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The 2012 Vote

Obamacare Must Go

March 20th 2012

Obama pensive

It has been two years this week since the passage of Obamacare, and the firestorm it ignited has not abated but only spread and intensified. Most Americans have already made up their minds, understanding that until it is completely removed, the cancer of Obamacare threatens not only our healthcare and our economy but also our most fundamental liberties and constitutional self-government. Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on its constitutionality, bringing this intolerable act to the forefront of the American mind once again and reminding the country that the issue of Obamacare is by no means settled. Nothing the Administration has done has made this law more palatable, quite the opposite, and none of the PR events the White House has planned for this week is likely to change people’s minds.

Nor will Obamacare likely be settled by the Supreme Court. As with such divisive questions in the past, this question will be settled by the American people who have throughout this failed episode signaled loud and clear that they want the whole monstrosity repealed once and for all. In its short 24-month life, Obamacare has done nothing but confirm our worst fears, being a signal failure from the very beginning. Obamacare promised to make healthcare more accessible and cheaper without increasing taxes or the deficit. If you liked your doctor, of course you could keep your doctor. No one would be made to do anything against their will. These promises have all been broken. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Ze’ev Jabotinsky Said It Best: Israel, Don’t Apologize!

March 18th 2012

Ze'ev Jabotinsky
Ze'ev Jabotinsky

It seems that Israe's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing one of the toughest decisions any leader could have – How to handle an enemy at their doorstep devoted to their destruction.  In facing Iran, Netanyahu has to also manage the relationship with the world’s most powerful man, President Barack Obama, someone who alliance with the State of Israel seems tentative, at best.

Rest assured, no matter what Netanyahu decides, it will not be long before the United Nations condemns Israel for action (spoken or otherwise) against Iran.  Nations will demand that Israel apologize for something or other. In 2011, Netanyahu was facing immense pressure from Obama and the world to compromise significantly to the Palestinians. Yet, Netanyahu handled it with the cunning and diplomacy we have come to appreciate of him.  As Dan Friedman wrote in an op-ed, Netanyahu “is finally in touch with his inner Ze’ev Jabotinsky, having delivered a stinging public rebuke upon meeting the president on Friday." It was less a response than a lesson in Jewish history and Jewish pride. About the President’s plans for the Jewish state, Netanyahu said flatly, “it ain’t gonna happen.” That left "Mr. Obama back on his heels and struggling to regain his balance.”

Clear language like this from Jabotinsky, the greatest Zionist leader ever, is precisely what is needed the next time the U.N., Obama or the world media condemns Israel. Israel as a nation is a modern miracle; fewer than 70 years after six Million Jews were murdered and the world stood by and watched; surrounded by enemies who have tried to destroy the nation many times over; Israel’s survival is a simple miracle.

Rather than quoting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling Zionists "the most detested people in all humanity" and the extermination of six million Jews during World War II "a myth," that 9/11 was “a big fabrication”, or that there are no homosexuals in Iran, Prime Minister Netanyahu should stand up and say "loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: `Go to Hell!'" Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

North Korea Missile Announcement Undermines Diplomatic Outreach

March 18th 2012

North Korea nukes

North Korea announced that it would launch a satellite in mid-April, a provocative move that jeopardizes a recent diplomatic agreement with the United States. Despite Pyongyang’s attempts to portray the launch as a peaceful civilian satellite program, it would be an unequivocal violation of U.N. resolutions 1718 and 1874, which preclude any North Korean “ballistic missile activity.”

The Obama Administration denounced North Korea’s announcement as “highly provocative” and “in direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions” and said that it ”poses a threat to regional security and would also be inconsistent with North Korea’s recent undertaking to refrain from long-range missile launches.” A North Korean launch would also break Pyongyang’s February 29 bilateral agreement with the United States to a “moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches.” By doing so, it would postpone if not derail the Obama Administration’s recent attempts to offer 240,000 tons of nutritional assistance and diplomatic benefits as inducement for Pyongyang to resume its denuclearization commitments and refrain from provocative behavior. Read more ..


Inside Africa

Mauritania is Called to Surrender former Libyan Intel Chief for Alleged Mass Murder

March 18th 2012

Abdullah Senussi of Libya
Abdullah Sanussi, former Libyan intelligence chief.

Mauritania should promptly surrender Libya’s former intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he is wanted for crimes against humanity, declared Human Rights Watch in a statement. Sanussi was arrested on March 17 in Mauritania, news agencies have reported. A senior Libyan official confirmed the arrest to Human Rights Watch. "Sanussi’s arrest is a crucial step for justice given the magnitude of the crimes he is accused of," said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. "Now, to ensure justice, it’s imperative that Mauritania hand him over to the ICC for fair trial."

The brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi and long his senior intelligence official, Sanussi is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the government’s crackdown of protests in early 2011. He is also implicated in many serious human rights violations during Gaddafi’s rule, including the June 1996 killing of more than 1,200 prisoners in Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison. Prisoners from that time told Human Rights Watch that Sanussi was the government’s chief negotiator, promising them safe treatment prior to the killings. Sanussi was also convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison in France for the 1989 bombing of a passenger jet over Niger.

The ICC investigation into the 2011 crackdown was authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, adopted unanimously on February 26, 2011.States parties to the ICC have a legal obligation to cooperate with the court. Read more ..


The Edge of Religion

Don’t Penalize ‘Good Samaritans’

March 18th 2012

Catholic Edifice

A 15-year-old girl spray-painted the words on pale yellow aluminum siding perched oddly on a slab of concrete: “For sale! Fixer upper.” Hours earlier, the siding had been part of a wall and the slab the front porch of her grandmother’s home in Harrisburg, Ill. he good-humored graffiti was probably the rosiest reaction possible after 45 tornadoes swept through 10 states in the Midwest and South, flattening entire towns. In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels hailed citizens’ precautions to seek shelter from the storms. “Yet all things that mere mortals can do aren’t enough sometimes,” Daniels told reporters while surveying the damage. Even in the aftermath of what insurance companies call “acts of God,” we mere mortals still may feel powerless. “Fixing up” lives, homes and neighborhoods will require superhuman perseverance.

Thankfully, many angels of mercy have appeared in devastated communities. Religious groups such as Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and Catholic Charities are providing basic necessities.What’s more important, faith-based groups have the capacity to deal with deeper damage: psychological shock, grief over lost loved ones and fear of the unknown in a world turned upside down. And they have staying power to help storm-stricken survivors summon the will to persevere through months, if not years, of rebuilding. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

Dishonorably Disarmed: Marines Insulted by Sec. Panetta

March 17th 2012

Leon Panetta Pensativo

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was to address a mixed U.S.-Afghan audience at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan only weeks after six American solders were killed by Afghan soldiers, and days after an American soldier allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians. That circumstance alone would ensure a tense atmosphere, but the decision to disarm the 200 Marines who planned to hear the secretary should set off further alarm bells.

The Marines were told to take their weapons out of the tent, deposit them in another location, and to return unarmed. Sgt. Maj. Brandon Hall told news outlets that he was acting on orders: Something has come to light. … I was told to get the weapons out. All I know is I was told to get the weapons out. … Somebody got itchy, that's all I've got to say. Somebody got itchy; we just adjust.

Helmand province Commander Mark Gurganus told the New York Times: You've got one of the most important people in the world in the room.

He denied any link to the alleged murder of the Afghans. On the other hand, Gurganus also said he gave the order because he didn't want the Afghan soldiers — disarmed as they normally are under such circumstances — treated differently from the Americans: This is not a big deal. Read more ..


Campus Jihad

Victimology 101 at UC San Diego

March 16th 2012

AntiSemitism is hate protest

Adding to the evidence that California campuses have become the epicenter for anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and anti-American activism, student groups at UC San Diego led by Students for Justice in Palestine introduced — for the third time — an initiative aimed at divesting university funds from "U.S. companies that profit from violent conflict and occupation."

This year, the divestment call was aimed specifically at General Electric and Northrop Grumman — firms that "produce parts of Apache helicopters used by the Israeli Defense Forces against Palestinians" — with the empty ambition that "by removing investments from companies who assist in perpetuating the violence in the area [supporters would be instrumental in] setting up a forum where peace is achievable."

As had happened on two earlier occasions on the UCSD campus when a similar divestment initiative was presented, the proposal was roundly defeated in a 20-13 vote, stunning its supporters.

The rejection of calls for divestment from companies doing business with Israel mirrors what has happened elsewhere on campuses, where such campaigns represent the continuing effort by some activist members of the academic Left — joined happily by Islamists and other ideological enemies of the Jewish state — to prolong and enhance the demonization of Israel for the purpose of delegitimizing, weakening, and, it is hoped by these advocates, eventually extirpating Israel altogether. Positioned as a morally upright effort to assert and protect the rights of the long-suffering Palestinians, these efforts at demonizing Israel are not, in fact, benign gestures of peace activists and well-meaning academics in pursuit of social justice for the Palestinians. Read more ..


American on Edge

The New American Era of Socialism

March 16th 2012

Armstrong_Williams

We have veered so far from the vision of our Fathers that, unless the American people regain a strong commitment to the traditional American values of self - reliance, individual liberty, and equality of opportunity, our democracy will inevitably lead to socialism. In fact, it's hard to argue that we aren't already there. e live in an age when some banks are too big to fail-when the taxpaying minority of Americans must carry the burden of failed investment firms that were run into the ground by our best and brightest.
We have a government that has bought private companies, who picks winners and losers in the free market. e have an annual trillion dollar budget deficit, and the majority of that budget is made up of payments to individuals (meaning wealth redistribution) and interest on the national debt, entropy.

According to the Heritage Foundation, one in five Americans-not including government employees-is dependent on the government. But, since government is necessarily of the people and by the people, that really means that 20 percent of us are dependent on the other 80 percent. Since the United States government is the largest employer in the history of the human race, it is safe to say that the situation is even worse than that. A conservative estimate would be that 40 percent are dependent on the other 60 percent. What results from this state of affairs is that respect for other people's property rights has eroded, and individual responsibility declined. We have a President who, by simple executive fiat, tells insurance companies what they must provide for free. And, since nothing in life is actually free, he forces people to pay for other people to have unrestricted sex. Sexual profligacy is actually being encouraged.

We have got used to an entitlement mentality and class envy in our society. Our president, the leader of the free world, has made the main plank of his reelection platform, the main argument that we should keep him in office, the promise that he will take even more money from the successful. Instead of looking in the mirror, we look for scapegoats to explain our misfortune. Rather than working harder or changing careers, we have people here who blame free enterprise, who blame successful people for their problems. Do they really think that's a solution?Worst of all, this decline in our traditional values is being championed by the political establishment, including the President of the United States, the academic elite, and the main stream media in an unholy alliance. Who can stand against it? Read more ..


Campus Jihad

A New Anti-Israel Tactic

March 15th 2012

Anti-Israel Protest at UC Irvine

The pro-Palestinian mantra revolves around the belief that the Palestinians are the Arab world's underdog; Israel is the Goliath and the Palestinians are the David. This message has been exported to the West and has engendered global sympathy for the Palestinian cause, as the quintessence of an injustice at the hands of the brutal, colonialist West.

Liberal and leftists groups ranging from women's rights, LGBT groups and human rights activists have all championed the Palestinian cause as a common denominator that unites or even embodies their respective causes. North American college campuses are the most successful environment for all these groups.

One of the primary reasons for this has to do with how academic freedom is abused in academia. Overwhelmingly, whatever speech or activities go on in a classroom is deemed protected by "academic freedom," whether it is academic or not. Only sexual harassment appears exempt from this blanket protection. Gradually, the entire campus has become an "academic freedom" zone, where protests and other activities now qualify as academic "speech."

The freedom to critique is, predictably, directed mostly at the "twin Satans," Israel and America. Although efforts to curtail speech that academics find unpleasant and unacceptable have been long standing in the form of "speech codes" and restrictions on "hate speech," attacks on Israel and America, no matter how vicious or false, are unrestricted. Clearly, academic freedom is a one-way street; only those having the correct opinions may claim it.

Of late, we have seen a new methodology employed by sympathizers of the Palestinians cause where they accuse pro-Israel groups and individuals of violating the same free speech rights they regularly demand. For example, Israeli generals and politicians have been threatened in Europe that they will be sued for crimes against humanity; IDF veterans (which includes nearly every Israeli) have been disinvited from academic panels, and now pro-Israel professors are being accused of "intimidating" pro-Palestinian student groups. Read more ..


Edge of Media Manipulation

The New York Times Plays Devil’s Advocate to God’s Messenger

March 15th 2012

Who is Greg Smith, and why do we care? He was an employee who quit Goldman Sachs in a public way and posted it in a New York Times op-ed. The better question is why should we care? After all, Goldman Sachs probably has had staff quit before for a whole host of reasons, from better opportunities to being disillusioned, to just not meeting the expectations or needs. Gee, I have had some really good people quit the firm where I work, and quit on me for that matter. Some wrote letters too.  It's not news; it's life.

Work is just that, work. Some love it, some hate it, and some find it a calling; others just work because they need to pay the bills. I work because I enjoy what I do, but also because I get bored doing nothing; and I can certainly use the money. So what is Greg Smith's deal that so many are now paying attention?

He quit one of the biggest financial institutions and lambasted it in perhaps the single most influential media venue still in print. Yet, it's not news. Goldman has some 30,000 people working for it, and what are the odds that Greg Smith was not the only employee to walk out that door this same week? It begs the question as to why the New York Times printed it in the first place. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Ripple Effect of 'Cost-Shifting' Uncompensated Medical Care

March 15th 2012

medicine and money #2

If I were trying to persuade the Supreme Court later this month that Obamacare should not be declared unconstitutional, I would tell the story of the woman who was the original named plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by the National Federation of Independent Business, one of the fiercest critics of the health care reform law. The NFIB thought it had found the perfect person when one of its members, Mary Brown, a 56-year-old owner of an automobile repair shop in Panama City, Florida, volunteered to lend her name to the lawsuit. Brown was outspoken in her belief that Congress had gone beyond what the U.S. Constitution allows when it included in the reform law a requirement that, beginning in 2014, most Americans will have to obtain health insurance or pay a fine to the IRS. She said she was uninsured and was that way by choice. “She firmly believes that no one should have the right to tell her she has to use her own money to pay for health insurance,” Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB legal center, said when the NFIB filed its lawsuit in 2010. She turned out not to be such a perfect choice after all.

Last year Brown shuttered her business and filed for personal bankruptcy. Among her debts: nearly $4,500 in medical bills. More than $2,000 of that was owed to the Bay Medical Center in Panama City. The rest was to doctors in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. The NFIB had to scramble to find another small business owner to replace Brown’s name at the top of the lawsuit. It settled on Kaj Ahlburg, a retired New York investment banker who now lives in Port Angeles, Washington. Read more ..


Iran’s Nukes

Cacophony of Voices Produces Discordant Iran Policy

March 14th 2012

Natanz_nuclear.jpg

Despite an ever-growing mountain of evidence conclusively indicating that Iran is hell-bent on obtaining nuclear weapons, many former and current officials in Washington continue to urge the Administration to use the lever of diplomacy to convince Tehran to “negotiate” a deal without conceding that Iran seeks to possess nuclear weapons in the first place.

Some “experts” do concede that Iran may indeed be pursuing nuclear weapons but they claim if Tehran is doing so it is in reaction to U.S. policy. Others assert that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon—yet—but if the United States does not pursue a diplomatic solution other voices suggest Tehran surely will.

Still other voices suggest that Iran may be seeking a nuclear weapon, but it is forced to do so for nothing less than regime survival. Or, that America forced them down this path because the United States supported a coup in Iran in 1953. Some even suggest that Iran legitimately sees itself as surrounded by hostile American and allied forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and, therefore, Tehran seeks nuclear bombs to defend itself.

Further confusing American policymakers are ideological narratives suggesting that those who warn of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons are either desirous of war with Iran, are seeking to justify spending more defense dollars, are being critical of the current Administration for political purposes, or are using the Iranian program as an excuse not to give the Palestinians a state. Read more ..


Media Bias

Anti-Semitic Peer-Reviewed Medical Journal: The Lancet

March 13th 2012
The Lancet
is a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal which is described on their parent company, Elsevier's website as "the world's leading independent general medical journal", and as "stringently edited and peer-reviewed to ensure the scientific merit and clinical relevance of its diverse content." Interesting enough, on March 5 and 6, The Lancet hosted a two-day conference entitled "Health of Palestinians Inside and Outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory" at The American University in Beirut, Lebanon. For an presumably serious medical journal, this topic, discussion, location and invitation list all seem suspect. It appears as one of the more creative ways to use media, disguised as intellectualism to express bias against Israel.

Similarly timed and executed, the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, passed the only country-specific resolution condemning Israel for the supposed intolerable living conditions of Palestinian women. Needless to say, no action was taken against Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia or any of the many Arab lands where women are treated as property, beaten, raped and killed as the men of those lands see fit and necessary.  The United Nations only censured Israel, one of the world’s most progressive nations when it comes to women’s rights.  Quite like the Lancet conference, this was done to appear as a well established academic process, so the media can carry the created message of Israel's intransigence beyond simple artificial news reports and images of Israeli crimes against humanitry. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Obama-Era Regulation at the Three-Year Mark

March 13th 2012

Barack Obama with Flag

During the first three years of the Obama Administration, 106 new major federal regulations added more than $46 billion per year in new costs for Americans. This is almost four times the number—and more than five times the cost—of the major regulations issued by George W. Bush during his first three years.

Hundreds more regulations are winding through the rulemaking pipeline as a consequence of the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming crusade, threatening to further weaken an anemic economy and job creation. Congress must increase scrutiny of regulations—existing and new. Reforms should include requiring congressional approval of major rules and mandatory sunset clauses for major regulations.

In January 2011, President Barack Obama announced, with much fanfare, a new get-tough policy on overregulation. Acknowledging that “rules have gotten out of balance” and “have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs,” he pledged a comprehensive review of regulations imposed by the federal government. Despite this promise of restraint, however, the torrent of new rules and regulations from Washington continued throughout 2011, with 32 new major regulations. These new rules increase regulatory costs by almost $10 billion annually along with another $6.6 billion in one-time implementation costs.

During the three years of the Obama Administration, a total of 106 new major regulations have been imposed at a cost of more than $46 billion annually, and nearly $11 billion in one-time implementation costs. This amount is about five times the cost imposed by the prior Administration of George W. Bush.

This regulatory tide is not expected to ebb anytime soon. Hundreds of new regulations are winding through the rulemaking pipeline as a consequence of the vast Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law (the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), the Affordable Care Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming crusade, threatening to further weaken an anemic economy and job creation. Read more ..


Diplomacy on Edge

Why America Must Not Join The Law of the Sea Treaty

March 13th 2012

Stormy Seas

The U.S. should not accede to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It would expose the United States to international environmental lawsuits that would harm its environmental, economic, and military interests. Having failed to impose their agenda on the U.S., climate change alarmists and other environmental activists are preparing the legal ground and claimants to sue the U.S. if it joins UNCLOS.

According to international law professors Michael Faure and Andre Nollkaemper, “The possibility that a small island state, or another injured party, would bring a liability claim against states responsible for climate change no longer is a topic for fiction or a theoretical prospect. There is a rise in plans for litigation worldwide for consequences of global warming.”

Numerous nations qualify as potential claimants in a lawsuit against the United States in an UNCLOS tribunal, including virtually every developing nation in the world that claims to have experienced a negative impact from climate change. The highly controversial and error-prone U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified multiple negative impacts related to the world’s oceans that are attributable to climate change, including sea-level rise, reduction in sea-ice cover, elevated sea surface temperatures, increased storm floods, coastal erosion, seawater intrusions into fresh surface and groundwater, and adverse impacts on marine fish and aquaculture. Read more ..


Inside South America

The Role of Foreign Direct Investments in Brazil

March 13th 2012

Brazil slum baby

The most common manner to execute a foreign investment in Brazil is by means of the so-called Foreign Direct Investments (“FDI”). Although its definition varies in the international framework, according to the Brazilian Central Bank  (“BCB”) (article 2nd of the Ruling # 2997), FDI occurs when all corporate capital participation is acquired or paid-up by corporate shareholders or individual residents abroad, except when they represent shares acquired in the financial or stock market.

Article 1.134 of the Brazilian Civil Code requires that a presidential decree must be issued in order to authorize a foreign company to operate in the country. Therefore, as a strategy to avoid a slower and more bureaucratic process, most investors choose to constitute a new Brazilian company and finance its business by FDI, making this a common transaction. Read more ..


Soft Jihad

Another anti-Israeli Flotilla Looms, This Time on Land

March 13th 2012

jerusalem from mt of olives
View of Jerusalem from Mt. of Olives

For the global network of anti-Israel activists—those charmers who bring us the annual delight of “Israel Apartheid Week,” solidarity flotillas to Hamas-ruled Gaza, and Ivy League conferences dedicated to the destruction of Jewish sovereignty—there is only one cause in the world that counts.

Bashar al-Assad’s butchery in Syria? Forget it. The long nightmare of Zimbabwe under the demented rule of Robert Mugabe? They don’t want to know. The persecution of 100 million Christians by an assortment of Muslim and communist regimes? Not their problem. All they care about is, in the words of the organizers of the forthcoming Global March on Jerusalem, “the policies and practices of the racist Zionist state of Israel.”

Almost two years after the attack by Islamic extremists upon Israeli commandos who boarded a Turkish vessel that was attempting to break the blockade of Gaza, the same cast of villains is lining up for a march upon Jerusalem. The city that was liberated and unified following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Middle East war is now the site, say the march organizers, of “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians and “Judaization (sic) policies.” And so, on March 30, they plan to have 1 million marchers gathering on Israel’s land borders, with the aim of converging upon Jerusalem. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

What Netanyahu May Have Added

March 11th 2012

Bibi at AIPAC

"Mr. President, you live in a big country: wide and long with friendly neighbors and oceans. The distance of your journey from Honolulu to Washington, DC is 4,835 miles – 25 percent farther than the distance from Tel Aviv to Tehran. Even from Los Angeles to Washington is 2,308 miles. From our southern tip in Eilat to Metullah in the north is 298 miles – just about Washington, DC to New York. Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is 37 miles – although it feels longer in traffic. From Gaza City to Sderot – 3 miles.

"The United States is big and Israel is small. You go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not "go" to war any more; war comes to us -- in the form of rockets and missiles. Abut ½ of 1 percent of Americans serve in the American armed forces. More than 75 percent of Israeli high school graduates serve before college and most of them then serve for years in the reserve forces. World War II killed 0.30 percent of all Americans based on 1940 population numbers. In 1933, approximately 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe; 1.7 percent of the total European population, but more than 60 percent of the world's Jews. So the Holocaust killed almost 2/3 of the Jews living in Europe, and about 39 percent of world Jewry. Read more ..


Haiti on Edge

Crime, Impunity and Poverty Continue to Spiral in Haiti

March 11th 2012

Haiti in ruins

Haiti exhibited a dramatic increase in violent crime in the last six months, as residents reported declining confidence in the police, a new University of Michigan report indicates. No single factor can explain the rise in violence—especially murder and armed robberies—in Haiti's urban areas, but the country's stability has eroded after a five-year period in which crime steadily declined to record lows, the researchers say.

Surveys were conducted monthly in 3,000 households between August 2011 and February 2012 in seven urban areas, including Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes and Gonaives. Researchers visited homes to interview adults over the age of 18, and subsequently conducted follow-up interviews by telephone. Collectively, the surveys demonstrate an increasing dissatisfaction with the government of Haiti after five years of growing confidence, as well as fears that political uncertainty and turmoil will increase crime, says Athena Kolbe, a U-M doctoral candidate in social work and political science. Kolbe co-wrote the report with Robert Muggah, a researcher at the International Relations Institute of the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

How Planned Defense Budget Cuts Could Affect the US Air Force

March 10th 2012

KC-135, A-10s, and F-16s
A-10s, KC-135, and F-16s (credit: US Air Force)

Tremendous changes can occur over the course of one year. Regarding defense spending, the Administration is now planning to pay out $4.5–$5 trillion over the next ten years on defending the country, compared to nearly $6 trillion just 12 months ago. This, in part, reflects the debt ceiling agreement of last summer when Congress and the Administration called for reducing a ten-year deficit of $10 trillion to $7.5 trillion.

This is part six of an examination of how cuts to future defense spending could affect US military capabilities. Read the overview here, part two here, part three here, part four here, and part five here.

Lieutenant General Charles May, USAF (ret.) (Member, JINSA Board of Advisors)

The major concern for many is the lack of a coherent national military strategy that is responsive to real world threats. Without this foundation, it is impossible to judge whether the defense adjustments will provide the necessary security for Americans over the next two decades. Obviously there will be less capital expenditure, less budget authority to maintain current systems and programs and fewer troops to carry out the ill-defined USAF mission. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Do Not Track Kids’ Online Activities

March 10th 2012

Computer User

In the ever-changing 21st century digital landscape, there is one constant truth: the youth shall inherit the Web. On any given day, children and teenagers go online to complete homework, connect with friends and family and enjoy entertainment opportunities. The Internet can be a child’s virtual playground, an electronic oasis that offers a rich array of resources for learning and fun activities. But like all landscapes, there are risks and dangers.

It is important for children and teens to have a way to communicate, create and connect with their peers. But what happens when what our children say or do online ends up in unintended hands? What happens when records of our kids’ activities and opinions are collected by third parties to use for any number of undisclosed purposes? What happens when this information can be accessed once a child has grown up? What could happen is a major breach of personal privacy.

Consider a 21-year-old who is denied a job based on a photo she posted when she was just 14. Or the 17-year-old who is denied admission to college because of something he said or did online when he was just 11. Or the 12-year-old girl who wants to lose weight searching online for diet information, who then, because of this one search, sees weight-loss ads every time she goes online because the ad network formed a profile that categorized her as a “young female interested in weight loss.” What kids say or do online should not continue to haunt them months or years later. Read more ..


2012 Vote

GOP’s March Madness

March 10th 2012

Newt Gingrich

 Republican voters know all about the disappointing ending; they have flipped to the last page of the book — Mitt Romney somehow becomes the party’s candidate for president. It’s all over but the fighting. But tell that to fuming GOP primary voters who are far from finished with their seven stages of grief. Those crafting new chapters for the story are making it colorful, climactic, lengthy, expensive and ugly. Someone should tell them soon that the only thing worse than the Mitt they have now is one that’s beaten, battered and broke.

There are tiring months ahead, full of white board calculations, with Romney’s army showing just how impossible it is for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich to catch up in delegates. Romney is rich in delegates, but he can’t buy enthusiasm anywhere. He proved once again on Super Tuesday he can’t win in the South, and struggles to attract very conservative voters, strong Tea Party supporters, evangelical voters and blue-collar 
voters. Santorum, having backed off his campaign against contraception, college and Camelot, ruined Romney’s shot at ending the race with his wins in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. And he lost to Romney in Ohio by fewer than 13,000 votes. Despite Romney’s last-minute surges in the polls in Michigan last week and Ohio this week, no one in the Romney campaign can dispute that without his money advantage, Romney would have lost both states to the former Pennsylvania senator. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

How Planned Defense Budget Cuts Could Affect the US Coast Guard

March 9th 2012

uscgc morgenthau
USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722) (credit: US Coast Guard)

Tremendous changes can occur over the course of one year. Regarding defense spending, the Administration is now planning to pay out $4.5–$5 trillion over the next ten years on defending the country, compared to nearly $6 trillion just 12 months ago. This, in part, reflects the debt ceiling agreement of last summer when Congress and the Administration called for reducing a ten-year deficit of $10 trillion to $7.5 trillion.

This is part five of an examination of how cuts to future defense spending could affect US military capabilities. Read the overview here, part two here, part three here, and part four here.

Rear Admiral William Merlin (ret.) (Member, JINSA Board of Advisors)

The recapitalization figure of approximately $1.5 billion for FY 2012 is estimated to be only 60 percent of that needed to replace the old and aging fleet of Coast Guard Cutters. The acquisition segment of the Coast Guard budget has been and continues to be inadequate to maintain the seagoing operational capability of the Coast Guard, and delaying this program adds to the cost of eventual replacement of seagoing assets. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

The End of Health Insurance as We Know It?

March 9th 2012

medicine and money #2

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini caused quite a stir when he said at a Las Vegas conference a few days ago that the insurance industry as we know it is, for all practical purposes, a dinosaur on the verge of extinction.

Time to sing “Ding dong the witch is dead?” Not quite, but the day when most Americans get their coverage from what we think of as an insurance company is close at hand. It won’t be long before most of us get coverage through either a state or federal government-run plan or a local nonprofit company.

The big investor-owned corporations like Aetna and the companies I used to work for, Cigna and Humana, know that the days of making a killing off of basic medical insurance policies are over. And the companies have no one to blame but themselves and a fatally flawed, uniquely American system of providing access to care. Read more ..


Peru on Edge

Last of the Shining Path Comandantes Captured in Peru

March 8th 2012

Artemio - Peruvian terrorist

While international attention is currently centered on issues including the protests and violence in Syria, the ongoing spats between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland/Malvinas islands, and the presidential race in the U.S., there seems to be a lack of attention regarding the  new critical development regarding Peru’s national security situation which took place in February. On Sunday, February 12, Peruvian military and police forces captured Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, commonly known as Artemio.  He is the last major leader of the Peruvian terrorist movement Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso – SL), which has waged war against the government since 1983 (though this group was founded in the late 1960s). Artemio’s capture counts as a huge victory not only for Peruvian intelligence capacity and security services but also for President Ollanta Humala, who has been in office for just over six months. Nevertheless, it is still too early to consider placing a “Mission Accomplished” banner outside the government palace in downtown Lima. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

How Planned Defense Budget Cuts Could Affect the USMC and Reserves

March 8th 2012

F-35b
USMC F-35B

Tremendous changes can occur over the course of one year. Regarding defense spending, the Administration is now planning to pay out $4.5–$5 trillion over the next ten years on defending the country, compared to nearly $6 trillion just 12 months ago. This, in part, reflects the debt ceiling agreement of last summer when Congress and the Administration called for reducing a ten-year deficit of $10 trillion to $7.5 trillion.

This is part four of an examination of how cuts to future defense spending could affect US military capabilities. Read the overview here, part two here, and part three here.

Major General Larry S. Taylor, USMCR (ret.) (Member, JINSA Board of Advisors)

Your Marine Corps is a “middleweight” expeditionary force-in-readiness, able to project the power of the United States from the sea onto the littoral regions of the world, across the entire spectrum of conflict, from “small-wars” and complex, irregular operations, all the way up to high-intensity conventional warfare. Read more ..


Edge on Transparency

It’s Time for Cameras in the Courtroom

March 8th 2012

contemplation of justice/scotus building

There is one thing on which Republicans and Democrats, not to mention a majority of the public, agree when it comes to the health insurance reform law: This month’s Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of that landmark legislation ought to be televised so the public can hear the oral arguments on a case that will affect the lives of every American.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to allow television cameras in the Supreme Court to broadcast all open sessions. Sadly, Congress and the Court itself are poised to miss this historic opportunity. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

How Planned Defense Budget Cuts Could Affect the US Navy

March 7th 2012

cruisers lake erie and port royal
Cruisers USS Lake Erie (CG 70) and USS Port Royal (CG 73)
(credit: MCS2C Mark Logico, US Navy)

Tremendous changes can occur over the course of one year. Regarding defense spending, the Administration is now planning to pay out $4.5–$5 trillion over the next ten years on defending the country, compared to nearly $6 trillion just 12 months ago. This, in part, reflects the debt ceiling agreement of last summer when Congress and the Administration called for reducing a ten-year deficit of $10 trillion to $7.5 trillion.

This is part three of an examination of how cuts to future defense spending could affect US military capabilities. Read the overview here and part two here.

Vice Admiral Robert T. Conway, USN (ret.)

First of all, there will be a great deal of political maneuvering on the part of Congress as next year’s (2013) budget goes to the Hill. The Navy faces a readiness downward spiral, as major acquisitions program will be pressurized in an already tight budget and be forced to move to the right. Read more ..


Argentina on Edge

The Falklands/Malvinas: Another Case of Regional Chauvinism

March 6th 2012

Malvinas

In recent months the government of Argentina has launched a new political and public relations campaign aimed at putting pressure on Great Britain to negotiate the future of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.

The islands constitute an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean 300 miles from the Argentinean coast. These islands have been ruled by Great Britain since 1833 except for a short period in April 1982, after the Argentinean navy invaded and conquered the islands.

Argentina has continued to claim the islands, arguing that the country acquired them from Spain after Argentina became an independent state in 1810. The United Nations called for the Argentineans and the British to conduct a dialogue over the future of the Islands. The British government has asserted, particularly since 2009, that there will be no talks since the residents of the islands do not wish to be part of Argentina. About 3,000 people live on the islands. The majority are of British descent. English is the official language and all are British citizens since 1983, shortly after the Argentinean Armed Forces were removed from the islands by the British. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

How Planned Defense Budget Cuts Could Affect the US Army

March 5th 2012

Stryker ICV
Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicle (credit: US Army)

Tremendous changes can occur over the course of one year. Regarding defense spending, the Administration is now planning to pay out $4.5–$5 trillion over the next ten years on defending the country, compared to nearly $6 trillion just 12 months ago. This, in part, reflects the debt ceiling agreement of last summer when Congress and the Administration called for reducing a ten-year deficit of $10 trillion to $7.5 trillion.

This is part two of an examination of how cuts to future defense spending could affect US military capabilities. Read the overview here.

General James T. Hill, USA (ret.)

There is a lot of talk and debate today over the ramifications of a changing national security strategy including how America can prepare for and fight the next war and whether the U.S. military can accomplish the country’s strategic aims with one less aircraft carrier and a few less F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and brigade combat teams.

Smart, well-meaning people (but all with different agendas) are working hard to convince the rest of us that they can peer into the future. And all of them are right because the reality in Washington is there are no “facts”—unless you buy into my opinion, which is exactly that, an opinion. It becomes fact when you believe it. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

'Buying Time' by U.S. Intelligence Community May Not be Sufficient in Addressing Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

March 5th 2012

Iranian missile

Recently, a front-page story in America's newspaper of record, the New York Times, reported that "American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb." Apparently, the Times's reporters-as it would otherwise be a betrayal of their objectivity and fairness-must first witness Iran exploding a nuclear bomb to have enough "hard evidence" to conclude Iran's (partial) objective is to obtain one. 

Why does this matter? "At the center of the debate is the murky question of the ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran," the paper read. That is true. But when the center of a crucial foreign policy debate is the "ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran"-rather than a concrete solution or direction to move in-the debate itself would seem not to reflect any sort of policy.

What's also at the center of the debate is this: If Iran is determined to seek nuclear weapons, and if it can be credibly determined that Iran might use those weapons against its adversaries, then the United States-as well as its allies-has a strategic and moral duty to disarm the rogue regime. Read more ..


The War in Afghanistan

We Need to Get out of Afghanistan Now

March 2nd 2012

Koran Burning

The aftermath of the American disposal of Korans mutilated by Afghan Muslims requires revisiting our position in Afghanistan. Not because Americans were killed by their Afghan "partners." Not because dozens of Afghans have died in rioting as well, or because the UN evacuated its northern offices.  Not even because Hamid Karzai called for "punishment and an investigation" in that order.

U.S. policy in the Middle East/South Asia region revolves around certain fixed principles. Not democracy, free enterprise and civic tolerance, but aid – economic assistance plus military aid and training, and/or military intervention. It is the entire American enterprise that requires review.

We've trained Egyptians, Yemenis, Jordanians, Saudis, Kuwaitis, Bahrainis, Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans. We've given security assistance to Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinians, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. (Yemen violates the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which should make it ineligible, but the Obama administration requested a waiver.) We've spent untold billions on military training for people who already know how to kill, apparently thinking we can get them to kill the people we want dead. Read more ..


The New Arab Spring

Egyptians Want Democracy, But Want no American Influence

March 2nd 2012

Egyptian Kid at Rally

The Egyptian trial of employees of four American groups that were promoting democracy was abruptly postponed earlier this week. But the crisis in U.S.-Egyptian relations continues, for reasons, according to a University of Michigan researcher, that have a lot to do both with domestic Egyptian politics and with American Middle East policy.
 
"Many Americans believed that Egyptians would welcome American democracy promotion efforts since there has been broad public support in Egypt for both democracy in general and the ouster of the anti-democratic regime of Hosni Mubarak in particular," said University of Michigan political scientist Mark Tessler, who co-directs the Arab Barometer Study, which surveys public attitudes in 11 Arab nations. "But in fact, the survey we conducted in Egypt just this summer showed that a solid majority of the Egyptian public distrusts American foreign policy and this includes American democracy promotion activities in their country." Read more ..

The Edge of Justice

The Re-Opening of the Unhealed Wounds of the Postville Prosecution

March 1st 2012

Sholom Rubashkin
Rabbi Shlomo Rubashkin

President Obama’s recent nomination of  Iowa U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose as a federal judge has forced into the spotlight an ugly chapter—the Postville Prosecutions of 2008, to which the Rubashkin case is integrally related. The rehashing of this disturbing odyssey has cast a dark shadow over Rose as she awaits Senate confirmation. “Rose must now meet her moral and ethical duty to publicly explain her role [in the Postville Prosecutions], and give assurances that as a federal judge, she will show a commitment to justice that she seemed to lack in 2008,” David Leopold, past president of American Immigration Lawyers Association, wrote in the Huffington Post. “At a minimum,” he stressed, “the Senate Judiciary Committee should insist that Rose fully explain her role in the [many] due process violations which characterize the assembly line justice meted out during the Postville Prosecutions.”

The Postville Prosecutions comprised the immediate legal aftermath of the terrifying  worksite enforcement action against Agriprocessors, the 2008 military-style ICE raid that destroyed the town and the region’s economy.  In that operation, 600 local and national lawmen in riot gear swooped down on the Postville meat-packing plant, pounding doors open and arresting and shackling hundreds of men and women. The vast majority were herded onto buses, detained in makeshift jails, and subjected to fast-track criminal convictions—94 a day—for entering the country illegally. Read more ..


Edge of Terror

How to Define 'Mildly Islamist'

March 1st 2012

Hamas Kid

I came across a vexing phrase while reading The Economist this week. In an article about political skullduggery in Turkey, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) of Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan was described as “mildly Islamist.” Mildly Islamist. Not as Islamist as some? Promoting Islamic rule by stealth rather than overnight decree? More open minded?

Over the last decade we have become accustomed to the rather crude division of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims into “moderate” and “extremist” camps. While this distinction is designed to look cognizant of internal differences, the questionable assumption behind it is that Muslims are, and will always be, uniformly distrustful of western liberal values. Therefore, those Muslims who are prepared to reach an accommodation are the “moderates,” while those who advocate violent confrontation are the “extremists.”

Being the louder camp, the extremists get all the attention. Several western commentators now assert that most extremists are moderate in their extremism, while some, like the AK Party in Turkey, can even be called mild. This seems to me less like logic, and more like prayer. If only we keep tightening the definition of who is an extremist, we’ll get more moderates. And moderates are people we can talk to. Read more ..


The Politics of Hate

A 'Taxi Cab' Approach to Offensive Language at Harvard University

March 1st 2012

Alan Dershowitz lecture

How should a great university, committed to diversity and freedom of speech, deal with the recurring problem of whether to “sponsor” a student-run event that is deeply offensive to other students?  This issue is currently being debated in the context of the upcoming conference entitled "Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution."  Similar controversies have engulfed other universities, in many different contexts, and will continue to confront Harvard in the future. Harvard, and other schools like it, should follow guidelines consistent with the mission of the University and its commitment to the most fulsome freedom of expression.

The primary criterion a university must apply when deciding whether an event should be sponsored is political and ideological neutrality.  What is good for the goose must be good for the gander and what is bad for the gander must be bad for the goose.  Offensiveness to one group cannot be measured differently than offensiveness to another group. Moreover, the university must maintain a near perfect circle of civility whose circumference cannot conveniently be stretched to accommodate the “political correctness” of the day.  These rules should be articulated in advance of specific problems being raised, cloaking them with a Rawlsian veil of neutrality. Read more ..


The Politics of Hate

Exploiting "Apartheid" for Political Warfare

February 28th 2012

Israel bloody flag

In September 2001, the participants in the Non-Government Organization Forum of the United Nations Conference on Racism and Discrimination in Durban, South Africa, welcomed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, distributed anti-Semitic literature, and adopted a declaration branding Israel as "a racist, apartheid state" practicing "a crime against humanity". This form of political warfare was led by the Palestinian leadership and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the text was written at a Tehran preparatory conference from which Israelis and Jews were excluded. The Durban NGO Forum marked the launch of another major round of political warfare against Israel, seeking to delegitimize Jewish national self-determination.

The use of the "apartheid" libel as the primary vehicle for de-legitimization is not directed against specific Israeli policies. The rhetoric and the campaigns on university campuses and in events such as "Israel apartheid week" explicitly target the existence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The political warfare accompanied by BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns is a direct continuation of the Arab rejection of the November 1947 United Nations Partition plan (General Assembly Resolution 181). This strategy was also embodied in the infamous 1975 UN "Zionism is racism" resolution (General Assembly Resolution 3379, repealed in 1991). In the words of Irwin Cotler, former Canadian attorney general, "Let there be no mistake about it: to indict Israel as an Apartheid State is prologue and justification for the dismantling of the Jewish State, for the criminalization of its supporters, and for the consequential silencing of their speech." Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria’s Arsenal of Unconventional Weapons Must Be Destroyed

February 24th 2012

Doctored Iran Missile Launch

When I was in the Israeli army’s basic training and medics courses we had to endure a simulated chemical weapons attack. We entered a room that suddenly came under (tear) gas attack and we had to quickly don our gas masks and sit for a set period. Later, as medics during Iraq’s Scud attacks on Israel, we ran to our ambulances prepared for a gas attack, dressing ourselves in our chemical suits whenever the sirens wailed. Basically, this was our assignment: If it’s bleeding, tie a tourniquet; if it’s breathing stick it with an atropine injector.

An Iraqi attack was not the main threat we learned about in basic training. Instead, Syria’s unconventional weapons were the doomsday weapons every new Israeli soldier was warned about. A very ominous percent of Syrian artillery shells, bombs, and missile warheads were armed with Sarin, mustard gas, or VX, we were told. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

“Buying” House Votes for Unpopular Legislation

February 22nd 2012

Whitehouse

An examination of “administrative earmarks” around the time of congressional votes on key pieces of President Obama’s agenda suggests the White House used its power to fund local projects as a means to “buy” votes for major legislative efforts. Administrative earmarking refers to the federal government’s allocation of funds from its discretionary budget for specific projects. The practice is less transparent than legislative earmarking, since, according to the Congressional Research Service, “[t]here is no source that defines and comprehensively identifies Administrative earmarks.” But an analysis of grants from agencies during the early years of the Obama administration shows that the districts of moderate Democrats, whose support was so crucial for Obama during the 111th Congress, received large sums right around the passage of three key pieces of legislation: Obamacare, Dodd-Frank financial regulations, and the cap-and-trade bill.

During the run-up to votes in the House of Representatives for each of those pieces of legislation, the rate of administrative earmarking spiked. This chart shows the number of grants requested by 12 federal agencies, as documented at Grants.gov. The number of grants given by those agencies spiked precisely when the House was considering each of the three pieces of legislation. Even more troubling: during the same time periods, significant grant money went to the districts of numerous Democratic representatives who looked to face tough battles for re-election. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

The Obama Administration's Right Course of Action in Syria: To Do Nothing?

February 20th 2012

Syrian Protesters
Syrian Protesters

There is a strong case that can be made for doing nothing about the Syrian civil war, but a stronger case can be made for doing something relatively low-cost and ineffective, indeed, precisely what the Syrian opposition is requesting. A major military intervention would be dangerous and costly. It would also go beyond the level of available resources. A U.S. effort at regime change would be less than ideal, especially since the Turkish regime wants an Islamist government in Damascus that would most likely prove to be worse than what exists now. The fewer the steps taken by the Obama Administration to intervene, the more likely a better outcome will transpire.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration doesn’t seem able to tell the difference between moderates and anti-American Islamists in Syria. Read more ..



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