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Archive for March 2011

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Tokyo Nuclear Disaster and Israeli Solution Recalls BP Intransigence

March 30th 2011
If there is a solution or a potential solution of containing the entire nuclear disaster with new Israeli technology--monster domes, why haven't we heard that the fixes are being rushed into Japan (see Technology from Israel Can make Tokyo Safe from fallout in 3 Weeks, Sci-tech March 28, 2011). To me, this recalls BP's intransigence over stemming its oil spill. If something is not done soon, the fallout will become worse worldwide. Nor do I believe our public officials who claim the radioactivity will never reach our shores. No one knows how bad it is, or how bad it may become.

Edge of Computing

NASA Mission Computers Vulnerable to Hackers

March 30th 2011

Technology - NASA mission control

The computer networks responsible for NASA spacecraft missions like the International Space Station and the Hubble Telescope are vulnerable to computer hackers and cyber attacks, according to an audit by the NASA inspector general.

The inspector general found vulnerabilities on six computers with IT capabilities that control spacecraft were so severe that remote attackers could take control of them through the Internet. Once attackers gain access to the network, they can use a compromised computer to exploit other weaknesses and cripple NASA operations. The audit found six network servers that revealed encryption keys, passwords, and account information. Sensitive data, all accessible through the Internet, which could then lead to further access on other NASA networks. Read more ..


The Edge of War

Without A Declaration of War, American National Interests and Principles Collide

March 30th 2011

Presidential - FDR

In my book The Next Decade, I spend a good deal of time considering the relation of the American Empire to the American Republic and the threat the empire poses to the republic. If there is a single point where these matters converge, it is in the constitutional requirement that Congress approve wars through a declaration of war and in the abandonment of this requirement since World War II. This is the point where the burdens and interests of the United States as a global empire collide with the principles and rights of the United States as a republic.

World War II was the last war the United States fought with a formal declaration of war. The wars fought since have had congressional approval, both in the sense that resolutions were passed and that Congress appropriated funds, but the Constitution is explicit in requiring a formal declaration. It does so for two reasons, I think. The first is to prevent the president from taking the country to war without the consent of the governed, as represented by Congress. Second, by providing for a specific path to war, it provides the president power and legitimacy he would not have without that declaration; it both restrains the president and empowers him. Not only does it make his position as commander in chief unassailable by authorizing military action, it creates shared responsibility for war. A declaration of war informs the public of the burdens they will have to bear by leaving no doubt that Congress has decided on a new order — war — with how each member of Congress voted made known to the public. Read more ..


American Jewry on Edge

A Leadership Reform Rabbi with a Troubling Agenda

March 30th 2011

Jewish Topics - Rabbi Richard Jacobs
Rabbi Richard Jacobs

I must express concern at the appointment of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as head of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Rabbi Jacobs is a member of the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, the extremist, George Soros-funded lobby group that takes positions to the left of the Israeli Labor and far-left Meretz parties, recently opposed sanctions on Iran, and urged President Barack Obama not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning as “illegal” Jewish homes and communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Jacobs is also a long-time board member and advocate of the New Israel Fund (NIF), which is a leading promoter and funder of organizations that advocate boycotting, divesting from, and imposing sanctions upon, Israel (BDS) as well as other groups involved in delegitimizing Israel and mounting ‘lawfare’ suits against Israeli political and military officials, causing these officials to not visit certain European countries. The ZOA, which I am president of, is also concerned by Rabbi Jacobs’ close association with J Street and NIF and thus at the prospect of the Reform movement becoming a captive of the beliefs and actions of both organizations. We hope the Reform movement, under Jacob’s leadership, will not become an unnamed arm and political ally of these organizations.

We are not alone in our concerns. Commentary magazine’s Alana Goodman recently wrote, “Jacobs involvement with J Street and the New Israel Fund is a troubling sign,” adding “The Reform movement has always leaned toward the political left, but its decision to tap Rabbi Richard Jacobs as its new leader signals that it might be shifting its focus toward a slightly different form of political activism.” Read more ..


Edge of Computing

Researchers Devise Exceptionally Efficient OLED for Televisions, Cell Phones, and Computers

March 30th 2011

Energy Topics - OLED matrix

University of Michigan engineering researchers have designed an exceptionally efficient fluorescent blue OLED, or organic light emitting diode.

OLEDs are the next generation display technology. They are already used in televisions, cell phones and computers, and they are candidates for a vast array of light sources from advertising billboards to indoor and outdoor illumination. Fluorescent OLEDs are typically less efficient at emitting light per unit area than their phosphorescent counterparts.

That may be changing, according to new findings by professor John Kieffer and graduate student Changgua Zhen of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. They released findings in the journal Advanced Functional Materials that shattered previous records. Traditionally, the ceiling for the efficiency of fluorescent OLEDs was believed to be 5 percent. Now, Kieffer and his collaborators have produced fluorescent OLEDs with close to 10 percent efficiency. Read more ..


Edge on the Economy

Unintended Consequences

March 30th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Unfortunately, President Obama does not understand the basic laws of physics. Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. Nor does he understand the basic principles of economics including the law of unintended consequences and creating a “Moral Hazard.” A moral hazard is created when a person behaves differently than he would have if he had to bear the risks of his behavior.

Every time Obama attempts to repair a problem by government intervention, he creates a more serious problem. An example of the law of unintended consequences is the President’s attempt to solve the financial crises by increasing the regulation of the American financial system.

These attempts over time “to fix and regulate” the financial markets have resulted in the loss of U.S dominance in the financial sector. The most recent egregious example of this loss is the potential German acquisition of the iconic NY Stock exchange. Another example of the law of unintended consequences includes the stimulus spending programs that fail to create additional jobs but result in the ballooning of our national debt.

The stimulus spending took money from the efficiently run private sector in the form of higher taxes and reduced availability of debt and spent it in the inefficient public sector. Jobs created by public sector spending merely displaced jobs lost by forgone private sector spending. There are too many moving parts to the American economy for one individual, even a very smart one, to consistently predict the outcome of government intervention in the economy. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

The Truth Left Behind: Catching the Mastermind

March 30th 2011

Terrorism - Daniel Pearl

Kidnapping plotter Omar Sheikh had scurried out of town after turning over Daniel Pearl to local militant leaders in Karachi. Sheikh later told police that Asif Ramzi, an operational leader, called him and told him that Pearl had been killed. Sheikh recalled that he immediately phoned Amjad Farooqi, his contact to the local militant leaders, and asked him to get the details. Farooqi met Sheikh in Lahore and confirmed that Pearl was dead. This account has Pearl dead before Sheikh was arrested. It isn’t clear how Sheikh responded, but when he was arrested he claimed to police that Pearl was still alive.

Sheikh had experience as a kidnapper, nabbing tourists in New Delhi in 1994, but, as far as is known, wasn’t a killer. Was his intention to carry through on the Pearl death threat, or was he playing to see what he could get? After all, he was sprung from jail in India by militants who had demanded and won his freedom in return for passengers aboard a hijacked Indian passenger flight. By his account, he was going to free the American he kidnapped in India, Bela Nuss. Police investigators familiar with Sheikh see him as a man who approached his crime as a tactical strategist, like the chess champion that he was as a British schoolboy, rather than as a cold-blooded killer. Even before the Pearl kidnapping, he had evaded U.S. efforts to extradite him for the Delhi kidnapping. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Media Reports of Acts of Human Kindness Inspire Goodness in Others

March 30th 2011

Social Topics - Helping hands

People with a strong moral identity are measurably inspired to do good after being exposed to media stories about uncommon acts of human goodness, says a researcher at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

A new study by Brent McFerran, assistant professor of marketing at the Ross School, and colleague Karl Aquino, a professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, shows that exposure to media accounts of extraordinary virtue can spur "moral elevation"—thoughts and emotions about being a better person.

People who experience this moral elevation, they say, are more readily disposed to take positive moral action, including giving to charity. Read more ..


Edge on Environment

Deriving Greater Social Benefits from Forests with Greater Biodiversity

March 30th 2011

Asia Topics - India forest dwellers

When local residents are allowed to make rules about managing nearby forests, the forests are more likely to provide greater economic benefits to households and contain more biodiversity, two University of Michigan researchers and a colleague conclude from an analysis of forest practices in tropical developing countries of East Africa and South Asia. Lauren Persha and Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan and Ashwini Chhatre of the University of Illinois used evidence from more than 80 forest sites in six tropical countries to test how local participation affects social and ecological benefits from forests.

The social benefits include access to forest products that households rely on for their subsistence, such as firewood, fodder for livestock and timber for housing. The main ecological benefit is higher biodiversity in the tropical forests. Read more ..


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Internet Hate

Facebook and Zuckerberg Do an About-Face and Delete Palestinian Page Calling for a Third Intifada and Mass Killing of Jews and Israelis

March 29th 2011

Arab Topics - Facebook intifada 2

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged  to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, "Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews." The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  "Third Palestinian Intifada."

"As recently demonstrated, social networks can be used to overthrow governments, for good or bad, and even destabilize entire regions. Prominent social networks like Facebook can no longer afford to remain neutral as it relates to Israel's right to exist. Therefore I appreciate their stand against violent and growing anti-Semitism," Dave McQuade, founder of MediaReallyMatters.com, said. 

Abraham Foxman, National Director for the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement, "Facebook’s decision to remove the cause page calling for a “Third Palestinian Intifada” is a welcome development. We applaud Facebook’s willingness to continue to engage and consider this important question and we deeply appreciate their responsiveness. 

By taking this action, Facebook has now recognized an important standard to be applied when evaluating issues of non-compliance with its terms of service involving distinctions between incitement to violence and legitimate calls for collective expressions of opinion and action. As it continues to monitor its pages, Facebook should be able to apply this standard in response to complaints about other pages with similar content. We hope that they will continue to vigilantly monitor their pages for other groups that call for violence or terrorism against Jews and Israel." Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Congress Shell-Shocked at Home as US Forces Bomb Libya's Gadhafi

March 28th 2011

Libya - Libyan Revolt
Libyan revolt

Congress returns to Washington this week to confront a scenario few lawmakers envisioned when they left town less than 10 days ago: a third U.S. war in the Arab world.

The question is now: What should Congress do about it?

President Obama’s sudden move to deploy American military forces in Libya caught lawmakers by surprise, leading to criticism from both Republican and Democratic leaders that the president failed to adequately consult with Congress or clearly define the mission. Read more ..


Battle for Libya

America Deploys its Million-dollar Weapon in Libya more than 161 Times

March 28th 2011

Military - USS Reagan Firing Tomahawk

In the opening days of the assault on Libya, the United States and the United Kingdom launched a barrage of at least 161 Tomahawk cruise missiles to flatten Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses and pave the way for coalition aircraft.

In fiscal terms, at a time when Congress is fighting over every dollar, the cruise missile show of military might was an expenditure of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Each missile cost $1.41 million.

Raytheon Corp. is the manufacturer of the Tomahawk Block IV, a low-flying missile that travels at 550 miles per hour. During a decade of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, the Pentagon has increasingly relied on the Tomahawk. A year ago, Raytheon boasted of its 2,000th Block IV delivery to the Navy. Read more ..


Hawaii Tourism Officials Need to be Nimble

March 28th 2011
I was stationed in Hawaii some years ago. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I hope Hawaii Tourism officials can be nimble enough to redirect their efforts to make up for the unfortunate lost of Japanese tourisms (see Shocked Hawaii Tourism Reps Scramble As Japanese Visits Drop Sharply, Page One March 21, 2011). If not, replace them. Nowadays, no one can rest on their laurels.

The Beltway's Edge

Poll: Planned Parenthood Cut Splits Voters by Gender, Race

March 28th 2011

Politics - Capitol Building at night

Likely voters are split on whether Congress should cut funding for Planned Parenthood, according to a new poll conducted for The Hill that also found a significant gender gap on the issue.

Fifty percent of women polled oppose eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, while 38 percent said the group’s federal funds should be eliminated. More men (46 percent) would cut Planned Parenthood’s funding than leave it alone (43 percent).

Single people, young people and blacks were also much more likely to be opposed to cutting federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

Only 26 percent of single people supported cutting Planned Parenthood funds compared to 51 percent of married people. Fifty-five percent of voters over the age of 65 back the cuts, while just 31 percent of voters aged 18 to 39 agree. And just 9 percent of black voters agree, compared to 45 percent of white voters. Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Libya’s Terrorism Option

March 28th 2011

Libya Topics - Muammar Qaddafi

On March 19, military forces from the United States, France and Great Britain began to enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized the countries involved in enforcing the zone to “take all necessary measures” to protect civilians and “civilian-populated areas under threat of attack.” Obviously, such military operations cannot be imposed against the will of a hostile nation without first removing the country’s ability to interfere with the no-fly zone—and removing this ability to resist requires strikes against military command-and-control centers, surface-to-air missile installations and military airfields. This means that the no-fly zone not only was a defensive measure to protect the rebels—it also required an attack upon the government of Libya.

Certainly, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has no doubt that the U.S. and European military operations against the Libyan military targets are attacks against his regime. He has specifically warned France and the United Kingdom that they would come to regret the intervention. Now, such threats could be construed to mean that should Gadhafi survive, he will seek to cut off the countries’ access to Libyan energy resources in the future. However, given Libya’s past use of terrorist strikes to lash out when attacked by Western powers, Gadhafi’s threats certainly raise the possibility that, desperate and hurting, he will once again return to terrorism as a means to seek retribution for the attacks against his regime. While threats of sanctions and retaliation have tempered Gadhafi’s use of terrorism in recent years, his fear may evaporate if he comes to believe he has nothing to lose. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Better Place Chosen for Hawaiian Stimulus Funds

March 28th 2011

Energy Topics - A better place Hawaii
Better Place in Hawaii

Hawaii has just invested $2.6 million in stimulus funds in a public private partnership in electric vehicle infrastructure planned since 2008 to help jump start the adoption of electric vehicles. Better Place, with $854,000, and Aerovironment with $820,000 were the leaders among six road-ready electric vehicle innovators to receive a share of the funding.

Before electric cars are widely adopted, some way of charging them on the go is needed. Better Place will use its $854,000 to help support the introduction of EVs to a rental car fleet with the installation of the charging stations that will be needed to do just that. Read more ..


The Race for Alt Fuel

Indian Electricity Initiative Shines New Light on Farm Garbage

March 28th 2011

Energy / Environment - India's Garbage is Power
India's Garbage Points to New Power Source

Some of India's most remote farming villages are beginning to see sundown in a new light, now that they are able to convert an abundant crop into electricity.

Remote regions are prime examples of what people describe as old India - parts of the country off the grid, literally, from new India and its high-tech urban centers.

Tamkuha, in the Indian state of Bihar, does not receive electricity from the country's main distribution network. It gets by on traditional farming - and for decades, as the sun went down, villagers turned to the dim light of candles or kerosene lamps.

But these days, thanks to an ambitious renewable energy project, life in Tamkuha no longer grinds to a halt around 6:00 p.m.  By the glow of florescent bulbs, residents have been able to extend their hours of productivity late into the night. A woman says she used to work as a tailor only during the day. Sewing was nearly impossible with a kerosene lamp. Now, she says she can work in her shop until very late at night. Read more ..


The Military Edge

JIEDDO: The Manhattan Project that Bombed

March 28th 2011

Military - US Military Explosives-detecting Dog
U.S. Military Working Dog (credit: PO2 Brian L. Short)

As the invasion of Iraq turned into an occupation, a new and deadly threat to U.S. troops emerged, one for which the U.S. was ill prepared: the roadside bomb.

So in February 2006, with casualties mounting, the Pentagon responded by creating a new agency designed to attack the problem by harnessing the full might of America’s technology community. The new organization was dubbed the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, and a retired four-star general was tasked to run it.

The launch of JIEDDO eventually turned what had been a 12-person Army anti-homemade bomb task force into a 1,900 person behemoth with nearly $21 billion to spend.  Read more ..


Battle for Syria

Time for the White House To Turn up the Heat on Syria

March 28th 2011

Syrian Issues - Syrian Protests March 2011

You may not have noticed between the new war in Libya and the nuclear crisis in Japan, but the latest Arab country to see popular protests is Syria. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, Syria has been an opponent of the peace process and allied with Iran.

Yet, like President Mubarak and President Ben-Ali, President Assad is following what seems to be the traditional playbook in response to a week of intensifying and pitched protests, again making noises about reexamining the country’s decades-old emergency law barring free political expression. Unlike these gauzy allusions to “reform,” however there has been nothing vague about the soldiers and anti-terrorism units attacking Syrian citizens in the streets. Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

France leads Europe’s Libya Intervention

March 28th 2011

Military - French fighter planes

Distinct interests sparked the European involvement in Libya. The United Kingdom and France have issued vociferous calls for intervention in Libya for the past month, ultimately managing to convince the rest of Europe—with some notable exceptions—to join in military action, the Arab League to offer its initial support, and global powers China and Russia to abstain from voting at the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. President Barack Obama said March 21 that the leadership of the U.S.-European coalition against Libya would be transitioned to the European allies “in a matter of days.” Read more ..


Campus Hate

Confronting Intellectual Hooliganism and Twitidiots in Modern Academia

March 28th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Gil Troy

I want to shoot everyone in this room,” a McGill University student recently announced using his online Twitter feed, claiming he had surreptitiously “infiltrated” what was in fact an open film screening of Indoctrinate U, hosted by Conservative McGill and Libertarian McGill. “I should have brought an M16,” read another of his messages. In short toxic tweets, the student called the conservative gathering “a Zionist meeting” and a “Satanist ritual,” while sprinkling in insults about Jews.

Having taught thousands of students during 20 years at McGill, I will not allow one idiot tweeter—a twidiot, if you will—to define my McGill experience. But his story of intellectual hooliganism is sadly familiar. And the timing—during the two weeks in March that anti-Israeli activists call “Israeli Apartheid Week”—was telling. The student broadcasting this poison had breathed in the intellectual and ideological equivalent of second-hand smoke.

Fanatics and borderline personalities are feeding off the anything-goes hysteria demonizing Israel. (At Queen’s University, the student rector himself recently, and nonsensically, decried “the genocide happening in Palestine,” which he described as “perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation.”) Shrill language—and even threats—apparently now are seen as a normal part of the campus experience, both offline and online, when they are directed at the Jewish state and its supporters. Read more ..


Border Wars

Border Agents Unwittingly Freed Suspects Found with Weapons from Federal Sting

March 28th 2011

Mexican Topics - Seized weapons in Mexico

On Jan. 14, 2010, federal border patrol agents stopped two men driving a car through the border-crossing town of Columbus, New Mexico. Inside the vehicle was a cache of assault weapons, including AK-47s, Ruger .45-caliber handguns and pistols called “cop killers” because their ammunition can penetrate armor.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers ran the guns’ serial numbers in a nationwide database and waited. None of the eight came back flagged as stolen or suspect, so the agents let the men go — just a few short miles from the Mexican border, where gun trafficking is fueling a violent and deadly drug war.

At the time, the border guards were unaware that six of the weapons had been purchased by alleged straw buyers in a federal sting and were supposed to be monitored by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents trying to bust a major Mexican gun running ring. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

The Dilemma That the Tea Party's Michele Bachmann poses For the GOP

March 28th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Juan Williams
Juan Williams

If Capitol Hill is really one big high school, the “It” girl of the moment is Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

A recent Gallup poll of Republicans found Bachmann had the second-highest positive intensity rating of any of the potential 2012 candidates in the GOP field. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and my colleague at Fox, came in first. In the last week alone, newspapers ranging from The New York Times to The Washington Times have run profiles on Bachmann full of speculation about her next move in the GOP presidential contest. She has made numerous trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, suggesting she might make a run for the presidency as either a Republican or a third party, Tea Party-backed candidate. TV’s John McLaughlin declared on his show that Bachmann will be the 2012 Republican nominee for vice president. Read more ..


The Cost of Oil

Clean-up of Amazon Jungle Awaits Ecuador following $9 Billion Judgment Against Chevron

March 28th 2011

Latin American Topics - Amazonian kid and toxic waste

Since initiated in 1993, the environmental class action lawsuit brought against Texaco’s alleged pollution of Ecuador’s Amazon region has been fought before various courts and judges, always under the shadow of dubious impartiality. After the case had already filed, Chevron bought Texaco in 2001 and assumed its liabilities, including Texaco’s defendant status. On February 14, 2011, after 18 years of intense legal battle, Ecuadorian provincial Judge Nicolás Zambrano ruled against Chevron and ordered the successor corporation to pay more than $9 billion in compensation for decades of petro-contamination of virgin Amazon jungle. Read more ..

Arab World Revolts

Why Doesn't Obama Call for Democracy In Saudi Arabia?

March 28th 2011

Obama Bows to Saudi King

Has anyone noticed that President Obama’s newfound affection for democracy in the Middle East has not resulted in a call for an end to the autocratic regime of Saudi Arabia? We also have heard of no serious protests in Saudi Arabia -- although we will see what the planned "day of rage" for March 11 will bring --despite the fact that the country is one of the most serial abusers of human rights in the world and practices a policy of apartheid toward Saudi women. How can this be explained?

Obama’s failure to speak out against Saudi Arabia reflects a 70-year-old policy of U.S. administrations ignoring Saudi abuses against not only their own people, but American citizens. In fact, the only president to stand up to the Saudis was John Kennedy when he demanded that the kingdom abolish slavery in the early 1960s. And, contrary to the State Department Arabist views that you can’t impose our values on the Arabs, the Saudis complied.Every other U.S. president has been afraid to confront the Saudis because they have been led to believe by diplomats more sympathetic to Arab interests than American values, that oil supplies could be jeopardized.

The Saudis have cleverly played on our fears by warning the oil would be threatened by our relations with Israel, then the threat of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser followed by the Soviet Union and now Iran.

The truth is our oil supplies have never been in danger because the prime motivation for Saudi policy is to guarantee that the royal heads remain connected to the royal shoulders, and the Saudis decided very early in their history that the United States was the only country that could guarantee their security.

In the 1960s, we sent troops to defend the helpless Saudis from Egyptian troops in Yemen. Thirty years later, despite selling them $60 billion worth of arms, we had to send 500,000 troops to save them from Saddam. Obama recently agreed to sell $60 billion more in weapons they don’t need and can’t use to appease the Saudis who still know it will require U.S. troops to save them again from threats from Iran.In 1973, the Saudis used the American resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur War as a pretext for embargoing oil to the West. Privately, however, the Saudis said that the American airlift was proof of the need to be an ally of the U.S., because they believed only American could rescue them in that fashion – as we did in 1991.

Now why doesn’t Obama call for democracy in Saudi Arabia? One reason is fear. While the administration is happy to ignore warnings about the possibility of a radical Islamist regime taking power in Egypt, the administration is petrified of that happening in Saudi Arabia. But could a different regime be worse than the Sauds who undermine American interests and values in the region and threaten our security as the leading sponsors of international terror.

Oil, of course, is the entire reason for our interest in Saudi Arabia. What would a different regime do with the oil if not sell it to us? Drink it? Our fear of losing access to oil, however, has allowed the Saudis to blackmail us for 70 years. They act like pushers, manipulating the supply of oil to discourage us from pursuing alternative energy sources. Thus, when prices peaked at $149 per barrel, the Saudis said the ideal price of oil was $70-$80. The average price last year - $79 per barrel. The Saudi oil minister recently made a similar remark and pledged to increase supply to make up for price spikes created by turmoil in Libya and elsewhere in the region. The message to Obama is that the Saudi monarchy will help his reelection bid by minimizing the oil shock to the U.S. economy. Why rock the boat by pushing for democracy?

Meanwhile, inside Saudi Arabia, the king is staving off any democratic insurrections the way his family has kept power since the establishment of the kingdom - by buying loyalty. The Sauds have stayed in power by marrying their rivals and paying them off. This is why there are thousands of princes who all drink from the royal trough and benefit from oil profits as well as the commissions they receive on deals made with foreign countries. To further ensure that Saudis don’t get too inspired by events elsewhere, the king has announced minimal political reforms while pledging $35 billion in new government benefits. He has also banned demonstrations.

The Saudis are certainly scared. They saw Obama abandon a long-time ally overnight. They already believe he is weak and have doubts whether he will keep their heads on their shoulders because of his failure to take military action against Iran. They also see the restive Shiite population in their neighbor Bahrain making trouble for the Sunni government there which may embolden their own Shiites, who will be egged on by Iran. Read more ..


DHS on Edge

DHS Officials to Testify on “Freedom of Information” Process

March 28th 2011

Politics - Giant Paper Stack

The Republican chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will get his first crack this week at publicly grilling Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials about the agency’s FOIA process.

Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) has doggedly sought to find out whether DHS allows political appointees to play a role in prioritizing or censoring information it is required to release under the agency’s Freedom of information Act (FOIA) guidelines.

When Issa took over control of the committee in January, his first major request for documents was for DHS to turn over thousands of copies of records and emails between agency officials. But Issa was not satisfied with DHS’s response, and last month he subpoenaed two of the department’s career employees, forcing them to give transcribed interviews before the committee.

DHS officials have repeatedly stated their willingness to cooperate with his requests and point to the thousands of documents the department has turned over to the committee so far and the more than 20 staff members—15 lawyers and at least six others—who are dedicated to fulfilling his requests. But Issa’s office has said that a whistleblower from within the agency has come forward with information that contradicts what DHS officials and documents are telling him. Read more ..


BDS--The Economic Jihad

Lawsuits Launched against Colleges on Israel De-Legitimization, Intimidation and Harassment

March 28th 2011

History-Genocide - Antisemitic window UK

As the worldwide campaign aimed at de-legitimizing and demonizing Israel rages on worldwide, the campus has become a major battleground, especially in the U.S. and Canada. Indeed, Israel’s detractors long ago recognized the importance of influencing (and infiltrating) academia, at both the faculty and student levels.

In recent years, groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association have become increasingly hostile and incidents of intimidation and violence against Jewish and pro-Israel students and atmospheres of pervasive hostility and intimidation have been reported on numerous campuses. Read more ..


Edge of Computing

Computing has Hit the Power Wall and Inspires New Parallel Programming Frameworks

March 28th 2011

Computer Topics - I-phone

As Moore's Law runs out of steam and computing goes mobile, technologists are searching for ways to make the leap to new parallel programming frameworks that can leverage low-power multicore architectures. The move has been spurred by growing industry concern that today’s microprocessor computing engines have hit a “power wall”. That in turn has prompted a re-evaluation of the roadmap for high-performance computing, a reassessment that yielded a new study published by the National Research Council on the future of computing performance. The report’s bottom line is summed up in its subtitle: “Game Over or Next Level?” Read more ..


Palestinians and Israelis

Palestinians One Step Closer to Control of Western Wall

March 28th 2011

Israel Topics - Western/Wailing Wall

Be scared. Be very scared.

In a shocking article in the Jerusalem Post, editor-in-chief David Horovitz reveals that Israel is totally unprepared for the possibility that the UN might grant the Palestinians a state in September and then try to impose this state on Israel against its will.

Previously, Israeli diplomats were complacent because they thought that even if the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for the establishment of “Palestine,” such a vote would be merely “declaratory” and have no teeth, writes Horovitz.

But this is wrong. Research conducted by the Israel Project reveals that there is an obscure UN resolution, UNGA Resolution 377, that allows the General Assembly to press for sanctions and military force against a country that fails to implement its recommendations. Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Libya's Dubious Distinction for Aerial Bombardment

March 28th 2011

Arab Topics - Libya crushed jet

Libya now holds an unfortunate record. It is the country which has the longest experience of aerial bombardment. Libya was first bombed in 1911, by Italy; now, in 2011, it is being bombed by its own air force. That makes it just under a century from the first bomb to the latest.

It helps that Libya was the very first country to experience aerial bombardment from aeroplanes and from airships. I'm using the word 'country' here in a loose sense, as it was then part of the Ottoman Empire (technically, the provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica). Read more ..


Iran on Edge

Iranian Video Says Mahdi is 'Near'

March 28th 2011

Iran - The 12th Imam

New evidence has emerged that the Iranian government sees the current unrest in the Middle East as a signal that the Mahdi--or Islamic messiah--is about to appear.

This reporter has obtained a never-before-seen video produced by the Iranian regime that says all the signs are moving into place -- and that Iran will soon help usher in the end times.

While the revolutionary movements gripping the Middle East have created uncertainty throughout the region, the video shows that the Iranian regime believes the chaos is divine proof that their ultimate victory is at hand. Read more ..


Islam's War with Christians

Thousands of Christians flee Muslim Violence in Ethiopia

March 28th 2011

Africa Topics - Ethiopian church burned by Muslims
Burned church in Ethiopia

Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Western Ethiopia after Muslim extremists set alight approximately 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes. Reportedly, one Christian has been killed and many more have been injured. Some 3,000 to 10,000 refugees have fled, following attacks that began March 2 after a Christian in the community of Asendabo was accused of desecrating the Koran. Ethiopian national police went to the area two weeks ago and were overwhelmed by Muslim mobs. Read more ..


The Edge of Terror

International Red Cross Sheltering Hamas Terrorist Officials

March 28th 2011

Israel Topics - Toteh (Hamas) in E Jerusalem
Muhammad Totah of Hamas

Hamas officials are praising March 23’s deadly bombing of a bus station in Jerusalem—a city they’ve vowed to conquer.

Jerusalem is also a place where wanted Hamas members have found safe haven from Israeli authorities—and they’re getting help from one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations. Although Hamas’s main headquarters can be found in Gaza and Damascus, over the past several months, three officials from the terror group have also set up shop at the International Red Cross office in East Jerusalem. Read more ..


Edge on Equality

King’s Dream as the Goal

March 28th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

When it comes to race relations, we of course would not be returning to virtues of a golden era of racial understanding; rather, we are overcoming our past failings. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, but history tells us that we are loath to put that ideal into practice. As Americans, we tend to act like “it only happens here,” for better or worse. At the same time, we hear other nations berating America’s sordid, racially divided past. But guess what—most countries are much, much worse. Australia’s discrimination against the Aborigines; France and Germany’s treatment of Muslim immigrants; Africans’ wholesale slaughter of fellow Africans from other tribes, China’s oppression of its non-Han minorities; Japan’s underlying prejudice against all gaijin, and so on and so forth.

This doesn’t excuse America’s past or current behaviors; instead, it serves as an illustration that this is a long-standing human problem, one that America addresses quite publicly for the world to see, and a problem we have made great strides in overcoming. America has been upfront about its race problems, even if it makes us uncomfortable. This is commendable, and demonstrates that America continues to address her problems and has used the ideal that “All men are created equal,” as our ultimate goal, expanding the idea well past its original scope—property-owning white men—to include the entirety of humanity. Read more ..


Significant Lives

No One Can Play Elizabeth Taylor except Elizabeth Taylor

March 28th 2011

Film - Elizabeth Cleopatra Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatria

If Hollywood were a building with its own flag, it would surely be flying at half-mast since the news of the death of Elizabeth Taylor on March 23. She had been one of the brightest and most enduring stars in Tinseltown’s glittering constellation.

But why on earth should her death matter to us ordinary mortals who have never known her except as a regular of the gossip columns? This is the question I have been asking myself as I scanned the obituaries wheeled out in the wake of her death.

Predictably, they emphasized the many sensational aspects of her life: the eight marriages, the addiction to drugs and alcohol, the extravagant lifestyle, the succession of dramatic and life-threatening illnesses. For Taylor, life eclipsed the art; in the intervals of this real-life Theatre she acted in a string of unmemorable films -- with a couple of notable exceptions. I saw the film of Edward Albee’s play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? when it came out in 1966 and thought her Oscar fully deserved. Critics might say that in the part of Martha, the foul-mouthed, sexually voracious alcoholic, she simply played herself; actually, in a memorable performance  she brought to the part all the intensity, pathos and neediness of Martha and her ruined illusions. Read more ..


Economic Recovery on Edge

SEC Extracts Fines—But Not Confessions

March 28th 2011

Economy - Michael Dell
Michael Dell

Companies and executives who settled civil lawsuits brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 sometimes paid millions of dollars in fines, but in one key respect they can still hold their heads high.

They didn’t have to admit to doing anything wrong.

A review of more than 100 of the SEC’s 694 settlement agreements from 2010 showed that in every instance, defendants ended the lawsuit without admitting or denying charges.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York slammed the SEC for not being more muscular with defendants, in an opinion involving a settlement with a semiconductor company and its executives. Read more ..


El Salvador on Edge

National Sovereignty of Tiny El Salvador at Stake as it Considers El Dorado Mining Project

March 28th 2011

Latin American Topics - El salvador mine protest

President Obama arrived in El Salvador on March 22 in order to hold up that country as an example of what Latin American states can achieve through cooperation with the United States. Given the Central American country’s acquiescence in the militarization of Washington’s regional War on Drugs, and its enactment of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) after a bruising domestic struggle, Obama observed, “There are few better examples of both the opportunities and challenges facing the Americas today than here in El Salvador.” Obama and his counterpart, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, discussed a number of issues, including the advancement of military and civilian counter-drug initiatives, an additional $200 million in U.S. funds for Salvadoran legal institutions, and immigration reform affecting the nearly two million Salvadoran citizens in the United States. Discussion of reforming CAFTA however, which is a primary demand of civil society organizations in El Salvador, was conspicuously absent from the agenda. Such a renegotiation could profoundly affect not only El Salvador, but also the other signatories of the agreement: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.

Local activist groups and a broader coalition of international civil society organizations used the arrival of the U.S. president to stage a popular protest under the banner of autodeterminación, or self-determination. In addition to calling for a renegotiation of CAFTA, their demands included an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, a withdrawal of the U.S. military from El Salvador, and a cessation of U.S. support for the tainted Porfirio Lobos regime in neighboring Honduras. CAFTA was a particularly contentious item at the protests because Obama’s trip coincided with an arbitration hearing at the World Bank (originally scheduled for March 23 but presently postponed) that will determine El Salvador’s responsibilities to American investors under the terms of the free trade agreement. Read more ..


Australian Edge

Taking Australia Prime Minister Gillard to School in Washington

March 28th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Julia Gillard and Barack

On March 7, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with President Barack Obama during her first visit to Washington since she assumed the country’s leadership position in June 2010. Gillard had a full agenda to attend to in Washington during her whirlwind five days in town, including addressing a joint meeting of Congress and meetings with President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Read more ..



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