Sunday, February 27, 2011

Political Digest for February 28, 2011

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.

Book Recommendation: Caliphate by Tom Kratman
I took this scary little Science Fiction novel with me this weekend, visiting relatives, and stayed up very late Sunday morning finishing it at about 4:00 am. If you like SF adventure and are worried about the future of our world, check this one out. Kratman is a fine writer, and it was more gripping as it went on. Set 100 years in the future, when America has become of necessity a military empire facing the Muslim Caliphate of Europe, it lifts from today’s headlines to create a scary but plausible future. He uses current quotes like the one below as a basis for events in the book.

Excerpt: “Slavery is a part of Islam,” says Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan, according to the independent Saudi Information Agency, or SIA. In a lecture recorded on tape by SIA, the sheik said, “Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.” His religious books are used to teach 5 million Saudi students, both within the country and abroad, including the United States. Al Fawzan – a member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body – says Muslims who contend Islam is against slavery “are ignorant, not scholars.” “They are merely writers,” he said, according to SIA. “Whoever says such things is an infidel.”

Emanuel transition team member resigns
Ho hum, another day, another Chicago political scandal. Who cares? ~Bob. Excerpt: A top member of Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's transition team abruptly resigned after the Tribune inquired about recent findings that she violated state ethics rules by using taxpayer resources for political purposes while serving as executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Judy Erwin, a former state lawmaker who also co-chaired Emanuel's mayoral campaign, stepped down from her high-level state job last summer, was fined and promised to never seek a state job after conceding that she conducted political business on state time, according to a newly filed ethics report. Erwin admitted using her office e-mail and phone while working on a campaign committee for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, using staff resources to plan her trip to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and engaging in campaign fundraising activity while on the job, the state's Executive Ethics Commission ruled in a decision filed Feb. 16.

Excerpt: While it’s certainly the case that a University may host an event paneled by individuals that the University leadership does not agree with or even may find reprehensible, it starts to look more like endorsement when they get into the habit of tossing law abiding citizens for asking questions of the University guest that may be uncomfortable.

Multiculturalism explained
Funny guy.

Oh, To Be a Teacher in Wisconsin
Excerpt: The showdown in Wisconsin over fringe benefits for public employees boils down to one number: 74.2. That's how many cents the public pays Milwaukee public-school teachers and other employees for retirement and health benefits for every dollar they receive in salary. The corresponding rate for employees of private firms is 24.3 cents. Gov. Scott Walker's proposal would bring public-employee benefits closer in line with those of workers in the private sector. And to prevent benefits from reaching sky-high levels in the future, he wants to restrict collective-bargaining rights. The average Milwaukee public-school teacher salary is $56,500, but with benefits the total package is $100,005, according to the manager of financial planning for Milwaukee public schools. When I showed these figures to a friend, she asked me a simple question: "How can fringe benefits be nearly as much as salary?" The answers can be found by unpacking the numbers in the district's budget for this fiscal year:

Utah Senator Robles holds simultaneous Utah and Mexican Government Offices
Excerpt: Often referred to as a "political newcomer", Utah Democratic Senator Luz Robles (UT-1) is described by legislative intern Drew Martinez as "an immigrant from Mexico" who "came here in 1996 to attend the University of Utah, where she earned a bachelor's degree in business marketing and a master's in public administration..." Martinez's January 15, 2009 blog post continues to detail an impressive list of local affiliations and boards served on by Senator Robles. The blog also concludes "[S]he [Robles] really is an exceptional public servant. She's not your typical Utah legislator. She's first off a woman. Also she is a minority in both race and political party..." Mr. Martinez leaves out some other facts that by all accounts, were also unknown by voters during the election that pushed Senator Robles in the political arena. Indeed, Senator Robles is not a political newcomer at all. In fact the Senator is a seasoned veteran, having previously held elected as well as appointed offices, in the Mexican government.
Jihad by lawyer. ~Bob. Excerpt: When a Tustin, Cal. man was indicted on immigration charges and accused of lying about his contact with a relative who worked for Osama bin Laden, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) blasted the case for its reliance on an informant it considered unreliable. In interviews with Southern California Public Radio in February 2009, CAIR-Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said the FBI has been "hiring shady characters," and "a convicted felon, a con artist" who should not be believed. Now, that same convicted felon is the foundation for a class-action lawsuit CAIR filed with the ACLU this week against the FBI. The Bureau, it alleges, sent informant Craig Monteilh into southern California mosques to conduct surveillance on people simply because they are Muslims.

Hendon abruptly quits state Senate
Another day, another Chicago Democrat political scandal—or maybe he quit to “spend more time with his family”! ~Bob. Excerpt: State Sen. Rickey Hendon, a flamboyant former West Side alderman known for his nickname "Hollywood" and his controversial mouth, abruptly quit Thursday. "I'm out," Hendon, 57, told the Tribune. "Out is out." The surprise announcement by the veteran lawmaker comes months after revelations that a federal grand jury issued subpoenas for records on dozens of state grants, some of which he sponsored. On Thursday, Hendon repeatedly said he was hanging up as a reporter tried to ask whether his decision to resign was related to the federal subpoenas.

How Chris Christie Did His Homework
Excerpt: Like a stand-up comedian working out-of-the-way clubs, Chris Christie travels the townships and boroughs of New Jersey­, places like Hackettstown and Raritan and Scotch Plains, sharpening his riffs about the state’s public employees, whom he largely blames for plunging New Jersey into a fiscal death spiral. In one well-worn routine, for instance, the governor reminds his audiences that, until he passed a recent law that changed the system, most teachers in the state didn’t pay a dime for their health care coverage, the cost of which was borne by taxpayers. And so, Christie goes on, forced to cut more than $1 billion in local aid in order to balance the budget, he asked the teachers not only to accept a pay freeze for a year but also to begin contributing 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health care. The dominant teachers’ union in the state responded by spending millions of dollars in television and radio ads to attack him. “The argument you heard most vociferously from the teachers’ union,” Christie says, “was that this was the greatest assault on public education in the history of New Jersey.” Here the fleshy governor lumbers a few steps toward the audience and lowers his voice for effect. “Now, do you really think that your child is now stressed out and unable to learn because they know that their poor teacher has to pay 1½ percent of their salary for their health care benefits? Have any of your children come home — any of them — and said, ‘Mom.’ ” Pause. “ ‘Dad.’ ” Another pause. “ ‘Please. Stop the madness.’ ”

New Jersey's Governor Speaks Loudly and Carries a Big Stick
Excerpt: Happy to wield a veto pen, seemingly eager to lambast anyone and anything that stands in his way and apt to use sarcasm to make his points, [Governor Chris] Christie is a phenomenon — and not just in New Jersey. He’s become a talk show regular, a star on YouTube and Twitter, a headliner at campaign events for conservative candidates, the favorite of some Republicans looking to the 2012 presidential race. All on the basis of his first year in office — a year defined by the fights he’d picked. He’s sparred with the federal government, the Legislature, the public workers’ unions, the state Supreme Court, and the authorities and commissions that oversee components of daily life like sewer fees and bridge tolls. No one seems off limits, including citizens who dare question him in his series of town hall meetings or those who question his policies on Twitter. What most call fighting, he calls having a conversation — Jersey style. Which is to say, brash, loud and direct.

Maryland Republican official in trouble for naming family cow Oprah
Excerpt: Liberals have so damn many rules that it’s tough to keep track of them all, especially at the pace with which they make up new ones. Who knew you couldn’t name a cow after big, beefy woman? (I don’t watch Opera, but tend to think she’s a great American success story, even if I disagree with her politics. But we are past the time when folks could laugh off such things—humor has given way to looking for things to be offended by to play “gotchya.” Have to report that when I was a state senator, I dated two sisters—at separate times—their dad, a retired Army Major with a great WWII & Korea combat record, named one of the beef cows on their farm “Dirty Bob” in my honor. Really. ~Bob.)

Plant closure bursts Ga.’s biomass bubble
Excerpt: The premise, and the promise, were brilliant in their simplicity: Turn tree waste into fuel, help break the Middle Eastern choke hold on America’s economy and bring hundreds of jobs to rural Georgia. What wasn't there to like? Plenty, starting with the closing last month of the Range Fuels cellulosic ethanol factory that promised to help make Georgia a national leader in alternative energy production. Then there’s the money — more than $162 million in local, state and federal grants, loans and other subsidies committed to the venture. Much of that has been spent; recovery would be difficult. Officials at Colorado-based Range Fuels, who didn’t return calls for this story, have said they plan to eventually re-open the Soperton plant. But critics — ranging from budget hawks to renewable energy experts to dispirited locals — say the shutdown is a case of good money thrown at unproven science and lofty promises. (Another “alternative energy” plant goes bust, this time having taken taxpayers for almost $160M. A few weeks ago, it was the bio-mass plant at Devon, MA (those pikers could only get us for $58M. Shows how much smarter we are in MA!). Without heavy subsidies, almost none of these alternative energy producers could remain open for business. That’s why they’re alternative, instead of primary sources like oil and coal. Ron P.)

The Week That Was: 2011-02-26 (February 26, 2011)
Excerpt: Early last Saturday morning, the US House of Representatives passed a budget resolution that threatens the environmental industry - the resolution eliminated the $13 Million proposed by the Obama administration to go to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Immediately, the environmental industry and other alarmists decried this action. Roy Spencer, who was with the IPCC at the beginning, praised the action and states that the climate change deniers have no one to blame but themselves - that is, the deniers who think that climate change began with their birth and deny natural climate change. Spencer also states the IPCC is not a scientific organization and was formed to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Claims of human-cause global warming are only a means to that goal. Consequently, the physical evidence that contradicts the central claim that carbon dioxide controls the climate is ignored.

Sacramento: Union goons swarm - attack. 1 Tea Partier injured, 1 Teamster arrested
The new civility. Probably driven to violence listening to Palin and Beck. ~Bob. Excerpt: Is anybody really surprised that a group of Teamsters swarmed across a Sacramento street to physically attack our people during a Move On sponsored anti-Taxpayer rally Saturday (February 26, 2011) at the California State Capitol? This was the second such protest within days at the same location. Earlier in the week (Tuesday) the Service Employees International Union (which in California represents largely illegal aliens and is a chief advocate for amnesty) held a similar event. I had caused a stir around that one by suggesting that normal people show up dressed as union workers and say outrageously greedy things to the media. The punch line to my suggestion was that I used as my template an SEIU sponsored campaign called “Crash the Tea Party”[1] and created to harass Tea Party Express rallies across the country.  As it turns out (and as I knew would be the case) my suggested slogans were pale, limp-wristed tries at outrageous compared to the actual screeching from the event’s podium – and even more radical bile from the fringe element that focused on being verbally aggressive to our much smaller (and more civil) vigil across the street.

New Helmet Blocks Rifle Shots
The Army and Marine Corps may soon field a lighter combat helmet with nearly double the bullet and blast protection of the current Advanced Combat Helmet. Army officials said that recent tests of the so-called "Enhanced Combat Helmet" showed the helmets were so strong that engineers didn't have equipment powerful enough to penetrate them with simulated IED fragments. (Even being a materials engineer of sorts, I am totally amazed at this level of protection from a helmet. Even at $600 each, they are worth every penny. We do have the best research and engineering in the world still in many areas. (If we only had leadership anywhere near as good......) --Del)

Herman Cain: A Long Shot in 2012, but That's Not Stopping Him
Excerpt: When Herman Cain walks into a tea party event, he is greeted like a rock star. "It's him, it's him," spreads across the meeting room. And so it was here on Thursday. When people approached him, they acted like they knew him. They mentioned his Atlanta radio show. They asked about his book, "They Think You're Stupid." They told him they are curious about his possible 2012 presidential run. (Politics Daily tends to lean left, and the Woman Up column even more so. Thus, my surprise at this positive look at Herman Cain. I’d rather see Allen West run, but from what little I know of Cain, I could support him. It’d be nice to have a candidate who actually knew how to show a profit. Ron P.)

Unions And The Right To Work
Excerpt: If unions were formed to protect workers from employer abuse, right-to-work laws were created to protect taxpayers and workers from union abuse. States with such laws enjoy higher growth and purchasing power. With Wisconsin still under siege by the "angry mobs" of bused-in union workers, the Ohio of GOP Gov. John Kasich is the next target of those opposed to restricting the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions that have bankrupted state after state. Ohio's SB5 also aims to address a similar Buckeye budget deficit in the billions and the anchor of state-funded union pension obligations. Bills in the Indiana House by Republicans who gained a majority in November would go both Wisconsin and Ohio one better by making Indiana a right-to-work state, removing the requirement that workers pay union dues. Those who have assembled the mobs of Madison are motivated more by the Wisconsin legislation's impact on coerced union dues than they are by "worker rights."

Well-Meaning or Not, Obama Threatens America
Excerpt: Imagine, if you will, a socialist/Marxist president whose party controlled both houses of Congress and who was determined to actually harm America diplomatically, domestically, economically, and in every other way. Apart from building a domestic KGB-like intelligence apparatus and paramilitary force, how would such a president and his actions differ from Mr. Obama and his own? Each of the few examples I’ve provided are, by themselves, cause for alarm in a people dedicated to liberty and prosperity. Taken together, they suggest that far more than poor policy, incompetence, stubbornness, or stupidity are at work.

Southern Poverty Law Fraud Center
Nice little place, but nothing compared to what a rich Republican like me has. Our condo has two bedrooms, two FULL baths, an IN-UNIT laundry ands a one car GARAGE. Eat your liberal hearts out. ~Bob. Excerpt: Excerpt: Photo of the multi-million dollar mansion of Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center -- how's that exploiting going for ya, Moe? Check out these 60 photos of his multi-million dollar complex (sheesh).

The Regime Kidnaps Mousavi and Karroubi
Excerpt: Yes it is true, not exactly as any one source has been reporting, but the two top leaders of the Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were kidnapped on Thursday night — when the streets of Tehran were full of armed men. It was a typical Mafia-style snatch. The two men — already under house arrest — were beaten and bloodied, and then were led out of their homes in blindfolds and handcuffs, stuffed in the trunks of their captors from the Revolutionary Guards and, along with their wives, taken to a location in Tehran, then, on Friday, to another in Parchin, and finally to a third location, a heavily protected private residence. So far only a few voices, most notably that of Ayatollah Dastgheib (sorry for the link in Persian, but I can’t find a translation online yet), have been raised to denounce the action and call for the release of the hostages. Needless to say, no Western leader has done anything yet, and nobody should expect any tough talk from Western capitals. After all, Mousavi and Karroubi were never contacted by any Western leader after the electoral hoax of June, 2009, although at least some of those Westerners sent intermediaries to negotiate with representatives of the Iranian regime. Terror works, you see. (Various versions of, “For Evil to succeed, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing” are attributed to Edmund Burke. Nothing is exactly what we in the West have been doing about the Greens in Iran. Ron P.)

VIDEO: Breast Milk Ice Cream A Hit At London Store
Excerpt: Anyone pining for some ice cream in London now has an unusual option to consider: ice cream made from mothers' breast milk. The Icecreamists shop has made headlines for using milk from as many as 15 women to make its new "Baby Gaga" flavor. The rare offering proved a hit with customers at the Covent Garden store — the first batch sold out within days of being introduced. A serving of Baby Gaga, which is reportedly flavored with vanilla and lemon zest, goes for 14 pounds — or about $22.50.

Who is Anonymous? A Look at the Hacktivists Aiding Revolution in the Middle East
Excerpt: Amidst the revolutionary turmoil of the Middle East, the shadowy online hacker group known as “Anonymous” has spread its influence. Government websites in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, and Iran – as well as Zimbabwe and Italy — have been attacked and at times shutdown by the hacker group which claims it fights in its own way for freedom. Leading the way in this new age of digital warfare, Anonymous has described its members as vigilante defenders of free speech and opponents of censorship. Their primary method of attack is distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), which rapidly overloads websites with simultaneous requests, freezing or crashing computer servers. So who exactly are these hacktivists?

Poll of Americans: 77% concerned radical Islamic terrorists may try to exploit unrest to further their violent aims
Reality begins to take hold. ~Bob. Excerpt: Americans now fear that the political unrest roiling Arab nations like Egypt and Libya may get America into another big war. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of American Adults think the unrest in the Arab world will lead to a major new war involving the United States, with 26% who say it is Very Likely. Thirty-one percent (31%) see that outcome as unlikely, but that includes just four percent (4%) who say it is Not At All Likely. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Americans are concerned that radical Islamic terrorists may try to exploit the unrest in these countries to further their violent aims. Eighteen percent (18%) don’t share that concern. These findings include 53% who are Very Concerned and only four percent (4%) who are Not At All Concerned.

Wisconsin Capitol protesters disrespect the Veterans Memorial
One side doesn’t care, other side stretching the point. ~Bob.

For Egypt's Coptic Christians--already persecuted during Mubarak's rule--situation may be getting even worse
Excerpt: In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is a long way from officially running things, but the hero’s welcome given to Qaradawi a week ago couldn’t help but disconcert all of us who are old enough to remember quite vividly a similarly triumphal return made by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran 32 years ago. Sure enough, radical Islamism —which involves, by definition, the persecution of Christians and Jews — is already rearing its ugly head in Egypt.

Islamists Suspected in Abduction of Christian Girl in Sudan
Excerpt: A Christian widow in north Sudan is agonizing over the kidnapping of her daughter eight months ago by suspected Islamic extremists in Khartoum. “Since my daughter was kidnapped, I have been living in a state of fear and terror,” said Ikhlas Anglo, 35, a mother of two daughters. She said her 15-year-old daughter, Hiba Abdelfadil Anglo, went missing while returning from the Ministry of Education in Khartoum on June 27, 2010. Hiba, a member of Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum, had gone to the education ministry office to obtain her transcripts for entry to secondary school.

Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years
Excerpt: During the Cold War a nuclear exchange between superpowers—such as the one feared for years between the United States and the former Soviet Union—was predicted to cause a "nuclear winter." In that scenario hundreds of nuclear explosions spark huge fires, whose smoke, dust, and ash blot out the sun for weeks amid a backdrop of dangerous radiation levels. Much of humanity eventually dies of starvation and disease. (...) But nuclear war remains a very real threat—for instance, between developing-world nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan. To see what climate effects such a regional nuclear conflict might have, scientists from NASA and other institutions modeled a war involving a hundred Hiroshima-level bombs, each packing the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT—just 0.03 percent of the world's current nuclear arsenal. (See a National Geographic magazine feature on weapons of mass destruction.) The researchers predicted the resulting fires would kick up roughly five million metric tons of black carbon into the upper part of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere. In NASA climate models, this carbon then absorbed solar heat and, like a hot-air balloon, quickly lofted even higher, where the soot would take much longer to clear from the sky. The global cooling caused by these high carbon clouds wouldn't be as catastrophic as a superpower-versus-superpower nuclear winter, but "the effects would still be regarded as leading to unprecedented climate change," research physical scientist Luke Oman said during a press briefing Friday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. (...) After ten years, average global temperatures would still be 0.9 degree F (0.5 degree C) lower than before the nuclear war, the models predict. (This is the first time I’ve ever been personally worried by a CAGW headline. There are enough true believers out there that some group of them may take this seriously enough to arrange to make it so. According to the text, just one small war could wipe out half of the warming from the past 100+ years. This is a damned shame; National Geographic was a fine publication back in the 50s and 60s. This madness is paid for by our tax dollars, too. I haven’t bought a copy of NG for years because of their blatant activism. Perhaps it’s time to stop watching their TV shows and shut off their federal money, too. I need a beer to cry in. Ron P. I’d buy you a beer, Ron, but I know it causes flatulence in you, thus adding to Global warming. ~Bob.)

“The Plan”—Agenda 21 and the Death Knell of Liberty
Excerpt: The death knell for freedom has been tolling for some time, and only now are people starting to hear it. It started tolling faintly, decades back, and has slowly progressed in volume, until today its tolling is impossible to ignore. The United States of America—that “shining city on a hill”—had a good run of it, and made a gallant effort at establishing liberty for all. But as the old saw would have it, all good things must come to an end. Liberty, after all, is an aberration in mankind’s history—a light that has flared here and there over the centuries, only to dissolve back into the darkness. America is barreling toward becoming a bit player on the world’s stage, and its vaunted middle class—once the envy of the world—is on the verge of being eliminated. For the good of the planet, for the good of Gaia. For the good of the collective—freedom is being replaced by servitude, capitalism by socialism, and property rights by “sustainable development.”  

Rally calling for Sharia law in U.S. must go forward
Excerpt: A U.S. Muslim group is planning a demonstration featuring controversial British imams who are advocating for the implementation of Sharia law in the United States. Rather than simply banning or protesting the event, it should not only be permitted, but become a prime-time television broadcast. “The event is a rally, a call for the Sharia, a call for the Muslims to rise up and establish the Islamic state in America,” said Imam Anjem Choudary, one of the proposed speakers. The Islamic Thinker’s Society has scheduled the event for March 3 and organizers claim it will be held in front of the White House. If the event does take place, American citizens will have the opportunity to see something that the media has largely kept hidden – that there is a segment of the American population that wants to subjugate our society under Islamic law. That is not to say that all American Muslims prefer Sharia by default – the group has to import speakers from Britain. The event itself may be appalling, but it provides Americans the perfect opportunity to learn the facts about Sharia and begin a national discussion as to whether Sharia is permissible in our society. If Americans can hear for themselves the words of those calling for an Islamic state in our country, rather than the secondhand soft-soaping we are likely to get from the New York Times or MSNBC, that will have a far greater impact. (Of course, if the government has any shred of sense and even a hint of cojones left, the crazy UK speakers will not be allowed into this country. But hey.... stranger things have happened. It will be very interesting if they are allowed in and hold this rally. --Del)
Must Read: What's The Difference Between A Wisconsin Public Employee And A Somali Pirate?
Must read for fans of sarcasm, anyway. Fellow seems a bit perturbed. ~Bob. Excerpt: I’m 64-years-old. I’ve worked full-time for almost 40 years. I’ve diligently paid my taxes, – with the knowledge that most of it goes down the rathole of public spending. I obey the laws, even those I consider idiotic. My principal assets are a heavily-mortgaged house and a car manufactured about the time Paris Hilton lost her virginity. The car and my furnace should be living in a retirement community in Florida. Savings? I was too busy raising four children, and helping to raise two grandchildren, to plan for my retirement. Fact is, I’ll never be able to retire. You can imagine, then, my sympathy for the Jacobin mob in Madison, Wisconsin. When public-employee spokesmen begin whining about “fairness for working families,” I wonder: What’s my family supposed to be? If I put in a 50-hour week, I think I’m on vacation. Guess you have to have a union card to be part of a working family. (I certainly admire the way this man can use language and also has done his homework on the numbers. The Wisconsin teachers and state employees have among the better deals of all such unions in the country. No wonder the rest of the people voted this governor in, when he promised to get serious about cutting costs. BTW, in Connecticut, my old home state, the new Democrat governor considers all the state's financial problems to be a matter of income shortfall, not overspending. So he is pushing all kinds of new taxes... like on haircuts, dog grooming, and other services that nobody ever thought of taxing before. I keep wondering when the people up there will revolt. --Del)

On Teachers and Others
Excerpt: So far the angry teachers of Wisconsin have not yet won over the public. They have not convinced the majority that, in an age of staggering budget deficits, they — or, indeed, public employees in general — must as a veritable birthright enjoy salary, benefits, and pensions on average far more generous than those of their private-sector counterparts, who make up the majority of taxpayers. Teachers are right that the crisis transcends compensation. Yet why, others might ask, would teachers’ unions oppose merit pay? Why should someone who did not join the union still have to pay its dues? Why should the state have to collect the dues from employee paychecks on behalf of the union? Moreover, when these questions are posed amid a landscape of teachers skipping classes to protest, urging students to join them, and soliciting fraudulent doctors’ notes to cover their cancellations of classes — while their supporters in the legislature hide out to prevent a quorum and thereby subvert the democratic process reaffirmed last November — the public becomes further estranged from their cause.

Implementing the US Neutrality Act to Prevent Support for Hamas
Excerpt: Some organizations, such as the US based Free Gaza Movement, are actively working to generate support for additional flotillas to Gaza. Several new ones are being planned for this Spring. Non Governmental Organizations in the US for example are engaged in gathering people to take part in breaching the Israeli blockade of Gaza, sometimes even in a violent manner, and soliciting funding for these ventures from financial backers. The stated goal of the Free Gaza Movement, even goes so far as to call for hostile action against Israel as a means of breaching the blockade (stating for example that the Israeli authorities around Gaza be completely ignored).

Having a tough day? Are you as up for a challenge as these guys?

Abbas: $460 million in US aid "does not mean they dictate to us whatever they want"
Excerpt: Palestinian Authority leaders and its official media have attacked the US with a barrage of anti-American statements. This follows the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution last week on the issue of Israeli building in Jerusalem and the West Bank. These verbal attacks come in spite of the continued substantial financial aid the PA receives from the US. A few weeks before the UN vote, Mahmoud Abbas already announced that US financial support of the Palestinian Authority will not allow the US "to dictate to us whatever they want." Abbas cited two examples of requests by the Obama administration that he personally had rejected:

John Coleman on the state of global warming
Coleman is that seldom-seen, rare creature, the honest TV journalist. As a meteorologist, he also has significant knowledge in his field of expertise. He’s been involved with trying to keep the science honest about what is—and isn’t—known about global warming for years. He has made many short video presentations, the latest of which is linked at this site. Ron P. Excerpt: There is a story I heard that I keep thinking about. It really underlines the problem I have in trying to counter the bad science behind the global warming scare predictions. So here is the story: “A group of over 200 environmentalists were in an auditorium listening to a symposium about climate change, i.e. global warming or climate disruption. One of the speakers asked, “If I could instantly produce a genie with a magic wand to stand here before you today. And if, that genie could wave his magic wand and wall-la….carbon dioxide would no longer be a greenhouse gas that produced uncontrollable global warming….How many in this room would be happy, satisfied and pleased?” Two people out of two hundred hesitatingly raised their hands. Of the others, some smirked, some laughed and some yelled out, “No, no. Hell no.” I cannot testify that this event actually occurred. But, I heard it as though it was a truthful report. In any case it haunts me because it demonstrates what I perceive to be something akin to the actual state of affairs in our efforts to quiet the Algorian scare predictions about the consequences of global warming. There are large segments of the population that believe the global warming pronouncements. They have heard them over and over again from people they trust and respect, in school, on television, in the news and in their communities. They have become “believers”, not unlike those who believe in a set of religious beliefs.

The Effects of Union Membership on Democratic Voting
Excerpt: How important are labor unions to the Democratic Party? The question isn’t easy to answer. Perhaps the biggest way that unions help the Democrats is by donating to them: unions are among the top contributors to Democratic campaigns and left-of-center causes, having given tens of millions of dollars to them in 2010. But, although campaign contributions undoubtedly have a fairly profound effect on elections and voting in the Congress, the literature studying this question is somewhat out of date and has to contend with numerous tricky methodological issues. One thing that’s a little easier to examine is the effect that being a member of a labor union, or being in a union household, has on someone’s likelihood of voting Democratic. In 2008, for instance, 59 percent of people in union households voted for Barack Obama, as compared to 51 percent of people in non-union households—

How About Adding a North Korea Crisis to the Mix?
Excerpt: Now is the time actually to pay attention and to anticipate further unrest in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). The rulers of the DPRK are malign; they are not stupid and seem more adept at seeing out than we are at seeing in. Their slaves don’t know much about the world beyond the borders, but the rulers do. As the situation in the DPRK continues to descend into anarchy, its temporary avoidance will likely require dramatically increased military excitement. While the Obama administration’s fleeting attention to Asia is further diminished by developments elsewhere, it may become too late. Even the glorious mess in Wisconsin might have to get along without further help from the Obama administration. While continuing to enhance its already firm relationship with Iran, the DPRK continues to experience increasing difficulties, most self-inflicted. Widespread starvation was and remains bad but now there is also rampant hoof and mouth disease, which will lead to even more starvation. It began in Pyongyang, and “a guard post between Pyongyang and Pyongsong is preventing vehicles from entering the capital. … Pyongyang was the first location where the disease broke out”…. Animal hoof and mouth disease is different from human foot and mouth disease and the diseases are not transmissible from animals to humans or vice versa. However, the responsible viruses may mutate and, in any event, humans can carry highly contagious animal hoof and mouth disease to other animals. For that reason and others, it is necessary to dispose of the animal carcasses in ways likely to minimize spread of the contagion; distributing the meat and other body parts for sale, consumption, and other purposes throughout the country will only accelerate the spread of the disease. (The world never sleeps. While most eyes are on the Middle East, the North Koreans have gotten themselves into a major agricultural catastrophe. The only way I’ve ever heard of to contain H & M is to kill and burn the entire herds it is found in. “If there ISN’T any hoof and mouth disease, there WON’T be any” is how I heard it. In a country that’s already starving…. Ron P.)

Egyptian Armed Forces Fire At Christian Monasteries, 19 Injured
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army's use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday's army attack. Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.

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