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The Philippines on The Edge

Election of Benigno Aquino Sparks Hope in The Philippines

May 24th 2010

Asia Topics - Benigno Aquino

The expected victory of leading candidate Benigno Simeon Cojuangco "Noynoy" Aquino III has raised the hopes and expectations of the people of the Philippines. The people judged him to be the most worthy of trust and the best one able to realize their hopes and most likely to fulfill campaign promises to end corruption and work to end widespread poverty.

His greatest challenge if proclaimed president will be to resist the power, influence and pressure of the vested interests of the powerful dynastic families and foreign corporations and governments that have dominated Philippine politics and the economy for generations. The people have spoken through the new fairly effective electronic voting system that has minimized cheating and brought a swift result.  Read more ..


Israel on the Edge

Will Israel Face a 2012 Apocalypse during the Second Obama Administration?

May 17th 2010

Obama Admin Topics - Obama and flags

Some people believe the Mayan calendar predicts a global catastrophe in 2012. This was the premise of the film 2012, which imagined the earth's temperature rising to the point where much of the planet and its population is destroyed. Israel could face its own apocalypse in 2012 if the political heat continues to rise.

Imagine the following scenario:

In 2012, Obama is narrowly reelected. He is angered by the defection of Jewish voters disenchanted with his Middle East policy. Unfettered by electoral concerns, he is prepared to use his remaining years to consolidate the relationships he has built with Arab states and further reassure the Muslim world of America's friendship.

After delaying their intended 2011 announcement, the Palestinians declare independence and ask the world to recognize Palestine and to force Israel to allow the establishment of its capital in Jerusalem.

Israel protests and says that it will no longer honor its past agreements with the Palestinians. It closes its borders and reasserts the unity of Jerusalem. Read more ..


The Immigration Edge

How Arizona and the US Respond to Immigration May Define the Nation

May 10th 2010

Crime Topics - Border Patrol shakedown

The United States has resorted to fairly extreme state action in order to control undocumented immigrants. This is a long history, with ups and downs. The current phase of strong-state action began in the 1990s with Bill Clinton. But the US is not alone. Some of the most powerful states in the world – Britain, France, Italy - have increasingly reoriented large parts of their state bureaucracy to control, detect, stop, detain, and deport basically vulnerable and powerless migrants. These states have been willing to sacrifice major and minor laws, and more generally the spirit of the law - one of the most valued achievements of collective history in the west. They have sacrificed the civil liberties of their citizenry in order (supposedly) to control foreigners.

In the US, the Patriot Act (2001) authorises the immediate deportation of any alien (both documented and not), without hearings or evidence, if the attorney-general considers him/her possibly dangerous. Moreover, after 2001 the federal government authorised states to pass immigration legislation: by 2007 there were 240 laws and approximately 1,700 bills to this effect, numbers that have increased further since then. Twenty-three states in the US have signed agreements with the federal government to collaborate in arrests. The initiative by the authorities in Arizona to criminalise unauthorised residence (passed by the state’s house of representatives on 13 April 2010, and signed into law on 23 April) should be seen in this context. Read more ..


Edge of Human Rights

Does Plastination of Corpses Stretch the Limits of Human Dignity?

May 3rd 2010

Science - Plastinated Woman and Child

Is it offensive to human dignity to display naked corpses posed like shop-window mannequins?

Human dignity is a motherhood concept, like freedom of speech or the brotherhood of man. It’s great for padding out politicians’ speeches. But what happens when it conflicts with another motherhood concept: autonomy, the ability to make free and independent decisions?

An oft-quoted example of this dilemma is the sport of dwarf-tossing. When a town in France banned it in 2002, one of the dwarfs objected. He was participating freely and being treated as a basketball was his livelihood. What was the problem? The case went all the way to the Conseil d’État, the French counterpart to our High Court. It dismissed the dwarf’s appeal to autonomy. Allowing himself to be used as a mere projectile compromised his dignity, it said. The dwarf then appealed to the UN’s Human Rights and Anti-Discriminational Committee. It also upheld the ban “in order to protect public order and considerations of human dignity.”

Calibrating the balance between autonomy and human dignity is very tricky. So tricky, in fact, that quite a number of well-placed bioethicists have taken to denying the existence of (scare quotes) “human dignity” altogether. A few years ago, for instance, Ruth Macklin was widely applauded by many of her colleagues when she wrote in the British Medical Journal that human dignity was a “useless concept”, compared to autonomy. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

A Wrong Turn in Obama’s Mideast Policy

April 26th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped
Abraham H. Foxman

Nothing illustrates more how off-track the Obama Administration policy has gone as its expressions that a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is critical to winning over Arab support for America’s policy to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. This is a lazy and ultimately futile way of addressing the major challenges facing the United States in the region.

It is reminiscent of the approach to the region in the first months of the Carter Administration in 1976. Then, the U.S. posited the idea that only a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict could contain Soviet influence with the Arabs and protect American oil interests. What resulted from this misguided thinking was severe pressure on Israel and little appreciation for America from the moderate Arabs.

Instead, Anwar Sadat went out on his own to make peace with Israel, foiling the Carter Administration’s plans for a comprehensive peace but actually strengthening American interests.

What moderate Arabs wanted then, and want now despite their rhetoric about Israel, is an America that stands with its allies and is strong in containing radical forces and states that threaten them. During the days of the Cold War the radicals were Syria and Iraq supported by the Soviets. America kept the moderates—Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States—on its side by supporting a victorious Israel in its conflict with the radicals, thereby sending the message to the wavering Arabs that the future lay with America and not the Soviets. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

Does Rubashkin’s Sentence “Serve Justice?”

April 26th 2010

Jewish Topics - Sholom Rubashkin

In our day-to-day lives, it is rare that the words of the Supreme Court touch us personally. While serving as the United States Attorney for the District of Utah, appointed by President Bush, I frequently read, however, the Supreme Court’s message to me:

“The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all, and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor—indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.” Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78 (1935)

These words were and still are sobering. They were a constant reminder of the power to prosecute and the delicacy with which such power should be wielded. I was not to “strike foul” blows but I was to prosecute earnestly and vigorously—never forgetting that while I pursued the guilty, I should be just as aggressive to protect the innocent. Regardless, justice should be done. Read more ..


The Edge of Health Care Reform

Showdown in the States over Health Reform

April 19th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

Now that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has dispensed with colorful metaphors and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has removed her perma-smile, bureaucrats in Washington are busily preparing the necessary channels to begin communicating details of the massive bill to the States. And so a new chapter begins in this epic saga, but one President Obama and his team will not want to read.

As governors begin to sort through the murky details, they’re quickly realizing this albatross is worse than originally feared. Faced with higher taxes for small businesses to support Medicare rates, ballooning Medicaid burdens, mandatory requirements for every denizen, not to mention the fear that many companies will simply jettison their own health plans in lieu of the promise of something better,the wages of this federal sin will only worsen. So much for the Democratic argument that once the bill becomes law, the American people will see the light and be healed!

Less than a week after President Obama signed the bill, he was facing lawsuits from more than a dozen states charged with implementing the new law. On the Thursday after the bill was signed, Georgia Republicans, led by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, called on the state’s Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, to do the right thing and sue the administration for imposing such a massive unfunded mandate on the Peach State.

“In addition to the questionable constitutionality of the bill, the unfunded mandates in the healthcare reform will cripple Georgia’s economic recovery,” said Mr. Cagle. “Unlike Washington, our state constitution requires us to balance the budget each year.” The constitutionality of Health Care Reform revolves around the interpretation of the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause. The Tenth Amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Read more ..


Inside Africa

South Africa Faces More than Soccer Rivalries in Advance of the World Cup

April 12th 2010

Africa Topics - Eugene Terreblanch (S Africa)

Eugene Terreblanche, the white 69 year-old South African most famously known for his racist stance, was killed on April 3 in his bed, in the town of Ventersdorp, 100 miles from the capital, Pretoria. He was the stereotypical Boer: fearless, tough, no-nonsense and convinced of his racial “superiority.” In the Swahili language the word for a white person is “mzungu”, a neutral or even respectful term, but any abusive and arrogant white is known as a “kaburu,” a derivative of “Boer.”

His death, at the hands of two of his black workers, who reportedly called the police and said they had killed him in self-defense in a dispute over their wages, has re-opened old wounds, with soccer’s World Cup championship just two months away. Black farm-workers can expect to get paid less than $40 a month, which creates fertile ground for seething discontent. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Why Christians Support Israel

April 5th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

“Israel is not just necessary to the return of Christ, it is essential to it.” So says Reverend A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in New York City.

His sentiments are shared by millions of Christians around the world, who steadfastly believe that a Jewish state is necessary for the Second Coming of Jesus. Their fervent support for Israel is buoyed by Old Testament passages that anoint Israel to the Jewish people, refer to the Jews as God's “chosen people” and promise that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).

Other Christians support Israel out of a sense of spiritual debt to the Jews, noting that the majority of the Bible was written in Hebrew and ordained by God to the Jews. It is through this original covenant between God and His “chosen people,” that gentiles are able to come to God. Paul speaks of this spiritual debt and instructs us to assist the Jews (Romans 15:27).

Other Christians have more secular reasons for supporting Israel. They believe that a united Jewish state represents the best hope of preserving the Holy Land and curbing the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East.

Whether religious or secular in nature, a deep support for Israel resonates with millions of Christians. Undeterred by the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the widespread hostility toward Christians in the Middle East, throngs of Christians immigrate each year to the Holy Land. Indeed, Israel is the only state in the Middle East where the Christian population is actually growing. Read more ..


The Edge of Economic Recovery

Time to Stop Lying to Ourselves

March 29th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker, CURE
Star Parker

Citigroup, one the world's largest banks, was bailed out with some $45 billion of U.S. taxpayer funds and we taxpayers—you and I—still own a little over one quarter of the company. Do you recall making this investment? I don't.

Nevertheless, in testimony before a panel appointed by Congress to oversee management of the $700 billion TARP fund which financed the Citigroup bailout, the bank's CEO, Vikram Pandit, thanked all of us. “I want to thank our Government for providing Citi with TARP funds... Citi owes a large debt of gratitude to American taxpayers.” The rest of Pandit's testimony amounted to genuflecting before his government welfare officers and endorsing sweeping new government regulation of the financial services industry that Democrats in the House and Senate are championing. “I strongly believe that consumer protection can and should be strengthened at the federal regulatory level,” testified Pandit.

The $700 billion TARP fund used to bail out Citigroup, along with others, was a check written on American taxpayers that Congress gave then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to spend however he wanted. At the center of the financial collapse that brought down these banks was the illusion of infinitely rising housing prices fueled by trillions of dollars of free flowing credit, artificially cheap because it was backed by us taxpayers through FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

In other words, the heart of our crisis can be explained by Margaret Thatcher's famous summary of the problem with socialism: sooner or later you run out of other people's money. Of course we need protection. But American consumers are also American taxpayers and it's American citizens and taxpayers that need to be protected from their government. The tea party grassroots revolt that has sprouted across our country is a basic expression of recognition that we have lost control of our own government and that if we are going to be a free and prosperous people, this can't go on. Read more ..


The Armenian Genocide

Was Political Mess Over Armenian Genocide Measure Avoidable?

March 22nd 2010

History-Genocide - Armenian Victims

Did a lack of decisiveness at the White House result in a missed opportunity to end the near-regular Congressional charade of judging the horrific events in Eastern Anatolia of nearly 100 years ago?

Not surprisingly, the recent passage of the resolution labeling as genocide the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by a panel in the House of Representatives caused Turks across the political spectrum to express their outrage. The Foreign Ministry recalled envoy Namik Tan for consultations, less than two weeks after he arrived in Washington as the new ambassador. A senior ministry official predicted that any hope of near-term progress on the Turkey-Armenia Protocols, a bold attempt to by the two governments to resolve contentious bilateral and regional issues, was gone. “So much for the new era of US appreciation for the sensitivities and cultural nuances of America's allies,” a Wall Street Journal editorial quipped. Read more ..


Brazil on the Edge

Black Mark for Brazil: Yanomami, Genocide, and Malaria

March 15th 2010

Latin American Topics - Brazilian Indian
Yanomami Indian

The Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon have been decimated in the last 20 years by an incursion of prospect-miners (garimpeiros) who brought diseases (especially malaria) and other maladies to their hitherto relatively isolated communities. Here we follow the history of the garimpeiros incursion  examining the current  trying situation and make urgent policy suggestions.

Who are the Yanomami?

The Yanomami live in an area of approximately 192,000 km² spanning both sides of the Brazil-Venezuela border. Their land varies in ecological biomes from lowland tropical rainforest in both the Orinoco and Amazon River drainages to mountainous highlands. The Yanomami numbered approximately 29,000 in 2005 with about 14,000 living within Brazil. They are dispersed throughout this region and live at low population densities.

This research essay primarily concerns the Yanomami who live on the Brazilian side of the border who are being seen as the most affected by both garimpagem (prospecting) intruding on their native lands and malaria epidemics.

Likewise, this situation, is even being termed as a genocide due to the inexcusable behavior of a number of Brazilian government officials who both lent support to the garimpeiros and knowingly adjusted to the spread of disease in order to wreak havoc on the Yanomami people (particularly due to the exposure of the tribe to malaria, against which they did not have immunity).  During the height of the gold rush from 1987 to 1999, it is estimated that the malaria epidemic, combined with the armed battles against garimpeiros, shockingly led to the loss of thirteen percent of the Yanomami population living in the region. Read more ..


The Armenian Genocide

The Betrayal of Souls and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide

March 8th 2010

History-Genocide - Armenians Hanged
Ottoman soldiers and mass hangings of Armenians
Credit: James Nazer

In the book The Guilt of Nations, Elazar Barkan wrote, “For a ‘new’ history to become more than a partisan ‘extremist’ story, the narrative often has to persuade not only the members of the group that will ‘benefit’ from the new interpretation but also their ‘others,’ those whose own history will presumably be ‘diminished,’ or tainted by the new stories.” Clearly Turkey’s reaction to the vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Armenian Genocide resolution shows that Turkey remains unpersuaded by its own guilt. This is painful to continue to witness.

Nearly a hundred years after the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish forces during World War One, Turkey, an otherwise moderate country, continues to deny what eyewitness accounts prove to be an undeniable fact. Turkey’s reaction in recalling its Ambassador to the United States is both heavy-handed and a touch of “thou protesth too much.”

In recent efforts to defeat similar resolutions, Turkey has enlisted the help of high-paid Washington lobbyists to cajole, persuade, and arm twist individual Members of Congress to make it impossible to pass the resolution recognizing this genocide. Threats of dire consequences to US-Turkish relations ensued, with cynical accusations of damaging the relationship over a resolution recognizing what the world already knew to be true. March 4th’s Turkish reaction is no different. Read more ..


Inside American Medicine

Doping our Youth

March 1st 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

It is increasingly—and horrifyingly—commonplace in California to treat children diagnosed with deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, with marijuana. California voters passed a law allowing doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, including those under the age of 18. The law allows doctors to recommend marijuana “for any... illness for which marijuana provides relief.” Under that broad umbrella, doctors are pushing pot to treat all kinds of maladies, including ADHD. Truly, this is horrifying.

ADHD is described as a neurological disorder that prevents children from focusing on a specific task. In essence, people with ADHD have difficulty with self-regulation and self-motivation, due to problems with distractibility, organization, and prioritization. Notably, these are the same functions that are most impaired by marijuana use.

Pot actually exacerbates problems with attention, memory and concentration that a treatment for ADHD should alleviate. That's why Stephen Hinshaw, Chairman of the Psychology Department at the University of California, Berkeley, called prescribing marijuana to treat ADHD “one of the worst ideas of all time.”

At very least, using marijuana to treat adolescents with ADHD is wildly irresponsible. First of all, the FDA has never conducted an approval process on marijuana and few institutions are willing to fund studies to show the effects of using marijuana as a remedy for ADHD.

Consequently, there are no reliable studies to show how the drug may affect ADHD. That means that all of the so-called evidence in support of prescribing marijuana to children is anecdotal; it is based completely on self-selecting and self-reporting. In other words, there is no reliable scientific basis for drugging these children into complacency. Nonetheless, doctors, school counselors, and misinformed parents are increasingly pushing marijuana to kids. Read more ..


Edge of Mideast Politics

Beyond Bogus: “International Opinion”

February 22nd 2010

UN Topics - Human Rights Council Meeting
UN Human Rights Council

In recent days, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren was heckled relentlessly and interrupted vociferously by members of University of California at Irvine's Muslim Student Union. Such negation of civility, discourse and decorum, which was noisily and gleefully celebrated by still other members of this group, is often defended by solemn-sounding references to United Nations resolutions.

This case was no exception. In a subsequent statement, the Muslim Student Union said it opposed having university departments sponsor a speaker representing a country that “is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined”—which is, in fact, the case. Those who use this type of argument rely on the halo effect of the United Nations, which is held, implicitly or explicitly, to embody “international opinion,” a term that can be invoked with reverential awe to dignify a bad, dishonest argument. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Winners and Losers from the "Mass-acre"

February 15th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

The dust is still settling from the fallout of the special election in Massachusetts to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The rejection of socialism, high taxes, and government restrictions on personal health care choices all became self-evident with Scott Brown's stunning upset. It was the shot heard around the political world.

History reminds us that Massachusetts was the cradle of the American Revolution. It began with high taxes and restrictions on civil liberties imposed by the British Crown. The people of the Bay State refused to succumb to a new despot's higher taxes and restrictions on freedom. Just as Massachusetts paved the way for the American Revolution, it now has set the stage for the national rejection of President Obama's hidden yet radical agenda.

Today, Democrats remain precariously perched along a political fault line that threatens to swallow more of its members if they fail to heed the call and will of the people. The special election produced far more winners and losers than the victor, Scott Brown, and the vanquished, Martha Coakley. To understand what both parties can expect in the coming weeks and months, it's important to take a look at some other winners and losers who emerged from the outcome.

The Winners

Pete Sessions: The chairman of the campaign arm for House Republicans will reap the political spoils of Senator-elect Brown's victory. With more than a 70-seat disadvantage, Republicans in the House face an uphill challenge; so large that many potential Republican contenders felt their time and effort would be better spent in 2012 or beyond. No more. Last week's victory put once-believed safe Democratic seats in play all across the land. That will help Mr. Sessions in two critical ways: he can expect more retirements from old bull Democrats too tired or bored to remain in office; and Mr. Sessions will cultivate some high caliber recruits to take on those Democratsbrave (or foolish) enough to stay in the fight come November. Read more ..


The Edge of Economic Recovery

Environmental Red Tape Cancels out Green Jobs

February 8th 2010

Economy - Green Jobs

In the midst of a recession, costly environmental legislation is not an easy sell. For that reason, the Obama Administration and congressional proponents of an aggressive environmental agenda have tried to recast their policies as a boost to--rather than a drain on--the economy. From the stimulus package to pending global warming legislation to the Senate's upcoming jobs bill, the latest mantra is green jobs--employment to be created by imposing various environmental measures.

But the reality is that these efforts increase federal spending and exert new government control over the private sector. They are thus more likely to harm the economy and reduce the prospects for net job growth. Genuine job creation can be achieved not through more environmental red tape but less--in particular by allowing more domestic energy production.

What Is a Green Job?

Generally, jobs related to renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, battery-powered or other alternatively fueled vehicles, and public transportation comprise most of what are currently considered green jobs. But there is no clear definition of a green job.

For example, proponents of green jobs are split over whether jobs in the nuclear industry--which generates electricity with virtually no air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions but generates nuclear waste--should count as green jobs.

Generally, jobs related to renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, battery-powered or other alternatively fueled vehicles, and public transportation comprise most of what are currently considered green jobs. But there is no clear definition of a green job. Read more ..


China on the Edge

Ten Myths About China for the New Decade

February 1st 2010

Asia Topics - Chinese soldier at Tienamen Square

China's economic growth has been accompanied by growing misinformation about its economy. Contrary to conventional wisdom, China is not leading the world out of a recession, is no longer moving toward a market economy, is not America's banker, and may never surpass the U.S. The Chinese economy may still be growing rapidly despite the financial crisis. One thing that has been growing even faster is misinformation about the Chinese economy. This is partly a function of unreliable economic numbers put out by China's government, but it is also partly a function of mistaken American and other perceptions. Hidden within the sweeping pronouncements of "China's decade" and "China's century" are important, specific points--some of which turn out to be demonstrably wrong. Read more ..


The Hell of Haiti

How One Man's Rant Spread Globally

January 25th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped
ADL national director Abraham Foxman

In today’s hyper-connected world, one individual’s extremist rant on the Internet can quickly become fodder for a newspaper headline halfway around the world.

 This was the case when a Seattle man posted an incoherent tirade on YouTube, making the preposterous allegation that the much-lauded Israel Defense Forces mobile hospital unit in Haiti might be involved in stealing organs for profit. 

Identifying himself as “T. West" of "AfriSynergy Productions,” he declared: “People have to be aware of personalities who are out for money.  The IDF has participated in the past in steal [sic] organ transplants of Palestinians and others.”

 Several anti-Israel Web sites and Middle East news sources immediately picked up on and reported as credible the allegations made by “T. West” that Israel may be involved in stealing organs from earthquake victims.  “Israel Harvesting Organs in Haiti?” asked a banner headline on the Web site of Press TV, a state-funded Iranian news channel. The answer was readily provided in the adjacent article, quoting directly from the “T. West” tirade.

Similar articles appeared on other anti-Israel Web sites in the Middle East, including that of Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, an armed wing of the terrorist group Hamas.  In the United States, Alex Jones, an American anti-Israel conspiracy theorist, picked up on the “story” and reported it as fact.

All of these reports cited the YouTube video from “T. West” in Seattle as their source.

How does such an outrageous accusation, made by someone virtually unknown ostensibly sitting in his living room with no information other than what he has read on the Internet and seen on television, get broadcast around the world in nano-seconds as the truth? Read more ..


The Hell of Haiti

Brazil's Burden in Haiti

January 18th 2010

Latin American Topics - Brazilian Peacekeepers
Brazilian peacekeepers

After a promising beginning that included, among other accomplishments, being the second country in the Americas to achieve independence and the first and only to do so after a slave revolt, Haiti’s prospects soured so precipitously that by the end of the millennium it was being dubbed the failed state of the Western Hemisphere.

Thus, one can hardly imagine a country that, even with the support of the international community, would take longer to bounce back from the catastrophic earthquake just witnessed on the island. If in the past, Haiti has almost chronically relied on foreign aid and debt relief, the devastating ramifications of this natural disaster will demonstrably increase this dependency. Brazil, which in recent years has maintained a strong presence in Haiti, might prove to be a favored source of such aid.

For the past two decades, Brazil has been working to expand its voice in the hemisphere. Thus, it was only natural that when the United Nations decided to replace its decade-long stretch of failed Haitian initiatives with a newly formed stabilization mission, Brasilia seized the opportunity. Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

The Fort Hood Massacre: The Price for Political Correctness

January 11th 2010

Terrorism - Fort Hood

The massacre at Fort Hood intensified the ongoing debate about the role that Islamic extremism played in such crimes. Some pundits and politicians seem to spare no pain in arguing that there were no ideological motives behind the actions of Major Nidal Hassan, the executioner of Fort Hood. They all volunteer to find an apolitical excuse for this hideous transgression. The strangest of all ought to be the claim that the major had contracted Post-traumatic Stress Disorder from treating soldiers returning from the Wars of Iraq and Afghanistan!

The records show that the Fort Hood incident was made possible by a Political Correctness going awry. Although the signals coming from the murderer were clearly suspicious and worthy of investigating, his religious affiliation appears to have prevented his superiors from questioning his political beliefs. While being in the US army exposes every officer to deep scrutiny, in the Major’s case one easily wonders how his open ranting and his communications with known extremists failed to raise any suspicions.

Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Replace Janet Napolitano—Now

January 4th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker

Last March, our newly installed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained, in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, her vision for fighting what was formerly known as terrorism.

By calling these now “man caused disasters”, she explained, we’d “move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”

“Our policies will be guided by authoritative information. We also have assets at our disposal now that we did not have prior to 9/11.  For example, we are much better able to keep track of travelers coming into the U.S. than we were before.  The third thing is to work with our international partners and allies to make sure that we are getting information and sharing information in an appropriate and real-time fashion.”

Yikes.

Putting Ms. Napolitano in charge of a department of 200,000 people and a $50 billion budget with a stated mission to “lead the unified national effort to secure the country and preserve our freedoms” was a “man caused disaster.”  And it is one that President Obama should fix – pronto.

His number one priority to restore credibility in his administration’s ability to protect Americans from terrorism should be replacement of Napolitano. Read more ..


Inside Washington

The Saudis Take a Stroll on J Street

December 28th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Lenny Davis
Lenny Ben-David

Talk about a tough sale. Imagine being Saudi Arabia’s public relations firm in the United States in the months after the 9/11 attacks, which were perpetrated by 19 terrorists, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. Shilling for a tarnished Saudi Arabia was the daunting task that faced Qorvis, a Washington-based PR company. The $14 million contract surely compensated.

In their 2002 contract, Qorvis promised to “draft and/or distribute talking points, press releases, fact sheets, and op-ed pieces in order to promote the [Saudi] Kingdom, its commitment to the war against terrorism, peace in the Middle East, and other issues pertinent to the Kingdom.”

Soon thereafter, a new organization appeared on the American scene, the “Alliance of Peace and Justice in the Middle East.” In April 2002, the organization ran radio spots on dozens of stations across the U.S. extolling the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by then-Crown Prince Abdullah and attacking Israel’s settlements.

According to one ad: “The [Saudis’] fair plan [would] end the senseless violence in the Mideast.” The plan involved Israel’s “withdrawal from the Palestinian land it has unjustly occupied for years. … There will be no more midnight raids and random searches, no more violence.” “Start the peace — end the occupation” is the phrase that ends the ads. It is followed by the words “paid for by the Alliance of Peace and Justice.”

Who was behind the alliance? One American Jewish activist tracked them back to a Virginia address, which just happened to be the offices of Qorvis. Read more ..


Inside Islam

Where Is the OIC When Mosques Are Attacked?

December 21st 2009

Terrorism - Pakistani Taliban

According to the Associated Press, Jihadi terrorists "stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi, killing at least 36 worshippers, including six military officers, during Friday prayers as they sprayed gunfire and threw grenades before blowing themselves up," Pakistani officials said. A military statement said four attackers hurled grenades and then opened fire as they rushed toward the mosque, located on Parade Lane in a military residential colony, just a few miles from the capital. Two Jihadists then blew themselves up inside, while the other two terrorists were killed in an exchange of gunfire.  Seventeen children and 10 civilians were killed. The dead included a major general, a brigadier, two lieutenant colonels, one major and a retired major as well as three regular soldiers, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said.

Witnesses said two of the militants entered the mosque, which had up to 200 worshippers inside, while others ran into buildings nearby. Read more ..


The Afghan War

Taliban's Counter Strategy is Based on US Declared Strategy

December 14th 2009

Afghan Topics - Afghani Taliban
Afghan Taliban

Now that we know the administration's new strategy for Afghanistan, what is the Taliban strategy against the United States?

Such a question is warranted to be able to project the clash between the two strategies and assess the accuracy of present U.S. policies in the confrontation with the forces it is fighting against in that part of the world.

So, how would the Taliban/al-Qaida war room counter NATO and the Afghan Government based on the Obama Administration's battle plan?

Strategic Perceptions

The Jihadi war room is now aware that the administration has narrowed its scope to defeat the so-called al-Qaida organization while limiting its goal to depriving the Taliban from achieving full victory, i.e. depriving them “from the momentum.” In strategic wording this means that the administration won't give the time and the means, let alone the necessary long term commitment to fully defeat the Taliban as a militia and militant network.

The jihadist strategists now understand that Washington's advisers still recommend talking to the Taliban, the entire Taliban, but only after the latter would feel weak and pushed back enough to seek such talks. Underneath this perception, the Salafi Islamists' analysts realize that present American analysis concludes that al-Qaida and the Taliban are two different things, and that it is possible to defeat the first and eventually engage the second. Read more ..


Media on the Edge

Israeli Organ Harvesting: The New Blood Libel

December 7th 2009

Jewish Topics - AntiSemitism Protest

 Mark Van Doren wrote in Liberal Education in 1943, “Respect for the truth is an acquired taste.” When it comes to anti-Semitism, there is little respect for the truth and taste is never something that has been acquired by its practitioners. These notions have become alarmingly true with the anti-Semitic canard circling the world today, the fiction of Israeli organ harvesting.

On August 17, 2009, Aftonbladet, the Swedish daily newspaper, published a story, alleging that a campaign began in 1992 to harvest organs of Palestinians because of a severe shortage of available organs for transplant in Israel. “While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza,” wrote Donald Bostrom. “After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open. Read more ..


Detroit's Bailout

The General Motors Bankruptcy and Bailout Scam Must be Investigated—But by Whom?

November 30th 2009

Economy - GM Towers

With the recent announcement that Koenigsegg Group has terminated its agreement to buy Saab from GM, that makes at least three GM units that were supposed to be sold that have not been: Penske's deal to buy Saturn didn't go through; the deal to sell Opel (with maybe Vauxhall included) collapsed and now the German government is threatening (at least commercial) war; and now the Saab news. Who knows what will really happen with Hummer and the Chinese; there's no reason to believe that that will continue. You may recall that the carmaker's bailout was contingent on GM successfully unloading these brands.

So here's the problem: General Motors took billions of dollars from the American people to stave off disintegration. By doing so, GM was virtually paid, again, for many of the vehicles that were already bought and paid for over the years. The company split into two: one with all the ostensibly positive assets, and the other with all the negative assets along with the creditors and shareholders. Company A, the company with the “positive” assets would move ahead producing such family favorites as a new Buick Regal, while the company with all the negative assets, debts and shareholders would be left out in the cold. And in between, those brands that were expendable (Saturn, Opel, Vauxhall, Saab and Hummer) would be sold off to outside suckers to the benefit of Company A. Read more ..


The Ft. Hood Massacre

Death by Political Correctness

November 23rd 2009

Military - Ft Hood Shutdown Poster

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is now conscious and being nursed back to health by hospital staff, just days after opening fire on crowds of unarmed American soldiers at the Fort Hood Readiness Center. Hasan reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar!"—a phrase meaning "God is great!"—before discharging 100 bullets at some 300 unarmed American soldiers who had gathered for pre-deployment processing. By the time his rampage ended, Hasan had massacred 13 servicemen and women, and injured 30.

In all likelihood, this tragedy would have been avoided if political correctness hadn't led military and government officials to turn a blind eye to clear signs that Hassan had become an Islamist extremist. As far back as a year ago, at least three government agencies—the Army, the Department of Defense, and the FBI—learned that Hasan had sent 10 to 20 e-mails to al Qaeda propagandist, Anwar Aulaqi. Aulaqui is the radical imam from Virginia who had ties to several of the 9/11 hijackers. In those 2008 correspondences with Aulaqui, Hasan sought advice about how to reconcile his membership in the armed forces with his increasingly radical beliefs. Read more ..


Arab World Democracy

One Wall Falls, Another Rises

November 16th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Walid Phares new
Walid Phares

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was a benchmark that made an impression on me, as it did on millions of people around the world. The sight of thousands of East Germans pouring into West Berlin, particularly the youths who had never experienced freedom before, was a surreal scene not only for the people of Europe, but also for those of us born in the Middle East.Westerners looked with shock at the peoples of East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union surging against totalitarianism. Central Europeans stared with awe at the countries who never surrendered their liberties to Communism. Soviet propaganda told Western Europe for many years that the comrades on the other side of the Iron Curtain were happy with their status and wanted nothing to do with the West and its "bourgeois" freedoms.

During those November days twenty years ago, the free world learned that behind the wall of shame, people wanted nothing more than freedom. The apologist machine lied for decades. The Soviet peoples were similarly indoctrinated by the Marxist version of madrassas to believe that America and NATO were at war with the proletariat and were plotting to destroy the great achievements of Stalin and his successors. None of that was real, and the long-fooled citizens on both sides of the separation line came together to celebrate freedom.

The day when the Wall came down in Berlin, I and many other advocates for liberty in the greater Middle East hoped to see the wave of liberation hit our shores too. The region's peoples had been suffering from totalitarianism fully as much as the Soviet bloc's nations throughout the twentieth century. But unlike the luckier societies rising to freedom in Europe, the populations south and east of the Mediterranean had been oppressed nonstop for centuries and ignored by the international community during the Cold War. Read more ..


Health Care Reform

Caveat Emptor for Those Considering "the Public Option"

November 9th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid capitulated to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and proposed health care reform legislation with a public option for Senate vote. Aside from the paradigm shift from a private sector medical system to a government run and controlled medical system, the public option will inevitably lead to higher medical costs, lower quality health care and ultimately health care rationing. It also is the gateway to single payer government-run health care because ultimately regulated private insurance companies cannot compete against subsidized government health care.

It is instructive to follow the inevitable chain of events that will lead to inferior single-payer government health care using simple economic analysis. The operating political assumption behind this analysis is that Congress and the political class will always redistribute health care costs from younger, more affluent and healthier voters to older, less affluent and less healthy voters to the extent that the latter class of voters has the voting strength to keep them in power.

A public health insurance company will always have lower initial costs than a private insurance company. Its lower costs will not be set by the market forces but by government regulations requiring health care providers to accept lower reimbursement rates. Government reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other medical providers will be set below the rates charged to private insurance companies. The empirical evidence for this result is the present reimbursement rate paid by Medicare. Medicare reimbursement is approximately 80 percent of that paid by private insurers. It sets low reimbursement rates for two reasons. It has the market power of being potentially the largest health care insurance company. It has the force of the law behind it. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Have Russia and Iran Checkmated Obama?

November 2nd 2009

Russian Topics - Putin Iran

President Obama’s decision to abandon the plan to deploy a missile defense system in Europe shocked many analysts in the United States as well as our eastern European allies who were counting on the shield to protect them from the threat of Russian missiles. Perhaps the only one who was not surprised was the political chess grandmaster Vladimir Putin.

I did not understand the game that Putin was playing until a chance meeting two years ago with an Israeli who had just returned from a meeting at the Kremlin. At the time, the United States and its European allies were pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran at the United Nations and the Russians, as they had up to that point, refused to go along and threatened to veto any Security Council resolution that would have any teeth. The Russians were also in the process of completing construction of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, which further undermined the campaign to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Read more ..


The United Nations

Israel and the UN Kangaroo Court

October 26th 2009

UN Topics - UN Human Rights Council
Human Rights Council

Last week’s consideration of the one-sided Goldstone Report has once again shown the fecklessness and bias of the Human Rights Council. Israel’s indictment by that body should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the UN. Israel simply cannot receive a fair hearing for any accusations placed against it there. As such, the Human Rights Council, and to be more accurate, the entire UN system is rigged against Israel making the process a kangaroo court.

In June 2008, while decrying the US refusal to continue its engagement with the Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, could not avoid pointing out these important facts about the Council explaining, “In its first two years, however, the Human Rights Council has failed to address more than 20 human rights situations that require its attention, eliminated human rights monitoring in places desperately in need of such scrutiny, and adopted a long stream of one-sided resolutions on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories which failed to consider the roles and responsibilities of the Palestinian authorities and armed groups.”
Moreover, according to the Democracy Coalition Project study, “Human Rights Council Report Card, 2007-2008,” while “the Council considered numerous country situations throughout the year, it acted only on a few. It failed to effectively address several unfolding human rights crises, such as Zimbabwe and Tibet, or speak forcefully on ongoing situations as urgent as Darfur. The Council discontinued the mandates on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Group of Experts on Darfur, two areas of the world where gross and systematic human rights violations continue to take place.”

Since its inception, the Council has held 12 Special Sessions, with six directed at Israel. This sounds frighteningly familiar to the Council’s predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission. Between 2001 and when it was disbanded in 2006, the UN Human Rights Commission passed 26 resolutions and one decision that were critical of Israel. The situations in North Korea, Burma, and Sudan warranted a combined total of 11 resolutions and decisions during the same period. Read more ..


Inside Islam

The Life and Death of the Last Sultan

October 19th 2009

Islamic Topics - Prince Osman Ertugrul
Ertugrul Osman

The reaction in Turkey to the recent death of Ertugrul Osman, heir to the Ottoman throne and successor to the last Caliph, could not be more shocking. Islamists in kaftans and long beards recently gathered in Istanbul to bury the titular head of the world Muslim community, a scotch-drinking, classical music-listening Western Turk who until recently lived on New York City's Upper East Side.

The Islamists' embrace of Osman, a descendant of the westernized Ottoman sultans, provides a periscope into the Islamist mind: Islamism is not about religion or reality. Rather it is a myth and a subversion of reality intended to promote Islamism, a utopian ideology. Osman, raised by a line of West-leaning caliphs and sultans, loved Ataturk's Turkey, yet the Islamists abused his funeral and the memory of the caliphate, changing it into a symbol for their anti-Western, anti-secular and anti-liberal agenda.

Were Ertugrul Osman alive and were the Ottomans around today, he would be Sultan Osman V and no doubt, he would be going after the fundamentalists who abused his funeral in an attempt to distort his legacy.

Despite what the Islamists want the world to believe, the Ottoman caliphate was not anti-Western. The Ottoman Empire always interacted with the West -- an interaction that goes all the way back to 16th-century Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, who envisioned himself as the Holy Roman emperor. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ottoman sultans and caliphs embarked on a program of intense reforms to remake the Ottoman Empire in the Western image to match up with European powers. To this end, the caliphs launched institutions of secular education, and paved the way for women's emancipation by enrolling them in those schools. By the beginning of the 19th century, the sultans and caliphs of the Ottoman Empire embodied Western life and Western values. The last caliph, Abdulmecid Efendi, considered the Ottoman state a Western power with a Western destiny. An enlightened man and avid artist, the caliph's sought-after paintings, including nudes, are on exhibition at various museums, such as Istanbul's new museum of Modern Art.

It is therefore wrong to represent the Ottoman Empire as the antithesis to the secular republic Ataturk founded in 1923. True, when Ataturk turned Turkey into a secular republic in 1923 by abolishing the Ottoman state and the caliphate, Ataturk did not eradicate the sultan-caliphs' legacy. Rather, he fulfilled their dream of making Turkey a full-fledged Western society. Ataturk's reforms are a continuation of the late Ottoman Empire -- he merely pursued Ottoman reforms to their logical conclusion. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Does a Nobel Prize to Obama Pull the Plug on Democracy as a World Goal?

October 12th 2009

Presidential - Barack Obama

As soon as the Oslo committee issued its Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, an expected debate raged in America about the legitimacy of such a move so very early in a U.S. presidential term.

Soon, supporters of the "new direction" in U.S. foreign policy as well as academics will frame Obama's Nobel as a consolidation of a new world order, while the media outburst following the granting declaration will be forgotten. Hence, bypassing the noise of did-he-earn-it-or-not deliberations, let's ask: What is the strategy behind the decision to grant this particular trophy to the sitting American president?

To answer this, we simply can connect the dots between the statements made by the grantor and the grantee. Naturally every American must be proud, and many people around the world are happy for such a decision to honor the White House, although some U.S. leaders wished the committee had granted past presidents such as Bill Clinton for his gigantic efforts in worldwide humanitarian assistance.

The alternative choices are arguable, but this particular gesture isn’t about past achievements, as the committee and the recipient have concurred. It is about supporting a specific policy, which has been enunciated firmly during 2009 and is now being grounded in layers of moral recognition. This honored policy is to ensure that there will be no more American intervention overseas to provoke democratic change, let alone revolutions, particularly in the so-called “Muslim world.” Read more ..


Confronting the Transfer Agreement

The Transfer Agreement: A 25-year Holocaust Odyessy

October 5th 2009

Book Covers - The Transfer Agreement

During the first months of the Hitler regime, in 1933, leaders of the Zionist movement concluded a controversial pact with the Third Reich which, in its various forms, transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million—almost $1.7 billion in 2009 dollars—to Jewish Palestine. In return, Zionists would halt the worldwide Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott that threatened to topple the Hitler regime in its first year. Ultimately, the Transfer Agreement saved lives, rescued assets, and seeded the infrastructure of the Jewish State to be.

Fiery debates instantly ignited throughout the pre-War Jewish world as rumors of the pact leaked out. That acrimony was rekindled in 1984 with the original publication of my book The Transfer Agreement—and has never stopped. Why?

Simply put, The Transfer Agreement came out a decade ahead of its time. When the book first appeared, in 1984, the world was still preoccupied with the enormity of Nazi genocide. The world’s emphasis was on the murderous events of the war years. Organized remembrance was collectively fighting an anti-Semitic revisionist movement that was trying to deny or minimize the Holocaust with rabid pseudo-history. Few had spoken of the financial aspects of the Holocaust until I did. Few had publicly ever used the words “Zionist” and “Nazi” in the same sentence until I did.

For perspective, consider that the very first television attempt to treat the Holocaust was a TV series called “The Holocaust,” which aired in 1978—the same year neo-Nazis marched through Skokie. That was the year, 1978, I began researching The Transfer Agreement. At the time, the Second Generation movement of children of Holocaust survivors was just forming. The First World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors was only in the planning stage. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which received its charter in 1980, was several years and many controversies away from opening. Organized Holocaust education was essentially nonexistent. For society and for survivors, the dominant priority was coming to grips with the genocide—not the assets.

What has changed in 25 years? Read more ..


The Threat from Iran

The New Nazis

September 28th 2009

Terrorism - Hezbollah Nazi Salute

The touchstone for evil in history is clearly the Nazis. Today, there is a new touchstone:  Iran. While some fear making such a comparison, doing so today is not outlandish. It is simply common sense. The Mullahs in Iran are the new Nazis.

Once again, Iran’s President—fraudulently elected as he was—put himself on exhibit at the UN for all to see, and of course for all to see what he represents. Seeing him in action should leave no one in doubt of this comparison. What should be surprising is that our leaders and those of our allies know these facts all too well and say history cannot and does not repeat itself. Well, it doesn’t take a Ouija Board or a crystal ball to divine the mysteries of Iran’s actions. They make that clear every day. They make war on the West through terrorism, preach the destruction of the Jews, arm themselves with missiles and the nuclear weapons to empower them.

Iran has rigged its own Presidential election and then used snipers from rooftops and terrorists on motorcycles to put down the brave protestors who dared to challenge that fraudulent outcome. It is Iran, of course, that races to gain nuclear status pleading innocence along the way while denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel’s destruction. It is also Iran that kidnaps Americans, funds attacks against American troops in Iraq, promotes Hezbollah and Hamas against Israelis, Lebanese, and Palestinians daring to oppose them, and befriends our enemies around the world, such as Cuba’s Castros, Venezuela’s Chavez, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, among others. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

ObamaCare Prepares for Marijuana Cigarette Distribution

September 21st 2009

Social Topics - toking up

George Soros must be thrilled. Sixteen years after Soros began his advocacy for drug legalization and promoting "medical marijuana," the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is venturing into the distribution and production of marijuana cigarettes. According to an August solicitation for proposals, the selected organizations will be controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and will have to comply with FDA regulations. Proposals in response to bid N01DA-10-7773 are due in to a Bethesda contracting office by October 9, 2009.

Until the early 1990s, the voices to legalize drugs in the United States were not in sync. This changed with Soros's first foray into U.S. domestic politics in 1992-1993. Soros declared: "The war on drugs is doing more harm to our society than drug abuse itself," and proceeded with his checkbook advocacy through his Open Society Institute (OSI) to give some $15 million to establish and fund several pro-drug legalization organizations. Since then, he and his like-minded friends have poured many millions into different programs aimed at drug legalization.

Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Death Tax and an Emerging Class of “Survivors”

September 14th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

While the Washington press corps has been fixated on the latest developments surrounding President Obama’s trillion dollar co-pay in the guise of health reform, followed by backyard beer swilling, IRS bean counters quietly have gone about their business.

Their mission? Find a way to pay for the massive zeroes this administration continues to add at the end of the government’s mounting debt.  In what some privately likened to an ancient an archaeological find teeming with treasure, revenue agents discovered a potential $80 million golden pot of money – at the home of Michael Jackson.

That’s what the Feds stand to collect if they enforce a massively onerous and confiscatory tax on the King of Pop’s estate, affectionately referred to as the death tax. And you can bet they’re coming to a neighborhood near you.

Until President Bush’s tax reforms of 2001 that lowered the levy to 45 percent, the death tax in America ranked second only to Japan as the highest in the world – stifling enterprise in subtle yet noticeable ways.

The Obama Administration, however, has no plans to keep the Bush reductions in effect.  They have too many bills to pay to surrender the approximately $60 billion in revenue the tax generates each year.

But what the Left fails to recognize is that by keeping the tax in place (or worse, allowing it to return to pre-Bush levels), they are planting the federal boot on the necks of an emerging class of survivors from this economic crisis. Read more ..


Kicking our Oil Addiction

Saudis Believe Energy Independence is Nonsense -- But Why Must America Agree?

September 7th 2009

Arab Topics - Faisal
Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, former ambassador to the United States, has a suggestion for America: drop this nonsense called energy independence. In a strongly-worded essay in Foreign Policy magazine, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of Edwin Drake’s discovery of oil in the United States, Turki lambastes American politicians for invoking energy independence, which “is now as essential as baby-kissing,” accusing them of “demagoguery.” For him, energy independence is “political posturing at its worst—a concept that is unrealistic, misguided, and ultimately harmful to energy-producing and consuming countries alike.” “Like it or not,” Turki concludes, “the fates of the United States and Saudi Arabia are connected and will remain so for decades to come.” (See a video clip here.)

We’ve heard these lines before each time the United States made progress toward lessening its dependence on oil. In February, for example, Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, warned of a “nightmare scenario” if consuming countries made progress in the development of alternative fuels. A decade ago, his predecessor, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, called technology “the real enemy for OPEC.” This is understandable. After all, no pusher wants to see his client circling around a rehab clinic. For Saudi Arabia, a world where oil plays a marginal role is the nightmarish materialization of the Saudi saying, “My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flies a jet plane, his son will ride a camel.”

More troubling is the parade of prominent Americans who deride the notion of energy independence, viewing it as jingoistic, unsophisticated, naive and misleading. One cannot doubt the patriotism of former CIA director John Deutch, who said “energy independence is not a constructive idea,” or former secretary of defense and energy James Schlesinger, who called it a “forlorn hope,” or Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Yergin who referred to it as “pipe dream,” or Andy Grove, former chairman of Intel, who called the concept “a faulty goal,” or even the members of the Council on Foreign Relations energy security task force who went so far as to accuse those promoting energy independence of “doing the nation a disservice.” But just like Prince Turki, all of those distinguished Americans misunderstand what energy independence really is. As a result, they underestimate our ability to get there. Read more ..


Oil and Terrorism

Lockerbie: Compassion for Petrodollars

August 31st 2009

Arab Topics - Muammar Qaddafi with Flag
Col. Moammar Gadhafi

The release by Scottish authorities of convicted Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from prison has created one of the most negative emotional reactions in the United States and other countries. Moved by anger toward the injustice displayed by Scottish authorities to the families and survivors of the victims of the terror attack against Pan Am Flight 103, Americans and large segments of international public opinion are infuriated by the freeing of the convicted terrorist, even under the so-called Scottish legal values based on compassionate release due to terminal illness.

These exceptional stipulations, when applicable, are designed for criminal cases where one person killed another individual under complex circumstances. A sudden terminal illness is perceived as enough punishment by nature or the divine to grant a severely conditioned release to the family, without any affront to justice and pain to the survivors of the victim. Read more ..



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