Archive for March 2008
|See Earlier Stories 1 2 |
Enabling the Disabled
|Joyce Bender||March 31st 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
In 1990, on a beautiful morning at the White House, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in front of thousands of people with disabilities, and their advocates and friends. We all remember the words of President George H. W. Bush as he signed the bill that would provide Americans with disabilities the same rights as the non-disabled, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
Sadly, since that day, those words have not come true in all areas, and one of those areas is employment. Seventeen years later, we still have an unemployment rate of over 50% for Americans with significant disabilities. This is a national tragedy.
The ADA has been weakened over the past several years by Supreme Court rulings that do not make sense. Read more ..
|Clarence Page||March 31st 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Hey, what happened to all those people who wondered whether Barack Obama was “black enough” to win black votes?
Now all I hear is people asking whether he’s too black to win white votes. Those who walk the highwire of crossover politics—black to white and back again—must strike a delicate balance. It was in the process of learning that balance that Barack Obama met the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Obama was learning how to be “black.” This much is for sure, he’s learning more all the time. One lesson he’s learning these days is how hard it is to be black without being thoroughly misunderstood by whites.
Years ago, Obama was trying to gain a better understanding of black folks when he met Wright in the first place. Ryan Lizza described the encounter in an excellent profile in the March 19, 2007, issue of The New Republic. He wrote that Wright was unimpressed when Obama the community organizer first approached Trinity United Church of Christ. “They were going to bring all different denominations together to have this grassroots movement,” explained Wright, a white-haired man with a goatee and a booming voice. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Do you know what Joseph’s brother said when they saw him coming across the field?’” Obama said he didn’t. “I said, Behold the dreamer! You’re dreaming if you think you are going to do that.’”
Obama’s problem was that he was trying to build a confederation of churches but he didn’t have a “church home” of his own. That means a lot among black church folks. One reverend put it to him like this, according to Lizza: “What you’re asking from pastors requires us to set aside some of our more priestly concerns in favor of prophesy. That requires a good deal of faith on our part. It makes us want to know just where you’re getting yours from.” Read more ..
Inside the UN
|Roberta Seid||March 31st 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
|Roz Rothstein (left) and Roberta Seid at Human Rights Council.|
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) silenced an American human rights activist during recent deliberations regarding the upcoming 2009 so-called “Durban II” conference, a follow-up to its 2001 Durban I conference. The formal name of the event is the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.” But the Council refused to allow an American human rights activist to speak without repeated interruptions when she brought up topics unpopular with many at the UN, namely the ongoing genocide in Darfur and anti-Semitism.
StandWithUs (SWU), International Director Roz Rothstein was invited to give a speech before the Human Rights Council in Geneva March 19, 2008. But her brief remarks and the response of the Egyptian and Iranian delegates created a veritable international uproar.
First, some background. In Sept. 2001, the UN's first conference to end world racism met in Durban, South Africa. Unfortunately, despite its idealistic agenda, the conference, and the attendant Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) meetings, quickly turned into an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel hate fest. Celebratory posters of Hitler were displayed. Jews were physically and verbally attacked and intimidated, and denied participation in various meetings. Israel was accused of racism, Nazi-like practices and apartheid, which paved the way for divestment campaigns from Israel.
In a tragic paradox, the conference to end racism fomented and embraced one of the world's oldest racisms—anti-Semitism. The late Congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos (D-CA) wrote that it was "the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I had seen since the Nazi period." The United States and Israel walked out. Read more ..
Kicking the Fat Addiction
|Elizabeth Black||March 31st 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
I believe corn will be our undoing. Don’t get me wrong, I love corn. No summer picnic would be complete without corn on the cob. A movie is not as satisfying without popcorn. And cornbread? Nobody makes a better cornbread from scratch than I do.
Corn is all-American, about as American as you can get. Native Americans introduced it to their European invaders back when they were still feeling friendly toward them. But corn may ultimately be our undoing. Or to be more precise, using corn for purposes for which it was not intended may be our undoing.
First, corn is force-fed to cattle in order to fatten them quickly. A cow’s digestive system is designed exclusively for grass. Corn causes them to bloat and makes them prone to infection. Hence, they must be given antibiotics to keep them disease-free until slaughtered, and hormones to speed the fattening process. Skipping past the troubling issues of unnecessary hormones and antibiotics, corn-fed beef is super high in fat content and is helping to clog our arteries. The other way corn is killing us is far more insidious: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This artificially produced super-goo, which exploded into our food supply in the 1980s, has become the sweetener of choice for the food industry, and it’s everywhere.
Go to your pantry and check out the labels. Soft drinks, fruit juice, breakfast cereal, peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise, salad dressings, ketchup, pasta sauce, mustard, hot dogs, cookies, candy, potato chips, canned soup, crackers, cake, yogurt, pudding, pancake syrup, bacon, beer, macaroni and cheese, even some bread. Read more ..
Transfer of Wealth
Cutting Edge Energy and Security Desk
By now, it is abundantly clear that the U.S. economy is in dire straits. What should also be clear is that the path to economic recovery will be compromised as long as America is dependent on imported oil to the degree that it is while oil continues to hover over $100 a barrel.
At current oil prices, this country sends overseas $460 billion per year to finance the daily buying of 12 million barrels of imported oil. This amount of money is about the size of our defense budget and three times the size of the “economic stimulus” package recently passed by Congress. But the real economic impact of oil dependence is hidden to most Americans. Energy economist Milton Copulos (who passed away this month) calculated last year that the grand total of all external costs associated with foreign oil dependence -- including the cost of oil-related defense expenditures, amortized cost of supply disruptions, and lost economic activity and tax revenues -- stands at $825 billion per year.
To put the figure in perspective, this is equivalent to adding $8.35 to the price of a gallon of gasoline refined from Persian Gulf oil, making the cost of filling the gasoline tank of a sedan $214, and of an SUV $321. At today's oil prices, these costs would be even higher. For the U.S. economy, oil dependence is a double whammy. While it contributes to our economic decline, it allows OPEC governments, many of which do not have our best interests in mind, not only to laugh all the way to the bank but to literally own the bank. The recent buyout by foreign governments of chunks of America's prime symbols of economic prowess -- like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Blackstone Group and Bear Stearns -- is only the preview to what is yet to come should the petrodollar fueled transfer of wealth continue.
Read more ..
BRAVO, Senator Obama. You gave a speech of inspiration which this country greatly needed. However, it’s a matter of too little--too late, and smacks of self-serving damage control.
Why not give this speech when you announced your presidential candidacy? How truly inspiring it would have been then: a message of solidarity and unification that would have been a catalyst for all races to set aside their differences, work together, and fight together to raise our country to its feet once again. It would have been a message of hope that potentially all of America could have believed in.
Now it simply resounds as a plea for the American public to forget that for 20 years you have supported a man whose hate for the United States of America and many of its residents is apparent. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||March 31st 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Take a minute to think about the following: When was the last time you made a mathematical calculation in your head or by hand (yes, which means not using a calculator)? Surely, some of you avoid math like the plague – especially when your teenage child comes around looking for help on their math homework – but you must admit that even in this compalculator era it comes in handy to be able to tally your bills in your head or figure out the miles per gallon you’re getting while driving along in traffic.
It seems reasonable to expect that people with high school diplomas and college degrees shouldn’t be afraid of a little algebra. We all took math in school, and although most of us struggled with the subject, and many of us hated every second of it, we did it and we got by. We got by, and it has helped us in some way or another while at college, work, or home. But if you thought math was hard for you, consider how hard your kids have it.
It shouldn’t be hard to understand why most American teenagers struggle with math and other basic subjects like science and English. Schools are overcrowded and rundown, teachers are underpaid and overworked, kids are over-stimulated and cannot focus, and administrators are forced to push testing over learning. The fact is that kids are left behind, and sadly, even when they’re not, they don’t always grasp what we think they do. Read more ..
Inside the Islamic World
|Joseph Grieboski||March 31st 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Last June, standing shoeless at Washington's 50-year-old Islamic Center, President George W. Bush announced an important new diplomatic initiative: for the first time ever, the United States would send a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a global, 57-member organization of Muslim nations. It was a welcome move in advancing Muslim-Western understanding.
OIC member states welcomed the idea of a U.S. envoy. Appointing an envoy was meant to "demonstrate to Muslim communities our interest in respectful dialogue and continued friendship," the President said. But his interest in this historic special envoy seemed to have withered until eight months later.
On February 27, 2008, President George W. Bush announced that Texas technology entrepreneur Sada Cumber would be the first U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Asked about why it took so long, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, "The president wanted to find the right person and he found that in Sada Cumber."
Make no mistake about the OIC's power: it represents Muslims from Guyana to Pakistan to Indonesia, making it the United Nations of the Islamic world. With a secretary-general and several organs, the Conference is the venue where members coordinate humanitarian aid and pen economic, social and political agreements. Read more ..
|Ron Kampeas||March 31st 2008|
from the JTA
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama--JTA graphic
Even as conservatives continue to paint Barack Obama as being surrounded by anti-Israel advisers, a new poll shows the Illinois senator and Hillary Rodham Clinton in a close fight for Jewish support.
A Gallup Poll tracking views according to religious beliefs conducted March 1-22, found Jewish Democrats in a statistical dead heat in their support for their party's presidential nominees.
Clinton, a New York senator, led Obama, 48 percent to 43 percent -- a differential falling within the six percent margin of error for the 368 Jews interviewed.
These results reflect the same dead heat found among voters in general in a separate national Gallup Poll released Monday. At the same time, Obama did better among Jews than among white Protestants and white Catholics. The poll comes after months of aggressive efforts by Obama and his campaign staff to repel ongoing e-mail attacks painting him as unsupportive of Israel, and amid speculation that he was in danger of losing Jewish support. Read more ..
|Nancy Sheftel-Gomes||March 31st 2008|
I read Edwin Black’s piece in the The Cutting Edge News [Barack Obama--Mentored by an Anti-American, Anti-Zionist Black Separatist, March 17, 2008] and as ever appreciate his clear reporter style and multi-faceted perspective on the issues. As a student of human behavior and a Jewish Educator (and having been married to my African American, Korean War vet, pre-affirmative-action husband for 39 years) I can't help feeling that some of what Reverend Wright has said is close to the truth about racial inequality in the United States today.
Inequality and persecution make for strange bedfellows. Five years ago I attended an anti-war protest at the Civic Center to stand against the looming war. I found it unnerving that anti-Zionists were present in full force.
While the issue of race has been openly thrown upon the table, where are concrete plans to change the growing gap between the haves and the have nots—from either candidate? The issue of race may be divisive, but in this political atmosphere it is a diversion and an opportunity for more useless political rhetoric between the leading Democratic candidates. The big question is will the Democrats have a candidate that can be elected? Not if they keep dancing around.
Nancy Sheftel-Gomes is the director of education at Congregation Sherith Israel in Sam Francisco.
|Janis Vikmanis||March 31st 2008|
Micah Halpern does well in efforts publishing good information [Riga -- Modern Latvia Flocks to Nazi Past, March 24, 2008] but there is a lack of historical knowledge concerning some events.
Nazis used Latvian soldiers as cannon fodder, putting them in the front lines to cover themselves. No one would think of calling the Finnish people Nazis just because they, with no option at hand, received the Nazis as allies.
Amongst the Latvians that killed Jews in forests were also drunken teenagers who had parents deported by the Communists some years earlier. One can ask Mrs.Valentina Lasmane, a former teacher of such kids who lives in Stockholm today. The Occupation of Latvia was well-arranged theatre performed by the Nazis. In 1939, in agreement with the Communists, the non-aggression Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty was drawn. Most likely the Nazis also left some loyalists dressed out to be Jews, cheering and welcoming the Communists. Before their occupation in 1941, the Nazis had withdrawn all those of German descent.
Communists killed a lot in 1940. This Latvians remembered once the Nazis returned. (Latvia was occupied by Communists in 1940, Nazis in 1941 and Communists again from 1945 to 1991). Such remembrance pleased the Nazis and was “well used” in Nazi propaganda released in 1941. Read more ..
|Mary Kay LaBrie||March 31st 2008|
I appreciate and agree with the article, "The Millions of Americans Barack Obama Forgot and Perhaps Does not Know" [Editorial, March 24, 2008.] Following Obama's speech, he also gave an interview in which he called his grandmother a "typical white person." My view, as someone who teaches how to manage diversity in the corporate world, is that Obama lacks two very basic understandings needed to truly be a uniter: you cannot generalize people (make assumptions) or make excuses for bad behavior.
My own grandfather was an immigrant from the Carpathian mountain region. After living a young life of having to speak a different language each time a new army invaded the area, and having his own father taken away to a Siberian work camp (he escaped), the family came to the U.S. to start a better life. My grandfather couldn't read or write English and, although older, he was thrown into the first grade. The teacher didn't want to deal with him, so she made him sit in a first grader's desk. He took this type of humiliation daily until he was 18 and graduated the sixth grade. He did not become bitter against America. He worked hard to change what he could. He became a self-made businessman and a union leader. He fought for voters' rights of people of all colors, and he fought for the U.S. in WWII.
These are the stories that make up America. Rather then defend Wright's hated, Obama should have separated himself (and his children) from this ranting and made it clear that he understands that many Americans suffered unjustly in the past. Without this basic understanding, Obama does not have the capacity to unite as he thinks he does.
|Susan Cohen||March 31st 2008|
My question is why must the International Committee of the Red Cross coordinate its admirable efforts on behalf of Holocaust victims with Paul Shapiro of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum? Who does he represent? Who appointed him? Shapiro, it seems, is in conflict with so many of the genuine grass-roots survivor organizations. Just read the remarks of the president of NAHOS for one [Survivors Rebuke USHMM’s Shapiro and ICRC over Bad Arolsen Discord Following Closed Door Meeting, March 3]. Mr. Shapiro has insisted on media black outs about a topic--the Holocaust details--that must never be kept in the shadows. He refuses to answer questions from reporters with difficult questions. And he has refused to come out in favor of the survivors getting into their records using remote computers where they live instead of traveling to Washington. In fact, he is the one who has blocked discussion of it. If the International Committee of the Red Cross really wants to help survivors access their records, they must do so by working directly with the victims, take the initiative to allow remote computers in other cities, and refuse to participate in any more USHMM events held behind closed doors without the press involved--something which only causes more confusion and embarasssment for all.
|Candice Koontz ||March 31st 2008|
Dana Point, CA
The more I think about it, the less I understand not only Bill Richardson’s endorsement but also his latest call for the Democrats to come together, I’ll assume, behind his chosen candidate: of Barack Obama. Didn’t Dorothy stop talking to the giant animated head once the true Wizard of Oz was revealed? Why does Richardson expect less from us? He is trying to sell me a ticket for the Titanic after it already hit the iceberg. No matter what he says there MUST be another ship out there.
The current situation may seem to be a huge debacle but hardly the disaster it could have been had Hillary dropped out of the race. We could have been committed to a nominee who would be destroyed by the Republicans over a whole host of issues. While it is true that Hillary cannot win enough delegates to clinch the nomination, guess what, neither can Obama. With more information on Obama coming to light, we now see that not only are the current primaries shifting major momentum, but quite a few people who have already cast their votes would like a chance to have them back.
For some, the Rev. Wright issue brings up separation of church and state. I could truly care less what your religion is but let us agree that none of the venom this man spewed had anything to do with religion. He is addressing social values and, after 20 years, one must share some of these ideals. By the way, Separation of Church and State was put in place to prevent the government from interfering in faith based affairs. In other words our bigoted racist founding fathers gave people like Wright the freedom to preach hatred.
My sympathies go out to the remorseful Obama supporters, but they did have some indicators when political backers and hip hop artist endorsers could not name any accomplishments or plans Obama had in his platform. It is a sad day in America when his largest demographic of voters cannot state anything this man intends to do to help them but they do know the color of his skin. I really hoped we were above that.
This is also fueled when, less than eloquent politicians, say that Obama can help smooth over relations with Islamic nations simply because “he is a black man”. Hopefully Israel will not discover his church bulletin supported Hamas. Funny, my church paper is full of dreary old bake sales and bingo nights.
Much of this would be a moot point if we weren’t facing the travesty that is the Florida primary. How is it that Democrats must suffer for something that happened at the hands of a Republican legislature? Looking at the current mess, I have an image of the GOP in a back room somewhere going “WOO HOO” and high-fiving each other. Additionally, the candidates agreed not to campaign in Florida yet Obama spent 1.3 million to Hillary’s 130,000. Why did he spend that much knowing it wouldn’t count? He got a lousy return on that investment! He has consistently outspent Hillary three to one. That is a huge story to me. She has garnered almost the same number of votes using a fraction of the funds. The DNC should pay attention to this because it would take a fortune to try and convince voters to go for Obama in the general election. Read more ..
|Eliot Jager||March 30th 2008|
|Army of Shadows|
Hillel Cohen (translated by Haim Watzman). Army of Shadows. 2008, University of California Press. 344 pages.
This is a book I purchased because I was tempted by its cover photograph of a Jew visiting an Arab village in 1940, even as I was repelled by the word "collaboration" in its subtitle.
The Jew—the jacket description calls him a "settler"—wearing a Western suit, is sitting slightly higher than the Arab, who is traditionally dressed and wearing a keffiyeh. The Arab has his hand on the visitor's knee. He looks warily at the camera as his guest, whom we see in profile, speaks.
In Army of Shadows - Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948, Hillel Cohen of the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem tells the absorbing story of the Palestinian Arabs who sought accommodation with the Zionist movement. This book answers the question: Where are the Palestinian moderates?
For more than 90 years, Arab radicals have been at war not only with with Zionism, but simultaneously with any Arab voice—Christian, Muslim, Druse or Beduin—advocating moderation and coexistence with the Zionist enterprise. So, where are the moderates?
Answer: They are dead—hacked up with axes, riddled with bullets, slaughtered with knives and exploded by bombs. That's where the Arab moderates are. This book chronicles their story from the start of the British Mandate until the War of Independence. Read more ..
Few have spoken more eloquently about race relations in this country than Sen. Barack Obama in defending the anti-American, black separatist views of his pastor and mentor, Jeremiah Wright. By now, millions in America have seen Pastor Wright twirling with exhilaration after 9-11 chanting “God damn America” and his bizarre rants that America has engaged in genocide by creating an AIDS epidemic in the Black community, and a continued litany of anti-American venom.
Obama places this all in the contentious context of Black-White race relations. But whole communities in this country—millions of people—have nothing to do with the Black-White racial legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination and the racial disenfranchisement that Obama rightly speaks of. These people love their country and they find tolerance of anti-American God damning hate speech abhorrent. Who are these people outside the Black-White racial conflict?
They are American-Jewish people, almost all of whom came to this country after 1890, most during the 20th Century, and generally fleeing the awful persecution of wars, pogroms, genocide and Holocaust. These families are not descendants of the slave days and did not create Jim Crow. These families fought off their own problems of discrimination and still do. These families love their country. Read more ..
Nazi Legacy Today
|Mark Abramowitz||March 24th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
|IBM Custom Punch Card for Nazi SS Race Office|
Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) likened Google, Yahoo and other Internet companies to the IBM's cooperation with Hitler's Nazi government to help carry out the Holocaust.
The sharp criticism was part of an on-going Congressional scrutiny of Internet and technology companies for their involvement with what is seen as a repressive regime in China. "Did you ever wonder why the Gestapo always had all those very well-laid-out prints of where the Jews lived?" according to Information Week reporter Paul McDougall quoted Smith as saying. "Because IBM made it happen."
Smith's comments about IBM helping to enable the Holocaust referred to investigative author Edwin Black's 2001 book "IBM And The Holocaust," which extensively documents IBM's role in enabling the Nazis to efficiently exterminate over 7 million people, including about 6 million Jews using IBM's technology. IBM has never denied its 12 year highly profitable relationship with Nazi Germany in which it used its information technology--punch cards--to help plan the Third Reich's war against the Jews. This including such campaigns as the census and other identification programs, asset seizures, extermination by labor which matched job skills to useful slave labor details, and the train schedules and factories serving Auschwitz.
IBM maintained a customer site known as the "Hollerith Department" in virtually every concentration camp. IBM coded its punch cards for special Nazi needs allowing them unheard of efficiency. Prisoner Code 8 was Jew, Code 11 was Gypsy. Camp Code 001 was Auschwitz, Code 002 was Buchenwald. Status Code 5 was executed by order, code 6 was death by gas chamber. One extensively quoted IBM report written by the company's European manager during WWII declared “in Germany a campaign started for, what has been termed … ‘organization of the second front.’” The memo added, “In military literature and in newspapers, the importance and necessity of having in all phases of life, behind the front, an organization which would remain intact and would function with ‘Blitzkrieg’ efficiency … was brought out. What we had been preaching in vain for years all at once began to be realized.” Read more ..
The Coming War with Hamas
|Nonie Darwish||March 24th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
"Gaza conditions at '40-year low'" the BBC recently headlined.
Rarely a week goes by without a politician or organization deploring the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. But I do not hear anyone describe its root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at maintaining Palestinians as stateless refugees in order to pressure Israel.
I lived in Gaza as a child in the 1950s when Egypt conducted guerrilla-style operations against Israel from Gaza, then under Egyptian control. My father commanded these operations, carried out by "fedayeen," (which means, "self sacrifice"). This became the frontline of Arab Jihad against Israel. My father was killed by Israel in a targeted assassination in 1956.
Today the Gaza Strip, now under the control of Hamas, has become the Gaza prison camp for 1.5 million Palestinians and continues to serve as the launching pad for attacks against Israeli citizens.
This is the legacy of the Arab world's Palestinian refugee policy, started 60 years ago, when the Arab League implemented special laws regarding Palestinians that all Arab countries had to abide by. Arab countries could not absorb Palestinians. Even if a Palestinian married a citizen of an Arab country, that Palestinian could not become a citizen of his or her spouse's country. A Palestinian can be born, live and die in an Arab country, but never gain its citizenship. Read more ..
The Barack Obama-Pastor Wright Controversy
Presidential candidate Senator Obama is in a pickle. His years of affiliation with his pastor have put him center stage in a controversy arising from the pastor’s unbridled and passionate rants which run contrary to public opinion (and common sense for that matter), and that same pastor’s complex relationship with an even more controversial Black Muslim, Mr. Farrakhan.
Granted, Senator Obama’s recent speech on the controversy has clarified many of his points of view on this subject, but his detractors remain dissatisfied with his retaining a relationship of any kind with his now former pastor. Their argument is a wonderfully crafted triple straw man argument that asserts that because he didn't distance himself personally from the pastor, who in turn peddles hatred and seeks commonality with Farrakhan; Ergo Obama is an anti-US black separatist Farrakhan-loving-black-Muslim.
It isn't so, and intellectuals know it. Everyone who heard the entire speech knows it.
There are some who suggest that until now, Senator Obama had successfully managed to keep his race out of the contest for the White House. But now having said that he could no longer disown his pastor than he could his black community, he had himself now identified himself as the “black” candidate. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there were one: First you attack the candidate because of the self-proclaimed and vocal “blackness” of his friends, then when the candidate distances himself from their remarks but not from his friends, you by proxy force him to defend his color, thus making him the black candidate. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||March 24th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Having grown up in both the Pentecostal and Methodist faiths, Sunday worship was a staple of my weekly routine. Thus, when I relocated to Washington during the 80's finding a church home was very important to me. For almost 10 years I canvassed the nation's capitol seeking a church that would nourish my spirit and challenge my aspirations. As I tried out local churches, I began to notice a consistent theme: the sermons were highly political charged. Understandably, this being the nation’s capital, there is perhaps a heightened political awareness among the general populace. However I believed, perhaps naively, that Churches in a town mired in politics should generally steer clear of the muck and focus more closely on the personal and spiritual aspects of faith. Ministers are right to advocate for social justice as a moral imperative, but they lower the esteem of their office and do a disservice to their worshippers when the pulpit becomes host to political rallies and policy forums.
In 1995 my spirit found what it was seeking when I first visited First Baptist Church in DC, where the Rev. Frank Tucker presides. I will never forget meeting with the Pastor prior to joining and expressing my feelings about what I was looking for in a church. I made it clear that my interest was in the word of God, and not in having politics dominate the pulpit on Sunday. He shared my concerns, and promised that this wasn't the case at his church. I have now attended First Baptist for over 10 years and never been disappointed with the spirit-centered teachings. Through the years I've taken Whites, Muslims, Jews, and people of all walks of life to worship with me and they all have left feeling as if they were welcome members of the congregation. Read more ..
Nazi Legacy Today
|Micah Halpern||March 24th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Riga is the capital city of Latvia. Located on the Baltic Sea, Latvia, a scenically beautiful country to behold, is one of the former Soviet states. Riga is a city rich in culture in history and even in human and natural resources.
On Sunday, in Riga, three thousand Latvians came out to join a parade. It was a parade to honor those Latvians who belonged to and fought in and defended the honor of a notorious SS Unit known as the Latvian Legion.
Three thousand people came out and joined that parade. Did I make myself clear? Three thousand Latvians flocked to the city of Riga to participate in a pro-Nazi rally. It happened this Sunday - in the year 2008, in a European capital.
As Americans, we think that most people think the way we do. We think that not to think the way we do is bad, or wrong, thinking. We think that our understanding of right versus wrong is universal. We think that the reason others do not think the way we think is because they have not heard the power of our argument, that they would be convinced if they had As Westerners, we think that our belief system is the correct system, the most evolved system, the most popular system. In actuality, we are deluding ourselves. Our view of the world is insular, it is short sighted and it is narrow-minded.
Look no further than Riga, March 2008. Read more ..
Radical Islamic Threat
|Walid Phares||March 24th 2008|
In an audiotape posted on Internet, Osama Bin Laden threatened Europe with punishment because of its “negligence in spite of the opportunity presented to take the necessary measures” to stop the republishing of the Danish cartoons. It also menaced the Vatican with retribution for an alleged role in incitement "against religion." This al Qaeda warning would have been normal in Salafi Jihad logic. This radical movement obviously considers the drawings as an ultimate insult to Muslims and would unleash extreme violence in retaliation. Actually one would have expected al Qaeda to strike back “for the cartoons offense” a long time ago. In fact, this particular audio is intriguing precisely because it is too “political,” read too sophisticated. Bin Laden’s school of Jihadism would have smitten first, explained later. So why is this message more peculiar than previous ones? What can we read into it? In short, I see in it the imprints of Jihadi "politicians” and strategists in international relations and deeply immersed in the diplomatic games across the Mediterranean. Even though it is indeed the voice of al Qaeda’s master, nevertheless one can see increasingly the impact of political operatives on the movement’s public statements. Here is why:
A raw al Qaeda reaction to the “infidel cartoons” would have been a strike back into the heart of the enemy with simple harshness and highly ideological brutality. But the audio tape has other points to make than just about the drawings. The message is heavily targeting Europe, while using the “cartoon Jihad” as a motive. Bin Laden, and the war room behind him are concerned about the rise of tough national leaders on the continent: Sarcozy, Merkel, Brown and a possible reemergence of Berlusconi's Party. In many spots in Europe, citizens are rejecting the Jihadi intimidations and becoming vocal about it. France is going to Chad, Germany has ships in the Eastern Mediterranean and Spain is arresting more Salafists. But the traditional apologists towards the Islamist agenda in Europe, remain strong. Al Qaeda wants to use the apologists against the “resistance.” What better than threatening to strike at Europe’s peace if its liberal values are not altered? In essence this is Bin Laden’s message: Read more ..
The Race for Nuclear
|Karin Kloosterman||March 24th 2008|
Vetrified slag radioactive waste now inert
The problem of radioactive waste is a global one, and getting worse. All countries in the industrialized world are waking up to the need for safer hazardous waste disposal methods.
The laws of conservation of energy and mass say that energy or mass cannot be created or destroyed--it can only change form. But with the help of Russian scientists, Israeli firm Environmental Energy Resources (EER), has created a reactor that converts radioactive, hazardous and municipal waste into inert byproducts such as glass and clean energy.
"In the beginning, nobody believed that we could do it," says Itschak Shrem, chairman of investment company Shrem, Fudim and Keiner representing EER at a recent in Tel Aviv press briefing announcing the innovation. Shrem, himself an invoker of small miracles through the founding of one of Israel's most lucrative venture capital funds - Polaris (now Pitango) - pointed to a chunk of black, lava-like rock sitting on the table in front of everyone's coffee cups. The journalists cautiously eyed Shrem as he assured them that the shiny dark material, emitted from EER's pilot waste treatment reactor near Karmiel in the north, was safe to touch. Read more ..
The Expanding Nuclear Club
|Joseph Grieboski and Leonor Tomero||March 24th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
A little over a year ago, the U.S. Congress voted to approve the Hyde Act which changed long-standing U.S. nuclear non-proliferation laws, to allow the transfer of nuclear material and technology to India. Since then, the United States has made yet additional dangerous concessions to India. Now the India nuclear deal has become worse for everyone’s international nuclear stability.
For 30 years, until last year's Congressional vote, nuclear trade was reserved only for countries in good standing under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), our first line of defense against the spread of nuclear weapons. Countries that remained outside the NPT simply could not benefit from nuclear trade under U.S. and international rules. India, which misused international assistance intended for peaceful purposes to develop its own nuclear weapons and which is one of only three countries that never signed the NPT, was no exception.
If the final steps are implemented, including the 45-country Nuclear Suppliers Group changing its international rules and the U.S. Congress approving the U.S.-Indian nuclear trade implementation agreement, India will get all the nuclear benefits it needs without any of the legally-binding obligations to nonproliferation. Read more ..
|Yared Bekele Mekonnen||March 24th 2008|
As an Ethiopian-American, I read with great interest your recent article focusing upon Rep. Donald Payne's embrace of terror-state Eritrea at the expense of U.S. allies Ethiopia and Somalia.
I offer my congratulations to The Cutting Edge News for truly living up to your name and delivering the cutting edge revelation of Rep. Payne's trip to Asmara. I do not recall reading about his strikingly low-profile visit to that terror-sponsoring regime in any other U.S. media outlet.
I share Abdirahman Warsame's righteous indignation regarding both the trip itself, as well as Payne's “misguided” vision for the Horn of Africa. I can only scratch my head in wonderment at how an individual clearly so out of step with rational U.S. Africa policies has managed to find himself in such a powerful position.
Evidence of just how detached Rep. Payne appears to be from reality emerged last week during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy options for the Horn of Africa. The transcript that I read of the hearing suggests that it was a wide-ranging conversation that competently illustrated the complex dynamics in the Horn, and explored how critical the region is in terms of American interests in Africa.
If there was one central theme that seemed to run through the testimony of the senior U.S. officials called upon to testify before the committee, it was the overwhelmingly negative role that Eritrea continues to play.
In her prepared statement and in answer to questions from the senators, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer assailed Eritrea, saying its human rights record is “deplorable and is steadily declining” and accusing the regime of sponsoring instability in neighboring nations and undermining the efforts of U.N. peacekeepers along its border with Ethiopia. Read more ..
|Edwin Black||March 17th 2008|
In the end it was not the lies about his religion, but the truth about his religion that may have irrevocably splattered the image of Barack Obama.
Democratic presidential frontrunner Obama survived a malicious viral email campaign that he was a Muslim. While under Sharia, he was in fact born Muslim of a Muslim father; but Obama never lived as a Muslim in any way. He survived a ridiculous blogospheric posting of a photograph of him bedecked in a turban--Somali tribal apparel while traveling in Ethiopia--equivalent to wearing a festive sombrero in Mexico. And he handily survived the antagonistic Republican incantation of his Muslim middle name, "Hussein."
But can Obama’s populist candidacy survive the truthful revelations about his twenty-year relationship with spiritual advisor Jeremiah A. Wright, the "black separatist" Christian pastor?
It is pivotal to understand that Obama’s potentially insurmountable problem is not about his mere membership in Pastor Wright’s Trinity Church, an affiliate of the nationally diverse United Church of Christ. Obama’s problem is the deep-vein mentoring with Pastor Wright himself. Obama was not just sitting in the pews for twenty years. The two men were and are tight--very tight.
It was Wright’s charismatic "in your face" African-American activism that first brought unaffiliated, young twenty-something Chicago neighborhood organizer Obama into the Trinity Church as a practicing Christian in the eighties. Obama became a regular attendee and took Wright’s inspiration with him when away. While at Harvard studying law, Obama morally tutored himself with tapes of Wright’s fiery lectures. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||March 17th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Arriving in Washington DC during the 1980s, my most difficult challenge was finding a church home. Having grown up in the Pentecostal and Methodist faiths, Sunday worship was a staple of my weekly routine. For almost 10 years, I canvassed the nation’s capitol seeking a church that would nourish my fleshly failings and remind me of what our creator expects of us as human beings. What was consistent in going from pulpit to pulpit was that ministers were more interested in political rhetoric, the endorsement of political candidates, and the denouncing of some government or community proposal, than the gospel. For many years, It was quite disheartening to find that ministers were not teaching or preaching the word of God, but that their sermons were becoming political rallies. I was stunned at the blame cast upon the White man, the racial divisiveness, and all the things that seemed to divide and separate us from our neighbor.
Then in 1995, I attended First Baptist Church in DC where the Rev. Frank Tucker presided and my spirit finally found what it was seeking. I will never forget meeting with the Pastor prior to joining and expressing my feelings about what I was looking for in a church. I made it clear that my interest was in the word of God and not political rallies, condemnation of America, or various politicians occupying the pulpit on Sunday. He shared my concerns and promised that this wasn’t the case at his church. In my 13 years of being a member of Pastor Tucker’s church, he's never disappointed my spiritual yearning. Throughout the years I've taken Whites, Muslims, Jews, and people of all walks of life to worship with me and they all have left feeling that they could join the pastor's congregation. Read more ..
Science and Gays
|Marcy Darnovsky||March 17th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
While gay families and their supporters await the California Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of a voter-approved law banning same-sex marriage, a few researchers and pundits are proposing that same-sex procreation with bio-engineered gametes will undermine one of the key arguments of same-sex marriage opponents.
These technological enthusiasts are portraying a recent biological experiment with artificial gametes as a breakthrough that will one day enable gay and lesbian couples to have children who are genetically related to both of them. Some media reports have described the step toward "female sperm" as a portent of gay freedom. "Good news for lesbians," the lead of one story gushed.
Well, maybe not. The news accounts and enthusiasts haven't raised the question of whether equality can be engineered in a test tube or discrimination solved with a technical fix. Nor have they pointed out that procreation with artificial gametes would be a biologically extreme measure that would pose enormous risks to any resulting children. While speculation about using such constructs in humans typically includes the standard disclaimer - "assuming this is shown to be safe" - the far more likely "not safe" option has remained unexamined.
The recent discussion of female sperm was triggered by a report from scientists at the United Kingdom's University of Newcastle. The British researchers, who had previously coaxed bone marrow cells taken from men to develop into sperm precursor cells, announced that they had done the same with female embryonic stem cells and now plan to try repeating the trick with female bone marrow. As the scientists and various commentators hastened to point out, these techniques raise the possibility that sperm created from one woman's cells could be used to fertilize an egg from her partner. Read more ..
Inside the Islamic World
|Joseph Grieboski||March 17th 2008|
Cutrting Edge Contributor
Life for so-called apostates in Iran has never been easy, but it could become literally impossible if Iran passes a new draft penal code. For the first time in its history, Iran is considering the death penalty for apostates. In the past, authorities have executed apostates. But punishment by death has never before been set down in law.
The text of the draft penal code uses the word Hadd, which explicitly sets death as a fixed punishment that cannot be changed, reduced or annulled. The rest of the code is little better. By using ill-defined terms, other provisions also open the door to abuse Iran’s already beleaguered religious and ethnic minorities.
Article 225-1 states “Any Muslim who clearly announces that he/she has left Islam and declares blasphemy is an Apostate.” Article 225-2 adds that “Serious and earnest intention is the condition for certainty in apostasy.” So an accused person could claim that he made his statement reluctantly, or ignorantly, or while drunk, or through the slip of a tongue, and he would not be considered an apostate. Read more ..
|Jesse Reynolds||March 17th 2008|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The prospect of biotechnology companies capitalizing on genetic information in order to develop profitable products without properly compensating the studied populations brings to mind biocolonialism, in which politically and economically vulnerable indigenous groups are exploited. But a growing convergence of genomics and information technology may lead, ironically, to the genetic "exploitation" of society's most elite.
A new brief by the ETC Group on the rapidly growing direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry asserts that the genomic data - which clients pay handsomely to have taken from them - will likely be correlated with health data in order to develop new products:
The information gleaned from most genetic tests has very limited use for patients, but it is extremely valuable to companies and researchers trying to establish links between medical conditions and genetic variations, enabling - they hope - the development of drugs targeted to people with specific genetic profiles. In the shorter term, drugs that have been taken off the market due to unexpected adverse reactions in a small percentage of the population could be re-marketed as personalized drugs, intended only for those with the appropriate genetic profile. Through clever (and often misleading) marketing, some companies are persuading consumers to pay for storage of genetic data and health information, which the companies intend to use (e.g., sell) for research and drug development. Read more ..
|Abraham Foxman||March 17th 2008|
I wanted to share with your readers a letter that I had sent to Pope Benedict XVI last month. The letter follows.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Vatican City, Italy
We write you urgently to express our profound concern over news reports regarding the imminent announcement of a revised Good Friday prayer for the Conversion of Jews that would replace the 1962 Roman Missal text.
While these media reports state that the offensive language of veils and blindness are to be discarded in the supposed new formulation of this Good Friday prayer, they report that the framework and intention to petition God for Jews to accept Jesus as Lord will remain.
Alterations of language without change to the 1962 prayer's conversionary intent would result in cosmetic revisions while leaving intact the most troubling aspect for Jews, namely the desire to end the distinctive Jewish way of life. We do not understand how such an action could be consistent with the teachings and actions of the Catholic Church that began with Nostra Aetate and developed in numerous authoritative Catholic documents ever since. It is also hard to understand how a Good Friday prayer that for centuries was universally accepted as expressing the hope for Jewish absorption into Christianity could now be understood as being related to Catholic prayers for their own internal change of heart or teshuvah, as some news reports imply.
We wholeheartedly agree with your message delivered at the Roonstrasse Synagogue of Cologne on August 19, 2005 when you said: "We must come to know one another much more and much better. Consequently I would encourage sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, for only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions, and, above all, to make progress towards a theological evaluation of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. This dialogue, if it is to be sincere, must not gloss over or underestimate the existing differences: in those areas in which, due to our profound convictions in faith, we diverge, and indeed precisely in those areas, we need to show respect for one another."
However we think that a revised Good Friday prayer that Jews abandon their own religious identity, as being reported in the news media, would be highly devastating to the deepening relationship and dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. That is why we hope these news reports have totally mischaracterized the nature of the expected revised prayer. We hope the reports are wrong and that any revised Good Friday prayer will instead show the same respect for the integrity and the continuity of Jewish religious life that has prevailed in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council.
Your Holiness, before any revisions to the Good Friday prayer are promulgated, we respectfully ask you, in the spirit of dialogue, for the opportunity to consult with the appropriate Vatican authorities to learn what it is the church is teaching by these changes and create a common understanding.
Abraham Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Biofuels Beyond Food Crops
|Karen Kloosterman||March 17th 2008|
With scientists all over Israel and the world racing to find an efficient fossil fuel substitute, interest in "second generation biofuels" is growing. Scientists, companies and investors are looking beyond biofuels made from corn, sugar cane and vegetable oils and are turning to organic materials and waste that won't compete with food crops.
One promising biofuel alternative that Israelis are actively working on is made from seaweed, or more accurately algae. Not long ago, those on the quest convened at the Samuel Neeman Institute at the Technion-Israel Technological Institute, to find ways to help Israel accelerate development in this area.
Dr. Amit Mor from Eco Energy, an energy investment and consulting firm, is an advocate of renewable energy solutions. He was at the meeting. Through Eco Energy, Mor and his partner Shimon Serroussi specialize in greening Israel's energy, environmental, and infrastructure sectors. Their latest projects include conducting due diligence for renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, solar energy, bio-fuels and clean-tech startups. They conduct financial valuations and write business plans for Israeli oil refineries, petroleum depots, and power plants.
Active in the newly developing market of Israel's greenhouse gases emission reduction programs and emission credits, the company has also prepared the Energy Master Plan for the State of Israel, commissioned by the Israeli Government. Read more ..
The overwhelming majority of respondents to an unscientific Cutting Edge Reader Poll voted that media coverage of Polish post-War antiSemitism was not fair.
In response to the question: Do you Feel Poland Is Being Fairly Depicted as anti-Semitic after the Holocaust? the results were:
* 22 percent "Yes"
* 4 percent "Not Sure
* 74 percent "No"
During the poll period in February 2008, The Cutting Edge News recorded 87,360 hits.
The Oil Threat
Cutting Edge Energy and Security Desk
The recent series of multi-billion dollar acquisitions of chunks of major financial institutions like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Blackstone Group and Bear Stearns by foreign governments, many of them authoritarian, nontransparent and unfriendly to the West--a buyout of America’s prime symbols of economic prowess--symbolizes not only our economic decline but also the emergence of sovereign wealth funds as power brokers in international relations. These government-owned investment funds, some controlled by oil rich autocrats and some by Asian powers like China and Singapore, are pouring billions into hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate, natural resources, media conglomerates and other nodes of the West’s economy. It is estimated that sovereign wealth funds owned over $3 trillion in assets at the end of 2007 and, within one decade, that could balloon to $15 trillion, roughly equivalent to America’s projected gross domestic product.
While much of the economic activity is generated by the Asian funds, it is five Gulf Persian states--Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia--that account for nearly half of the world sovereign wealth funds assets. A quick review of the past several months’ roster of those countries’ acquisitions provides a glimpse into the scale of things to come. Read more ..
The struggle for the Caribbean Basin
|Johanna Mendelson Forman||March 12th 2008|
|Johanna Mendelson Forman|
Anyone visiting Port au Prince today will note that public safety has returned to this city of more than two million people. A democratically elected government is in place, as are local government officials. President Rene Preval has created one of the most inclusive governments in recent history four years after his predecessor Jean Bertrand Aristide was forced to step down as president. There is even an ongoing dialogue with the Dominican Republic on border management and migration.
Much of the credit for this stability goes to the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, that together with the Preval government, remain a moderating force in stabilizing Haiti. Its presence, guaranteed by a Security Council Mandate, unfortunately will expire in October 2008. It should be renewed.
This seventh UN intervention in Haiti in just over a decade has also created a new consensus about the role of the international community in the country. No one wants it to fail: not the U.S., the Canadians (the second largest donors), nor the multilateral agencies that support the recovery. Further, Brazil’s lead in peacekeeping has united Latin Americans around a hemispheric security threat.
But Haitians also want to be the masters of their fate. They must be part of the decision-making process. Although Haiti’s government is reconciled to a UN presence to provide security, it is also committed to creating and supporting a new, robust police force of more than 14,000 persons by 2011. We may very well see results, but it will take at least three years. In the meantime, the presence of the UN until that time will help maintain the security environment. Read more ..
The Coming War with Hezbollah
|Yehudit Barsky||March 12th 2008|
|Imad Fayez Mughniyeh|
The recent killing of Imad Fayez Mughniyeh will not preclude Hezbollah from striking again -- and, judging from past experience, the Lebanese-based terrorist organization will eye Diaspora, as well as Israeli, targets.
For many of his victims around the world, the mid-February car-bomb assassination of Imad Fayez Mughniyeh -- one of the world’s most wanted terrorists for two decades -- has the ring of true justice. At least in the short term, the killing of Mughniyeh will have a deterrent effect and hamper Hezbollah’s capability to carry out a revenge attack.
It will not, however, preclude Hezbollah from planning a future strike -- and, judging from past experience, the Lebanese-based terrorist organization will eye not only Israeli targets for retaliation, but Diaspora Jewish ones as well.
Mughniyeh, the second highest official in the Islamic extremist group and seen as a possible successor to Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, showed no boundaries of brutality or location. He was on the FBI's Most Wanted list for the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and murder of one of its passengers, U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. The FBI posted a $25 million reward for Mughniyeh's capture.
Earlier in his terrorist career, Mughniyeh joined Fatah’s Force 17, the personal security apparatus of Yasser Arafat. Mughniyeh was one of a number of young Shia Muslims recruited to Force 17 and initially trained by Fatah. Read more ..
Kicking The Oil Addiction
Cutting Edge Energy and Security Desk
Jim Woolsey and President Bush.
In a special ceremony at the massive Washington International Renewable Energy Conference Former CIA Director and Set America Free co-founder Jim Woolsey picked up the keys to his newly converted Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.
Woolsey's Prius was upgraded by Watertown, MA-based A123 Systems using an advanced Lithium-Ion battery developed at MIT. The conversion allows the Prius to achieve 100+ MPG and travel up to 40 miles on predominantly electric drive from one overnight charge. Each charge takes about 4 hours and costs about 65 cents in suburban Maryland.
"And if my Prius had an ethanol, other alcohol, or bio-based diesel engine using 85 percent biofuels," said Woolsey, "I would get close to 500 mpg on the petroleum fuel in the engine."
Woolsey's auto upgrade came on the same day that the 13-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries rejected requests from America to increase oil production. As a result, petroleum that day close at $104.52 per barrel, and continues to soar upward. The former CIA chief and now alt energy champion told a panel of carmakers and other vehicle design experts that average consumers paying at the gas statsion were responsible for sending young Pakistani boys to madrassas to become suicide bombers. He asserted that Saudi Arabia finances more than 90 percent of radical Islamic education and that country's prime income source was oil. Woolsey also addressed a seminar on energy security sponsored by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, moderated by Gal Luft.
President George Bush dropped by to take a look at Jim's newly converted plug in hybrid vehicle and admired its bumper sticker: “Bin Laden Hates This Car." Bush also stated, "America is in the lead when it comes to energy independence." He did not explain what he meant. Read more ..
The Struggle to Recover Holocaust-Era Insurance
|Israel Arbeiter||March 12th 2008|
|Rep. Tom Lantos (deceased)|
I testified on February 7 before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on the subject of my parents insurance policies. I did so with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I appreciated the opportunity to address this committee to urge the immediate passage of HR 1746, the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2007, and I was and remain extremely grateful to Chairman Barney Frank for holding the hearings and giving this very important issue the public airing it so desperately needs.
On the other hand, I was very distressed and even angered that 10 years after this committee first held a hearing in 1998 under Jim Leach on Holocaust survivors’ insurance claims, and 7 years after I first testified in Congress in 2001, the insurance industry has managed to escape having to fully account for its handling of our family policies, and has retained so many billions that we survivors should have received decades ago. Today, in 2008, there is no more time for talk. If Congress wants to do the right thing, passage of this measure is imperative with no more delays.
This legislation would restore the basic rights of survivors. It isn’t asking for very much, really. Is it too much for Holocaust survivors to have the right of access to American courts to sue insurance companies who cheated our families out of our insurance proceeds? Is it too much for Holocaust survivors to make decisions for themselves about their property rights? Is it too much to require insurance companies who want to do business in the United States to disgorge information about its customers and give a complete accounting of its conduct during and after the Holocaust? I don’t think it is asking for too much to have the same rights as any other American citizen to hold insurers accountable. The survivors I represent and those I am in contact with every day are confused and frustrated that Congress would stand by and allow the status quo to prevail. Read more ..
|Samuel M. Edelman||March 12th 2008|
Tuesday March the 4th Dr. Stephen Feinstein, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, died of an aortic aneurism that led to cardiac arrest while he was speaking at the Jewish Film Festival. Steve was 65. He died doing what he loved, what he was passionate about, what consumed him. He died talking about the Holocaust. His death leaves us, his family, his colleagues, and his friends, his students breathless, bereft, and stunned.
Steve was such a presence for all of us. He encouraged us; he supported us with positive ideas with suggestions of resources with exciting collaborations. His research and writing on art and literature of the Holocaust, getting recognition of the Armenian Genocide, on Darfur, on developing teaching materials on genocide was critical. His emails and his sharing of ideas and concerns with colleagues all over the world will be missed. He was the ultimate information source. Never to see his daily emails again is painful.
Most important of all was his gentle sense of humor and his smile. Steve was working with a group of us from the US and Poland to prepare to teach about the Holocaust to Polish teachers this summer. His death is an unbelievable loss not only to his wife and children, his colleagues, friends and students at the University of Minnesota but to all of us struggling to fight against the indifference and hate that leads to the greatest scourge of humanity—genocide.
Samuel M. Edelman, Ph.D. is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, American Jewish University
(formerly University of Judaism) and Co-director, State of California Center of Excellence for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance.
|"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"|
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" ("Le Scaphandre et le Papillon"), France 2007. Directed by Julian Schnabel, from a screenplay by Ronald Harwood, based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Miramax/Pathe Renn, 112 minutes, in French with English subtitles.
American reviews of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" ("Le Scaphandre et le Papillon"), and of the autobiographical book by Jean-Dominique Bauby on which it is based, have called the story "amazing" and "a triumph of the human spirit." I can’t agree.
These bland clichés and the flabby thinking behind them only insult director Julian Schnabel’s fully realized portrait of Bauby, editor of French "Elle," earthy and intellectual and greedy of life, "a family man and a free spirit" and "a stranger to failure" whose sudden stroke at age 43 left him entombed in his own body, a victim of the rare "locked-in syndrome." On Sunday, Schnabel ("Basquiat," "Before Night Falls") won a Golden Globe for his technically dazzling and meticulously paced direction, and "Diving Bell" was named best foreign film.
The original French lyrics of chansonnier Charles Trenet’s "La Mer" that frame the opening and closing credits set the mood in a way their peppy English translation ("Somewhere Beyond the Sea") never could. "Reflets d’argent ... des reflets changeants, sous la pluie." "Silver reflections, changing reflections, underneath the rain" describes equally well the shifting, drowning, hall-of-mirrors effects of Janusz Kaminski’s brilliant cinematography, and the shattering and slow rearranging of Bauby’s world it depicts. Read more ..
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