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Culture Clashes

The Miseducation of America

May 31st 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Back in the “good ole days” (which usually tend to have occurred exactly one hundred years before the phrase is uttered), doing business in America was simple. Entrepreneurs completed deals using only back of the envelope calculations and a firm handshake. They didn’t need any of those Wall Street wizards with their fancy forecasting and analysis methods. Big Government wasn’t looking over your shoulder or strangling you with red tape. You didn’t need a fancy college degree to make something of yourself. All you needed to achieve wealth were willingness to work hard and a spark of inventiveness.

A profile of the typical millionaire in the United States seems to confirm this narrative. Most millionaires, according to the seminal book The Millionaire Next Door, didn’t make their money in some highly complex business. In fact, it was usually some ordinary business—say construction or dry cleaning—that vaulted them into the ranks of the wealthy. Although fairly educated—almost 80 percent have a college education—education was not the distinguishing factor that accounted for their wealth. Nor was it above average performance in the marketplace, inheritance, or even the type of profession they occupied. The single biggest factor among them was their propensity to save.

Wealthy people, on average, save a far higher percentage of their income than their non-wealthy counterparts. Some would argue that of course the wealthy save more, because they do not need as much of their income to cover living expenses as ordinary people. But the data refute this. The propensity to save is a precondition, not a result of wealth. Read more ..


Israel and Palestine

The Borders Everyone Agrees to—Except the Palestinians

May 31st 2011

Israel Topics - A map

Be scared. Be very scared.

In a shocking article in the Jerusalem Post, editor-in-chief David Horovitz reveals that Israel is totally unprepared for the possibility that the UN might grant the Palestinians a state in September and then try to impose this state on Israel against its will.

Previously, Israeli diplomats were complacent because they thought that even if the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for the establishment of “Palestine,” such a vote would be merely “declaratory” and have no teeth, writes Horovitz.

But this is wrong. Research conducted by the Israel Project reveals that there is an obscure UN resolution, UNGA Resolution 377, that allows the General Assembly to press for sanctions and military force against a country that fails to implement its recommendations. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Obama’s Recent Speeches Show Hostility To Israel & Support for Palestinian Positions

May 30th 2011

Israel Topics - Obama Netanyahu Abbas1

There are numerous and varied problems contained in President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy pronouncements in recent days. Here follows a detailed analysis of the failings of his approach articulated in his two recent speeches, one before the State Department on May 19, and the second before AIPAC on May  22, that mark out his policy towards Israel to be hostile and dangerous.

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal in an article this week entitled “Obama—An Anti-Israel President”, wrote that President Obama showed contempt to Israel and its supporters this week. “His speeches were stocked with the perennial bromides about US/Israeli friendship which brought an anxious crowd to its feet.  As for the rest, it was a thin tissue of falsehoods rhetoric legerdemain, telling omissions and self-contradictions.” Read more ..


Edge of Climate Change

Don’t You Dare Connect Disasters to Climate Change

May 30th 2011

Disaster - Joplin MO May 2011 - Tornado
Tornado-damaged Joplin, Mo., May 2011 (credit: KOMU News)

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections.

When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history).

No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas—fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been—the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. Read more ..


The Race for CNG

The Combustible Truth About CNG Conversions in the United States

May 25th 2011

Automotive - Autogas CNG conversion Bangladesh

For those of you that are starting to yearn for a CNG car to drive to ease your Gasoline Pump sticker shock, the sad fact is that there are very few options left in the U.S. for aftermarket (non-EPA) CNG Conversions. By the end of 2008 there were about 8 companies starting to import CNG systems into Utah. There were a few Aspirated systems: Diel, GN Group, and Galileo all out of Argentina. There were more Sequential Systems: Technocarb and Ecofuel out of Canada. There were Landi Renzo, Tommasetto Achille, and Lo-Gas out of Italy; Tec for Gas out of China; Auto Gas out of Poland; and Prins out of Netherlands. Read more ..


Israel and Palestine

Bush Letter to Sharon in 2004 on Israel Security

May 24th 2011

Israel Topics - Ariel Sharon and Geo W Bush chuckle
George Bush and Ariel Sharon's Exchange of Letters, 2004

On May 19, President Barack Obama set out on a new course for relations between the United States and the countries of the Near East, including Israel, and Africa. Speaking at the Department of State, President Obama declared "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state." Coming just a day before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Obama's statement was widely interpreted by observers in Israel and elsewhere that the Massachusetts-sized country should return to pre-1967 borders, ceding lands that were won in combat with Jordan and Egypt following an invasion by the assembled armies of the two countries, followed by decades of terrorist attacks by Palestinian terrorists who targeted both Israeli and American interests. Read more ..


Israel and Palestine

Obama Turning Back the Clock to 1949

May 23rd 2011

Israeli Military - Wailing Wall 1967

It's as if the 1967 war never happened and the Palestinians didn't murder thousands of Israelis. It's as if Madrid never happened and Oslo was a dream and Camp David a figment.

With his State Department speech on May 19, President Obama has turned back the clocks to 1949.

By asking Israel to negotiate based on the pre-1967 borders, he is acceding to a key Arab demand. True, the president said the two sides should agree on "land swaps" but no U.S. president had ever explicitly endorsed the 1967 lines as the starting point for negotiations.

As Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy points out, that demand is contrary to U.N. Resolution 242, which stated that Israel was entitled to "secure and recognized" borders that would be agreed upon in negotiations (not imposed as a fiat at the U.N., as the Palestinians are threatening to do) as part of any peace deal.

In effect, it means that the U.S. view is that resolution of the territorial aspect of the conflict can only be achieved if Israel cedes territory it held even before the 1967 war.

The borders that Obama endorsed Thursday were famously called "Auschwitz borders" by Abba Eban. In response to Obama's speech, the Israeli government called the pre-1967 borders "indefensible." Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Health Insurance Companies Purge Small Businesses, Hike Profits

May 18th 2011

Economy - cancelled health insurance policy

You might not realize it, but this is National Small Business Week. I’m betting many small business owners aren’t aware of it, either. Perhaps that’s because most small business owners are far more likely to be worrying about whether they’ll be able to offer health insurance to their employees for another year.

Or is this the year they join the ever-growing list of small businesses that have been “purged” by their insurance carrier?

For several years now, insurance companies have been “purging” small business accounts they no longer consider profitable enough or that their underwriters believe pose too much risk. I became familiar with “purging” (yes, that’s the actual word insurance executives use internally) toward the end of my career as an industry PR man. Read more ..


Brazil on the Edge

Stranger Than Fiction are the Strangers Visiting Brazil's Slums

May 18th 2011

Latin American Topics - Brazilian favela
Brazilian favela slums

In the wake of President Obama’s recent visit to Rio de Janeiro, which included a tour through the notorious City of God slum, questions have been raised regarding the fate of Brazil’s hill-draped favelas. Brazilian and foreign officials have expressed concern related to the crime-infested favelas, especially in light of the upcoming Brazil-hosted 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. In an effort to qualm international and domestic anxiety, municipal and federal forces are acting together to combat drug lords and rid favelas of potentially spoiling transgressors who could have a devastating impact on the country’s image. Read more ..


Peru on Edge

The Ollanta Humala Phenomenon and What it Means for Peru

May 18th 2011

Latin American Topics - Ollanta Humala
Ollanta Humala

On June 5th, a second round of elections will decide who the next president of Peru is going to be. The April 10th general election failed to produce a candidate with more than 50% majority. The competition is now between Keiko Fujimori and, Ollanta Humala.

Keiko Fujimori is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori. The former president is now serving a 25-year jail sentence for his connections to the activities of an army death squad. Fujimori also dissolved the Peruvian Congress in 1992, which was then controlled by the opposition parties. This self-coup strengthened the powers of the executive branch by providing it with legislative powers and enabled Fujimori to carry out an agenda without congressional opposition. Read more ..


Islam's War Against the Copts

Who Will Speak for the Copts?

May 18th 2011

Christian Topics - Coptic Girl

The Copts are the original descendants of the people of the Pharaoh dynasties, dating back to between 3,000 – 4,500 years ago. Christianity was introduced by the Mark the Evangelist and most historians date this to around 65 to 75 CE. The Christian monastic tradition began in Egyptand Islam did not dominate this region until after 651 AD when it was invaded by Arab Muslims.

On November 10, 2010, Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, founder and President of the human rights organization, “Voice of the Copts”, delivered a lecture on persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt; he stated that ‘At the moment of invasion, Egypt was still ruled by Romans. The Egyptian people did not take sides in this battle between the Roman occupiers and the Arab invaders. Arab-Muslims succeeded in defeating the Romans and taking over the country.' Read more ..


Religious Freedom

Norwegian Academic Declares Norway the Most anti-Semitic Country in the West

May 18th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Hanne Nabintu Herland

Shimon Peres, President of Israel, made some critical—and timely—comments on Norway’s reluctance to follow the EU, the UN, and the US in denouncing Hamas as a terrorist movement. If one adds Harvard professor Alan M. Dershowitz’s article in the Wall Street Journal of March 30, it all makes me ashamed to be Norwegian. Under the title “Jews are not welcome in Norway,” Mr. Dershowitz told of his encounters with anti-Semitic Norwegian academics who made it clear that he was unwanted as a guest lecturer at Norwegian universities. This is how Norwegian intellectuals treat one the West’s most famous defense lawyers and an internationally renowned Harvard University professor.

I met Dershowitz in March during Oslo Symposium 2011. His description of the obvious anti-semitism and the lack of willingness to be objective that characterizes Norwegian academia is flat out shocking. During my opening lecture at the same Symposium Conference, I pointed out that the lack of nuance that characterizes the Norwegian understanding of the realities in Israel and the Middle East is not only shameless, but historically inacurate. Read more ..


Egypt After the Revolt

Egypt: Situation Deteriorating—Badly and Rapidly

May 18th 2011

Egypt - Qaradaqi in Cairo

In the wake of bloody Muslim attacks on Egyptian Christians, the New York Times informs us:

“By lifting the heavy hand of the Mubarak police state, the revolution unleashed long-suppressed sectarian animosities that have burst out with increasing ferocity …”

No kidding! Did you think a single Egyptian Christian didn’t know this in February? Why didn’t the media report or the U.S. government understand that this was absolutely inevitable and predictable? But the only mentions of Christians were to claim that they were really enthusiastic about the revolution. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Bin Laden, al Qaeda and the War

May 9th 2011

Terrorism - Hamas and flags

Yes, we're glad he's gone. But the war of the 21st Century remains a war against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them. The demise of no single man solves the problem of terrorism or of intolerant and radical Islamic fundamentalism.

Most of the credit goes to the continuity of American government and the faithful professionals who work across changes in administrations and Congresses. The CIA and U.S. Special Operations forces stayed with the problem, dug deep and deeper, marshaled resources and succeeded. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and company appear to have given up the crucial information at Guantanamo during the Bush administration and, importantly, the Obama administration did not consider it inadmissible evidence. Read more ..


The Battle for Iran

An Iranian Suicide in the Name of Freedom

May 8th 2011

Iran - Siamak Pourzand
Siamak Pourzand

In his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus,” the French philosopher Albert Camus depicted suicide as an abdication of one’s responsibility to confront the absurdities, disappointments and frustrations that accompany human existence. Our inherent freedom, Camus believed, confronts us continually with the question of whether life is worth living. To answer in the negative is to reject that freedom.

What, then, are we to make of those who commit suicide in the name of freedom? I do not, of course, include suicide bombers in this category, since their purpose is to kill others in a method of murder which necessitates their own death. I am thinking of those who take only their own lives as a political act.

I am thinking of such individuals as Jan Palach, the Prague student who, in 1969, set fire to himself in public to protest the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia that crushed a brief flourish of political freedom the year before. I am thinking, too, of Szmuel Zygielbojm, an exiled Polish Jewish activist who, in protest at Allied indifference to the Holocaust, gassed himself in his dingy London flat in 1943. More recently, and far more obviously, there is the example of the young Tunisian, Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation has entered the popular imagination as the trigger for the current revolutionary upheavals across the Arab world. Read more ..


The War on Terror

Obama Should Fulfill his Pledge to Close Notorious Guatanamo

May 8th 2011

Terrorism - Prisoner/medics Guantanamo
U.S. medics and Guantanamo prisoner

On April 24, 2011, hundreds of classified documents regarding the military prison camp maintained by the U.S. Government at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were released to The New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR). The documents had originally been turned over to WikiLeaks, but both the Times and NPR maintain that WikiLeaks was not their source. Among the documents distributed were the profiles of several prominent inmates of the facility, reports regarding life at the prison, and a “threat matrix” that clarifies how to classify different inmates based upon their individual risk levels. The release of these documents turned out to be a massive embarrassment to the United States and should have been a wake-up call, adding to the growing list of arguments to expedite the termination of the institution. This debate will likely intensify with the gunning down of Osama bin Laden on May 2. Read more ..


Labor on Edge

A Government Union Shakedown

May 2nd 2011

Politics - 2011 AFSCME protests in WI

“Raise our taxes!” Can you imagine chanting such a slogan at a public rally? Neither could most Americans.

There is one notable exception, however: government-union activists. They’re pretty explicit these days about their desire to see taxes go up.

If that surprises you, you may be unaware of how dramatically the face of organized labor has changed over the last few decades. There’s a very good reason they’ve got your wallet in their sights—more and more, that’s where their wages comes from. Read more ..


The Media Edge

Aljazeera: One Organization, Two Messages

May 2nd 2011

Arab Topics - AlJazeera newsroom

Top U.S. officials are now offering praise for Aljazeera, a Qatar-owned and -based news network that broadcasts in both Arabic and English-language versions. Aljazeera, not carried by any U.S. cable networks and broadcast locally in only a few cities, depends on its English-language website to reach an increasingly large U.S. audience.

The problem is that the content of Aljazeera's English site differs, at times radically, from that of the Arabic version. To illustrate: at a time when Aljazeera is polishing a new image as a champion of media reform and freedom, one of its most popular Arabic television programs is that of fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood preacher Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, whose twinkly grin accompanies virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic diatribes interspersed with expressions of support for censorship of "anti-Islamic" messages. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

Where Jimmy Carter Gets it Wrong in North Korea

May 2nd 2011

Presidential - Jimmy Carter

During his self-appointed mission to North Korea this week, former President Jimmy Carter engaged in yet another sanctimonious effort to impose his vision onto U.S. policy. His trip was the latest iteration of a predictable pattern of coddling dictators and blaming the shortcomings of those regimes on the United States and its allies. Once again, Carter has demonstrated a dangerously naïve misunderstanding of international affairs.

Going Rogue

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il did not meet with Carter but realized the utility of using the visit to burnish North Korea’s image and facilitate the regime’s latest charm offensive. According to Carter, Kim is “prepared for a summit meeting directly with [South Korean] President Lee Myung-bak at any time to discuss any subject directly between the two heads of state” as well as “willing to negotiate with South Korea or the United States on any subject at any time and without any preconditions.” During a pre-trip press briefing, Carter had also expressed hope to facilitate a peace treaty between the U.S. and North Korea.

Carter recommended that North Korea’s offers be accepted by the members of the six-party talks to enable resumption of the nuclear negotiations. Such a view runs counter to current U.S. and South Korean requirements for Pyongyang to first acknowledge its two attacks on South Korea last year and provide evidence that it will resume its denuclearization commitments. Although the former President declared that his trip was to reduce the high level of tension and mistrust on the Korean Peninsula, he ignores North Korea’s sole responsibility for escalating those tensions. Read more ..


After the Holocaust

Why Do American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, and Others Support European Insurance Companies And Fight Against Holocaust Survivors?

April 28th 2011

Jewish Organizations - David Schaecter
David Schaecter

Did you know that Holocaust survivors – U.S. citizens, many of whom are veterans and Korean War veterans -- do not have the right to go to an American court and sue the insurance companies that refuse to pay family life insurance policies?

After World War II, companies like Allianz, Generali, AXA, Munich Re, Swiss Life, Swiss Re, Zurich and others, refused to honor policies purchased in good faith by Holocaust victims. They demanded original documents and death certificates, resulting in over $20 billion in unpaid debts today. Many Holocaust survivors know their families had insurance, but the companies’ outrageous behavior for the past 65 years has allowed them to deny us our moral and financial legacies.

The insurance companies are not alone in dishonoring our families.  Most people would be shocked to hear that certain Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti Defamation League, the Claims Conference, B’nai B’rith International, the World Jewish Congress, and the American Gathering, are actively lobbying to support these companies to deny us our rights. We survivors were certainly appalled to learn about their betrayal.

We are outraged by any Jewish groups arrogantly interfering with our rights, especially those who failed to help us in our extreme time of need. We cannot help but wonder whether the general membership of these organizations held a vote to authorize their leadership to lobby members of Congress to support the insurers against Shoah survivors. Read more ..


BDS-Economic Jihad

Economic War Against Israel Seeks Soft Targets

April 27th 2011

Jewish Topics - Anti-Israel Protest at UC Irvine

Israel's detractors have united around a common tactic - boycotts, divestment and sanctions - with the aim of undermining Israel's legitimacy as a nation. In the Bay Area, anti-Israel activists hunt for soft targets that may be receptive to their extremist message. That was true at UC Berkeley last spring when activists tied up student government for weeks with an unsuccessful demand to divest from Israel and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors with an unsuccessful attempt to pass a resolution irredeemably biased against Israel. It was also true recently at UC Hastings College of Law, where an anti-Israel political event dressed in the guise of an academic conference entitled "Litigating Palestine" brought a parade of speakers to demonstrate the latest methods for attacking Israel through the courts.

Challenging Israel's detractors and their embrace of delegitimization is not about stifling anyone's free speech or academic freedom - though they love to make that claim. Indeed, the UC Hastings Board of Directors was not asked to and did not cancel the conference. It simply and appropriately removed the schools' official sponsorship, thereby distancing itself from the anti-Israel message that permeated the proceedings. Read more ..


Inside Latin America

Debate Rages over the Future of the Infamous School of the Americas

April 25th 2011

Latin American Topics - Stop School of Americas

The School of the Americas is an institution rarely spoken of in a positive light. This less-than-reputable academy was created at the beginning of the Cold War epoch as a U.S. military training facility for Latin America’s armed and police forces. The School of the Americas (SOA) would grow to become a magnet for negative criticism of United States policy and its reliance on local military regimes to keep leftist elements in check. The base was originally installed in Panama after World War II as a Latin American training center for U.S. ground forces, but broadened its mission and adopted a new name in 1963. The institution moved to Fort Benning, Georgia in 1984 after the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty, in part because of local pressure against having the U.S. sponsored facility remain in Panama. The SOA operated until 2001 and trained over 61,000 soldiers and officers throughout its existence. Read more ..


Inside Islam

France Appears More Concerned About Women Putting on Clothes than Taking them Off

April 25th 2011

Islamic Topics - Burka cellphone

Seldom do we object when people wear less in public. Why are the French so riled when some women want to wear more?

The French ban on face veils came into force this week. Based on this law Muslim women who wear a face veil in public places will be fined. Men who force women to wear a face veil may also be fined or face imprisonment. I am no fan of the face veil. But I do support the right of women who don’t want to wear a face veil as much as the right of those who want to for whatever reason.

I have argued elsewhere that from a mainstream Muslim point of view it may not even be an Islamic obligation. The vast majority of Muslims do not see it as such -- most Muslim women in France and elsewhere do not wear one. It is only in places like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan that it is a prominent form of dress. In France, reports suggest that only about a couple of thousand Muslims (out of 5 to 6 million) wear the face veil. Read more ..


Palestine on Edge

Failing the Morality Test: After Itamar Massacre, Do Palestinians Deserve a State?

April 25th 2011

Israel Topics - Fogel child
Murdered Fogel child

Do Palestinians deserve a State? It's a question worth asking.

Recently, a poll showed that one-third of Palestinians supported the murder of Israeli children to further the Palestinian "cause."

How can Israel be expected to live next to a people who support the murder of children to achieve political ends?

Sadly, part of the answer may come in how The New York Times chose to illustrate its story on the arrest of two teens for the Fogel murders. It might have been reasonable to expect that any illustration would focus on the devastation of the Israelis after a long criminal investigation had come to a close. Instead, the Times chose to focus on the suffering of the family of the alleged murderers, showing them crying next to a car when they heard news of the arrests. The message: Israeli grief is unimportant and Palestinian suffering is paramount.

In other words, the world has already decided that Israel must live beside the Palestinians, despite their heinous crimes and that Israel -- not the Palestinians -- is to be condemned.


American History

What the U.S. Learned at the Bay of Pigs

April 25th 2011

Latin American Topics - Bay of Pigs Life mag

Fifty years ago the Bay of Pigs fiasco marred the beginning of John Kennedy's presidency and led to a reassessment of the foreign policy decision-making process of the United States.

A CIA plan inspired, devised and approved under the former president Dwight Eisenhower, it was aimed at launching an invasion of Cuba by a group of exiles with the aim of overthrowing the regime of Fidel Castro.

The invasion took place on the 17th of April. It lasted only two days. Of the total of 1,400 exiles who took part in the botched invasion most were taken prisoners and around 100 died in battle.

The assumption behind the plan was that the Cuban population would rally round the invaders. As a result of the failed invasion, the Castro regime was actually strengthened, gaining more popular support in the face of what was seen, or portrayed to be, a foreign-led invasion of the country.

Although President Kennedy tried to do his utmost to conceal the role played by the United States, the invasion was largely seen as a US operation.

Kennedy and his close advisers were subsequently angry at the CIA for being so ill-prepared and at the military for not issuing clear warnings of the dangers entailed in the invasion plan.

Kennedy reached a conclusion with far-reaching consequences. From then on, he would never again depend exclusively on the CIA and the military in shaping US foreign and national security policy. Every aspect of US policy, no matter how directly related it might be to intelligence or military matters, would be studied in depth by his civilian national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, and his staff at the White House. Read more ..


Inside Washington

A Political Maelstrom Ensues as Republican Links to Al-Jazeera are Revealed

April 21st 2011

Politics - Haley Barbour
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour

A blockbuster Politico story on Al-Jazeera claims that the Republican-oriented lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers (BGR), worked on behalf of Qatar, as well as Al-Jazeera. But Loren Monroe, the spokesman for the firm, is denying it, telling Accuracy in Media, “We did not represent Al-Jazeera.”

The charge that a prominent lobbying firm represented Al-Jazeera is politically explosive not only because of the high-level Republican connections, but because the “Barbour” in BGR is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

Qatar sponsors and funds Al-Jazeera but the government and the channel have tried to obcreate the perception that the network is somehow independent. Generally, Qatar has been regarded by some as friendly to the U.S. while Al-Jazeera was considered an enemy of what the U.S. was trying to accomplish in Iraq and around the Middle East. The channel developed a reputation as “Jihad TV” or “Terror Television” because of its airing of videos from al-Qaeda. One of its correspondents went to prison in Spain as an agent of al-Qaeda.

Politico reporters Keach Hagey and Byron Tau said, “A person familiar with the Qatar contact confirmed to Politico that BGR and Al-Jazeera have a long-standing relationship, and that the network embarked on a PR push during the latter half of the Bush administration.” This “long-standing relationship” between BGR and Al-Jazeera (and Qatar) became more direct and substantial when Ben Smith’s Politico blog said that the representation of Al-Jazeera was “part of their contract with Qatar in a mid-2000s PR push to rehabilitate the controversial Arab network.” Read more ..


Battle for Libya

Western Coalition Air Operation may turn into Ground Operation

April 20th 2011

Libya - Libyan rebels

The West has already started its invasion of Libya and a ground coalition operation would merely be the next step, the Russian media is reporting. Russian experts have come to this conclusion in the wake of the EU’s readiness to send ground troops to Libya to support the UN humanitarian mission in Tripoli. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has said that the EU is ready to send up to 1,000 troops into the battle zone. There have already been media reports that NATO countries are developing a plan for a ground operation in Libya. It may begin at the end of April or in early May. Read more ..


China and America

How Do the Economies of China and the U.S. Compare?

April 18th 2011

Asia Topics - China and US economy

China’s leap from poverty due to the marvelously successful market reforms introduced in 1978 has obscured serious weaknesses in its economy—especially compared to the American economy. These weaknesses have been exacerbated by renewed Chinese state intervention that began around 2003. Many seem convinced that China is at the cusp of surpassing the U.S. economically. But Americans should not lose track of their huge advantages over the Chinese—in income, in natural resources, and in surprising areas such as labor. Heritage Foundation China and economic expert Derek Scissors, explains why it is vital that the U.S. remember its strengths and recognize profound Chinese weaknesses.

There is increasingly loud talk of China surpassing America in raw economic size within the next decade, or, adjusting for purchasing power, as soon as this year. Some of these claims are plainly inaccurate, most are misleading, and all are potentially harmful.

The claims contribute to false impressions about the future of the Asia–Pacific region, even the world as a whole. Perceptions of China’s economic strength and importance underpin its global presence, from its own borders to sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. A deeper look, though, shows that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is still far smaller and poorer than the U.S. on the most important economic dimensions, so its true global weight is correspondingly limited. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

German Companies Undermine EU Sanctions against Iran's Energy Sector

April 18th 2011

Iran - Ahmadinejad pointing

In Tehran started the Iran Oil Show 2011 on Saturday, April 16. The Oil Show is an industry exhibition for companies that are active in the energy sector. A high number of German companies will participate, presenting their technology for the sanctioned Iranian energy sector. German-based critics have condemned the participation of the German companies. Those companies are strongly suspected of violating EU sanctions. Critics have compiled and analyzed a list of the represented German companies.

The range of products of the German companies include all kinds of products for the energy sector, including pumps, pipes and construction machines and specialized measuring instruments. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Sex & Sadness III

April 18th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

During the Lenten season, many of us stop to consider the spiritual consequences of our consumption habits. Many people give up the foods they most enjoy: meat, sweets, alcohol and coffee. The difficulty of surrendering our habits, even temporarily, reminds us of the weaknesses of which our flesh is prone. We hope that by denying ourselves the pleasures of the flesh, we can pay more attention to matters of the spirit. How do we treat ourselves and our loved ones? What are we doing to alleviate the pain of the less fortunate? In this time of introspection, we must also consider the consequences of our sexual habits as well.

In a recently reviewed survey among young Australian women, almost 30 percent admitted to feelings of sadness, restlessness and irritability immediately following sex. The results are notable, in that previous studies done on the subject suggested something quite different: that both men and women experience feelings of relaxation and satisfaction following intercourse.

Why the different results this time? The researchers believe “emotional characteristics” unique to the women themselves might be to blame. Another obvious contributor to the sadness could be a history of sexual abuse, although the study controlled for this to some extent, and determined that such a history was a moderate factor at best. So what accounts for the post-coital sadness? Read more ..


Palestinian Terror

Israeli Medics Save Palestinian Baby and Mother Even While Mourning Murdered Rabbi and Family

April 11th 2011

Israel Topics - Israeli ambulance driver

While Israel mourned the death of the members of the Fogel family, murdered in their beds by Palestinian terrorists, a near-miraculous drama unfolded nearby. In the same Jewish settlement where survivors of the attack that left Rabbi Fogel, his wife and 3 children dead on March 12, Israeli settlers and soldiers saved a Palestinian mother and her baby after the infant's umbilical cord became wrapped around her neck.

Just as IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz arrived in the Neve Tzuf settlement to offer condolences on March 16, a Palestinian cab raced towards the community's entrance. Israeli soldiers and paramedics had discovered a Palestinian woman in her 20s in advanced stages of labor and facing a life-threatening situation: The umbilical cord was wrapped around the young baby girl's neck, endangering both her and her mother.

The quick action of settler paramedics and IDF troops deployed in the area saved the mother's and baby's life, prompting great excitement and emotions at the site where residents are still mourning the brutal death of five local family members. Nineteen-year-old Corporal Haim Levin, an IDF paramedic, was the first medical team member recounted the drama he encountered. "When I arrived, I saw a woman covered by a blanket in a yellow Palestinian van. I moved closer and saw the baby's head and upper body," he told Ynet. "The umbilical cord was around the baby's neck; the baby was grey and didn't move." Read more ..


Egypt After the Revolt

Three Scenarios for Egypt's Future: The Good, The Bad and Ugly

April 11th 2011

Egypt - Qaradaqi in Cairo

The protestors have gone home and the world's attention has turned to Libya, but the future of the most populous and influential Arab country remains perhaps the most important issue affecting American interests in the Middle East other than Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. 
The decision to abandon Hosni Mubarak without knowing who would take power in his place has created uncertainty and unease throughout the region. Though no one can predict at this point what Egypt will look like in the days and weeks to come, it is possible to envision three scenarios that all pose potential problems for American policy.
Read more ..

America Remembers the Future

America's Current Leadership Can Learn Insightful Lessons from the Commemoration of the Civil War

April 11th 2011

History American - Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the American Civil War, and the next four years will see many commemorations of the terrible conflict that transformed forever the life of the United States. History in general overflows with lessons for leaders in all walks of life, but certain watershed events, like the fall of the Roman Republic, the French Revolution, and the World Wars of the 20th century offer more sharply-defined demonstrations of the dynamics of leadership -- and misleadership. The American Civil War is one such episode.

The prodigious figure of Abraham Lincoln continues to dominate all discourse on the Civil War, and there are few finer examples of practical wisdom and integrity for leaders today in politics, business, and the professions. A recent book, Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin explores Lincoln’s determination to pick the best people for the job, regardless of all-too-human inadequacies and the undisguised antipathy they sometimes showed towards him. He accepted personal responsibility for managing conflict and dissent within his team.

The fact that Lincoln could appoint and keep on board a man like Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War is a striking example. Stanton was an able and vigorous executive, astute and always deft in getting things done; but he could also be an abusive bully and downright deceitful in his dealings with colleagues. Even George McClellan, the Union commander whom Lincoln pressured relentlessly to use the massive logistical advantages his army enjoyed over the enemy, found Stanton’s vituperative reflections on the president behind his back unsettling. Yet Lincoln coaxed the very best out of his Secretary of War, conceding graciously whenever he believed his subordinate’s argument was superior to his own, and supporting Stanton strongly through many trials and tribulations. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Obama’s Energy Plan was Simply to Play Good Politics

April 4th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama - Energy April '11

President Obama had good reasons to welcome spring with a high profile energy policy address. The first anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig is just three weeks away. The President surely knows that this anniversary will give his opponents an opportunity to remind Americans of the unnecessary moratorium on offshore drilling. The President also knows that there is roughly a two to three months delay period before gasoline prices respond to increases in the price of crude oil. The recent spike in oil prices occurred about two months ago as riots began to spread throughout the Middle East so gas prices are expected to rise further. Read more ..

Religious Freedom

Norway’s “Boycott” of Pro-Israel Speakers

April 4th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz

I recently completed a “speaking tour” of Norwegian Universities on the topic of “international law as applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The sponsors of the tour—a Norwegian pro-Israel group—offered to have me lecture without any charge to the three major universities in Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim. Norwegian universities, especially those outside of Oslo, tend to feel somewhat isolated from the more mainstream academic world, and they generally jump at any opportunity to invite lecturers from leading universities. Thus, when Professor Stephen Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby—a much maligned critique of American support for Israel—came to Norway, he was immediately invited to present a lecture. Likewise, with Ilan Pappe—a strident demonizer of Israel—from Oxford. Many professors from less well-known universities have also been invited to present their anti-Israel perspectives.

My hosts expected, therefore, that their offer to have me present a somewhat different academic perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be eagerly accepted, since I have written half a dozen books on the subject presenting a centrist view in support of the two-state solution and against civilian settlements on the West Bank.

Indeed, one of my books is entitled The Case For Peace, and former President Bill Clinton praised my blueprint for peace as “among the best in recent years.” Read more ..


Edge on Technolgy

The Digital Age of Freedom

April 4th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

There’s a relatively new collection of essays making its way around Washington circles asking a provocative question that, I’m sure, many have acted out in their own personal lives yet never really pondered what it meant—a book titled Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

Gathered and compiled by editor John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, the myriad scholarly contributors examine just how the Internet has altered the course of an individual’s thinking. “A new invention has emerged, a code for collective consciousness that requires a new way of thinking,” Mr. Brockman writes. “The Internet is the infinite oscillation of our collective consciousness interacting with itself. It’s not about computers; it’s about thinking.”

Indeed, perhaps the single greatest invention of our time has changed the way we collect, process, analyze and share information; from the most meaningless such as a casserole recipe, to state secrets pilfered by rogue military personnel and scattered like ashes to the four winds. Not since the telegraph in the early 19th century has information moved so rapidly and efficiently. Read more ..


Religious Tolerance

The Duplicty of Great Britain on Israel is Relentless and Pervasive

April 4th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Isi Leibler headshot

British Jews who primarily interact with fellow Jews in their daily lives, and thus remain largely insulated from direct anti-Semitic confrontations, frequently underrate the impact of the relentless demonization of Israel on their standing in society. Others, who insist that the anti-Israeli onslaughts are unconnected to anti-Semitism, are simply in outright denial The principal barometer is the media which is now so consistently hostile to Israel that an occasional neutral or positive article is almost cause for celebration.

The poisonous atmosphere has now extended to the entertainment arena. In London, I saw the final episode of "The Promise," a four-part drama series televised during peak viewing time on Channel 4, which encompasses the history of the Jewish state from its birth to modern-day Israel. I doubt whether any production in the Western world has ever related to Israel with such vile bias and venom. Virtually every Jew is demonized as a duplicitous and heartless monster.

The drama focuses on a British soldier who witnessed the Nazi death camps and subsequently served in the British mandatory forces when the state of Israel was born. His granddaughter, the heroine, witnesses Israeli brutality against peace-loving Palestinian women and children. It concludes with the aged former British soldier pontificating that despite the Nazi death camps, the creation of Israel was a terrible event which dispossessed the Palestinian people. The historical events are utterly distorted; rich Jews celebrate as innocent Arabs are butchered; a Jewish sniper deliberately murders a young Arab child and Israeli soldiers continuously abuse elderly Palestinians. Read more ..


Islam's War Against Christians

Wounded Christians of Egypt Wonder at Lack of Discussion Over their Fate at the Hands of Islamists

April 4th 2011

Christian Topics - Coptic Christian prays at blood splattered wall

A disturbing feature of the crisis in Egypt has been the paucity of any discussion of the implications of the possible rise of fanatical Islamists for Christians, particularly the sizeable Coptic Christian population, estimated at between 10-15 percent of the Egyptian population. The few vague references to their fate were generally voiced as an afterthought to reflections on the repression of women.

This puzzling gap is characteristic of Western analysts who respond only to political and economic explanations. But these have little to do with the deeper social historical complexities of the Middle East and everything to do with religion and the culture. Western analysts seldom understand the importance of religion. Unless conflict has an overt political face it is usually a mystery to them. Yet Christians were out on the street with their fellow Egyptians when Mubarak was ousted, desperate to ward off an Islamic take-over. In fact the persecution of Copts has intensified over the past 20 years even though few in the West have paid attention to it. Read more ..


Edge on Schooling

Tortured Minds Bent on Eliminating Civics from American Education

April 4th 2011

Social Topics - Bill of Rights

“An American government exam taken by all high school students in Maryland would be eliminated next year under the proposed state budget, a surprising shift in policy that comes just three years after the test was made a graduation requirement. Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal cuts $1.9 million from the Maryland State Department of Education budget that would pay for the test and its grading … Some educators expressed immediate concern that social studies would get less attention in high schools if the test is eliminated.”
Baltimore Sun

Outside the front door of my house is a hundred year old Uncle Sam. He’s made of wood, and as long as he’s been with us, he’s not had any work done on him. After reading about Maryland’s intention to do away with its civics test, I am making arrangements for a visit to a rehab, after an emotionally charged intervention that had Uncle Sam thin lipped with rage and denial, while the wood and paint that covered him looked so uncared for and chipped, that we’ve stopped waving hello, not wanting to risk some outburst of irrational anger that would make his always wooden features peel and flake even more. Read more ..


American Jewry on Edge

A Leadership Reform Rabbi with a Troubling Agenda

March 30th 2011

Jewish Topics - Rabbi Richard Jacobs
Rabbi Richard Jacobs

I must express concern at the appointment of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as head of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Rabbi Jacobs is a member of the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, the extremist, George Soros-funded lobby group that takes positions to the left of the Israeli Labor and far-left Meretz parties, recently opposed sanctions on Iran, and urged President Barack Obama not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning as “illegal” Jewish homes and communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Jacobs is also a long-time board member and advocate of the New Israel Fund (NIF), which is a leading promoter and funder of organizations that advocate boycotting, divesting from, and imposing sanctions upon, Israel (BDS) as well as other groups involved in delegitimizing Israel and mounting ‘lawfare’ suits against Israeli political and military officials, causing these officials to not visit certain European countries. The ZOA, which I am president of, is also concerned by Rabbi Jacobs’ close association with J Street and NIF and thus at the prospect of the Reform movement becoming a captive of the beliefs and actions of both organizations. We hope the Reform movement, under Jacob’s leadership, will not become an unnamed arm and political ally of these organizations.

We are not alone in our concerns. Commentary magazine’s Alana Goodman recently wrote, “Jacobs involvement with J Street and the New Israel Fund is a troubling sign,” adding “The Reform movement has always leaned toward the political left, but its decision to tap Rabbi Richard Jacobs as its new leader signals that it might be shifting its focus toward a slightly different form of political activism.” Read more ..



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