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After the Holocaust

Holocaust Survivors Demand Justice and Dignity at Claims Conference

December 6th 2010

History-Genocide - Holocaust survivor

In November, the U.S. attorney in New York indicted 17 people for allegedly defrauding programs funded by Germany for Holocaust survivors and administered by the Claims Conference. Six of those charged were Conference employees, including some who supervised these very programs for many years.

It is terrible that anyone would steal money designed to assist Holocaust victims struggling to make ends meet, and the indictments are welcome. Yet this scandal comes as no surprise to Holocaust survivors who have been urging greater transparency and accountability in the handling of funds obtained from assets looted from Holocaust victims. Read more ..

The Political Edge

Charlie Rangel Should Leave the Congress on His Own Terms

December 6th 2010

Politics - Charles Rangel
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY)

‘Tis the holiday season—a time to reflect on all that we have been blessed with here in America. And with those blessings, also the great responsibilities bestowed upon us, each according to the role our Creator has endowed. Soon, that paragon of virtues, the US House of Representatives will return to complete its unfinished business. One piece of such business the entire chamber, both Democrat and Republican, is dreading. For when People’s House reconvenes, it must publicly punish Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) for the several criminal acts he committed against the institution and his colleagues.

The technical term for this punishment is a “censure.” To the average American, however, Rangel may be getting off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Think about it- any other individual who concealed shady business deals, evaded paying taxes, and used his elective office to advance his own fame and fortune would be behind bars by now. But, the Congress treats its own differently. Read more ..

Romania on Edge

Romania: On a Voyage between Hope and Oblivion

December 6th 2010

Eurasian Topics - Romania elderly lady

As a Romanian with the perspective of someone who emigrated 18 years ago, I can also say that I remain confused each time I depart from my native land. It is a feeling that, frequently, I manage to hide when I return from there because it is difficult to share with my colleagues in Spain, where I now make my home.

Ten years ago, I wrote a doctoral dissertation on Romania’s transition and march toward integration into European and Atlantic structures. In the conclusions of my dissertation, I expressed my hope about the future of that country nestled in the Carpathian Mountains. I imagined a prosperous and free country, aligned with NATO and the European Union.  During the first decade of the second millennium, I viewed Romania with horror since, despite its integration into NATO and the EU, it has managed to slip into the past rather than advancing toward the future.

I love my country dearly, but at a distance. It is difficult to return and find it in ruins: a Romania from which its people continue to flee because of its paucity of opportunities, fair wages, and employment. If we cast a glance back at the events of 20 years ago, we will be reminded that Romania was an exception within the concert of Eastern European nations for the cruelty of the regime that lasted 25 years, as well as the regime that replaced it when it shot to death the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife without a semblance of a trial. All of these peculiarities have been closely studied, as well as the events of that bloody Christmas of 1989 that was broadcast around the world. Read more ..

Border War

Politics, Ignorance, and Geography Cloud US-Mexico Relations

December 6th 2010

Mexican Topics - Militia man patrol

Mexico and the border are once again big news. Stories fill the press about Michele Obama and Hilary Clinton traveling south of the border to show their support for an embattled government. Report after report comes in about the latest atrocities in the so-called narco-war. Journalists rush to the border to check on the “spill-over” violence which, contrary to the assertions of Arizona Senator John McCain and others who contend the US’ southern border is “out of control,” has yet to materialize in a systematic way.

If my sixth grade geography lessons serve me, it would appear the violence McCain refers to is on the other side of the border line in a country called Mexico. Indeed, given the level of violence in places like Ciudad Juarez and Reynosa, it is quite noteworthy how El Paso and other places on the US side of the border are actually far less violent than many communities in the interior of the US. Is anyone proposing to send troops to Albuquerque or Oakland? Read more ..

Mexico on Edge

Delving into Mexico's Past to Understand the Troubled Present

December 6th 2010

Mexican Topics - Alvaro Obregon, Pancho Villa, John Pershing
Alvaro Obregon, Pancho Villa, Gen. John Pershing

While the US busied itself preparing for the annual Thanksgiving feast, Mexico took a step back into its own history. November 20 marked the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, the world's first great socio-political upheaval of the last century, as well as the beginning of  a process that shaped the identity of modern Mexico.

The days preceding and following November 20 were filled with patriotic parades and displays of F-5 fighters over the capital, polemical fireworks in Mexico City, mountains of press commentaries, reruns of revolutionary-themed films, commemorative exhibits, debates over the roles of the Revolution's principal protagonists, and spots exalting the armed forces immersed in a so-called drug war that's claimed an estimated 28,000-30,000 lives since the end of 2006. In the "Middle Mexico" city of Aguascalientes, a stunning exhibit of the works of pre-revolution and revolution-era photojournalists portrayed the mass deportation of indigenous Yaquis in 1905, a female Zapatista military commander, the 1914 US attack on Veracruz and women demanding work in Mexico City. Many of the photos evoked images from contemporary, violence-ridden Mexico, though with different socio-historic texts. Read more ..

Politics on Edge

Charlie Rangel is Only a Symptom of a Much Larger Problem

November 29th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker

It's hard to conclude that Black Caucus Democrats are being sent back to Washington by large voting margins, year after year, because they are delivering such fine lives to their constituents.

New York's Charlie Rangel, convicted of eleven ethics violations -- the most ever found against any member of Congress -- was resoundingly re-elected, getting 80 percent of his district's vote.

After 40 years representing these folks, you can't conclude he was an unknown commodity. Granted, the conviction occurred after the election, but the charges were well publicized.

Has Charlie Rangel's leadership produced life so grand in Harlem that flagrant and persistent unethical behavior by their Congressman means nothing to its residents?

The national poverty rate is around 14 percent. In the 15th district of New York, Charlie Rangel's district, it's 24.3 percent. The child poverty rate is 30.9 percent. Whatever it is that Harlem voters find so attractive about Mr. Rangel, it's hard to conclude that quality of life is something they feel they owe to him. But let's think about this in a broader context.

Charlie Rangel is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

There are now 41 House members who belong to the Caucus. In the most recent elections, 37 of them ran as incumbents and all regained their seats handily. The four seats that were vacated were easily captured by new black Democrats.

That's a 100 percent return rate. These Black Caucus Democrats recaptured their seats getting an average 75 percent of their district's vote. Read more ..

Zionism on Edge

The De-Zionization of Anglo-Jewry

November 29th 2010

Politics - De-zionization of anglo-jewry
Chaim Weizmann, left with Anglo-Jewish leaders

Chaim Weizmann would turn in his grave were he aware of the public attacks on the Israeli government by some in the UK Jewish leadership.

Mick Davis, the South African-born chief executive of the powerful mining group Xstrata, is chairman of Anglo Jewry’s United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) - the principal fund-raising institution for Israel of the UK Jewish community.

He also heads a body known as the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) - essentially comprised of a group of wealthy British Jews and their acolytes who, by virtue of their financial largess, assume a dominant influence on many levels of communal life. Read more ..

Edge on Economic Crisis

So, You Didn’t Believe the “Recession is Over?”

November 29th 2010

Economy - Out of Business

When the government reported the “recession” had ended during the 2nd quarter of 2009 there were a number of skeptics mocking the “declaration.” And you, were probably one of them. However, so long as we measure economic growth on the quarterly production of “goods and services,” there’s little question the economy’s been on the upswing since mid 2009. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t feel like it. When the government announced 2.5 percent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the 3rd quarter of 2010, it represented the fifth consecutive quarter of economic growth. Read more ..

BDS—Economic Jihad

Another Israel Divestment Hoax

November 22nd 2010

Corporate Logos - PGGM Building

When I read this report on the Electronic Intifada claiming that the largest pension fund in The Netherlands had divested from the Israeli companies in its portfolio, it struck me that the campaign to subject Israel to a regime of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions—BDS for short—had hit a milestone. No longer, I said to myself, is this a matter of campus gesture politics. The long-awaited South Africa effect is finally manifesting. Then it occurred to me that the story might not be true. I contacted the fund’s managers, the Dutch company PGGM, and they confirmed my suspicions. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Iran's Double-Edged Sword

November 22nd 2010

Iran - Iran Nuclear Equipment

In a four-day journey at the beginning of November that took him through Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, and Benin, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki asserted that the United States was "displeased with the expansion of relations between Iran and African countries," and opined that while the U.S. had a "thirst for power," Iran practiced the subtler "power of logic." He described his top priority in Africa as "the exportation of technical and engineering services."

Less than two weeks later, Mottaki had to hastily return to West Africa to deal with the exposure by Nigerian authorities of another, more nefarious export: rocket launchers, grenades, and other illicit arms disguised as building materials and accompanied, apparently, by two members of the elite "Quds Force" unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Read more ..

China on Edge

Trade War with China Looms

November 22nd 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

When times were good, it was easy for America to overlook the effects of China’s currency manipulation. U.S. unemployment hovered around 5 percent, and growth averaged about the same. Even though U.S. jobs got shipped overseas, cheap Chinese imports flooded the markets and softened the impact of declining consumer purchasing power. China helped to further bolster our consumption by purchasing more than a trillion dollars in U.S. debt.

Times have changed. With official unemployment hovering at around 10 percent, and inflation near zero, China’s currency manipulation poses a severe problem to the U.S. recovery. Cheap Chinese imports—made even cheaper by the subsidies China gives to its producers—prevent U.S. manufacturers from producing and selling goods in the United States. This makes a recovery in domestic employment all the more difficult.

It appears the two nations’ interests have diverged to the point where a trade war is almost inevitable. We see the opening salvos already. China’s recent announcement that it will restrict rare earth mineral exports is basically a move against Japan, a U.S. ally in the G-20 coalition of industrial economies. The Chinese premier is going around embracing the Greek government, offering to buy worthless Greek bonds—again to try to weaken the U.S. coalition within the G-20. In a further saber-rattling maneuver, China banned imports of chicken feet from the U.S.—a food considered a delicacy in China, but a useless byproduct of poultry production in the U.S. Read more ..

BDS - Economic Jihad

Foreign Entities Endanger Academic Freedom in the US

November 15th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Yitzhak Santis

Academic freedom is under attack by a foreign movement that seeks to separate universities in the United States, and the rest of the world, from one of the world’s most dynamic and creative academic cultures, the Israeli university and college system. The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), based in Ramallah, seeks to cut Israeli academia off from the rest of human intellectual society. The damage to the cause of academic freedom and human development would be incalculable.

Recently, over three dozen Nobel Prize Laureates signed a letter sponsored by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East condemning PACBI’s efforts. In a rambling response, PACBI revealed its anti-democratic and anti-intellectual impulses:

“The protection of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas cannot be the only norm dictating the political engagement of scholars … The aim of the academic boycott of Israel, in this context, is not to safeguard academic freedom as an abstract principle, but to obtain justice and fundamental rights for the Palestinian people.” Read more ..

Edge on the Mideast

Obama Administration Must reclaim World Leadership by Supporting Allies in Lebanon

November 15th 2010

Lebanon Topics - Lebanon Mosque

Just a few years ago, Lebanon appeared to be a foreign-policy success for the United States. Outraged by the brutal 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, likely at the hands of Syria and its allies, the Lebanese people, bolstered by international support, succeeded in expelling Syrian military forces and asserting Lebanese sovereignty for the first time in decades. Again in 2009, the Lebanese affirmed their support for the pro-Western ruling coalition, awarding it a solid majority of seats in parliament during the May general elections.

These days, however, the country looks headed for a frightening crisis. The March 14 coalition, as the ruling group is known, has been unable to capitalize on its popular mandate due to the overwhelming force wielded by Hezbollah, which is funded, trained, and armed by Iran and Syria. Read more ..

The Economic Edge

Obama Care is Killing Recovery

November 8th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Six months ago, the Health Care Reform Act became law. Prior to its passage, Nancy Pelosi condescendingly announced, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” President Obama also assured Americans that health care “reforms … will finally reduce the costs of health care … Families will save on their premiums.” Contrary to the President’s assurance, unfortunately, the Health Care reform legislation is already causing a substantial increase in medical insurance premiums. We are also finding expensive provisions in this act that we did not know were there, including a hidden 3.8% sales tax on the sale of certain residential real estate and a burdensome IRS filing requirement on small business.

Based on anecdotal evidence from business owners, insurance brokers and the media, insurance premiums on policies renewed for 2010 and 2011 are increasing by 20–40 percent. These rising premiums are driven by mandated coverage which includes free or low cost preventive care, non-exclusion of children with pre-existing medical conditions, required coverage for children up to age 26, and elimination of lifetime medical reimbursement limits. Read more ..

Chile on the Edge

President Chinchilla: The “Puppet” Sets Her Own Agenda

November 8th 2010

Latin American Topics - President Chinchilla

On May 8th, 2010, Laura Chinchilla was sworn into office as the first female president of Costa Rica, following the second term of fellow National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate Oscar Arias. Chinchilla had been slated as a potential presidential candidate since 2008, when she resigned as Costa Rica’s vice president to begin her campaign. From the outset of her campaign, many assumed that she would simply adopt a number of Arias’s reforms and policies. During the presidential campaign, candidates made a point of portraying Chinchilla as Arias’s puppet—one commercial went so far as to make Chinchilla into a literal marionette, with strings held by Arias and other PLN members. Read more ..

Mideast Peace on Edge

Obama Midway in his Administration and Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

November 8th 2010

Israel Topics - Obama Netanyahu Abbas1

Having reached the midway point of this term, the Obama administration is now at a logical time to evaluate where its effort in Israeli-Palestinian mediation stand, and to look ahead at prospects for the future.

The Obama administration inherited challenging conditions in 2009. The Bush administration's effort to define the Israeli-Palestinian endgame up front (in what is known as the Annapolis Conference) had come up short. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert faced corruption charges and was ultimately forced to resign. Read more ..

London on Edge

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets

November 1st 2010

Politics - East End London Street Sign

One of the latest constitutional innovations in Britain is powerful directly elected “executive” mayors for the boroughs. The Mayor will control a large budget, and will serve a 4-year term, during which time the Council cannot remove the Mayor. He or she will be rather like the president of a small independent republic. This has immediately produced unintended consequences in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Read more ..

Israel on the Edge

Israel's Insistence on Jewish Identity is No Violation of Democratic Principles

October 27th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Mitchell Bard

The uproar over Israel's proposed loyalty oath for new immigrants has sparked renewed debate over whether Israel's insistence on being a "Jewish state" violates the principles of western democracy.  Critics claim that by identifying the country with Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David or menorah, having its national anthem relate to the Jewish yearning for a "return to Zion" and granting Jews automatic citizenship through the Law of Return, Israel is verging on theocratic ideals and rudely affronts its non-Jewish citizens.  Israel is not a theocracy, however; it is governed by the rule of law as drafted by a democratically elected parliament and enforced by a highly praised judicial system. 

Israeli law adheres to many Jewish religious customs and is largely informed by Jewish values, but this structure makes it no different than other democracies that shape themselves around Christian or Islamic traditions.  The Greek constitution outlines the country as an Eastern Orthodox state; Christian crosses don the flags of Switzerland, Sweden and Finland; the monarchs of the UK, Norway and Denmark head their respective national churches. In addition, Ireland has a law allowing immigrants of "Irish descent or Irish associations" to be exempt from ordinary naturalization rules while Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany and a number of other democratic states also have precedents strikingly similar to Israel's Law of Return. No one, though, claims that these countries cannot be democratic while also maintaining strong connections with their national heritage and religious core. Read more ..

Edge on Energy

A Quixotic Quest for Ethical Oil in Canadian Bitumen Deposits

October 26th 2010

Energy / Environment - Oil sand

Oil sands: satanic horror, or priceless jewel? To describe the extremes of the debate over Canada’s large bitumen deposits thus is barely to exaggerate the positions taken up by opponents and supporters of exploitation of this rising source of crude oil.

For environmentalists, oil sands, or as they are technically known, bituminous sands, are the epitome of everything they hate: big business, oil, greenhouse gas emissions, oil, water wasted and polluted, oil, governmental indifference or collusion, oil, threatened animals and trees -- oh yes, and oil as well. Read more ..

Midterm Elections

Why Nancy Pelosi Won't be Speaker in 2011

October 18th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

There’s an interesting storyline playing out in the corridors of the Capitol this week. Yes, Congress is in its fall recess, members having returned home for the last stretch of campaigning before that first Tuesday in November. But all is not so quiet on the Eastern Front; the Washington punditocracy is still flourishing, reading the tea leaves to discover the fate of every House and Senate incumbent.

What ultimately happens on Election Day will certainly impact the makeup of House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle. Many are speculating just how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will govern in a new era with far fewer Democrats and, most likely, a lost majority.

Last week, some Hill papers openly wondered what type of vengeance a scorned Pelosi would exact on those who dared to question her decisions and legislative strategies that put the rank-and-file in such dire straits.

Such predictions on Pelosi’s future behavior and how she’ll handle those unfaithful members are misguided and a waste of time. No matter what happens on Election Day—less than a month from today—Nancy Pelosi will not be Speaker of the House in 2011 and may not be leading Democrats in Congress at all. Read more ..

Energy and Power

The Utility Protection Racket: Death and Profits

October 18th 2010

Energy / Environment - electric power lines

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is a multi-billion-dollar privately owned, publicly regulated utility whose main function is to make enormous profits for its shareholders at great cost to ratepayers. I know this to be true; I’m one of the ratepayers.

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) permits PG&E to charge rates that are 30 percent higher than the national average. PG&E’s shareholders enjoy a guaranteed 11.35 percent yearly return on equity. That’s slightly higher than the 11 percent that swindler Bernard Madoff pretended to offer his investment victims. After Madoff was exposed, his victims were chided for not having realized that no one pulls down an 11 percent return year after year on the stock market. But PG&E investors take in more than that every year. And unlike Madoff, the company’s earnings are for real, guaranteed at a fixed rate of return, devoid of risk. Read more ..

Brazil on the Edge

Round Two is Coming in Brazil for Lula's Protogee Dilma Roussef

October 11th 2010

Latin American Topics - Dilma Rouseff and Lula
Dilma Youseff and President Lula da Silva

The October 3 election result in Brazil did not transpire in the way that polls had predicted. Until a week ago, it was widely assumed that Dilma Rousseff of the Worker’s Party (PT) was a shoo-in for victory in the first round of voting, following the endorsement of the widely popular incumbent President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. However, as results emerged it became clear that Rousseff had failed to reach the 50 percent of votes needed to take the presidency without a runoff. In the end, Rousseff won 47.6 percent of the vote, while José Serra, a veteran of the Social Democrat Party (PSDB) took second place with 32.6 percent, reflecting a setback for the Lula machine. Read more ..

Edge on Asia

A Monsoon Wedding at the Commonwealth Games in India

October 11th 2010

Asia Topics - Commonwealth Games Delhi

The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, which began on October 3, have become the focus of international interest due to concerns over the safety and standard of the facilities and accommodation. About a year ago, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, Suresh Kalmadi, informed the world that the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi would be "memorable." With only a few days to go before the inauguration, it already is – but for all the wrong reasons.

The litany of woes afflicting the preparations for the Games– corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, serious budget overrun, corner-cutting, a shoddy end-product, terrorist attacks and exploitation of labour (including children)  – could be lifted straight from an obscure John Le Carré banana republic. Read more ..

The Economic Crisis on Edge

More Virtue, Not Less, May Be Necessary in a Down Economy

October 4th 2010

Economy - Paul Krugman

It would be foolish for me to pick an argument with Paul Krugman on economics. A Nobel Prize winner, he is one of the foremost economists in the world. But the statement in his latest New York Times column that “Economics is not a morality play” is not so much about economics as it is about ethics, and here is where I wish to engage him.

What exactly does he mean? Essentially, he wishes to disabuse us of the belief that economics is a “happy story in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished”. That much we must concede, together with most people who have ever given serious thought to ethics. In fact, ethics, as a philosophical discipline, began in ancient Greece as a reflection on the all too common experience of the triumph of evil over good. Read more ..

Midterm Electionbs on the Edge

Democrats Can Run But Can’t Hide from Ethics Charges this November

September 27th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Like many, I like to spend my summer months catching up on some good books and vacationing in Europe. Only this year, I’ve stopped reading fiction. Why bother when real life is so much more interesting? In fact, I think I’ll stop reading books altogether for the next several weeks. All I need are the latest editions of The Hill and the Washington Times to cover the scintillating scandals that have totally rocked Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel (NY) and Maxine Waters (CA). I know fiction writers are green with envy on these developing storylines.

The latest developments surrounding the Waters and Rangel cases have both looking like they will spend 2011 in retirement; perhaps even in the pokey if there’s another shoe that has yet to fall.

Both claim their innocence, with Rep. Rangel defiantly telling supporters and whoever will listen earlier this year at his annual mega-birthday bash that he will fight these allegations with every fiber of his being.

Has anyone seen this summer movie before? I have. Try 2006 when Republicans such as former Reps. Rick Renzi, Richard Pombo, Mark Foley, and others lined up to the microphones to declare their innocence. Instead of summarily removing them from office (or at least asking them to step down from running that year), Republican leaders whistled in the other direction, refusing to set an example. [I don’t remember; did Republican leadership not call for any of their resignations? Seems to me they might have belatedly called for Foley’s, but like I said, I’m not sure. Boehner publically asked Renzi to step down. Pombo and Foley were not publically asked.] Read more ..

America on Edge

Antoine Dodson has Left the Hood

September 27th 2010

Social Topics - Antoine Dodson

Just two months ago, Antoine Dodson was just scraping by and trying to support his family. Today he is an international Internet celebrity.

It all started when a Huntsville, Alabama, news crew taped an interview of the visibly upset Antoine about the attempted rape of his sister by an assailant in July. Antoine defended his sister, struggling with the assailant who then fled. Within hours, the video of the news was posted on YouTube. Millions have watched the original video while millions more have watched the auto-tuned remix. The song has taken on a life of its own and even cracked the Billboard Top 100 chart.

Profits from the YouTube videos, iTunes sales of the song, merchandise, and donations have been enough for Antoine, who supports his five brothers and sisters, to move himself and his family out of the “projects” and into a new house.

While the Dodson family has greatly benefited from the video, one has to ask why the Dodson video has become so popular. Read more ..

Inside Islam

Islamization and the Arab-Israeli Peace Process

September 20th 2010

Terrorism - Islamic Jihad

The Arab and non-Arab Muslim umma, or global community, vehemently denies pre-Islamic Jewish and ignores pre-Islamic Christian connections to all the territories that comprised historical Syro-Palestine—including Judea, Samaria, modern Israel within the 1949 armistice borders, and Gaza. This historical negationism is melded to Islam’s own theological supresessionism which abrogates Judaism and Christianity as deliberately corrupted, crude manifestations of the one true primordial monotheism, Islam. (See Koran 3:67—“No; Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one pure of faith [i.e., Islam]; certainly he was never of the idolaters.”) Such an eternal religio-political worldview should raise grave doubts about the prospects of negotiating a permanent peace settlement between the Israelis and the local Arab Muslim representatives of the global Islamic umma, the Palestinian Arabs. Read more ..

The Edge of Safety

Better off Dead

September 20th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

I’m sorry, but the killing of James Lee, the Discovery Channel gunman who took several employees hostage, was the only option for that sick individual. Over time we have seen many James Lees and the lives they’ve destroyed in pursuit of their twisted outlook on life. In past hostage situations, imagine that the police had responded in a similar manner; how many innocent people and bystanders would be alive today? While we believe there is a time and place for negotiating with mental head cases that take people hostage, still we can never know the magnitude of loss of lives with that tactic until the smoke clears.

Special thanks go out to the Montgomery County officers and SWAT members who thought it better to shoot first and later ask questions about what kind of device Lee had strapped to his person during those intense hours. Often Law Enforcement officials are blamed and second-guessed when people in these situations lose their lives for no reason. We also know that even in the James Lee matter, their quick decision to shoot could have had severe consequences. In the final analysis though, their quick thinking and judgment from past experiences may have saved hundreds of people from injury, death, or destruction. Going forward, when we as countrymen are faced with hostile situations of this magnitude, it would be wise to subdue or eliminate the perpetrator if possible. This principle should apply in cases where it was later learned that their threats and actions would not have led to innocent people dying. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

President Obama's Unfinished Business in Iraq

September 13th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

“Mission accomplished.” Two words. A phrase that haunted one president is now the calling card of success for another. While President Obama technically claimed no victory in his national Oval Office address last week, the subtext was clear: in this election charged season, your president has delivered on a campaign promise.

For the better part of this decade, Americans have struggled with their own identity crisis on this war. It was always easy to be “for the troops.” Yet many succumbed to the frustrations we all felt just before the Surge started to push back against rogue militants (sentiments we see emerging again today as we surge forces into Afghanistan). They collectively threw their hands up in disgust. Seeing no end in sight, doubters blamed President George Bush and his cowboy attitude toward Saddam and his country.

Barack Obama was all too eager to oblige that sentiment, stoke those frustrations, and ride the utter regret to the White House. But what President Obama saw upon assuming office was not the easy solution Candidate Obama projected while on the campaign trail.

Fast forward two years, and three months late on some date plucked out of thin air; we now have a commander-in-chief ready to move on, whether or not Iraq is. Read more ..

Edge on Petro-Politics

How to Crash OPEC's Party

September 13th 2010

Venezuela Topics - Sheik and Chavez

Fifty years ago this week, five of the world’s top oil-producing countries convened in Baghdad to form the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The goal of the cartel was to “assert its member countries’ legitimate rights” and gain “a major say in the pricing of crude oil on world markets.” OPEC did just that. In the decades that followed, its members nationalized international companies’ oil fields and infrastructure assets, instated a quota system, and gained the upper hand in price negotiations. Within a decade, they had become the most powerful cartel in modern history. Read more ..

Free Speech

The SPEECH ACT and the Islamic Agenda

September 13th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Rachel Ehrenfeld

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is no stranger to the Islamic agenda. As the Quartet's special envoy to the Middle East, his recent statement, "If these people could have killed 30,000 or 300,000 [on 9/11], they would have," should serve as a wakeup call. While Blair recognizes that "Islam's roots are deep, its tentacles are long,” he failed to mention the role that Britain's libel laws play in helping radical Muslims to shield their activities.

Soon after the attacks on the U.S. on 9/11, wealthy financiers of al Qaeda, especially from Saudi Arabia, began using Britain’s plaintiff-friendly libel laws and judges to muzzle the media from exposing national security threats, especially the names of al Qaeda’s financiers. Their lawfare have made London the Mecca of libel tourism, and England’s libel bar rich.

Their tactics were so effective that mere threat of suit is often enough to compel a pre-trial confidential settlement especially by American beleaguered researchers, investigators, journalists, publishers, bloggers and others, who deprived of their Constitutional free speech rights, wish to avoid steep legal costs and unjustified reputational ruin.

Libel tourism in the U.K. chilled the media’s commitment to shed light on matters of national security, depriving the public of important information and preventing critical debate. It causes investigative journalists and authors to stay away from reporting on terror financiers, and publishers to shun controversial subjects and authors.  Read more ..

Toxic Edge

Poisoned Nicaraguan Workers Seek U.S. Justice and Get Nothing But Banana Oil

September 13th 2010

Latin American Topics - Poisoned banana worker

In July 2010, a Los Angeles judge overturned a previous ruling that had awarded $2.3 million in compensation to six Nicaraguan banana workers. Dole Food Company, the workers’ former employer, had authorized the administration of dangerous pesticides that left the men sterile. The U.S. court ruled that the plaintiffs’ lawyers had knowingly manipulated the case, Tellez v. Dole Food Co., through the use of fraud, allegedly recruiting fake employees to testify that they had been exposed to pesticides that had caused them severe health problemswhile employed by the food giant. However, the testimonies that pointed to the scam came from witnesses whose identities were not disclosed, ostensibly in order to protect them from hostilities in Nicaragua.

As a result, none of the statements can be checked for accuracy, nor could one readily determine the credibility of these anonymous witnesses. One such witness later recanted his testimony, asserting that Dole had flown him to Costa Rica and bribed him to say that the plaintiffs had never worked on the plantations. The payment for his testimony amounted in the end to some three hundred dollars, a sad illustration of the desperation that pervades the lowest classes of the second-poorest nation in the hemisphere. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Obama and the Fabrication of the War Legend

September 6th 2010

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama with Flag

U.S. President Barack Obama’s August 31 Oval Office speech on the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq had many purposes: to claim a measure of credit for largely fulfilling one of his major campaign promises; to thank those who have served and sacrificed in the cause; to spread the balm of unity over any lingering domestic wounds; to assure Americans that it has all been worth it and that no dishonor was attached to this foreign adventure, which was opposed by many in Obama’s own party and by him from the beginning.

Of all those purposes, and any others that might have been conceived, the need to express assurance of the war’s validity — and honor in its outcome — is by far the most important. Any national leader must protect and nurture the legend of any war over which he presides, even those — actually, particularly those — he has brought to a close. The people need to feel that the sacrifice in blood and treasure was worth it, that the mission’s rationale still makes sense, that the nation’s standing and prestige remain intact.

In terms of America, nothing illustrates this more starkly than the Vietnam experience. This was a war that emerged quite naturally out of a foreign policy outlook, “containment,” that had shaped American behavior in the world for nearly two decades and would continue to shape it for another two decades. Hence, one could argue that the Vietnam War was a noble effort entirely consistent with a policy that eventually proved brilliantly successful. Read more ..

Religious Freedom

The Endless Wars of Islam

August 30th 2010

Islamic Topics - Islamic Protesters

Islam emerged from what is modern day Saudi Arabia in the 7th century, and never looked back. Muslim armies swept across North Africa and invaded Catholic Spain, destroying or converting the Christian communities along the way. They turned churches into mosques, and made Islam the official religion. Muslim armies also took over the Holy Land, destroyed the last non-Islamic Persian empire, and moved into Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). By the 16th century, Islam had destroyed the Christian Byzantine Empire, had taken over Constantinople, and had turned the Hagia Sophia -- the most beautiful church in Christendom -- into a mosque. A century later, Muslim armies were outside the gates of Vienna. Read more ..

Crimes Against Children

Pedophiles and Popes: Doing the Vatican Shuffle

August 30th 2010

Christian Topics - Pope Benedict on airplane

When Pope John Paul II was still living in Poland as Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, he claimed that the security police would accuse priests of sexual abuse just to hassle and discredit them. (New York Times, Mar 28, 2010). For Wojtyła, the Polish pedophilia problem was nothing more than a Communist plot to smear the church.

By the early 1980s, Wojtyła, now ensconced in Rome as Pope John Paul II, treated all stories about pedophile clergy with dismissive aplomb, as little more than slander directed against the church. That remained his stance for the next twenty years.

Today, in post-communist Poland, clerical abuse cases have been surfacing slowly—very slowly. Writing in the leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza, a middle-aged man reported having been sexually abused as a child by a priest. He acknowledged however that Poland was not prepared to deal with such transgressions. “It’s still too early … Can you imagine what life would look like if an inhabitant of a small town or village decided to talk? I can already see the committees of defense for the accused priests.” Read more ..

Ground Zero Mosque

Russell Simmons is Quite Wrong About the Ground Zero Mosque

August 23rd 2010

Contributors / Staff - Shmuley Boteach
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

I still remember, Russell, when you came to my debate with Rev. Al Sharpton, nine years ago, in New York City. You struck me then as a man of warmth and openness. In that spirit I offer you this response to your recent blog postings in the Huffington Post supporting the Ground Zero mosque and your categorization of those opposing it as being guilty of hatred and bigotry, which strikes me as a bit harsh.

For the record, I am a supporter of the mosque being built, but only under two conditions. First, that its builders consult the families of the Ground Zero dead, who are the people whose opinion matters most. Second, that the 13-story complex include a museum detailing the events of 9/11 with exhibits explaining the modern abuse of Islamic teachings by extremists and their repudiation by Islam itself.

I don’t expect you to agree with my conditions, or with those who oppose the mosque outright. But I do ask that you consider this. Read more ..

Mendoza Against the Deaf

The Last Stand for the Deaf in California

August 23rd 2010

Politics - Caifornia State House

Special interest groups with a lack of ethics are currently making their way through the Capitol in Sacramento to lobby for the bill AB 2072. On one hand, in the legal prose, AB 2072 is about parents’ choices for their Deaf newborns. On the other hand, analyzing the jargon, it is about corporations’ eagerness to privatize human beings.

The Deaf and bilingual community have done everything by the book to save the future of Deaf newborns. They went to Sacramento to lobby politicians to oppose AB 2072. They showed up at the hearings and floor votes. They made video testimonials. They wrote articles. They called their Assemblymen and Senators to oppose the bill. They tried to meet with Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, the author of AB 2072, several times even though Mendoza repeatedly ignored them. They exhausted their options. They are educators of the Deaf, parents of Deaf children, siblings of Deaf, mental health counselors, social workers in the vocational rehabilitation field, grassroots community members, college professors, business owners, non-profit organizers, interpreters, and many more in the spectrum of the Deaf community. They knew the bill was not balanced and catered to special interest groups. The only thing they did and do not have: money. Read more ..

The Ground Zero Mosque

Move the Mosque

August 23rd 2010

Islamic Topics - Ground Zero mosque protest

As it happened, a small building became available on the Washington, D.C. real estate market. The place, 101 Raoul Wallenberg Place Southwest, was a small two-story, brick building and historic at that. Cozy and well-placed, the building was perfectly suited to accommodate its new owner’s plans. The new owner, the Aryan Nations, seeks to use the site as a cultural center to house its new Pastor of the Church of the Sons of Yahweh. Known for its commitment to white nationalism and neo-Nazism, and, of course, anti-Semitism, the Aryan Nations has a long and evil history. Seeking to establish its Christian identified base there sounded like a perfect opportunity to branch out from its Louisiana base—next door to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Owners of 101 Raoul Wallenberg, claiming religious justification and status, approached and received the proper, lengthy approval of the District of Columbia Zoning Commission, and Aryan Nations was set to move in and open up their new religious establishment, whose protections are guaranteed by our constitution. While there was great consternation on the part of the Zoning Commission, claiming religious status sealed the deal for them to move in. Read more ..

Turkey and Israel

Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza

August 16th 2010

Islamic Topics - Cyprus Forbidden Zone
Cyprus Forbidden Zone

In light of Ankara’s recent criticism of what it calls Israel’s “open-air jail” in Gaza, July 20, which marks the anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, has special relevance.

Turkish policy toward Israel, historically warm and only a decade ago approaching full alliance, has cooled since Islamists took power in Ankara in 2002. Their hostility became explicit in January 2009, during the Israel–Hamas war. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan grandly condemned Israeli policies as “perpetrating inhuman actions which would bring it to self-destruction” and even invoked God (“Allah will … punish those who transgress the rights of innocents”). His wife, Emine Erdoğan, hyperbolically condemned Israeli actions as so awful they “cannot be expressed in words.”

Their verbal assaults augured a further hostility that included insulting the Israeli president, helping sponsor the “Freedom Flotilla,” and recalling the Turkish ambassador.

This Turkish rage prompts a question: Is Israel in Gaza really worse than Turkey in Cyprus? A comparison finds this hardly to be so. Consider some contrasts: Read more ..

Media on the Edge

The SPEECH Act Stands for Many Things

August 16th 2010

Social Topics - Bill of Rights

Most prosaically, the SPEECH Act stands for the creative but unwieldy title of the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act, enacted in July to combat the chilling effects of libel tourism on American free speech. Among other protective measures, the SPEECH Act allows American authors and publishers sued in foreign jurisdictions to block the enforcement of a libel judgment that would not have been awarded if had it been brought in American courts.

The SPEECH Act also stands for the unanimous affirmation of our Congress that the United States will no longer tolerate the threat of libel tourism to our Constitutional protections, our national security, and our core democratic freedoms.

As the initiator of the SPEECH Act and a broader anti-libel tourism movement in the United States, I believe that the Act also stands for the proposition that the individual is still a powerful and potent force in this world Read more ..

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