Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Political Digest for October 19, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.


Pentagon braced for the release of 400,000 Iraq files on Wikileaks
Excerpt: A task force of 120 people has been assembled to assess the potential implications and damage of the disclosure of the documents, which promises to eclipse the recent release of more than 70,000 classified US military files on the Afghanistan war. Col. Dave Lapan, the Pentagon spokesman, said the timing of the leak remained unclear but the Defence Department was ready for a document dump as early as Monday or Tuesday. Some of the new data is said to be from a "tactical reports database" in Iraq that lists SIGACTS ("Significant activities") relating to major military operations, movement of personnel and alliances with key tribal figures and allies. The Afghanistan release in July prompted, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to warn that WikiLeaks might cause the deaths of American troops and Afghan civilians named as cooperating with Nato forces because the documents contained names. The documents detailed Nato concerns that the Pakistan intelligence services has backed the Taliban fight against US forces in Afghanistan, they also exposed an increasing number of Afghan civilians being killed by coalition troops. The leak also detailed how a secret "black" unit of special forces were allowed to hunt down and "capture or kill" Taliban leaders without trial. (Don’t we have a hit team that can take these guys out? Seriously. ~Bob.)

Presidential Medal of Freedom Petition
Chris Noel, having served her country with honor and distinction, is now a candidate for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In Hollywood, Chris starred opposite Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley. In Vietnam, she did several tours to entertain the troops, once with Bob Hope. Many Vietnam veterans think of her a fellow "combat" veteran and hero. Chris' helicopter was shot down in Vietnam while she was traveling to perform for our troops. She was considered so important for our troop morale that the Viet Cong placed a $10,000 bounty on her head! Today, Chris is still giving to veterans, by running a shelter for homeless vets in Florida. To add your name to the Presidential Medal of Freedom petition for Chris Noel:

Obama murdered Medicare
Just as I’m about to turn 65. Figures. ~Bob. Excerpt: The health care reform law enacted in spring will have a devastating impact on elderly and disabled Medicare enrollees if its provisions are not substantially changed. The law creates a new mechanism to reduce the rate of increase in Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals. As a result, Medicare payments will fall below Medicaid rates before the end of this decade, and they will fall increasingly behind the rates paid by all other payers in succeeding decades. To appreciate what that means, consider that Medicare currently pays about 20 percent below what private insurance pays. At those rates, hospitals lose money on Medicare patients. Under the spending cuts called for in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), payments will get worse in the future. According to estimates from the Office of the Medicare Actuary, Medicare will be paying just two-thirds of what private payers spend by the end of the decade and just one-half as much by midcentury. Moreover, as Medicare rates fall increasingly below Medicaid rates, the elderly and the disabled will be the last patients doctors will want to see - if they have time for them at all. Compounding these problems is the fact that the ACA will create a huge rationing problem systemwide. Although the law is expected to create as many as 34 million newly insured people, all funds to create new health care providers were zeroed out of the bill. Subsequently, the administration has promised new funds to increase supply, but they will be nowhere near the increase in demand. Additionally, Medicare spending cuts will create enormous financial stress for the nation's hospitals. According to the actuary's office, more than one in seven health care facilities will be unprofitable before the end of the decade. That number will climb to one in four by 2030 and to 40 percent by midcentury.

Pension Insanity in France
Excerpt: Many people in France are waking up to the reality that they cannot sustain the welfare state indefinitely. Apparently, it isn’t economically feasible to have citizens take five weeks of vacation, produce very little, and then be guaranteed pension benefits at age 60. It just doesn’t work. Consequently, Nicholas Sarkozy has attempted to solve this problem by raising the standard pension age from 60 to 62 and the age of a guaranteed “full” pension from 65 to 67. This “extreme” measure has led to French unions striking and shutting down the French economy. Yes, that’s correct. Asking people to work two more years in France in order to prevent the country from bankrupting itself is worthy of a strike. The unions claim Sarkozy is being unfair to people who enter the workforce later in life; those individuals would not be eligible for pensions until they were 67. Ironically, the unions never question how their own policies have prevented people from entering the workforce. For example, unions increase demands on employers and make it virtually impossible to fire anyone. This increases unemployment, especially for those below the age of 25. However, this would not be the first time that union policy had the result of harming workers. Overall, the problem with guaranteed pensions is that the public will never be satisfied with the reality that long-term income security can’t be created by legislation. Only increased productivity and wealth creation can accomplish that. Sadly, there are people in our government currently advocating that America move towards a French-style pension system (see PDF). While it may create a guaranteed political future for those who distribute these “guaranteed” benefits, it will only lead to economic disaster for the country.

How much is two more years of life worth?
Excerpt: But a number of makers of medical devices are worried that new taxes will starve them of funds for new research and even could put some of them out of business. For example, Richard Packer, chief executive officer of Zoll Medical Corp. - which makes cutting-edge AEDs - says a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices in the new health care law will increase his company's tax bill by $7.5 million. Like many companies on the forefront of medical innovation, Zoll Medical is not a corporate behemoth. It turned a profit of $9.5 million last year. In other words, this new tax could eliminate nearly 80 percent of its profits, leaving the company almost no money to invest in research and development.

Freer Is Better: Measuring economic liberty around the world.
Excerpt: The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom lowers the ranking of the United States to eighth out of 179 nations—behind Canada! A year ago, it ranked sixth, ahead of Canada. Don't say it's Barack Obama's fault. Half the data used in the index is from George W. Bush's final six months in office. This is a bipartisan problem. For the past 16 years, the index has ranked the world's countries on the basis of their economic freedom—or lack thereof. Ten criteria are used: freedoms related to business, trade, fiscal matters, monetary matters, investment, finance, labor, government spending, property rights, and freedom from corruption. The top 10 countries are: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, Denmark, and Chile. The bottom 10: Republic of Congo, Solomon Islands, Turkmenistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Venezuela, Burma, Eritrea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and North Korea. (Note that Bush’s last two years in office had Pelosi-Reid in control of the Congress. ~Bob.)

New Post poll finds negativity toward federal workers
Excerpt: More than half of Americans say they think that federal workers are overpaid for the work they do, and more than a third think they are less qualified than those working in the private sector, according to a Washington Post poll Half also say the men and women who keep the government running do not work as hard as employees at private companies. The critical views of federal workers - just one in seven of whom works in the D.C. area - echo the anti-Washington sentiment roiling the midterm elections, as some Americans lose confidence in their government to solve the country's problems. (Huh. Wonder why? ~Bob.)

Public Sector Workers 'lack skills for private sector'
And in the UK: As hundreds of thousands of public-sector employees face losing their jobs after the Comprehensive Spending Review, a leading recruitment company has warned that many such workers are ill-prepared for a move into business. Hays says more must be done to ensure that newly jobless public-sector workers have a clearer understanding of what skills and experience is needed to make the transition to the private sector.

Half of public sector workers are 'prepared to strike' over pay cuts
Coming soon to a collapsing country near you. ~Bob. Excerpt: Some 49pc of state workers surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development agreed with the statement "workers have to do what's necessary to protect their jobs and if that disrupts public services, that's the price of living in a democratic society", compared with just 27pc of those in the business world. Pay cuts were the main reason why staff would down tools, the survey found. Other austerity measures which would provoke a strike include a proposed reduction in pension benefits, pay freezes and job cuts. Public sector workers are facing a pay freeze and a worsening of their pension arrangements under the Coalition's spending cuts, to be unveiled this week.

Boy Hides from Social Workers in the Jungle
Excerpt: Of all the stories I have covered about zealous social workers seizing children from loving parents without cause, none is more bizarre than the one that looked as though it would be concluded in the High Court last Friday. After London social workers had spent thousands of pounds vainly trying to track down, in the Ugandan jungle, a four-year-old boy who had evaded their clutches, the council indicated that it wished to close the case. But in a last minute twist, the judge gave the social workers three more months to find the child – so the story hasn’t yet got a happy ending. The boy’s mother is a Ugandan Catholic who has lived in Britain for more than 20 years, has degrees in IT and finance from two London universities, and has held down good jobs. Six years ago, however, she was temporarily homeless with a young daughter. She appealed for help to the social workers of the borough where she then lived. She was told she could put her little girl in foster care, but could be given no help herself. When she refused to hand over her child, a care order was made on the grounds of the mother’s “neglect”. The mother was arrested at work, in front of her shocked colleagues, by six policemen, one armed with a pistol, and held in custody so her daughter could be seized. With court approval, the social workers then gave the girl to her father, despite the fact that he had a criminal record and was HIV positive

Dems have raised more than $1 million this cycle from foreign-affiliated PACs
People who live in glass houses…. ~Bob. Excerpt: Democratic leaders in the House and Senate criticizing GOP groups for allegedly funneling foreign money into campaign ads have seen their party raise more than $1 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies. House and Senate Democrats have received approximately $1.02 million this cycle from such PACs, according to an analysis compiled for The Hill by the Center for Responsive Politics. House and Senate GOP leaders have taken almost $510,000 from PACs on the same list.

Sudan Caucus cranks up pressure ahead of crucial vote
Shouldn’t be any trouble. The government of the Sudan are all members of the “Religion of Peace.” What could go wrong? ~Bob. Excerpt: Celebrity activists are making the rounds in Washington to cast light on a precarious upcoming election in Sudan, but a passionate contingent in Congress has been working behind the scenes to urge the administration to do all it can to help keep the peace. Wracked by more than two decades of bloody civil war between the Muslim north and Christian south, Sudan's 2005 peace agreement included a January 2011 referendum to give Southern Sudan the opportunity to split from the north. But numerous obstacles accompany the prospect of dividing the nation in two, including the allocation of resources from the oil-rich south. A widespread fear is that the referendum could send the country spiraling back into conflict that could impact the entire region. Actor George Clooney, who has embraced the role of activist by bringing attention to the humanitarian plight in Sudan since 2006, met with President Obama on Tuesday to share concerns about the latest challenge facing the war-torn nation. "At a time that is one of the most politicized times ever, this is something that everyone agrees on: if there's some way to get ahead of this and stop it before it happens, we better," Clooney said after his meeting with the president.

Angela Merkel declares death of German multiculturalism
One of the great ironies of history. Obama and the Democrats want the US to be more like Europe, just as Europe is realizing what a disaster that is, and is trying desperately to be less like the Europe of Obama’s dreams. ~Bob. Excerpt: Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared the death of multiculturalism in Germany, saying that it had "failed utterly”, in what has been interpreted as a startling shift from her previous views. The German leader said it had been an illusion to think that Germans and foreign workers could "live happily side by side". "We kidded ourselves for a while that they wouldn't stay, but that's not the reality," she said at a conference of the youth wing of her Christian Democratic Union party at the weekend, referring to the gastarbeiters, or guest workers, who arrived in Germany to fill a labour shortage during the economic boom of the 1960s. "Of course the tendency had been to say, 'let's adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side, and be happy to be living with each other'. But this concept has failed, and failed utterly," she said, without elaborating on the nature and causes of this failure. Merkel's verdict marks a shift in her previously liberal line on immigration which had always put her at odds with the more conservative wing of the party.

Valerie Jarrett is no Tony Perkins
If a Republican had said that a 13-year-old gay person had made a “lifestyle choice,” we would never hear the end of the media blasting that person for bigotry. No amount of clarification of explaining would have helped. But the media assumes that leftists can’t be bigoted, so she gets a pass, as did Obama when he denigrated the Special Olympics or Rahm when he used the politically-incorrect “retarded” as a pejorative. ~Bob. Excerpt: Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, has taken her lumps since my video interview with her was posted yesterday. We talked about infrastructure and her concern about the rash of nationally reported suicides of gay youth. Unfortunately, she trampled on that concern when she said that 13-year-old Justin Aarberg made a "lifestyle choice."

UK foreign secretary says his explanation of budget cuts has reassured US officials
Excerpt: Britain's foreign secretary said Sunday that he believes the United States has been reassured about his country's commitment to a strong military force even as it cuts spending. Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would remain a formidable player within the NATO alliance, maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent, strong intelligence agencies and highly deployable military forces. Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government will reveal its military spending plans on Tuesday. News reports over the weekend claimed that spending will fall by around 8 per cent. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern about the impact of British budget cuts on NATO capabilities.

Barack Obama and the Deathly Midterms
Excerpt: Film fans in the United States will have to wait until November 19 to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. But America’s liberal elites only have to wait another couple of weeks for November 2nd to roll by and see the latest frightening installment in the thrilling decline of the Obama presidency, and unlike the Warner Brothers production, this one will definitely be in 3D. This morning’s Sunday papers make grim reading for the White House, which is probably why the website of The New York Times doesn’t have a single “headline” story on the midterms on its front page at time of writing this post. “All the news fit to print” – except for the bad news for the Left that is.

The $6-an-Hour Health Minimum Wage
Excerpt: Most people intuitively know that the worst thing government can do in the middle of the deepest recession in 70 years is enact policies that increase the expected cost of labor. Yet that is exactly what happened last spring, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). How bad is it? Right now we’re estimating the cost of the minimum benefit package that everyone will be required to have at $4,750 for individuals and $12,250 for families — understanding that the proclivity in this Congress and in this Department of Health and Human Services is to add benefits, not reduce them, making the package even more expensive. That translates into a minimum health benefit of $2.28 an hour for full time workers (individual coverage) and $5.89 an hour (family coverage) for fulltime employees. Granted, the law does not specify how much of the premium must be paid by the employer versus the employee — other than a government requirement that the employee’s share cannot exceed 9.5% of family income for low- and moderate-income workers and an industry rule of thumb that employers must pick up at least 50% of the tab. But the economic effects are the same, regardless of who writes the checks. In four years’ time, the minimum cost of labor will be a $7.25 cash minimum wage and a $5.89 health minimum wage (family), for a total of $13.14 an hour or about $27,331 a year. (I think you can see already that no one is going to want to hire low-wage workers with families.) What difference does all this make? Economists have been studying the labor market for a long, long time and there are three principles that are well established in the literature:

College to introduce scheme that pays A-Level students £5,000 for FAILING their exams
Excerpt: A college has been accused of creating ‘a charter for dunces’ after it offered to pay £5,000 of taxpayers' money to every student who fails their A-Level exams. The principal says he is so confident in his staff and the commitment of his students that he is prepared to take the risk, claiming no-one would deliberately fluff their exams to receive the cash. The offer comes after average A-Level grades rose for the 27th consecutive year, suggesting the exams had got easier and easier for students.

Taxpayer Money Goes to Muslim Enclave Builder
Your tax dollars at work. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Department of Education has awarded $500,000 to Kenny Gamble, a Muslim convert accused of trying to build an African-American Islamic enclave in Pennsylvania, reports Islamist-Watch.org. Gamble, who now goes by the name of Luqman Abdul Haqq, is also connected to an organization that dresses up Muslim children in combat attire and gives them combat and firearms training. The grants are being awarded to individuals who “create plans to provide cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children,” says the Education Department’s press release. The grant is being given to Gamble’s organization, Universal Community Homes.

Democrats Struggle to Generate Hispanic Participation
Excerpt: The hot phrase for analysts of the 2010 midterm elections is "enthusiasm gap" - the level of eagerness to participate that one segment of voters has compared to another. Across the board this year, polls show that Republicans are more energized than Democrats are. But few groups are being watched as closely for signs of voting enthusiasm as Hispanic voters. Latinos are the nation's largest minority group, accounting for nearly 47 million people and 15 percent of the population. Of these, more than 19 million are eligible to vote, and this comprises more than 9 percent of the nation's eligible voters. Two-thirds of Latino voters reside in the big-population states of California, Texas, Florida and New York.

Thank You for Not Voting
Excerpt: For as long as I can remember, people have been cajoled, harangued and even bullied, into voting. They've been reminded incessantly that their ancestors fought and died so that they would have the right to choose their leaders. It's been pointed out to them that even today there are hundreds of millions of people to whom universal suffrage is nothing more than a fantasy. All of which is true, but so what? The beauty of our system isn't that we have the right to vote. After all, Russians got to vote for Joseph Stalin and Iraqis got to vote for Saddam Hussein. No, the nice thing is that people who are too dumb or lazy or uninformed to bother casting a ballot aren't compelled to vote. And no apologies are required. In fact, in my opinion, thanks are in order. Far too many people are voting, as it is. I liken our elections to major sporting events such as the World Series and the Super Bowl. It's a fact that millions of Americans who have no particular interest in baseball or football get caught up in the hype, and, come October and January, park their fannies in front of their TVs. There's nothing wrong with this, you understand. There's no reason on earth why people who can't fathom the infield fly rule or tell you how many points a safety is worth shouldn't get caught up in the fervor and maybe even risk five bucks in the office pool. But you sure wouldn't leave it up to them to select the All Star team or pick the league MVPs. So why on earth would you urge citizens who have done their level best to avoid thinking about the issues or the candidates to suddenly roll off the couch on election day and do their civic duty?

Christianity: First Line of Defense for the West
Excerpt: Liberals hate Christians because they are against abortion. But liberals don't hate Muslims or Orthodox Jews who are also against abortion. Liberals hate Christians because they want to pray — often silently — in the public square. But liberals will uphold the rights of school systems to take students into a mosque, have the women and girls separated from the men and boys, and have the latter invited and induced to pray, all on the taxpayers’ dime. Liberals treat Christian attitudes toward gays as indistinguishable from Muslim executions of gays.

Throughout the recession, one major city stood out as an oasis for jobs and growth: Washington, D.C
Excerpt: Supported by a gusher of federal borrowing and spending, the District of Columbia was the nation's only metropolitan area that never stopped growing. It stood as a beacon for the nation's millions of job hunters, from recent college graduates seeking careers in civil service to well-heeled lawyers cashing in on a bonanza of work stemming from health care and financial reform.

Big Government’s Government Union Firewall
Excerpt: Indications are that the Progressive Movement is headed for a crushing defeat two weeks from now. Political analysts Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook both peg the number of competitive House races at around 100. Separately, both analysts are also predicting Democrats will lose between 45 and 60 seats (39 are needed to switch control of the House). Striking back against the electorate’s small government fervor, AFL-CIO Political Director Karen Ackerman penned a strategy memo last week claiming “Union Voters are the firewall for candidates that support working families.” And sure enough Big Labor is pouring millions of dollars into this fall’s elections. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has spent $1.3 million on ads since September alone, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has spent another $5.2 million. Ackerman comforts Beltway liberals: “The AFL-CIO’s grassroots political program has an incredible reach, with union families talking to 17 million of their co-workers; comprised of union members, their families, retirees and members of Working America. Outside the political party committees themselves, we have the largest political mobilization operation in the country.” What Ackerman doesn’t mention is that the majority of these “union members” don’t get their paychecks from private employers; they are paid by you, the taxpayers. The AFL-CIO may have once represented the interests of steelworkers, auto workers and teamsters, but now the largest union in the AFL-CIO is AFSCME. In fact, 2009 was a historic year for Big Labor: for the first time in American history the majority of union members now work for the government, not the private sector. It was not supposed to be this way. Big Labor’s biggest champion, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote in 1937: “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. … The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.” Collective bargaining, the anti-trust exemption at the heart the labor movement’s power, was created to help workers seize their “fair share” of business profits. If a union ends up extracting a contract from a private firm that eats up too much profits, that firm will lose out to competitors. But while private firms face competition, governments don’t. So when a union extracts a generous contract from government, there is no check on that spending. Instead of being disciplined by more efficient competitors, the government just pays for higher spending with higher taxes.

Facebook in Privacy Breach
Excerpt: Many of the most popular applications, or "apps," on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people's names and, in some cases, their friends' names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook's strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook's rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users' activities secure. The problem has ties to the growing field of companies that build detailed databases on people in order to track them online—a practice the Journal has been examining in its What They Know series. It's unclear how long the breach was in place. On Sunday, a Facebook spokesman said it is taking steps to "dramatically limit" the exposure of users' personal information. "A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user's Internet browser or by an application," the spokesman said. Knowledge of an ID "does not permit access to anyone's private information on Facebook," he said, adding that the company would introduce new technology to contain the problem identified by the Journal. (...) The apps, ranked by research company Inside Network Inc. (based on monthly users), include Zynga Game Network Inc.'s FarmVille, with 59 million users, and Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille. Three of the top 10 apps, including FarmVille, also have been transmitting personal information about a user's friends to outside companies. (What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but whatever happens on line can go anywhere. And, like a Chicago voter, it never dies. These are some of the most popular applications on the web. Emphasis added. Ron P.)

Men PERMITTED to beat their wives and young children (as long as they don't leave any marks), rules UAE court
Why is this “astonishing”? It’s in the Qur’an, widely accepted when Shari’a law in enforced. Many areas don’t limit the “marks,” a modern innovation. ~Bob. Excerpt: Husbands are allowed to beat their wives and children - as long as they don’t leave any physical marks, an Islamic court in the United Arab Emirates has ruled. The astonishing legal ruling gives all husbands and fathers in the ultra-rich Gulf state the 'right to discipline' female family members if they have first attempted reconciliation. The judgement was made by one of the UAE’s most senior judges in the case of a man found guilty of slapping his wife and kicking his daughter.

Blame on Clerics for Prevalence of Honor Killing in Iraqi Kurdistan
Didn’t get the memo. Note that the moderate view is that only the court can kill a woman for adultery. ~Bob. Excerpt: Shawbo Abdul-Razaq, 20, was talking to an alleged boy by phone as her father came over in one of the poor Kurdish neighborhoods of Erbil. He shot her to death right there, according to a neighbor who witnessed the event. Shawbo was murdered in Qatewi, a rural neighborhood in the capital of the federal region of Kurdistan in the north of Iraq. The murderer has run away. Such a killing is often labeled as an extreme case of "honor killing". Honor killing is about killing a woman for having alleged pre-marriage sexual relations or extra-sexual relations with other men in addition to her husband. While widely perceived as a cultural phenomenon here in the Kurdish society, many people blame religious men for putting a blind eye on it or even justify it. Hassan Yusuf, a post-graduate student studying sociology at the University of Salahaddin, says that there is a lack of religious support to combat violence against women the region. "The Mullahs [clerics] have yet to be able to inform people not to kill women. Most people have used religion as a justification after they killed a woman," said Yusuf. But Mullah Ali Khate, who is a member of Kurdistan's Fatwa Committee- a body that issues religious verdicts-, says most religious preachers have made it clear that nobody has the right to randomly kill someone. He said they have informed the people that the court is the only institution to make such a decision. "If a married woman or man had adultery in the presence of four witnesses, their punishment would be death by Islam," said Khate. "But this has to be decided by the court."

UK: Muslim university students teaching death penalty for apostasy, stoning of adulterers
Excerpt: Wait a minute. I thought poverty was supposed to cause terrorism. So how is it that university students, who are well off enough to be there in the first place, are drawn to "Islamic extremism"? Could it be because there is so much in the texts of teachings of Islam that incites to violence and hatred? Naaaah -- to think that would be "Islamophobic"!.... The counter-extremism think tank said they had evidence of the president of City University's Islamic Society, (ISoc) openly preaching extremism during prayers held on the campus during the 2009/10 academic year. They said the president - Saleh Patel, was recorded saying: 'When they say to us 'the Islamic state teaches to cut the hand of the thief', yes it does! 'And it also teaches us to stone the adulterer. 'When they tell us that the Islamic state tells us and teaches us to kill the apostate, yes it does! 'Because this is what Allah and his messenger have taught us and this is the religion of Allah and it is Allah who legislates and only Allah has the right to legislate.' 'When a person leaves one prayer, one prayer intentionally, he should be imprisoned for three days and three nights and told to repent. 'And if he doesn't repent and offer his prayer then he should be killed. And the difference of opinion lies with regards to how he should be killed not as to what he is - a kafir or a Muslim'.

Canada: 13-year-old Muslim girl beaten to death amid ongoing dispute over prayers
Excerpt: "Her father called 911 on Wednesday, saying he had 'slapped' his daughter during an argument at their apartment." Maybe he forgot he was under Canadian law for a moment, as Islamic law is curiously less gung-ho about penalties for parents who kill their children, especially when one stops to think of what's higher on the list for Sharia's punishments. That includes apostasy from Islam, for which the penalty is death, according to Muhammad's own command. That is also of interest here in light of the victim's reported refusal to participate in prayers. But for children: "Retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right." However, "not subject to retaliation" is "a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring." ('Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2.)." Apologists will protest that 'Umdat al-Salik is but one book. However, it is one book that was certified as "reliable" as a manual for Shafi Islamic jurisprudence by Al-Azhar University, one of the highest institutions of learning in Sunni Islam. Why, pray tell, didn't Al-Azhar, where one would think "misunderstanding" Islam would be less of an issue, kick it to the curb as un-Islamic, and morally reprehensible in general? Meanwhile, how many others like Noutene Sidime live in terror in Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere, while the apologists spin and the politically correct maintain their polite silence? Lastly, note the headline. Note what's important here. "Family rallies around accused father," by Irwin Block for Postmedia News, October 13.

Shoplifter's hand to be amputated
Excerpt: An Iranian judge has ordered the amputation of the hand of a man who confessed to robbing a sweet shop. The chief judge of a Tehran court also sentenced the 21-year-old man, who was not identified, to a year in jail and ordered him to return the stolen items, according to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency. The ruling came days after Iranian authorities amputated the hand of another man convicted of theft in the north-eastern city of Mashhad.

The Three Chinas
Excerpt: The choices we make about energy, the environment and climate will be limited by The Three Chinas. The Real China 1. One of the Chinas is very real and familiar. It has a population of 1.4 billion. 2. China is developing quickly, trying to do in 50 years what America did in 100. As a result, they have doubled their energy use since 2000, becoming the largest energy user in the world. 3. China’s energy use may well double again by 2020. (...) The Second China This very real China will be replicated by the natural growth of the human population to 8.5 billion by 2035, and 9.1 billion at its peak later this century. That’s more than the entire population of China. As many of them will actually be born in China, and many more will form part of our third ‘imaginary’ China, it is appropriate to limit the Second China to the size of the real one. (...) The Third China While China is developing quickly, so is the rest of the developing world. As countries develop, the people living in them get richer. They buy cars, appliances, computers, and begin to use more energy. (One of the many reasons not to rush into "solving" carbon emissions. Ron P.)

California's Cap-and-Trade War: The battle to repeal a self-destructive climate change law
Excerpt: What happens when environmental fashion collides with a state's desperate need for jobs and economic growth? That question will be put to the test when Californians vote November 2 on a ballot measure that would suspend the Golden State's cap-and-trade law until its unemployment rate falls below 5.5%. Today the rate is 12.4%. Proposition 23 is the number one national target of the green movement this election year. With the failure of cap and tax in Congress, the greens are trying to hold onto this remnant of their anticarbon crusade. Both sides are spending heavily, and the polls show a close vote. California's climate change law (known as AB 32) mandates a 30% cut in carbon emissions from cars, trucks, utilities, agriculture and other businesses by 2020, with a web of new taxes and regulations that take effect in 2012. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sees AB 32 as his crowning achievement and is assailing supporters of Proposition 23 as "black oil hearts [who are] spending millions and millions of dollars" to promote their own "self-serving greed." In reality, dozens of industries support the initiative, and Arnold never mentions that much of the money to defeat Proposition 23 also comes from energy companies. Alternative energy investors realize that without new taxes on carbon energy and mandates for "renewables" like wind and solar, so-called clean energy sources can't compete.

The Ethanol Bailout: EPA does the industry another big favor.
Excerpt: Scenes from a bailout: Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to make the ethanol lobby's guaranteed "market" even larger. Shares in Archer Daniels Midland, the second largest U.S. ethanol maker, rose to a near 28-month high. Midwest Democrats in tight races got a political bump. Maybe for the first time in history, Exxon and the Natural Resources Defense Council shook out on the same side of an issue—in opposition. Such wonders were possible because the EPA lifted the cap on how much ethanol is allowed to be mixed into gasoline to meet the annual consumption mandates in the 2007 energy bill, which will rise to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Until last week, this per-gallon "blend wall" stood at 10%, because ethanol is highly corrosive and can damage engines and exhaust systems and impair other features. The practical problem with this industrial planning is that Americans don't use enough gas to meet the mandates. So the EPA decided that more ethanol should be mixed with less gas, lifting the cap to 15% for model years 2007 and later, or about one out of seven cars and light trucks currently on the road. The decision came in the nick of time for the ethanol industry, which is at market saturation and producing a glut that the government is not requiring anyone to buy. "We have lots of gallons of ethanol chasing too few gallons of gasoline," Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen told the New York Times in May. Mr. Dinneen was displeased by the EPA's ruling, even though it is an opening wedge for his larger demands. In a statement, he complained that "ethanol producers are hitting an artificial blend wall today." You've got to love that "artificial"—for a fuel that is more expensive than gas, gets worse mileage than gas, increases carbon emissions more than gas does, and that few consumers would willingly buy unless required by law.

‘Culture of Poverty’ Makes a Comeback
Excerpt: For more than 40 years, social scientists investigating the causes of poverty have tended to treat cultural explanations like Lord Voldemort: That Which Must Not Be Named. The reticence was a legacy of the ugly battles that erupted after Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant labor secretary in the Johnson administration, introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty” to the public in a startling 1965 report. Although Moynihan didn’t coin the phrase (that distinction belongs to the anthropologist Oscar Lewis), his description of the urban black family as caught in an inescapable “tangle of pathology” of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency was seen as attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies to black people, as if blaming them for their own misfortune. Moynihan’s analysis never lost its appeal to conservative thinkers, whose arguments ultimately succeeded when President Bill Clinton signed a bill in 1996 “ending welfare as we know it.” But in the overwhelmingly liberal ranks of academic sociology and anthropology the word “culture” became a live grenade, and the idea that attitudes and behavior patterns kept people poor was shunned. Now, after decades of silence, these scholars are speaking openly about you-know-what, conceding that culture and persistent poverty are enmeshed. “We’ve finally reached the stage where people aren’t afraid of being politically incorrect,” said Douglas S. Massey, a sociologist at Princeton who has argued that Moynihan was unfairly maligned. The old debate has shaped the new. Last month Princeton and the Brookings Institution released a collection of papers on unmarried parents, a subject, it noted, that became off-limits after the Moynihan report. At the recent annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, attendees discussed the resurgence of scholarship on culture. And in Washington last spring, social scientists participated in a Congressional briefing on culture and poverty linked to a special issue of The Annals, the journal of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. “Culture is back on the poverty research agenda,” the introduction declares, acknowledging that it should never have been removed. (academia claims to be the place of free intellectual inquiry. As long as you don’t inquire about anything that might be politically-incorrect. And the Democrat party no longer has any folks like Moynihan, Scoop Jackson or JFK. ~Bob. )

Update from the VFW, via circulated e-mail
In light of Senator Reid's misleading claim during the debate on Wednesday night that he had been endorsed by the VFW, the Chief wanted you to know this latest information: The Commander-in-Chief, Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief, and Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief had requested the VFW Political Action Committee (PAC) to rescind their endorsements as they were not the voices of the VFW membership and the ramifications from these endorsements by the PAC were having a detrimental effect on our organization. Unfortunately, the leaders of the PAC refused to honor the C-in-C request, and did not rescind the endorsements. Yesterday, Friday, October 15, the Commander-in-Chief revoked all of the appointments to the PAC. Effective immediately, the PAC is a memberless committee, whose fate will be decided at the National Convention in San Antonio, next August.

The Democrats' brutal weekend
Excerpt: More bad polls. More bad fundraising numbers. More dreary talk on the Sunday shows. It added up to a brutal weekend for Democrats, as the consensus among election analysts, already bearish on the party’s prospects, took a turn for the worse over the past 48 hours. In the eyes of the experts, the House Democratic majority most likely won’t survive Nov. 2, with political handicappers expanding their predictions to envision the possibility of a Democratic wipeout. Analyst Stu Rothenberg pegs the number of competitive seats at 100. Charlie Cook says it's 97. Virtually all of those seats are held by Democrats. Rothenberg is predicting a likely Republican gain of 40 to 50 seats, with 60 seats possible. Republicans need a net pickup of 39 seats to take the House. One House Democrat, reflecting widespread conversations with his colleagues, guessed Sunday that his party will lose 50 seats. Many, he said, are calling with urgent pleas for more contributions. The Senate may stay in Democratic hands — but only by the narrowest of margins, so slim that it will make a handful of moderates from both parties the only people who will decide whether anything gets done. Key races in blue states slipped further from the Republicans’ grasp, and Senate Republicans’ campaign chief, John Cornyn, declined to predict on "Fox News Sunday" that his party will win the upper chamber. That’s what passed for good news for Democrats, on a weekend when the money followed the GOP momentum at full gallop. In the House, at least 40 House Democrats were outraised by GOP opponents. In the Senate, the Republican candidate had the third-quarter fundraising edge in all but three of the top 20 races, according to a POLITICO review of campaign finance data.

Report: Hinchey Assaults Reporter
Excerpt: Congressman Maurice Hinchey is clearly stressed by polls showing his re-election campaign in serious trouble. How else to interpret his unhinged reaction when a reporter asked him about earmarks he secured which seem to have enriched him personally, Hinchey reportedly came unglued: After the shooters turned off their cameras and started to break down, Hinchey made a beeline for Kemble and got in his face, according to a YNN videographer who was on the scene. The congressman poked Kemble in the chest aggressively, according to the YNN staffer. I spoke with Kemble briefly this afternoon, and he told me Hinchey “put his hand on my throat” and then “realized what he had done and walked away.” The YNN shooter told me he did not witness this part of the altercation.

Florida Heading in the Right Direction
Excerpt: There were at least half a dozen races in the Sunshine State that could’ve gone either way at the beginning of this cycle. With two weeks to go, all but one of them has flipped to a Republican advantage. The one hold out – the 2nd District congressional race – could soon go the way of the GOP, if Republican Steve Southerland’s internal polling is to be believed. His challenge to Rep. Allen Boyd started off slowly, but he eventually built a following that his campaign says has produced a significant advantage.

Why Liberals Don't Get the Tea Party Movement
Excerpt: To be sure, the tea party sports its share of clowns, kooks and creeps. And some of its favored candidates and loudest voices have made embarrassing statements and embraced reckless policies. This, however, does not distinguish the tea party movement from the competition. Born in response to President Obama's self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the tea party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear. Activists and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, and block the expansion of the state into citizens' lives. In other words, the tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition.

Sixth time lucky?
Excerpt: Being the second-in-command of a militant organisation may be the most hazardous job in the world. While the leaders of al Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are notoriously difficult to capture or kill, their deputies seemed to be killed at a rapid rate. And, in some instances, they can be killed more than once. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Qari Hussain Ahmed Mehsud, according to numerous press reports, is the latest militant to be allegedly killed by US drone strikes. The US is unwilling to give a definitive statement and the TTP is claiming he is still alive and well. At least three different dates on which he was supposedly killed have surfaced and this is at least the sixth report of his death in the last three years. In 2008, Qari Hussain even held a press conference where he mocked those who had proclaimed him dead. In the event that Qari Hussain has been killed, it would still be dangerous to assume that the TTP’s ability to launch attacks has been diminished. The organisation is a decentralised group, whose autonomous units are more than capable of continuing their reign of terror. In fact, in the aftermath of former TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud’s death, there was actually an increase in suicide bombings and militant attacks. And as the recent Abdullah Shah Ghazi attack in Karachi – which took place after Qari Hussain was supposedly killed – shows that the TTP’s capacity to launch attacks remains undiminished. All the same, Qari Hussain’s alleged death can only be described as a case of justice served. As the chief trainer of suicide bombers, much of the blame for the terrorism that has devastated Pakistan can be laid at his feet. His training camps were nicknamed “suicide nurseries” because he trained young children to blow themselves up. That someone equally cruel may take over, however, dampens whatever joy we may feel at his passing.

Kinsey paid my father to rape me
Scary, but hard to verify. ~Bob. Excerpt: A victim of sexologist Alfred Kinsey's "research" during the 1940s is coming forward with the stunning claim that her father was paid by Kinsey, universally regarded as the "father of the sexual revolution," to rape her and then report to him on the attacks. Nearly 70 years after being molested repeatedly by her own father, "Esther White" (a pseudonym) is speaking out in hope of prompting Congress to investigate the controversial research. White said she would be willing to testify in person on Capitol Hill if an investigation results in opening the Kinsey Institute files to public scrutiny. "He was giving me orgasms and timing it with a stopwatch," White told WND. "I didn't like it, I went into convulsions, but he didn't care. He said all little girls do this with their daddies, they just don't talk about it." White was 7 when her father began abusing her. "There's no question that Kinsey broke a number of laws and conspired to break a number of laws to conduct his faux research," said Matt Barber, a law professor and associate dean at the Liberty University School of Law. Kinsey's 1948 and 1953 books on human sexual behavior contain tables of information about sexual responses in children as young as 2 months old. Several tables record how long the children needed to be stimulated to achieve "orgasm," and others record how many orgasms the children achieved in given periods of time.

Lisa Murkowksi funded by 'rent-an-Eskimo' racket
Excerpt: Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in candidacy is being funded by $100,000 contributions from a handful of Alaska corporations that have been handsomely subsidized by the federal government. These six-figure donors have pulled in billions of taxpayer dollars thanks to special legislative favors from Murkowski and her mentors -- the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R), and Lisa's father, former senator and governor, Frank Murkowski (R). "Alaskans Standing Together," a special campaign committee, was formed late last month to attack Republican nominee Joe Miller and support Murkowski through ads. In late September AST took in $800,000 from nine Alaska Native Corporations -- unique, privileged, and politically connected for-profit entities created in the 1970s by legislation written by Stevens. While the companies are technically owned by the natives, the taxpayer-funded spoils from these contracts accrue to the well-connected nonnative lobbyists, subcontractors, and executives in the "Alaska mafia" made up of aides, friends and donors of Stevens, the Murkowskis, and Rep. Don Young (R). Meanwhile the 130,000 Alaska Natives, who are shareholders in the ANCs, have received $720 million over the last nine years, which comes to $615 per native annually. In effect, the natives are unwitting frontmen for this racket.

Obama: Dems are in trouble because Americans aren't thinking clearly
See, the voters are bitter and clinging to God and guns. ~Bob. Excerpt: Seeking to explain his party's troubles, the president focused not on controversial legislation like national health care and the stimulus but on evolutionary psychology. "Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument do not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared," Obama told the assembled Democrats, who paid $15,200 a person to attend. "And the country is scared."

Ouch: Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., has just one donor from his district
Excerpt: Remember those signs that 18-term incumbent Jim Oberstar of Minnesota might be in trouble? First an internal GOP poll showed Republican Chip Cravaack, a former Navy and Northwest Airlines pilot, trailing Oberstar by just three points–42% to 45%. Then came a couple of surprising anecdotes: the AP reported a local union nearly endorsed Cravaack, and there was such interest in the campaign that the debate–scheduled at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday–had to be moved to a larger venue. Well, no surprise here, but it looks like we have confirmation that the interest isn’t being generated by Oberstar supporters. Politico reports that the Obamacare and cap-and-trade supporting Oberstar had just one donor from his home district this past quarter: With a potentially competitive race developing back home in Minnesota’s 8th District, Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar collected a contribution from just one resident of the district between June 22 and Sept. 30, according to a federal election report filed Wednesday. Jane Robbins of Pine City gave Oberstar $500 on Aug. 22. Other than that, all of his contributions came from political action committees, Native American tribes or individual donors in other districts and states.

Five myths about Sarah Palin
Excerpt: Think you know Sarah Palin? The former Alaska governor has been in the spotlight ever since John McCain named her as his running mate on Aug. 29, 2008. Yet, while practically everybody has an opinion about Palin, not all of those opinions are grounded in reality. Many of them are based more on a "Saturday Night Live" caricature than on the living, breathing, 46-year-old mother of five. The real Sarah Palin is a complex woman who has risen in no time from obscurity to the stratosphere of American politics, fusing celebrity and populism in novel ways. Now that she's laying the foundation for a possible presidential run in 2012, it's worth taking a moment to separate the facts about Palin from the fables.

How to Really Reform the UN
Excerpt: The U.N. was originally supposed to be a world body, a forum for the prevention of war and the maintenance of a just and durable peace. That was FDR's great vision. But it never achieved that lofty goal. It never has come close. The U.N. has managed to overlook the captivity of hundreds of millions of people in the Soviet bloc for nearly half a century. The U.N. never heard of the Gulag Archipelago. The U.N. turned a blind eye on Mao Zedong's half century of murderous rule in China. Tens of millions of forced abortions take place in China today -- with the active assistance of the U.N. Fund for Population Activity (UNFPA). Cuba -- a member of the U.N.'s notorious Human Rights Council -- is under the grip of a senescent Communist dictatorship. Orlando Zapata -- the true Cuban champion of human rights -- died in a Castro prison recently, following a hunger strike in which he demanded nothing more than what the U.N. proclaimed in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than sixty years ago. Still, the United States pays more than 22 percent ($1,800,000,000) of the U.N.'s annual budget. That's because FDR considered the United States exceptional, the leader of the free world.

When North Korea falls . . .
Excerpt: The most important lesson to have come out of the financial crisis is to worry about "black swans." These are, in Nassim Nicholas Taleb's formulation, events that are unlikely but with the potential to cause major disruption. In geopolitics there is one such event that should have us all thinking hard -- the collapse of North Korea. Most of Washington's attention has been devoted to the Pyongyang regime's small nuclear arsenal. But perhaps a more likely scenario, and possibly one that would be even more disruptive, is a meltdown of the regime. As Christopher Hill, the veteran diplomat who led the U.S. team that negotiated with the North Koreans, pointed out to me in Seoul last week, the situation in North Korea sounds like a story out of medieval Europe. An aging king, who rules in strange ways but with total power, finally names an heir -- his youngest son. The 27-year-old has little experience with arms or government, so his father appoints a regent. The regent is his brother-in-law and, further consolidating the family's tight grip, the king gives his sister a high military rank. That's North Korea today. Kim Jong Il, the country's "Dear Leader," has finally appointed a successor, his son, Kim Jong Eun, and given new powers to his sister and brother-in-law. The Shakespearean drama would be entertaining if it did not portend trouble. "This looks like a succession designed to stabilize a situation that is not stable," says Hill. North Korea is showing many signs of instability. It has had a bad year economically with a disastrous revaluation of its currency. Food shortages and famine are still part of the landscape. Internal political tensions, perhaps relating to the succession, produced external belligerence, most dramatically with the sinking of the South Korean navy ship, the Cheonan, last March. Perhaps most telling, North Koreans are beginning to learn more and more about the outside world. There are now about 200,000 mobile phone subscribers in the country, and DVDs are selling widely on the black market. If North Koreans truly get a picture of life in the south -- modern, prosperous, democratic -- it will surely produce social discontent and perhaps more. North Korea's per capita gross domestic product is $1,900; South Korea's is $28,100. At some point, North Koreans are going to start moving south, to jobs, money, opportunity and freedom.

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