Monday, January 30, 2012

Biden: Better not take credit for this in the future

Jan 30, 2012 12:03pm

Joe Biden Advised Against the Osama bin Laden Raid

Vice President Joe Biden confessed this weekend that he advised President Obama not to launch the mission that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden last spring.

During remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat this weekend, Biden explained that when it came time to make the final decision, he had some lingering uncertainties about whether the 9/11 mastermind was in the suspected compound in Pakistan.

When the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Biden said.

“Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51,” Biden said, as he offered the unsolicited details of the decision-making process.

“He got to me. He said, ‘Joe, what do you think?’ And I said, ‘You know, I didn’t know we had so many economists around the table.’ I said, ‘We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there,’” Biden recalled.

While the vice president did not explain what those two more things were, the next morning the president gave National Security Adviser Tom Donilon the “go” to launch the SEAL raid of the compound.

“He knew what was at stake, not just the lives of those brave warriors, but literally the presidency,” Biden said.


War with Iran ?

January 18, 2012 9:50 AM

By Kenneth M. Pollack
CBS News

With so much alarming going on in the Middle East, it's hard to keep track of everything that seems to be going wrong. No sooner had the Libyan civil war ended than another erupted in Syria. Iraq appears determined to follow, and perhaps overtake their Syrian neighbors. Egypt remains locked in a multi-sided struggle among the military, the Islamists and the secular liberals. And disturbing reports of low-level, but growing unrest in Saudi Arabia have begun to emerge.

Amid all of this, the one place that the United States has resolutely marched forward—or perhaps been dragged by the Congress and our European allies—has been in applying ever greater pressure on Iran. But if the Obama administration’s forward progress is clear enough when it comes to its Iran policy, its ultimate destination is not. The sanctions against Iran may well succeed on their own terms while producing regrettable, if unintended, consequences.

The latest salvo against Iran came a few short weeks ago, when President Obama signed into law the new Defense Appropriations bill, in which Congressional conservatives had tucked new, draconian sanctions prohibiting transactions with Central Bank of Iran (CBI), or anyone else doing business with the CBI. The importance of these sanctions is that prohibiting transactions with Iran’s Central Bank would preclude long-term oil sales contracts. If no country were willing to deal with the CBI, Iran would be forced to sell its oil either only to countries and companies willing to buck such U.S. sanctions, or rely on spot market sales for cash—an extremely inefficient method that would cut heavily into Iranian oil revenues. Some analysts, in fact, estimate that this could lead to a reduction of Iranian oil revenues by as much as one-third—and since Iran is heavily dependent on oil revenues, this could have a major impact on the Iranian economy.

Now that would seem to be a good thing, right? Maybe, but maybe not. Certainly the Iranian regime has shown absolutely no inclination to halt (let alone give up) its nuclear program in the face of previous sanctions, which are already having a serious impact on the Iranian economy. The hope is that going after Iranian oil revenues in this fashion would apply so much pressure on Iran’s economy, causing rampant inflation and even economic collapse, that the regime will have no choice but to compromise and accept international demands related to its nuclear program.

The problem is that these sanctions are potentially so damaging that they could backfire, creating at least three sets of consequences that would leave the United States in a worse position, whatever the impact on Iran.

Backfire I: The Impact on the U.S. Economy

One of the interesting things about going after Iranian oil exports in this fashion is that it is likely to simultaneously hurt Iran’s economy and our own. The bet is that it will hit the Iranian economy much harder and faster than our own. The sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran have already caused a sudden increase in inflation and a drop in the value of the Iranian rial as Iranians race to dump their rials in favor of dollars, pounds and euros—hard currency that they expect to both hold their value over time and be more easily traded internationally.

But limiting Iranian oil exports is likely to drive up the international price of oil. There is little slack oil production capacity left in the world. The Saudis have said that they would offset any drop in Iranian oil by increasing their own, but many analysts question Riyadh’s capacity to do so completely or for a sustained period of time. In addition, given Saudi Arabia’s own domestic concerns, Riyadh might be willing to tolerate price increases that bolster their own revenues as well.

To the extent that Iranian oil is truly off the market for the U.S. and Europe, it will increase the price for what remains. Even to the extent that Iranian oil finds its way back on to the market in various ways—legal ways, like the spot market, illegal ways, like the black market—the inefficiencies and increased transportation costs will also create a price increase. Estimates of the amount of this jump in price vary, but at least one source has projected a $20 increase in the price per barrel, which is roughly a 15 to 20 percent increase.

In case you missed the past 40 years of American economic history, there is no commodity on earth that affects the American economy faster or more profoundly than oil. A 20 percent increase in the price of oil would result in a very significant increase in American gasoline prices, with a concomitant impact on prices (i.e., inflation) across the board. It’s worth noting that virtually every U.S. recession since the Second World War was preceded by an increase in oil prices. Indeed, our current economic problems were preceded by a tripling of oil prices between 2005 and 2007.

Backfire II: Eroding Sanctions

Another potentially fatal flaw in these sanctions is that they turn up the heat on Iran so much that they may well be unsustainable diplomatically, and that is very problematic because sanctions rarely work quickly. Historically, sanctions work very slowly, and when they do work—against South Africa in the 1980s or Libya in the 1990s, for example—they work because of the perception that they will simply keep getting worse and worse over time. Sanctions have a poor track record of suddenly shocking the targeted government into reversing course, and if the targeted government believes that the sanctions will erode over time, it usually resists, and this often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Our experience with Iraq in the 1990s ought to be an important warning about what may well happen with Iran. In the case of Iraq, the United States—and the entire international community, acting under the auspices of the UN Security Council—imposed draconian sanctions on Iraq in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War. Sanctions so severe that it was universally expected that Saddam would be forced to accede to all of the U.N. demands in a matter of a few months because no one, not even Saddam, would allow his people to starve to death. But that is precisely what he did. He refused to comply in full (he did not give up the last of his WMD programs until some time after 1995, and of course even then he refused to come clean about this in his self-defeating determination to convince his own people and the Iranians that he retained a covert WMD capability.) In Iraq, exactly as predicted, inflation soared, the dinar collapsed, the economy came to a near standstill. No one knows how many Iraqis died as a result of the sanctions and Saddam’s manipulation of them, but 200,000 is a fair estimate.

The death of so many innocents was not only a humanitarian catastrophe—it also directly undermined the sanctions regime, precisely because it appalled people across the world. Over time, international opinion turned decidedly against the Iraq sanctions because of what was happening to the Iraqi people. It became harder and harder for the United States to enforce the sanctions, to the point where by 2000, the sanctions were hemorrhaging and Iraq was taking in over a billion dollars (and growing) in illicit payments.

Similarly draconian sanctions on Iran could follow a similar trajectory. In the near term, they would doubtless do tremendous damage to the Iranian economy, and with it, the Iranian people—as they already are. However, this regime has shown absolutely no inclination to allow economic hardship to sway their nuclear intentions. Indeed, it is important to keep in mind that those who rule in Tehran are very different from the more divided groups that ran the country in the past. Amid the 2009 Green revolution, Iran’s hardliners purged the government of its more moderate elements, such that today those running the Iranian regime are more homogeneous and more hardline than at any time since the early days of the Iranian revolution. They appear determined to resist all international pressure, they are famously indifferent to the plight of the Iranian economy, and they have shown tremendous attachment to their nuclear program. All of which suggests they will continue to stand firm, as Saddam did, amid economic ruin. And over time, there is a high likelihood that other countries will come to see the misery of the Iranian people as being the fault of the United States, not of the Iranian leadership, exactly as happened with Saddam. At that point, we may find that with Iran, as was the case with Iraq, overly harsh sanctions will become self-defeating and will crumble where more gradual and moderate sanctions might have been sustained and more likely to achieve their goal.

Backfire III: Inadvertent War

It is hard to miss the signals from the Obama Administration that it is not looking for a fight with Iran. Administration officials have kept dutifully intoning that “all options are on the table” with Iran, but then immediately enumerating why the military option is a terrible one. The President himself has made clear that he wants to reduce the number of wars that the U.S. is waging in the Middle East, not increase them. Unfortunately, its moves toward Iran may push us into the war that the Administration is seeking to avoid.

It’s important to try to see the world from Tehran’s perspective. What the Iranians see is a concerted, undeclared war being waged against them by a coalition of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and some European states. The fact that all of these countries are not necessarily always coordinating their actions is doubtless lost on the Iranian leadership. They are under cyber attack like the Stuxnet virus. Someone is killing their nuclear scientists in the streets of Tehran and blowing up their missile facilities. The United States and Europeans have ratcheted up their contacts with the Iranian opposition. The Iranians believe that foreign elements are also making contact with dissident groups like the Kurds, the Baluch, and the Arabs in Khuzestan. The United States has ratcheted up its efforts to broadcast into Iran to undermine the regime’s control over information. Washington is building up the military capabilities of states in the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Saudis are funding proxies to fight against Iran’s proxies from Bahrain to Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen. And the Americans and Europeans are waging economic warfare in the form of increasingly crippling sanctions.

From the vantage of Iran’s leadership, it would be easy to see an all-out, undeclared, covert (but multi-pronged) offensive being mounted against them. And the Iranians seem to be fighting back however they can. While I have no independent confirmation that the Iranians really did try to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States last fall, U.S. government officials at all levels appear remarkably certain that they did, and claim that it was one of only several operations the Iranians were developing. It would certainly make a lot of sense that given the campaign they see being waged against them, the Iranians would strike back in exactly that fashion—going after a symbol of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and doing it in the American capital in retaliation for the assassinations taking place in their own.

What’s more, it seems unlikely that that will be their last such effort. Their threats to close the Strait of Hormuz are not serious—they know full well that doing so would be horribly counterproductive to their own cause—but they were undoubtedly an effort to panic the oil market, driving up prices which help them and hurt us. It was a bid at economic warfare of their own. We should expect more.

The great problem is that at some point, the Iranians might succeed in one of their retaliatory gambits. Imagine how the American people would have reacted had they succeeded in blowing up a restaurant in the heart of Washington, D.C., killing dozens and injuring scores more? Of course, Americans would have seen it as an unprovoked attack and there likely would have been a public cry for blood. In short, the more we turn up the heat on Iran, the more Iran will fight back, and the way they like to fight back could easily lead to unintended escalation.

Doubtless such a war would leave Iran far, far worse off than it would leave us. But it would be painful for us too, and it might last far longer than anyone wants because that is the nature of wars, especially wars involving this Iranian regime. Thus, if we continue down this path, we had best be ready to walk it to its very end. And if we don’t have the stomach to realistically prepare for war, we should seriously reconsider our current embrace of sanctions.

bin laden

Islam doesn't justify honor murders

It is true, as is argued, that Islam does not justify honor killings.  It is also true that it is cultural.  It is also true that all honor killings occur in countries where Islam dominates and sharia is law. 

Honor killings occur in Pakistan and Syria, Egypt, and Indonesia - far away lands, not connected.  They are Arab and non Arab.  Honor killings also occur in Iran - non-Arab.  Therefore, culture alone does not answer the question and is far to simple of an answer to be accurate.  What is present in every country where honor killings occur is Islam, and sharia. 

There is no other single connection - outside of the fact that all inhabitants of those countries are born, eat, die, and may or may not have children.  When all else is equal, the simplest answer tends to be more correct.

Islam doesn't justify 'honor murders,' experts insist

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Zainab Shafia's crime was to run off to marry a man her parents hated. Middle sister Sahar's crime was to wear revealing clothes and have secret boyfriends. Youngest sister Geeti's crime was to do badly in school and call social workers for help dealing with a family home in turmoil.

The punishment for all three teenage Canadian sisters was the same: death.

Their executioner: their brother, acting on instructions from the father to run their car off the road.

Another family member, their father's first wife in a polygamous marriage, was also killed.

Hamed Shafia, his father, Mohammed, and his mother, Tooba Mohammed Yahya, were sentenced to life in prison for murder, with Judge Robert Maranger excoriating their "twisted notion of honor, a notion of honor that is founded upon the domination and control of women, a sick notion of honor that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."

Leading Muslim thinkers wholeheartedly endorsed the Canadian judge's verdict, insisting that "honor murders" had no place and no support in Islam.

"There is nothing in the Quran that justifies honor killings. There is nothing that says you should kill for the honor of the family," said Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in England.

"This idea that 'somehow a girl has besmirched our honor and therefore the thing to do is kill her' is bizarre, and Muslims should stop using this defense," he said, arguing that the practice is cultural, not religious in origin.

"You cannot say this is what Islam approves of. You can say this is what their culture approves of," he said.

The Shafia family is originally from Afghanistan.

Experts say honor murders take place in many parts of the world.

"It's definitely a problem that happens in many different places: the Middle East, Pakistan, Bangladesh and among immigrant communities in North America," said Nadya Khalife, a researcher on women's rights in the Arab world for Human Rights Watch.

Several Arab countries and territories, including Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinian territories, have laws providing lesser sentences for honor murders than for other murders, Human Rights Watch says.

Egypt and Jordan also have laws that have been interpreted to allow reduced sentences for honor crimes, the group says.

Reliable figures of the number of honor murders are hard to come by, Khalife said, but she pointed to a United Nations Population Fund estimate of 5,000 per year.

Khalife agreed that the practice should not be blamed on Islam.

"It's not linked to religion; it's more cultural," she said. "There have been several Islamic scholars who have issued fatwas against honor killing."

Mohammed Shafia, who denied murder, said himself in court that Islam did not justify honor murders.

"In our religion, a person who kills his wife or daughter, there is nothing more dishonorable," he testified.

But Shafia was heard condemning his dead children in wiretapped conversations played in court.

"May the devil defecate on their graves! This is what a daughter should be? Would a daughter be such a whore?" he said.

Hargey, the director of the Muslim Educational Centre, said violence was sometimes the result of painful transition.

"Muslims are in a state of flux," he said.

"They are between two worlds: the ancient world and the new technological age," he said. "Women are getting rights and the ability to choose their own spouses. The family in Canada didn't know how to respond to this: the conflict between the discipline of children and the new reality."

Irshad Manji, the author of "Allah, Liberty and Love: Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom," said there was another conflict at work in honor murders, a term CNN uses in preference to "honor killings" because the latter phrase does not properly describe the crime.

It is "a tribal tradition that emphasizes the family or the tribe or the community over the individual," she said.

Although the practice may not be Islamic, she said, not all Muslims understand the distinction.

"It is a problem within Islam because of how Muslims often confuse culture and religion," she said. "It's Muslims who have to learn to separate culture and religion. If we don't, Islam will continue to get the bad name that it gets."

But one vocal British campaigner against honor violence points out that all the crimes are not perpetrated by Muslims.

Jasvinder Sanghera, who was the victim of a forced marriage, is not Muslim; she is Sikh.

"Significant cases are happening within South Asian communities, be it Pakistani, Indian, Sikh, Muslim, Kurdish, Iranian, Middle Eastern communities," she said.

"And we have to recognize that because the statistics don't lie. I am not standing here trying to embarrass those communities. But equally, those communities should be ashamed because this is happening in their community and they are not taking a stand," she said.

On the other hand, honor murders are not a problem in Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population.

"No such a practice can be found among Indonesian Muslims," said Azyumardi Azra, the director of the graduate school at the State Islamic University in Jakarta, Indonesia.

" 'Honor killing' is, I believe, a cultural problem among Arab and South Asian Muslims. I don't think that kind of practice has an Islamic basis," he said.

Although women and girls make up the overwhelming number of victims, there have been at least some male victims, including Ahmet Yildiz, a gay Turkish man whose fugitive father is the main suspect in his 2008 shooting death.

Britain has had about a dozen honor murders per year for the past several years, said Ghayasuddin Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.

He, too, said the crimes were not justified by Islam.

"This comes from tribal customs where the father - not both parents - see children as their property. A girl decides to marry somebody of whom their parents do not approve, and they conspire and find some way to kill and dispose of this body," he said. "This is a kind of misplaced shame that parents feel that their daughter has decided to marry somebody of her choosing, not theirs."

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service has an expert devoted to prosecuting honor-based violence, Nazir Afzal.

Convicting perpetrators can be difficult, he said.

"There is a wall of silence around this, and people are not prepared to talk," he said.

But Afzal insisted that it was "absolutely important that you bring every single person to justice because you want to deter other people from doing it."

And along with the Islamic scholars and human rights advocates, he rejected out of hand the idea that religion justified it.

"At the end of the day, murder is murder. There is no faith on Earth, no community on Earth that justifies this," he said.

"Abrahamic faiths say 'Thou shalt not kill,' " he pointed out. "At the end of the day, nobody should die for this."


Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.

By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake
January 30, 2012
Washington Post

President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But each of his first three years in office has marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.

For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)

In 2010, the partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent; in 2009, it was 65 percent. Both were the highest marks ever for a president’s second and first years in office, respectively.

What do those numbers tell us? Put simply: that the country is hardening along more and more strict partisan lines.

While it’s easy to look at the numbers cited above and conclude that Obama has failed at his mission of bringing the country together, a deeper dig into the numbers in the Gallup poll suggests that the idea of erasing the partisan gap is simply impossible, as political polarization is rising rapidly.

Out of the ten most partisan years in terms of presidential job approval in Gallup data, seven — yes, seven — have come since 2004. Bush had a run between 2004 and 2007 in which the partisan disparity of his job approval was at 70 points or higher.

“Obama’s ratings have been consistently among the most polarized for a president in the last 60 years,” concludes Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones in a memo summing up the results. “That may not be a reflection on Obama himself as much as on the current political environment in the United States, because Obama’s immediate predecessor, Bush, had similarly polarized ratings, particularly in the latter stages of his presidency after the rally in support from the 9/11 terror attacks faded.”

Our guess is that Jones’ latter hypothesis is the right one — that we are simply living in an era in which Democrats dislike a Republican president (and Republicans dislike a Democratic one) even before the commander in chief has taken a single official action.

The realization of that hyper-partisan reality has been slow in coming for Obama. But in recent months, he seems to have turned a rhetorical corner — taking the fight to Republicans (and Republicans in Congress, particularly) and all but daring them to call his bluff.

Democrats will point out that Republicans in Congress have played a significant part in the polarization; the congressional GOP has stood resolutely against almost all of Obama’s top priorities. And Obama’s still-high popularity among the Democratic base also exacerbates the gap.

For believers in bipartisanship, the next nine months are going to be tough sledding, as the already-gaping partisan divide between the two parties will only grow as the 2012 election draws nearer. And, if the last decade of Gallup numbers are any indication, there’s little turnaround in sight.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Global Hysteria: No Need to Panic About Warming

Wall Street Journal
January 27, 2012

There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy.

Editor's Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word "incontrovertible" from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question "cui bono?" Or the modern update, "Follow the money."

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

If elected officials feel compelled to "do something" about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.

Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of "incontrovertible" evidence.

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.


BHO on BHO: Praising Himself.

Eric Golub
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 –

LOS ANGELES, January 25, 2011 – Once a year, Barack Obama likes to take time away from vacations and smaller speeches praising himself to offer a larger and longer speech where he praises himself.

This traditional annual event is the State of the Union, and it's purpose is for the President to address Congress, and via broadcast networks, the people of the United States with his "plans" for the upcoming year.

President Obama gave his 2012 State of the Union speech and it is not so much a blueprint for tomorrow as yet one more in a litany of speeches about what he can do and his momentous victories. During the SOTU, President Obama praised Iraq War veterans and then took his first victory lap about sixty-seconds into the speech, reminding the people that the Osama bin Laden capture was under his watch.

This was followed by meaningless words about how we should all work together when he is the one ripping us all apart. He is the Occupy Wall Street President who hurls invective at conservatives: Togetherness is "BO-code" for all of us shutting up and agreeing with him.

The President then launched into the class warfare nonsense, mentioning the word "fair" to indict successful people. He spent what seemed like forever discussing the problem despite not having a single solution, other than raising taxes.

There were words about people buying homes they could not afford without blaming Fannie, Freddie, Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd, or the homeowners believing they could purchase a $600,000 house on a $60,000, or less, income. Then he blamed George W. Bush for everything, which is simply a dishonest repurposing of an old, and tired, theme.

President Obama then bragged about his cutting the deficit, which is a myth. It is rising.

"The state of our union is getting stronger."
No, it is not.

"I will fight obstruction with action."
The translation meaning that the Constitution should be subverted when it becomes inconvenient.

"Renewal of American values"
Blah, blah, blah.

"We got workers and automakers to settle their differences."
The unions cheated the shareholders.

"General Motors is back on top as the world's #1 auto maker."
No, the Chevy Volt is a colossal failure. General 'Government' Motors is dead.

"Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to this country."
Get rid of every Obama administration regulation. Barack Obama is killing business because he is anti-business.

Once again, President Obama advocated for raising taxes.

President Obama repeats that he wants to reward companies who do business here, but the best reward is to stop punishing them and for government to get out of the way so they can do business here.

There were self-congratulations for the signing of three free trade deals as one of this administration's achievements. However, he fails to mention that those free-trade deals were the result of work done by the Bush administration and that they were on his desk in 2009.

Yes, George W. Bush did all of the work. Barack Obama just wasted three years delaying implementation before taking credit.

Then came the announcement of a "trade enforcement unit.” Only Barack Obama could think announcing a new bureaucracy to do the job he already should be doing is progress.

President Obama wants people to be trained for new jobs. Who is doing the training and for what jobs?

Under President Obama's Solyndra initiative, people were trained to make solar panels that nobody wants or can afford. The panels and the workers are still unemployed.

Lest us not forget, while we review the achievements of the Obama Administration, that Solyndra received a $535 million dollar loan, issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Federal Financing bank, a loan at 1.025 percent. Or that Solyndra then went bankrupt, a bankruptcy that will make sure two of Solyndra’s largest investors, Argonaut Ventures I, L.L.C. and the GKFF Investment Company, LLC. both firms being investment vehicles of the George Kaiser Family Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Or that investor George Kaiser, Kaiser Argonaut Ventures, et al., the single largest shareholder of Solyndra, stands before you and I in getting "paid" back for their failed investment.

President Obama spoke about higher standards for teachers and learning, as if that will ever happen, announcing that school should be mandatory until graduation or age 18. This is a nightmarish idea that will destroy society.

Forcing students to show up does not mean they will actually learn, but it does mean those who want to will be shuttled to the side for those that have no interest.

Useless phrases like states should "do their part," meaning he will terrorize them if they do not play ball, peppered the SOTU.

President Obama then made the case why illegal immigrants should be given amnesty. He did not use the word amnesty because that would make people think he meant amnesty, although he really does mean amnesty.

Most people would favorably consider citizenship for military service, but not free tuition when our own children are saddled with debt. Most people would consider many a reasonable solution to the problem of illegal immigration, stopping short of blanket amnesty and benefits programs that do not take care of the American people first.

Barack Obama refuses to split those items. He is inflexible and blames others for his being an ideologue.

Popular talking points like "Women should earn equal pay for equal work," are useless because who could disagree with this? It is also wrong to kill baby seals with baseball clubs. So what? Stating what we all know, the obvious is what makes the State of the Union the State of the Useless.

Then he blathered about "innovation in American made energy."

The President spoke about making it easier on the oil industry and making us less dependent on foreign oil saying he wants a country powered by 'green' energy. So he talks about green energy while neglecting to mention Solyndra and the billions of dollars wasted on the failed green movement. He claims to support natural gas initiatives while he is actually against them. He also did not mention the Keystone Pipeline, the jobs lost, or Canada's opening doors to China after President Obama slammed them shut.

"We do not have to choose between our environment and our economy."

The Obama administration already has chosen his position on creating energy jobs, allowing further economic collapse because he cares more about radical environmentalism than creating jobs. There is no green energy; it does not exist. All energy creates a carbon footprint.

"Some companies fail."

By some he means all of them.

"I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy."

This means we will continue to throw money down into a sewer. Oil actually works. He wants to spend money on what has never and will never work.

He mentions that Congress should set a market for innovation. The problem is that Congress does not set markets. Markets set themselves. He does not understand this because he has never been a part of the free market.

"Give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings."

Have Barack Obama get out of the way and there will be plenty to invest.

"No bailouts, no handouts, no copouts."

Thus said the king of bailouts, handouts, and copouts. President Obama is the Government Motors, food stamp loving, blame everyone else leader that wants more rules to prevent financial fraud. This is because the ones he implemented have failed. Please note, that Jon Corzine or MF Global was not a part of what the Administration "did."

He said for the billionth time he would eliminate rules that "don't make sense." Yet he is the person who decides what makes sense and what does not and who is making most of the rules. In his world Obamacare and Dodd-Frank make sense.

For everyone else, they don't.

He claimed we need regulations to help oil companies contain oil spills. Accidents happen. He has absolutely no way to prevent accidents. Nor do regulations.

He criticizes people who pressure people into purchases they cannot afford while not mentioning people like Barney Frank who pressure companies into offering the products to begin with.

He wants a new unit led by Eric Holder to investigate the crooks behind the housing crisis. Eric Holder? Mr. Fast and Furious? Again, Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd were the problem. Somebody should investigate why Eric Holder still has a job.

President Obama speaks about two trillion in "cuts." There are no cuts. There is only slowing the rate of growth.

The tale of Warren Buffett and his secretary with regards to tax rates got a rousing response, however dividends and capital gains are not the same as ordinary income. Dividends and capital gains were already taxed when earned, hence the lower tax rate that folks like Buffett, or Romney, pay.

Barack Obama could lower the tax rate on ordinary income rather than raise capital gains tax rates. Yet then he would not have other people's wealth to redistribute.

Raising taxes on job creators is not the way to help the economy. "We don't begrudge financial success in this country."

Herein lies the problem, because yes, President Obama does begrudge the financial success of anyone making over $250,000.00 per year. He laments about tax cuts raising the deficit while his "program" spending is what actually increases the deficit and the debt.

President Obama then spoke about the "corrosive influence of money in politics," without revealing that reports are that he will be raising in excess of one billion dollars for his reelection.

He wants to reduce the influence peddling in Congress. After all, it should stay contained in the White House.

He complained about sixty votes in the Senate needed to get things done. He wants to stop this. George Washington wanted the system we have now. This is not gridlock. It is the system working. Barack Obama wants dictatorial power similar to governments in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Then he piously talked about "lowering the temperature."

Barack Obama is a race-baiter, class-baiter, gender-baiter, and ideological leftist who has referred to conservative Republicans as hostage takers merely for disagreeing with him on issues such as taxes.

On issue after issue, he discusses how everyone else can work toward a solution where he is often the core of the problem.

"With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions to help this economy grow."

This is called dictatorship. This is not coming together. This is him saying that unless everyone bends to his iron will, he will do as he d@mn well pleases.

President Obama spoke about Iraq and Afghanistan, but barely mentioned Iran, not liking to discuss his many foreign policy failures.

President Obama praised himself for capturing Khadafi despite the fact that his "leading from behind" protracted the "kinetic conflict" that he insisted was not a war.

President Obama insisted Assad would be gone in Syria, which is a platitude and not a policy.

President Obama actually stated that his diplomacy has united the world against Iran. This is delusional. He claimed that America will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that all options were on the table. Sorry, but Barack Obama is not John Bolton.

"If Iran changes course..."

For the love of all things holy, Iran is not going to change course. This is the same 2009 nonsense about them unclenching their fist.

He threw in an obligatory line about Israel's security so that liberal Jews like Charles Schumer and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz can continue kissing his feet and carrying his water.

"America is back."

No, America is in deep trouble. This is why Barack Obama must be fired.

"Opinions of America are higher than they have been in years."

This is simply not true. The world laughs at us and has zero regard for what they see as a weak American leader.

At no time during his hour plus speech did he actually say what he planned to do if given a second term. Nor did President Obama talk about Obamacare or other failures of his first term, or what he would do to change those failures. Failures we can accept, but what do we do to fix them next time around?

So the basic message of his speech is that even though he does virtually nothing, and what little he does he gets wrong, he should be reelected because he loves himself and his power?

President Obama offered zero rationale for electing him to another term. His supporters worship him and make excuses for him.

Barack Obama wants a divided nation. He does not want teamwork or neighbors loving each other. He wants to find scapegoats so that he can confiscate their earned gains and give it those he favors.

The speech was the State of the Useless because he is useless. America will be better when he stops talking and retires to Illinois, as there is no reason for him to stay in Washington, DC. In terms of actual real work, this lazy man who lets everyone else work hard does virtually nothing. What little he does, he does badly.

That is why the state of our union could be much stronger. He is the weak link in the America chain, and no amount of pep rally nonsense will change the facts on the ground.

When Barack Obama is replaced with an individual who actually knows how to do things, the state of the American union will be much stronger.


By Brooke Bowman, CNN
Sat January 28, 2012

(CNN) -- Deep down on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, Swedish treasure hunters think they have made the find of a lifetime.

The problem is, they're not exactly sure what it is they've uncovered.

Out searching for shipwrecks at a secret location between Sweden and Finland, the deep-sea salvage company Ocean Explorer captured an incredible image more than 80 meters below the water's surface.

At first glance, team leader and commercial diver Peter Lindberg joked that his crew had just discovered an unidentified flying object, or UFO.

"I have been doing this for nearly 20 years so I have a seen a few objects on the bottom, but nothing like this," said Lindberg.

"We had been out for nine days and we were quite tired and we were on our way home, but we made a final run with a sonar fish and suddenly this thing turned up," he continued.

Using side-scan sonar, the team found a 60-meter diameter cylinder-shaped object, with a rigid tail 400 meters long.

The imaging technique involves pulling a sonar "towfish" -- that essentially looks sideways underwater - behind a boat, where it creates sound echoes to map the sea floor below.

On another pass over the object, the sonar showed a second disc-like shape 200 meters away.

Lindberg's team believe they are too big to have fallen off a ship or be part of a wreck, but it's anyone's guess what could be down there.

"We've heard lots of different kinds of explanations, from George Lucas's spaceship -- the Millennium Falcon -- to 'it's some kind of plug to the inner world,' like it should be hell down there or something.

"But we won't know until we have been down there," said Lindberg.

The Head of Archaeology at Sweden's Maritime Museums, Andreas Olsson, admits he's intrigued by the picture, but remains sceptical about what it could be.

The reliability of one-side scan sonar images is one of his main concerns, making it difficult to determine if the object is a natural geological formation or something different altogether.

"It all depends on the circumstances when you actually tow the [sonar] fish after the boat," he said.

"What are the temperature conditions, the wave conditions, how deep is your fish in relation to the sea bed etcetera and all those parameters also affects what kind of image you have in the end," he explained.

Even Lindberg agrees the image "isn't the best it could be." But his crew are still planning to return to the site in the calmer waters of spring to investigate their find.

It's a risky and expensive business, and not one that always pays off.

British maritime historian, Professor Andrew Lambert, says the costs of recovery are now too high for most.

"If you want to stand in a cold shower tearing up £50 notes, go shipwreck hunting," he said. "Most shipwrecks are rotting away, or carrying dull things -- all the romance has been taken out of it."

It's a problem Lindberg and his team are aware of.

"It's a very difficult industry to be in -- it's money all the time," he confessed. "The best thing it could be, would be 60 meters of gold -- then I would be very happy."

"This thing is very far out, it's really off-shore, so first of all we need a bigger ship... more equipment.. and we have to do bottom sampling, water sampling, to see if it is something poisonous."

But even if the mystery object doesn't contain retrievable treasure the site could still prove to be a gold mine for the Ocean Explorer team, with tourists and private investors paying to see it up-close, in a submarine.

"The object itself is maybe not valuable in the sense of money it can be very interesting whatever it is, historical or a natural anomaly," said Lindberg.

In the North Atlantic, one American salvage company is also hoping to beat the odds.

Odyssey Marine Exploration -- a company made up of researchers, scientists, technicians and archaeologists -- have at least 6,300 shipwrecks in their database that they are looking to find.

Their latest discoveries include two British war-time shipwrecks off the coast of Ireland that could be laden with hundreds of tonnes of silver.

Mark Gordon, president of Odyssey, says at least 100 ships on their watch-list are known to have values in excess of $50 million dollars.

"When you think about the fact until the mid 20th century, the only way to transport wealth was on the oceans and a lot of ships were lost, it adds up to a formula where we have billions of dollars worth of interesting and valuable things on the sea floor," he said.

The lure of treasure has lead to an increasing number of discoveries in recent years. But one which doesn't come without its dangers, warns Olsson.

"I think recently we're entering a time of a lot of discoveries," he said of the technological advancements in finding shipwrecks.

"The professional shipwreck discoverers are doing a great effort for cultural heritage management in the long run... what we don't support is the action of actually taking up items and selling them," he said.


47th ? Really? Do you think THEY honestly believe that?


US Falls to 47th in press freedom rankings after Occupy crackdown

26th January 2012

Sweeping protests around the world made it an extremely difficult year for the media, and tested journalists as never before, the annual report into press freedom reveals.

The annual report by Reporters Without Borders has been released, showing the United States fell 27 points on the list due to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests.

The slide in the United States places it just behind Comoros and Taiwan in a group with Argentina and Romania.

Reporters Without Borders said the heightened unrest around the world resulted in a significant shake-up of the group's annual Press Freedom Index, which assesses governments' commitment to protecting media freedoms.

The Paris-based non-governmental Reporters Without Borders has named “crackdown” the word of 2011 in an assessment of global media freedom during a year in which journalists covering sweeping protests were tested as never before.

The non-governmental organisation seeks to defend journalists’ freedom to work and combat censorship internationally.

Despite the big changes, some constants remained. The country with the freest media in the world was Finland, followed by Norway, Estonia, the Netherlands and Austria. Eritrea was last, with North Korea just above.

The United States was not alone in the falling grades: Bahrain fell 29 points because of the crackdown in that country.

Egypt and Syria also fell a few points to languish near the bottom of the pack (166) and (176) respectively.

The group judged that Syria, along with Iran and China, 'seem to have lost contact with reality as they have been sucked into an insane spiral of terror.'

Pakistan was the world’s deadliest country for journalists, and Eritrea came in last in the list of overall press freedom.Syria, where an uprising against the government has been met with a brutal crackdown that has left more than 5,000 people dead, received its worst rating ever at 176.

In Afghanistan (150th) and Pakistan (151st), reporters remained under constant threat from the Taliban, religious extremists, separatist movements and political groups. With 10 deaths last year, Pakistan was the world’s most dangerous country for journalists for the second year in a row.

'Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous.

The equation is simple: the absence or suppression of civil liberties leads necessarily to the suppression of media freedom. Dictatorships fear and ban information, especially when it may undermine them,' it said.

Elsewhere within the European Union, countries such as Bulgaria (80th), Greece (70th) and Italy (61st) failed to address the issue of media freedom violations, largely because of a lack of political will.

Libya came in 154th in the list, while Yemen was in 171th place.'
'The future of both of these countries remains uncertain, and the place they will allow the media is undecided.

The same goes for Egypt, which fell 39 places to 166th place.'

Syria was 176th, because journalists were unable to work because of total censorship, widespread surveillance, indiscriminate violence and government manipulation.

The report also highlights how pro-democracy movements that tried to emulate the example of the Arab revolutions were brutally suppressed. Vietnam (172nd) saw many arrests, while China (174th) stepped up its system of controlling news and information in response to public dissatisfaction with corruption and other injustices.

The biggest falls in the index were in Africa – Djibouti fell 49 places to 159th, Malawi (146th) fell 67 places and Uganda fell 43 places to 139th.

The Paris-based press freedom watchdog said Wednesday that the wave of uprisings in the Middle East, the Occupy movement in the West and continued protests in China gave journalists an unprecedented role in advancing democracy. But they also were often targeted by governments trying to quash dissent.

'Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much,' the group said in a statement accompanying its report.

But the important role journalists played put them in the cross hairs of repressive regimes, the report said, adding: 'Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous.'


Fat Brazil

Thin may be in but fat's where it's at!

Too often countries around the world play with their figures (pun intended) to present a more svelte-like appearance to their fat facts.  The US is most often the first criticized.

Perhaps if we accumulate enough evidence ....

Jan 28, 2012
3:10 PM (ET)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Tall and tan and young and ... chunky?

The Girl From Ipanema has put on a few pounds, and for many sunbathers on Brazil's beaches the country's iconic itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikini just doesn't suffice anymore.

A growing number of bikini manufacturers have woken up to Brazil's thickening waistline and are reaching out to the ever-expanding ranks of heavy women with new plus-size lines.

That's nothing short of a revolution in this most body-conscious of nations, where overweight ladies long had little choice but to hit the beach in comely ensembles of oversized T-shirts and biker shorts.

"It used to be bikinis were only in tiny sizes that only skinny girls could fit into. But not everyone is built like a model," said Elisangela Inez Soares as she sunbathed on Copacabana beach, her oiled-up curves packed into a black size 12 bikini.

"Finally, it seems like people are beginning to realize that we're not all Gisele," said the 38-year-old mother of four, referring to willowy Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Clothing designer Clarice Rebelatto said her own swimwear-hunting travails prompted her to found Lehona, an exclusively plus-size beachwear line.

"Honestly, the problem went way beyond just bikinis. In Brazil, it used to be that if you were even a little chunky, finding any kind of clothes in the right size was a real problem," said Rebelatto, herself a size 10. "And I thought, 'I'm actually not even that big compared to a lot of women out there, so if I have problems, what are they doing?'"

Since its launch in 2010, the line has become a hit.

In brash leopard spots and flower prints not meant for wallflowers, the label's 14 bikini styles aren't what you'd normally associate with plus-size swimsuits. The necklines plunge dramatically. Straps are mere strings. And while the bottoms provide too much coverage to qualify for the famed "fio dental" or "dental floss" category of Brazilian string bikinis, they're significantly more audacious than the standard U.S. cut.

"We're working from the principle that bigger women are just like everyone else: They don't want to look like old ladies, wearing these very modest, very covering swimsuits in just black," said Luiz Rebelatto, Clarice's son and director of Lehona.

He said that recent publicity of the brand and several other new swimwear lines catering to plus sizes has triggered an overwhelming number of calls and e-mails from would-be customers.

"They're all excited and they say, 'I've been looking everywhere for a bikini like that. Where can I get one?'" said Rebelatto.

Lehona is currently sold exclusively at big and tall specialty stores throughout Brazil. Its bikinis retail for about 130 reais or $75 - a relatively high price-point here, but Rebelatto said sales have grown at a galloping pace, though he did not provide any figures.

It's the same story at Acqua Rosa, a conventional swimwear label that added a plus-size line in 2008. Now, plus-size purchases account for more than 70 percent of the brand's total sales, said director Joao Macedo.

It makes sense.

For centuries, large swaths of Brazil were beset by malnutrition, and in 1970, nearly 10 percent of the population in the country's poor, rural northeast region was considered underweight, according to Brazil's national statistics institute.

But the phenomenal economic boom that has lifted tens of millions out of poverty and into the burgeoning middle class over the past decade has also changed the nation's once-svelte physique: A 2010 study by the statistics institute showed that 48 percent of adult women and 50 percent of men are now overweight. In 1985 those figures were 29 percent for women and 18 percent for men.

(Still, there's been no rash of plus-size male swimwear lines, as men here wear Speedo-style suits that don't impinge on big guts.)

Analysts attribute Brazil's rapidly widening girth to changes in nutrition, with chips, processed meats and sugary soft drinks replacing staples like rice, beans and vegetables.

And while the country's elite are widely known to be fitness freaks - and also among the world's top consumers of cosmetic surgery - those recently lifted out of poverty and manual labor are becoming increasingly sedentary. A 2008 study showed that barely 10 percent of Brazilian teens and adults exercise regularly.

Still, despite their growing numbers, not everyone is eager to embrace "gordinhas" - or "little fatties," as chunky women are affectionately known here.

Many high-end bikini-makers have turned a seemingly deliberately blind eye to the burgeoning plus-size market. Rio-based upmarket brand Salinas, for example, offers five sizes, from extra-small through extra-large. But their sizing runs notoriously small and it's hard to imagine anyone over a size 6 actually managing to fit into any of the brand's minuscule two-pieces.

Luis Rebelatto of Lehona chalked it partially up to snobbery.

"Some brands, they don't want their image to be associated with chunky women," he said. "Only the thin, the rich and the chic."

While Brazilians' increasing heft is a public policy preoccupation for the government, growth in the ranks of the overweight population has given them increased visibility in Brazilian society. Extra-wide bucket seats for the obese have been installed in Sao Paulo's metro system, and on Sunday the city will host Brazil's first ever Miss Plus Size beauty contest.

"It used to be that people would stare at me," said Soares, the voluptuous sun-worshiper on Copacabana beach. "Now when I come to the beach I see women who are much bigger than me - and lots of them are wearing bikinis - so I'm not self conscious any more.

"God makes some people thin but he made me like this," she said, rubbing down the well-oiled bulge of her stomach and thighs. "So who am I to think that he was wrong?"


Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

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