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The Way We Are

Facing the Movements of Our World

June 26th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

Good movements or bad movements, ideological movements or religious movements, self help movements or mass demonstration movements—every movement needs an iconic leader; more precisely, every movement needs a face.

Americans join the army because Uncle Sam asks us to. Americans slim down because Tommy Lasorda, Valerie Bertinelli or Oprah asks us to. Our leaders shape our world by shaping our ideas.

We cannot understand Islamic terror, so we focus on Osama bin Laden. We cannot understand the complex tribal balance between Arab groups, so we focus on Saddam Hussein. We cannot understand Hezbollah, so we focus on Nasrallah. We cannot understand the thirst for freedom, so we focus on twenty-six year old Neda Agha-Soltan lying dead in the street. We cannot understand a government so willing to strip away the freedoms of its citizens, so we focus on Mir Hussein Mousavi.

We cannot understand; even our supreme leader, our president, does not completely understand, but we should try. The power of the events now unfolding in Iran has revealed the true Iran. The curtain has been lifted. We must allow the reality of life, governance, and religious control in Iran to take hold in our minds and in the minds of our leaders, decision makers, and the faces we look up to and follow.

The execution of Neda, shot through the heart by Iranian secret security sniper fire has outraged the world. Neda's death is proof positive that the leadership of Iran is not about to reform or liberalize. As that reality sinks in, we must also realize that no matter whom the elected face of government in Iran belongs to, nothing will change. Read more ..

North Korea's Nukes

China Holds the Key to the North Korea Problem

June 22nd 2009

Asia Topics - Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il and Hu Jintao

As the international community struggles to respond effectively to the missile tests recently launched by the North Korean government, critics have blamed the Security Council of the United Nations for failing to deter aggression and preserve world peace. That blame is misplaced. In this case, responsibility for controlling North Korea, and the ability to do so, falls squarely on China.

The way that the United Nations was originally designed explains why, today, China alone has the leverage needed to quell North Korea's nuclear ambitions. In failing to confront North Korea's decision to move the world closer to nuclear conflict, the Security Council is merely respecting the original intentions of its founders to allow each great power a comprehensive veto over any international action that might precipitate a world war. Read more ..

Pakistan on the Edge

Leadership Lessons Imran Khan Forgot

June 22nd 2009

Asia Topics - Imran Khan
Imran Khan

Pakistan desperately needs leadership. Imran Khan does not and cannot provide it.

Back in the mists of history (the mid-1990s), when the former cricket star used his popularity to found the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice) Party, he seemed to have what it would take: a vision. Independence of outlook and (what is more) pocketbook, popularity, and a heart for investment and reform.

It was not hard to imagine him repeating his triumph at the center of a team leading Pakistan to triumph. Khan, a man with a colorful (in so many ways) personality who united the country behind his athletic achievements—it seemed a small leap to imagine him uniting the country behind his ideas. Given (pardon the pun), a sporting chance, he might have done it. Indeed, he might have taken valuable lessons from his spectacular cricket career about how to lead and how to succeed.

He did not.

The Obama Edge

An Open Letter to President Barack Hussein Obama

June 15th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Brigitte Gabriel picture
Brigitte Gabriel

Dear Mr. President: You face difficult challenges in matters such as achieving peace in the Middle East and protecting America from the threat of radical Islam and terrorism. These are challenges that have vexed past presidents, going as far back as our second president, John Adams. I have no doubt you appreciate both the gravity of these challenges and the enormous obstacles that exist to solving them.

I also have no doubt that you and your staff understood that, no matter what you said in your speech last Thursday in Cairo, there would be those who would take issue with you. That is always the case when attempting to solve problems that are as deep and emotionally-laden as these challenges are.

I am assuming it is your sincere hope that the approach you have chosen to take, as evidenced by what I'm sure was a carefully crafted speech, will ultimately prove successful. However, it pains me to say this, Sir, but, while you said in your speech that you are a "student of history", it is abundantly clear that, in these matters, you do not know history and thus, as George Santayana noted, you are doomed to repeat it. In doing so your efforts, however well-intentioned they may be, will not produce what you profess to hope they will produce.

A wise man once said that if you start with the wrong assumptions, no matter how logical your reasoning is, you will end up with the wrong conclusion. With all due respect Mr. President, you are starting with certain assumptions that are unsupported by history and an objective study of the ideology of political Islam. Read more ..

The Edge of Labor

Maquiladoras--American Industry Creates Modern-Day Mexican Slaves

June 8th 2009

Latin American Topics - Maquiladora map
Map of Mexico's maquiladora plants

American manufacturing industries do not belong to corporations alone and are a prized national asset. They have given us our high standard of living, our power and respect in the world, been a model for the rest of the world to imitate and allowed us to out produce our enemies during wartimes. Without them, America loses.

But from our nation’s first colonies, there have been opportunists who have exhibited a penchant for using racism, elitism and the rules of the market place jungle to exploit fellow human beings to enrich themselves. Wealthy southern plantation owners and other prosperous business leaders of their day introduced African slaves to the Colonies in the 1600’s. By 1860 the South had over 4 million slaves who were bought and sold at auctions like livestock. They labored in the fields and elsewhere-producing products for the benefit of their masters. They received no wages, were denied civil rights and they and their families were at the absolute mercy of those masters who owned them.

While slavery is illegal in the United States today, it does come in other forms. That same old U.S. entrepreneurial insatiability for financial gain, regardless of the human cost, is now being exported together with once middle class American jobs to other less fortunate nations. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Safe or Free?

June 1st 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

“Better Red than Dead.” That was the effete refrain of liberals during the Cold War heyday. In other words, if the United States were required to choose, it should ape Communist tyranny rather than accept mortal risks in defense of freedom.  The United States rejected the liberal dogma. Soviet Communism died in 1991.

At present, a variation of the “Better Red than Dead” debate confronts the United States:  namely, “Better Safe than Free.” The argument is that it is better to be safe in vassalage to a secret, omnipotent government in which the President is the law than to enjoy the thrill and dignity of self-government, transparency, freedom, and checks and balances because of an arguably greater risk of a terrorist attack. The debate’s background is a post-9/11 environment of permanent war with international terrorism and a planetary-wide battlefield that authorizes the United States to employ deadly military force and military law everywhere in the world—including in the United States itself. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Security Speech at the American Enterprise Institute last May 21 illuminates the debate.

Its leitmotiv was that after the hijackings and murderous abominations of 9/11, the Bush administration was tasked to do anything the President saw fit to make the United States less exposed to a second edition of 9/11, for example, vandalizing the United States Constitution in contradiction to20the President’s constitutionally required oath to defend and uphold the Constitution in all its moods and tenses. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Measuring Just How Stupid American Voters Actually Are

May 25th 2009

Social Topics - Ballot Box

Exactly one year ago this week the hardback of Just How Stupid Are We: Facing the Truth About the American Voter was published by Basic Books. Is the book still relevant? After Barack Obama's election friends emailed me wondering if I still believed the voters are uninformed. Didn't Obama's election mean they were pretty smart?

Alas, the answer is no, I believe. And I am baffled that anybody could reach a different conclusion after the campaign we lived through. The highlights of the 2008 election included controversies over Obama's bowling score, his middle name Hussein, and Hillary's crying. These were not exactly issues of much weight at a time when the financial collapse of the country was happening before our eyes. And yet they drew extended media commentary.

The media was to blame for the deplorable low quality of much of the campaign. But I am firmly convinced that you get the campaign you deserve. If that is so we should be asking ourselves why did we deserve the campaign of 2008? Was it not because the voters found it easier to debate issues like Obama's bowling score than the complicated questions involving high finance?


The Chavista Threat

Chavista Destabilization in Latin America Threatens the U.S.

May 18th 2009

Latin American Topics - Chavez and Morales
Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales

When President Barack Obama was criticized for his over friendly interaction with Hugo Chavez during the Summit of the Americas, he responded by saying that the U.S. has nothing to fear from a country that has an economy six hundred times smaller than ours.

This curious remark by our President brings another logical question to mind: how big is Al Qaeda’s economy in comparison to ours? It is likely that Al Qaeda’s assets are substantially smaller than oil-rich Venezuela’s. Likewise, Iran’s economy is not comparable to the American economy, even in a time of recession and economic crisis.

It is then logical to ask whether national or regional security is endangered in relation to economic capability or in an era of asymmetric wars. Does a country or an entity need to be economically or (even militarily) superior to those who oppose it in order to generate a situation of instability and threat?

The Obama Administration knows the right answer. Otherwise, the President and his national security team would not be so aggressively pursuing a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What this Administration most fears in that area of south-central Asia is the collapse of the state in Pakistan and the inability to produce governability in Afghanistan. Both countries are located thousands of miles away from the United States but still the U.S. government recognizes that a situation of anarchy or Taliban rule in both countries would lead to regional instability. where state authority vanishes, a real danger exists that nuclear weapons can be developed and that but terrorists and drug lords could take over. Read more ..

Inside Argentina

Honor, Shame and Duty: The Reality of Argentina's Tattered Armed Forces Today

May 11th 2009

Latin American Topics - Argentina military

It is no illusion that the tone and substance of the Argentine military seems to have deteriorated in the last several decades, from imprudently aspiring to control the nation in the 1970s and early 1980s (during which time it committed massive human rights abuses, rendering it the worst human rights violator in the hemisphere), to an ill-advised escapade in 1982 to re-claim the Falklands/Malvinas Islands from British jurisdiction. As a result of this veritable collapse, the Argentine military appears to have become a broken institution. The capstone on the various calamities debilitating the nation during recent times was the crippling influence of the 2001 meltdown of the Argentine economy, which crushed the entire nation, including its increasingly brittle security forces.

Two recent events can be seen as illustrating the skidding tendencies of the Argentine military and help to underscore its currently calcified condition. In early November, the Argentine federal police detained Jorge Antonio Olivera, a retired army major. He is accused of the "forced disappearance, kidnapping and torture" of Franco-Argentine citizen Marianne Erize in 1976 during the commencement of the country’s military dictatorship and the "Dirty War." This conflict unleashed the Argentine military against the nation with barbarous results, ending up in thousands of casualties. Almost at the same time in early November, London decreed a new constitution for the disputed Falklands.


American’s Economic Collapse

Wasting A Good Crisis: The Result May be $200 Oil

May 5th 2009

Energy / Environment - Oil Barrels

Rahm Emanuel’s famous quote regarding the current financial crisis,"Never let a serious crisis go to waste...it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before" was ignored last summer when oil prices reached $147 a barrel. The Obama Administration has taken advantage of the financial crisis to ram through their agenda which will add trillions to the National Debt. It will stimulate unions, bureaucrats, government employees, and defense contractors. It will do nothing to address the looming energy crisis which will sweep over the country shortly. Again, politicians and pundits will be shocked and astonished when oil soars. They will vilify oil companies, OPEC, and the dreaded speculators. Read more ..

Kicking our Oil Addiction

Imagine a World Without the Radical, Dictatorial Saudi Regime

April 27th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Obama Bows to Saudi King
President Obama bows to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah

The recent hullabaloo over Barack Obama's seeming bow before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia centered mainly on the question of whether it was appropriate for a U.S. president to pay obeisance to a foreign dictator. But the real problem lies deeper than that. King Abdullah's alliance with the United States, combined with his oil wealth, has allowed his radical breed of Islam, Wahhabism, to flourish, poisoning the Middle East. With so much at stake, is it irrational to yearn for a world in which the Saudi regime just miraculously ceased to exist and there was no King Abdullah to bow to (or not) at all?

The House of Saud affects the world in three main ways: It is the world's largest producer of oil and holder of most of the market's spare production capacity; it acts as custodian of Islam's holy places and the religious center of Sunni Islam; and it maintains Wahhabism as a state-sponsored sect. When it comes to the first two elements, a world without the Saudi kingdom would not necessarily be a better one.  Read more ..

The Obama Edge

While Sebelius is Away, the Kansas Legislature Will Play

April 20th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Kathleen Sebelius

While Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius was away in Washington awaiting confirmation as Health and Human Services Secretary, the boys of the Kansas legislature went at it once again. For the fourth time, they passed a bill to allow construction of two 700-megawatt coal-burning electric plants in southwest Kansas. Previously, Sebelius vetoed the bill and there weren’t quite enough votes to override. Apparently, hoping for an early cabinet confirmation, the coal plant boys were probably thinking, now that Mom’s away maybe we can get away with it.

Here is some news for you boys. Until she’s confirmed Mom can still veto. On April 13, Kathleen Sebelius once again exercised her veto power, declaring, “What was a bad idea last year is an even worse idea today.” In her veto message, Sebelius went on to predict that President Obama would move to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, which would put Kansas coal plants in a bad place. And sure enough, before the week was out, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases “endanger public health and welfare.” That sets the stage for regulating coal-fired plants and other sources of pollution under federal clean air laws.

A majority of Kansans, according to polls, would prefer to see the state’s wind harnessed instead of shipping in coal from Montana to make electricity for Denver, befouling Kansas skies in the process. The Kansas legislature will come back on April 29th to try to override Kathleen’s veto, but word is, they are 10 votes shy of doing it. Last time they were only three votes away. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Cost of a Global Empire--Dollars and Defense

April 13th 2009

Military - SoldiersInAfghanistan

Just when you think the U.S. government is beginning to make sense by withdrawing troops from Iraq, it makes the decision to shuttle 21,000 more troops into the Afghan calamity. At a cost of $3.2 billion per month, we will throw another $38 billion at another faraway country. Barack Obama is doing this to prove that he is a true statesman. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and left bankrupted and defeated after ten years.

Any doubt that the Military Industrial Complex is as strong as ever should be removed after examining Obama’s 2010 budget just put forth. It calls for 26 percent more in spending on Defense than President Bush spent in 2006. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, leaving the United States as the only remaining superpower on earth. Since 1990, the United States has depleted the U.S. Treasury of $7 trillion for spending on Defense. With no military on earth capable of challenging us why would there be a need to spend this much on the military? Over this same time frame the U.S. spent $360 billion on science, space & technology and $52 billion on energy, a mere 6 percent of the spending on killing machines.


After the Holocaust

IBM Should be Indicted in New York for Holocaust Genocide and its Nazi Nexus says ex-IBM employee from Poland

April 6th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Michael Zamczyk

This continuing coverage and reaction arising from the just-released book, Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connection's to Hitler's Holocaust (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Since the publication of the book IBM and the Holocaust, I as a long-time IBM employee and now an IBM retiree, have been trying to get IBM to face its past and apologize for its complicity in helping Germany commit genocide. The best offer I have received thus far was the willingness for Samuel J. Palmisano, the IBM CEO, to meet with me and apologize verbally in private for the company’s role in providing the technology for Germany to perfect the round up of European Jewry and their final annihilation. Included in these round ups were my father and most of my family in Poland. It was not until recently that I came across a listing, which without question came directly from punch cards, of the registration of my family by the Germans. All vital information was included in this list, which also listed me. If for instance the Germans wanted a list of all males over fifty or children under ten, they would insert the cards and sort by the relevant fields. In minutes they could produce a list with the information needed to send children and all males over fifty to Auschwitz.

I was moved to write about this after reading the chapter on IBM in Edwin Black’s latest book Nazi Nexus, which provides the reader with an array of American corporate facilitator of the Holocaust. Chapter 5 offers a clear precise picture of IBM’s role in helping Germany eliminate Jews and other so-called subhumans or “untermenschen.” Unfortunately, neither Black nor Nazi Nexus provides any ideas of how IBM can be made to face their actions during the Third Reich. There is no question that there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove that IBM, with prior knowledge, supplied technology to Germany used to accomplish “The Final Solution.”

Since the statue of limitations does not apply to murder or genocide, it is time for the company to be indicted for complicity in murder. Since the decisions to supply the Third Reich with technology originated in New York, I think the US Attorney in New York should seek an indictment of IBM. I am convinced that a jury would find IBM guilty. IBM’s actions are a pure example of “profit over everything.” Actually it sounds better in German, “gewinn uber alles.”

Michael Zamczyk joined IBM in 1974 in the publishing group in California. Prior to retirement in 2003, he managed Business Controls, a multi billion dollar software division of IBM.

The Obama Edge

VA Proposal is Penny Wise and Plain Disgusting

March 30th 2009

Military - Soldier Crying

Many in defense community have remained silent about bank, automaker and insurance company bailouts with taxpayer dollars. But the new administration plan to save $540 million by forcing civilian insurance companies to cover claims by military veterans for service-related injuries is beyond the pale. For our government to propose such a scheme at the same time it is spending billions with not much accountability is disgusting.

The idea surfaced in testimony by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki - a retired Army general who should know better. He told a Senate committee that the plan was "a consideration," and that "the VA's proposed budget for next year included it" as a way to increase revenue. But "a final decision hasn't been made yet."

President Obama, Secretary Shinseki and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently met with a group of veterans' organization leaders. The American Legion commander said he was "deeply disappointed and concerned" when the President reiterated the plan. Read more ..

Inside Latin America

Ukranian-style Civil Disobedience Now an Option for Venezuela

March 23rd 2009

Latin American Topics - Hugo Chavez waves
Hugo Chavez

In a referendum this past February 15th, Hugo Chavez managed to reverse the results of the previous December 2, 2007 vote by winning the constitutional right to be re-elected indefinitely.

Chavez won the referendum after running a campaign of intimidation and blackmail. Chavez does not govern democraticly. To the contrary he has abused state power and resources. He has used the instruments of government to harass unions, human rights advocates and has violated free speech. The state-owned oil-company, PDVSA and other state companies have been encouraged to intimidate employees so they would vote in favor of the referendum.
In last November’s municipal and local elections the opposition made some important gains including in the state of Miranda and the City of Caracas. Chavez reacted by removing some key social services such as health care from the jurisdiction of Miranda to the federal government and placed mobs in Caracas city hall that undermined the work of the newly-elected mayor of Caracas. Irregularities and other acts of electoral fraud were reported throughout Election Day. Read more ..

Israel and Hamas

Israeli Restraint & Palestinian Responsibility in the Gaza War

March 16th 2009

Israel Topics - Exhausted Israeli Soldier

I recently visited the World War II museum in New Orleans and was struck by the following description of the U.S. bombing of Japan:

On March 9-10, 1945, bombs incinerated 16 square miles and killed 100,000 civilians. In April, bombs destroyed 180 square miles, killed 300,000 people, and left 8.5 million people homeless. Throughout the war, the United States resisted bombing civilian areas. But with time, attitudes hardened. What once became unthinkable became a deliberate policy.

American history should be kept in mind when reports are issued about the behavior of Israeli forces during the war in Gaza with Hamas. Given this context, ask yourself what America would do if its cities were bombarded by 10,000 rockets and mortars over the course of three years. Do you think the response would be proportional?

Israeli soldiers at a staging area near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Tuesday, December 30, 2008. Palestinians had sent a barrage of missiles deep into Israel the day before. Read more ..

Edge on Asia

China Will Never Follow the U.S. on Climate Change Policy

March 9th 2009

Environment Topics - China Urban Pollution

President Obama's emphasis on climate change has notable implications for U.S.-China relations. On her inaugural trip to Asia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to expand the Sino-American Strategic Economic Dialog to include climate change among America's chief China policy priorities.

Making climate change a high priority is a mistake. It may inject unnecessary hostility into the already-strained bilateral relationship over what should be a secondary issue. And it rests on a faulty premise: Many argue that the PRC will make sharp cuts in carbon emissions but only if the U.S. does so first. This claim borders on nonsense. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Charles Freeman: Another Troubling Obama Nominee

March 3rd 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Charles Freeman
Charles "Chas" Freeman

Charles “Chas” Freeman is an appalling choice for Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. As president of the Saudi-funded Middle East Policy Council, Mr. Freeman functions as lobbyist, making his analysis suspect. And his analysis is, in any event, appalling. Gabriel Schoenfeld, in The Wall Street Journal’s “Opinion Journal,” reveals a once private 2006 Freeman internet post that Schoenfeld says “was provided to me by a former member” of a private site. Freeman is said to have written of the 1989 Chinese massacre in Tiananmen Square:

The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud… I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.

What he has written about Israel, and reprinted from Walt and Meerscheim, is suspect because of his financial ties to the Saudis and appalling in its inability to differentiate between a Western democratic ally under siege from a combination of terrorists and the states that harbor and support them, and those very states and terrorist organizations.  This is a problem he shares with Samantha Power at the NSC. Read more ..

America's Economic Crisis

America's Economy Now Rests Upon a Burning Platform

February 23rd 2009

Energy / Environment - Burning Platform

David Walker served as Comptroller General of the United States from 1998 through 2008. Walker has been the lone voice in the wilderness for the last decade regarding our looming fiscal disaster. He is now the CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and leader of the Fiscal Wake Up Tour. Walker warns: "The US government is on a “burning platform” of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon”.

Years ago, as head of the General Accounting Office he would go before Congress and explain that the country needed to change course before we floundered in a “Perfect Storm” of debt. They listened to him respectfully and then proceeded to add $5 trillion to the National Debt in the next eight years. The borrowing binge is now entering a hyper-speed phase.

The $787 billion 1,074 page stimulus bill has been passed. President Obama signed it. It will have virtually no impact on the economy in 2009. The bill will stimulate nothing but the National Debt. Within months, plans for another stimulus plan will be pushed by the Democratic-led Congress because speed and the appearance of action are how politicians get reelected. 

Examine the numbers. The median value of a U.S. home in 2000 was $119,600. It peaked at $221,900 in 2006. Historically, home prices have risen annually in line with the CPI. If they had followed the long-term average, they would have increased by 17 percent to $140,000. Instead, they skyrocketed by 86 percent due to Alan Greenspan’s irrational lowering of interest rates to 1 percent, the criminal pushing of loans by mortgage brokers, the greed of investment bankers and the foolishness and stupidity of home buyers. It is now 2009 and the median value should be $150,000 based on historical precedent. The median value at the end of 2008 was $180,100. Therefore, home prices are still 20 percent overvalued. Long-term averages are created by periods of overvaluation followed by periods of undervaluation. Prices need to fall 20 percent and could fall 30 percent. You will know we are at the bottom when the top shows on cable are Foreclose That House and Homeless Housewives of Orange County. Read more ..

Genetic Edge

Dictators are Born Not Made, Suggest Geneticists

February 16th 2009

Nazi Era - Hitler Sepia

Researchers in Israel published a study in Genes, Brain and Behaviour in April 2008 about a gene called AVRP1, or what some have dubbed the “ruthlessness gene.” This human gene turns out to be short among the ruthless, cruel, and violent. Examples of these are Saddam Hussein, Mobuto Sese Soko, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, among others. The AVPR1 gene assists in the release of a hormone called vasopresine, which acts among the brain cells that control affect, socialization and altruism.

The study, conducted at Hebrew University in Israel, used 203 study subjects of both sexes who had inherited AVPR1 genotypes from their parents. They were introduced to a game called “The Dictatorship Game” to determine who among them was most willing to share in money that was distributed to each of the participants. It was thus that the study identified those who ended up with the most money were the very same who were short on AVPR1. Therefore, those with the most AVPR1 were the most altruistic, while those with the least may be those showing dictatorial tendencies.

Wikipedia--that vast and compendium of both useful information and un-useful mis-information in many languages--provides an extensive list of dictators of various countries whose names are found in alphabetical order. All of them are men who were to wield state power absolutely. The first on the list is Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan and the last is General Zia al-Huq of Pakistan. This incomplete list of modern dictators includes such luminaries as Francisco Franco, Roberto Viola, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Efraín Rios Montt, and of course Josef Stalin, Mao tse-tung, and Adolf Hitler. They range over the continents and apparent ideologies, from nationalism, National Socialism, Fascism, to Soviet Socialism. Read more ..

Edge on the Military

Defense Department and Experts Combat Rising Military Suicides

February 9th 2009

Military - Soldier Crying

The U.S. Army said the number of soldiers who committed suicide last year has increased for a fourth straight year. Army officials said despite an increase in funding for programs to help soldiers, they are having a hard time fighting the stigma attached to seeking professional help. 

At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008, an increase from 2007 when a total of 115 suicides were recorded among active duty and those in the Army Reserve and National Guard. Officials said the number may go even higher pending the examination of 15 additional cases that could be self-inflicted.  

Highest Suicide Rate Since Vietnam War

This is the first time since the Vietnam War that the rate of suicide in the Army, about 20 deaths per 100,000 soldiers, has surpassed the civilian suicide rate.  Read more ..

Israel and Hamas

Israeli Writes an Open Letter to a Gazan: “I Am the Soldier Who Slept In Your Home”

February 2nd 2009

Israel Topics - Exhausted Israeli Soldier

Hello. While the world watches the ruins in Gaza, you return to your home—which remains standing. However, I am sure that it is clear to you that someone was in your home while you were away.

I am that someone.

I spent long hours imagining how you would react when you walked into your home. How you would feel when you understood that IDF soldiers had slept on your mattresses and used your blankets to keep warm.

I knew that it would make you angry and sad and that you would feel this violation of the most intimate areas of your life by those defined as your enemies, with stinging humiliation. I am convinced that you hate me with unbridled hatred, and you do not have even the tiniest desire to hear what I have to say. At the same time, it is important for me to say the following in the hope that there is even the minutest chance that you will hear me.

I spent many days in your home. You and your family's presence was felt in every corner. I saw your family portraits on the wall, and I thought of my family. I saw your wife's perfume bottles on the bureau, and I thought of my wife. I saw your children's toys and their English language schoolbooks. I saw your personal computer and how you set up the modem and wireless phone next to the screen, just as I do.


Israel and Hamas

Hamas and Israel--the Difference Between Life and Death

January 26th 2009

Terrorism - Jihadi Salute

Hamas is in a religious war with the Jews. The organization has repeatedly stated it will never except a Jewish state in the region and believes in a one state solution. Israel is interested in a diplomatic agreement to end the conflict with the Palestinians that will create a Palestinian state living in peace beside it.

Hamas believes in death. As one Hamas member told a journalist, "The difference between us and them is that they wait passionately for the day they can return home safely, while we bid farewell to our families and hope to die as martyrs." Indeed, Israelis believe in life.

Hamas stands behind civilians, using them as shields. Israeli forces stand in front of civilians to protect them.

Hamas leaders flee at the first sign of danger, abandoning their people to suffer the consequences of their actions. Israeli leaders are the first into battle to defend their citizens.

Hamas hopes that innocent Palestinians will die so the world will blame Israel for the bloodshed. Israelis do everything possible to ensure no innocent Palestinians will die - going so far as to warn their enemies before attacks, thereby losing the element of surprise - so they will not blame themselves for taking innocent lives. Read more ..

Surge Against Hamas

"Back to the Ovens," Ft. Lauderdale Hamas Protestors Shout at Jews

January 5th 2009

Palestine Topics - SF Anti-Israel Protest
One of Many Anti-Israel Protests over Gaza

Many residents in tranquil Ft. Lauderdale were shocked last week to see 200 to 300 rowdy Hamas supporters assembled downtown screaming for Jews to “go back to the Ovens.” It was part of a show of solidarity with Gazans now under siege during Israel’s campaign to root out the Hamas terrorist establishment there. A video blogger, captured the protest on a YouTube video.

(See the Ft. Lauderdale pro-Hamas video)

The rally began as Hamas supporters squared off against a handful of mostly youthful Israel supporters outside the First Baptist Church in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. It grew uglier as Hamas supporters became enraged at their presence and began shouting insults. "Your mother is a whore," screamed one, who then broke into "Nuke, nuke Israel. Nuke, nuke Israel," followed by "Go to hell; go to hell; go to hell!” Read more ..

Reader Poll

Sixty-eight Percent see more Mumbai-Style Terrorism Coming

January 5th 2009

TCEN Motifs - Poll Vote

Sictey-eight percent of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge News Reader Poll voted to predict the world would see more Mumbai-style terrorism. In response to the question: Do You Think The World Will See More Jihadi Infantry Invasion Forces? the results were:

  • 68 percent "Yes."
  • 11 percent "Not Sure"
  • 21 percent "No"

During the poll period, The Cutting Edge News recorded 816,312 hits. During the extended poll period, the ratio continued at the same level within a few percentage points.

Edge on Terrorism

Lockerbie Trial is an Historic Miscarriage of Justice

December 29th 2008

Terrorism - Lockerbie
Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie

December 2008 has had more than its share of stories about miscarriages of justice. But little has been said the victim of what many see as the biggest miscarriage of justice in Scottish legal history: Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the man convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 en route from London to New York on December 21, 1988.

For many years, it looked as if there would be no trial over Lockerbie. British and U.S. governments believed Colonel Gaddafi would never hand over the two Libyan intelligence officers accused of the bombings, which some regarded as fortunate, as they believed the evidence against Libya would not stand up in a court of law.

But thanks largely to the persistence of Nelson Mandela, 12 years after the bombing a trial did take place. In exchange for the lifting of sanctions, Gaddafi handed over the two accused men and the Scottish court swallowed almost the whole improbable story. On January 31, 2001, Megrahi was convicted of the mass murder of 259 passengers and crew, as well as 11 people on the ground in the village of Lockerbie. He is now serving a life sentence in a Scottish jail. His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted. Read more ..

America's Economic Collapse

Madoff's Network Helped Him Target Jews

December 22nd 2008

Contributors / Staff - Ronald A Cass
Ronald A. Cass

Steven Spielberg. Elie Wiesel. Mort Zuckerman. Frank Lautenberg. Yeshiva University. As one reads the list of people and enterprises reportedly bilked to the tune of $50 billion by Bernard Madoff, I recalled a childhood in which my father received bad news by asking first, "Was it a Jew?" My father coupled sensitivity to anti-Semitism with special sympathy for other Jews. In contrast, Mr. Madoff, it seems, targeted other Jews, drawing them in at least in some measure because of a shared faith.

The Madoff tale is striking in part because it is like stealing from family. Yet frauds that prey on people who share bonds of religion or ethnicity, who travel in the same circles, are quite common. Two years ago the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning about "affinity fraud." The SEC ticked off a series of examples of schemes that were directed at members of a community: Armenian-Americans, Baptist Church members, Jehovah's Witnesses, African-American church groups, Korean-Americans. In each case, the perpetrator relied on the fact that being from the same community provided a reason to trust the sales pitch, to believe it was plausible that someone from the same background would give you a deal, that if offered by someone without such ties would sound too good to be true.

The sense of common heritage, of community, also makes it less seemly to ask hard questions. Pressing a fellow parishioner or club member for hard information is like demanding receipts from your auntit just doesn't feel right. Hucksters know that, they play on it, and they count on our trust to make their confidence games work. Read more ..

Edge on the Housing Crisis

What The Bible Says On Home Ownership And The Housing Crisis

December 15th 2008

Books - Holy Bible

In the wake of the mortgage crisis, a growing chorus of economists today questions the status of home ownership as the fulfillment of the American dream.  An argument supporting home ownership is found inof all placesthe Hebrew Bible.

Although usually read as part of a religious text, the Bible's economic prescriptions may be mined to recover the roadmaps by which past thinkers navigated, even if no longer fully applicable today.

Economic commentators Paul Krugman and James Surowiecki argue that the American dream increasingly ends with a rude awakening. With the market value of houses falling, many Americans are now trapped in mortgages that exceed the value of their homes. And for many more, they argue, the hassles of buying and selling a home make it harder for underemployed home owners to move to where the jobs are. Read more ..

Inside Islam

Hamas Bars Faithful from Completing Hajj

December 8th 2008

Islamic Topics - Hajj

Although three million Muslims have just peacefully concluded the annual Hajj pilgrimage, virtually none of them came from the Gaza Strip. Hamas authorities have once again blocked the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by a group of Palestinian faithful from the Gaza Strip.

Egypt decided to open the border crossing in Rafah in order to meet the needs of the 3,000 Palestinian faithful, who would have crossed into Saudi Arabia through Nuweiba on the Red Sea. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry and witnesses in Rafah said Egypt opened the crossing point for the Palestinian pilgrims but none came.

Inquiries revealed that Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since June of 2007, blocked its own pilgrims from reaching the crossing point, keeping them inside the border and away from the religious highpoint of the year for Muslims. At the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza, spokesman Ehad al-Ghsain denied halting pilgrims. "We are not sending people back. The Egyptians are keeping the crossing closed," he said. Hamas officials blamed Egypt, saying it had not opened the border “as agreed.” Meanwhile, media reports and eyewitnesses confirmed that the crossing point had been made available by Egypt as planned, but no one showed. Read more ..

Kicking our Oil Addiction

Oil and Economic Collapse—The Trillion Dollar per Year Question

December 1st 2008

Energy / Environment - Oil Barrels

By the time the dust settles and the numbers are collected for 2008, it will become crystal clear that a central reason we are at the point of economic collapse is our addiction to oil. In the first half of this year, while gasoline prices were soaring, the US economy lost $500 billion diverted to oil imports.

What does $500 billion really mean? That sum is as large as America’s basic defense budget and about 100 times the size of GM’s current assets? With $500 billion, Washington could purchase almost all property that slipped into foreclosure this year, or enough to make payments on all currently delinquent mortgages for the next 5 years? Many may quip, "But our economy is so big."


Poll Results

Seventy-Two Percent Of Readers Say Honda Should Lose Its CNG And Hydrogen Patents If Market Action Not Taken

December 1st 2008

TCEN Motifs - Poll Vote

Seventy-two percent of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge News Reader Poll voted that Honda should lose its patents on compressed natural gas and hydrogen automotive technology if it refuses to market the advances. In response to the question: Should Honda Lose Its Patents If it Refuses to Lift Restrictions on Natural Gas and Hydrogen Vehicles? the results were:

  • 72 percent "Yes."
  • 8 percent "Not Sure"
  • 20 percent "No"

During the summer 2008 poll period, The Cutting Edge News recorded 1,000,124 hits. During the extended poll period, the ratio continued at the same level within a few percentage points.

The Way We Are

Give Thanks and Praise: Remaking Recession into a Season of Abundance

November 24th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

The chilly winds of change blowing across the global economic landscape this fall have tested our threadbare garments to the point of fraying. Many of our fellow travelers find themselves losing hope that things will ever get any better. Some of us may feel at times as if there is no choice but to stop in our tracks and forsake ourselves to the fate of the dry and dusty bones littering the ground all around us. However, despite facing a bleak landscape at present, the human spirit always has a choice. Instead of giving up the ghost, we can choose to reaffirm our faith. In fact, surviving these trying times demands of us that we give thanks and praise.


Consider, if you will, that the improbable and unfathomably precious gift of our lives takes shape in a crucible of struggle. A single sperm cell, swimming along a foreign and hostile canal, pushes past the strewn corpses of millions of its fellow sojourners, to finally arrive at the ultimate prize; an unfertilized egg. Upon meeting the egg, a miraculous process ensues.  The two cells combine and become instantly productive. They divide and multiply, and, in a matter of mere months, grow out of that singular union a complex and living being composed of hundreds of millions of cells. At length, we come to term. Again, a stark struggle occurs. Our mothers, in travail upon travail, bear the pain of ultimate sacrifice, approaching the very precipice of death to bring us forth, wailing and crying, into this world. Most of us have no memory of the shock and loss we experienced when we were evicted from the warm comfort of the womb to face the glaring sun for the first time. But out of such shock and awe emerges springs life, and for that miracle alone we must give thanks and praise. Read more ..

Post-Election Edge

A Republican Plea for a Rejected Party: Reinvent Yourself by Looking Forward not Backward

November 17th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Bruises are still tender from the Democraticdrubbing that Republicans took on Election Day. The bad news is there’s plenty more to come, only this time from within. Less than 12 hours following the California returns, congressional and party leaders huddled in basements and on impromptu conference calls and began plotting a way out of this deep, yawning ditch they’ve managed to drive into with the party bus.

Perhaps there was less plotting and more commiserating.

There’s no question the Grand Old Party is now wandering in the wilderness. But although scores of conservative soothsayers will want to look over their collective shoulder and blame the McCain campaign or political arms of the party such as the RNC, I will not. The party’s problems run deeper and wider than that.

John McCain had nothing to do with this nosedive. The party was headed in that direction long before he came on the scene to run for president. However, I believe that a McCain administration would have continued many of the behaviors that contributed to the predicament they find themselves in. Fifty percent of Americans felt the same way; telling exit pollsters on election night that they believed McCain would continue the policies of President Bush. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

As Iran Arrests Critics, We Should Rethink Prosecution of Holocaust Denial

November 10th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Isi Leibler headshot

Islamic countries that have absorbed Holocaust denial as a central component of their hatred of Jews now have the gall to cite the criminalization Holocaust denial as a precedent for seeking to make any disapproval of Islam, Islamic practice, or even Sharia law grounds for criminal prosecution. Resolutions to this effect have already been passed by the UN General Assembly. Therefore, it may be timely to rethink the merits of criminalizing Holocaust denial.

The issue recently made headlines when German-born Australian Frederic Toben was arrested in transit at Heathrow airport and detained until the British courts decide whether he is to be extradited to Germany to face prosecution as a Holocaust denier. Toben, a veteran in this field, participated in Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust "conference" and has served seven months in a German prison as a denier. Although Australia has no statutes outlawing Holocaust denial, the courts there have ordered Toben to stop publishing anti-Semitic material on his website such as the description of the Holocaust as "the world's filthiest blood libel" because it breaches the Racial Discrimination Act. Toben has refused to adhere to the court order and if found in contempt is likely to face severe penalties on his return to Australia.

I don't support unfettered freedom of speech, and have always favored legislation designed to prosecute those inciting racial or religious hatred. There is no such thing as "innocent" Holocaust denial. Even if it purports to be a historical review, it is simply a vile body of lies created with the object of accusing the Jews of fabricating a story to exploit sympathy and obtain favored treatment. Read more ..

America's Economic Collapse

The Shallowest Generation--Every Seven Seconds, Another Baby Boomer Turns 50

November 3rd 2008

Social Topics - Baby Boomer

The Baby Boom Generation will never be mistaken for the Greatest Generation that survived the Great Depression and defeated evil in a World War that killed 72 million people. Putting a yellow ribbon on the back of your $50,000 SUV is not sacrifice. Their claim to fame the last three decades has been living the good life profoundly beyond their means, to the point where they have virtually bankrupted our capitalist system.

Baby Boomers have been occupying the White House for the last sixteen years. The majority of Congress consists of Baby Boomers. The CEOs and top executives of Wall Street firms are Baby Boomers. The media is dominated by Baby Boom executives and on-air stars. Boomers have no one to blame but themselves for the current predicament. Blaming Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson for the country’s dire situation is a cop out. Baby Boomers had the time, power, and ability to change our course. They have chosen to leave the heavy lifting to future generations in order to live the good life today. Read more ..

Election Edge

To Bury McCain, and Yet to Praise Him

October 27th 2008

Presidential - John McCain posed

Sometimes the right candidate comes along at the wrong time. They have just the amount of wisdom and experience, gained over a lifetime of dedicated service to their country. They have placed party over principle, sacrificing short term political gains and making a clear demonstration of putting the American people ahead of their own career advancement. John McCain is such a good man; but unfortunately, this may not be his season of triumph.

Barack Obama, arguably a lesser candidate in terms of experience and judgment, nonetheless appeals to voters looking for a change. This popular sentiment has driven him from obscurity to célèbre Dom in a remarkably short period of time. So quickly has Obama risen, in fact, that no ones really knows where he stands on crucial issues; in fact it can be argued that he himself doesn’t know where he stands, because he has never really had to take a stand in a time of crisis. He voted “present” on tough votes in the Illinois senate, passing on the blame, but not the credit for decisions made by that legislative caucus.  

He spoke out against the Iraq war, but conveniently after the vote had already been taken (no one knows what decision he would have made in the Democratic caucus had he been in office at the time of the vote).  Nonetheless, his personal qualities, academic credentials and critical stance on the war brought him to prominence, as news of the carnage in Iraq, the wounded veterans returning, and astronomical war costs drove Americans to question our nation’s decision to go to war. Read more ..

Election Edge

McCain Must State The Obvious: Obama Is A Socialist

October 20th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker right crop
Star Parker

As John McCain tries to salvage his presidential campaign over the few weeks he has left, he ought to think about the Coca Cola Company in 1985.

That was the year that Coca Cola, based on what the company thought was good internal market research, introduced a new, sweeter formula to replace the taste that American consumers had always associated with Coke.

The result was disaster. Consumers were unhappy with the new flavor that replaced a product that was more than a drink. It was a time-tested American tradition. In short order, Coca Cola brought the traditional Coke back to market, and in a real feat of marketing gymnastics, was selling both New Coke and Coca Cola Classic.

Sales of Coca Cola Classic swamped sales of New Coke, and shortly thereafter, New Coke was gone.

Today John McCain heads the ticket of a Republican Party that many Americans have fallen out of love with. It's a Republican Party that Americans once knew, but now, like New Coke, has confused its customers, the voting public. Read more ..

America's Economic Collapse

The Gathering Storm—Is Another Great Depression Approaching?

October 13th 2008

Economy - Jump obscured

"Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time, and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin!"

President Andrew Jackson 1832

Contrast those words to these of our current president, George W. Bush:

"The bipartisan economic rescue plan addresses the root cause of the financial crisis -- the assets related to home mortgages that have lost value during the housing decline. Under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the federal government will be authorized to purchase these assets from banks and other financial institutions, which will help free them to resume lending to businesses and consumers. I know many Americans are worried about the cost of the bill, and I understand their concern. This bill commits up to 700 billion taxpayer dollars, because a large amount of money is necessary to have an impact on our financial system. However, both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget expect that the ultimate cost to the taxpayer will be far less than that. In fact, we expect that over time, much -- if not all -- of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.” Read more ..

Edge on the Economy

Regulation and the Law of Unintended Consequences

October 6th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

The current financial crisis is a result of the law of unintended consequences of two political policies promoted by both Republicans and Democrats since the Great Depression: 1) encouraging home ownership for all Americans regardless of whether they can afford the costs; 2) over-regulation of the financial community. Both policies have turned into a deceptively sweet bubble of air in the veins of the economy.             

First, the government artificially inflated residential real estate sales through several laudable—but sloppily executed—policies such as: (1) tax breaks on interest and property taxes for home owners; (2) implicit government guarantees of the debt of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase conforming home mortgage loans; (3) relaxed credit standards on home mortgage loans permitted by the banking regulators; and (4) encouraging the collateralization and sale of mortgages to investors.  In the short-term, these policies had the beneficial effect of subsidizing housing costs and injecting extra liquidity into the housing market.  Over the long-term, these policies weakened the economy by inflating housing prices and by encouraging the financial community to make risky loans to home owners who would not otherwise get a loan in the unregulated mortgage market. The results, as we now see, are disastrous.           

Specifically, American consumers were encouraged to buy homes whether they could afford them or not. Homeowners were also lulled into believing that home ownership was an investment and not a housing expense.  The annual costs of home ownership with mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance can be over 10% of the value of a home.  That means a home has to appreciate more than 10% annually in order for a home to be a good investment. These housing policies significantly contributed to driving up the prices of residential real estate over the past 20 years.  They also contributed to overleveraged homeowners and more risky mortgage loans held by banks and investors. Read more ..

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