Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Political Digest for January 5, 2011

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. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

Veteran’s Golf Course

Important: Mascot Politics by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: While waiting in line at two supermarkets, Victor Davis Hanson realized in both places that he was the only one in line who was not paying with the plastic cards issued by welfare authorities to replace the old food stamps. He noted that these people living on the taxpayers were driving late-model cars and had iPhones, BlackBerries and other parts of what he calls "the technological veneer of the middle class." Sadly-- and, in the long run, tragically-- this is not unique to California, or to illegal immigrants from Mexico, or even to the United States. It is a pattern to which the Western world has been slowly but steadily succumbing. In France, for example, there are enclaves of Third World Muslims, living by their own rules and festering with resentments of the society that is content to let them vegetate on handouts from the welfare state. The black ghettos of America, and especially their housing projects, are other enclaves of people largely abandoned to their own lawless and violent lives, their children warehoused in schools where they are allowed to run wild, with education being more or less optional. What is going on? These and other groups, here and abroad, are treated as mascots of the self-congratulatory elites.

Questions for Allen West
Excerpt: When the 112th U.S. Congress is officially sworn in on Jan. 5, two black Republicans will be among the new majority in the House of Representatives. Do you think the G.O.P. has made progress in attracting African-Americans to the party?
One thing that you guys aren’t talking about is the fact that there were 42 African-Americans that ran on the Republican ticket in this election cycle; 14 made it to the general election, and 2 of us were elected to the House.

WikiLeaks Cable: Iranian Missiles Can Strike Israel in 12 Minutes
Excerpt: Israel would have only 10 to 12 minutes to prepare for an Iranian missile attack, according to a new cable written by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and released by WikiLeaks. The cable was published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten and quotes Israel's outgoing chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, speaking to a U.S. congressional delegation in November 2009. Ashkenazi said Iran has an estimated 300 long-range Shihab missiles that can hit most parts of Israel. Israeli officials are also concerned that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon to use against their country. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. (10 to 12 minutes doesn’t leave a lot of time to “ponder what to do” in response to an attack. It means a permanent hair-trigger situation that can—and may—lead to mistakes and unintended consequences.  The best solution is to never let the situation develop; that is, prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weaponry. Also, I find it curious the AOL author finds it necessary to repeat, parrot-like, that Iran’s nuclear program is “peaceful,” and also to mention twice that “many of the casualties” she supposes were caused by Israel in the recent conflicts are “civilians.” She neglects to point out Israel's incursions were in response to military attacks carried out by—of course—non-uniformed fighters. One of the purposes of uniforms is to protect real civilians by differentiating them from armed forces. Covertly armed troops out of uniform are NOT civilians. Ron P. And may be shot out of hand, according to the Laws of war. ~Bob.)

Horne: Tucson School District runs afoul of new ethnic studies law
Excerpt: State schools Superintendent Tom Horne says the Tucson Unified School District is violating a new state law intended to quash its ethnic-studies program, a breach he believes can only be remedied by doing away with Mexican-American studies.
 Horne's conclusions on ethnic studies Horne has scheduled a news conference today, hours before he officially leaves office to become the new state attorney general, to announce his findings. He said his findings show the program he has long sought to eliminate runs afoul of the law's requirement that classes cannot be "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group." "It is inherently designed for students of a particular ethnicity, and it's got to stop," Horne said Friday. The very existence of the Mexican-American studies program violates the law, he said, and the only way the district can comply is to scrap it.

Allen West: We Can’t Have a National Security Strategy That Doesn’t Recognize Sharia as a Threat
Excerpt: So there are many different ways we need to understand this 21st century battlefield, how we can leverage all elements of our nation’s power against — and like I said we need to get away from this nation building focus. I think that is economically hurting us.

NPR Audio: 2010 was the year of racist, aging, white people (our taxpayer dollars hard at work)
Excerpt: If Obama were white, the same resistance would have materialized. As many tea partiers would attest, myself included, their discontent began before the election took place with the bailouts and overspending of the Bush years. When Obama unleashed a plethora of liberal idiocy, the proverbial pot boiled over. In the bigger scope of things, why are my taxpayer dollars paying for such idiocy? The federal government is spending way beyond its means. Defunding NPR [National Public Radio] and PBS [Public Broadcasting Service] would be a good, small start. After all, what is their purpose anymore in a time when literally thousands of choices are available to consumers?

New! Improved! Clean and 'green'....the coal powered car!
Excerpt: Someone needs to give Chris Kobus a medal (heaven knows he’d deserve it more than Barack Obama deserved that Nobel). Kobus deserves a medal for coming up with a phrase that I hope gains as much currency as Sarah Palin’s “death panels.” In a headline yesterday at Right Wing News, Kobus referred to the Chevy Volt as a “coal-powered car.” Electric cars are always touted as one of those “green technologies” that are going to create millions of new “green jobs” in the auto companies that President Obama now controls. They’re also supposed to help us clean up the air and save the earth — but their promoters never, ever talk about where the electricity for those electric cars comes from. (“Coal-powered car”—wish I’d thought of that! This needs to get wide usage. ~Bob.)

Watching What You Eat: Why has the USDA been plumping up the food stamps program like a factory chicken?
If you’re a slave on the welfare plantation, you eat what the boss-man says you eat! ~Bob. Excerpt: But the Great Recession isn’t the whole story behind food stamps’ Second Great Awakening. The Department of Agriculture’s Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) has been engaged in a lengthy campaign to boost the program’s enrollment rates. In 2000 just 16.9 million people were receiving food stamps, and only 50 percent of those who were eligible participated in the program. Then FNS and the state agencies that administer SNAP began streamlining application processes and ramping up their outreach efforts. By 2007, 66 percent of “eligibles” had been converted into participants, and preliminary data suggests that that percentage continued to increase in 2008 and 2009. SNAP, it turns out, is a rare and increasingly costly example of government efficiency….. As the largest of FNS’s 15 nutrition assistance programs, SNAP is also the most strategic one to reorient. Will Humble, director of Arizona’s Department of Health Services, envisions using SNAP to compel food retailers to carry more nutritious products. “Why is SNAP a good leverage point for changing vendor behavior?” he asks on his blog. “Because the federal government provides more than $50 [billion] in SNAP benefits every year.” FNS aims to use this leverage on purchasers as well as vendors. With its EBT system, it can now intimately monitor and potentially influence the eating habits of more than 40 million Americans.

Trade deal with South Korea deserves rapid ratification
The history has been clear since the Smoot-Hawley bill killed trade and locked in the Great Depression—free trade benefits all economies. ~Bob. Excerpt: Another trade deal, another chance for labor unions to give their customary thumbs-down. Only this time — with a pact struck this month between the United States and South Korea— at least one major union, the United Autoworkers, has decided to support it, breaking with other labor stalwarts such as the United Steelworkers and the AFL-CIO. That alone should cause the Senate, which must ratify the pact for it to take effect, to look on it more kindly. Add the fact that the deal was negotiated by a pro-labor Democratic administration, and the just-say-no case gets even weaker.

The Municipal Debt Bubble: As cities and states boost their debts by 800 percent, a housing-like crisis looms.
Excerpt: Since 2000 the total outstanding state and municipal bond debt, adjusted for inflation, has soared from $1.5 trillion to $2.8 trillion (see chart). The recession didn’t slow the spending. One reason for the increase in demand for these bonds is that in times of crisis, investors tend to abandon high-risk, high-return assets for safer investments. The presumed reliability of municipal bonds—only U.S. Treasury bonds are considered safer—have made them very attractive. From 1970 to 2006, the default rate for municipal bonds has averaged 0.01 percent annually. And the average recovery rate for those few municipal bonds that have defaulted is also notably high, about 60 percent. In comparison, corporate bonds’ recovery rate is about 40 percent. Municipal bonds are perceived as safe investments because, like U.S. Treasury bonds, they are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing powers of the issuing governments. Investors know that states and localities can always raid taxpayer wallets to pay off their debts. But in the last two years tax and fee hikes have faced greater public opposition. Last year, for example, Jefferson County, Alabama, was unable to raise sewer fees to meet its sewer bond obligation. Since governments are generally unwilling to cut spending either, the result of resistance to new revenue raising has been substantial increases in states’ and cities’ debt levels. Detroit and Los Angeles have announced that they may have to declare bankruptcy, as have a number of smaller cities.

Taxes and the Top Percentile Myth
Excerpt: When President Obama announced a two-year stay of execution for taxpayers on Dec. 7, he made it clear that he intends to spend those two years campaigning for higher marginal tax rates on dividends, capital gains and salaries for couples earning more than $250,000. "I don't see how the Republicans win that argument," said the president. Despite the deficit commission's call for tax reform with fewer tax credits and lower marginal tax rates, the left wing of the Democratic Party remains passionate about making the U.S. tax system more and more progressive. They claim this is all about payback—that raising the highest tax rates is the fair thing to do because top income groups supposedly received huge windfalls from the Bush tax cuts. As the headline of a Robert Creamer column in the Huffington Post put it: "The Crowd that Had the Party Should Pick up the Tab." Arguments for these retaliatory tax penalties invariably begin with estimates by economists Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of U.C. Berkeley that the wealthiest 1% of U.S. households now take home more than 20% of all household income. This estimate suffers two obvious and fatal flaws. The first is that the "more than 20%" figure does not refer to "take home" income at all. It refers to income before taxes (including capital gains) as a share of income before transfers. Such figures tell us nothing about whether the top percentile pays too much or too little in income taxes.

Iranian Missile Base in Venezuela?
Excerpt: Hugo Chavez, yanqui-hating dictator of Venezuela, will not accept Washington’s proposed emissary and has dared the United States to break diplomatic relations. It seems Ambassador-select Larry Palmer’s sin is that he did not applaud Chavez when he used his rubber-stamp parliament to perpetuate his dictatorial regime. The State Department’s limp-wristed response was to cancel the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador. That, and silence from the White House, told the megalomaniac in Caracas exactly what the United States will do when Iran finishes building a nuclear missile base in Venezuela – absolutely nothing. Like Marxist Fidel Castro was in the 1960s, Caudillo Chávez is today’s darling of American liberals and the international left. They are enchanted with his underclass roots, his anti-imperialist posturing, and insults he hurls at the United States in media shows that are crowd-pleasing combinations of Keith Olbermann rants and videos of “The Big Guy from Brooklyn.” More ominously, Chavez has imitated Castro, and like Fidel he has found a big brother to give him the nuclear military clout to dominate Latin America: The Islamic Republic of Iran.

National Debt Tops $14 Trillion
Excerpt: The latest posting today of the National Debt shows it has topped $14 trillion for the first time. The U.S. Treasury website today reported that as of last Friday, the last day of 2010, the National Debt stood at $14,025,215,218,708.52. It took just 7 months for the National Debt to increase from $13 trillion on June 1, 2010 to $14 trillion on Dec. 31. It also means the debt is fast approaching the statutory ceiling $14.294 trillion set by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last February. The federal government would have to stop borrowing and might even default on its obligations if Congress fails to increase the Debt Ceiling before the limit is reached.

Unemployment rate hits 10-year peak in 112 U.S. markets
Excerpt: Thirty percent of the nation’s 372 labor markets are currently saddled with their worst unemployment rates in a decade, according to a new study by Buffalo Business First. A total of 112 markets posted higher jobless rates in October 2010 – the latest month for which official figures are available – than in any October since the beginning of the 21st century.

Severed head hung from bridge in Tijuana, Mexico
If you hand a head, isn’t a “threatening message” kind of overkill? Read the whole story to understand our future. ~Bob. Excerpt: The severed head of a young man was found hanging from a bridge in the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Monday. The Baja California state attorney general's office said the head belonged to a man between 25 and 30 years old. It had several bullet wounds and was hung using a metallic ring and a nylon rope. A threatening message was found nearby on the bridge. Hours earlier, a woman between 30 and 35 years old was found shot to death in another Tijuana neighborhood, also with a threatening message left nearby. Authorities have blamed recent cartel-style violence in Tijuana on feuding between rivals and loyalists of Teodoro "El Teo" Garcia Simental, an alleged drug lord arrested last January.

'Saving' the Housing Market by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: "Housing Market Setback Forecast" the newspaper headline said. A recently released report on housing says that home sales are down more than 25 percent and the inventory of unsold homes is about 50 percent higher than it was the same time last year. This is just one of innumerable stories about the woes of the housing market. We all understand about human beings having woes. But how can a housing market have either setbacks or woes? Moreover, why should politicians be riding to the rescue of the housing market with the taxpayers' money. We hear all sorts of sad stories about people whose homes are "under water" or who are facing foreclosure. But why should our attention be arbitrarily focused on these particular people, rather than on the many other people who would benefit from being able to buy those same houses, if the prices came down? The government is artificially keeping the prices up with subsidies and with pressures on lenders to accommodate the current occupants.

Philippine politician catches 'killer' on camera
Excerpt: A murdered Philippine politician caught his killer on camera just moments before he was shot dead, with the photograph leading to the arrest of the suspected gunman, police said Tuesday. The photograph, taken by district councillor Reynaldo Dagsa and distributed by his family to media, shows his relatives posing outside their home while a gunman in the background appears to aim a pistol at the victim.

Perfect--the Chicago Way Rules. ~Bob. Excerpt: In an obvious effort to broaden the representation of Chicagoans and former Clinton aides in his administration, President Obama has reportedly begun talks to bring William Daley into the White House as a top assistant, possibly even as chief of staff. Obama's first chief of staff was Rahm Emanuel, a former House member from Chicago's North Side who has returned to Chicago to become mayor. He can do this because Richard M. Daley, the brother of William Daley, has decided to retire this winter from his City Hall political throne where he's run the Windy City's vaunted Democratic machine for a generation, or about as long as Richard J. Daley, the father of Richard M. and William. Neither of the Richard Daleys nor William Daley should be confused with Valerie Jarrett, who was City Hall chief of staff for Richard M. and once hired Michelle Robinson as an aide. She.......went on to become Michelle Obama and then first lady of the United States and hired her Chicago friend and fundraiser Desiree Rogers as social secretary before leading Chicago's delegation to Copenhagen to not capture the 2016 Olympics.

Burma: The World’s Next North Korea
Excerpt: One August 2004 cable, from the U.S. embassy in Rangoon, reports that a Burmese officer in an engineering unit mentioned an underground site about 300 miles northwest of the capitol, measuring about 500 feet from the bottom of its cave to the top of the hill above. He claims that about 300 North Korean technicians work at the site. The cable’s author doubts the truth of this number, and there are other reasons to doubt the officer’s testimony. He claims the North Koreans cannot leave the site and outsiders like him cannot enter — raising the question of how he saw the personnel. But there is near-smoking gun evidence to substantiate reports of a Burmese nuke project. A major in the army, Sai Thein Win, has defected to the Democratic Voice of Burma, delivering into its hands hundreds of secret documents and photos. The materials reveal the construction of a huge network of underground facilities dating back to 1996 and costing at least $3.5 billion since 2001. This evidence is enough to convince Robert Kelley, a former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Burma’s junta is working on uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities with North Korean assistance. The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of Australia has published a study reaching the same conclusion. The authors interviewed two defectors who independently confirmed the building of a secret nuclear site, nearby the public site constructed with Russian aid. One defector testified to the presence of about 60 North Koreans at a secret site, which the authors describe as similar in design to the Syrian nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel in 2007. (Like we really need another North Korea. As carried in TOJ on 15 Apr 2010, 4 Jun2010, and 26 Jul 2010. Ron P.)

In The 10th Year of War, a Harder Army, a More Distant America
Excerpt: The U.S. Army now begins its 10th continuous year in combat, the first time in its history the United States has excused the vast majority of its citizens from service and engaged in a major, decade-long conflict instead with an Army manned entirely by professional warriors. This is an Army that, under the pressure of combat, has turned inward, leaving civilian America behind, reduced to the role of a well-wishing but impatient spectator. A decade of fighting has hardened soldiers in ways that civilians can't share. America respects its warriors, but from a distance. "They don't know what we do,'' said Col. Dan Williams, who commands an Army aviation brigade in Afghanistan. The consequences of this unique milestone in American history are many -- the rise of a new warrior class, the declining number of Americans in public life with the sobering experience of war, the fading ideal of public service as a civic responsibility. But above all, I think, is a perilous shrinking of common ground, the shared values and knowledge and beliefs that have shaped the way Americans think about war. Without it, how will soldiers and civilians ever see this war and its outcome in the same way? Are those faded "Support the Troops'' magnets enough to guide us through what is likely to be the murky and unsatisfactory conclusions and aftermaths of this era's conflicts? (This is a very well written article, dealing with the evolution of a really professional fighting force over a long period of time. Every combat veteran knows that war changes you, that's true for a single deployment of a year or even less, and leaves you always in some ways different from those who don't share the experience.  But repeated deployments stretching year after year intensify the change, and will leave many markedly different from civilians, and alienated in varying degrees from our kind of free and easy civilian life. This is unfortunate, and once the wars are over (hopefully they cannot continue indefinitely) there will be many who will not want to ever leave the military life. Forced discharges if the military is cut back would leave them as strangers in a strange land, whose sacrifice to serve the society will then become a burden they will bear to their graves. I hope and pray there will be no cut back of our military and these men and women will be able to live their lives comfortably in the arms of their service branch. --Del)

Public Pressure Isn’t a Good Reason to Oust Navy Skipper
As an executive, I know the world has changed. My female subordinates make jokes and remarks to me that I wouldn’t dare make to them, though I made worse 38 years ago when I first had to manage an office at age 26. Rightly or wrongly, the people in charge have to deal with the world as it is today. I think he’s destroyed his career. Of course, if he was CIC, even having sex with a subordinate would be okay. Ask Bill. ~Bob. Excerpt: There is no way in today’s politically correct world that a naval officer who once trafficked in short films that featured sexual jokes, gross-out humor, a chauvinistic view of women and gay slurs can possibly survive with his career intact. Pack your ditty bag now, Captain. It won’t be long before the men and women on board the nuclear-powered Enterprise are saluting someone else. When Honors was the executive officer of the carrier, from 2005 to 2007, he entertained those on board with weekly amateur short films as a part of “XO Movie Nights.” Judging from a montage posted on The Pilot’s website, Honors’ shorts were meant to be humorous and were aimed at 19-yearolds, which, incidentally, is the median age of a sailor on board a carrier…. One former sailor, Jessica Roman, 23 – who was 19 when she was assigned to the Enterprise – praised Honors, saying his “funny videos” were stress relievers. When I reached Roman by phone in California on Monday, the former petty officer third class, who left the Navy in November, said she was “shocked” by the news stories about her former executive officer. (This is a damn good article. Dougherty has clearly done all the background work necessary to have a good feel for what was involved. But, I think Capt. Honors will still lose his command. There are too many outsiders now looking over his shoulder who have: a. no sense of humor, and b. no understanding (or desire for such) of the military. Not to mention all those who have an axe to grind against his head. The sins of our youth haunt us in later life, and that won't change. Ron P.)

Excellent column: Let's Ban Ivy League ROTC
Excerpt: First, let's set the record straight. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, and Columbia -- and pretty much all the rest of the Ivies -- tossed ROTC out not in response to the DADT law, but back in about 1969 at the height of the Vietnam antiwar protests. They latched on to the DADT law only as an excuse to continue their exclusion of the military after the enactment of the Solomon Amendment in 1996 threatened their federal grant money. (Rep. Gerald Solomon's law prohibits those colleges that ban ROTC and refuse to grant military recruiters access to their students from receiving federal grants which, in the case of many of these colleges, amounts to tens of millions of dollars a year. It's never been enforced, more is the pity.) But the Serious People are asking the wrong question. The right question is this: Is it in the military's best interest to invest time and money to recruit and train young officers from among the denizens of the Ivy League? In short, it isn't. Why would the military want to go to the expense and effort of establishing ROTC detachments at the Ivies where they are still unwelcome? Is it because the Ivy League students are so superior to everyone else that their intelligence and morals are essential to the military's success? That's what the Ivies, in their solipsism, want us to believe.

The next 40 years will be the most important in human history
Damn. And I’ll miss most of it! ~Bob. Excerpt: The West is on top of the world. Only about one-seventh of the planet's population lives in Europe or North America, but they generate two-thirds of its wealth, own two-thirds of its weapons, and spend more than two-thirds of its R&D dollars. On average, American workers are seven times as productive as China's. But when Richard Nixon made his famous visit to Beijing back in 1972, American workers had been 20 times as productive as Chinese. China's share of global production was 5 percent then; now it is 14 percent. China is now the world's second-biggest economy (Japan is the third) and the world's biggest carbon emitter. The world's fastest supercomputer is Chinese. Chinese taikonauts have walked in space, and will probably stand on the moon before Americans return there. We are living through the biggest shift in wealth, power, and prestige since the Industrial Revolution catapulted Western Europe to global dominance 200 years ago…. Ian Morris, professor of classics and history at Stanford University, is the author of the just-published "Why the West Rules --- For Now: The Patterns of History, and What they Reveal About the Future."

North Korea: Not the Time for Talks
Excerpt: President Obama's North Korea policy has come to an entirely predictable dead end. Having for two years correctly resisted resuming the six party talks on the North's nuclear-weapons program, Mr. Obama is now pressuring South Korea to do just that. This is a significant mistake. It would have been bad enough had Mr. Obama simply picked up where the Bush administration left off in January 2009, but restarting the talks now will signal weakness and indecisiveness. Since Mr. Obama's inauguration, Pyongyang has detonated its second nuclear device and launched two unprovoked military attacks—torpedoing a South Korean naval vessel last March and shelling Yeonpyeong Island in November, killing several civilians. Even more significant was the revelation of large, sophisticated uranium-enrichment facilities at Yongbyon, and construction there of a new nuclear reactor to replace the existing aged facility. Resuming the six party talks, which include the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and America, clearly has global ramifications. Pyongyang and Tehran have cooperated closely on ballistic missiles and almost certainly on nuclear matters, as the North's construction of a reactor in Syria, destroyed by Israel in 2007, demonstrates. It has long been a mistake to treat these rogue states as unrelated threats, a point that still eludes the Obama administration.

Egypt and the Destruction of Churches: Strategic Implications
Excerpt: Over the past few days, Christian churches have been attacked in at least two countries — Nigeria and Egypt — while small packages containing improvised explosive devices were placed on the doorsteps of Christian families in Iraq. Attacks against Christians are not uncommon in the Islamic world, driven by local issues and groups, and it is unclear whether these latest attacks were simply coincidental and do not raise the threat to a new level or whether they indicate the existence of a new, coordinated, international initiative. There is a strong case to be made for the idea that there is nothing new in all of this. Yet I am struck by the close timing of events in three distant and dispersed countries. Certainly, Egyptian intelligence services are looking for any regional connections (e.g., whether Iraqi operatives recruited the Egyptian bomber). While there have been previous bombings in Egypt, they have focused on tourists, not churches. What is important is this: If the recent attacks are not coincidental, then a coordinated campaign is being conducted against Christian churches that spans at least these countries. And it is a network that has evaded detection by intelligence services.
Wall Street is Funding Jihad
Excerpt: This video is even more timely now than when it was first released a couple of years ago — i.e., before we had a Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, who vigorously promoted the shariah-compliant finance program at Harvard Law School when she was the dean there; and before the government takeover of AIG made every U.S. taxpayer a shareholder in one of the largest shariah-compliant finance companies in the U.S.

Excerpt: When the Pelosi Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04 — that’s $8.67 trillion. Today, the last day of the 111th Congress and Pelosi’s Speakership, the national debt is $13,871,130,353,817.40 — that’s $13.87 trillion. A $5.2 trillion in just four years.

A day after layoffs are approved, most East St. Louis cops call in sick Friday
As the money runs out, watch for more of this. A sign of the coming collapse. Vigilantes are next. ~Bob. Excerpt: Nearly all of the police officers who were scheduled to work the evening shift on New Year's Eve called in sick. Capt. Bobby Cole, when asked by a reporter if all but one scheduled officer called in sick, said, "Yes, primarily."

Coptic Bishop in Rome: No to Muslim Presence on Sunday
Oh, invite them—you’ll have a blast! ~Bob. Excerpt: ”I shall never accept that representatives” of Rome’s Muslim community should join us for Sunday’s demonstration called to commemorate the victims of the massacre in Alexandria. The Bishop of the Coptic Church in Rome, Msg. Barnaba el Soryany has told ANSAmed. The Bishop was nonetheless heartened by the many other religious communities and institutions joining in the demonstration. In reference to his wish to exclude both Muslim religious and political representatives, Msg. Soryany added he was ”unafraid to say so” According to the head of the Coptic Church in Rome, the notion that the Alexandria attackers came from outside the country is being ”exploited” by investigators in Egypt

British consulate employees in Jerusalem linked to terror attack
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Employees of the British consulate in Jerusalem were arrested by Israeli police investigating a planned terror attack on a sports stadium, it has emerged.

Egypt: Edict posted to jihadist websites 'legitimises' church attack'
Didn’t get the ‘Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. But weren’t they claiming the Jews did it? ~Bob. Excerpt: A religious edict signed by a Mauritanian cleric linked to Al-Qaeda' s late leader in Iraq and posted to jihadist websites appears to legitimise the deadly New Year's Eve attack on a church in northern Egypt. The edict, signed last month by Abu al-Mandhar al-Shanqiti, urges Muslims to avenge the alleged imprisonment in a convent of two Egyptian women after they converted to Islam. Al-Shanqiti is close to the Jordanian sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the mentor of Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US raid there in 2006. "How should Sharia (Islamic) law view Coptic priests and Christians who proselytise in our country and kidnap our women?" said al-Shanquiti's message, cited by jihadist website Al-Tawed. "You should attack those who attack you, with a force that is equal to or greater than theirs." "The Koran endorses the principle of 'an eye for an eye', a tooth for a tooth."

Korma Chameleon: Killer Turns Muslim For Curry
Excerpt: SERIAL killer Colin Ireland wants to become a Muslim – because he loves the curries they get fed in jail. Evil Ireland, 56, even asked to be allowed to attend Friday prayers but was turned down. The killer, who slaughtered five gay men, is now determined to convert to Islam from Christianity. He told fellow inmates at Wakefield jail, West Yorkshire, his change of faith was sparked by spicy food. (a fitting new believer. ~Bob.)

'Tie EU aid to rights for Christians' says Frattini
Think if we cut off aid to Egypt, they might stop the slaughter of the Copts? ~Bob. Excerpt: European Union aid should be tied to respect for human rights in countries where Christian minorities are under attack, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Monday after a New Year's Day church bombing in the Egyptian city of Alexandria that killed 21 Coptic Christians. EU aid "should be reduced if not eliminated" for "those countries that do not collaborate" in protecting Christians, Frattini said. "We have to move from monitoring to action," said the foreign minister, stressing that Italy could not remain "isolated" in the battle for Christians' rights around the world.

Pakistani governor killed by own bodyguard
Excerpt: The governor of Pakistan's wealthiest and most populated province was shot dead Tuesday by one of his bodyguards who told interrogators he was angry over the politician's opposition to laws that impose the death penalty for those convicted of insulting Islam. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, 56, was a member of the ruling party and a close associate of President Asif Ali Zardari. Friends described him as an outspoken moderate who defended women's rights, minorities and secularism and he was the most high-profile politician assassinated since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in December 2007. He was shot 26 times, said Shaukat Kayani, a doctor at Poly Clinic Hospital. The interior minister said it was not clear whether the guard acted alone or was part of a larger plot. (Well, under Shari’a law—which at least one Federal judge believes should be the law in Oklahoma despite the voters—blasphemy is punishable by death. Coming soon to a Shari’a-appeasement zone near you. ~Bob.)

George Soros Openly Discusses the coming New World Order
From the e-mail forward: Obama's puppet master, Soros, insist on an orderly decline of the US dollar and in redistribution of wealth to the least developed nations using gold reserves of the IMF.

European nations begin seizing private pensions
Obama wants the US to be more like Europe. Coming soon. ~Bob. Excerpt: People’s retirement savings are a convenient source of revenue for governments that don’t want to reduce spending or make privatizations. As most pension schemes in Europe are organised by the state, European ministers of finance have a facilitated access to the savings accumulated there, and it is only logical that they try to get a hold of this money for their own ends. In recent weeks I have noted five such attempts: Three situations concern private personal savings; two others refer to national funds. The most striking example is Hungary, where last month the government made the citizens an offer they could not refuse. They could either remit their individual retirement savings to the state, or lose the right to the basic state pension (but still have an obligation to pay contributions for it). In this extortionate way, the government wants to gain control over $14bn of individual retirement savings.

Lawrence Solomon: 97% cooked stats
Excerpt: How do we know there’s a scientific consensus on climate change? Pundits and the press tell us so. And how do the pundits and the press know? Until recently, they typically pointed to the number 2,500 — that’s the number of scientists associated with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Those 2,500, the pundits and the press believed, had endorsed the IPCC position. To their embarrassment, most of the pundits and press discovered they were mistaken — those 2,500 scientists hadn’t endorsed the IPCC’s conclusions, they had merely reviewed some part or other of the IPCC’s mammoth studies. To add to their embarrassment, many of those reviewers from within the IPCC establishment actually disagreed with the IPCC’s conclusions, sometimes vehemently. The upshot? The punditry looked for and found an alternative number to tout: “97% of the world’s climate scientists” accept the consensus, articles in the Washington Post, the U.K.’s Guardian, CNN and other news outlets now claim, along with some two million postings in the blogosphere. This number will prove a new embarrassment to the pundits and press who use it. (You have to admire the warmers’ persistence and love for statistics. So many ways to lie, so little time to do it in. Ron P.)

Rep. Peter King has 'nothing but contempt' for New York Times
Excerpt: Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, ripped into The New York Times Tuesday for telling him in a weekend editorial to tone down his rhetoric. From King’s response, there is no indication he will do anything of the sort.

HHS is Paying Google with Taxpayer Money to Alter 'Obamacare' Search Results
Excerpt: The brazenness of the Obama administration never ceases to amaze. Try typing "Obamacare" into Google, and you'll find that the first entry is now the Obama administration's If you don't particularly like that result, you'll probably hate the fact that you're paying for it. You'll get the same paid-for result if you type in "Obamacare facts," "Obamacare summary," "Obamacare info," "Obamacare overview," "Obamacare questions," "Obamacare explanation," "Obamacare basics," "Obamacare pros and cons," "Obamacare and elderly," and even "Obamacare and abortion." For each of these search terms, and many others, the Obama administration's site comes up first, as a paid entry. But it doesn’t come up if you type in "ObamaCare repeal." Politico's Ben Smith, in a post entitled "HHS Buys 'ObamaCare,'" quotes an official from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who confirms that this clear attempt to influence what Americans read about Obamacare does, indeed, represent your tax dollars at work: "'We are using a bunch of search term[s] to help point people to [It's] [p]art of our online efforts to help get accurate information to people about the new law (i.e. [we] also use Facebook, Twitter, blogs and webcasts),' an HHS official confirmed by e-mail." The "accurate information" that Americans will glean about the massive health care overhaul from this HHS website is of the same sort that President Obama has supplied all along -- such as that Obamacare would lower health costs (only 17 percent of Americans believe this), increase the quality of care (only 22 percent believe this), and reduce deficits (only 17 percent believe this).

Republicans 'will lose next election unless they deliver
excerpt: Republicans will lose the next election to President Barack Obama unless they deliver on the made promises to voters to cut spending and create jobs, according to a rising star of the party. Allen West, a retired army colonel, will take his place today [Wed] with 62 other Republicans who captured a House of Representative seat from the Democrats in the midterm landslide.

Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup
Excerpt: These events are a stark example how significant environmental policy is all too frequently established in Washington – certain agencies expand their powers by consent agreements with friendly litigants using vague laws. There is little actual scientific evidence establishing the need for such policy, or public discussion, or any clear responsibility by the publicly elected representatives. There are at least three courses of action to defeat EPA’s expansion of power: 1) litigation; 2) Congress removing from the EPA the power to regulate CO2, and 3) Congress removing funding of sections of EPA. Each method has its weaknesses. (...) The Department of Homeland Security has now added climate change as a priority. What this means is unclear. The Department of Agriculture, once known for establishing policy based on the best available science, has announced that it will accept environmental activists and critics of genetically modified crops to participate in regulatory decisions. This may be another blow to environmental policy based on science. (The beancounters must have been working overtime during the holiday period. Ron P.)

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