Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Evil Republicans


Washington - House Republicans struck first Wednesday in what is certain to be a contentious debate with the Clinton administration over how to reform the welfare system, unveiling a plan to force welfare clients to work off their benefits.

At a news conference here, the Republicans said recipients of public aid were lazy, neglectful parents in need of a moral tonic.

But their plan also recognized that change would not come cheaply, and it pledged to spend up to $6 billion a year to finance a strict workfare regimen for people who have received aid for more than two years.

I was sorting through files. Some housecleaning - out with the old and in with more crap I do not need nor will I ever use, and then I came upon the blurb above.

The Daily Bruin, November 11, 1993, page 4. My first quarter at UCLA, and my first real exposure to the lies that liberals tell.

The news story was in the section titled: Briefs. Brief news blurbs. Other stories that day included 'Israel will reduce forces in Gaza strip' and 'Mexicans angered by Perot's contention'. That last story is interesting given the crime stats I have posted on my blog about Mexico, but I will leave that issue as it is unrelated, and digresses too far off the path.

I read the article about the cruel Republicans calling welfare recipients 'lazy, neglectful parents' and something just did not fit. I went through the rest of my morning, and skipped the last and only class in the afternoon and instead went home and did some research.

NO newspaper I called: Daily News, Los Angeles Times, or the New York Times had any story similar to the one printed in the Bruin. Still unsure - maybe the story was swept under the carpet now that the Republicans had taken control from the Democrats ... I called the Bruin and spoke to a female - I asked her what news service they subscribed to. She asked me why I wanted to know. I explained to her that I did not believe the news brief about the Republicans and welfare. She was indignant and hung up (after she mentioned the service they used).

Called the service - no such story.

Called the US Senate - spoke to the woman who put the news conference together for the Chairman of the Committee on Welfare Reform.

Called Chancellor Young's office (he was the Chancellor at UCLA at the time) - pretty useless.

Called the Bruin and asked to speak to the Editor - met with him, pretty useless, mocked my interest in the issue, and dismissed me and the issue.

Young's office directed me to the faculty advisor who oversees the student run newspaper. I don't recall that persons name, and he was actually a reasonable person. He listened to the story - everything I had gone through in determining that the story was fabricated. Then he asked me if I would like to sit on a panel (have a job) that oversees the newspaper (amazing actually - to be offered a job without applying!).

I told him I all the investigation and research was not done to get something - it was done because I hate liars.

A week later, the faculty advisor called me to let me know it had been a matter of cutting for space. The person who was putting the page together had to cut and paste to make it all fit together.


I let them know, when I caught them, that they wouldn't get away with it every time - someone could catch them and I decided to do something else - I went to the Bruin Republicans. I figured if one person (me) could rile up so many people, what could a pack of Bruin Republicans do. The answer was very clear from the moment I wandered in - NOTHING. They were as useless as an accordion at a duck hunt.

I do have the article, but when I scan it, my scanner turns it into a pdf file and I do not have the resources to change the file to something that would fit into this format. If anyone doubts my story (about the article in the Bruin), by all means go to Young library and pull out the Daily Bruin from November 11, 1993, turn to page 4 and there you will have it - the story of the Evil Republicans, and by extension --- Good Democrats. I do have the pdf file. The copy of the story is now in the trash.


Crucifixion and Propaganda

Dec 25, 2008

Column One: The 'realist' fantasy

Both Iran and its Hamas proxy in Gaza have been busy this Christmas week showing Christendom just what they think of it. But no one seems to have noticed.

On Tuesday, Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Shari'a criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, it legalizes crucifixion.

Hamas's endorsement of nailing enemies of Islam to crosses came at the same time it renewed its jihad. Here, too, Hamas wanted to make sure that Christians didn't feel neglected as its fighters launched missiles at Jewish day care centers and schools. So on Wednesday, Hamas lobbed a mortar shell at the Erez crossing point into Israel just as a group of Gazan Christians were standing on line waiting to travel to Bethlehem for Christmas.

While Hamas joyously renewed its jihad against Jews and Christians, its overlords in Iran also basked in jihadist triumphalism. The source of Teheran's sense of ascendancy this week was Britain's Channel 4 network's decision to request that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad give a special Christmas Day address to the British people. Ahmadinejad's speech was supposed to be a response to Queen Elizabeth II's traditional Christmas Day address to her subjects. That is, Channel 4 presented his message as a reasonable counterpoint to the Christmas greetings of the head of the Church of England.

Channel 4 justified its move by proclaiming that it was providing a public service. As a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post, "We're offering [Ahmadinejad] the chance to speak for himself, which people in the West don't often get the chance to see."

While that sounds reasonable, the fact is that Westerners see Ahmadinejad speaking for himself all the time. They saw him at the UN two years in a row as he called for the countries of the world to submit to Islam; claimed that Iran's nuclear weapons program is divinely inspired; and castigated Jews as subhuman menaces to humanity.

They saw him gather leading anti-Semites from all over the world at his Holocaust denial conference.

They heard him speak in his own words when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

And of course, over the years Ahmadinejad has often communicated directly to the British people. For instance, in 2007 he received unlimited airtime on UK television as he paraded kidnapped British sailors and marines in front of television cameras; forced them to make videotaped "confessions" of their "crime" of entering Iranian territorial waters; and compelled them to grovel at his knee and thank him for "forgiving" them.

The British people listened to Ahmadinejad as he condemned Britain as a warmongering nation after its leaders had surrendered Basra to Iranian proxies. They heard him - speaking in his own voice - when he announced that in a gesture of Islamic mercy, he was freeing their humiliated sailors and marines in honor of Muhammad's birthday and Easter, and then called on all Britons to convert to Islam.

Yet as far as Channel 4 is concerned, Ahmadinejad is still an unknown quantity for most Britons. So they asked him to address the nation on Christmas. And not surprisingly, in his address, he attacked their way of life and co-opted their Jewish savior, Jesus, saying, "If Christ was on earth today, undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers."

He then reiterated his call for non-Muslims to convert to Islam saying, "The solution to today's problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine prophets."

THE FACT of the matter is that Channel 4 is right. There is a great deal of ignorance in the West about what the likes of Ahmadinejad and his colleagues in Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas stand for. But this isn't their fault. They tell us every day that they seek the destruction of the Jews and the domination of the West in the name of Islam. And every day they take actions that they believe advance their goals.

The reason that the West remains ignorant of the views and goals of the likes of Hamas and Iran is not that the latter have hidden their views and goals. It is because the leading political leaders and foreign policy practitioners in the West refuse to listen to them and deny the significance of their actions.

As far as the West's leaders are concerned, Iran and its allies are unimportant. They are not actors, but objects. As far as the West's leading foreign policy "experts" and decision-makers are concerned, the only true actors on the global stage are Western powers. They alone have the power to shape reality and the world. Oddly enough, this dominant political philosophy, which is based on denying the existence of non-Western actors on the world stage, is referred to as political "realism."

The "realist" view was given clear expression this week by one of the "realist" clique's most prominent members. In an op-ed published Tuesday in Canada's Globe and Mail titled, "We must talk Iran out of the bomb," Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that given the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the dangers of a US or Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear installations, the incoming Obama administration must hold direct negotiations with the mullahs to convince them to end their nuclear weapons program.

In making this argument, Haass ignores the fact that this has been the Bush administration's policy for the past five years. He also ignores the fact that President George W. Bush adopted this policy at the urging of Haass's "realist" colleagues and at the urging of Haass himself.

Moreover, Haass bizarrely contends that in negotiating with the mullahs, the Obama administration should offer Iran the same package of economic and political payoffs that the Bush administration and the EU have been offering, and Teheran has been rejecting, since 2003.
Even more disturbingly, Haass ignores the fact that Teheran made its greatest leaps forward in its uranium enrichment capabilities while it was engaged in these talks with the West.



Tolerance can be a bad thing, and the end of racism as we know it.


10/20/2008 11:54 AM


Why Europeans Love Obama

By Beth Arnold

French provocateur Bernard-Henri Lévy on how the left is being destroyed by tolerance -- and the Europeans' fascination with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Since he began his career 35 years ago, self-described leftist, philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy has never been caught without a cause or opinion. He has flamboyantly articulated these in more than 30 books (including the much discussed "American Vertigo"), countless television appearances, articles and even films that he's written, produced, directed and/or narrated. Lévy is a kind of intellectual Robin Hood, going where there is totalitarianism and/or war. He has been a passionate advocate of Bosnia, smuggled himself into Darfur to report on the Sudanese genocide and followed the perilous trail of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl into Pakistan to write the New York Times bestseller "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?"

Lévy is a showman -- his narcissism is legendary -- which adds fuel to the fire of his critics, who accuse him of lacking original ideas. Known in France as BHL, Lévy is his own wildly successful brand. He wears the mantle of polarizing intellectual quite happily along with made-to-measure clothing from French house Charvet, which also made shirts for JFK and Marcel Proust. He was recently quoted in the New York Times' T Magazine men's fall fashion supplement saying he had no interest in his bespoke apparel or even talking about it -- though he had clearly agreed to this fashion profile, which was set in Bosnia, where he was screening two documentaries he had shot there and attending a children's festival partly financed by his family foundation.

At home in France, Lévy is treated as something of a god (which is not lost on him), known for his good looks and family wealth as much as for his intellectual output. It doesn't hurt his glamorous profile that he is married to provocative actress and singer Arielle Dombasle, who is sometimes uncharitably compared to a Barbie doll. The couple share an apartment with a chic address on the Left Bank, a house in the South of France and a Marrakech palace.

Lévy's latest literary publicity blitz coincides with the publication of his newest book, "Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism." When Levy wrote "Barbarism With a Human Face" 31 years ago, his sworn enemy -- the barbarism he spoke of -- was Marxism. In the new book, the author has focused on his own intellectual autobiography, examining his ideological and political history and identity. He believes a segment of his political family (the left) is being led astray and he rakes his extended kin over the coals for becoming too tolerant -- especially on issues like Islamic radicalism -- and letting their anti-imperialistic attitudes and loathing of America cloud their vision and damage their democratic values. He is unusual in French terms, because he's pro-American when a lot of Europeans think the U.S. behaves like it owns the world. Lévy has a fondness and understanding of American culture. He gets us, and attempted to prove it in "American Vertigo," his report on the state of the USA.

Lévy answers the door to his Paris apartment himself, a tall, lanky man wearing his signature white shirt, unbuttoned almost to the navel, underneath a sleek suit. In his large, blond-wood-paneled office, there is an enormous metal sculpture of a man's head with a panel opening half of it. Inside, the figure is empty -- the complete opposite of the man who owns him.

SALON: The subtitle of your new book is "A Stand Against the New Barbarism." Can you explain what you mean by that?

Lévy: What I mean by the new barbarism is great ideas having bad effects. Great ideals turning out to be the stem cell of big crimes, big injustices, unfairnesses, brutality and so on. The barbarism 30 years ago when I wrote "Barbarism With a Human Face" was Marxism, which pretended to be a fight in favor of justice, social equality, freedom, eradication of slavery, and which was exactly the contrary. And you have today a new barbarism in the case of these women and men who pretend to fight in favor of tolerance, in favor of anti-imperialism, in favor of anti-colonialism, and actually plead for slavery of the women, massive violation of human rights. Or when they don't plead for that, they tolerate them, refuse to denounce them.

You have a new mechanism today ... for example, where in the name of anti-Americanism the crimes in Darfur are not denounced. The crimes in Bosnia were accepted. And so many wars in Africa or elsewhere are just forgotten.

SALON: Are there specific kinds of people you're talking about?

Lévy: Those, for example, who pretend to be anti-mondialist ... I don't know if you have this in America? Anti-mondialists fight against globalization. Anti-globalization ... They are the dark side of the left of today.

Now, in my family, which is the left progressive camp -- in this family, I observe that there is a tendency which can reach the same results ... the same blindness of the right. The same indifference to the real suffering of the real people, and so on and so on.

SALON: So you are saying that you believe the left can end up committing the same sins as the right? Because I think in the United States we have been fighting for tolerance in so many ways -- tolerance for gays, civil rights ...

Lévy: These battles, of course, you fought. I fought ... And it is won. It is achieved. Barack Obama being a candidate for the presidency and maybe -- I hope -- elected means that the fight is won, more or less. Frankly a country where racism is sued in front of lawyers, a country where the women won the power of preventing discrimination and so on, this is great. This is a huge cultural revolution, which America led.

But in the name of tolerance there can be also some crimes -- not committed but veiled ... For example, those who tell us that we have to be tolerant of the radical Islamist movements. Those who tell us that being tolerant means trying to understand their reasons and their justifications. Those who tell us that, about women, to veil the face of a woman is just a customary habit, which we Westerners are not allowed to judge according to the standard of human rights. This is a very bad thing.

This idea that every habit should be respected, every custom should be accepted because it belongs to a whole and that if we take a piece, we break the whole -- this is one of the counter-effects of tolerance. And you have in America a lot of people who said, why should you ask the Indian people to resign the pattern of the castes that belong to their culture? Why should you oblige this or that tribe, people in Africa, to resign the excision of the clitoris of the little girl? It belongs to their culture ...

SALON: You framed the new book around your telling Nicolas Sarkozy that you would not support or vote for him for president. Even though you two had been friends for 25 years, you told him in a phone call that you'd never voted for the right, and you had no intention of changing that. What is your relationship with Sarkozy now?

Lévy: I don't know. I did not see him again since the book ... He does not believe in ideas, so he does not understand somebody who was a sort of buddy -- I would not say a friend but a buddy -- not to vote in favor of him. He still did not understand, I think, so he interprets these sorts of stories in terms of betrayal, fidelity. I don't believe in that. The only fidelity you have to have is to ideas, truth, and there are some circumstances when an intellectual has a duty of infidelity -- if he's a friend, and if you are against his ideas.

What does it mean to be a leftist? Does it mean to be faithful to a family, whatever the family does? Whatever the family says? I don't think so. There is a duty of unfaithfulness also to the family in question -- to the left when the left is embodied by Noam Chomsky, or when it is embodied by Naomi Klein.

SALON: Would you define for an American audience what you mean by a leftist? I'd like to try and get at what the difference is between someone on the left in Europe and the U.S.

Lévy: In the two countries, I think it is the same definition: to have freedom and equality, the two dreams of freedom and equality walking at the same pace. To refuse to choose between the two. This is written in the motto of the French Republic, as you know, "Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” And it is also written in the DNA of the best of America. The real dream of equality, which fed the battle, for example, for the civil rights, Martin Luther King and so on, and the battle for individual freedom. Those who ask to choose between the two -- if you have freedom you do not have equality, if you have equality, you do not have freedom -- for me, they are not leftist. This is a good definition of the left.

SALON: If there were three main differences between the left and the right, right now, what would you say they are?

Lévy: To believe or not to believe that equality and freedom can be combined, as I told you, is one difference. (Another is) to believe or not to believe in politics. A classical rightist or leftist-rightist does not believe in politics; he believes in the invisible hand of the market in one case, of history in the other case -- the invisible hand being able, herself and alone, to promote the change and the reform and so on. For me, a leftist is somebody who believes a democracy has to be built with time, patience, real meaning and so on.

And the third difference for me is not to choose the victims. When you are a rightist, you decide, for example, that you have some privileged blood baths, some privileged wars of which you take care and others of which you don't take care. You also have some people in the so-called left who (do that) -- for example ... Kosovo. You had a racist, neo-Fascist dictator (there), Miloševi. You had a civil population guilty of nothing, which was displaced, raped, killed and so on. And you had some people who, because America was against Miloševi, decided to be in favor of Miloševi and against the American intervention to stop the thing, and so on and so on. This is the false left.

SALON: In this book, you write, "Since the French Revolution, the word 'revolution,' the pure signifier, was, in France at least, the most serious political dividing line. The Left wanted it; the Right feared it." What is the state of revolution in the world right now?

Lévy: It depends on what you mean by revolution. If you mean by revolution the dream which was on the top of the clock when I was 20 years old (in the 1960s), I hope this dream is over -- the dream of rebeginning the human gender. To remake it. To remold it completely ... This was the old way of being a revolutionary.

Now, if you mean by revolution changing the world in favor of the have-nots, of the less gifted, and so on -- if you mean by revolution, more and more democracy and liberal democracy and not to choose between liberty, freedom and equality, this is still going on. Not enough. I hope it will be more.

SALON: I think that if Obama is elected, it will be a revolution in the United States.

Lévy: In a way, you can understand it like this. I am in favor of that myself. I hope, if I could pray I would pray, for Obama being elected.

SALON: Why do Europeans love Obama?

Lévy: I don't know. I can't tell you why. I don't love him, by the way. I wish him to be elected. It's not a question of love or hate ... This is not the best way to make politics.

Why Obama should be chosen, in my opinion: No. 1, because it would mean really the end -- and the complete victory of the battle begun in the '60s. No. 2, because it will mean the end of a new American evil, which is the dividing, the Balkanization of American society. This is another counter-effect of a great idea, which was tolerance. You so much tolerate that you tolerate the American society to be in separate bubbles having their own peculiarities, and so on. Obama as president will mean all these bubbles submitted to a real ideal of citizenship. This is his message.

McCain will not be able to do this. If McCain is elected, I can tell you the Iranians will close themselves in the Iranian identity. The Arabs will coldly, freezingly imprison themselves in the Muslim identity. The African-Americans will believe that the American society is more and more built against them. You will have an increase of the Balkanization.

And No. 3, you have another ideal in the America of today, which I call the competition of victims. Competition of memories. If you are in favor of the Jews, you cannot be in favor of the blacks. If you remember the suffering of slavery, you cannot remember too much the suffering of the Holocaust, and so on and so on. The human heart has not space enough for all the sufferings. This is what some people say. Obama says the contrary. It will mean the end of this stupid topic, which is competition of victimhood.

SALON: If McCain is elected, then how will the world react?

Lévy: The only way America can get out of the current crisis is a minimum of welfare state, of a Rooseveltian New Deal. It will not be tax cuts and so on ... So America will react badly. The world will react also badly. McCain may not be a bad guy, but he will mean -- his victory will mean -- the revenge, freezing, frightened, shy, rear-guard America. Rear guard. Not vanguard. Not victorious. Not optimist America.

SALON: A lot of Americans do not understand why it even matters what the rest of the world thinks about who the American president is.

Lévy: Because you are the most important, the most powerful country in the world. But don't be too narcissistic, you Americans. Everything matters to everybody. The next president of Iran matters to everybody. Who is president matters to everybody. Who presides over one of the most little states in the world, which is Israel, matters to everybody. The entire world matters. Even more little -- Gaza. Hamas or not Hamas? Everybody has the eyes on that. So it is a principle, a rule in this time of globalization: Everything matters to everybody.


Disgraceful Behavior

NOVEMBER 5, 2008

The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace
What must our enemies be thinking?


Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.

According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% -- down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both political parties.

The president's original Supreme Court choice of Harriet Miers alarmed Republicans, while his final nomination of Samuel Alito angered Democrats. His solutions to reform the immigration system alienated traditional conservatives, while his refusal to retreat in Iraq has enraged liberals who have unrealistic expectations about the challenges we face there.

It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right.

Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country's current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a fighting chance of solving them.

Like the president said in his 2004 victory speech, "We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."

To be sure, Mr. Bush is not completely alone. His low approval ratings put him in the good company of former Democratic President Harry S. Truman, whose own approval rating sank to 22% shortly before he left office. Despite Mr. Truman's low numbers, a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll found that he was ranked the seventh most popular president in history.

Just as Americans have gained perspective on how challenging Truman's presidency was in the wake of World War II, our country will recognize the hardship President Bush faced these past eight years -- and how extraordinary it was that he accomplished what he did in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Mr. Shapiro is an investigative reporter and lawyer who previously interned with John F. Kerry's legal team during the presidential election in 2004.



Proto Humans Mastered Fire 790,000 years ago

October 27, 2008
Quaternary Science Reviews

The charred remains of flint from prehistoric firesides suggest our ancient ancestors had learned how to create fire 790,000 years ago.

Previous research had shown that early humans - probably Homo erectus or Homo ergaster - from this period could manipulate and use fire, but it wasn't clear whether they had the ability to create the fire themselves, or whether they stole fire from natural occurrences like lightning strikes.

To investigate, Nira Alperson-Afil from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, analysed archaeological remains from the shore of an ancient lake near the river Jordan.

The site includes 12 layers of remains from different groups of early humans covering a 100,000 year span, and has been dated back to 790,000 years ago, long before modern Homo sapiens evolved. As each society left the region, water from the lake washed over the site and buried the remains, preserving their tools for archaeologists to analyse.

The remains included 500,000 chips of broken flint, produced as the early humans crafted their stone axes and knives. Roughly 2% of these chips were cracked and charred by fire, and the team mapped where each burnt fragment came from.

The analysis revealed that the charred remains were tightly clustered around certain areas, suggesting the flint chips had fallen into a campfire as early humans honed their tools by the fireside.

Because these charred remains exist in all 12 layers of the site, every society must have had access to fire. It's unlikely that all 12 societies would have been lucky enough to find a natural source of fire, says Alperson-Afil, so they must have been able to create it themselves.

"It seems the ability to create fire was embedded within their culture, together with their stone tools," she says. "If they were relying on nature, we wouldn't find these remains in such a repetitive way."

This ability would have been essential for man's eventual migration from Africa to cold Europe. However, the exact technique still remains unclear, since no obvious means of ignition were found at the site.

Journal reference: Quaternary Science Reviews (DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.06.009)


Honor Killings - The Evil Beneath the Veil

Honor killings: When the ancient and the modern collide

Cinnamon Stillwell
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, young Muslim women are being targeted for violence. Lest it be thought hate crimes are to blame, it is, in fact, their own relatives who are the perpetrators. So-called honor killings, whereby a Muslim male family member, typically the father, murders his daughter in order to defend the family's honor, is a growing problem.

While statistics are notoriously hard to come by due to the private nature of such crimes and the fact that very few are reported, the United Nations Population Fund approximates that as many as 5,000 women are murdered in this manner each year worldwide. Undoubtedly that's a low estimate, as reports from Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories, among other locales, are filtering in at an alarming rate. Add to the list Germany, Sweden, other parts of Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, and it's clear that young Muslim women in the West are becoming increasingly vulnerable.

While fathers are commonly responsible for honor killings, they often act in concert with their daughters' brothers, uncles, and even female relatives. For infringements upon a Muslim daughter's "honor" constitute the greatest humiliation possible to the religious and tribal tradition from which many such immigrant families emerged. Acts that demand "punishment" include refusing to wear a hijab (or headscarf), having non-Muslim boyfriends or male friends of any origin, being sexually active, rejecting arranged marriages, aggressively seeking employment and education, and, more than anything else, attempting to assimilate into Western culture.

Trying to balance a tightrope between the demands of competing and in some cases incompatible cultures, young Muslim women in the West are caught between two worlds. And all too often they pay the ultimate price. Indeed, two such cases have rocked the United States and Canada in recent months, bringing the specter of honor killings much closer to home.

On New Year's Day, residents of Lewisville, Texas were shocked to hear about the brutal murder of teenage sisters Sarah and Amina Said. The two were found shot to death in a taxi after having made a last phone call to a police dispatcher asking for help. The police immediately issued an arrest warrant for the girls' father, Egyptian-born cab driver Yaser Abdel Said, who remains at large to this day.

A Muslim married to a Christian woman, the elder Said had a history of physical and sexual abuse toward his daughters. This past Christmas, his wife, Patricia, finally fled the state with the girls and set up residence in Tulsa, Okla., under an assumed name. Said's violent and domineering behavior was apparently motivated by his concern that, as the Dallas Morning News describes it, "Western culture was corrupting the chastity of his daughters." Honor students and athletes at Lewisville High School, Sarah and Amina were the quintessential American teenagers. Amina had been awarded a $20,000 college scholarship and Sarah planned to study medicine. Photos of the two young women demonstrate a vibrancy and attractiveness that undoubtedly induced fear in their controlling father. The emergence of non-Muslim boyfriends was the final straw.

Although the girls' mother denied that Said was motivated by religion or culture and their brother, Islam, claimed it was not an honor killing, all evidence points to the contrary. While, reportedly, the family was not terribly observant, Said, as described by the Dallas Morning News, "often espoused his version of traditional Middle Eastern values," including marrying his then 15-year-old wife when he was 30, threatening to take one of his daughters "back to Egypt and have her killed," where, as he put it, "it's OK to do that ... if you dishonor your family," trying to break up one of his daughters and her non-Muslim boyfriend, and threatening to kill both his daughters on multiple occasions over disputes surrounding their social lives. Summing it all up, the sisters' great-aunt Gail Gartrell stated unequivocally, "This was an honor killing."

The slayings of Sarah and Amina Said came on the heels of another apparent honor killing, that of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez in Mississauga, Ontario, last December. Aqsa was a vivacious and popular young woman whose attempts at a normal, Western teenage social life angered her Pakistani father, Muhammad Parvez. Aqsa, who was opposed to wearing a hijab and sometimes changed her outfit once she got to school, often clashed with her father and had left the family home a week before the attack out of fear. But she eventually returned, only to be met with strangulation at the hands of her own father. She died later in the hospital and the elder Parvez, who initially called the police, was charged with her murder. Aqsa's 26-year-old brother, Waqas, was charged with obstructing police.

Like the Said sisters, Aqsa had long suffered abuse at the hands of her father, reports of which were never adequately pursued by Canadian authorities. But Aqsa's friends saw trouble brewing and, according to the National Post, noted that "she had been threatened by her strictly religious family before." According to one of them, Ebonie Mitchell, Aqsa held conflicting opinions with her family on wearing a hijab. As she put it, Aqsa "just wanted to dress like we do. Last year, she wore like the Islamic stuff and everything, the hijab, and this year she's all western. She just wanted to look like everyone else." As another friend, Krista Garbhet, noted, "She just wanted to be herself; honestly, she just wanted to show her beauty." However, as Aqsa was to discover, the latter desire can have dangerous consequences for young Muslim women in the West.

In the wake of Parvez's murder, one would hope for moral clarity from the Canadian Muslim community. But with a few exceptions, the usual suspects issued the usual apologetics.
Following Parvez's funeral, an anti-violence vigil was held at the Mississauga Civic Centre and organized by the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. Unfortunately, CAIR-CAN, like its American counterpart, is part of the problem, not the solution. Working to further acceptance of Sharia (or Islamic) law in the United States and Canada and trying to silence — either through accusations of "Islamophobia," libel lawsuits or boycotts — voices of criticism and reform, CAIR's agenda would seem to be working against the advancement of Muslim women's rights.

Accordingly, representatives of other allegedly mainstream Muslim groups, instead of taking the opportunity to address the scourge of honor killings, downplayed the religious and cultural angle. Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association, claimed that "The strangulation death of Ms. Parvez was the result of domestic violence, a problem that cuts across Canadian society and is blind to color or creed," while Sheikh Alaa El-Sayyed, imam of the Islamic Society of North America in Mississauga, came to the following conclusion: "The bottom line is, it's a domestic violence issue."

In contrast, Canadian Muslim reformer Irshad Manji, in addressing Aqsa Parvez's murder, put it like so:
Moderate Muslims have warned that we shouldn't leap to conclusions. Who knows
what other dynamics infected her family, spout hijab-hooded mouthpieces on Canadian TV. Not once have I heard these upstanding Muslims say that whatever
the 'family dynamics,' killing is not a solution. Ever. How's that for basic morality?

Similarly, Tarek Fatah, founder of the Canadian Muslim Congress, labeled Parvez's murder "a blight on Islam." "In my mind," he added, "this was an honor killing."

Until this kind of self-reflection and self-criticism become the norm in the Muslim community, much-needed reform will remain elusive. This includes addressing the root causes of honor killings and sanctioned violence against Muslim women. Although the Koran does not authorize honor killings, Quran 4:34 instructs men to beat disobedient wives and send them to sleep in separate beds. Then there are tribal leaders such as Jordanian Tarrad Fayiz, who tells followers that "A woman is like an olive tree. When its branch catches woodworm, it has to be chopped off so that society stays clean and pure." Op-eds such as the one in the Yemen Times earlier this month recommending violence against women and clerics delivering sermons and speeches doing the same further muddy the waters.

Also at question are the vagaries of the Arab honor/shame culture, in which men's "shame" (or that of the family or tribe) at the prospect of women's sullied "honor" (or chastity) must be avoided at all costs. Honor killings are not, as the apologists would have us believe, simple acts of domestic violence akin to those that take place in all communities. They are specific to Muslim religion and culture and must be addressed as such if ever honest debate about the matter is to ensue.

Regrettably, silence is the more typical reaction to these crimes. Fearful of giving offense or being branded with the ubiquitous "Islamophobia" label, law enforcement, journalists, social workers, government officials and, most of all, Western feminists are allowing a grave threat to women's rights go unaddressed. The misguided purveyors of multiculturalism — an ideology that holds that all cultures or religions are equivalent and none (save for the dominant, or Western, culture) worthy of condemnation — have rendered the West incapable of addressing evils where Third World cultures are to blame. But the truth is Western culture offers the greatest boon to women's rights and must therefore be vigorously defended, even if that means stepping into the realm of the politically incorrect.

Feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, which put out an occasional press release decrying honor killings, need to make combating this practice as high a priority as defending choice and railing against "glass ceilings." Instead, it is a precious few who are telling it like it is when it comes to the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Ironically, many of them are on the right side of the political spectrum or, like author, blogger and activist Phyllis Chesler, have been cast out of the leftist-dominated feminist movement for speaking the uncomfortable truth.

As I have noted previously, the challenges posed by the Muslim world are the next frontier for women's rights and all those interested in advancing such goals will have to rise to the occasion. It is up to every one of us to speak out where, not only women's, but human rights are in question. Young women's lives are at stake.

Cinnamon Stillwell is a San Francisco writer. She can be reached at She also writes for the blog at


Taliban: Why We Must Defeat Them

Taliban Kill Around 30 People After Stopping Bus

The Associated Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan

Taliban militants stopped a bus traveling on Afghanistan's main highway through a dangerous part of the country's south, seized about 50 people on board and killed around 30 of them, officials said Sunday.

A Taliban spokesman took responsibility for the attack but claimed to have killed 27 Afghan army soldiers. Afghan officials said no soldiers were aboard and all the victims were civilians.

Militants stopped the bus traveling in a two-bus convoy in a Taliban-controlled area about 40 miles west of Kandahar, said provincial police chief Matiullah Khan.

He said two buses had been traveling together, and the militants had tried to stop the first one but failed. He said the insurgents fired at the first bus, killing a child on board.

Officials offered varying death tolls from the attack, which occurred in an area where government forces cannot travel safely without heavy military protection. That may explain why news of Thursday's killings did not emerge until Sunday.

The Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, said 31 people were killed and that six of the dead were beheaded in a separate area from where the other 25 bodies were found.

Khan originally claimed about 40 civilians were killed but later Sunday, he lowered the death toll telling a news conference 24 people had been killed. He said the victims had come from northern Afghanistan and were between 20 and 25 years old.

Khan said authorities had arrested four Taliban commanders in connection with the attack.
There was no way to independently verify the number of victims.

"The Taliban want to hide the news that they arrested and killed innocent Afghan civilians," Khan said, dismissing their claim the victims were soldiers.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said militants looked at the documents of those traveling on the bus, released all the civilians and killed only soldiers.

Taliban attacks have become increasingly lethal this year, as the militia has gained power and surged throughout southern and eastern Afghanistan. Violence in Afghanistan this year has killed more than 5,100 people — mostly militants — according to an Associated Press count of figures from Afghan and Western officials.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hate Crimes Against Muslims: One incident

Defendant: Safia Z. Jilani(Law enforcement handout photo / October 17, 2008)

Filing a false police report

Jilani, a Muslim student, who said a masked gunman assaulted her on October 9, 2008 after he wrote anti-Muslim slurs in a women's restroom at Elmhurst College. Jilani, 19, of Oak Brook, was arrested a week later after authorities concluded there was no merit to her complaint.

"The totality of all the evidence, and interviews with staff and students at the college ... concluded that this incident never happened," said Elmhurst Police Chief Steve Neubauer.

Jilani's report of an attack followed several weeks of tension on campus that began when some students allegedly called anti-Muslim slurs at students protesting the treatment of U.S. captives at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

As officials at the private college, affiliated with the United Church of Christ, called the incident a hate crime, hundreds of students rallied to show solidarity with their Muslim peers, who constitute about 25 of the school's 3,300 students.

I thought it was interesting.


Not much to say

Authorities: Man drowns in manure lagoon

Associated Press
December 22, 2008

BLUFFTON, Ind. - Authorities say a Bluffton man apparently drowned when a skid loader he was operating fell into a manure lagoon in Wells County.

An Indiana conservation officer says 23-year-old Nicholas Cruz had been cleaning out a cattle lot at Sunny Park Dairy and dumping manure into the lagoon Friday morning when he apparently lost control of the skid loader.

A dairy employee found Cruz underneath the skid loader and Wells County firefighters removed him from the lagoon. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Bluffton.

An autopsy was being conducted at a hospital in Fort Wayne.

Strange but true

The EU - Contributed to the Plight of the Palestinians.

Army finds explosive chemicals in EU aid bags
6.5 tons of potassium nitrate hidden in sacks marked as sugar from the European Union for needy Palestinians in Gaza. EU declines comment

12.29.07, 21:57 /
Israel News

Israel said on Saturday it had recently seized a truck carrying chemicals used to make explosives hidden in bags marked as EU aid for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The army said 6.5 tons of potassium nitrate were in bags marked as sugar from the European Union for Palestinians in the coastal enclave.

EU officials in Jerusalem had no immediate comment.

The cargo in a Palestinian truck was traveling in the West Bank and seized several weeks ago at an Israeli checkpoint, the army said.

The EU is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Israel tightened its military and economic cordon of the Gaza Strip after Islamist Hamas seized the territory in a June war with secular Fatah.



Israel: Let in the aid and a few tons of explosives are included

2 tons of explosives found amongst humanitarian aid en route to Gaza

Terror groups take advantage of Israeli permit allowing humanitarian goods into impoverished Gaza Strip, attempt to smuggle two tons of fertilizer in truck transporting aid in second such incident this week

Hanan Greenberg


Security workers employed by the Israel Airport Authority uncovered two tons of fertilizer used in the manufacturing of Qassam rockets on Monday afternoon, the substantial amount of explosive material was concealed in a truck allegedly transporting humanitarian aid into the

The security officials manning the Kerem Shalom border crossing discovered the smuggling attempt during a random inspection of vehicles carrying humanitarian equipment and goods.

This is the second such incident to occur this week.

At present time defense officials are still investigating the incident and the origin and destination of the explosives remain unknown. Security forces estimate terror organizations have recently increased smuggling efforts.

"As we have seen in the past, terror groups will stop at nothing to carry out their plans. We have seen a number of attacks against the crossings themselves, the Karni goods crossing has been closed for several months because of this – and it is the Palestinians who ultimately suffer from this," they said.

Despite the security restrictions and economic siege of Gaza, Israel allows the transfer of medical equipment and drugs into Gaza at the insistence of the World Health Organization.


What government would not immediately STOP ALL aid, ALL shipments of EVERYTHING!!


Sweden: Home to some of the dumbest ideas.

Tax on Men for Violence on Women Proposed
Tue Oct 5, 2004

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A group of Swedish parliamentarians proposed levying a "man tax" to cover the social cost of violence against women.

"It must be obvious to all of us that society has a huge problem with male violence against women and that has a cost," Left Party deputy Gudrun Schyman told Swedish radio on Monday.

"We must have a discussion where men understand they as a group have a responsibility," said Schyman, one of the party members to sign the motion for debate on the new tax.

Sweden already has the highest taxes in the European Union (news - web sites) as a percentage of gross domestic product to pay for its famous but hard-pushed cradle-to-grave welfare program.

It is also one of the world's most advanced nations in terms of gender equality, but Schyman said in a headline-hitting 2002 speech that discrimination in Sweden followed "the same pattern" as in Afghanistan (news - web sites) under the Taliban.

Stupid ideas

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh Canada - What do you have left?

A little dated, but still amusing! (what we should pray Obama does not do in the US to save money)

'Bankrupt' Forces may shut 5 bases

Internal Report says $500m shortfall may cause closure from Winnipeg to Labrador

Chris Wattie
National Post
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Canada's army, navy and air force are facing a funding shortfall of up to half a billion dollars, defence sources told the National Post, and the military is recommending drastic measures to make up the difference, including closing some of the largest bases in the country.


The military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the reports foresee a situation so dire that they recommend curtailing operations, dry-docking ships and mothballing vehicles or aircraft and closing at least four Canadian Forces bases.


Further, the air force report says that unless its fleet of ageing CC-130 Hercules transport planes is replaced or modernized, the main transport base at Trenton should be closed within 10 years. "There won't be enough Hercs flying by then to justify keeping the base open," one air force source said.

[Think about the implications of the above! Amazing. If they surrender now it would make things easier and cheaper on them.]


"We will not be able to meet our domestic defence obligations," one naval officer said.

The army is said to be in the worst financial state of all three branches of the Canadian Forces. "Everyone knows that the army's broke and has been for a couple years," said one military source familiar with the reports.

[OMG ... worse than the navy unable to meet its domestic obligations!!!]

I apologize - I don't feel like typing the entire article. Apparently the article is no longer available on the National Post site, although I am sure you are are an intrepid searcher, and will find it using a pay-per search site.

Oh Canada

Bush and Africa

Unpopular at home, Bush basks in African praise

Sun Feb 17, 2008

By Barry Moody

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Unpopular at home and in much of the world during the last year of his presidency, George W. Bush is basking in rare adulation on his African tour.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete poured praise on Bush in Dar es Salaam on Sunday, the second day of his five-nation African tour, each compliment applauded warmly by members of the east African country's cabinet.

Although around 2,000 Muslim demonstrators protested against Bush on the eve of his visit, many thousands more cheering, waving people lined his road from the airport on Saturday.

Banners across the route, decorated with Bush's image against a backdrop of Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro, read: "We cherish democracy. Karibu (welcome) to President and Mrs Bush."
Others read: "Thank you for helping fight malaria and HIV." Dancers at the airport and at Kikwete's state house to greet Bush on Sunday, wore skirts and shirts decorated with his face.

Back home, Bush is suffering some of the lowest approval ratings in his seven-year tenure and has been buffeted by criticism of his handling of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ailing economy.

Not surprisingly he is enjoying the different reception in Africa.

Beaming repeatedly during a press conference with Kikwete, he made a point of referring to his welcome on the streets, which he described as "very moving".

Bush opened his remarks by saying "Vipi Mambo!" before turning to U.S. journalists and adding: "For the uneducated, that's Swahili for 'Howdy Y'all'" --a typical Texas greeting.

Kikwete told Bush: "The outpouring of warmth and affection from the people of Tanzania that you have witnessed since your arrival is a genuine reflection of what we feel towards you and towards the American people."


In a reference to Bush's domestic problems, Kikwete added: "Different people may have different views about you and your administration and your legacy.

"But we in Tanzania, if we are to speak for ourselves and for Africa, we know for sure that you, Mr. President, and your administration have been good friends of our country and have been good friends of Africa."

Although many Africans, especially Muslims, share negative perceptions of Bush's foreign policy with other parts of the world, there is widespread recognition of his successful humanitarian and health initiatives on the continent.

Bush has spent more money on aid to Africa than his predecessor, Bill Clinton, and is popular for his personal programs to fight AIDS and malaria and to help hospitals and schools.

Bush has stressed new-style partnerships with Africa based on trade and investment and not purely on aid handouts.

His Millennium Challenge Corp. rewards countries that continue to satisfy criteria for democratic governance, anti-corruption and free-market economic policies.

Bush signed the largest such deal, for $698 million, with Kikwete on Sunday.

Because of the U.S. anti-malaria program, 5 percent of patients tested positive for the disease on the offshore islands of Zanzibar in 2007 compared to 40 percent three years earlier, the Tanzanian leader said.

Bush's legacy in Africa would be saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of mothers and children who would otherwise have died from malaria or AIDS and enabling millions of people to get an education, he said.

"I know you leave office in about 12 months' time. Rest assured that you will be remembered for many generations to come for the good things you've done for Tanzania and the good things you have done for Africa," Kikwete said.


Amazing how facts get in the way of politics.



The French and Societe Generale - The First Story!

While we wonder about Madoff and how he managed for so long what he did - billions. A story last January in France is even bigger, given the fact the wealth of France is ... less than what Madoff was dealing with.

Societe Generale Hit By €4.9 Billion Crime

French bank Societe Generale has revealed that it has been hit by one of the biggest alleged cases of fraud in banking history. The bank discovered that fraud by one of its traders had led to losses of €4.9 billion.

That is $10 billion US dollars. Considerably less than Madoff, but a GREAT DEAL CONSIDERING where it took place.

When the world wonders about the fraud and greed and wealth that exists in the US, they need look no further than France for reassurance that we learned from the Euros all the crimes we have committed here, in our banking institutions.

Euro crimes

US Wounded Giant: Davos and Soros

Given the fact the Russian 'professor' believes we are sinking into the dustbin of history, and Soros and others at last years Davos believed we are the wounded giant ... I guess it is over. We may as well cash in the chips and give it up to .... who? Russia? China?

U.S. in role of wounded giant at Davos

By Mark Landler
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

DAVOS, Switzerland: The United States has filled various roles at the World Economic Forum over the past decade: dot-com dynamo, benevolent superpower, feared aggressor, and now, wounded giant.

On the first day of this conference, a parade of bankers, economists, and political officials expressed deep fears about the faltering American economy, peppered with blunt criticism of its institutions, chiefly the Federal Reserve, which some accused of sowing the seeds of today's crisis.

George Soros, the financier who made a fortune betting against the pound, went so far Wednesday as to say that the downturn would put an end to the long status of the dollar as the world's default currency.

"The current crisis is not only the bust that follows the housing boom," Soros said. "It's basically the end of a 60-year period of continuing credit expansion based on the dollar as the reserve currency."

Signs of a new economic order abounded in this Swiss ski resort: the minister of commerce and industry of India, Kamal Nath, noted that China had overtaken the United States as India's largest trading partner - buttressing his view that India could largely sidestep an American recession.

The head of the National Bank of Kuwait, Ibrahim Dabdoub, said Americans who opposed sovereign wealth funds like the one run by his government needed to come to terms with the new reality.

Completing the role reversal, Nouriel Roubini, an American economist, said, "the United States looks like an emerging market," with large budget deficits and a swooning currency. By contrast, he said, Brazil, an actual emerging market, had done a better job of overhauling its economy.

Roubini, whose frequent predictions of a downturn have made him something of a soothsayer in Davos, predicted the United States would suffer a recession lasting at least a year. He foresees a flood of defaults on car loans and corporate bonds, as well as a prolonged bear market.

"The debate is not whether we're going to have a soft landing or a hard landing," he said. "The question is only how hard the hard landing will be."

Several economists said the Federal Reserve seemed to have lost control of events since the subprime crisis erupted last summer. Some criticized its steep cut in interest rates Tuesday as a knee-jerk reaction to calm the markets rather than a sound response to a deteriorating situation.

"Policy makers are reaching back into the same playbook that got us into this mess in the first place," said Stephen Roach, an economist who recently became the chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.

By signaling that it is ready to cushion the stock market from the ravages of the credit crisis, Roach argued, the Federal Reserve risks creating conditions for a new round of inflation in asset prices.

The Federal Reserve "made bad judgments," said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. "It looked the other way when investment banks packaged bad loans in non-transparent ways."

The rate cut this week, Stiglitz said, would be too little, too late, because monetary policy usually takes between six months and 18 months to be effective, and the United States is in distress now.

For all the talk here about looking at the big picture, the Davos conference is driven by short-term impulses. This week's wild swings on the markets, as well as the Federal Reserve's dramatic response, left people here spooked, perhaps exaggerating the bleakness of the mood.

Not everybody was grim. John Snow, the former Treasury Secretary and chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, said that if the United States slipped into recession, it would be "short and shallow."

"That's been the pattern of recessions in the U.S., and there's a reason for it," he said in an interview. "There is an inherent resilience in the U.S. economy. We're already seeing an adjustment."

Few Americans said the United States would resort to protectionist policies, even though it is an election year. Sovereign wealth funds, they noted, had taken multibillion-dollar stakes in Wall Street giants like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch with hardly a peep of protest in Washington.

"Open investment is a critical driver of the U.S. economy," David McCormick, the undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs, said. He added that it was legitimate to monitor sovereign wealth funds to make sure they were commercially, not politically, driven.

The debate over decoupling - the once-popular thesis that Europe and Asia will escape the effects of a recession in the United States because they are less reliant on it as a trading partner - was over before it started.

Virtually everyone here agreed that an American downturn would inevitably spill over to Europe and Asia. Roach of Morgan Stanley said China did not have a large enough domestic consumer economy to replace the loss of demand for its exports from U.S. consumers.

Chinese officials agreed. "The Chinese economy is entering quite a delicate stage," said Yu Yongding, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "We are facing a very bad situation in the U.S."

Only Nath of India said he was confident that his country would not feel a major impact from an American recession. India, he said, was far more driven than China by domestic demand.

At least one expert here professed to see a silver lining in the linkages between the world's major economies.

C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the more dynamic economies of China and India would lift the United States out of its downturn, rather than the United States dragging them down. Companies like IBM, General Electric and Caterpillar already depend on these countries to generate a lot of their profits, he said.

[OR India and China alone can't compete with the US spending EVEN IN OUR ECONOMIC downturn. They are so far economically below us that combined they do not come close to equalling our spending power.]


John Kerry: Bill Clinton 'abuses the truth'

January 25, 2008

Kerry blasts Bill Clinton for 'abusing truth'

WASHINGTON (CNN) — John Kerry, the Democratic Party's 2004 nominee for president, took aim at Bill Clinton Friday, telling the National Journal the former president does "not have a license to abuse the truth."

The Massachusetts senator, who endorsed Barack Obama's White House bid earlier this month, said Clinton's criticisms of the Illinois senator have been "over the top," and suggested the former president is getting "frantic."

Targeting Clinton's recent spate of attacks on Obama, Kerry said, "I think you had an abuse of the truth, is what happened. …I mean, being an ex-president does not give you license to abuse the truth, and I think that over the last days it's been over the top.

"I think it's very unfortunate, but I think the voters can see through that," Kerry added. "When somebody's coming on strong and they are growing, people get a little frantic, and I think people have seen this sort of franticness in the air, if you will."

The former president has faced criticism for aggressively interjecting himself into the race between his wife and Obama of late. On Monday, Obama said he feels as if he is running against both Clintons, a charge the New York senator’s campaign said was borne out of frustration. The former president himself later dismissed Obama's comments, saying “I thought he was running against me.”

Campaigning in South Carolina Friday, Obama said the Clinton campaign has stepped up its attacks since his Iowa win, and joked that it's good practice for him, so "when I take on those Republicans I'll be accustomed to it."

Kerry formally endorsed Obama on January 10, saying then that Obama "isn't just going to break the mold….Together, we are going to shatter it into a million pieces."

The endorsement was seen as a blow to both John Edwards — Kerry's running mate in 2004 — and both Hillary and Bill Clinton, who had campaigned on behalf of Kerry's presidential bid.



"What are you doing here?": man asks wife at brothel

Wed Jan 9, 2008 10:23am EST

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees.

Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town.

"I was dumfounded. I thought I was dreaming," the husband told the newspaper on Wednesday.
The couple, married for 14 years, are now divorcing, the newspaper reported.

Amazing but true

Islamists planned attacks across Europe

Islamists planned attacks across Europe: report

Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:06am EST

MADRID (Reuters) - Islamist extremists were planning attacks across Europe, especially against public transport, before their arrests in Barcelona last weekend, a Spanish paper reported on Saturday, citing a would-be attacker's testimony.

The Al Qaeda-inspired cell planned to attack the Barcelona metro and other targets in Spain, Germany, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom, said the bomber turned police informant.

In testimony that led to the arrest of 14 South Asians last Saturday, the informant told police the group had a preference for attacks on public transport, especially metro systems, El Pais newspaper reported.

"If we attack the metro, the emergency services can't get there," the informant said he was told by a fellow suicide bomber, El Pais reported.

Two pairs with explosive-filled bags were to enter separate Barcelona subway stations and other members of the group were to detonate their bombs by remote control, said the witness.

On Friday, Spain's government said the Barcelona cell was preparing to carry out the metro attack either last weekend or in the following 15 days.

Two other pairs of suicide bombers had been assigned targets elsewhere in Spain, another was to attack Germany, three were given objectives in France and two more were to strike Portugal.

The informant said the Barcelona cell had six suicide bombers and other members responsible for preparing explosives and planning attacks in other European states. Four of those arrested have since been released due to lack of evidence.

Al Qaeda was to take responsibility for the Barcelona attacks through Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander the Pakistani government says was behind the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, El Pais said.

"Only the leadership of the organization knows what requests the emir (Baitullah) will make after the first attack, but if they are not carried out, there will be a second attack, a third in Spain. And next Germany, France, Portugal, United Kingdom," the head of the cell told the police informer, El Pais reported.

The Barcelona bombings could have taken place less than two months before Spain's March 9 general election.

Islamic militants attacked Madrid commuter trains days before Spain's last general election in March 2004, killing 191 people and wounding 1,800. They said the attacks were made in revenge for Spain sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.


Culture and Conflict in the Middle East

A professor at McGill University in Canada - Philip Salzman has written an interesting book - Culture and Conflict in the Middle East. I admit, it is now nearly a year old, but it takes me some time to read books. Life gets in the way of things we enjoy.

The book is interesting for its approach to the issues in the Middle East - Salzman argues they are tribal in nature, and when we reflect upon this, it makes some sense. When governments fall or are corrupt, individuals rely upon tribal structure to provide order and stability.

Implications - they marry each other off to cousins and others - why? to benefit from expanded family growth - fertility. More kids. Expand the tribe. Give great thanks for a son, who will produce many children and expand the tribe further. The larger the tribe, the more power the tribe holds, the greater the strength, the greater the insult when an insult occurs - resulting in violent actions against other tribes (whereby the tribe with the most males will be in a better position to win).

It would behove the tribe to impose restrictions upon the females and then to watch over the females to catch a female from an opposing clan or tribe and force her family to commit an honor killing (thereby depriving the tribe of reproductive benefits).


Minnesota: What an embarassment.

Dear Minnesotans:

I am sure that by now you have read and been told how proud you should be that the system works - that every ballot is being counted, that the process works.

I am sorry - whoever has been telling you this nonsense should be fired.

It is over a month and a half and you are still finding ballots.

It is a disgrace that any ballots were not counted (that should have been) in the first day - let alone nearly two months later.

You are an embarrassment, right up there with the idiots in Florida who can't vote.

If we were to return Minnesota to the Sioux and Florida to the Seminole, our country would be better off.

Number of uncounted ballots in Minn. still unclear

By BRIAN BAKST, Associated Press Writer
Mon Dec 29, 6:07 pm ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The campaigns of Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken wrangled Monday over hundreds of unopened absentee ballots that could still tip Minnesota's Senate race.

Lawyers ended a testy public negotiation session convened by the secretary of state's office without agreement on which ballots to open or how many should be under consideration.

That leaves the heavy lifting to a series of regional meetings that begin Tuesday. The ballots that make the cut at those meetings will be opened in St. Paul by Monday.

Those ballots are important because Franken leads Coleman by just 47 votes after the manual review of more than 2.9 million ballots.

The absentee ballots in question were incorrectly rejected by poll judges on or before Election Day, mostly because of clerical errors outside the four legal reasons for rejection.

The state board overseeing the recount ordered that the ballots be counted, and the state Supreme Court agreed — although justices added a few wrinkles. A majority ruled that either campaign can keep any ballot out of the mix with a written objection, leaving spurned voters the option of going to court to reinstate their ballot.

Local officials identified some 1,350 rejected ballots they now say should count, but Coleman's campaign suggested there are an additional 650 that should be added.

A large share of the ballots already identified come from counties where Franken ran up big margins over Coleman. Minneapolis alone accounts for almost 10 percent of the ballots.

Coleman's proposed additions skew heavily toward suburban and rural counties where he did best in the election.

By this weekend, the secretary of state's office is supposed to open the pile of ballots and add the votes to the race tally. It's the last major obstacle before the five-member Canvassing Board declares a winner.

Monday's negotiations were an attempt to speed the absentee counting process, which the court said must end by Jan. 4.

In seeking to reconsider more ballots than previously identified, Coleman campaign attorney Tony Trimble stressed the stakes.

"Time is precious, but accuracy is much more precious," he said.

Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton accused the Coleman team of trying to manipulate the process for political advantage.

"If we're going to start cherry-picking off those lists, the whole thing breaks down," Hamilton said.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann, who ran the negotiations, said he was reluctant to ask county officials to re-examine absentee ballots they had sorted through twice already.

"The clock is ticking away," he said at one point.

At the regional meetings, local election officials will display the sealed envelopes of the list of potentially erroneous rejections.

If both campaigns agree the ballot inside should count, it is shipped to St. Paul. A disagreement leaves it out pending possible court action. The campaign lawyers were warned they could face sanctions for baseless attempts to exclude legal votes.


Obama: Open and Transparent ?

Thge MOST OPEN and TRANSPARENT administration in history? He has not even begun and he is failing. Or is it, the most transparent administration when we want to be transparent and when it is important (as determined by us).

Obama fails to disclose transition meetings

Lynn Sweet, Sun-Times Columnist
December 29, 2008

WASHINGTON -- The Obama team, pledging the ''most open and transparent transition in history,'' gets an ''A'' for disclosing donors to the Jan. 20 inauguration and a ''F'' when it comes to revealing transition meetings with groups. Contrary to its own ''seat at the table transparency policy,'' meetings are not posted on a Web site.

I'm giving a ''B'' to the Obama transition report on staff contacts with Gov. Blagojevich. The report was a summary narrative released last week of an internal inquiry into Gov. Blagojevich's selling-of-a-Senate seat scandal. While the Obama team deserves credit for disclosure -- including that President-elect Barack Obama and incoming White House staffers Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel met with federal prosecutors -- offering some notes or transcripts to support the conclusions would have been helpful.

During the presidential primary campaign, then candidate Obama, made a pledge that if he were elected president, he would post his meetings on the Internet. Currently, the only items posted are materials submitted by groups in connection with a transition meeting.

During the presidential primary campaign, then candidate Obama, still an Illinois senator, made a pledge I heard for the first time on Oct. 24, 2007. In a school gym in Dover, N.H., Obama said if president, he would post his meetings on the Internet. That was interesting to me because Obama's Senate staff had been very selective about what Obama Senate-related meetings they disclosed and seemed to be guided by a ''less is best'' policy.

A month after the election, on Dec. 5, John Podesta, a transition co-chair, issued an Obama transparency policy. When it comes to meetings, ''the date and organizations represented at official meetings in the Transition headquarters or agency offices'' would be ''posted on our Web site,'' at

Indeed, the ''seat at the table'' section states ''on this page, you can track these meetings, view documents provided to the Transition and leave comments for the team,'' but the statement is only partly true.

What is posted are materials -- for example, briefing or position papers -- submitted by groups in connection with a transition meeting. There is no list of meetings on the site, with a meeting defined in the policy as having three or more participants.

Transition spokesman Nick Shapiro, asked why the meetings are not posted despite the policy, said, ''This policy is part of President-elect Obama's commitment to run the most open and transparent transition in history. The transition staff has been instructed that this is a floor and not a ceiling. No transition has ever attempted to implement such disclosure requirements, and as we continue to evaluate the policy, refinements will be made to it."

There's better disclosure news when it comes to Obama's Presidential Inauguration Committee.

The PIC is providing near real time postings of donors of $200 or more, with a user-friendly searchable database at the PICs Web site,

Donations are posted within 48 hours and include the contributors' state and employer. In another advance on the transparency front, inauguration bundlers -- those who tap their personal networks for money -- are disclosed with how much they have raised.

The Obama team set $50,000 per-person contribution limit for the inauguration with a $300,000-per-bundler cap; no corporate or political action committee money is accepted.
The PIC is revealing more about bundlers than did the presidential campaign.


China, Russia, and the US - Who has the power?

This is really quite funny. Right up there with the 'professor' in Russia who believes the US will crumble by 2010.

BIG joke.

Read the article, and very carefully consider the POINTS they use to support their proposition.

When you do, you will see that several are global - affecting everyone, and the rest are relatively minor. One in particular is only an issue because it has become an issue - sort of like why and how Paris Hilton became and is a celebrity. The great unknown reason, yet she is because she is and now that she is, no one questions why she is. This works fine when chasing celebrities, but is not useful when determining the scale of international power.

Marked changes in world's political, economic landscape 2008-12-28 20:39:56
by Sun Ruijun and Bao Erwen

BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The world has undergone remarkable changes this year, but international security situation on the whole remained stable with "peace" and "development" prevailing as the themes of the times.

In 2008, the world has continued moving toward multi-polarization, resulting in a distinctive shift of international forces. Globalization is developing in depth and regional cooperation is gathering momentum.

The world has been confronted with one hotspot issue after another and non-traditional threats are increasing. The world economic growth took a turn for the worse due to the outbreak of the global financial crisis.


In recent years, the international political structure has transformed gradually from "one superpower coexisting with several other powers," formed after the Cold War, to multi-polarization.

The transformation picked up speed this year, with significant changes in the balance of international forces.

The United States has been acting as the world's only superpower in 2008, but the financial turmoil, which broke out in Wall Street in September, showed its vulnerability.

In addition, the country is still deep in trouble with its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has undermined its international image.

Some analysts attributed the waning U.S. strength to its policy of unilateralism and expansionism on international issues, and its practice of a laissez-faire free market economy at home. It remains to be seen what consequences of these policies will have on U.S. national strength.

By contrast, Russia's flexing of strong muscles in the international political arena in the outgoing year indicated a marked recovery of its strength.

After sending troops to Georgia in August, Moscow announced itsrecognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and established diplomatic ties with them.

Furthermore, the Russian military forces also carried out operations in Latin America, which has long been considered the "backyard" of the United States.

Washington, which has been pushing NATO's eastward expansion and trying to deploy anti-ballistic missile systems in East Europe, seemed to have no effective measures to deal with Russia's counterattack.

The growing strength of Russia has something to do with its leaders' strong will to make their country regain world power status. Over the past years Russia had seized the favorable opportunities by pursuing a pluralistic and pragmatic diplomatic policy, reviving its national economy and safeguarding its national interest.

Also in 2008, after standing the test of natural disasters following the Wenchuan earthquake in May, China succeeded in hosting the "truly exceptional" 29th Olympic Games in August. In October, the country sent Shenzhou-7 spacecraft into orbit, accomplishing its first ever space walk.

China has showed to the world its overall national strength is on constant increase following 30 years of reform and opening-up. China has become one of the major engines for world economy and contributed significantly to world economic growth.

Moreover, China has played more important roles in international affairs, such as the financial summit and the informal meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) continued to enhance its independence and influence in international affairs.

In March, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said their countries share a vision of a "global Europe."

"We need Britain and France at the heart of Europe, a global Europe, that is reforming, open, flexible, outward-looking," the two leaders said in a joint statement.

The outgoing 2008 has also seen a large number of developing countries rise with increasing momentum.

From a geopolitical perspective, the center of world power is shifting from both sides of the Atlantic to the western Pacific region, as the emerging countries are mostly located in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.

This shows that the existing international system is undergoing readjustment with new reshuffles and restructuring profoundly changing the balance of power in the world.


The in-depth development of economic globalization has made economic ties and interdependence between countries even closer, boosting the sustained growth of world economy, and benefiting many countries.

The Doha Round of talks of the World Trade Organization, aimed at furthering global trade, remained deadlocked this year. However, the financial summit and the 16th Leaders' Meeting of APEC in November sent out a strong signal for boosting the talks and gave them fresh impetus.
Yet, economic globalization has not been plain sailing this year.

Some developed nations, out of their selfish interest, asked too much of their developing counterparts, leaving the Doha Round of trade talks in an impasse.

After the outbreak of financial crisis, trade protectionism gained ground in some developed nations. However, economic globalization will continue despite twists and turns, as it is the inevitable outcome that corresponds to the development of productive forces of today's world, and constitutes the general trend of world economic growth.

It is hoped that developed nations would establish an equal, mutually-beneficial and win-win partnership with developing nations, so as to advance economic globalization toward balanced development, shared benefits and win-win progress.

Regional integration is another highlight in 2008, with regional and sub-regional cooperation further strengthened.

The EU continued to boost the process of its integration. Except Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland, all EU member nations have ratified the Lisbon Treaty, signed by EU heads of state and government in December 2007 and designed to reform EU institutions and streamline decision-making in the ever-enlarging union.

A charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),which was ratified by parliaments of 10 members of the regional bloc and formally entered into force on Dec. 15, clearly set the strategic goal of setting up an ASEAN community.

In Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) inaugurated a free trade area in August.

In October, the SADC and two other regional blocs, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, held a summit in the Ugandan capital of Kampala to discuss Africa's economic integration.


International security situation remained stable on the whole this year despite sporadic traditional threats.

The U.S.-led NATO continued to take "containment" measures against Russia. Meanwhile, Washington has reinforced its military strength in East Asia.

The armed conflict between Georgia and Russia in South Ossetia took the world by surprise. Observers noted however, the root cause of the conflict lies in Russia's perceived threat to its strategic security posed by NATO's continued eastward expansion that will recruit Georgia and Ukraine as new members and Washington's insistence on deploying anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, rather than the apparent differences over South Ossetia's sovereignty.

The year 2008 has also seen new changes in some old hotspot issues, and the emergence of some new hotspot issues.

The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula achieved a breakthrough, but also encountered new obstacles.

After the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) formally submitted a declaration on its nuclear program, Washington removed the country from the "list of state sponsors of terrorism."

But the two countries were far apart on the issue concerning verification of the DPRK's declaration.

Iran's nuclear issue remained deadlocked. Tehran refused to halt its sensitive uranium enrichment activities, while Western nations threatened to launch a new round of sanctions against the country.

Iraq's security situation has improved, with violent attacks on decline as compared with last year. Washington and the Iraqi government reached a deal on the status of the U.S. forces stationed in the country. But sectarian conflicts, political confrontation, terrorist activities and the U.S. military presence were still threatening Iraq's stability.

As insufficient U.S. and NATO troops were unable to deal effective blows to Taliban insurgents, Afghanistan underwent the most turbulent year in 2008 since the fall of the Taliban regime, with at least 5,000 people killed in violent attacks this year.

In the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian leaders failed to honor their commitment of a peaceful deal made at an international meeting in the U.S. city of Annapolis last November.
Meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas, two major factions in Palestine, were locked in frequent clashes due to different political views.

In November, the Sudanese government announced an immediate ceasefire in the war-torn western region of Darfur to pave the wayfor the Arab-sponsored peace negotiations with the rebel movements. But in July, a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) demanded an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omeral-Bashir, accusing him of "genocide" and other war crimes committed in Darfur.

The ICC move set a precedent for an institution transcending states prosecuting the incumbent leader of a sovereign state, causing grave concerns among Middle Eastern and African nations, as the move threatened the current international order based on the UN Charter.

In February, Kosovo's declaration of independence drew mixed reactions from the international community, with Washington voicing support and recognition for Kosovo's independence, EU nations holding different views on the issue, and Serbia and Russia expresses strong opposition to Kosovo's independence.

Moscow maintained that Kosovo's independence would endanger the system of international law and leave negative consequences for the Balkan region and the world at large.

In Thailand, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, different political factions, as representatives of different interest groups, got into furious disputes over election issues.

The year 2008 has also witnessed increasing non-traditional security threats, including terrorism, climate change and piracy.

On Nov. 26, more than 200 people were killed and some 300 others injured in terror attacks in Mumbai, India's largest city. Afghanistan and Pakistan also fell victim to terror attacks.

As for climate change, a disaster caused by freezing rain and snow hit a large area in southern China. Hurricanes pounded Central America and the Caribbean. More than 77,000 people were killed and nearly 56,000 people went missing in a severe tropical storm in Myanmar.

Since the beginning of 2008, more than 120 cases of piracy occurred off Somalia, a war-torn country in Africa, with more than 30 ships hijacked and some 600 sailors held hostages.

As rampant piracy is posing increasing threats to maritime trade and shipping, some countries were forced to use military force to ensure the safety of their commercial vessels.


In September this year, a financial "tsunami" that broke out in Wall Street, quickly turned into the most serious global financial crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

According to the U.S. company Goldman Sachs & Co., global financial institutions would suffer a loss of 1.4 trillion dollars in the U.S. subprime crisis. Global financial crisis had already plunged the United States, the euro zone and Japan into recession, and slowed down the growth of emerging economies.

The International Monetary Fund has predicted a 3.7 percent growth rate for world economy this year, lower than the 2007 figure of 5.0 percent.

The global financial crisis is blamed on the laissez-faire economic policy adopted by the U.S. government and its failure to exercise effective financial regulation amid the dramatic expansion of financial derivative products since early this century.

People expect the international community to draw lessons from the crisis and undertake necessary reform of international financial system in a comprehensive, balanced, incremental and result-oriented way, so as to establish a new international financial order that is fair, just, inclusive and orderly and fostering an institutional environment conducive to sound global economic development.

As long as it joins forces, the international community will be able to tackle all political, security and economic challenges and continue to advance the world further toward justice, peace and prosperity, observers said.

China forcast

Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

Who's on First? Certainly isn't the Euro.