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Archive for September 2009

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Confronting the Transfer Agreement

The Transfer Agreement- Why Zionists Made the Deal with the Nazis

September 28th 2009

Book Covers - The Transfer Agreement

On the afternoon of August 7, 1933, at 76 Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin, on a day when well-dressed Jews in Germany could not step into the street without fear, when laboring kibbutzniks in Palestine proudly swept the midday perspiration from their foreheads, when anxious German businessmen worried the next telegram would cancel yet another order for increasingly unsellable Reich goods, when Nazi organizers throughout Europe gleefully reviewed statistics on Jewish populations and Jewish assets within their midst, when Polish blackshirts viciously beat Jews in town squares, when ordinary jobless Germans wondered where they could find enough money for the next meal, when young Jewish boys in German schools were forced to stand painfully before their classmates as examples of detestable vermin, when defiant Jews across America and England raised their fists in anger proliferating their punishing anti-German boycott, when Jewish Palestinian exporters wondered nervously whether their biggest customer Germany would retaliate, when thousands of homeless German Jews existed as refugees and some in concentration camps, when the prospects for Jewry in Europe seemed over, on this fateful day in the first summer of the Hitler regime, an official delegation of four German and Palestinian Zionists and one independent Palestinian business man were ushered into an Economics Ministry conference room. The Jews had been authorized by a combine of Jewish and Zionist bodies to negotiate with the Third Reich.

After hours of wrangled debate, Hans Hartenstein, Director of the Reich Office of Currency Control, was about to call the meeting to an inconclusive close when a messenger from Deutsche Reichpost delivered a telegram from the German Consul in Tel Aviv. The telegram advised Hartenstein that a coalition of official and commercial Zionist interests in Palestine was the best way to break the growing Jewish-led worldwide anti-Nazi boycott that was crippling the Hitler regime in its first months. A deal with the Zionists would be necessary.

And so it was done. The Transfer Agreement was created. Read more ..

Confronting the Transfer Agreement

The Zionist - Nazi Transfer Agreement Saved Lives in a Desperate Moment

September 28th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped

This article arises from continuing coverage of the implications of the award-winning bestseller The Transfer Agreement, The Dramatic Story of the Secret Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine --25 Anniversary Edition (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

For years, students of the Holocaust have struggled over whether the Zionists did right or wrong in negotiating the Transfer Agreement with the Hitler regime. This arrangement transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million—almost $1.4 billion in 2001 dollars—from Germany to Palestine during the pre-War years. To do so necessitated protracted commercial dealings with the Nazis, and flew in the face of the global Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott striving to topple the Hitler regime in its first years. The debate back in the thirties briefly tore the Jewish world apart before being relegated to the realm of a hushed necessity.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the whole subject of the Haavara, or Transfer, was reduced to an obscure footnote. Despite the enormity of its economic and human importance to the Jews of Europe and the development of Palestine, the entire subject is conspicuously absent from almost all standard histories of the period.

But the debate was rekindled in 1984 when Edwin Black’s book, The Transfer Agreement, appeared and told the full story for the first time. It vividly describes in tense style the minute-to-minute negotiations as Zionists rushed to save who and what could be saved in the face of a darkening future.

People are still debating the Transfer Agreement, often just as acrimoniously as its proponents and opponents did in 1933. But what the men and women of those terrible years slowly grew to understand and painfully accept has eluded the comfortable among us. Why? Because those who look back were not there, and did not live through the terrifying hours of the twelve-year Reich.

I was born in Poland. I was hidden in Vilna by my Polish Catholic nursemaid who baptized me, and I was reunited with my parents only after the War. That is why I am alive today. Read more ..

Book Review

The Transfer Agreement: An Unyielding Account of One of the Most Contentious Issues in Jewish History

September 28th 2009

Book Covers - The Transfer Agreement

The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine. Edwin Black. Dialog Press. 2009. 430 pages.

Twenty six years ago, author Edwin Black asked a question at the end of a long and difficult journey: Was it madness or genius? This journey would begin further back in time, at a bleak moment in world history when a madman named Adolf Hitler was democratically elected Chancellor of Germany. Although this could be the start of any number of narratives regarding the Third Reich, The Transfer Agreement involves a particular esoteric agreement between Jewish Zionists and Nazis.

The Zionists wanted to assist (and direct, if necessary) their German-Jewish brethren to emigrate and reestablish themselves in the land promised long ago by God and more recently by the British: Palestine.

The Nazis, for their part, not only shared the goal of wanting the Jews out of Germany, but also wanted to quickly end the rapid, worldwide boycott that was organized against them by other Jewish and non-Jewish groups in 1933. Thus begins a complex web of reactions, rationalizations, back-stabbing, misrepresentation, and ultimately, hard-nosed negotiations on the part of each side.

Despite the odiousness of dealing with the Nazis, the Zionists that took part in the agreement held their national aspirations above all else and offered to break the boycott in exchange for Jewish refugees and their capital in the hopes that these could be used to establish a new Jewish state. This arrangement would come not only in the form of political support to stymie the boycott, but also in the deliberate promotion of German goods to Jewish Palestine. Other historians have supported the book’s premise that the influx of foreign capital, resulting from both Jewish emigration and sale of German goods abroad, was an irresistible incentive to the Nazis, as this currency was in dangerously short supply for a Germany wracked by the Great Depression. Read more ..

The Caribbean Edge

The U.S. Military’s Presence in the Greater Caribbean Basin: Is it Trade Strategy and Ideology or Drugs?

September 28th 2009

Military - Joint Task Force Bravo in Action
Joint Task Force Bravo in Action

Washington’s initiative to have access to at least seven Colombian military facilities has been criticized as an extension of the controversial Plan Colombia and as a breach of fealty to its sister republics. Suspicion also has surfaced that the base deal was fundamentally a move against Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, and would prove a recurring obstacle to fulfillment of U.S. policy goals in the region. Two of the facilities soon to be available to the U.S. are located in the Caribbean region – the military port in Cartagena and the air base in Malambo – and will serve the needs of the U.S. Navy.

The new Caribbean coast facilities will join an array of existing U.S. military establishments in the region dating back to 1903. Until now, the official raison d’etre for a U.S. presence in the Caribbean was to combat drug trafficking.

However, the proliferation of security threats, in particular developments possibly against the interests of Chávez’s Venezuela, has led some to argue that no matter how much Washington’s officials deny it, an unspoken reason for the U.S. deployment to Colombia is to keep Chavez under check. With the Washington-Bogotá decision, it is necessary to discuss the relationship between masking anti-narcotics efforts as a cover for a variety of U.S. security concerns and aspirations throughout Latin America, especially in the coming trade war over commodities. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

The Mushrooming of Jihad in America

September 28th 2009

Terrorism - 3 Terrorists

It is unprecedented in American counterterrorism annals: in one day the nation was dealing with three separate Jihadist plots to blow up civilian and other targets inside our homeland. Although the cases were addressed at different time periods by the FBI and other agencies, nevertheless, the thickening web of terror attempts has breached the line of U.S. national security.

In recent days, authorities revealed three conspiracies by American Jihadists: Michael C. Finton, a 29-year-old man, who wished to follow the steps of American-born Talibani John Walker Lindh, was arrested after trying to detonate what he thought was a bomb inside a van outside a federal courthouse in Springfield, Ill. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian national was arrested after placing what he believed was a bomb at a downtown Dallas skyscraper. But perhaps the most troubling case is of Afghan-born Najibullah Zazi, who set up shop in suburban Denver and began scouting the Web and visiting beauty supply stores in a hunt for chemicals needed to build bombs for Al Qaeda. Sources called the alleged plot one of the most significant terror threats to the U.S. since 9-11. Add to that list the North Carolina Jihad cell, led by Saifullah Boyd, which was planning to attack civilian and military targets across the country.

The immediate question raised by an increasingly worried public is about the connection between all these terror cases: are they all connected? While law enforcement and certainly judicial authorities proceed in a bottom up reasoning, that is to build the case for a global connection between all that is happening with the help of legal evidence, analysts in the field of counter terrorism and conflict are already realizing the meaning of what is happening inside America.

Years ago, Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America (2005-2006) projected that Jihadists—individuals and cells—would mushroom inside the United States within few years, that they would do what they are trying to do now, and how large they would become with time. It was a simple deduction: if the Government doesn’t counter this ideological growth, Jihadists will keep coming. And in fact they kept coming, spreading crossing the barriers of ethnicities, races, nationalities and geographical frontiers. The Jihadists committed to harm the U.S., and there are now hundreds based inside our borders. These predictions, made on CNN and Oprah’s show in 2006, raised a few eyes brows. Now unfortunately, we are meeting the cells of Jihadism in our cities and towns; and sadly, the expectation is that we will see more and may not be able to stop them all from achieving their goals.


Super Bunker Buster Should be Rushed into Readiness Amid No Good Choices

September 28th 2009
Edwin Black's report on a new super bunker-buster seems perfectly timed (see September 21 Page One Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs). Just when the world is discovering that Iran is burying secret nuclear facilities far under ground, and rushing its own medium range and long missile into production, we should be be prepared to take action. Unfortunately, it appears that only the B-52 and the B2 Stealth bomber can carry the weapon due to tis heavy weight. This means that only the USA can deliver it--not Israel. Thus, America will have to take the heat for any such pre-emptive attack. My sense is that if Iran cannot be sztopped by diplomacy and sanctions, the Security Council may all authorize the "all means" clause and this would give America, Israel and allies the green light to take military action. Unfortunately, no one know what would happen next. Whatever it is, it will be terrible. No good choices.

Edge of Financial Recovery

Shifts in consumer spending and saving will change economy for years

September 28th 2009

Economy - Wall Street Bull

Consumer spending will lag rather than lead the recovery from the current recession, according to University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin.

"In the coming years, U.S. consumers will save more and spend less," said Curtin, director of the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. "The recovery will be slow and uneven, and it could take a decade or more for consumers to restore their sense of financial security to pre-recession levels."

Although the preliminary, mid-month consumer sentiment index of 70.2 for September signals that consumers think the worst is over, the fundamental changes in how consumers view their economic situation and its impact on their spending will persist for some time.

Conducted by ISR since 1946, the Surveys of Consumers play a unique role in shaping public policies and business decisions, based on its demonstrated ability to provide an accurate gauge of consumer reactions to the changing economic environment. Read more ..

The Threat from Iran

The New Nazis

September 28th 2009

Terrorism - Hezbollah Nazi Salute

The touchstone for evil in history is clearly the Nazis. Today, there is a new touchstone:  Iran. While some fear making such a comparison, doing so today is not outlandish. It is simply common sense. The Mullahs in Iran are the new Nazis.

Once again, Iran’s President—fraudulently elected as he was—put himself on exhibit at the UN for all to see, and of course for all to see what he represents. Seeing him in action should leave no one in doubt of this comparison. What should be surprising is that our leaders and those of our allies know these facts all too well and say history cannot and does not repeat itself. Well, it doesn’t take a Ouija Board or a crystal ball to divine the mysteries of Iran’s actions. They make that clear every day. They make war on the West through terrorism, preach the destruction of the Jews, arm themselves with missiles and the nuclear weapons to empower them.

Iran has rigged its own Presidential election and then used snipers from rooftops and terrorists on motorcycles to put down the brave protestors who dared to challenge that fraudulent outcome. It is Iran, of course, that races to gain nuclear status pleading innocence along the way while denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel’s destruction. It is also Iran that kidnaps Americans, funds attacks against American troops in Iraq, promotes Hezbollah and Hamas against Israelis, Lebanese, and Palestinians daring to oppose them, and befriends our enemies around the world, such as Cuba’s Castros, Venezuela’s Chavez, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, among others. Read more ..

Destination Edge

Wagner Lives on in Bayreuth

September 28th 2009

Travel - Bayreuth Festspielhaus
Bayreuth Festspielhaus

Bayreuth is the site of the annual Wagner Festival and one of the prettiest towns in Bavaria. Although it is often confused with Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, it remains largely undiscovered except, of course, by passionate Wagnerians lucky enough to obtain festival tickets.

Located on the banks of the River Main in Upper Franconia (the northern- most Principality of the former Kingdom of Bavaria) Bayreuth and Richard Wagner are inextricably linked, a connection which overshadows many attractions of the city. It is true that no visit to Bayreuth is complete without at least touring the Festspielhaus, the unique opera house which sits on a hilltop location that dominates its surroundings. This historic structure was built for Wagner exclusively for performances of his “Ring”. But that is only the icing on top of the Rococo cake that is Bayreuth.

Due to Hitler’s admiration for Wagner, Bayreuth was tarred with the Nazi brush during the Third Reich. However, when we visited recently we found not a trace of Neo-Nazi sympathy. On the contrary, possibly due to the establishment of a first-class research university in 1975, as well as the annual pilgrimage of world-renowned musicians, Bayreuth today is an international cultural center. Read more ..

The Nano Edge

Single-walled Nanoscopic Tubes Show Promise for Defeating Cancer

September 28th 2009

Science - Nanopillars

Nanoscopic tubes made of a lattice of carbon just a single atom deep hold promise for delivering medicines directly to a tumor, sensors so keen they detect the arrival or departure of a single electron, a replacement costly platinum in fuel cells or as energy saving transistors and wires or as energy saving transistors and wires.

Single walled carbon nanotubes, made of a cheap and abundant material, have so much potential because their function changes when their atomic level structure, referred to as chirality, changes.

But for all their promise, building tubes with the right structure has proven a challenge. But now, a pair of Case Western Reserve University researchers have mixed metals commonly used to grow nanotubes and found that the composition of the catalyst can control the chirality (electromagnetics). Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Did Brzezinski Suggest America Shoot Down Israeli Jets in Iran Showdown?

September 28th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Zbigniew Brzezinksi
Zbigniew Brzezinski

In a recent interview with the Daily Beast last week, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Adviser from the Carter administration and erstwhile adviser to President Barack Obama, made a highly contentious statement regarding the U.S.-Israeli alliance. When asked how the U.S. would respond to Israeli jets using Iraqi airspace in order to stage an attack on Iran, Brzezinski was quoted as saying: “We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? ... We have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.”

“A liberty in reverse” is a reference to the controversial encounter between Israeli jets and the American vessel U.S.S. Liberty in 1967 that resulted in the sinking of the U.S. Navy ship.

Brzezinski who is said to have a reputation for such rhetoric, found his calls for “a Liberty in reverse” dimly viewed by many in Jewish leadership.

For example, Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham H Foxman, responded to Brzezinski’s quip with this: “Here is an international legal expert and he doesn't even know that the US does not control sovereignty over Iraqi airspace. Putting that aside, Zbigniew Brzezinski has always had a nasty streak when it came to Israel…. it is better that we can now see it, and it is out in the open.” Read more ..

Energy Politics

Confronting Iran’s Pipeline Strategy

September 28th 2009

Energy Topics - Nabucco Gas Pipeline 2
Nabucco Pipeline

While Washington is mulling over what to do next in order to weaken Iran economically, this summer the Islamic Republic has taught us a lesson in strategic maneuvering, taking major steps to bolster its economy and geopolitical posture by positioning itself as an indispensable energy supplier to hundreds of millions of people.

Last May, I described how after 14 years of negotiations, Iran, which has the world’s second largest natural gas reserves, signed a deal to connect its economy with its eastern neighbor, Pakistan, via a 1,300-mile natural gas pipeline. Both Iran and Pakistan hope to extend the pipeline into India and perhaps even into China. This would not only give Iran a foothold in the Asian gas market and ensure that millions of Pakistanis, Indians and perhaps Chinese are beholden to Iran’s gas, but it would also provide Iran with an economic lifeline and the diplomatic protection energy-dependent economies typically grant their suppliers.


The Edge of Financial Recovery

Values from the Great Depression

September 28th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

When I was growing up during the post war prosperity of 1960s, my parents continually reminded us about how fortunate we were to mature in the relative prosperity of an upper middle class farming family community in Marion, SC. They often shared with us the impact of the Great Depression on their lives and values. Mom--then and now--continues to impress upon us the value of hard work, education, thrift, God, and charity.

Like most young people of our generation, we often tuned out my mother’s stories but subconsciously absorbed the values. It is only with the advent of the Great Recession of 2007-2009, that I began to reflect on my parent’s recollections of the extreme hardships they endured in the late 1930s.

My maternal grandparents ran a seamstress and beauty shop which provided their family of several children with a modest, working-class lifestyle. They were better off than the men in business suits selling tobacco on the street downtown. All the children helped with chores around the house. When the children were old enough, they looked for part-time jobs or worked in the seamstress /beauty shop or the tobacco fields. At mealtime, everybody ate all the food on their plates without complaining. If an unemployed friend dropped by at dinner time, everybody ate a little less and the friend was fed. The younger children only wore hand-me-down clothes. At Christmas time, the children each got one present. Often it was a hand-made toy or winter clothing, and when the business was profitable for that year, they could find a fire truck under the tree.

When many of my older cousins graduated from high school, college was not an option. They pursued vocational training, went to work and sent money home to help support their younger siblings. It was not until after WWII that many of my relatives went to college under the GI bill. Read more ..

Villa Kennedy (Frankfurt)


Iran's Nuke and North Korea's Nukes

Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs

September 21st 2009

Military - MOP GBU57
GBU 57 A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator

The Pentagon is accelerating by three years plans for a super bunker buster, the GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator or MOP, a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. The gargantuan bomb—longer than 11 persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder or more than 20 feet base to nose, weighs 30,000 pounds. Some 18 percent of its total weight is comprised of explosives. Guided by a precision GPS system, the MOP can penetrate an unprecedented 200 feet down before exploding with devastation into an underground bunker, such as those buried in Iran and North Korea currently used to shield rogue nuclear programs. Now Congress has quietly advanced $68 million into the 2009 budget to accelerate the purchase and deployment of ten such super bunker busters making clear they are for possible use against the regimes in Iran or North Korea. Pentagon planners are rushing to beat by months the latest June 2010 deadline for just four such bombs, and have been subsequently directed to increase the number of MOPs to at least ten.

In early July 2009, the Defense Department told a Congressional committee that the MOP was the "weapon of choice" for an “urgent operational need” enunciated by both the U.S. Pacific Command, tasked with North Korea, and the Central Command, tasked with Iran. In doing so, the Pentagon accelerated the program by three years. Read more ..

The Edge of Lobbying

Lobbyists Crowded into Washington for Climate Legislation

September 21st 2009

Politics - Capitol Building at night

More than 460 new businesses and interest groups jumped into lobbying Congress on global warming in the weeks before the House neared its historic vote on climate change legislation, an analysis of lobbying records shows.

The surge in the 12 weeks leading up to the June 26 vote meant that about 1,150 different companies and advocacy organizations were promoting their vision of how the nation should tackle climate change, a more than 30 percent cumulative jump over the 880 companies and associations that were storming Capitol Hill on the issue as the year began. Some 190 of the interest groups that were lobbying in the first quarter of the year did not continue their lobbying in the April-June time period.

It’s impossible to say with certainty how much money was spent on lobbying the climate bill, since businesses don’t have to detail expenses for separate issues they are pushing in Congress — like climate, health care, the economic stimulus, or taxes. But so many groups were lobbying climate that even if the issue consumed only 10 percent of their efforts, the cost would have been more than $27 million in just the second quarter-from April through June. Read more ..

Coke and Confiscation

Coca-Cola Accused of Near-Criminal Collusion in Egypt’s Anti-Jewish Ethnic Cleansing

September 21st 2009

Jewish Topics - Coke Poster

In a stunning new court filing, Coca-Cola has been accused of near-criminal collusion in Egypt’s program of ethnic cleansing and property seizures targeting Jews during the 1960s.

The long-standing case involves Egyptian Jewish businessman Refael Bigio and his family against his former partner, Coca-Cola in the illicit takeover of the family bottling business and property near Cairo. The conflict was covered extensively last year by The Cutting Edge News in a special report (see April 14, 2008 Page One, “Coca-Cola and Confiscation: On Passover, an Egyptian Jew Battles Coca-Cola in the USA for a Modern Day Injustice”)

The Egyptian government takeover occurred in 1962 during the openly anti-Jewish regime of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Coca-Cola joined in the process by purchasing the Bigios’seized property for a relative pittance. The process is reminiscent of the Nazi program of Aryanization against German Jewish property during the 1930s. Egypt’s government has long ago ruled its Nasser-era seizure of the Bigio property was illegal, but Coca-Cola refuses to reimburse the Bigios for the factories the company’s overseas operations took over.

Now, after years of international litigation and fruitless negotiation, Bigio’s attorneys have fired a stinging motion for summary judgment, asserting that the uncontradicted facts surrounding Coca-Cola’s actions were so blatant that the court should immediately find the corporation guilty.

“Coca-Cola is not," wrote attorney Nathan Lewin in his motion, “as it likes to portray itself, a trusting and guileless American corporation that in 1994 innocently purchased a 'minority interest' in some remote business entity that utilizes the Bigios’ property. The undisputed evidence, “ he continues, “establishes that Coca-Cola witnessed how the Bigio family – with which it was intimately bound in a mutually profitable business relationship between the 1940s and 1962 – was victimized by Nasser’s ethnic-cleansing policy of taking Jewish property and expelling Jews from Egypt. Read more ..

Kicking our Oil Addiction

US Tax Breaks Subsidize Foreign Oil Production

September 21st 2009

Energy Topics - Oil Barrels 400px

The largest U.S subsidies to fossil fuels are attributed to tax breaks that aid foreign oil production, according to research to be released on Friday by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The study, which reviewed fossil fuel and energy subsidies for Fiscal Years 2002-2008, reveals that the lion's share of energy subsidies supported energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases.

The research demonstrates that the federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Fossil fuels benefited from approximately $72 billion over the seven-year period, while subsidies for renewable fuels totaled only $29 billion. More than half the subsidies for renewables—$16.8 billion—are attributable to corn-based ethanol, the climate effects of which are hotly disputed. Of the fossil fuel subsidies, $70.2 billion went to traditional sources—such as coal and oil—and $2.3 billion went to carbon capture and storage, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. Thus, energy subsidies highly favored energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases over sources that would decrease our climate footprint.


The Weapons Trade

France Alters Latin America's Strategic Balance Amid Arms Build-Up

September 21st 2009

Military - Eurocopter 725
French-built Eurocopter 725 to Brazil

Some analysts fear that military cooperation between Brazil and France may change the strategic balance in Latin America.

In recent months, tension has grown in the region because of arms purchases by Venezuela's flamboyant President Hugo Chavez from Russia, and the accord signed by Colombia and the United States that allows the US to use Colombian military bases. Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim defended his nation's recent shopping spree by saying that its new nuclear submarine will be equipped with conventional weapons only, while noting that Brazil has “constituional prohibition” against the fabrication and use of atomic weapons. Besides, Brazil is a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Brazil recently inked with France the most important military pact in Brazil's recent history. The agreements signed by the the Brazilian foreign ministry and the French Quai d'Orsay provides for the delivery of 50 EC-725 helicopters, four conventional Scorpene submarines and a nuclear-powered sub. These will actually be built at shipyards and a naval base located near Rio de Janeiro. The entire deal is valued at approximately $10 billion and will be completed in stages out to 2021. Read more ..

The Drug Wars

Drug War Needs a Debate As Much as a Battle Plan

September 21st 2009

Social Topics - Narcotics

In what was to become a growing trend throughout much of Latin America, the Mexican government unleashed its security forces against the drug cartels several years ago in what ended up being a failed effort at interdiction. The strategy was then to change: On August 23, 2009, Mexico City announced that it would be eliminating jail time for possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. President Felipe Calderón said that the new law would free up law enforcement resources. Now, Mexican officials can focus on the larger and more lethal drug cartels, rather than cluttering Mexico’s criminal justice system with cases dealing with petty drug dealers and small-time addicts.

While many Mexicans were indifferent about the new law, Washington could not conceal its disappointment with its neighbor. In addition to Mexico, both Brazil and Uruguay later announced the elimination of measures harshly penalizing citizens carrying small amounts of drugs. Likewise, Argentina is planning to enact a decree exempting drug users from the criminal justice system. On September 8, 2009, the Mexican president asked his Attorney General, Eduardo Medina Mora, a key figure and hard-liner in the government’s war on drugs, to step down. This occurred after criticism of the government further escalated when drug lords executed 18 people outside a rehab center in Juarez. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Negative Public Opinion and Terrorism

September 21st 2009

Islamic Topics - Islamic Terrorist

An analysis of public opinion polls and terrorist activity in 143 pairs of countries has shown for the first time that when people in one country hold negative views toward the leadership and policies of another, terrorist acts are more likely to be carried out.

Princeton University economist Alan Krueger and co-author Jitka Malečková of Charles University in the Czech Republic have found that there is a strong relationship between attitudes expressed toward a foreign country—indicated in surveys on foreign leaders' performance—and the occurrence of terrorism against that country.

"Public opinion appears to be a useful predictor of terrorist activity," said Krueger, the Bendheim Professor in Economics and Public Policy. He has held a joint appointment since 1987 in Princeton's Department of Economics and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. "This is the first study to relate public opinion across countries to concrete actions such as terrorism," he added.


The Obama Edge

ObamaCare Prepares for Marijuana Cigarette Distribution

September 21st 2009

Social Topics - toking up

George Soros must be thrilled. Sixteen years after Soros began his advocacy for drug legalization and promoting "medical marijuana," the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is venturing into the distribution and production of marijuana cigarettes. According to an August solicitation for proposals, the selected organizations will be controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and will have to comply with FDA regulations. Proposals in response to bid N01DA-10-7773 are due in to a Bethesda contracting office by October 9, 2009.

Until the early 1990s, the voices to legalize drugs in the United States were not in sync. This changed with Soros's first foray into U.S. domestic politics in 1992-1993. Soros declared: "The war on drugs is doing more harm to our society than drug abuse itself," and proceeded with his checkbook advocacy through his Open Society Institute (OSI) to give some $15 million to establish and fund several pro-drug legalization organizations. Since then, he and his like-minded friends have poured many millions into different programs aimed at drug legalization.


Edge of Terrorism

Beslan: Jihad against Children Must Trigger Global Response

September 21st 2009

Terrorism - Beslan Carnage

Wars have always had inhuman results, no matter what is the scale. Since the early 20th century, terrorism has perpetrated mass killing of innocents, condemned by all moral values. Salafi jihadism in particular has produced extreme scales of bloodshed against civilians, comparing with the monstrosity of totalitarian regimes under Hitler or Pol Pot, among others.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and throughout the 1990s, Salafi terror groups operating from the Philippines to Algeria have butchered families, students, journalists, elderly, and the weakest elements of civil society.

Children, too, have been murdered during these ghazwas (jihadi raids). In the post 9/11 era, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Indonesia' Jemaa, the Janjaweed in Darfur, and the Shabab of Somalia, among others, have bombed and slaughtered kids. The al-Muhayya bombing in Saudi Arabia, the Amman bloody wedding, and the Baghdad's surreal infanticides are only examples as to how Salafi jihadists and Khomeinist operatives have gone in their devastation of children's lives. Read more ..

Edge of Climate Change

Volcanoes and Plants Said to Be Interactive on CO2 Levels

September 21st 2009

Environment Topics - Volcano erupting

Fifty million years ago, the North and South Poles were ice-free and crocodiles roamed the Arctic. Since then, a long-term decrease in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has cooled the Earth. Researchers at Yale University, the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of Sheffield now show that land plants saved the Earth from a deep frozen fate by buffering the removal of atmospheric CO2 over the past 24 million years. While the upper limit for atmospheric CO2 levels has been a focus for discussions of global warming and the quality of life on Earth, recent studies point to the dynamics that maintain the lower sustainable limits of atmospheric CO2.

Volcanic gases naturally add CO2 to the atmosphere, and over millions of years CO2 is removed by the weathering of silica-based rocks like granite and then locked up in carbonates on the floor of the world’s oceans. The more these rocks are weathered, the more CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. Read more ..

Book Reviews

Acting Now to End World Poverty--Some Say It Can be Done

September 21st 2009

Book Covers - Life You Can Save

The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. Peter Singer. Random House. 2009. 224 pages. 

If the wealthiest 10 percent of American families set aside at least 5 percent of their after-tax income, US$471 billion would be available each year to house, heal and feed the world's poorest 1.4 billion people. This is vastly greater than the US$189 billion a year needed to meet the Millennium Development goals -- the UN's targets for halving world poverty by 2015.

Hence, if people who suffer such dire poverty can be helped at the cost of so little sacrifice, it is morally depraved not to do so.

Such is the opinion of Peter Singer, the world's most controversial philosopher. He is better known for his radical utilitarian arguments for euthanasia, abortion, infanticaide and animal rights than for moonlighting as Mother Teresa. However, his latest book is about philanthropy, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty, and it could have been ghost-written by Francis of Assisi.

To his credit, for many years Singer has been a passionate advocate of a frugal lifestyle and philanthropy and a stern critic of the consumer society. He gives away 25 percent of his own income. 

As far back as 1972, he wrote an influential article, "Famine, Affluence, and Morality", which asked how it could be ethical to ignore the suffering of starving and diseased people. Singer seeks to shame Americans and citizens of other wealthy nations into digging deep. He cites heart-rending statistics to show that more people have died of preventable causes over the past 20 years than in all the wars and all the government repression of the bloody 20th century. It is deeply immoral, he says, to ignore this suffering. Read more ..

If Holocaust Museum Snubs Survivors, Why Doesn't Obama Throw out the Bosses?

September 21st 2009
I was saddened to read the sorry state of affairs at the prestigious Washington Holocaust Museum from Leo Rechter regarding the wartime Bad Arolsen files (see Opinion Sept 7, 2009, Holocaust Museum Snubs Survivors on Bad Arolsen Files But Luxembourg Gets the Data). He wrote: "Unless Holocaust Survivors, Second and Third Generation individuals wake up and start applying pressure and mass protests on the United States Holocaust Museum Memorial in Washington, D.C. to release its sets of Holocaust files and records to major Jewish museums and libraries all over America, the USHMM will continue to monopolize the data for its own purposes." This is simply outrageous. Having looked into other media reports about this abuse of power, it seems the people in charge at the Holocaust Museum have thumbed their nose at just about everybody when asked to share the archives with survivor communities across the country. Indeed, why should elderly victims have to travel across the country and spend money for travel to see their own files. I ask, why doesn't President Obama simply fire the Holocaust Museum bosses starting at the top and replace them with people who will be more responsive to the survivor requests for their own files.

Inside Saudi Succession

Saudi Sucession--a Desert Legacy

September 14th 2009

Arab Topics - King Abdullah2
King Abdullah

The modern state of Saudi Arabia was founded by King Abdulaziz (Ibn Saud) in 1932. From a Saudi perspective, however, the kingdom is far older – certainly older than the United States – despite occasional interruptions in Saudi rule and even though the Western notion of sovereign independence was not achieved by the Saudis until this century.

As founder of the modern Saudi state, Ibn Saud could trace his forebears to the middle of the fifteenth century, when they arrived in the center of Arabia from the Hasa region to the east. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, his ancestors had become local rulers of an area centered on the settlement of Dariyah, near modern-day Riyadh. The identified patriarch of the family was Saud bin Muhammad, who was succeeded as sheikh (local ruler) upon his death in 1725 by his son Muhammad, who is usually described as the first ruler of the al-Saud dynasty. (King Abdulaziz was given the name Ibn Saud by the British, recalling this ancestor, Muhammad bin Saud, or Ibn Saud)

In 1745, Muhammad bin Saud, who had already achieved a reputation as a tough fighter in defending the local date palm plantations from marauding tribes, gave refuge to a Muslim scholar from a nearby village who had been expelled for preaching an Islamic orthodoxy that criticized local practices. The scholar was Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, and his strict interpretations of Island ("Wahhabism") found favor with Muhammad bin Saud. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

The Mysterious Voyage of the Arctic Sea-- Was it Hijacked by Israel for Iran-Bound S-300 Missiles?

September 14th 2009

Russian Topics - Arctic Sea Hijacking
Suspected "Hijackers" taken into custody

There has been considerable speculation in the media over the last week as to the true course of events surrounding the piracy of the Russian cargo ship Arctic Sea. The ship, officially bound from Finland for Algeria with a cargo of wood was first intercepted in the Baltic Sea on July 24, by eight men dressed as Swedish customs officers, who claimed to be part of an anti-drug trafficking unit. They detained the crew and searched the ship for twelve hours, before supposedly leaving, and allowing the Arctic Sea to resume her voyage.  Four days later, on the 28th July the ship had its last radio communication with British coastguard officials as it sailed through the English Channel, before vanishing from radar screens on the 29th, when she was in the Atlantic off the coast of Portugal.

After a further week of no contact or sightings of the ship, Russia dispatched a force of warships, led by the frigate Ladny to search for her in the Atlantic. It was at this point that speculation began to grow that pirates had seized her, the first time that such a thing had happened in European waters for well over two hundred years. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Why Organized Labor Supports Government Health Care

September 14th 2009

Politics - Unions

Unions strongly support President Obama's health care reform, which includes a plan for a government-run "public option" that would crowd out private health insurance. Labor publicly argues that the current health care system serves Americans poorly.

However, unions also have self-interested motives for promoting government-run health care: The legislation includes a $10 billion bailout of union retiree health plans and a nationalized health care plan that would lead to millions of new dues-paying union members as government employees unionize more frequently than private sector workers. National health care would also reduce unionized companies' competitive disadvantage.

Incidentally, unions do not support all health care reform plans. When Senators proposed taxing health benefits to pay for health care reform--a tax that would disproportionately fall on union members--the labor movement threatened to derail the legislation.

Unions Pushing for Government Health Care

Unions strongly support health care reform and have made supporting a "public plan" that would lead to a government-run single-payer system their top priority. In fact, after opponents protested at town hall meetings this summer, the AFL-CIO spent $15 million to stage counter-demonstrations with union members.

Why has organized labor made government-dominated health care such a priority? The AFL-CIO publicly argues that the "real-world toll of soaring health care costs, lack of insurance and systemic flaws in our health care system must come to an end." They further state that their goal "is to win secure, high-quality health care for all." Many union leaders and activists do genuinely believe this. However, the labor movement has not spent such large sums of money campaigning for health care reform out of disinterested concern for the common good: Unions will benefit immensely if the government takes over the health care system. Read more ..

Kicking our Oil Addiction

Greens and Hawks: An Uneasy Alliance

September 14th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Gal Luft
Gal Luft

Many Americans perceive the fight for energy security and the effort to reduce our oil dependence as synonymous with the effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Politicians talking about energy often bind together energy security and the environment, creating the impression that using less oil would not only slow down the transfer of wealth to oil-exporting regimes, but also the melting of the icecaps.

To some degree this is true. Many components of energy policy, like increased fuel efficiency, the use of mass transit, the shift to some renewable fuels, and the electrification of transportation, can offer both security and environmental benefits.

If a car uses less gasoline, fewer dollars migrate abroad, and fewer tons of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere.

Greens and hawks have much to agree on in pursuing their respective goals. But these two constituencies are not as aligned as many tend to think.

Energy security and greenhouse gas reduction are not complementary issues. Many of the technologies and policies that could assist one could well be an imped iment to the other.

Mapping the Interests

Let's begin with environmentalists. In the short history of the 21st century, no issue has risen from near obscurity to the center of our public discourse as quickly as global warming. What started as chatter among some concerned scientists and die hard environmentalists is now called "the challenge of our generation," consuming a bandwidth equivalent of war among world leaders. Read more ..

America's History

Henry Hudson: The Man, the Mystery, the Mission

September 14th 2009

History American - Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson

Three of the most noteworthy bodies of water in North America—the Hudson River, Hudson Strait, and Hudson Bay—take their names from the English explorer Henry Hudson. No other explorer earned as much notice from mapmakers, not even Christopher Columbus. This raises a significant question: was Hudson worthy of the honor?

Yet much of Hudson’s life remains a mystery. He was probably about forty years old when he entered the historical record in 1607 as the captain of an English ship called the Hopewell. He sailed from London in search of a quick route to the Spice Islands of the South Sea, the modern Pacific Ocean. After studying his maps he realized that the best course would take him across the North Pole and then into the Pacific. This was no fool’s quest. Contemporary cartographers believed that the sun melted the ice at the pole during the summer, which meant a ship could get through the region frozen the rest of the year.

Not surprisingly, ice blocked Hudson’s way and forced him to return home. But his determination to reach the East Indies drove him to try again the next year, this time aiming the Hopewell towards the Northeast Passage, which purportedly ran north of Russia. Again, ice blocked his path so he sailed back to London. In 1609, the Dutch East India Company hired Hudson to make yet another  effort to go through the Northeast Passage. When ice again blocked the Halve Maen he followed a tip he had received from Captain John Smith, who had learned from the Powhatans of a water route somewhere north of the Chesapeake that cut through North America. Read more ..

Fighting Fructose

Study Reveals that Soda Drinks May Cause Liver Damage

September 14th 2009

Israel Topics - Israeli Coke

A new Israeli study reveals that too much sweetened soda and fruit juice may cause long-term liver damage. Switching to water is the best preventive measure to contribute to long-term health.

It may be a good idea to replace the juice in your kid's lunch box with a bottle of water. A health conscious Israeli physician has bad news for the beverage industry. According to Dr. Nimer Assy, people who drink more than one liter (about four cups) of sweetened beverages a day have a five times greater risk of developing fatty liver.

"In the long term, this contributes to more diabetes and heart disease,” warns the doctor from the Ziv Medical Center in Haifa. While known culprits like sweetened carbonated soda are on the list of "no-nos," natural and freshly squeezed fruit juices appear there, too. His findings are reported in the Journal of Hepatology, where Assy, a specialist in internal medicine, liver disease and liver transplantation and director of the Liver Unit at Ziv, warns that the beverages cited can cause long-term damage.

In his study, Assy followed 90 healthy patients with no perceived risk for fatty liver. He discovered that about 80 percent of the people in the study who were diagnosed with fatty liver drank more than half a liter (about two cups) of sweetened soft drinks (carbonated beverages and sweetened juices) every day, whereas only 17 percent of those in the control group had the condition.

The ingredient in the sodas and juices that causes the damage is a fruit sugar called fructose, which is highly absorbable in the liver. It does not affect insulin production and goes straight to the liver where it is converted to fat. Fructose ups the chances that you will suffer from a fatty liver, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer, Assy says. Read more ..

Book Reviews

Africa Challenged by Green Activist

September 14th 2009

Book Covers - The Challenge for Africa

The Challenge for Africa. Wangari Maathai. William Heinemann. 2009. 319 pages.

Outside Africa Wangari Maathai is known mainly for her work as founder of the Green Belt Movement, and winner of the 2004 Nobel peace Prize. Inside her country, Kenya, she is respected as an often lone voice defending the rain forests from being cut down, and the environment from degradation. She is also known as someone who has often risked arrest, assault and public humiliation in the cause of human rights. In this, her third book –she has published one on the Green Belt Movement, as well as her autobiography, Unbowed, she writes from experience and with authority on the present situation of a continent in a stage of delicate transition.

Africa, south of the Sahara, she writes, has been seen as a land of unparalleled riches, startling beauty, and extraordinary wild life; as a place of strange and at times primitive tribal customs, civil disorder and armed militias; of child labour and child soldiers, mud huts, open sewers and shantytowns; of corruption, dictatorship and genocide. These and other perceptions have framed the world’s response to Africa.

Yet, she goes on, a dangerous and unfortunate psychological process ensues that subtly and perhaps unconsciously affirms to Africans their inability to be agents for their own destiny. These depictions fail to capture another reality, which is that every day, tens of millions of African women and men go about their business, live their lives responsibly and industriously, and look after their immediate and extended families, even if they lack certain material possessions, higher education or access to the range of opportunities and goods available to the wealthy in other countries or even their own. These are the real African heroes, and it is these images the world should see more of. Read more ..

America and the Flu

Confronting the Facts About Swine Flu

September 14th 2009

Latin American Topics - Mexico Plague Kisses

In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared swine flu--officially known as the H1N1 virus--the first influenza pandemic since 1968. The following month, the WHO told countries to stop reporting individual swine flu infections because the number of victims had rapidly exceeded 1 million people and the virus had spread to almost every nation in the world. The flu continues to spread. A WHO scientist estimates that H1N1 could infect 2 billion people in two years. Since emerging in April, it has become one of the fastest spreading contagious diseases on record.

H1N1 will return to the U.S. this fall with the flu season. This year's flu season may be more severe than normal, but the U.S. has the capacity to respond to the extra strains. Federal, state, and local governments should continue to improve their pandemic response and risk communication programs. They still need to do much to improve cross-state planning, continuity of operations, situational awareness and information sharing, and community resiliency.

However, an effective public response will likely be the most important factor in mitigating the effects of the flu season. The public should follow the guidelines of a responsible national vaccination strategy and adopt behaviors, such as washing hands properly, to limit the spread of the disease and minimize its societal impacts. Read more ..

Hugo Chavez Must be Condemned not just as Anti-American, but also Anti-Semitic

September 14th 2009

Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez must be condemned for a venomous speech delivered in Damascus, while on a visit to the Syrian dictatorship, in which he described Israel as “genocidal,” “anti-peace” and implementing “America’s imperialist policies.” Chavez also praised  Syria as the “architects and designers of the resistance,”  while condemning American and European hegemony and the “unipolar” world order (‘Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez slams Israel during Damascus visit,’ Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2009).

In a subsequent interview in the Italian Le Figaro, Chavez said that, “The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They’re doing it openly.” He also dismissed Israel’s need to defend itself in its Gaza operation last December and January saying, “What was it if not genocide? ... The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians.” He also said sanctions should have been placed on Israel (‘Venezuela’s Chavez accuses Israel of genocide,’ Reuters, September 9, 2009).

Some examples of Hugo Chavez’s anti-Jewish and anti-Israel words and deeds: One of Chavez’s closest mentors was the deceased Norberto Ceresole, an Argentinean right-wing nationalist and advocate of a post-democratic Latin America, as well as being a  Holocaust denier and conspiracy theorist preoccupied with alleged Jewish plans to control the planet. On November 29, 2004, Venezuelan armed police raided the Jewish elementary and high school at the Jewish Cultural Centre in Caracas, an attack that traumatized Venezuela’s 25,000 strong community.

Chavez made an astonishing anti-Semitic outburst in a December 2005 speech, in which he said that, “The world is for all of us, then, but it so happens that a minority, the descendents of the same ones that crucified Christ, the descendents of the same ones that kicked Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in their own way over  here in Santa Marta, in Colombia. A minority has taken possession all of the wealth of the world, a minority has taken ownership of all of the gold of the planet, of the silver, of the minerals, the waters, the good lands,oil, of the wealth then and have concentrated the wealth in a few hands.” Read more ..

Destination Edge

Visit East Africa and say 'Hakuna Matata'

September 14th 2009

Travel - Wildebeests in Serengeti

No more snow or below-zero temperatures? Wake up every morning to bright sunshine and the songs of tropical birds? That’s the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on the edge of Lake Victoria. Or to the roaring of the ocean, with a spectacular sunrise guaranteed every morning? Zanzibar, the spice island, or Mombasa, the vibrant tourist centre on the Indian Ocean, with its 16th century fortress and old town largely intact. Perhaps a national park within a stone’s throw from your room, with lions, gazelles, rhinos, hippos and a bewildering array of monkeys.

You’re in Nairobi, the mile-high capital of Kenya, home of the marathoners and long- and medium-distance men and women runners. Or further inland, forested mountains rise beyond more forested mountains, as far as you can see. Kigali, the spick and span, highly organised capital of Rwanda, whose only offer to tourists is the mountain gorilla? Only offer? A comfortable two-hour drive from the capital and you reach the forest where the shy creatures hide and can be visited by few people at a time. A once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read more ..

The Weapons Trade

Embraer: Is the Brazilian Military Industry Becoming a Global Arms Merchant?

September 14th 2009

Military - EMBRAER AMX

Brazil has become a high-tech and growing civil-military power in the same league as Russia, India and China (the BRIC countries). When it comes to Brazil and military technology, one name comes to mind: Embraer (Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica, S. A.). The Brazilian company specializes in civilian and military aircraft, and is regarded as one of the top three aircraft companies in the world, next to Boeing and Airbus. Today Embraer’s military products make it an increasing factor in the arms manufacturing and supplying field, along with several other transnational arms companies currently competing to be major international weapons suppliers.

How Embraer became the flagship of the Brazilian arms industry

Embraer’s history can be traced back to the Brazilian military junta that ruled the country from 1964-1985. When Embraer was founded in 1969, the junta was led by General Emilio Medici, who wanted the country to have its own self-contained aircraft manufacturing company, with the state controlling 51 percent of the shares.

While Embraer is commonly mentioned today as Brazil’s major military industrial complex, it should be recalled that it also was one of only three such companies in Brazil during military rule and afterwards. As its name suggests, Embraer focused on aircraft, with the Tucano becoming its flagship military product. The other prominent Brazilian military industries were Avibrás Indústria Aeroespacial S.A. (Avibrás), which was established in 1961, and Engenheiros Especializados S.A. (Engesa), which began its operations in 1963. Globalsecurity.org explains that “…by 1980 Brazil had become a net exporter of arms. On the demand side, the rapid success resulted from a growing need in the developing world for armaments.” Specifically, this meant those that met specialized performance and cost qualifications. The report continues, “On the supply side, Brazil’s arms exports were designed for developing world markets and were noted for their high quality, easy maintenance, good performance adverse conditions, and low cost.”

The Obama Edge

Obama Must Decry African Genocide

September 14th 2009

Africa Topics - Africa Genocide

If we accept the principle that a half truth is not the truth, we then need to consider that the Africa policy of the U.S. Administration is dramatically incomplete in its essence.

This is the first lesson we would draw from President Barack Obama's speech delivered in front of the Ghana Parliament on July 11th. Hence it is necessary to dissect its policy components and make the needed distinctions between abstract principles, applicable anywhere on the planet, and a host of dramatic African realities, so far ignored by Washington's "New Direction."

There is no doubt that American ideals continue to inspire people around the world and in Africa in particular. Simply because these values, as Obama has reconfirmed after Presidents Clinton and Bush had before him, are part of the international body of democratic ideals. There are no reasons to be shy about principles declared by an American revolution that has inspired sister uprisings in Europe and around the world, centuries before the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written.

Hence, when American presidents visit Africa, they should be comfortable in calling for more freedoms and liberties. Obama's additional contribution to symbolism towards Africa is his natural ancestral link to the continent. Even though he doesn't descend directly from African-Americans who actually were enslaved, and that he is only part African and half European, the story of his father, a goat herder turned student who sought education in America, is very compelling. Along with his beautiful first family he can surely personalize the story of an American’s support for the liberation of Africa.

That is, if the president exposes all real menaces confronting the continent and shatters the taboos. Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Death Tax and an Emerging Class of “Survivors”

September 14th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

While the Washington press corps has been fixated on the latest developments surrounding President Obama’s trillion dollar co-pay in the guise of health reform, followed by backyard beer swilling, IRS bean counters quietly have gone about their business.

Their mission? Find a way to pay for the massive zeroes this administration continues to add at the end of the government’s mounting debt.  In what some privately likened to an ancient an archaeological find teeming with treasure, revenue agents discovered a potential $80 million golden pot of money – at the home of Michael Jackson.

That’s what the Feds stand to collect if they enforce a massively onerous and confiscatory tax on the King of Pop’s estate, affectionately referred to as the death tax. And you can bet they’re coming to a neighborhood near you.

Until President Bush’s tax reforms of 2001 that lowered the levy to 45 percent, the death tax in America ranked second only to Japan as the highest in the world – stifling enterprise in subtle yet noticeable ways.

The Obama Administration, however, has no plans to keep the Bush reductions in effect.  They have too many bills to pay to surrender the approximately $60 billion in revenue the tax generates each year.

But what the Left fails to recognize is that by keeping the tax in place (or worse, allowing it to return to pre-Bush levels), they are planting the federal boot on the necks of an emerging class of survivors from this economic crisis. Read more ..

Terror in America

Facing Homegrown Radicalization

September 7th 2009

Terrorism - American Hezbollah

Last month, Kamal Hassan, a Somali-American living in Minnesota, pled guilty to training and fighting with al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group in Somalia. In July, two other Somali-Americans in Minnesota pled guilty to similar charges, with the FBI continuing to investigate more than a dozen others who may have traveled from the United States to Somalia. The FBI also recently arrested seven individuals in North Carolina on terrorism-related charges, including one who had spent time in Afghan training camps.

These and other recent events have raised new concerns in the United States about the threat of homegrown radicalization. As U.S. attorney general Eric Holder acknowledged in a July speech, the "whole notion of radicalization is something that did not loom as large a few months ago...as it does now." While the U.S. government has focused primarily on Europe as a source of potential terrorists, Washington should also look to the continent as a model in confronting homegrown radicalization.

A Troubling Phenomenon

During his first major speech in July, White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan provided an overview of the current administration's approach to protecting American citizens from violent extremism and terrorism. Although Brennan emphasized President Barack Obama's new partnership with Muslim communities and the administration's commitment to defeating al-Qaeda's capacities overseas, little was said about homegrown Islamist radicalization. This fundamental issue has long been downplayed by U.S. federal authorities and counterterrorism experts, who believe that Muslims and Arabs are generally better integrated into U.S. society -- as opposed to their counterparts in European society -- and are thus less vulnerable to the al-Qaeda narrative. Read more ..

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