deliberations over the future of the Euro, the common currency of seventeen European Union (EU) members, will shift decisively left. Read more ..


The Arab Winter in Egypt

The American Media Gets an Egyptian Presidential Candidate All Wrong

May 7th 2012

Abouel Fotouh
Abdel Monem Abouel Fotouh

Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Monem Abouel Fotouh was a leading force in the militant Islamist student movements of the 1970s; one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s point men for aiding the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s; and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office for twenty-two years. It should not have come as a surprise that he has earned the endorsement of Egypt’s most influential Salafist organizations, al-Dawa al-Salafiyya and its political arm, the Nour Party, as well as the backing of U.S.-designated terrorist organization al-Gama’a al-Islamiya

But American media has had a tough time acknowledging the dispiriting truth that Egypt’s presidential race is now a contest between theocratic Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Abouel Fotouh on the one hand, and autocratic former Mubarak regime officials such as Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq on the other. Instead, the country’s major newspapers have gone out of their way to designate a hero. The Wall Street Journal thus whitewashed Abouel Fotouh as “relatively liberal,” while the New York Times dubbed him a “liberal” outright. Any judicious reading of Abouel Fotouh’s record would contradict these characterizations.

Abouel Fotouh’s reputation as a “liberal Islamist” is largely the product of his views on political inclusion. As he notes in his memoirs, he has long advocated for the right of women to run for political office, and he similarly supports Christians’ right to run for president. These stances put him at odds with his more fundamentalist colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, including Brotherhood presidential candidate Morsi, and it was one of the reasons for his ouster from the organization’s Guidance Office in 2009.

But it was not the primary reason. As Abouel Fotouh told me during a March 2011 interview, his disagreements with the other Guidance Office members were mostly about the organization’s dictatorial internal structure, which he wanted to reform by instituting term limits. “I left because I pushed for an amendment that people can only stay in the Guidance Office for eight years, and I asked thirteen other members to [leave the Guidance Office] as well,” he said. “But they refused.” Yet despite his falling out with the Brotherhood’s brass over this administrative matter, Abouel Fotouh remained quite committed to the organization: he was a member of the Brotherhood’s Shura Committee—its 100-member policy-making body—for another year-and-a-half, and was among the Brotherhood’s most visible advocates to the international community during the January 2011 revolt that toppled Mubarak. His ultimate departure from the Brotherhood in the summer of 2011 was similarly not because of ideological disagreements, but strategic ones: the Brotherhood leadership vowed not to nominate a presidential candidate, but the ambitious Abouel Fotouh declared his candidacy anyway. Read more ..



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