Archive for the ‘World’ Category


Macs At The Louvre

October 7, 2009

Macs At The Louvre

IBD: 7 Oct. 2009

Commerce: Is it just us, or does McDonald’s opening at the Louvre sound … just wrong? Nothing against the fast food giant. But in the land of cordon bleu, where are the French entrepreneurs to sell there instead?

Food snobs, of course, will exclaim “quelle horreur!” at the thought of the odor of fries wafting through the high temple of French culture, one of the world’s greatest art museums.

The thought of a Mona Lisa Extra Value Meal, as one satirical Web site put it, would make anyone shudder.

Fortunately, it won’t be like that. McDonald’s will open its 1,142nd outlet in a private underground mall called Carrousel du Louvre abutting the entry to the museum.

Far from being out of place, it will blend right in with the Swatch, Esprit, Sephora, Swarovski, Bodum, Apple and Virgin Megastore outlets, few of which are French names: only L’Occitane en Provence and Lalique stand out as French.

But the awarding of the restaurant site to McDonald’s and not to a French name underlines that there aren’t enough French competitors out there who could have filled the lucrative spot.

France still lacks entrepreneurs (a French word) and enough viable small companies that can eventually become big ones.

Only two or three million French citizens are entrepreneurs, something that baffles French authorities, who have told IBD over the years that they do try to encourage entrepreneurship.

The cost of setting up a business is lower and there are new tax write-offs, they say.

But they still don’t quite get it. They set up up agencies to encourage entrepreneurship, instead of sharply cutting taxes and regulations, which would do the job faster.

“The average entrepreneur is pulled down because of social premiums, financial risks, dearth of capital and market fluctuations,” wrote Scott Scheler in a study for Gaebler Enterprises.

This isn’t to say they aren’t trying (the tax-cutting trend is starting to take off across Europe), but the McDonald’s award ought to be an eye-opener. Sadly for France, McDonald’s’ positioning at the Louvre represents a long-term trend. So changing the entrenched culture is vital: “In France, a self-made man is viewed as a sort of scoundrel or gangster,” Francis Holder, the founder and CEO of Holder Group, which supplies McDonald’s, told BusinessWeek.

Disincentives to entrepreneurship began after 1960 and got really bad after 1992. High taxes, 35-hour-workweeks, unionization, and tiny-but-oppressive laws, such as those forbidding citizens from working out of their garages, all did damage.

If one can’t have one’s own, one adopts. The French have actually done much to make what they call “McDo’s” their own company.

The restaurant’s menu, with mozzarella salads, mustard burgers and fig yoghurt, is adapted to French tastes. The company’s French Web site shows that 75% of its food is locally grown, and 282 local franchisees operate 1,132 of its restaurants.

A Wall Street Journal report about McDonald’s popularity found that a U.S. concept — friendly customer service — was the main reason. So much for French waiters. The positioning of McDonald’s at France’s best-known museum wasn’t so much to succor tourists as it was to please the French, who fill the restaurants in France.

France is into McDonald’s. It’s now the global giant’s sixth largest market after the U.S., posting 11.2% growth in 2007 for 450 million meals. That so many French go there suggests something’s missing from France’s renowned culinary scene.

The Louvre will survive McDonald’s. But the whole thing should be a wake-up call. McDonald’s got the cherished spot because it didn’t have any suitable French competitors.

The French are perfectly capable of competing with McDonald’s on food. But not on something out there that’s more important than food — France’s lousy business climate for startups.

A better one will encourage more companies and more innovation. But until government regulation is slashed, the result is that McDonald’s will be king in the land of cordon bleu.

Frankly, we’d like to see France’s answer to McDonald’s. But the state can’t create it. Only French entrepreneurs can. France needs to do more to encourage them. Royale avec fromage, anyone?


Swine Flu Myths

October 5, 2009


(NaturalNews) The mainstream media is engaged in what we Americans call “bald faced lies” about swine flu. It seems to be true with this issue more than any other, and it became apparent to me recently when a colleague of mine — a nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist — told me their column on natural defenses for swine flu was rejected by newspapers all across the country. Many newspapers refused to run the column and, instead, ran an ad for “free vaccine clinics” in the same space.

The media, it seems, is so deeply in bed with the culture of vaccinations that they will do almost anything to keep the public misinformed. And that includes lying about swine flu vaccines.

There are ten key lies that continue to be told by the mainstream media (MSM) about swine flu and swine flu vaccines.

Lie #1 – There are no adjuvants used in the vaccines

I was recently being interviewed by a major U.S. news network when the reporter interviewing me came up with this humdinger: There are no adjuvants being used in the swine flu vaccines, he said!
I assured him that adjuvants were, indeed, a crucial part of the vaccine recipe, and they were being widely used by drug companies to “stretch” the vaccine supply. It’s no secret. But he insisted he had been directly told by a drug company rep that no adjuvants were being used at all. And he believed them! So everything being published by this large news network about swine flu vaccines now assumes there are no adjuvants in the vaccines at all.

Lie #2 – The swine flu is more dangerous than seasonal flu

This lie is finally starting to unravel. I admit that in the early days of this pandemic, even I was concerned this could be a global killer. But after observing the very mild impact the virus was having on people in the real world, it became obvious that this was a mild flu, no more dangerous than a seasonal flu. The MSM, however, continues to promote H1N1 swine flu as being super dangerous, driving fear into the minds of people and encouraging them to rush out and get a vaccine shot for a flu that’s really no more likely to kill them than the regular winter sniffles. Sure, the virus could still mutate into something far worse, but if it does that, the current vaccine could be rendered obsolete anyway!

Lie #3 – Vaccines protect you from swine flu

This is the biggest lie of all, and the media pushes it hard. Getting a vaccine, they insist, will protect you from the swine flu. But it’s just flat-out false. Even if the vaccine produces antibodies, that’s not the same thing as real-world immunity from a live virus, especially if the virus mutates (as they often do).   As I pointed out in a recent article, statistically speaking the average American is 40 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have their life saved by a swine flu vaccine. (…)

Lie #4 – Vaccines are safe

And how would any journalists actually know this? None of the vaccines have been subjected to real-world testing for any meaningful duration. The “safety” of these vaccines is nothing more than wishful thinking.     The MSM also doesn’t want you to know what’s in the vaccines. Some vaccines are made from viral fragments grown in diseased African monkeys. If that sounds incredible, read the true story here:

Lie #5 – The vaccine isn’t mandatory

You hear this lie all the time: The swine flu vaccine shot is voluntary, they say. But it’s not true if you’re an employee at a place where vaccines are being mandated. Millions of Americans are now being told by their employers that if they don’t get vaccine shots, they will be effectively fired from their jobs. It’s especially true with health care workers, day care employees and school teachers.

Lie #6 – Getting a vaccine shot is a good bet on your health

In reality, a vaccine shot is far more likely to harm you than help you. According to one viral expert, the actual mortality rate of the swine flu virus is estimated to be as low as .007 percent (…). That means H1N1 swine flu kills less than one person in 100,000. Even if the vaccine works, let’s say, 10 percent of the time, you’d have to vaccine one million people to prevent one death from swine flu.  And in vaccinating one million people, you would inevitably harm or kill several people, simply from the vaccine side effects! Your net risk of death is increased by getting a swine flu vaccine.

Lie #7 – The vaccine isn’t made with “attenuated live virus”

When the swine flu vaccines were first being announced several months ago, they were described as being made with “attenuated live virus.” This was directly mentioned in CDC documents, among other places.  This term apparently freaked out the American news consumer, and it has since been all but erased from any discussion about vaccines. Now, journalists will actually argue with you and insist the vaccines contain no attenuated live viruses whatsoever.   Except they’re wrong. The vaccines are, indeed, made with “attenuated live viruses.” That’s how you make a vaccine: You take live viruses, then you weaken them (”attenuate”) and inject them into people.

Lie #8 – Wash, wash, wash your hands (to avoid exposure)

This idea of washing your hands a hundred times a day is all based on the assumption that you can avoid exposure to the swine flu virus. But that’s impractical. The virus is now so widespread that virtually everyone is certain to be exposed to it through the air if not other means. This whole idea of avoiding exposure to the swine flu virus is nonsense. The conversation should shift to ways to survive exposure via a healthy immune system.   Of course, hand washing is a very good idea in a hospital setting. Recent news reveals that doctors are too busy to wash their own hands, resulting in the rampant spread of superbugs throughout most large hospitals in first world nations.

Lie #9 – Children are more vulnerable to swine flu than adults

This is just a flat-out lie, but it makes for good vaccine sales. Vaccines are right now being targeted primarily to schoolchildren.   But the truth is that swine flu is extremely mild in children. “It’s mildest in kids,” says Dr Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University. “That’s one of the really good pieces of news in this pandemic.” Reuters actually had the guts to report this story, but most of the larger media outlets are still reporting that children are the most vulnerable.

Lie #10 – There is nothing else you can do beyond a vaccine and Tamiflu

This is where the media lies by omission. The mainstream media absolutely refuses to print just about any story that talks about using vitamin D, anti-viral herbs or natural remedies to protect yourself from swine flu. In the MSM, there are two options and only two: Vaccines and Tamiflu. That’s it. No other options exist in their fictional reality.

Why is the mainstream media so afraid to print the truth these days? Why can’t reporting on swine flu see the light of day… literally, with a mention of sunlight and vitamin D? Apparently, Big Pharma has such a tight grip on mainstream newspapers that no true story on swine flu can ever make it past the editor’s desk.

Killing stories, deceiving the public

It must really be depressing to work for the mainstream media. Even the reporters I know can’t stand it. The truth, they admit, rarely makes it into print.

Over the last few years, I’ve had a couple of job offers from large media outlets. They want to pay me a six-figure salary and stick me behind a desk where they can control what I report. Needless to say, I routinely reject those offers. If I can’t write the truth like I do here on, there’s no point writing at all. In too many ways, the mainstream media has become little more than a corporate mouthpiece, whoring itself out to the highest bidder / advertiser.

It’s no fault of the frontline reporters who actually work there. For the most part, they agree with what I’m saying. It’s the fault of the profit-oriented corporate mindset where news is about selling newspapers rather than actually informing the public.

Important news stories get killed every day in the newsrooms across America. They get killed not because they are poorly investigated or poorly written, but because they upset advertisers and corporate string pullers who shape the news and reject any stories that threaten their own financial interests.

Here in 2009, the distorted reporting on the swine flu vaccine has been one of the greatest media frauds ever perpetrated. The media has in every way contributed to the widespread ignorance of the American people on the subject of vitamin D and natural immune-boosting defenses that could reduce swine flu fatalities. Rather than informing readers, the MSM has made it a point to keep the people stupid, and in doing so, the media has failed its only mission and betrayed the very audience is claims to serve.



Lockerbie: Justice Undone

August 25, 2009

Justice? – 270 Deaths

Justice Undone

Posted 08/21/2009 07:21 PM ET

Lockerbie: To Scottish authorities, the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, serving a life sentence for planning the Pan Am jet bombing that killed 270, is a “humanitarian” act. But to any civilized person, it’s an outrage.

Scottish justice officials and Britain’s government should be deeply ashamed. Not only have they let an unrepentant killer go, but also they have advertised the weakness and stupidity of Western European governments when it comes to terrorism.

On returning to Libya, al-Megrahi was given “a hero’s welcome as thousands greeted him at the airport waving flags and posters,” Britain’s Telegraph reported. So much for Libya returning to the fold of civilized nations.

As images of the triumphant return beamed around the world, just imagine the pain and anguish of those who lost loved ones, family members and friends in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Al-Megrahi’s release is a worse affront to decency than anything done at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo.

Scotland’s justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said he released al-Megrahi on “compassionate grounds.” Al-Megrahi had served just eight years of a lifetime sentence, but he has terminal cancer. We wonder, Mr. Secretary, does mercy to one outweigh justice to the 270 dead and their families?

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown knew about the release. The U.S. strongly opposed it. Brown could have stopped it, had he decided to make a fuss. He didn’t. So much for the “special relationship” between our two countries.

Remember, this was mainly a crime against Americans, who accounted for 189 of the victims. So it looks like open season on U.S. tourists. As American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin reckoned, al-Megrahi’s 3,123 days served come out to 11.6 days in prison for each murder. It seems that life, especially American life, is cheap in Britain’s justice system.

Though U.S. leaders strenuously objected to the release, they were ignored. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the crime “heinous,” and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “We continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland.”

Glad they spoke up. Still, we wonder: Is this what was meant when we were told America’s diplomatic prestige would be enhanced in Europe once President Bush was out of office?

In fact, this was a well-telegraphed punch in the gut. Curiously, last November, just after President Obama’s election, Britain’s Parliament passed a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya. We say “curious” because it appears the only prisoner it could have related to was al-Megrahi. Was he sick then? If not, why was it passed?

We wonder, and we’re not alone, if this was a deal to curry favor with Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who sent his private jet to pick up al-Megrahi. After all, energy giant BP has contracts and business dealings in Libya and no doubt wants more.

In all this, Britain and Scotland seem to mistake weakness for mercy. Now, knowing penalties will be soft, terrorists will feel emboldened to kill civilians on British soil. What a sad day.


Sorry? For What?

August 13, 2009

IBD      6 Aug 09

Foreign Policy: We’re glad former President Bill Clinton returned from North Korea with two American journalists who had been wrongly imprisoned there. But apologizing sets a very bad diplomatic precedent.

Who wouldn’t be happy seeing the tearful, smiling faces of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the journalists who were nabbed by Kim Jong Il’s security forces while on a reporting mission on the China border?

The secretive state nabbed them five months ago, and a government tribunal sentenced them to 12 years of hard labor. In North Korea, hard labor means hard labor. Had the sentences been carried out, one or both might have died in custody.

Even as we rejoice at their release, supposedly brokered by Clinton, we wonder what it means for the future. We have just rewarded North Korea — once again — for behaving badly. It’s not that country’s fault if we offer only carrots and never any sticks.

Yes, we’re glad for Ling and Lee. But make no mistake: They weren’t prisoners; they were hostages. This weakens the U.S. in any future talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons.

Even by picking Clinton for this “private, humanitarian mission,” as the Washington Post called it, the U.S. seemed to be sending a not-so-subtle signal to Kim that the U.S. is ready to appease him.

For in addition to being a former commander in chief, Clinton is the husband of the current secretary of state. And his own secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, was the first to visit North Korea.

Far from private, this has White House fingerprints all over it. As the AP noted: “State media said Clinton apologized on behalf of the women and relayed President Barack Obama’s gratitude.”

Groveling, anyone? Kim now knows the current U.S. leader can be blackmailed — if he didn’t know it before. That’s what made President Clinton so appropriate for this mission. It was from Clinton that Kim first learned this lesson.

In 1994, recall, Clinton sent former President Carter — see a pattern? — to North Korea to negotiate that country’s denuclearization. Carter returned with a deal similar in its sycophancy and cynicism to the one Neville Chamberlain brought back from Munich.

In exchange for billions of dollars in food aid and even help for its “peaceful” nuclear power effort, North Korea vowed to behave and decommission its nuclear weapons program.

No sooner had the ink dried than North Korea began cheating. During the Clinton years, the U.S. and the U.N. signed three agreements with North Korea. North Korea broke its word each time.

Commander in chief? Clinton acted like appeaser in chief. We never learned. The deal making continued into the 2000s — culminating in the Six-Party Talks, which concluded in 2007.

Again, Pyongyang broke its word and bought more time with its outrageous behavior. Today it has a burgeoning missile program and nuclear weapons, plus has sold that technology to other rogue states, including Iran. Rather than being conciliatory, the U.S. should have been righteously angry. Instead, U.S. weakness with North Korea is tempting others.

In Iran, just this week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s security forces arrested three young American journalists for an alleged border violation. Coincidence? Probably not. It follows the arrest earlier this year of U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi, who was released in May — just before Iran’s elections.

Clearly, Iran has learned the same valuable lesson as Kim — threaten captured Americans with harsh punishment, use them as pawns, then watch us grovel for the favor of their release.

Unfortunately, this weakness will diminish any leverage we might have in nuclear talks with North Korea or Iran.

That, in turn, ultimately places the U.S., our friend Israel and our European allies in danger. Some deal.


Cultures and Sexes Clash in the Aftermath of a Rape in Turkey

August 13, 2009

The New York Times         7 Aug 09

In an early scene of “Bliss,” the glowering stepmother of Meryem, a teenage rape victim in eastern Anatolia, gives the girl a rope with which to hang herself for bringing dishonor to her family, and you prepare to endure a Turkish variation of “The Stoning of Soraya M.” That recent harrowing film, based on a true incident, depicted the public execution of a young Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery, with the graphic ferocity of B-movie torture porn.

“Bliss,” fortunately, is not a one-note exposé created to shock, although its vision of a misogynistic patriarchy is almost as repellent. Adapted from Zulfu Livaneli’s 2002 novel, it observes the collision of two cultures, one ancient, the other modern, in contemporary Turkey. Directed and produced by Abdullah Oguz, “Bliss” has ravishing cinematography by Mirsad Herovic and a mystical score by Mr. Livaneli that match the novel’s feverish, poetic language. The natural beauty of the waters around Istanbul is breathtaking. And once the story moves from the Anatolian village where Meryem’s unconscious, brutalized body is discovered by a shepherd, the movie’s initially monochromatic palette bursts into brilliant color.

 More than the novel, the film focuses on Meryem’s steady awakening to her own autonomy. After fitting a noose around her neck, Meryem (Ozgu Namal) removes it and refuses to kill herself as tradition dictates. Her stern uncle Ali Riza (Mustafa Avkiran), the dignitary in the rural village who decreed her suicide, decides to wait for his son Cemal (Murat Han) to kill her when he returns from the army. Cemal’s instructions are to take Meryem, his cousin, to Istanbul on the pretext of an arranged marriage and dispose of her en route.

 The young soldier’s sympathy for the disgraced girl, whom he routinely reviles as a whore and smacks in the face at any suggestion of what he deems improper female behavior, conflicts with his fundamentalist beliefs. In one scene he calls her a demon after having an erotic dream about her. But he can also be tenderly protective.

 He delays the killing until they reach the city, where they visit his brother Yakup (Erol Babaoglu), who disparages the village’s benighted customs. Still feeling obliged to follow orders, Cemal takes Meryem to a bridge and instructs her to jump. But when the do-or-die moment arrives, he plucks her from the edge, and the cousins become fellow fugitives from their repressive background.



They find lodging and work on a remote fish farm and later on the yacht of Irfan (Talat Bulut), a suave, white-haired Turkish professor, educated in the United States, who has just left his unhappy marriage to a wealthy woman.



In one of the most pointed scenes of culture clash, Irfan instructs Cemal to set the table and serve dinner. When Cemal refuses to do “women’s work,” Irfan exerts his authority as the ship’s captain and declares, “There are no women’s jobs and men’s jobs on my boat.”



Cemal also assumes that the fatherly interest Irfan takes in Meryem is really lust waiting to pounce. And when she disappears with Irfan on his motorboat to observe marine life, a potentially lethal tussle between the soldier and professor breaks out upon their return. Irfan has his own demons: his dream is to find a way of living in which he doesn’t have to think about tomorrow.



As Cemal and Meryem discover the cosmopolitan world, with its bikinied young women who drop by from other boats, Meryem chafes at Cemal’s dominance. But traditional ways don’t die easily. Cemal’s indoctrination in hyper-masculine authoritarianism runs to his very core, and he often reacts violently without thinking. The movie goes out of its way to ridicule his attachment to his macho military title, “commando.”



There are moments aboard the boat in which the competitive male rituals between him and Irfan recall Roman Polanski’s “Knife in the Water.” But the game-playing psychodrama in “Bliss” is only a minor element in a panoramic allegory of Turkish national identity, beautifully acted by Mr. Han, Mr. Bulut and especially by Ms. Namal.



The screenplay, written by Mr. Oguz with Kubilay Tuncer and Elif Ayan, turns the novel, in which the rapist’s identity is disclosed early on, into a thriller in which the truth is revealed in an explosive Hollywood ending that rather too neatly ties up loose ends left dangling in the book. However streamlined, this consistently gripping, visually intoxicating film stands as a landmark of contemporary Turkish cinema.


 Produced and directed by Abdullah Oguz; written by Kubilay Tuncer, Elif Ayan and Mr. Oguz, based on the novel by Zulfu Livaneli; cinematography, Mirsad Herovic; edited by Levent Celebi-LewQ and Mr. Oguz; music by Mr. Livaneli; art director, Tolunay Turkoz; released by First Run Features. At the Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village. In Turkish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. This film is not rated.

 WITH: Talat Bulut (Irfan), Ozgu Namal (Meryem), Murat Han (Cemal), Mustafa Avkiran (Ali Riza), Emin Gursoy (Tahsin), Sebnem Kostem (Done), Meral Cetinkaya (Munevver) and Erol Babaoglu (Yakup).


Leave Swiss Banks Alone

August 12, 2009

2 Aug 09

LAST week, an American client of the Swiss bank UBS admitted to filing a false tax return and concealing millions in Swiss bank accounts. For some people, his plea will just confirm their impression of Switzerland as a haven for criminals or dictators who want to protect their funds from taxes or oversight.

But for us here in Switzerland, our financial privacy laws are a foundation for individual dignity and basic property rights.

Unfortunately, the confidentiality that is the hallmark of Swiss banking is coming under increasing pressure. The global economic crisis has led some governments to intensify efforts to seek tax revenue abroad — and Switzerland, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of all offshore private wealth, is a natural target.

Earlier this year, Switzerland was put on a “gray list” by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and threatened with financial sanctions, leading the government to provisionally renegotiate tax agreements with a dozen countries so far. Most of those agreements would require Switzerland to hand over individuals’ financial information for tax purposes in accordance with the organization’s standards.

The United States Justice Department went even further and filed a lawsuit against UBS, seeking the names of 52,000 account holders suspected of hiding money from the Internal Revenue Service. (The United States and Switzerland agreed in principle on Friday to settle the matter out of court.)

Switzerland, which is home to an impressive number of global corporations, has also come under fire from the European Union for offering too-favorable tax rules, including exemptions for income earned abroad. But what critics forget is that these practices also benefit other countries. Swiss firms alone employ hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and Germany, for example. Subsidiaries of multinational corporations usually pay income taxes where they operate, so having their headquarters in Switzerland can help companies avoid multiple taxation in high-tax countries, thereby safeguarding productive capital for investment.

Until recently, the Swiss government had steadfastly insisted on Swiss sovereignty and refused to provide assistance to other governments in cases of tax evasion — that is, cases in which a taxpayer failed to declare income, either intentionally or unintentionally. While tax fraud is considered a crime here, tax evasion is not (though it can be subject to fines).

This Swiss peculiarity of considering tax evasion as a mere administrative offense has a long history. We think government exists to serve us, not the other way around. We understand that we have to pay taxes — and we do, with numerous studies showing that the Swiss are extraordinarily honest about paying what we owe — but we do not think it is the government’s role to intrude on our privacy and wrench them from us.

This attitude goes back to Switzerland’s founding in the 13th century. The original Swiss communities’ resentment of what they saw as the Hapsburgs’ oppressive taxes helped push them to claim their independence in 1291.

Today, Swiss citizens continue to vote on any tax increases in referendums (and sometimes even accept them). These healthy curbs on government contrast with the Orwellian concept of the “transparent citizen” whose every act is known to government. We see our system as a social pact between citizens and the state.

Swiss privacy laws help preserve basic property rights. Bank secrecy was introduced in 1934, most notably to protect the identities and assets of Jews in Nazi Germany. (Unfortunately, those same rules made it difficult for some heirs to gain access to these accounts without proper documentation, leading to an out-of-court agreement in 1998 by Swiss banks to pay $1.25 billion to settle Holocaust-related lawsuits.) Corruption, expropriation, crime and the persecution of various minorities remain risks in most of the world. For people threatened by such risks, financial privacy can protect their legitimate property.

Some would argue that Swiss bank accounts offer the same protections to criminals, but in fact Swiss provisions against money laundering are tough. Swiss bankers are required to know their clients and the origin of the funds they accept. They must alert the regulators if they suspect criminal behavior.

Banking confidentiality enjoys overwhelming support in Switzerland. According to the latest annual survey by the polling firm M.I.S. Trend, 78 percent favor maintaining the laws as they are, and 91 percent are shown to value their financial privacy. This is especially relevant since Swiss citizens are expected to vote eventually on the renegotiated tax treaties in a referendum.

If the government fails to convince a majority of voters, the treaties won’t enter into force. But if they are ratified as planned, the Swiss government should agree only to an exchange of information in individual cases with reasonable suspicion of tax fraud.

Other governments should see this as a fair compromise. We will not solve the global problem of tax evasion by punishing honest depositors and destroying Swiss traditions.

Pierre Bessard is the president of the Liberales Institut, a research institution.


Foreign Rule

August 12, 2009

IBD    7 Aug 09

Internationalism: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants us to join a foreign court. Newly confirmed Justice Sonia Sotomayor says foreign law gauges “the mainstream of human thinking.” Are we repealing 1776?

Right smack in the middle of the Declaration of Independence is a passionate case against judicial internationalism. Among the charges against King George is the complaint that he “has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws.” The effects of that foreign jurisdiction included “transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses.”

Though it’s now 233 years after the American people thought we had solved that injustice, this country’s highest-ranking Cabinet secretary, and its newest Supreme Court justice, have different ideas.

Secretary Clinton, speaking in Nairobi on Thursday, called it “a great regret” that the U.S. was not a member of the International Criminal Court, a body that adjudicates on genocide, war crimes and “crimes against humanity” (defined as including attacks “on human dignity”).

There are very good reasons the U.S. refused to join the so-called “war crimes court” when it was founded in Rome in 2002. Too often when America exercises its powers to defend itself and the rest of the free world against terrorism, the thanks we get from much of the rest of the free world comes in the form of ridicule and abuse — extending even to charges of war crimes.

John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, may have announced Thursday that we are no longer fighting a global “war on terrorism” against jihadists. But the fact is that virtually every U.S. military action in post-World War II leads to condemnation from some European political or intellectual quarter.

Consider the infamous “Russell Tribunal.” As early as 1966, personages of no less academic caliber than Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre were joining with black American novelist James Baldwin and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael to form an “International War Crimes Tribunal.”

That body’s sole purpose was to find “the United States government guilty of genocide against the people of Vietnam,” which was the Russell Tribunal’s unanimous verdict.

If we were to join such a politically charged global kangaroo court, neither our servicemen and women nor our politicians would be safe from being transported “beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses.”

Yet our newest high court justice in April told the Puerto Rican ACLU that she agrees with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “that unless American courts are more open to discussing the ideas raised by foreign cases and by international cases that we are going to lose influence in the world.”

Doing otherwise is “asking American judges to … close their minds,” according to Sonia Sotomayor, because “ideas have no boundaries. Ideas are what set our creative juices flowing. They permit us to think.”

When Alexander Hamilton wrote that “the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power,” he didn’t realize we would have an entire political ideology — now rooted everywhere from the State Department to Congress to the federal judiciary — eager to give away American sovereignty to foreign jurisdictions.

Americans have enough trouble dealing with the liberal activists twisting our own laws in our own courts. The last thing we need are the “creative juices” of foreign courts and foreign laws.


our comments

Soto doesn’t know American history


The only greenhouse gas around is Hillary

July 21, 2009

Hillary Shortchanges U.S. On India

IBD     21 July 09

Leadership: Hillary Clinton’s trip to India to push a global warming agenda has proved a waste of time. Not just because India rejected junk science, but because big issues got sidelined. Her agenda is making her insignificant.

The last thing the U.S. should be doing with a prized ally like India is try to force it into the green agenda of the Kyoto and Copenhagen set, as if that were the most important issue for the two states, topping their military and trade interests.

But Secretary of State Clinton made that the centerpiece of her visit to India, almost trying to shame the nation of 1 billion people to agree to slash its greenhouse gases by 50% by 2050 in preparation for a comprehensive treaty in Copenhagen by December.

“Not so long ago, the measure of a nation’s greatness was the size of its military or its economic strength, or its capacity to dominate its friends and adversaries,” Clinton told students at Delhi University. “But in this century — in the interconnected and interdependent world in which we live — greatness can be defined by the power of an example.”

Example? Actually, India will go for the economic and military strength, thank you very much. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much more than lip service on that from Clinton.

And that’s a shame, because India is a nation that has moved away from multilateralism, statism and socialism since 1991 and vowed to do the things that make a nation substantially great instead of sanctimoniously pure. That means a strong defense and open markets. This year it expects to post 6% GDP growth, a miracle in a global economic downturn. Signing on to any green pact will halt that.

But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from submerging that unique relationship beneath a multilateral global agenda and a series of other smaller issues — a disservice to us and to India.

India’s alliance is the best thing to happen since the Iraq War. Our huge strategic and trade relationship — we now do some $44 billion in two-way trade — is unlike any other in the world. Forged from a common fight against terrorism and a commitment to growth through trade, it needs to grow on those terms.

But instead of talking about a free-trade treaty, as India has sought, or taking steps to strengthen the U.S.-India military alliance as new challenges from China, Pakistan and emerging non-state actors like Somali pirates appear, Clinton called for a “comprehensive strategic approach,” devoted to education, food security and the climate change agenda.

Not surprisingly, the Indians gave her an earful. “India’s position, let me be clear, is that we are simply not in a position to take legally binding emission targets,” India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, told Clinton. He noted that global warming is unproven science and India didn’t want to give up its economic growth for that.

It also didn’t help that Clinton was cajoling the Indians by using nonsensical arguments put forward by Obama himself during his campaign instead of her own more commonsensical ones.

She insisted that signing on to the green agenda would bring economic growth, something the Obama administration has tried to sell to the U.S. public.

“No one wants to in any way stall or undermine the economic growth that is necessary to lift millions more out of poverty,” Clinton said. “We also believe that there is a way to eradicate poverty and develop sustainability that will lower … the carbon footprint.”

The Washington Post also reported that she toured a squat “green” building, calling it a new Taj Mahal and a “monument to the future,” surely making the Indians realize the real one was better.

Lastly, she made a ridiculous apology: “We acknowledge now with President Obama that we have made mistakes in the United States, and we along with other developed countries have contributed most significantly to the problem that we face with climate change.”

None of these moves lifts America’s stature abroad. The U.S. has less real interest in dreamy global treaties like Copenhagen than it does in strengthening actual bilateral ties like defense and trade.

Is it any wonder that with such a misplaced agenda, Clinton’s influence is said to be shrinking? It’s the agenda that makes it so.


Strike Now At Mullahs’ Economic Pillars

July 21, 2009

IBD    22 June 09

by Chuck Devore

As we watch the swelling protests in Iran, it’s worth remembering that the aspirations of America are eminently compatible with the aspirations of the average Iranian.

I know a bit about this, as I am privileged to represent one of the largest Iranian-American communities in the country, in Orange County, Calif.

The compatibilities between Iranian hopes and the American dream center on the yearning for individual liberties and the end of clerical autocracy — hopes as compelling to the Iranian democrat today as the Jeffersonian democrat two centuries ago.

The question is whether President Obama will do anything about it.

The basic points of pressure on Iran’s clerical autocrats are simple: the control of petroleum, the need for foreign cash, the reliance upon the instruments of force, and the control of internal communications. All remain the material pillars of the regime.

Its psychological pillars are a bit more complex: Iranian resentment at foreign interference, Shia exceptionalism and a peculiar concept of Islamic juridical rule known as velayat-e faqih.

It is possible for the president to strike at the material pillars of the Iranian theocracy, while sparing the psychological pillars that might turn the mass of Iranians against us.

Though hardly a friendly society by most standards, the few American tourists to visit Iran have generally received a warm welcome. (Indeed, PBS travel-show fixture Rick Steves has been on the lecture circuit about this for a few years now.) The Iranian regime is assuredly America’s long-standing enemy, but the Iranians at large do not harbor a unique hatred for the United States.

What, then, should America do to support Iranians’ hopes for liberty? Any policy response must proceed on twin tracks of empowering the Iranian democracy movement, and striking at the mullahs’ material base.

Empowering the democracy movement in Iran demands sensitivity and creativity on the part of American policymakers. Fortunately, that movement is self-motivated, self-organizing, and technologically savvy — and thus needs no outside assistance in the provision of ideas, energy or enthusiasm.

What it does need are the tools to render itself an effective mass rather than an inchoate mob. Above all, that means channels of communication and intellectual capital.

Enough ink has been spilled on the remarkable role of social media, and especially Twitter, in maintaining momentum for the Iranian protests. Less noticed is the active interest that the State Department has taken in keeping those channels open for the benefit of the protesters.

Earlier this week, State reportedly intervened with Twitter to delay a scheduled service outage till nighttime in Tehran. This is practical and meaningful assistance, and the Obama administration should be doing much more of it.

Striking at the mullahs’ material base is more straightforward. They need legitimacy and foreign trade to sustain an economy that totters along with rising unemployment that approaches 15% — an ominous figure in a country where about 70% of the citizens are under 30.

Iran has the world’s third-largest oil reserves, yet it had to impose fuel rationing on its own citizens in 2007, and its economy is extremely vulnerable to lower oil prices.

It’s no accident that civil unrest in Iran, as in so many countries, erupts when material expectations of a young and comparatively educated citizenry are unmet by a corrupt and inefficient government. Though not a proximate cause, this is surely among the root causes of Iranian discontent now.

With this in mind, crafting a strategy to squeeze the machinery of repression would be an exercise in the sort of multilateral diplomacy in which the Obama administration takes such pride.

Of the major recipients of Iranian oil, the top four are Asian economies and the remainder European nations plus South Africa.

Though it is unrealistic to assume that the United States could persuade all of them to forgo Iranian oil, we don’t have to: Any one of the Asian nations, or a few of the European nations (building upon the European Union’s admirable vigor in condemning repression in Iran), would do tremendous harm to the mullahs’ coffers.

Beyond this, we know from experiences with Zimbabwe and North Korea that targeted sanctions against specific regime figures — for example, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, presently being feted in Russia — are remarkably effective in harming the architects of tyranny while sparing their victims.

So much for what the Obama administration should do. What will it do, and what has it done? Nearly a week into this crisis, the sad answer is: Very little.

Other than the State Department’s reported intervention with Twitter, and a few late and tentative statements from the president himself, America’s moral leadership, in a cause that directly affects us, is remarkably absent.

A president who rose to power on a self-proclaimed wave of hope owes the hopes of an oppressed people more than his silence.

• DeVore is an assemblyman representing California’s 70th district, including Irvine, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. He is also a candidate for the U.S. Senate.


Zionish Organization of America; Michigan Region

June 30, 2009
From National ZOA Office

ZOA Praises Netanyahu For Positions On Jewish State, Jerusalem, Incitement, Natural Growth & Conflict’s Roots — But Opposes Unilateral Concession of Accepting Conditional PA State
June 15, 2009
Contact: Morton A. Klein

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has welcomed several aspects of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech – his statement of the conflict’s basis in Arab non-acceptance of Jewish statehood; the need for Palestinians to accept Israel and end terror and incitement; that Jerusalem should remain undivided; that Jews stem from the Jewish homeland and are not European interlopers; stating the fact that Israeli territorial concessions has led to more attacks and bloodshed; asserting the need for Jewish communities in the territories to enjoy normal life, growth and development; declaring that Palestinian refugees and their descendants must be settled outside Israel; and warning of the danger of radical Islam and nuclear weapons – but regards as a major, mistaken and unilateral concession his declaration that Israel will accept the establishment of a Palestinian state on various, unenforceable conditions, i.e., a demilitarized state that is not permitted to have alliances with Israel’s enemies.

To read the rest of the Press Release please click here

In the News

June 3, 2009

For the first time in America’s decades of jousting with Israel over West Bank settlements, an American president seems to have succeeded in isolating the settlements issue and disconnecting it from other elements of support for Israel.

It is a disentanglement now seen most clearly in Congress, which in the past served as Israel’s stronghold against administration pressure on the issue. But when Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu came to Capitol Hill for a May 18 meeting after being pressed by President Obama to freeze the expansion of West Bank settlements, he was “stunned,” Netanyahu aides said, to hear what seemed like a well-coordinated attack against his stand on settlements. The criticism came from congressional leaders, key lawmakers dealing with foreign relations and even from a group of Jewish members.

They included Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee; California Democrat Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and California Rep. Henry Waxman, a senior Democrat.

The Jewish lawmakers among them believed “it was their responsibility to make him [Netanyahu] very, very aware of the concerns of the administration and Congress… To see the rest of the story please click here

June 25th’s Daily Alert from Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs prepared for American Jewish Organizations had a number of informative articles, including the following:

Gilad Shalit: In terrorist captivity since 25 June 2006
Israel Ministries of Foreign Affairs

On June 25, 2006, Corporal Gilad Shalit (later promoted to Staff Sergeant) was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists within Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing. The kidnapping was part of an unprovoked and well-planned attack which involved seven terrorists, armed with explosive charges, anti-tank missiles, light arms and more, and which made use of a tunnel under the Israel-Gaza border. During the course of the attack, an IDF soldier, Staff Sergeant Pavel Slutzker, and an officer, Lieutenant Hanan Barak, were killed, while five other were wounded.
June 25, 2009 marks three years of Staff Sergeant Shalit’s captivity. Hamas continues to refuse Red Cross access to the kidnapped soldier.

To read the full article please clickhere

Analysis: Obama’s settlement focus handcuffing negotiations

With Defense Minister Ehud Barak scheduled to fly back to Washington on Monday for another round of talks about construction in the settlements, it is instructive to ask at this point what exactly US President Barack Obama is trying to achieve by pushing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the wall on this issue.
For the full article please click here

ZOA – Michigan Region’s Mission:

· Present a rich array of informative speakers discussing crucial issues of our time.
Promote legislation in Congress to cut off funding to Fatah and Hamas from the U.S.
· Raise funds to create scholarships to send students to study in Israel.
· Safeguard the interests of Israel on Capitol Hill, in the courts, on campus and in the media.

To see the daily alerts, go to


The IPT Terror Alert

June 30, 2009

29 June 09

1. Obama’s ‘Outreach to Muslims’ Prompts Mass Koran Distribution
(Israel National News)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose officials in the past have been convicted for being associated with Muslim terrorist groups, said it will announce at a news conference Tuesday that it is launching an “education campaign” and will distribute 100,000 copies of the Koran to local, state and national leaders. The books will provide an English translation and commentary. CAIR said the distribution is prompted by U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent speech in Cairo, in which he said he wants to reach out to Muslims throughout the world. He praised the Muslim community in the U.S, whose values he said incorporate tenets of Islam. President Obama, whose father was a Muslim, quoted the Koran four times in his speech in Cairo and used the word “violence” instead of “terror” in his reference to extremists.

2. Saudi Hate Film Draws (Private) State Department Fire (IPT News)
While President Obama praises the “long history” of U.S.-Saudi “friendship” and the “strategic relationship” between the two countries, some State Department officials are privately unhappy over a Saudi-produced film blaming “Zionist gangs” for the suffering of the Palestinians. The film is “The Olive Dream,” a soon-to-be-released Arabic-language movie produced by Saudi filmmaker Osama Khalifa. “The narrative of ‘the catastrophe of 1948’ and the resulting ‘Palestinian suffering’ has long served as an incubator for violence and anti-American sentiment,” an anonymous State Department official wrote in a June 16 “Counterterrorism Communication Alert” obtained by IPT News. “As the US government works to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward, a significant obstacle to winning Arab public opinion and achieving lasting a lasting peace is the current narrative of the conflict.”

3. Saudi Account of Khobar Bore Telltale Signs of Fraud
(IPS News)
In the last week of October 1996, the Saudi secret police, the Mabahith, gave David Williams, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge of counter-terrorism issues, what they said were summaries of the confessions obtained from some 40 Shi’a detainees. The alleged confessions portrayed the bombing as the work of a cell of Saudi Hezbollah that had carried out surveillance of U.S. targets under the direction of an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer before hatching a plot to blow up the Khobar Towers facility. But the documents were curiously short of the kind of details that would have allowed U.S. investigators to verify key elements of the accounts. In fact, Saudi officials refused even to reveal the names of the detainees who were alleged to have made the confessions, identifying the suspects only by numbers one through six or seven, according to a former FBI official involved in the investigation. Justice Department lawyers argued that the confessions were completely unreliable, and unusable in court, because they had probably been extracted by torture. At Attorney General Janet Reno’s insistence, both Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh said publicly in early 1997 that the Saudis had provided little more than “hearsay” evidence on the bombing.

4. Document links Saudi charity to Somalian arms
(Philadelphia Inquirer)
A Defense Department intelligence document on weapons trafficking in Somalia suggests a prominent Saudi government charity supplied arms and other aid to a Mogadishu warlord whose forces killed 18 U.S. soldiers in the notorious Black Hawk Down battle in 1993. The heavily redacted memo said that the Saudi High Commission, a Saudi government agency, had been a conduit for arms shipments to forces allied with Mohamed Farah Hassan Aideed, and that the arms had come from both Iraq and Sudan. Fighters allied with Aideed engaged in a fierce street battle on Oct. 3-4, 1993, with U.S. troops on a mission to capture top Aideed lieutenants believed to be blocking efforts to stabilize the country. The document was provided to The Inquirer by lawyers for plaintiffs in a huge lawsuit that alleges the government of Saudi Arabia bears responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because, over a period of a decade or more, it financed Islamic charities that in turn helped fund al-Qaeda. The lawsuit alleges the Saudi government knew it was funding charities that supported terrorism. Saudi Arabia denies the allegation.

5. Is Obama Protecting the Saudis?
(The Daily Beast)
In a lawsuit by 9/11 families, new evidence has surfaced that Saudi Arabia funds terrorism worldwide—and paid two of the hijackersyet the Obama Justice Department wants these documents destroyed. Documents gathered by lawyers for the families of 9/11 victims reveal new evidence of extensive Saudi financial support for al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim groups. So reports today’s New York Times. But that evidence may never see the light of day because of legal and diplomatic hurdles. Anyone who follows the Saudi-American relationship shouldn’t be surprised. And anyone hoping for an end to the deference with which Saudis were treated under George W. Bush, has every right to be disappointed that Barack Obama apparently did not include the Saudis’ support of terror in his campaign promise of “change.”

6. Mystery of Fake U.S. Bonds Fuels Web Theories
(NY Times)
Ever since two middle-aged men with Japanese passports were caught in Italy this month trying to smuggle a purported $134.5 billion in United States government bearer bonds into Switzerland, the Internet has been abuzz with theories. Was the Japanese government, or some other creditor nation, secretly trying to dump Treasury bonds to drive down the value of the dollar? Had the Italian mafia stolen the equivalent of 1 percent of the American gross domestic product, using the paper, which supposedly was instantly convertible into cash, to run a giant scam? Adding spice was the whole Bond — James Bond — aspect of the tale. A crowded customs checkpoint near the Alps; two men traveling on a local train, professing that they had nothing to declare; and a false-bottom suitcase containing United States government bonds made out in stratospheric denominations. In all, the Italian financial police and customs guards confiscated 249 paper bonds, each supposedly worth $500 million, and 10 bonds with a face value of $1 billion each. Too bad the bonds were fake.

7. Banking on Allah: OIC & UK gov’t promoting Islamic finance in the UK

(Standpoint Magazine – UK)
Islamic banking is becoming increasingly accepted as a viable and fair alternative to the current “Western capitalist” banking system. European governments, including the UK’s, are embracing Islamic banking. Gordon Brown recently declared that it was his desire to make Britain the Islamic finance capital of Europe. A number of leading UK banks now offer sharia-compliant financial services and the Treasury is considering the implementation of the sukok, or sharia-compliant, bond. Such moves fail to recognise Islamic banking for what it is — a modern Islamist construct, designed as another wedge between Western Muslims and their societies. Since the recession, Islamic banking’s supporters have been seizing the opportunity to present it as not only a more moral option, but as an economically safer one. But there are three questions that need answering: How is Islamic banking different? Who are its biggest cheerleaders? Why are they pushing for it?

12. Convicted terrorist knew of plot: Hearing – Crown argues Saad Khalid was ‘active and enthusiastic’ (Toronto Sun)
A 22-year-old Mississauga man was an “active and enthusiastic participant” in a terror plot to bomb two buildings in downtown Toronto, court was told yesterday. Saad Khalid, who has pleaded guilty to one terrorism-related charge, had full knowledge of the plan, Crown prosecutor Croft Michaelson said in his final submissions on the first phase of the sentencing hearing. “He’s aware that this is a serious plot,” Michaelson argued. “It is clear, in my submission, that they intended to commit jihad in Canada.” Khalid is a member of the Toronto 18, a group of 14 men and 4 youths who were rounded up on June 2, 2006 and charged with numerous terrorist-related charges. Naming his co-accused is prohibited by a court-ordered publication ban.

13. Britain has 85 sharia courts: The astonishing spread of the Islamic justice behind closed doors
(The Daily Mail – UK)
At least 85 Islamic sharia courts are operating in Britain, a study claimed yesterday. The astonishing figure is 17 times higher than previously accepted. The tribunals, working mainly from mosques, settle financial and family disputes according to religious principles. They lay down judgments which can be given full legal status if approved in national law courts. However, they operate behind doors that are closed to independent observers and their decisions are likely to be unfair to women and backed by intimidation, a report by independent think-tank Civitas said. Commentators on the influence of sharia law often count only the five courts in London, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Nuneaton that are run by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, a body whose rulings are enforced through the state courts under the 1996 Arbitration Act. But the study by academic and Islamic specialist Denis MacEoin estimates there are at least 85 working tribunals. The spread of sharia law has become increasingly controversial since its role was backed last year by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice who stepped down last October.

14. Netherlands: 51% of Muslims considering leaving
(Islam in Europe)
More than a third of Turkish and Moroccan Muslims (36%) in the Netherlands want to emigrate due to the increasing popularity of Geert Wilders. More than half (51%) are considering leaving more and more often. This according to a survey by actuality program NCRV Netwerk. Wilders’ PVV party triumphed in the recent EU elections. Netwerk wanted to know what influence this had on the feeling of belonging among Muslims. 76% still feel they belong in the Netherlands, but for a majority of 57% that feeling has decreased, according to the survey which will be shown this evening on the show. Three quarters of the Muslims think it would be a threat if the PVV would be part of the cabinet after the next elections. Strikingly, 90% expect that such a cabinet will be unsuccessful. Additionally, 75% have a feeling they’re judged more negatively than in the past. 40% says they’re more often discriminated. 24% says they’re regularly discriminated against in the Netherlands.

15. Turk kills daughter for not following the Islamic way
(Islam in Europe)
Turkish Döner kebab saler Mehmet Ö (45) from the south German town of Schweinfurt stabbed his fifteen year old daughter Büsra to death with a kitchen knife because she refused to follow the “Islamic way”, German police told German newspaper Bild. The attack occurred Wednesday morning. Mehmet stabbed his daughter several times while she slept. About 3:30 AM Büsra’s grandparents called emergency services. Before the police arrived, the gravely injured girl bled to death. Ö. meanwhile fled. The police knew to arrest the Turk quickly. He immediately confessed to the crime. He said his motive was that he wanted to end the fight with his ‘rebellious’ daughter. “She had to die because she refused to follow his Islamic way,” according to a police spokesperson.

16. Radical Islamic activist a national of Uzbekistan arrested in Perm – FSB
Officers of the Perm regional branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) have traced in the city of Perm an emissary of a terrorist organisation entitled “Islamic jihad group” – Atabek Tukhtamuradov, a national of Uzbekistan, a representative of the press service of the FSB regional department told Itar-Tass on Friday. According to his information, members of the organization, including Tukhtamuradov, “enlisted people to it to be trained in specialized military mujaheed camps on the territory of Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries for fulfilling criminal missions, for instance the training of saboteur terrorists.” The FSB regional branch obtained information that the investigating department of the National Security Service of Uzbekistan instituted criminal proceedings against Tukhtamuradov early in 2009 under the articles of the Uzbek Criminal Code dealing with terrorism, the kindling of inter-ethnic and religious strife, an attempt to undermine the constitutional system, the organization of a criminal group and smuggling. Crimes under those articles may be punished by prison terms of up to 15 years.

17. Pakistan: Taliban attack signals change of tactic
Pakistani Taliban leader Gul Bahadur, once an arch rival of Baitullah Mehsud, apparently shelved a ceasefire agreement with security forces when he and his militants attacked a military convoy killing two officers and 12 soldiers at the weekend. Militants claimed to have killed 60 personnel in the attack carried out in Miran Shah area of North Waziristan. “There was no reason for the attack. The military was not conducting any operation so there was no reason for such an attack,” said Major General Athar Abbas, spokesperson for the Pakistan Army at a media conference late on Monday in Islamabad. Pakistani minister information Qamaruzaman Kaira was also present and explained the government policies. He denied that there was a military operation in either North or South Waziristan to rival what the military was doing in the northwestern Swat valley.

18. In Iran Turmoil, U.S. Sees Chance to Gain Sway in Mideast
(Wall Street Journal)
The Obama administration and its Middle East allies are looking to capitalize on Iran’s political crisis to reverse strategic gains Tehran has made across the region, said U.S. and Arab officials. A principal early test case for that evolving U.S. strategy will be Syria, which plays a critical role in helping Tehran arm and fund militant groups Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon. U.S. strategists are assessing whether Iran’s inner turmoil will force its clerical leaders to rein in support for those organizations and focus instead on quelling domestic dissent. Or, as some U.S. strategists fear, whether Iran’s leaders, feeling weakened at home, will seek to expand Iran’s overseas operations in order to appear strong. President Barack Obama has long stated his desire to woo Syrian President Bashar Assad away from his military and economic alliance with Iran. That could help stabilize Lebanon and advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, two leading sources of conflict in the region.

19. Lebanese army issues warning after Beirut
clash (Reuters)
The Lebanese army said on Sunday it would open fire on any armed person appearing on the streets, after a brief clash between supporters of rival political factions in western Beirut killed one person. Gunfire erupted in the Aicha Bakkar area when Sunni Muslim followers of anti-Syrian Saad al-Hariri’s Future movement clashed with supporters of the pro-Syrian Amal Movement, which is led by Shi’ite parliament speaker Nabih Berri. Security sources said one woman was killed, and two people were wounded. “This is an isolated incident between the groups’ supporters on the back of the elections in Lebanon. The groups’ leadership have nothing to do with it,” a security source told Reuters. Earlier this month, the U.S.-backed “March 14” coalition led by Hariri defeated Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies, including Amal, in a parliamentary election.

20. Israel to swap West Bank outpost for new units
(Washington Post)
Israel has approved 50 new houses in a West Bank settlement just as Israel’s defense minister left Monday for Washington to try to defuse growing tension with the Obama administration over such construction. The U.S. wants settlement construction to stop completely to help revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak hopes to work out a compromise. Barak aide Eitan Broshi told Army Radio Monday that approval has been given to build 50 houses in the settlement of Adam for settlers from an outpost called Migron, which will be removed. Migron was built without approval on private Palestinian land. Israel has said it is committed to removing two dozen similar outposts.

21. IDF opens fire at terrorists near Karni crossing
An IDF force operating near the Gaza Strip Monday afternoon opened fire at Palestinian terrorists planting an explosive devise near the Karni border crossing. No injuries were reported among the soldiers. Shortly before the incident a mortar was fired from northern Gaza towards the western Negev. The shell exploded near the security fence separating Israel and the Hamas-rule territory, but caused no injury or damage. Despite the relative calm in the South, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza have continued to target IDF forces

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The Plan for Socialist World Government

June 30, 2009

Aim Report

17 June 09

While meaningless United Nations hand-wringing over the North Korean nuclear weapons program garnered the headlines, the world body is moving ahead with a global conference to lay the groundwork for world government financed by global taxes. The communist head of the U.N. General Assembly is leading the effort, but he is getting crucial support from “progressive” economists who advise the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party.

The United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, previously scheduled for June 1-3, will now take place on June 24-26.

U.N. General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto is the U.N. point man on these “global governance” issues. We noted his role at the United Nations in a column last October. Now, even the New York Times is paying attention to what this crackpot has been up to.

D’Escoto, the Times said, believes the way out of the global financial crisis “should be lined with all manner of new global institutions, authorities and advisory boards,” including

1 the Global Stimulus Fund

2 the Global Public Goods Authority

3 the Global Tax Authority

4 the Global Financial Products Safety Commission

5 the Global Financial Regulatory Authority

6 the Global Competition Authority

7 the Global Council of Financial and Economic Advisers

8 the Global Economic Coordination Council

9 the World Monetary Board.

D’Escoto is the former foreign minister of Communist Sandinista Nicaragua and Catholic Priest of the Maryknoll Order who advocates Marxist-oriented liberation theology and won the Lenin Peace Prize from the old Soviet Union. D’Escoto also claims a Master’s of Science from Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

The Times interviewed Paul Oquist, D’Escoto’s senior adviser for the conference, who sat beneath portraits of Fidel Castro of Cuba, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, among others.

The problem is that the Times, in its story, “At U.N., a Sandinista’s Plan for Recovery,” didn’t mention until the 13th paragraph that the official U.N. list of “experts” behind the plan include an American economist, Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning professor from Columbia University who supported and contributed to Obama’s presidential campaign and advises Congressional Democrats on economic policy.

Stiglitz, an advocate of nationalizing U.S. banks, is also a member of the Socialist International Commission on Global Financial Issues and his name appears on a separate list of 15 “special advisers” to D’Escoto obtained from the U.N. by Inner City Press. Another name on the list-Noam Chomsky-is on the board of the Communist Party spin-off, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

Working With A Castroite

Aides to D’Escoto “point out repeatedly that the president got many of his ideas from a distinguished panel of experts led by an American economist and Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz,” the Times noted.

Stiglitz, a former Clinton official and financial contributor to the Democratic Party and its candidates, wrote the book, Making Globalization Work, in which he argues for a variety of global tax schemes that would cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. Last October he met behind closed doors with congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to devise the economic “stimulus” plan of more federal spending and debt.

Incredibly, Stiglitz was quoted in a U.N. press release last October as saying that the United Nations, which is notorious for corruption, had to intervene in the financial crisis because it was “the one institution that was inclusive and had political legitimacy…”

Another one of the “experts” the Times neglected to mention was Robert Johnson, former managing director at Soros Fund Management and board member of the Institute for America’s Future, a sponsor of a June 1-3 “progressive” conference in Washington, D.C. that will honor pro-Castro Rep. Barbara Lee and socialist labor leader John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO.

The Hand Of Soros

The Soros-funded Open Society Institute gave the Institute for America’s Future $500,000 in 2008 in the area of “Idea Generation and Policy Change.”

Johnson also serves on the board of the Democracy Alliance, a wealthy liberal group that includes Soros and is committed to “fostering collaboration among progressive leaders and institutions…”

Johnson’s involvement in the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis demonstrates how this “collaboration” is occurring at the global level and involves representatives of socialist and communist governments at the U.N.

Other “experts” on the D’Escoto panel come from Russia and China, with one of his “special representatives,” Oswaldo Martinez, identified only as being from Communist Cuba, with no biography attached. Another D’Escoto “special representative,” socialist and Jesuit Priest Francois Houtart, is the author of “Socialism for the 21st Century.”

Toward this end, the “Report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System” raises the possibility of global taxes to finance one of President Obama’s legislative goals when he was a senator-committing 0.7 percent of Gross National Income as “official development assistance,” or foreign aid. This was the essence of Obama’s Global Poverty Act, which never came up for a full Senate vote because of increasing public awareness that it would commit the U.S. to spending $845 billion in additional foreign aid.

Global Tax Agenda

Under the heading of “Innovative Sources of Financing” (page 109), the U.N. document declares that “For some time, the difficulty in meeting the UN official assistance target of 0.7 per cent of GNI of industrial countries as official development assistance, as well as the need for adequate funding for the provision of global and regional public goods (peace building, fighting global health pandemics, combating climate change and sustaining the global environment more generally) has generated proposals on how to guarantee stable sources of financing for these objectives.”

These proposals, the document says, include initiatives involving “taxation for global objectives.” It adds, “Two suggestions deserve special attention: a carbon tax and a levy on financial transactions.” The global carbon tax, the document says, could generate $130 billion a year, while estimates of the revenues from a currency transaction tax range from $15 to $35 billion. Other global taxation options are also examined.

However, as D’Escoto and his “experts” move ahead with the U.N.’s global economic conference, some of Obama’s representatives at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. seem to have grown sensitive to the communist’s frequent outbursts of loony leftism and anti-American rhetoric. Such remarks could bring unwarranted attention to what D’Escoto and the “progressive” American economists are trying to implement in the international economic realm.

For example, The Washington Post reported on American criticism of D’Escoto’s statements about Iran having no nuclear weapons program, exaggerating civilian deaths in Iraq, and calling for the release of Cuban Communist agents imprisoned in the U.S. D’Escoto “has repeatedly abused his position to pursue his personal agenda, and in doing so he diminishes the office and harms the General Assembly,” one U.S. official was quoted as saying.

The Times story about the upcoming global economic conference said that D’Escoto’s critics, who are “legion,” say that some of his proposals-“like levying an international tax on all financial transactions or replacing the dollar as the international reserve currency”-“are well beyond the role of the United Nations.” But none of these critics was identified as being in the Obama Administration or at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Some of the critics seemed to be ambassadors from foreign countries who were peeved that they didn’t get more direct input into formulating the conference document.

However, other than being too outspoken about the elaborate plans for new global institutions and world government that are being drawn up, it would appear that D’Escoto’s goals and those of the Obama Administration correspond nicely. Perhaps that is because they share some of the same economic “experts” and Marxist philosophy.


Like the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not have to go through a background investigation in order to get a security clearance. This loophole in the law enables the president and members of Congress to automatically qualify for security clearances, even if they have controversial backgrounds and associations, by virtue of the fact that they get elected to high office in Washington, D.C.

In the case of Speaker Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession to the presidency after the vice president, there is increasing concern about whether she can be trusted with national security secrets. But the concern not only involves her unsubstantiated charges against the CIA over what officials told her about the treatment of terrorists, but her close personal relationship with pro-Castro Rep. Barbara Lee and the “progressive” Hallinan family of San Francisco, once under scrutiny by the California Senate Fact-Finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities for their pro-Soviet propaganda efforts.

Pelosi used a May 22 news conference to offer up other members of the House Democratic leadership as “human shields” to deflect questions from the press about the CIA controversy. They droned on about the liberal legislative agenda.

At the very end of the news conference, as Pelosi was trying to leave the podium and had already issued an edict that she didn’t have anything more to say about the CIA matter, a reporter tried to ask a question about Rep. Steve King’s intention to introduce a resolution asking the House to suspend Pelosi’s security clearance until the controversy is resolved. The reporter asked, “And were you aware that Steve King is asking for your security clearance to be revoked?” But Pelosi walked away without commenting.

With the help of the mainstream media, Pelosi is obviously hoping that she can stonewall further inquiry. On a recent “Meet the Press,” on NBC,  Washington Post liberal columnist Eugene Robinson, a follower of the Democratic Party line, declared that he wasn’t sure that she was “in such terrible political danger” and that “People underestimate Nancy Pelosi sometimes as a politician.”

Pelosi the politician is clearly depending on the press to stop asking questions.

However, since Pelosi and other elected officials don’t have to go through background investigations, it is the job of the media to perform this function. In the case of Pelosi, it is long overdue.

San Francisco Democrat

Pelosi has represented the city of San Francisco, perhaps the most liberal in the nation, since 1987, and is a very close friend of Rep. Barbara Lee, who represents neighboring Oakland and Berkeley, California, and is the most vocal apologist for Communist Cuba in Congress today. Lee, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, recently led a delegation to Cuba to meet with the Castro brothers to discuss normalization of relations. But she paid no attention to political dissidents or political prisoners being held on the communist island.

Lee, who calls Pelosi “a magnificent woman” and “one of California’s greatest representatives,” began her career in the California state legislature as a secret member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a spin-off from the Communist Party. As a member of the staff of Rep. Ron Dellums, Lee was shown to have been collaborating with communist officials on the island of Grenada, according to documents captured after the liberation of that island nation. These revelations have not hurt Lee’s standing with Pelosi and other “progressives.” Indeed, Lee also served as the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

But even more interesting than the Barbara Lee connection is Pelosi’s long-time friendship and association with Vincent and Vivian Hallinan, one of the most radical left-wing families in San Francisco over the course of five decades.

Pelosi hailed them as “one of San Francisco’s great Irish families” in a March 17, 1999, statement, after the passing of Vivian Hallinan. “Vivian was a pioneer, a mentor and a leader,” Pelosi said. “Our community was blessed by her presence and will long remember her many significant contributions to improving society. I will miss my friend, Vivian.”

Pelosi called Vivian Hallinan, who openly held “socialist” views, a “pioneer” in “a wide range of progressive causes.”

But these causes included support for communists in Central America during the 1980s, when Soviet- and Cuban-backed forces were subverting Central America through violence and terrorism and fighting for control of the region.

Indeed, Pelosi paid tribute to Vivian Hallinan by inserting into the Congressional Record an article saying that she had “opposed U.S. policy in Central America” under President Reagan, had “befriended Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s [Communist] Sandinista leader,” and had met with Cuban dictator Castro.

“She was a role model for many of us,” Pelosi said. “If Vincent was the lion, Vivian was the lioness.”

“My mother and Nancy were pretty close,” acknowledges Conn Hallinan, one of their sons.

Official Scrutiny

The names of the Hallinans, including some of their sons, are included in the annual volumes of the California State Senate Fact-Finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities. The subcommittee was a well-regarded investigative body which examined not only communist activities in California but right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society and the Minutemen.

In the case of the Hallinans, there was a lot to examine. Vincent Hallinan, a lawyer who died in 1992, was a founding member of the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, officially designated a front of the Communist Party, and defended secret Communist Party member and labor leader Harry Bridges.

In addition, he was a self-described “roaring atheist” who specialized in attacks on the Catholic Church. In one case, according to the New York Times, he “sued the Roman Catholic Church for fraud, demanding that it prove the existence of heaven and hell.”

Vincent Hallinan also ran for president on the ticket of the Progressive Party, “a creature of the Communist apparatus, and completely dominated by the Communist Party from start to finish,” the subcommittee said.

A 1961 subcommittee report says that Vincent Hallinan traveled to the Soviet Union with his wife to vouch for the legitimacy of the communist show trial of Francis Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union. Powers’ mission had been to document the Soviet missile build-up. It adds, “[Vincent] Hallinan’s glowing accounts of the Soviet Union and favorable comments concerning the fairness accorded Powers at his trial were sold in great quantity by the Communist Book Stores both in San Francisco and in Los Angeles.”

A 1953 edition of the report states that Vincent Hallinan was a participant in a meeting of the Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg Case, a “Communist front organization.” The Rosenbergs were communists executed for committing atomic espionage against the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union.

A wealthy woman, Vivian Hallinan had contributed financially to one of Pelosi’s campaigns. Her only other political contributions on the federal level, as recorded by the Federal Election Commission, went to Senator Barbara Boxer and Reps. Barbara Lee and Ron Dellums.

The “Progressive Champion”

Despite her pro-communist record, Lee was honored as a “progressive champion” at the June 2 “awards gala” sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future, perhaps the largest “progressive” group in the U.S. The gala, held in conjunction with a conference, is being chaired by the AFL-CIO, whose president, John Sweeney, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is also being honored; the Service Employees International Union; the National Education Association; and Hollywood producer Norman Lear, among others.

Fenton Communications, the public relations firm which represented George Soros during his attempt to buy the White House in 2004, is one of several groups and individuals on the Gala Awards host committee.

At the group’s 2006 conference, Pelosi was a featured attraction, telling the assembled “progressives” that if Democrats took control of Congress and made her speaker that Democrats would “make the most corrupt, closed Congress in history the most open and honest Congress in history.”

But Pelosi tried desperately to avoid being open and honest about her charges against the CIA.

Time To Drop the Matter

One reporter did note that after Pelosi charged that she had been misled by the CIA, Republican House Leader John Boehner had said that she needed to produce the evidence or apologize, and that CIA director Leon Panetta has said the CIA was not in the practice of misleading Congress.

Pelosi replied, “I have made the statement that I’m going to make on this. I don’t have anything more to say about it. I stand by my comments…”

Pressed for further explanation, she reiterated, “I won’t have anything more to say about it.”

The New York Times thought the performance was impressive, declaring that Pelosi had stuck to the “script” and had not succumbed to “the impatient media horde.”

This was a signal to the rest of the press that they should drop the matter.

Edited by Cliff Kincaid


Ayatollah Khatami: Protesters Should Be Punished “Ruthlessly and Savagely” — Guardian Council Calls Election “Healthiest” Since 1979 — Senators Seek Legislation to Help Iranians

June 29, 2009

26 June 09

The Washington Post reported that “An influential Iranian cleric told worshipers Friday that those stirring unrest in connection with the recent election should be punished ‘ruthlessly and savagely’ and convicted for waging war against God, a crime that under Shiite Islamic law is punishable by death. The sermon at Tehran University by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami was broadcast live on state television, amplifying the ominous tone the state has adopted this week towards the tens of thousands of demonstrators who have massed in the streets to question the results of the June 12 presidential balloting. The government has deemed the gatherings illegal. ‘I want the judiciary to…punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson,’ said Khatami, an influential cleric close to Iran’s supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei. ‘Based on Islamic law, whoever confronts the Islamic state…should be convicted as mohareb…They should be punished ruthlessly and savagely.'” (

The New York Times reported that “As Iran’s leaders push back threats to their authority after the disputed presidential election, crushing street protests and pressing challengers to withdraw or to limit their objections, the country’s main electoral oversight group ruled Friday that the ballot had been the “healthiest” since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The statement by the 12-member Guardian Council, which is charged with overseeing and vetting elections, fell short of formal certification of the ballot. But it offered further evidence that, despite mass demonstrations and violent confrontation with those who call the election a fraud, the authorities are intent on enforcing their writ and denying their adversaries a voice…’The reviews showed that the election was the healthiest since the revolution,’ Mr. Kadkhodaei said. ‘There were no major violations in the election.” (

The Wall Street Journal reported that “Lawmakers are seeking to crack down on foreign companies that provide spy technology to Iran with a bipartisan bill that would bar firms that provide sensitive technologies to Iran from doing business with the U.S. government. The legislation responds to a Wall Street Journal article this week that Iran had built an extensive monitoring system, including equipment provided by a joint venture of Finnish cellphone maker Nokia Corp. and German conglomerate Siemens AG. Both companies do extensive business with U.S. agencies. Siemens has nearly 2,000 contracts with the U.S. government valued at a total of more than $250 million for 2009, according to a federal government spending Web site. It holds more than 300 contracts with the Pentagon alone, and many more with the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Energy. Nokia Siemens Networks, the joint venture, holds at least six contracts with the U.S. government totaling $5 million and covering communications and radiation detection, the site shows.” (   -our comments- and we are helpless?-

AFP reported that “US Senators bluntly charged Thursday that Iran’s presidential vote was rigged and vowed to help the opposition defeat curbs on news and the social networking Internet sites it has used to organize…Graham, McCain, and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman said they aimed to boost US-backed radio news broadcasts into Iran and help skirt Iranian restrictions on cellular phones and Internet access…’During the Cold War, we provided the Polish people and dissidents with printing presses. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are the modern-day printing presses. They are the way to spread information and keep the hope of freedom alive amongst the Iranian people, said McCain. The bill, to be written over the congressional break for the July 4 US independence day celebration, would seek to give Iranians the tools ‘to evade the censorship and surveillance of the regime online,’ he said. And McCain vowed to investigate charges that non-Iranian firms helped Tehran monitor and block cellular and online traffic ‘and even track down sources of political content deemed off limits by the regime.'” (

The Wall Street Journal reported that “Iran opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi emerged Thursday from four days of silence, striking a defiant tone and making clear he is being pressured to cease contesting the results of the presidential election…In a statement published on the Web site of his newspaper, Mr. Mousavi said that he wouldn’t give in to ‘recent pressures’ that he said were aimed at isolating him and ‘making me change my position regarding the annulment of the election.’ Security forces in recent days have arrested key members of Mr. Mousavi’s campaign team as well as dozens of journalists working for his newspaper.” (

AFP reported that “Top Iranian dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri warned on Thursday that continued suppression of opposition protests could threaten the very basis of the Islamic republic. ‘If Iranians cannot talk about their legitimate rights at peaceful gatherings and are instead suppressed, frustrations will build up which could possibly uproot the foundations of the government, no matter how powerful, the cleric said in a statement faxed to AFP. It was the latest broadside fired off against the regime by Montazeri, who was once tipped to take over from the father of the revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini but fell out with the late leader before his death.” (

The Washington Post reported that “Across the Arab world, Iran’s massive opposition protests have triggered a wave of soul-searching and conflicting emotions. Many question why their own reform movements are unable to rally people to rise up against unpopular authoritarian regimes. In Egypt, the cradle of what was once the Arab world’s most ambitious push for democracy, Iran’s protests have served as a reminder of how much the notion has unraveled under President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for 30 years.” (

The Wall Street Journal reported that “Unrest in Iran has opened a theological rift within the Shiite sect of Islam, undermining the Iranian regime’s founding dogma that is shared by millions of fellow Shiites across the Middle East. The concept, known as wilayat al-faqihliterally ‘guardianship by a jurist’ — holds that, in an Islamic state, a divinely anointed scholar of Islamic law must exercise unquestioned authority over elected officials and the rest of the government…But, in recent weeks, this moral authority — and the wilayat al-faqih ideology that underpins it — has been shaken by Ayatollah Khamenei’s handling of Iran’s disputed June 12 presidential elections…This jolt from the turmoil in Iran is reverberating in Shiite communities throughout the Middle East, from the Levant to Iraq to Saudi Arabia and others. ‘For the Shiites in the Gulf, this situation is quite perplexing,’ says Sami al Faraj, head of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies. ‘The model of wilayat al-faqih has been fractured — and that’s happened because of events in Iran itself.'” (

AFP reported that “Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Thursday there is a ‘crisis of credibility’ between Iran’s government and its people, lamenting the ‘profound clampdown’ on protests over disputed elections. Miliband added that London — which ordered two Iranian diplomats out this week in tit-for-tat expulsions with Tehran — will press Iranian authorities over an Anglo-Greek journalist detained in the Islamic republic. ‘There certainly has been a profound clampdown in Iran… you’ve seen that with the clampdown on journalists as well as the attacks on foreigners,’ he told the BBC. ‘But I think the truth is that there is a crisis of credibility between the Iranian government and their own people.'” (

AFP reported that “Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in Italy were expected to condemn post-election violence in Iran while keeping the door open to dialogue with the Islamic republic. As the ministers opened the three days of talks Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against isolating Iran, saying it was the ‘wrong approach.'” (

AP reported that “American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi called Wednesday for the release of a former cellmate – a U.S. aid agency worker held in an Iranian prison – and expressed worry about those detained during opposition protests in Tehran. Saberi, jailed in Iran on spying charges and released last month, told The Associated Press she hopes to help other prisoners she says have been wrongly accused.” (

AP reported that “An Iranian doctor who claims he tried to save Neda Agha Soltan as the young Iranian protester bled to death on the streets of Tehran said Thursday that she apparently was shot by a member of Iran’s pro-government Basij militia…The protesters first thought the gunshot had come from a nearby rooftop, but later spotted an armed member of Iran’s Basij militia on a motorcycle, and stopped and disarmed him, the doctor said…’They are going to denounce what I am saying. They are going to put so many things on me. I have never been in politics. I am jeopardizing my situation because of the innocent look in her (Neda’s) eyes,’ he said. But, the doctor told the BBC, ‘It was a tough decision to make to come out and talk about it, but she died for a cause. She was fighting for basic rights … I don’t want her blood to have been shed in vain.'” (

The Los Angeles Times reported that “Security was tight around the bare grave of Neda Agha-Soltan on Thursday. Militiamen and police stood nearby, witnesses said, and it was difficult for visitors to hold a conversation within sight and hearing of the glaring officers. But the visitors come nonetheless to pay their respects to Agha-Soltan, who was fatally shot by an unknown assailant during the protests Saturday over Iran’s disputed presidential election. Her dying moments were captured in a video that made its way onto the Internet and the international airwaves.” (,0,600301.story)

Charles Krauthammer wrote in today’s Washington Post that “Iran today is a revolution in search of its Yeltsin. Without leadership, demonstrators will take to the street only so many times to face tear gas, batons and bullets. They need a leader like Boris Yeltsin: a former establishment figure with newly revolutionary credentials and legitimacy, who stands on a tank and gives the opposition direction by calling for the unthinkable — the abolition of the old political order…As Mousavi hovers between Gorbachev and Yeltsin, between reformer and revolutionary, between figurehead and leader, the revolution hangs in the balance. The regime may neutralize him by arrest or even murder. It may buy him off with offers of safety and a sinecure. He may well prefer to let this cup pass from his lips. But choose he must, and choose quickly. This is his moment, and it is fading rapidly. Unless Mousavi rises to it, or another rises in his place, Iran’s democratic uprising will end not as Russia 1991, but as China 1989.” (

Robert McFarlane wrote it today’s Wall Street Journal that “Dealing with Iran, the president needs to use all the tools of diplomacy at his disposal. First, the president needs to strengthen our position by adding partners. Mr. Obama should sit down with moderate Arab states. He should listen to their views and forge an agreed regional security strategy. Such a strategy should include a vigorous program of support for the Iranian opposition, based on a well-funded program of broadcasts and other communications into Iran. This would help the opposition become better organized and grow. Recent surveys reflect that Iran is the most ‘wired’ nation in the Middle East. Nearly 35% of its population is connected to the Internet. Further, Mr. Obama must raise awareness among our European and Asian allies of how serious a threat to regional peace Iran has become. He should then launch an effort at the United Nations Security Council to impose strong sanctions on anyone supplying gasoline to Iran. This will underline what should be our commitment to defang Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Barack Obama is seeking to craft a doctrine of effective realism, a doctrine that advances our own interests and those of democratic aspirants throughout the world. It will stand or fall on his actions toward Iran in the weeks and months ahead.” (

Minxin Pei and Ali Wyne wrote in today’s New York Times that “If, as Iran’s opposition has alleged, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rigged the country’s presidential election, he will join a long roster of autocrats who have tried to preserve their power through fraudulent means. But election-stealing is a risky gamble. Although the perpetrators have sometimes succeeded, typically by deploying brutal force, they have seldom evaded justice when their ploy failed…At the moment, at least part of Iran’s ruling elites appear to have lined up behind Ahmadinejad, thus increasing the odds of a violent crackdown on protesters. But if that falls short of completely crushing the opposition, Tiananmen-style, history suggests that Iran’s opposition forces may still be able to right a wrong. They have already demonstrated impressive skills in organizing large rallies and using new information technologies to mobilize Iran’s middle class. Such organizational capacity, plus political stamina, will serve the opposition well in exploiting the ensuing political stalemate and gradually eroding support for Ahmadinejad within the Iranian regime.” (


Obama: “Appalled and Outraged” By Violence In Iran — Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran Will Not Submit To “Bullying”

June 29, 2009

United Against Nuclear Iran

24 June 09

AP reported that “Dramatically hardening the U.S. reaction to Iran’s disputed elections and bloody aftermath, President Barack Obama condemned the violence against protesters Tuesday and lent his strongest support yet to their accusations the hardline victory was a fraud. Obama, who has been accused by some Republicans of being too timid in his response to events in Iran, declared himself ‘appalled and outraged’ by the deaths and intimidation in Tehran’s streets – and scoffed at suggestions he was toughening his rhetoric in response to the criticism. He suggested Iran’s leaders will face consequences if they continue ‘the threats, the beatings and imprisonments’ against protesters. But he repeatedly declined to say what actions the U.S. might take, retaining – for now – the option of pursuing diplomatic engagement with Iran’s leaders over its suspected nuclear weapons program.” (

The New York Times reported that “President Obama hardened his tone toward Iran on Tuesday, condemning the government for its crackdown against election protesters and accusing Iran’s leaders of fabricating charges against the United States…Yet beyond muscular words, Mr. Obama has limited tools for bringing pressure to bear on the Iranian government, which for years has been brushing off international calls for it to curb its nuclear program. After the news conference, administration officials said there was little they could do to influence the outcome of the confrontation between the government and the protesters. And more so now than even a few days ago, they said, the prospects for any dialogue with Iran over its nuclear program appear all but dead for the immediate future, though they held out hope that Iran, assuming it has a stable government, could respond to Mr. Obama’s overtures later in the year.” (

The Washington Post reported that “Iran’s supreme leader told a group of lawmakers Wednesday that ‘neither the system nor the people will submit to bullying’ over the results of the disputed presidential election, which he has given a powerful supervisory body an additional five days to review. ‘Everyone should respect the law. Once lawlessness becomes a norm, things will be complicated and interest of people will be undermined,’ said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate authority over political and religious life in Iran. ‘We will not step an inch beyond the law: our law, our country’s law, the Islamic Republic’s law.’ Hours later, witnesses said, security forces used clubs and tear gas to disperse demonstrators protesting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…The Iranian government had stepped up pressure on its opponents Tuesday, setting up a special court to try detained protesters, carrying out new arrests and launching a campaign to publicly vilify those calling for a new vote.” (

Reuters reported that “The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a $48.8 billion spending bill for U.S. foreign policy and aid efforts, and tried to apply more pressure on Iran after the violence that followed its disputed election results…Lawmakers adopted an amendment that would prohibit the U.S. Export-Import Bank from extending loans, credits or guarantees to companies that supply Iran with gasoline or help the country’s domestic production. ‘While students are murdered in the streets of Tehran, we should not use taxpayer money to bolster the Iranian economy,’ said Republican Representative Mark Kirk of Illinois.” (

AP reported that “President Barack Obama remains publicly hopeful that Iran will emerge from its political crisis more open to international concerns about its nuclear ambitions, but the administration is preparing on several fronts for a darker outcome…Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that any efforts by Iran to spread its growing nuclear technologies could be met by counterterrorism and interdiction operations…Gates laid out in stark terms what might be in store should Tehran’s cleric-led government refuse to budge in its pursuit of a nuclear program. In remarks Tuesday to the military chiefs of several Persian Gulf states, Gates raised the specter of Iran’s nuclear build-up, which officials fear is aimed at acquiring atomic weapons and could set off a regional arms race.” (

The Washington Post reported that “In the first days after Iran’s disputed election, journalists covered it openly. Then, as government militias cracked down, they were told to stay in their offices. Now, many are being arrested — so far, a Canadian Iranian reporter for Newsweek, a Greek reporter for the Washington Times and several dozen Iranian reporters, including a group arrested en masse at their office. It is unclear why the journalists were arrested or what, if anything, they will be charged with. The detentions could, some experts say, be a scare tactic. Or, as with so much of what is happening in Iran now, they could be the beginning of a new phase in which old rules don’t necessarily apply.” (

AP reported that “Mir Hossein Mousavi is still nominally the guiding force of the fury over Iran’s disputed election. But there are ample signs his rebel stature is being eroded by his hesitation to shift from campaigner to street agitator as his supporters challenge security forces. The questions over Mousavi’s standing are part of a larger debate over the direction of the unprecedented assault on Iran’s Islamic leadership…’It’s not really about Mousavi anymore,’ said Ali Nader, an Iran specialist at the RAND Corp. ‘The population has expressed its unhappiness with the system. You could argue that Iran has reached the point where the population has said: Enough is enough.'” (

AFP reported that “Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s campaign office said on Tuesday it would soon release a full report on “fraud and irregularities” in the June 12 presidential election. A Mousavi campaign committee ‘will soon release a full report of electoral fraud and irregularities to the people,’ a statement posted on Mousavi’s official website said. The statement came after the Guardians Council ruled out annulling the results of the election, which showed Mousavi losing heavily to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” (

The Financial Times reported that “With the regime leaving no doubt that it will stamp out all forms of dissent, the city has, on the surface at least, looked calmer since Sunday. But no one knows what will come next – more defiant, but smaller protests and sit-ins or other types of civil disobedience. Several residents contacted by the Financial Times described a mounting sense of fear, combined with a collective depression setting in on the capital…’We’re in a state of shock, uncertainty, extreme depression and extreme rage,’ says one young businessman. ‘You can’t kill a few people and expect things to go back to normal.'” (

Reuters reported that “European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana condemned on Tuesday violence that followed elections in Iran and said he was concerned about the situation. ‘We have seen violence that we have to condemn,’ he told a news conference after talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. ‘We expected that the election process would be something clearly positive for the international community. Unfortunately what we have seen today is something very different.'” (

AFP reported that “US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the situation in Iran in telephone conversations with her French, British and German counterparts, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said. The top US diplomat, who withdrew from the upcoming G8 summit in Trieste after breaking her arm, called British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier on Monday, Kelly told reporters at a press conference.” (

Reuters reported that “Britain said on Tuesday it was throwing out two Iranian diplomats in response to Tehran’s expulsion of two British diplomats as relations hit a new low following Iran’s disputed presidential election.”

Edward Luttwak wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal that “At this point, only the short-term future of Iran’s clerical regime remains in doubt. The current protests could be repressed, but the unelected institutions of priestly rule have been fatally undermined. Though each aspect of the Islamic Republic has its own dynamic, this is not a regime that can last many more years…What has undermined the very structure of the Islamic Republic is the fracturing of its ruling elite. It was the unity established by Ayatollah Khomeini that allowed the regime to dominate the Iranian people for almost 30 years. Now that unity has been shattered: The very people who created the institutions of priestly rule are destroying their authority.” (

David Ignatius wrote in today’s Washington Post that “On one side you have all the instruments of repression in Iran, gathering their forces for a crackdown. On the other you have unarmed protesters symbolized by the image of Neda Agha Soltan, a martyred woman dying helplessly on the street, whose last words reportedly were: ‘It burned me.’ Who’s going to win? In the short run, the victors may be the thugs who claim to rule in the name of GodBut over the coming months and years, my money is on the followers of the martyred Neda. They have exposed the weakness of the clerical regime in a way that Iran’s foreign adversaries — America, Israel, Saudi Arabia — never could.” (

Roger Cohen wrote in today’s New York Times that “Iran’s 1979 revolution took a full year to gestate. The uprising of 2009 has now ended its first phase. But the volatility ushered in by the June 12 ballot-box putsch of Iran’s New Right is certain to endure over the coming year. The Islamic Republic has been weakened…All the fudge that allowed a modern society to coexist with a theocracy inspired by an imam occulted in the 9th century has been swept away, leaving two Irans at war.” (

Saad Eddin Ibrahim wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal that “The hotly contested presidential election in Iran between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still unfolding, with uncertain results. But regardless of the outcome, the events in Iran are symptomatic of a larger change in the political landscape of the Middle East — the revival of a regional freedom movement, which stalled in 2006 after the election of Hamas in Palestine.” (

Robert Kaplan wrote in today’s Washington Post that “The Middle East has entered a period of deep flux, to be further amplified by elections in Iraq later this year and the seating of a pro-Western government in Lebanon. Because of its central geographic and demographic position astride the energy-rich Middle East — not to mention the attractive force of Persian culture seeping far into Central Asia — Iran, ironically, has a better chance to dominate the region under dynamic democratic rule than it has ever had under its benighted clerisy. And that could be very good for the United States.” (

The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran should concern every American and be unacceptable to the community of nations. Since 1979 the Iranian regime, most recently under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s leadership, has demonstrated increasingly threatening behavior and rhetoric toward the US and the West. Iran continues to defy the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations in their attempts to monitor its nuclear activities. A number of Arab states have warned that Iran’s development of nuclear weapons poses a threat to Middle East stability and could provoke a regional nuclear arms race.  In short, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is a danger to world peace.

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.


America The Shameful?

June 29, 2009

25 June 09

Leadership: The president’s tardiness in condemning Iran is obviously tied to his wish for an unlikely deal on Tehran’s nuclear program. But does he also believe America has too much to apologize for?

It may have been the most dangerous period in U.S. history. President Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy philosophy three-quarters of the way through the American Century was one of American Impotence.

Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, once infamously described it this way: “The world is changing under the influence of forces no government can control.”

Faced with the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Carter told reporters, “Certainly we have no desire or ability to intrude massive forces into Iran or any other country.”

He added that “this is something that we have no intention of ever doing in another country. We’ve tried this once in Vietnam. It didn’t work, as you well know.”

Repeatedly signaling that year that the U.S. had neither the ability nor the will to influence events abroad not only led to our ally the Shah being overthrown by an Islamofascist terror regime whose nuclear ambitions now make it the biggest threat on the face of the globe. It also led before year-end to the Soviets invading Afghanistan.

Carter’s response: an Olympic boycott, a grain embargo and the curtailment of Russian fishing privileges in U.S. waters.

Behind it all was a deep shame for the United States of America. What business did the country that invaded Vietnam, staged a 1953 coup in Iran (saving it from Communist dominance, it should be recalled) and incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki have trying to exert moral authority?

President Barack Obama seems driven by a similar philosophy. Three decades later, with Tehran slaughtering innocent protesters on the streets, his statement to reporters that “the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs” sounds an awful lot like Carter’s tepid response to the Islamist revolution.

Obama quickly added that “we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people.” But it insults their courage, as they brave bullets and batons in repeatedly defying the illegitimate “sovereignty of the Islamic Republic” by taking to the streets, for the U.S. not to make a bold effort on their behalf.

Contrast Ronald Reagan’s reaction to the Soviet-backed crackdown in Poland and the massive street protests that resulted in late 1981. Fox News’ Sean Hannity this week showed video from Reagan’s Christmastime statement that year.

“The courageous Polish people … have been betrayed by their own government,” Reagan said, adding that “brute force may intimidate, but it cannot form the basis of an enduring society, and the ailing Polish economy cannot be rebuilt with terror tactics.”

And he issued a warning: “Make no mistake, their crime will cost them dearly in their future dealings with America and free peoples everywhere. I do not make this statement lightly or without serious reflection.”

Reagan made it clear that the series of harsh economic sanctions he was authorizing were “not directed against the Polish people.” He announced that “on Christmas Eve a lighted candle will burn in the White House window as a small but certain beacon of our solidarity with the Polish people.”

And he urged all Americans “to do the same tomorrow night, on Christmas Eve, as a personal statement of your commitment to the steps we’re taking to support the brave people of Poland in their time of troubles.”

That is real presidential leadership that helped lead to the end of tyranny in long-suffering Poland.

Imagine Americans rallying in support of a Muslim people with some similar symbolic gesture at the behest of a president whose father was Muslim, and who bears a Muslim name. America’s moral leadership harnessed in such a way could move mountains in the Middle East.

But Barack Hussein Obama is apparently too busy apologizing for the U.S.A. to consider it.

-our comments-

No sports. No bread. No fishing


Israeli Radio Show Captivates Iranians

June 24, 2009

Wall Street Journal 23 June 09


JERUSALEM—In his Friday sermon, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reserved special wrath for “Zionist radio” that he said tried to drive a wedge between the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic. Such attention from Iran’s supreme leader was music to the ears of Menashe Amir, a bespectacled Iranian-born Israeli who has been broadcasting in Persian from Jerusalem for the past five decades.

“We’re listened to in Iran and considered very credible and effective,” Mr. Amir says with pride. “We’re close to the Iranian people, we know what they want, and we have our sources that give us detailed news about everything that’s going on in Iran.”

The spread of the Internet and satellite television in Iran over the past decade seemed to eclipse the prominence of Mr. Amir’s old-fashioned shortwave broadcasts on Kol Israel, Israel’s public radio. But now, as the Web in Iran is either blocked or dramatically slowed and satellite-TV channels are jammed by the government amid spreading unrest, Mr. Amir has suddenly become relevant again.

“Today we have many more listeners inside the country because Iranians are thirsty for any information” about the unrest, the 69-year-old Mr. Amir says. He estimates the Iranian audience for Kol Israel’s 85-minute daily show in Persian is between two million and six million people. Independent audience numbers, for obvious reasons, are impossible to come by.

Though semiretired, Mr. Amir has been hosting the show every day since Iran’s controversial June 12 elections, narrating news summaries and taking live telephone calls from listeners within Iran. The call-in part of the broadcast, normally a weekly feature, is now on air daily due to the current unrest. Because Iran bans phone and postal links with Israel, Iranian callers dial a special number in Germany; as a precaution, Mr. Amir asks them not to mention their names or hometowns.

On a recent day, as Mr. Amir sat in his tiny studio in Kol Israel’s Jerusalem offices, one caller from Iran, his voice trembling with emotion, recounted how “there’s blood on the streets and people are being killed like butterflies.” Another urged the world to help the protesters—reminding that Persian emperor Cyrus the Great protected and aided the Jews two and a half millennia ago, and asking the Jewish state to repay the favor by supporting Iranian demonstrators today.

Mr. Amir hasn’t made any calls to sources inside Iran for decades, he says, fearing his voice would be recognizable to anyone who may be monitoring his contacts’ phones. But he and other journalists at the service keep in touch via email and other means of electronic communications with local sources.

He boasts of being able to beat the competition on anything from the latest price of cheese in Tehran to confidential discussions within the Islamic Republic’s establishment.

Neatly dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and a tie despite Jerusalem’s sweltering heat, Mr. Amir embodies the golden age in Israel’s relationship with Iran, the Jewish state’s closest regional ally until the shah was overthrown in 1979’s Islamic revolution.

“I am 100% Iranian, and I wish the best to Iran. Israel and Iran are natural friends,” he says, his studio decorated with posters of Iranian movie stars, a printout of an Iranian flag and a family photograph of Prince Reza Pahlavi, the late shah’s exiled son and heir.

“There are still many who remember the period of fruitful cooperation between Israel and Iran, and they want it back,” Mr. Amir adds.

Still, Israeli analysts caution, Mr. Amir’s vision of renewed Israeli-Iranian friendship is unlikely to materialize in the foreseeable future, even if the protesters, led by former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, somehow gain the upper hand in Tehran.

“The entire population has been raised for the past 30 years with the cultic mantra of “death to Israel,” “ says Prof. Ze’ev Maghen, a Persian speaker who heads the Middle East Studies department at Israel’s Bar Ilan University. “It’s almost impossible to conceive of a positive outlook on peace between Israel and Iran.”

Born into a Jewish family in Tehran, Mr. Amir worked for Iran’s Kayhan newspaper—now the mouthpiece of the Islamic regime—before he moved to Israel in 1960. He is one of some 60,000 such immigrants—a community that still maintains close contact with the estimated 15,000 Jews who remain inside Iran.

The community plans a demonstration of support for Tehran protesters on Tel Aviv’s seafront promenade Tuesday. Iranian-born Israelis include Shaul Mofaz, until earlier this year Israel’s minister of defense, who is often heard in Mr. Amir’s broadcasts.

An institution in Israel, Mr. Amir, who also edits the Israeli foreign ministry’s Persian-language Web site, bristles at suggestions that he must be coordinating his programming with Israeli government officials because Kol Israel is a public broadcaster that targets a strategic foe.

“Nobody gives us advice—we’re the ones who give advice” to the government, he says indignantly. “We know the Iranian psychology, and can tell exactly what’s happened there and what the news means.”

Mr. Amir minces no word in expressing his outrage over a statement by Meir Dagan, the chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, who told a parliamentary committee last week that the extent of fraud in Iran’s contested presidential elections was no worse than what happens in liberal democracies.

“If that’s what Mossad really thinks, they don’t have any idea of what’s going on in Iran,” Mr. Amir said.

Kol Israel, of course, isn’t the only foreign radio station broadcasting in Persian. The British Broadcasting Corporation, the Voice of America and U.S.-funded Radio Farda also beam into the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khamenei, however, on Friday singled out Kol Israel, naming it first in his tirade against alleged foreign interference in Iranian affairs.

“The enemies are trying through their media, which is controlled by dirty Zionists. The Zionist, U.S. and U.K. radio are all trying to say that there was a competition between those who supported and those who didn’t support the state,” the ayatollah said, insisting that all presidential candidates fully accepted the Islamic Republic and its government system. “Accusing the government of corruption because of Zionist reports is not the right thing.”

Ayatollah Khamenei’s diatribes are likely to lure new listeners to Mr. Amir’s program, Israeli analysts say. “The enemy of my enemy may not be my friend,” explains Shmuel Bar, director of studies at the Institute for Policy and Strategy in Herzliya. “But, if the regime is so much against it, you have to listen to it.”


Kim Jong Un

June 18, 2009

Kim Jong Un, son of N. Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his apparent successor, visited Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao last week, asking for continued energy and food aid, according to Japanese newspaper report.  He reportedly urged N. Korea to halt additional nuclear tests.


A Win For Democracy

June 9, 2009

IBD  8 June 09

Mideast: Hezbollah learns that power doesn’t always come from the barrel of a gun, as the beleaguered Lebanese rise up and say that, for now, ballots still rule.

Our worst fears were not realized in Sunday’s parliamentary elections as the Lebanese people turned out in surprising numbers to say their capital is in Beirut and not Tehran. The Iranian-backed and financed Hezbollah (Party of God) was surprised and defeated by a turnout of 55%, the largest since the end of Lebanon’s 1975-91 civil war. Democracy lives to fight another day.

(our comments- God?= The Ancient Moon God of Arabia)

For a while, it seemed this election would go the way of Germany in 1933 and bring tyranny to power. Hezbollah would fulfill its dream of an Islamic Republic confronting Israel on the north, and Iran would have a satellite on the Mediterranean.

With the ruling March 14 coalition assured late Sunday night of 69 to 70 seats in the 128-seat parliament, word came from the opposition. “We’ve lost the election,” a senior opposition leader told Reuters. “We accept the result as the will of the people.”

“This is a big day in the history of democratic Lebanon,” said Saad Hariri, leader of the pro-Western coalition and son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “Congratulations to you, congratulations to freedom, congratulations to democracy.”

The March 14 coalition takes its name from the date of the Cedar Revolution that followed the murder of Hariri’s father in February 2005, linked by a U.N. investigation to Syria and its operatives. The revolution helped oust the Syrian army after decades of occupation and exploitation of Lebanon.

Opposing the March 14 coalition was a group led by Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement of former army chief Michel Aoun, who had switched his allegiance to Syria and Iran.

If Hezbollah had prevailed, it’s likely the government would have ceased Lebanon’s cooperation with the U.N. investigation.

Following the Syrian exodus, a series of pro-Western and/or anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians and journalists were assassinated. Among them was Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, son of former (and possible future) President Amin Gemayel, who himself was assassinated in November 2006.

Greeting well-wishers outside a polling station northeast of Beirut was Nadim Gemayel, a March 14 candidate and son of Bashir Gemayel, who was assassinated in September 1982, days before being sworn in as president of Lebanon.

After the Syrians left, Hezbollah took over, provoking a war against Israel and then using its carefully crafted image as defender of Lebanon to proceed to what can only be called a slow-motion coup. Hezbollah said that if victorious, it would have worked to build a “culture of resistance” to the West and define Lebanon’s enemies as Israel and the U.S.

On Sunday, the Lebanese showed they were fed up with being used as human shields in an international dispute not of their making. The people of the oldest democracy in the Middle East, a multicultural democracy, said they wanted their country back.


D-Day Photograph

June 8, 2009

Wading ashore June 6, 1944, on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine-gun fire were these American soldiers, shown just as they left the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat. The operation at Omaha Beach involved 50,000 men and was part of the largest single-day amphibious invasion in history. D-Day casualties at Omaha numbered around 5,000, most in the first few hours.


El Insulza Conspiracy

June 2, 2009

From IBD

2 June 09

Americas: The push by the Organization of American States to admit Cuba as a member at its general assembly in Honduras is a mockery of its democratic charter. How did it come to this? Start with its leadership.

It should come as no surprise that tyrants like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega are leading a new charge to admit Cuba as a full member at the OAS meeting in Tegucigalpa Tuesday. This is what comes of tolerating wolves in sheep’s clothing.

OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza has sat placidly as Chavez and Ortega have masticated democracy in their own countries. Insulza is violating his own imperative to kick these tyrants out, because one of the rules of OAS membership is that all members be democracies. They’ve violated the Inter-American Democratic Charter since it was enacted in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 11, 2001.

Now begins the descent: Cuba’s pawns in the OAS are using their presumed legitimacy as democracies to open the door to Cuba’s brutal dictatorship, rendering the idea of democracy meaningless.

If that happens, the OAS will become just another anti-American talk shop, with Cuba driving the agenda.

Creepily enough, it will be financed by America, which bankrolls most of the OAS. The Obama administration is aware of this and thinking about yanking OAS funds if Castro sails in as full member.

If that happens, it will mark the nadir of the Insulza record as secretary-general since 2005. It calls to mind that he was enthusiastically supported by Chavez. The U.S. strongly opposed Insulza, supporting even Mexico’s Luis Ernesto Derbez, whom our policymakers distrusted as two-faced, to keep Insulza out. It now raises questions of what they knew of him beforehand.

At the time of his election, Insulza declared: “The guarantee of respect for the fundamental rights of citizens, the rule of law, civil liberties, respect for minorities and for the institutions of the democratic system is crucial,” he said. “It is imperative that the commitments adopted under the Inter-American Democratic Charter be wholly adhered to.”

Today all those have been violated in spades in Venezuela and Nicaragua, yet Insulza hasn’t raised a peep.

“You took an oath as secretary-general of the OAS to protect and preserve the democracies of the Americas, to fight against tyranny and ensure human rights are protected. Nothing is more fundamental to human rights than the right to free expression, and yet this is what is being desecrated in the oldest democracy in Latin America, Venezuela,” wrote the Human Rights Foundation in 2007, pleading with Insulza to raise questions. He didn’t, and even dismissed the idea of expelling Venezuela when he was asked, leaving it with its democratic legitimacy intact.

With standards now that low, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua will have the green light to wreak havoc in their own democracies — shutting down opposition media, manipulating neighbors’ elections, threatening to invade their neighbors because they know that with the pliant Insulza at the helm, nobody will stop them.

(A little history: Cuba was thrown out of the OAS not because it was communist, but because its bearded guerrillas launched a Normandy-style invasion against Venezuela to topple its democratic government in 1962.)

With Venezuela now essentially a pawn of the Castro brothers, and Chavez pushing to move Cuba into the OAS as its 36th member, it looks like Castro’s invasion has finally succeeded, not only without a bang, but without even an Insulza whimper.


Target Alaska: Gov. Palin Pushes SDI

June 2, 2009

From IBD

2 June 09

Security: As Defense Secretary Gates tours our missile defense site at Fort Greely, Alaska, Gov. Sarah Palin calls for restoration of the missile defense cuts. Meanwhile, North Korea points another missile at the U.S.

Robert Gates’ visit to our missile defense facility at Fort Greely on Monday was a pointed reminder to the North Koreans that while we have been talking softly, we still have a few big sticks in the ground ready to turn the North Korean missile program into so much scrap metal.

That is somewhat reassuring as Pyongyang moves another ICBM to the launchpad, this time at a new facility on its west coast. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the missile had been sent by train to the newly completed missile facility of Dongchang-ni, about 40 miles from the Chinese border.

The weapon being prepared for launch is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of up to 4,000 miles, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unnamed South Korean official. That would put Alaska within striking range.

Gates spoke a little less softly in Singapore on Saturday, with encouraging words regarding any attempt by Pyongyang to export its technology of mass destruction.

“The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to state or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and its allies,” he said at the annual security conference. “And we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.”

We hope so, for Pyongyang has already been there, done that. In 2007, Israel took out a North Korean-built, Iranian-financed nuclear plant at Damascus’ al-Kibar complex in eastern Syria.

The Washington Post noted that the timing of the raid was related to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying North Korean materials labeled as cement but suspected of concealing nuclear equipment.

In 2002, the U.S. tracked the So Sang, a vessel of unknown registry. Spanish commandos, operating in conjunction with American authorities, intercepted and boarded the vessel. It was found to be carrying 15 Scud-B missiles hidden under sacks of concrete.

Gates believes the 30 interceptors developed, tested and deployed by his former boss, President George W. Bush, at Fort Greely and at Vandenberg AFB in California are adequate for the threat. While Gates’ words are tough and the visual aids stunning, Gov. Palin, who hosted Gates’ visit and whose state is on the wrong end of a Taepodong trajectory, thinks more is needed — such as the other 14 ground-based interceptors that were planned for but cut.

A statement from her office last Friday, after North Korea launched its sixth missile in less than a week, said: “Missile Defense Agency funding must be fully restored in the federal budget to guarantee our protective measures remain the best in the world.” We think so too.

“The United Nations sanctions have failed to stop North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons,” the statement quotes Palin as saying, “and the Obama administration cannot afford to be playing catch-up to an irrational dictator like Kim Jong Il.”

One response that might get North Korea’s attention would be to enforce the Proliferation Security Initiative created by President Bush in 2003 after the So Sang incident. The PSI allows its 95 signatory states to inspect ships and planes for illicit weapons and materials and to seize their cargos.

South Korea, at great risk of provoking Pyongyang, announced last week that it was joining the PSI.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who was instrumental in creating the PSI, says the Obama administration as of recently doesn’t think much of the option: “I don’t think they even knew what it was.”

As in the war on terror, most of our successes remain secret. But according to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the OSI was used in October 2003 to intercept nuclear-fuel centrifuge components being shipped to Libya on a German-owned vessel.

That’s how you stop proliferation.


IBD/TIPP Poll: Winning The War In Iraq

June 2, 2009

Iraq war poll

22 April 09

From IBD


Who Is Harold Koh? APRIL FOOL?

April 1, 2009


Who Is Harold Koh?

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Law: President Obama’s nominee for State Department legal adviser could be a future Supreme Court pick. He believes U.S. law should be based on foreign precedent, and even Shariah law could find a home here.

Read More: Judges & Courts

We have commented many times on the opinion of a number of U.S. Supreme Court justices that American jurists should include foreign law and precedent in their decisions. In several prominent cases, this has already happened.

In a speech in South Africa, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the March 2005 Roper v. Simmons decision, in which a 5-4 majority ruled against executing murderers who were 17 or younger, “perhaps the fullest expressions to date on the propriety and utility of looking to the ‘opinions of (human)kind.’ ”

Koh: Man of the world.

Koh: Man of the world.

More recently, Justice Stephen Breyer said: “We see all the time . . . how the world really . . . is growing together. The challenge (will be) whether our Constitution . . . fits into the governing documents of other nations.” Whether our Constitution fits?

Agreeing with Ginsburg and Breyer is one Harold Koh, a former dean of Yale Law School who’s been nominated by President Obama to be the State Department’s legal adviser. He’s an advocate of what he calls “transnational legal process” and argues that the distinction between U.S. and international law should vanish.

Koh believes laws of places like Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka should carry equal weight with the laws of Virginia and South Dakota, and that it’s “appropriate for the Supreme Court to construe our Constitution in the light of foreign and international law” in its decisions.

He also believes foreign law trumps U.S. law on issues such as the death penalty. Echoing Ginsburg, he has said: “The evidence strongly suggests that we do not currently pay decent respect to the opinions of humankind in our administration of the death penalty. For that reason (italics added), the death penalty should, in time, be declared in violation of the Eighth Amendment.”

In Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down that state’s anti-sodomy laws, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion cited a 1967 British parliamentary vote repealing laws against homosexual acts and a 1981 European Court of Human Rights decision that such laws were in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Agreeing with Kennedy, Koh himself filed an amicus brief in the case that argued that international and foreign court decisions compelled the Supreme Court to strike down the Texas law. Koh has also submitted an amicus brief to the Connecticut Supreme Court arguing that foreign precedents require recognition of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

He also values the opinions of the world’s imams. A New York lawyer, Steven Stein, says Koh in 2007 told the Yale Club of Greenwich that “in an appropriate case, he didn’t see any reason why Shariah law would not be applied to govern a case in the United States.”

Koh thinks America is the bad guy on the world stage. He blasted Operation Desert Storm as a violation of international law despite the U.N.’s blessing. He supported the Sandinista move to get the International Criminal Court to force Congress to cut off funding of the Contras in Nicaragua.

In 2004, after Operation Iraqi Freedom had begun, Koh lumped the U.S. in with North Korea as part of an “axis of disobedience” regarding international law.

Koh says the Supreme Court is now divided between “nationalist” judges who believe our Constitution is the only one that counts and “transnationalists” who believe “we the people” should be changed to “we are the world.”

The next appointment will tip the balance one way or the other, Koh says. He just might be Obama’s first pick to fill the next vacancy. Neil Lewis of the New York Times last year said Koh was widely regarded as a leading contender.

This is the man who’ll be giving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton legal advice. This is the man who could quite possibly be the next Supreme Court justice. This is Harold Koh.


Heritage Canukistan?

March 30, 2009

Heritage Canukistan?

by Farzana Hassan
for IPT News
March 23, 2009

Things are heating up in the sweepstakes for the most incompetent department of Canadian government to face Islamic radicalism. For a while, bets were on Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, which, for 11 years, had the president of the extremist-sympathizing Canadian Arab Federation – big on Hamas and Hizballah – on its board. His job there was to decide who was too dangerous to let into the country.

But now “Heritage Canada,” a Canadian government department whose bid for the title is made with the help of the Calgary-based independent Centre for Faith and the Media (CFM) has jumped in the fray.

Heritage Canada pushes a multiculturalism agenda, and the CFM seems to be a one-employee outfit with a volunteer Board of Directors of sympathetic religious people – with one exception. Positioning itself as a link and information clearinghouse between journalists and religious communities, CFM has been decisive in moving Heritage Canada into committing blunders.

The current fiasco started when Heritage Canada funded the Centre to start something called “The Muslim Project.” This initiative involves a series of cross-Canada “roundtables” prominently displaying CFM’s sole paid employee, Executive Director Richelle Wiseman, as moderator. The end-product? A “study” of media portrayals of Muslims and Islam in Canada, due out within the next year or so.

Heritage Canada bureaucrats would have known something could go wrong with a Muslim-oriented project dealing with this subject if they’d only looked at a journalist’s guide” to Islam on the sponsoring CFM’s website. The Islam “guide,” which was pulled from the site last month, recommended that Canadian reporters seek out the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as an authoritative source of information about Muslims and Islam. CAIR, of course, is the Washington, DC radical-Islamist organization that is funded by the Saudis and qualified by the US Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial. A parade of its senior officials and affiliated people has made its way into penitentiaries on criminal charges and an FBI agent testified that it was a front organization for Hamas.

The Islam guide was copyrighted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada (CAIR-CAN), the Canadian chapter of CAIR. It isn’t clear whether Canadian bureaucrats were confused by CAIR-CAN’s usual disinformation about “distancing” itself from CAIR – which then-CAIR-CAN Chair Sheema Khan acknowledged in a sworn December 2003 affidavit was her chapter’s mother organization. No one can figure out whether Heritage Canada and the Centre for Faith and the Media “interfaithers” knew that CAIR-CAN refuses to name and condemn the Hamas, Hizballah and other killers placed by Canada’s own government on a list of banned terror groups. Or that CAIR-CAN is a defendant in a 9/11 New York lawsuit. Or that CAIR – including CAIR-CAN – had been responsible for all-out attacks, through the use of “silencing” libel lawsuits, on the constitutional rights of virtually any Canadian and American media that dared to ask about the organizations’ links and agendas. This looks like a pretty weak “partner” for a Centre that aims to help the media.

Much worse was to follow, and it indeed appears that the CFM’s Muslim Project might be substantially in the hands of those who would be most reviled by moderate members of the very Canadian faith community in whose name the Centre hopes to work. A review of available roundtable announcements and other evidence, for example, makes the case. One gets the impression that an intimate and symbiotic relationship seems to have developed between the well-meaning, but apparently unaware CFM, and CAIR-CAN.

One example suffices. Among several public roundtables featuring CAIR-CAN operatives was a “media training” session in Montreal. The event consisted of the CFM Executive Director as moderator, and three panelists: CAIR-CAN Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee, Sameer Zuberi – somewhat misleadingly advertised in one source as a human rights advocate and student – and a cleric named Sikander Hashmi. Elsewhere, Zuberi was better known only weeks before as CAIR-CAN’s communications coordinator and “human rights” advocate. Meanwhile, Hashmi was described as a “freelance journalist and Imam”; his very few internet articles include one slavishly quoting from a CAIR-CAN communications officer … Sameer Zuberi. There couldn’t have been much for CFM moderator Wiseman to “moderate” as she sat in the middle of this hard-line trio.

Add to this the fact that the sole Muslim Director on the CFM Board was Nova Scotia-based Dr. Jamal Badawi – or had been until the entire list of CFM board members was yanked and “went to black” on about March 17, 2009, as rumours of strange links had the Centre in a swirl. There is also the disturbing fact that Badawi is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land trial, as is the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), on whose executive he sits. He has also been on the board of directors of CAIR-CAN.

This mess has several serious implications.

First, under cover of a multi-religious, if essentially Christian institute, CAIR-CAN is being permitted to project itself as “moderate.” Its representatives pontificate as “Muslim leaders” – to use CFM’s website terminology – at taxpayer-supported public roundtables that even include media representatives of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canadian Television Network. With roundtables targeting journalists and journalism schools, Heritage Canada, through the CFM, is inadvertently allowing the Canadian wing of a US unindicted co-conspirator to groom the present and future generation of journalists. In the process, they are squeezing off the stage those few moderate Canadian Muslims who have been determined enough to stand up to the CAIR-CANs and ISNAs of North America.

Second, the Wahabbi lobby, of which CAIR-CAN and ISNA are prominent members, has led in radical and unjustified efforts to portray Canadian Muslims as victims of mass-prejudice and bigotry. Ignoring the objections of the moderate Muslim Canadian Congress and solid law-enforcement statistics that refute such advocacy, these organizations push this destructive myth, regardless of the resulting risk to social cohesion, of alienating Muslim youth, of undermining security and quieting responsible debate about extremism. Needless to say, such claims are used to rationalize emotional and never-ending demands for state-sponsored privileges that are rightly withheld from other religious communities.

It is a good guess that CAIR-CAN’s endgame is a Centre for Faith and the Media “study” that certifies, once and for all, the truth of the contrived word “Islamophobia” and the victimhood of Canadian Muslims – particularly at the hands of media. This outcome would put further pressure on journalists to watch their step, especially in the context of Canada’s free speech-repressing “human-rights” commissions whose excesses have been revealed in the Maclean’s – Mark Steyn case. Maclean’s, Canada’s leading newsmagazine, found itself under siege for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s bestselling America Alone. The radical Canadian Islamic Congress laid formal complaints before human rights commissions in various Canadian jurisdictions, multiplying the costs to the magazine of defending – successfully, as it turned out – against this doubtful use of quasi-judicial administrative systems.

Consistent with attempts of the international Organization of Islamic Conference to impose, through the United Nations, worldwide Sharia blasphemy norms, an Islamist-influenced CFM report would set the stage for further attempts to bring Canadian reporters and others into line.

Thus might Heritage Canada’s government money and an unsuspecting media center be maneuvered to constrain media freedom and the free flow of ideas. It might even bring a reprise of the embarrassing – and one hopes, long dead – immediate post-9/11 experience of watching members of the tactless Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Security outreach unit, completely unschooled in issues of radical Islam, quoting in public briefings from CAIR-CAN’s own deceptive “victimhood” material.

There are also implications, here, for citizens’ ability to rely on well-meaning religious and quasi-religious institutions in interfaith matters. For the most part, the CFM board that has overseen these developments has consisted of a range of distinguished, highly-intelligent and honourable Canadians, from former Alberta legislator Jocelyn Burgener and respected Calgary Herald journalist Licia Corbella, to religion writer Joe Woodard and the Canadian Readers Digest’s Peter Stockland. But, in the end, the organization has been used as a welcome mat for radical Islamism.

Neither is Heritage Canada or the Centre for Faith and the Media alone. Canada’s Manning Centre, another respected institution, scurried along to join the post-9/11 penchant for interfaith outreach. Led by conservative political icon Preston Manning, but without apparent familiarity with difficult Islamist issues, the Manning Centre established an interfaith unit that stumbled. At last report, the Manning Centre had given a special place in its consultations to associates of the Islamic Society of North America, and the resulting embarrassment cannot be far behind.

Given current trends in the Canadian government and NGO sector, there will be a great deal of embarrassment to go around.

Farzana Hassan is a Toronto-based freelance writer and author ofProphecy and the Fundamentalist Quest.” She is the former president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, an organization representing progressive and secular Muslims. She can be reached at

Related Topics: Education, Outreach, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)


Roe v. Wade invoked as defense in lawsuit over Wayne County jail care

March 2, 2009

Roe v. Wade invoked as defense in lawsuit over Wayne County jail care

February 27, 2009
Associated Press

Chelsie Barker, now a 10-year-old girl, needs round-the-clock attention as a result of a lack of oxygen during birth in the Wayne County jail.

Jail officers are being sued in federal court, accused of violating the girl’s constitutional rights by not getting her mother, an inmate, to a hospital for the delivery.

Their unusual defense? Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision. Attorneys for the officers say they’re not liable because the child had no 14th Amendment right before she was born.

So far, it’s been a losing argument.

The jail officers “had sufficient warning that the child was on the way and did not get her the medical care she needed immediately prior to, during, and after the birth,” U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III said.

The injury, he wrote, was a “continuous one” and “there is no principled reason to distinguish those injuries sustained before the birth from those sustained after the birth.”

The U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment says government shall not deprive any person of life or liberty without due process.

Because the girl’s mother was in jail, county officers “had a duty to protect and care for Chelsie,” Murphy wrote Jan. 22, rejecting a request to dismiss the lawsuit.