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Archive for February 2008

Election Edge

Who Is The Real Barack?

February 29th 2008

Barack Obama headshot
Barack Obama

No, this is not an analysis of the leading man’s patriotism, plagiarism, race, or religion, because the reality on those blogosphere topics is simple. He is as patriotic – if not more so – than you and me. He is not a plagiarizer; that was merely Hillary Clinton trying to find a dent in his armor. He is a different race than past Presidents, but who really cares in this day and age besides a few crazies out there? And he is Christian – not Muslim, nor supportive of terrorists. 
Now that those issues are eliminated from the discussion, let’s take a real look at the Senator from Illinois. By examining his voting record, analyzing his experiences, and evaluating his prior work, we can begin to determine if this is the man we want leading our country back to greatness. Before I vetted him, Obama seemed like an ideal candidate. He is young, charismatic, optimistic, intelligent, and energetic. He exudes confidence, speaks well, debates finely, and listens just enough to be considerate but not indecisive, and can galvanize the public and unite people like nobody we have ever seen. But then there is the other side of him. Read more ..

Threat from Iran

Iran’s Ahmadinejad Calls Israel a “savage animal,” a "dirty microbe"

February 21st 2008

Ahmadinejad headshot
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

A “savage animal," a "dirty microbe." These are the words used by Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to describe Israel. Once again Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric has succeeded in courting the controversy that has come to define his presidency.

"World powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and have unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region," he told a rally in the southern city of Bandar Abbas broadcast on state television.

International outrage continues to mount as Ahmadinejad repeatedly predicts that Israel is doomed to disappear. His is a history of inflammatory remarks and he routinely plays down the scale of the Holocaust.

He is not alone in making such statements. The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, on Monday predicted Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah would destroy Israel in the near future.

Seizing every opportunity to question the state of Israel, President Ahmadinejad has accused world powers of arming Israel with billions of dollars of weapons. The reason, Ahmadinejad states, is to create a "scarecrow" to frighten and dominate other nations in the region. Read more ..

Kicking the Oil Addiction

One Couple's Experience with the Honda GX

February 20th 2008

Honda CNG
Getting Off Oil


We really thought we were being the “good guys” when we purchased our CNG car.  After all, Honda raved about its performance, gas mileage, and the fact that you could easily refill it in the comfort of your home. Well…that’s not exactly true.  Our journey began at the Santa Monica Alternative Car and Transportation Expo in December 2006. On display were many different “green cars” but only a few of which were actually available for purchase.  A major Southern California Honda dealer had a fleet of Honda Civic GX’s for sale at the Expo.  We were given an amazing sales pitch by their CNG “experts.” A few weeks later we came to the conclusion that buying a CNG car was the right thing to do.  Even though we both work at home and drive only a few miles per week, we decided that we would contribute to a cleaner and safer environment by buying a CNG car. Steve went to the Honda dealership and purchased the car. The following day, the car was delivered right to our door by two young, good looking sales people. They treated us like royalty – complimenting us for being such good citizens.  They drove off and we never heard from them again.  In fact, when things started to go wrong – when we tried to fill the tank for the first time – we were unable to speak to a “real” person at the Honda dealership.  We left repeated messages and never received a reply. We called Honda of North America and they said that we would have to deal directly with the dealership. We were told to drive there and confront them in person. Instead, we went to the “big guns”. Read more ..

Election Edge

Obama, Clinton, McCain--Picking the "Best for Israel" is a fool's game

February 20th 2008

Gary Rosenblatt
Gary Rosenblatt

What am I to say when people ask me, as they frequently do these days, which presidential candidate is best for Israel?

When I sometimes ask, in response, what they mean by “best for Israel,” they may think I’m being facetious or evasive, but I’m not.
So I start with recent history before examining the current Democratic and Republican candidates.

Was Bill Clinton best for Israel when he spent so much time and energy trying to knock heads at Camp David in 2000 and bring about a peace agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat?

Or was Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, best for Israel with his hands-off approach to forced peace negotiations (at least until Annapolis, late in his second term) and his look-the-other-way attitude toward Israel’s forceful response to the second Intifada, allowing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to send the army into Palestinian cities to root out the terrorists whose bombings were destroying Israeli lives and morale?

Two very different men, Clinton and Bush, and two very different approaches to the Mideast conflict. But they ended up in the very same place, pushing the Israelis and Palestinians for an unrealistic peace process. And you could make a case for either that what they did, with the best of intentions, ended up leaving Israel more vulnerable.
It seems clear to me that Clinton not only appreciated, admired and supported Israel — and leaders like Barak and the late Yitzchak Rabin — but that he genuinely wanted to bring Israel a new level of security and an end to violence. Read more ..

Equal Rights

The Waiting Game Must End for People with Disabilities

February 20th 2008

Joyce Bender headshot
Joyce Bender

A wonderful book is “Why We Can’t Wait” by Martin Luther King, Jr. This is a classic in many ways, as it explores the civil rights movement that he was the father of. If you have never read this book, I would suggest you read it. It is always important to know your history and to understand what formed issues we deal with in America today.

In 2010, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 1990, after years of work by former Congressman Tony Coelho, the great patriot Justin Dart Jr., and many, many other great leaders, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, in front of a joyful crowd spread across the south lawn of the White House. What a great day for all people of ability!  We all believed we would be free; of course, freedom means we would all have the treasure of employment.

We know that to be free in this country, we must be employed. You cannot buy a car, go on vacation, buy a home, or send your children to college without employment. No employment means no freedom. Read more ..

The Gaza Problem

Endless Gaza Rocket Attacks Against Sderot Amount to Collective Punishment with Individual Tragedies

February 20th 2008

World Citizens - Mitchell Bard
Mitch Bard

Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005 with the expectation that the Palestinians would take the opportunity to build the infrastructure for a state and demonstrate their willingness to coexist with Israel. Instead of trading land for peace, Israel traded land for terror. Israeli citizens in southern Israel have been targets of a steady barrage of more than 2,400 rockets. The media has largely trivialized these attacks, giving the false impression that these are little more than firecrackers that pose no threat to Israeli lives rather than lethal, high-explosive rockets meant to terrorize and kill innocent Israeli men, women and children.

By focusing on the quantity of rockets, the media also minimizes the impact on the communities under siege and the lives of individual Israelis who suffer from each attack as well as the cumulative stress of the ongoing bombardment. The human cost of these unprovoked attacks can be seen in the hospitals and cemeteries where the dead and injured lay. The psychological harm, however, is not visible. The Israeli Center for Victims of Terror and War found that 28 percent of adults and 30 percent of children in the town of Sderot, the principal target of Palestinian terror attacks, have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Here are some of the most recent stories of the people affected by the terror war in Sderot and the surrounding communities: Read more ..

Inside Poland

Warsaw: The New Jewish Destination

February 20th 2008

Jewish Topics - Warsaw

Many Jews hear the word “Poland” and are filled with visions of anti-Semitism. I understand that perspective.

In the late ’70s, I traveled twice to Poland, both times with Jewish federation missions. Each trip revolved around visits to Auschwitz- Birkenau — experiences that are among the most emotional and up-setting times of my life. I felt confusion, anger and impotence. In this gray communist society, all Poles looked anti-Semitic to me. I wore a yarmulke throughout my time there to show that we had survived, and as a challenge to all around me. From Poland we went to Israel. The message was simple: from the Holocaust to rebirth, from almost unquenchable evil to light and hope.

I never thought I would go back to Poland. But I returned last month at the urging of Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube and Jerzy Halbersztadt, the director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. I went from Israel to Poland on El-Al. That the order of my trip was reversed was a harbinger of the whole experience.

Warsaw was its customary winter gray, but not as cold as I was warned it might be. My room at the Novotel Centrum Hotel was brighter and more user-friendly than the one I had just left in Herzliya Petuach. In discussions with many Poles, I found the attitude of the people and government much like what I had experienced in Germany during the early ’90s — the government was supportive of America and Israel, the people were hungry for democracy and capitalism.

I am not saying that anti-Semitism has vanished. One only has to read “Difficult Questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue,” co-published by the American Jewish Committee and the Forum for Dialogue Among Nations, to be disabused of that notion, but there is a dramatic difference from my trips in the ’70s. Read more ..

Krakow's Basilica Should Not Host Rabid Anti-Semitic Rallies

February 20th 2008

I wanted to share with your readers a letter that I had sent to Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow. The letter follows.


Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz
Archbishop of Krakow
Kuria Metropolitalna
ul. Franciszkanska 3
31-004 Krakow, Poland

Your Eminence:

We were deeply disturbed by reports that an anti-Semitic meeting was held in a Krakow church.

According to Polish newspapers, about 1,000 people came to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Krakow for a meeting on February 9 convened by Radio Maryja and the Committee Against Defamation of the Church and For Polishness.  The meeting was publicized with posters that declared:  “The kikes will not continue to spit on us,” according to reports.

At the meeting, Prof. Bogoslav Wolniewicz reportedly declared, “The Jews are attacking us! We need to defend ourselves!”  And Mr. Jerzy Robert Nowak of Radio Maryja reportedly said, “It’s important that we carry our fight to its conclusion, because [Jan Tomasz] Gross and his supporters are marginal, and we will not permit anyone to punish Poland.”

As we know from Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, these acts of anti-Semitism are sins against God.  But for this meeting to be permitted inside the sacred space of a church is an abomination and a desecration of holiness.

We believe that these anti-Semitic statements, spoken with the appearance of the imprimatur of the church, constitute incitement to violence against Jews.  Such sentiments are a troubling reminder that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Poland, and that the memory and lessons of the Holocaust, while still fresh for survivors of the war, is fading for ordinary Poles.

One of the great lessons the world learned from John Paul II is that ignorance and bias are never remedied unless all of us are willing to challenge them at every turn.  We ask Your Eminence and the Polish Bishops Conference to publicly denounce these words and this group in the strongest terms, and to take steps to insure such gatherings never again take place in the holy space of a church, indeed anywhere in Poland.

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director

cc: Bishop Stanislaw Budzik

Poll Results

78% Encourage USHMM officials Paul Shapiro, Andrew Hollinger, Arthur Berger and Sara Bloomfield to resign

Poll Vote

The overwhelming majority of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted to encourage USHMM officials Paul Shapiro, Anrdew Hollinger, Arther Burger and Sara Bloomfield to resign.

In response to the question: "Should Andrew Hollinger, Paul Shapiro, Arthur Berger, Sara Bloomfield Resign from the USHMM?" the results were:



  • 78 percent "Yes"
  •  3 percent "Not Sure
  • 19 percent "No"

During the poll period in January 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 74,856 hits.

Petropolitics and Oil

Imposed Shariah and Flex Fuel Standards

February 20th 2008

Frank Gaffney headshot
Frank Gaffney

Ironically, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Rowan Williams, who in his capacity of Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of the Church of England. Our thanks are not due this cleric, however, for his appalling pronouncement last week that we had better get used to the imposition of Shariah law in Britain since it is now, in his words, "unavoidable."  

Rather, we should be appreciative because, by his declaration of capitulation to and appeasement of the Islamofascists – who agree with him on the inevitability of the triumph of the brutally repressive totalitarian theo-political-legal code they call Shariah – Archbishop Williams has, albeit wholly unintentionally, sounded a needed alarm. In response, UK politicians of every stripe are suddenly professing concern about the danger a courageous British author named Melanie Phillips has, until now, been reviled for depicting as "Londonistan." Read more ..

The Iranian Nuclear Threat

A Military Option Against Iran is Fraught with Problems

February 20th 2008

Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force Jets

Iran’s determination to build and operate a uranium-enrichment plant poses difficult problems for those concerned about Iran acquiring a nuclear capability that could threaten its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf or Israel. The best approach for arresting Iran’s progress toward becoming a nuclear-weapon state is through a combination of creative diplomacy, sustained international pressure expressed primarily through targeted economic sanctions, and patience.


The threat that Iran could acquire a nuclear weapons capability if it remains on its present course is a serious one, regardless of how many years it might take them. Increasingly central to the debate about what to do is the issue of military force, whether and when it should be used and what it might achieve. An attack against Iran, large or small, is likely to worsen the already dangerous situation in the region and undermine larger U.S. strategic objectives throughout the world. Short of an invasion and occupation of Iran, an option no one is advocating, an attack on Iran is also a false promise because it offers no assurances that an Iranian nuclear weapons program would be substantially or irreversibly set back. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Dissecting the Details of Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Progress

February 20th 2008

Iran Nuke
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

What a difference a year makes. In November 2006, Iran had slightly more than 300 gas centrifuges running at its pilot uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, approximately 200 kilometers south of Tehran. One year later, Iran has close to 3,000 centrifuges installed in a vast underground hall of the commercial-scale Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz. It has also stockpiled enough of the enrichment feedstock uranium hexafluoride to produce enriched uranium, whether for nuclear energy or for nuclear weapons, for years to come.

This period has also seen two UN Security Council sanctions resolutions: Resolution 1737 was adopted December 27, 2006, and its sibling, Resolution 1747 was approved only three months later, on March 24, 2007. Each demands that Iran suspend its enrichment program and imposes what are arguably mild sanctions, cutting off arms exports and curtailing certain banking and overseas investment. Iran has flatly ignored the call to suspend uranium enrichment, seemingly determined to have its centrifuges and run them too. It has flouted not only the Security Council but also and, perhaps, more importantly the Bush administration’s determination that Iran not achieve a nuclear weapons capability.

To be sure, despite installing close to 3,000 centrifuges, Iran is not enriching uranium on a sustained basis. Yet, neither the UN measures, nor unilaterally imposed sanctions by the United States and some European Union countries, have caused sufficient economic hardship for Iran to halt its enrichment program. Stronger and better-implemented sanctions, coupled with an aggressive and creative diplomatic effort, offer the most realistic means of turning back Iran’s nuclear program. Nevertheless, the date when Natanz can enrich uranium competently may not be far off. Read more ..

Election Edge

Super-Delegates Means It's About to Get Real Ugly in Democratic Race

February 20th 2008

Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Before the primary season began the Democratic Party reached an agreement with its potential presidential candidates that they would not campaign in Florida or Michigan and that the delegates from those states would be meaningless. All the candidates agreed, which in effect, made the Florida and Michigan primaries moot because none of the delegates could be used by the candidates vying for the nomination. The Clinton campaign was the main advocate for this “ban” because at the time they felt they were invincible and would have little competition from the field. A few months later Super Tuesday arrived.


Super Tuesday was Hillary Clinton’s chance to wipe Senator Barack Obama out of the picture, but what happened was shocking and humiliating to the once unstoppable and formidable candidate. After the votes were tallied Clinton’s campaign had to face the realization that despite winning the big states (California and New York) she was still in a horse race that was neck in neck with the upstart from Illinois.


The result of Super Tuesday was a loss of momentum over the coming weeks which led to less money raised, less positive talk in the news, less volunteer sign-ups, and less energy than her rival. And then she shook up her campaign by removing (or forcing the resignation of) her deputy campaign manager. The cold hard truth is that Clinton is in danger of losing the nomination despite going against her word and campaigning (and winning the non-races) in Florida and Michigan. Now, out of desperation, the Clinton campaign is lobbying the Democratic Party to reverse its prior decision and count the Florida and Michigan delegates in the final delegate count, despite their earlier disqualification. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Dreaded Book on Deaths of Polish Jews Enters Second Print Run in Poland

February 4th 2008

World Citizens - Jan Gross via JTA
Jan Gross

Bookstores in Poland are restocking copies of a book on Polish anti-Semitism after World War II as a prosecutor investigates whether it violates a law prohibiting ``slander against the nation.''

The book, ``Fear. Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz'' by Princeton University professor Jan Tomasz Gross, sold out days after the first 25,000 volumes were published. A second print run of 20,000 is being sent to bookstores from today.

"We sold so many copies of the book, and so quickly we had a big gap in supplies,'' Monika Marianowicz, a spokeswoman for Empik Media & Fashion SA, that sells books in stores throughout Poland, said by phone today.
Gross's book, which blames the murder of hundreds of Jews after World War II on Polish anti-Semitism and greed, has been criticized by academics, the Catholic Church and ordinary Poles.

"This book is a pack of lies,'' said Lech Raczynski, a 64- year-old agricultural engineer from Kielce, where a 1946 pogrom took place in which more than 40 Jews were murdered. ``It's obvious that the Jews did it -- it was a purge by the communist leaders, who were all Jews, against the others. Poland isn't an anti-Semitic country at all.'' Read more ..

Kicking the Oil Addiction

Kenworth to Produce LNG Trucks

February 4th 2008

Kenworthg LNG truck
Kenworth LNG Truck

Kenworth Truck Company has announced that it will expand its presence in the growing market for LNG vehicles by beginning production of Kenworth T800 LNG trucks at its manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington in 2009.  Under an exclusive agreement with Westport Innovations, Kenworth will use Westport’s LNG fuel system technology adapted for the Cummins ISX-15-liter engine. Westport will open a new LNG Fuel System Assembly Center in British Columbia to support the Kenworth factory initiative and to rapidly increase production capacities of LNG fuel systems to meet growing market demand. LNG freight trucks will be an essential element of any national strategy to get off of oil.

Kenworth’s move coincides with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announcement to approve a new $1.6 billion Clean Truck Superfund. The fund will assist replacing many of the 16,800 Class 8 trucks serving the ports with LNG-powered vehicles. The ports also have introduced a new progressive ban that will remove all pre-2007 trucks by 2012. Westport’s LNG fuel system is the only alternative fuel technology currently qualified for financial support under the ports’ Clean Truck program.

Kenworth and Westport Innovations have previously collaborated on an aftermarket basis to equip Kenworth T800s with LNG fuel systems. These trucks are already serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In addition, Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Francisco recently became the first utility in the nation to operate Kenworth T800 LNG-powered trucks.

Polish Anti-Semitism After the Holocaust--One man's Experience

February 4th 2008

The publication of the Polish translation of “Fear- Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz” by Jan Gross has caused much soul searching among the Polish populace. The Krakow public prosecutor is looking at the possibility of indicting Gross for “slander of the Polish nation, under a law passed in 2006 making it illegal to accuse “the polish nation” of collaborating with the German occupiers and or the Communist government to commit crimes. 

I can only speak of my own experience during and after the war in Poland to refute the attempt to silence Gross and accuse him of maligning the “Polish nation.” During the war, as an eight old child, I witnessed numerous acts of collaboration with the Germans. I do want to state, before I talk about specific events, that without the help of Polish Catholic friends of my father, I would not be alive today.  My first encounter with Polish collaborators was in 1943 on the streets of Warsaw. A way of making quick money during that time was to grab a boy walking, pull him into doorway, and lower his trousers to see if he was circumcised. If he was, the nice Polish collaborator would, would extort money from the accompanying adult. If the adult refused to pay they would be turned over to the Germans. The Germans offered rewards to anyone turning in Jews. I was caught by these collaborators, a number of times and each time my Mother paid the extortionist. These extortionists were and maybe still are members of the “Polish nation.”
One other incident is still vivid in my mind. In April of 1943, I was in a park near the Warsaw Ghetto. There was a carousel with many children and their mothers. It must have been Easter vacation. The smoke from the burning Ghetto was in the air. I clearly remember a number of the women glancing at the smoke and saying to each other “the Germans are taking care of our Jews for us.” Read more ..

Election Edge

Can the Candidates Recognize the Enemy

February 4th 2008

Islamic Topics - Flag of Islamic Jihad
Flag of Islamic Jihad

The post 9/11 era has changed the rules of engagement for national security experts and for those who can read the mind of the Jihadists, when it comes to US Presidential elections. While the principle was that the counter Terrorism community should let the voters chose their candidates and select their chief executive first, then offer the expert advice to the President later, unfortunately for that principle, things have changed.

Indeed, since the attacks against New York and Washington and the engagement of the nation in the war with Jihadism since 2001, the selection of the US President can fundamentally affect the survival of the American People. Who would occupy the White House in 2009 will have to make decisions for four to eight years with cataclysmic consequences on the physical security and the freedom of 300 million citizens in this country and eventually on the free world as a whole: For the leader of the most powerful democracy in the world has to be able to know who the enemy is so that all resources are put into action. Short of this ability to be very clear and precise on the nature of the danger and the processes to address it, a next US President could cause a major disaster to this nation. Read more ..

Chad's Future Taliban enters capital while the West is asleep

February 4th 2008

Africa Topics - Chad Rebel
Chad Rebel

As Americans are debating who among their candidates for the primaries can best confront the Jihadists or at least preempt their offensives worldwide, future Jihadi forces have in one day invaded an African country (under European protection), a key location for the Darfur forthcoming Peace missions. In less than 12 hours the so-called armed opposition of Chad, crossed the entire country from its Eastern frontiers with Islamist-ruled Sudan to the capital N'Djamena across from Northern Nigeria. The latest reports mention fierce battles around the Presidential Palace and back and forth inside the city. But at this stage the geo-political consequences are crucial for the next stages locally, regionally and internationally.

The bottom line is that in one day, what could become the future Taliban of Chad have scored a strategic victory not only against the Government of the country (which was supposed to back up the UN plans to save Darfur in Sudan) but also against the efforts by the African Union and European Union to contain the Sudanese regime and stop the Genocide. Today's offensive, regardless of the next developments, has already changed the geopolitics of Africa. Outmaneuvering the West and Africans, those regimes and forces standing behind the "opposition" have shown that they are restless in their campaign against human rights and self determination on the continent. But even more importantly the events of today shows how unprepared are Europeans and Americans in front of Jihadi regimes which seem weak on the surface but highly able to surprise and crumble Western efforts of containment. Read more ..

Author's Own Story

Why Take the Risk?

February 4th 2008

Ben Carson book
Gifted Hands

Many people would describe my youth and upbringing as being “at risk.”  But my whole life has involved a series of risks.  Since success in life really depends upon identifying and appropriately reacting to the risks in our lives, I thought it would be a wonderful endeavor to analyze my life in terms of the risks and to generalize on how to evaluate risks in our lives, and determine which risks are worth taking and which are not worth worrying about. 

This is a vitally important topic because there are many people in our society who never achieve anything in life because they are afraid to take risks.  There are other people who never achieve anything in life because they take too many of the wrong risks.  In this book, we are able to explore how we get in contact with our own value system which helps us to be able to determine which risks are appropriate for each of us.  It should be noted that the answer will not be the same for each person. 

I grew up as the product of a single parent home with a mother who had only a third grade education in the inner cities of Detroit and Boston with dire poverty, rampant violence, terrible grades, poor self-esteem, and a horrendous temper.  You can see why some would consider me to be an “at risk” youth.  Even though my mother only had a third grade education, she was wise enough to recognize that my life was going nowhere fast, as was that of my brother.  She observed the people that she worked for as a domestic and also observed that they were very successful and, therefore, attempted to apply the principles she saw at work in their lives to our lives.  That was certainly a risk for her because it involved drastically reducing our outside play time and increasing our inside study time as well as drastically curtailing our television viewing.  She was ostracized by many and criticized by her friends for taking such an unorthodox approach, particularly in our social setting, but it was a risk she was willing to take and it obviously paid big dividends. Read more ..

Election Edge

Scapegoating Mexicans--A Familiar and Dangerous Political Tactic

February 4th 2008

Liz Black headshot
Elizabeth Black

About the so-called immigration debate, I’m pretty sick of it—the presidential candidates trying to outdo each other by being tough on illegal immigrants. The problem is, every time one of them makes a fiery, impassioned promise to rid our nation of those illegal aliens, they get thunderous applause, which further fans the flames of demagoguery. And a candidate who refuses to engage in inflammatory language is reviled for it.

Furthermore, somehow I got on the email-forwarding bandwagon of immigration bellyaching, which as far as I can tell is thinly disguised hatred of Mexicans. I am really disheartened by these email campaigns and even more so by TV and radio hosts spewing such stuff: They are taking American jobs, they are ruining our economy, they refuse to speak English, they’re causing a crime wave—the accusations go on and on. Face it.

The inflammatory language is aimed primarily at border crossers along our southern edges, with little worry expressed about mafia toughs or sex slaves smuggled in from Eastern Europe, or human cargo stuffed in shipping containers from Asia to be sold as slaves, or fanatics who come in from Saudi Arabia to preach death to America or organize radical student organizations on American campuses. The send-em-back rhetoric is mostly aimed at Mexicans.

I want to preface the next few paragraphs with the statement—and please pay attention—that I have never heard even one illegal immigrant use the following as a justification for illegally crossing the border. I can only conclude that Mexicans don’t know history any better than we do. What is presently Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California was once Mexico. We took it away from them by force in something called the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), which was settled by the coercive Treaty of Hidalgo ceding 55 percent of Mexico’s territory to the U.S. It started over Texas. American settlers who had moved into the territory revolted against Mexico in 1835, declaring themselves to be an independent state. (Remember the Alamo?) Read more ..

Comparing the Obama-Clinton Race to South Africa's Presidential Campaign

February 4th 2008

Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

With the presidential election looming in the United States, and the resulting media circus which follows and to a certain degree, prompts the campaigns, much attention is diverted from pivotal elections in other parts of the world. Take for instance the forthcoming presidential elections in South Africa. In recent weeks, the ANC which is currently the country’s majority party, held its national party elections.

For the first time in its 58 year history, the party leadership was contested from within, and President Thabo Mbeki with less than 40% of the vote, was effectively given a vote of no confidence by party delegates. Jacob Zuma with 60% of the vote won the party leadership and is well situated to become the next president of South Africa. This exercise of majority decision-making is significant in that it marks a continued evolution in the democratic processes of one of Africa’s most vital nations. As the country moved from a system of Apartheid into a new era of equal representation and rights to participation, it is becoming a model to be watched, as a new paradigm for African nations and the world at large. No party or government is truly tested until the time comes to evaluate its own effectiveness or change its leadership. Read more ..

Inside the Islamic World

For Bhutto Assassination Answers, the Biggest Question is "Where"

February 4th 2008

Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Pundits, lacking any immediate answers, have been driven to speculation as to who killed Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and why. But in the ensuing confusion that has enveloped the country in the wake of her assassination, the truth may be hard to find and long in coming. At this stage, in trying to make sense of this immense tragedy, it is perhaps the ‘where’ that counts more than anything.

If one looks into the social and political context of Pakistan as a modern state, a picture of unbalanced extremes become immediately apparent. Pakistan was born of the inability of India’s Muslims and Hindu’s to coexist peacefully.  To be sure, some of this tension resulted from divide and rule tactics of the British colonialists, but no amount of colonialism can account for the utter brutality of the transition. As the death toll mounted, even the wise and universally revered leader Mahatma Ghandi, threw his hands up in despair, remarking at a 1942 rally, “Leave India to God.  If that is too much, leave her to anarchy.”  Most telling of all, women were especially brutalized in the transition. “Ghost trains” of women with their breasts cut off would arrive on either side of the India-Pakistan border sent from opposite sides.

With the partition of India and Pakistan into separate religious enclaves, one would have thought that the reasons for conflict would have abated. But this is not so. Politically motivated assassinations and violent coups have continued to plague Pakistan.  Moreover, the plight of women in the country is in some respects shockingly deplorable. On the one hand, it elects a liberal, Harvard-educated woman as its’ Prime Minister, and on the other, teenage women are regularly gang-raped to exact customary ‘justice’ for various perceived wrongs committed by other members of their family. In keeping with the one step forward, two steps back pattern, the Pakistanis have now allowed their liberal, western-educated, female Prime Minister, a shining example of social progress, to get shot down in the street like a stray dog. Read more ..

Plug Power chief technology officer separated from the company last year

John Elter headshot
John Elter

Plug Power of Latham NY, the promising technical edge of Honda’s home hydrogen refueling strategy, filed a notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Chief Technology Officer John Elter's last day was December 31, 2007, according to a Form 8K disclosure recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained by this reporter. Even though Elter’s last day on the job was reportedly December 31, at press time on February 4, the company’s website still shows him as the Chief Technology Officer, and no company press release had been posted on the site, a check shows. Plug Power did not respond to questions on the topic and at press time Elter could not be reached.

Dr. Elter was responsible for the development of advanced fuel cell systems, managing the Company’s Centers of Excellence and guiding the development of fuel cell technologies that drive overall product strategy. He was reportedly a well-respected leader in the field. No reason was given for his departure.

Elter’s separation agreement, detailed in a December 21, 2007 letter to Elter, became effective December 31, 2007, according to the SEC filing. The agreement calls for him to be consultant to Plug Power for one year. The agreement specified in section 8 that during that year, Elter will not provide services to such businesses such as UTC Power, ReliOn, IdaTech, Ion America/Bloom Energy and/or Proton Energy without first informing Plug Power, according to the SEC filing. In addition, according to section 10, a non-disparagement clause, Elter is prohibited from any issuing an disparaging remarks about the company and further agrees to cooperate with any private litigants, according to the SEC filing.

In section 11, entitled “Communications Concerning Your Separation,” the agreement states: “If asked about the circumstances of your separation of employment with the Company, you shall state that you retired from your position and will otherwise make statements consistent with any communication and/or press release issued by the Company announcing your retirement from employment; provided that this shall not prohibit you from testifying truthfully in any legal proceeding, providing truthful information in response to a request from a governmental agency, or providing truthful information in response to a request for information in connection with your application for employment with another employer,” according to the SEC filing.

Paragraph 12 entitled “Information Concerning Actual, Potential or Alleged Financial Irregularities” states, “You represent that you are not aware of any actual, potential or alleged financial irregularities concerning the Company,” according to the SEC filing.

Elter is scheduled to receive his salary of $267,671 for a year, the agreement states, according to the SEC filing.

The well-regarded Elter has held his position at Plug since 2004, during which time the promising Honda hydrogen-producing Home Energy Station [HES] received much media attention. The HES, which is designed to transform CNG into power electricity for the home and into fuel for the forthcoming Honda Clarity hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, has been inexplicably sidetracked in recent months by Honda.

Plug is also hunting for a new chief executive officer. CEO Roger Saillant is set to retire April 7 when he turns 65.

At press time, Plug Power did not respond to questions on the agreement and Elter could not be reached. Story updated at February 4, 2008, 4:40 PM EST

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