Monday, December 20, 2010

Political Digest for December 20, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Must Watch: Immigration by the numbers
Pretty Scary.

Academia Is Revolting
Excerpt: Academia today is like the Inner Party in Orwell's 1984. In the book within that book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchal Collectivism, Orwell describes specifically who would be in the Inner Party: "teachers," "scientists," and "sociologists" among a few others -- enslaved minds captured in academia, which was already becoming a grim barracks for future overlords. The Inner Party, of course, was addicted to power, and that addiction trumped everything else, especially truth and morality. It was a church without a god, a priesthood lacking any faith, punctuated by a lust sated only by misery. College, in the early years, was intended to teach moral purpose. The idea that this institution would be a dreadfully expensive form of advanced vocational education would have stunned professors and students in the past. The notion that academia was needed to produce militant cadres in some ideological army would have horrified our ancestors. Colleges, more than anything else, were intended to allow people to become noble and pure in ways that everyday life could not. Now we have brats demanding that the taxes of cafeteria ladies and garbage collectors be used to provide them with their mystic, meaningless college degrees. Now we have legislative buffoonery like the "DREAM Act," which implies that an illegal immigrant who goes to college somehow "helps" society. Even conservatives seem entranced by college, and funds to help the children of slain soldiers go to college rank high among patriotic charities. Academia, facing the same sort of financial distress as the rest of us, is revolting. Indeed, it is very revolting.

Now Mexican Drugs Gang Torches Escobedo Family Business
Excerpts: Relatives of a mother who was shot dead after trying to bring her own daughter's killer to justice have now had their family business burned down. The fire which destroyed the lumber operation in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, was apparently set intentionally, according to the local fire department. It belonged to the family of Jose Monge, the husband of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, who waged a two-year battle to get justice for her 17-year-old daughter before she herself was gunned down.

'I played dead and listened to them killing my friend' - Briton's harrowing tale after she and American woman are attacked in Israel
'Suddenly I noticed them,' she went on. 'It all happened so fast. They came and attacked us.' One of the men pulled out a long knife, which looked like a bread knife with a serrated edge, she said. 'I was scared but my friend became hysterical. I told her in English to be quiet and not make noise,' she said. But the men then began to stab both women. 'I had a Star of David hanging on a chain around my neck. He took it off like a gentleman and then turned me around and stabbed in the place where the Star of David had been,' she said. It was clear that the two men had come to kill, she added, questioning why they would have been carrying such a knife otherwise. She recalled how she then lay still. 'I played dead,' she said. 'I saw (the knife) hadn't gone into my heart. My friend was dying, I heard her making gurgling sounds.'

Two Californias
Excerpt: Abandoned farms, Third World living conditions, pervasive public assistance -- welcome to the once-thriving Central Valley. The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption. During this unscientific experiment, three times a week I rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern Fresno County. I also drove my car over to the coast to work, on various routes through towns like San Joaquin, Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have been driving, shopping, and touring by intent the rather segregated and impoverished areas of Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier, and Selma. My own farmhouse is now in an area of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below federal testing norms in math and English. Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist. (Hanson is a conservative commentator, but usually low key and factual. I just wondered what someone living in CA would think of this article. --Del)

Excerpt: Harsh criticism of the Swedish government by the United Nations Commission for Refugees after they forcibly returned five Iraqi Christians seeking asylum in Sweden. The five were part of a group of at least 20 people from Iraq. Thousands of Christians have sought a safe haven outside the borders after the massacre of 31 October in the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation. According to unofficial sources the authorities justify the refusal by citing a situation of relative peace in the country. "We have heard many stories of people fleeing their homes after receiving direct threats. Many new arrivals explain that they left Iraq for fear of an attack, after what happened on October 31, "says Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN body in Geneva.

One fewer stop for Santa this year: He's banned from Head Start classes in St. Peter
Excerpt: Santa Claus, as portrayed by Dennis Jackson, won't be visiting students at the Head Start classes in St. Peter this year. Jackson has made appearances the past four years at the classes for students who need help preparing for school, but this year officials said, "No, no, no." The reason: The classes have many immigrant children who don't celebrate Christmas, says the Mankato Free Press. Santa's a little frosted, the paper says. It kind of burnt me up,” he said. The official explanation from Chris Marben, who coordinates regional Head Start programs through Mankato-based Minnesota Valley Action Council: “We have Somali families in the program. We’re respecting the wishes of families in the program.”

Religious ritual believed to be behind death of girl who was found with her heart cut out and other organs strewn round home
Excerpt: Neighbours of a mother arrested after her four-year-old daughter was killed as an apparent religious offering told how they heard screams from the family's flat. Nusayba Bharuchi's corpse was found stabbed to death in the kitchen with her heart and other organs cut out and strewn around her flat and lying next to her mother, Shayna. The 35-year-old woman was allegedly chanting verses of the Koran as her daughter's disembowelled corpse lay next to her in the home in Clapton, East London.

Joshua's Tomb vandalized with Arabic graffiti
Excerpt: Palestinians vandalized Joshua's Tomb in Samaria's Timnat Heres with Arabic graffiti overnight Thursday. Hundreds of Jewish worshippers, escorted by the IDF, arrived at the site and discovered graffiti on surrounding walls which supported martyrdom. "Only barbarians are capable of committing such harmful, menacing acts," head of the Samaria regional council Gershon Mesika said. "If Jews were to desecrate a Muslim holy tomb in the same manner, the whole world would rage and erupt." (Indeed. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: South Korea's military plans to conduct one-day, live-fire drills by Tuesday on the same front-line island the North shelled last month as the South conducted a similar exercise. The North warned the drills would cause it to strike back harder than it did last month, when four people were killed on Yeonpyeong Island. North Korea raised military readiness of its artillery unit along the west coast, Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unidentified South Korean government official. The official said some fighter jets that had been inside the air force hangar in the west coast also came out to the ground, Yonhap said. (...) Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the Russian government believes the Security Council must send "a restraining signal" to North Korea and South Korea and help launch diplomatic actions to resolve all disputes on the peninsula. China, the North's key ally, has said it is "unambiguously opposed" to any acts that could worsen already-high tensions. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, called for restraint from all parties concerned to avoid escalation, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency. (This could be much more serious than it sounds. Think about it: Russia and China are requesting an emergency meeting of the Security Council. (This is one of the two hotspots I expected to flash this past summer.) Ron P.)

Gates of Vienna: Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff's Speech in Paris
Excerpt: In a matter of hours, my personal life was turned upside down. Some of my friends distanced themselves from by asking me to stay away from gatherings where Muslims may have shown up. The media completely ignored me and found the story of a Kosovar family blackmailing the government into granting them humanitarian asylum, after the umpteenth denial of the same, more interesting and captivating. “We do not see the need to report the idiocies of this woman [again, no name],” one liberal left-wing newspaper answered a curious enquirer. What does it matter that the Kosovar family broke the law and that I merely quoted the Quran? You can’t say that! Interestingly enough, instead of silencing me, the magazine’s questionable actions have made me popular. All of a sudden, many people were outraged by what had happened to me and wanted to hear my side of the story. However, no one in Austria wanted to hear me; it was the Americans who were shocked, which was not surprising given the provisions of the 1st amendment of the US Constitution guaranteeing absolute freedom of speech, something we Europeans are in sore need of. I was invited to speak at the launch of the Freedom Defense Initiative, at the National Conference of ACT! for America, both in Washington DC. I spoke in Berlin at a rally for the Citizens’ Movement Pax Europa, as well as at the European Freedom Initiative rally in Amsterdam. The Danish Free Press Society in Copenhagen wanted to hear my take on freedom of speech. Just two weeks ago, I conveyed to my Israeli hosts the importance of Israel in the fight against Islamization. And today I am here in Paris to tell you about my trial. I was not silenced, nor will they ever succeed in silencing me!

Virginia County Trims Government, Cuts Taxes By Cracking Down On Illegal Immigration
Excerpt: While many localities in America are facing budget shortfalls and mounting debt, one county in Virginia has escaped massive deficits and instead measurably reduced the overall size of government. Prince William County (PWC) is the second largest county in Virginia and now the number-one job growth locality in the region – with one of the lowest tax burdens – a distinction the chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, Corey Stewart, contends is directly attributable to the disciplined implementation of conservative principles and a harsh crackdown on illegal immigration. In 2007 the county adopted a very strict illegal immigration policy, which, according to a study by the University of Virginia and the Police Executive Research Forum has likely resulted in a 46.7% drop in aggravated assaults and a 32% drop in violent crime. Stewart told The Daily Caller that one of the best cost cutters was the reduction in the number of illegal immigrants in the county. “It gave us the ability to cut costs because the cost driver for the county is the school and we had such an influx of limited-English speaking students between 2002-2007 and those limited-English students are extra costly to the school system. That was the prime cost driver, the influx of those students,” Stewart said, citing the importance of being able to reduce the number of expensive English as a Second Language classes, which had increased over 250% in the previous five years.

No hiding place from new U.S. Army rifles that use radio-controlled smart bullets
Excerpt: The U.S. army is to begin using a futuristic rifle that fires radio-controlled 'smart' bullets in Afghanistan for the first time, it has emerged. The XM25 rifle uses bullets that are programmed to explode when they have travelled a set distance, allowing enemies to be targeted no matter where they are hiding. The rifle also has a range of 2,300 feet making it possible to hit targets which are well out of the reach of conventional rifles. The XM25 is being developed specially for the U.S. army and will be deployed with troops from later this month, it was revealed today. (This appears to be quite a weapon, but the article is inaccurately written. This thing isn’t a rifle, it’s a grenade launcher. Rifles are routinely fired at targets in the 4,000+ foot range by snipers (ordinary mortals—you and me—are expected to hit targets at only 1500 to 2000 feet). Rifles don’t fire explosive bullets. 12,500 is about the number of men in ONE reinforced regiment, not “every soldier in the US infantry and Spec Ops forces,” but it would provide one or two gunners for each platoon involved in those activities (sort of a squad leader’s personal artillery). There is no mention of magazine capacity, but back in the 60s, we could do lots of damage with the M-79 Grenade Launcher and it was a single shot weapon. Ron P. Very few “journalists” know much about the military they write about and are too lazy to learn. ~Bob.)

The Wolves Who Cry Boy
Excerpt: The Reverends Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jim Wallis, and Jeremiah Wright, and Father Michael Pfleger, insist that racism is alive and well in America. And they are right. All they need do is look in their respective mirrors to see some of its most active proponents... And it raises the question: do the Reverends and all those who insist racism is rampant in American society -- NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center also come to mind -- in fact help foment bigoted or racist feelings and attitudes among some people, those in whom no ill feelings existed before? If they do, does that not serve the Reverends' true purposes and help explain their motives? I suggest that the true racists are those who constantly try to pit one race against another [see: Los Angeles City College] -- that those the reverends lead are victims not of white racism, but of a racist game being played by the reverends themselves and those like them. Their constant alarms of "racist" behavior raise fears in those who follow them, and in turn among whites. The simple fact is that victimization is big business. If it were not, the reverends would not enjoy the incomes they do or the political influence they wield. It is beyond irony that what the reverends actually achieve is the perpetuation of slavery: emotional, intellectual, economic, and, in a sense, physical. It is the slavery of ignorance. And it is exactly what the reverends intend. It gives them power. It gives them wealth. Not their followers -- them.

WikiLeaks Cables Vindicate Israel
Excerpt: Out of all the cables released, none reflect negatively upon Israel, perhaps with the single exception of one where a diplomat says Prime Minister Netanyahu is “charming” but doesn’t keep promises. The documents actually show an Israel that is determined to safely give the Palestinians statehood and that has absolutely no desire to rule over the Gaza Strip and West Bank. One file from June 2009 shows that Israel asked Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza after Operation Cast Lead would break Hamas’ grip on the territory. As Israel expected, neither one wanted to take on the task. Instead, the Arab world and even the Palestinians’ own representatives chose to sit on the sidelines and condemn Israel in the harshest of terms. (An unintended consequence that turns out to be good? Ron P.)

The Case Of The Curious Climate Covenant
Excerpt: Eyes roll, but tough questions aren't being asked about the origins of faith-based organizations' climate change concerns, so those ideas are allowed to spread, ultimately corrupting a perfectly unsuspecting Advent season. The question is this: what prompts this faith-based concern about an essentially political issue? The USA Today article says, "Many of the 10,000 congregations involved in Interfaith Power and Light have joined a Carbon Covenant[.]" Click on the link for "Carbon Covenant" at the article's page, and you are taken to the Interfaith Power and Light web page. Click on IP&L's Resources link and continue to their "Building" page, and the #2 link is for a PDF file of "Bottom Line Ministries that Matter: Congregational Stewardship with Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Technologies" by the National Council of Churches' Eco-Justice Program. A handy online version of that PDF file shows that it was prepared by Matthew Anderson-Stembridge and Phil D. Radford, with absolutely no reference of who these people are. Who is Phil Radford? He's the current Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, and as noted on Greenpeace's Experts page, he also worked at the enviro-activist group Ozone Action:

Venezuela grants Chavez power to rule by decree
Excerpt: Venezuela's national assembly on Friday granted President Hugo Chavez extraordinary legislative powers to govern the country by decree for the next 18 months. The heavily pro-government legislature approved the measure to applause from the lawmakers, just three weeks after the opposition won landmark gains to take 40 percent of seats -- 67 out of 165 -- in the new assembly that takes over in January. The new legislature will end the unhindered advantage the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela has enjoyed for five years in passing laws, after opposition parties boycotted the 2005 elections and were shut out of the process. But the new law Friday appears to preclude the legislature's clout, since Chavez could overrule it by simple decree. (...) According to the government's Gaceta Oficial publication, Chavez new legislative powers, beside emergency matters, will also extend to finance, housing and infrastructure, social affairs, international cooperation, and urban planning. In an address to the nation Thursday, Chavez said he had "nearly ready" some 20 laws he would announce once he was granted decree-ruling powers. (Doesn't the Anschluss come next? Will it be Ecuador or Columbia? Ron P.)

Pakistan Denies Revealing U.S. Spy’s Identity
Excerpt: An official of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s top spy organization, angrily denied on Saturday that it was responsible for revealing the name of the Central Intelligence Agency’s top clandestine officer in Pakistan. “We absolutely deny this accusation, which is totally unsubstantiated and based on nothing but conjecture,” a senior ISI official said in a background briefing at the headquarters of the spy organization in Islamabad.  The top C.I.A. officer in Pakistan was removed yesterday after American officials said the C.I.A. station chief had received a number of death threats since being publicly identified in a legal complaint sent to the Pakistani police this week by the family of victims of earlier drone campaigns. (Purposely written to be as ambiguous as possible and still make its point, this article clearly shows the tensions between US and Pakistani field intelligence organizations. Neither really trusts the other, and if a stick can be poked into the other guy's eye.... I also think I'd be very careful if I had any connection to the NYT for a while. They play roughly in that part of the world. Ron P.)

Failure Equals Success In The Looking-Glass World Of Cancun
Excerpt: We in the developed world no longer need to cut down trees and destroy wildlife habitats to cook our food. We no longer endure the energy poverty – and consequent lung and intestinal diseases, malnutrition, misery and premature death – that infect billions of poor people all over the world. There is a direct correlation between the quality of life that a country can provide to its residents and its per capita CO2 emissions. Trying to force an unneeded transition to renewable energy technologies that are not ready for prime time (and are not needed for “climate change prevention” reasons), in the name of ideologically driven goals, will lead only to unnecessary hardship for people in developed countries. It will perpetuate the economic and energy poverty, misery, disease and early death that still plague billions of people around the world who live on less than two dollars a day. The United States and Canada need to get back to what they have done best over the last 100 years: providing a model of what the free human spirit can accomplish, if given the opportunity. In other words, guide and help poor nations to build a prosperous society that can lift all boats and all people, by providing opportunities to everyone. If we happen to create a little CO2 along the way, then so be it.

Flaming twit: The bungling arsonist who was blown up when petrol bomb bounced back (and then ran straight into a lamp post)
Excerpt: A bungling petrol bomber who was caught by police after he ran into a lamp post was today jailed for eight years. Amir Ali and another unidentified man attempted to fire bomb the Imperial Arms pub in Crawley, West Sussex, while people were asleep in the property. Father-of-two Ali, 28, threw two bricks, breaking a window. The other man then threw the petrol bomb, which accidentally bounced back, hit Ali and then burst into flames. The flames died away almost immediately, but the panicked pair had already fled. Ali then sprinted straight into a lamp post, hitting his head and falling to the ground.

Cap-and-Trade Tosses an Anchor to Drowning California Economy
California often leads the nation, especially in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The act of leading is one thing, however. Leadership's outcome is another matter entirely. On Friday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the bureaucracy charged with implementing AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, adopted a cap-and-trade scheme to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions by about 15% by 2020. CARB's regulations go into effect in 2012. The unelected officials at CARB intend to reorder California's use of energy. In so doing they blandly declaim that their rules will create jobs while admitting to higher energy costs and a slowing economy. Somehow, this formula is transmogrified by CARB analysts into net job creation. Given the immutable laws of math, one is forced to calculate that CARB's actions will "create" low-paying jobs at the expense of good jobs. Beyond CARB's soothing words, what will Californians, one-eighth of America, likely experience on a practical level?

Paul Ryan Votes to Stop Destructive Policies

Lame-duck sessions supposed to be a thing of the past, historians say
Excerpt: Historians say lawmakers thought they were ending lame-duck Congresses forever.
"This amendment will free Congress of the dead hand of the so-called 'lame duck,' " said Rep. Wilburn Cartwright (D-Okla), as it was debated in 1932. But there was a problem. Their amendment didn't actually say it was ending lame-duck Congresses forever. Its text only moved Congress's end date from March back to early January (it also shifted the president's inauguration from March back to Jan. 20). At that time, historians say, it was inconceivable that legislators would journey back to Washington to meet for a few weeks after Thanksgiving. "The big mistake of the crafters of the 20th Amendment was that they didn't really anticipate airplane travel," said Bruce Ackerman, a Yale University law professor.

Liberals still seething after passage of tax-cut deal
The haven’t minded leaving the GOP out of things like ObamaCare for two years. ~Bob. Excerpt: Liberal Democrats were fuming following the House's late Thursday night passage of the sweeping tax-cut package negotiated between President Obama and congressional Republicans, with some still smarting both at the end product and at a process that they said had left House Democrats out of the loop. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chair of the House Rules Committee, said after the late-night vote that she was disappointed that the House "wasn't even a supporting player" in the negotiations on the deal. But she added that the relationship between House Democrats and the White House wasn't likely to be adversely affected. "They do what we do and we do what we do," Slaughter said. "And one thing I don't want to lose is the fact that what we are is separate but equal, and I insist on being treated that way."

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