Friday, July 24, 2009

Cruel but Necessary: Israeli Opinions about the Settlements and Obama

Antony Loewenstein and Joseph Dana write:

With all the current rhetoric out of Washington regarding an Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, we wanted to gauge public opinion on the streets of Jerusalem on a sunny, Sunday afternoon last weekend. What we found was shocking but unsurprising. The ease with which most Americans and Israelis, young and old, spouted racist and uncompromising comments about Arabs, settlements and Israeli conduct was a raw manifestation of the barriers to the peace process.

We chose the most central and trafficked area of West Jerusalem to conduct random interviews with passers-by on the street. Most people were willing to express their views, unafraid to display Zionist chauvinism in its most blatant form. Palestinians aren’t real human beings in this world. Engagement with Arabs is treasonous. Barack Obama should butt out of Israeli affairs. Illegal, West Bank settlements are necessary to secure the Jewish state.

The aim of this video isn’t to mindlessly demonise Israel but to reveal the side of a country, and its frequent visitors, that is too rarely discussed in the West. It’s a place that is all-too-often, conveniently ignored in the Jewish Diaspora. These bigoted attitudes are only growing in Israel, as American Jews increasingly support Obama to pressure Israel to change its self-destructive course.

The American-Israeli relationship is in serious need of re-assessment.

by Adam Horowitz

'Culture of Corruption'

Check this link ........

World Prepares to Dump the Dollar

American economists think the world can’t afford to let go of the dollar’s reserve currency status. The world is about to teach them differently.

What do China, India, Brazil, Russia, France and Germany have in common? These countries most often can’t agree on anything. But they are united in one strange—and ominous—way. They blame the United States for wrecking the global economy. And they think the dollar is the wrecking ball.

One rock-solid, foundational belief underpins almost all economic theory in America: faith in the dollar’s unassailable status as the world’s reserve currency. Foreigners hold so many dollars that they can’t afford to stop buying them, the theory goes. Therefore the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is sound. But the dollar is now coming under a concentrated attack. Are American economists about to get schooled?

Angela Merkel summed up the dollar-skeptic viewpoint last year. “Excessively cheap money in the U.S. was a driver of today’s crisis,” she told the German parliament. And America’s solution—even more cheap money—was just setting the world up for another crisis, she said. It was just a matter of time.

The irony is that America is completely blind to the catastrophe heading its way. As the economic crisis unfolded at the end of last year, investors made a mad rush out of global stock markets and into other assets. The biggest beneficiary of the panic was the one market large enough and liquid enough to handle the trillions of dollars being moved: the U.S. dollar market. This caused the dollar to surge in value.

America grossly misdiagnosed the demand for dollars as a vote of confidence in the U.S. economic system. In fact, it was primarily a case of investors looking for a place they could quickly and easily get their money in—and out.

Now that the initial panic has subsided, the dollar’s international purchasing power has resumed its former downward trajectory. Since the post-crisis high in March, the dollar has fallen by a portfolio-shredding 10 percent.

America’s foreign creditors are again questioning the wisdom of holding so many U.S. dollars. And they’re looking for a way out.

“Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China are demanding a greater stake in the management of the global economy and challenging the dollar as the primary denomination for world reserves,” reported Bloomberg about the recent G-8 summit.

But is dumping the dollar just wishful thinking on the part of these nations? Or is there some tangible alternative? Well, how about this: Some think they’ve already minted a dollar-killer.

Russia’s president is pushing to remove the dollar and reinstate some version of a gold standard. Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a newly minted gold bullion coin that he said was a true “symbol of unity,” and “our desire to solve such issues.” It was a test sample of a new supranational currency referred to as the United Future World Currency. Samples were issued to each of the world leaders attending the G-8 summit.

“We are discussing the creation or, to be more correct, the appearance of new reserve currencies,” said Medvedev.

What is even more surprising is that the dollar assaults have come not only from perennial U.S. antagonists but also from its more democratic allies. At the G-8 summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a complete revamp of the global currency system, saying that the dollar’s supremacy is outdated. “[W]e’ve still got the Bretton Woods system of 1945,” Sarkozy stated on July 9. “Frankly, 60 years afterwards, we’ve got to ask: Shouldn’t a politically multipolar world correspond to an economically multi-currency world?”

Bretton Woods was the historic conference that laid the foundation for a postwar global economy centered on the dollar. “Even if it’s a difficult topic,” Sarkozy said, “There has to be a debate.” “Debate” about Bretton Woods is flowery code for an attack on the dollar.

India too seems to be moving into the anti-dollar camp. Suresh Tendulkar, an economic adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is urging the government to diversify its foreign-exchange reserves and hold fewer dollars. India holds over $250 billion worth.

But the next blow to the dollar may come as a complete surprise to Washington policymakers. Since World War ii, Japan has been a stalwart dollar supporter and a close collaborator with Federal Reserve monetary policy. That may be about to end. For only the second time in 54 years, the opposition in Japan is close to taking over the government. Japan’s economy, like those of the rest of the world, is in severe contraction, and disgruntled voters are upsetting the balance of power and pushing for radical reforms.

Back in May, Masaharu Nakagawa, the chief finance spokesman for the opposition, told the bbc that he was worried about the future value of the dollar. He said that if his party were elected in the upcoming national elections, Japan would refuse to purchase any more U.S. treasuries unless they were denominated in Japanese yen instead of dollars.

Such a decision could break the U.S. dollar bond market.

Japan is America’s second-most important creditor nation—lending the U.S. billions of dollars each year. If Japan won’t lend unless America pays it back in yen, then China and other major lenders may quickly follow suit. This would eliminate America’s ability to use inflation to cheat on its debt payments. America’s debt burden would soar, interest rates would jump, and national default—Argentina-style—could be staring America in the face within months instead of years.

“America is making a terrible mistake which will result in the greatest fall in all of mankind’s history!” Tim Thompson wrote for the Trumpet in 2000. “As soon as America is no longer a safe place for foreign money, that money will be gone. And once the foreign money is gone, it will leave us with a mountain of debt that we cannot repay.”

What Japan is proposing could be the first steps of a great exodus from the U.S. bond market and consequently the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

America’s leaders seem blind to the looming dollar revolt. Global economies are in crisis. Unemployment rolls are soaring. People want answers and solutions. The jobless will demand action, and culpable politicians will look for scapegoats and distractions. The first step, blaming the U.S. and its currency for the global recession, has already begun.

A new global currency—and leveraging it to knock the U.S. down—will be the solution.

The highly trained economic theorists who keep telling us that foreigners can’t afford to stop supporting the U.S. are about to get reeducated at Reality U.

Rahm Emanuel: House Will Vote On Health Care Before Recess

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel tells NPR he expects a vote on health care in the House "next week."

AUDIO: Emanuel: GOP Sees Health Care In "Political Terms"

VIDEO: Pelosi Not "Bound" By Obama's Deals With Health Care Execs

NPR: Emanuel: Changes To Health System Take Time

911, police tapes key in Gates case

Mounting pressure to get to the bottom of the controversial arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is centering on recorded police tapes that may offer a dose of reality amid all the media and political noise.

Cambridge police brass and lawyers are weighing making the tapes public, which could include the 911 call reporting a break-in at Gates’ home and radio transmissions by the cop who busted him July 16 for disorderly conduct.

“It’s powerful evidence because the (people involved) have not had a chance to reflect and you are getting their state of mind captured on tape,” said former prosecutor and New York City police officer Eugene O’Donnell, who is now a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said last night he has asked City Solicitor Donald Drisdell to review the 911 tape, which has the potential to either bolster or impugn Gates’ stance that he is a blameless victim of racial profiling at his own home.

Further, Sgt. James Crowley noted in his report that he radioed police headquarters to let them know he was with the person who appeared to be the home’s lawful resident, but who was “very uncooperative.”

Upon receiving Gates’ Harvard ID, Crowley wrote he radioed in to request “the presence of the Harvard University Police.”

In a radio interview yesterday morning with WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, Crowley, a 42-year-old father of three, said he hasn’t heard the tapes.

“One of my first transmissions was to slow the units down and I’m in the residence with somebody I believe resides here, but he’s being very uncooperative. So, that’s in real time,” Crowley told the sports-talk hosts.

“I’m not really sure how much you could hear from Professor Gates, you know, in the background. I, I don’t know. I haven’t heard the tapes.”

Haas did not share with reporters what can be heard on the tapes, but commented, “I don’t believe Sgt. Crowley acted with any racial motivation at all.”

Gates, 58, a world-renowned scholar and documentary filmmaker on black history, allegedly ranted to police at his Ware Street home, “This is what happens to black men in America!” and “You don’t know who you’re messing with!” in addition to verbally dragging Crowley’s mother into the fray.

“More often than not,” O’Donnell said, “as the facts come out, they are more favorable to the cop. It’s crucial in the sense that it provides independent evidence. There is no question it provides corroboration. He called the tapes potentially “crucial” to Crowley’s ability to defend himself against charges of racism.

Attorney Stuart London, who has defended countless cops in high-profile cases, including one of the NYPD officers charged in the 1998 beating and plunger torture of Abner Louima in 1998, said, “If (the officer is dealing) with someone who is not being cooperative and is unruly, (the tape) gives you more insight into the state of mind of the officer. That’s the most important part.”

“I don’t believe this officer did anything wrong, and given what we know, I don’t think he would be afraid to share the tapes at all, either,” said Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. “It’s public record. From dispatch to conclusion, it’s all on tape.”

Jobless Checks for Millions Delayed as States Struggle

WASHINGTON — Years of state and federal neglect have hobbled the nation’s unemployment system just as a brutal recession has doubled the number of jobless Americans seeking aid.

In a program that values timeliness above all else, decisions involving more than a million applicants have been slowed, and hundreds of thousands of needy people have waited months for checks.

And with benefit funds at dangerous lows even before the recession began, states are taking on billions in debt, increasing the pressure to raise taxes or cut aid, just as either would inflict maximum pain.

Sixteen states, with exhausted funds, are now paying benefits with borrowed cash, and their number could double by the year’s end.

Call centers and Web sites have been overwhelmed, leaving frustrated workers sometimes fighting for days to file an application.

While the strained program still makes more than 80 percent of initial payments within three weeks — slightly below the standard set under federal law — cases that require individual review are especially prone to delay. Thirty-eight states are failing to make those decisions within the federal deadline.

For workers who survive a paycheck at a time, even a week’s delay can mean a missed rent payment or foregone meals.

Kenneth Kottwitz, a laid-off cabinet maker in Phoenix, waited three months for his benefits to arrive. He exhausted his savings, lost his apartment and moved to a homeless shelter.

Luis Coronel, a janitor at a San Francisco hotel, got $6,000 in back benefits after winning an appeal. But in the six months he spent waiting, there were times when he and his pregnant wife could not afford to eat.

“I was terrified my wife and daughter would have to live on the street,” Mr. Coronel said.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said: “Obviously, some of our states were in a pickle. The system wasn’t prepared to deal with the enormity of the calls coming in.”

The program’s problems, though well known, were brushed aside when unemployment was low.

“The unemployment insurance system before the recession was as vulnerable as New Orleans was before Katrina,” said Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, who is chairman of a House panel with authority over the program.

Now the number of unemployed Americans has doubled since 2007 to 15 million and the program is more than tripling in size. About 9.5 million people are collecting benefits, up from about 2.5 million two years ago. Spending is expected to reach nearly $100 billion this year, about triple what it was two years ago.

Given how suddenly the workload has increased, some analysts say the delays might have been even worse.

“Payments are later than they should be, and later than they used to be, but states have been overwhelmed,” said Rich Hobbie, director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, which represents the program’s administrators. “Considering the significant problems in the program, unemployment is responding well.”

The recovery act passed in February provided states an additional $500 million for administration. It also suspended interest payments through 2011 for states paying benefits with federal loans.

Unemployment insurance began as a New Deal effort with dual goals: to sustain idled workers and stimulate weak economies. States finance benefits by taxing employers, typically building surpluses in good times to cover payments in bad.

In 2007, the average state paid about $290 a week and aided 37 percent of the unemployed.

As downturns over the last 20 years proved infrequent and mild, states cut taxes, and the federal government, which pays administrative costs, reduced its support by about 25 percent. The states’ performance sagged.

In a recent report to the Department of Labor, Ohio said its computer problems “kept the system performance at a snail’s pace.” Louisiana said its call center was staffed with “temporary workers, with little knowledge” of unemployment insurance.

North Carolina said a wave of retirements had left it “unable to maintain pace or volume of work.” Virginia wrote “performance continued to be very stagnant” and called the odds of improvement “bleak.”

By 2007, 11 states were paying benefits so slowly they violated multiple federal rules, up from just two at the start of the decade.

While most eligibility reviews can be done by computer, about a quarter require a caseworker — to ensure, say, the applicant was laid off, rather than quit.

In the last year, states processed just 61 percent of these cases within three weeks — well below the federal requirement of 80 percent. More than a half-million cases, 6 percent, took more than eight weeks, and 350,000 took more than 10 weeks.

Of the 12.8 million eligibility reviews that have occurred during the recession, 4.6 million took more than three weeks. That is 2.1 million more than federal rules allow.

Appeals take even longer, with 28 states violating timeliness rules, many of them severely.

Perhaps no state is as troubled as California, which has not met timeliness standards for nine years. As in most other states, its 30-year-old computer runs on Cobol, a language so obsolete the state must summon retirees to make changes.

Yet a major overhaul in California has been delayed for five years, with $66 million in federal funds still waiting to be spent. In part, the shelved project was meant to upgrade the call centers, which were “completely swamped” last winter, a legislative analyst wrote, with “desperate unemployed Californians dialing and redialing for hours.”

Deborah Bronow, who runs the state’s unemployment insurance program, said, “The systems were antiquated to begin with,” and “we were unprepared.”

In April, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency, saying the failure to efficiently process checks posed “extreme peril to the safety of persons and property.”

California has not met federal standards for adequate reserves since 1990. Still, it cut taxes and raised benefits in the last decade. It is now paying benefits with federal loans, with its debt projected to reach nearly $18 billion next year.

Among those hurt by delays was Mr. Coronel, the San Francisco janitor who lost his hotel job in January. With the phone lines jammed, it took him two days to file an application and a month to learn it had been denied.

Then the waiting really began, as Mr. Coronel filed an appeal and heard nothing for three months. Luckless as he applied for new jobs, he borrowed to pay the rent, then moved in with his mother, and joined his pregnant wife in skipping meals.

“The worst day was when my daughter was born,” he said. “I had no clothes for her, and no car seat.”

While federal rules require states to decide 60 percent of appeals cases within a month, in recent years, California has met that deadline for just 5 percent. A report by the state auditor last year found the appeals board rife with nepotism and mismanagement.

Mr. Coronel won the appeal, but is soothing a marriage strained by a six-month wait. “It’s extremely stressful when you don’t know how you’re going to support your family,” he said.

Nationally, the program is the worst financial shape since the early 1980s, when back-to-back recessions left more than half the states borrowing from the federal government. Tax increases and benefit restraints gradually rebuilt the funds, then states changed course and pushed taxes well below historical levels.

From 1960 to 1990, the tax rate averaged about 1.1 percent of overall payroll. Over the last decade, it fell to 0.65 percent. That represents a tax cut of 40 percent.

Measured against a decade’s payroll, that saved employers $165 billion. But by 2007, when the recession began, the average state had just six months of recession-level benefits in reserve, half the recommended sum.

“The attitude became, ‘We don’t need a firehouse — we can buy hoses when the fire starts,’ ” said Wayne Vroman of the Urban Institute, a Washington research group.

Some analysts defend the tax cuts, saying they helped both employers and workers, by spurring the economy and creating jobs.

“Lower tax rates make it easier to attract business,” said Doug Holmes, president of UWC, a group that advocates on behalf of employers. “We don’t want to spend a whole lot of time beating ourselves up because we didn’t raise taxes enough. Nobody anticipated a recession this size.”

A big reason the reserves fell, Mr. Holmes said, is that the jobless now spend more time on the rolls — 15 weeks in recent years, up from 13 weeks several decades ago. Each extra week costs the program about $3 billion a year. The solution, he said, is stronger job placement provisions.

But others see an irresponsible past that now promises future pain.

“Workers who had nothing to do with the funds becoming insolvent are going to be asked to pay for that with benefit cuts,” said Andrew Stettner, an analyst at the National Employment Law Project, a workers’ rights group. “That’s the worst thing states can do — it takes money straight out of the economy.”

Among those who say timely benefits are essential is Mr. Kottwitz, the Arizona cabinet maker, who lost his job just before Christmas. He filed a claim and promptly received a debit card, with no money on it. It took him weeks to reach a program clerk, who told him to keep waiting.

“They said, ‘We’re behind — be patient,’ ” he said.

With little savings, no family nearby, and a ninth-grade education, Mr. Kottwitz, 42, had limited options. He got $100 a month in food stamps, collected cans and applied for jobs. When his landlord put him out, he moved to a shelter so overcrowded he spent his first few nights on the ground.

“I felt like I was the scum of the earth,” Mr. Kottwitz said.

In March, the shelter referred him to Ellen Katz, a lawyer at the William E. Morris Institute for Justice, an advocacy group, who secured his benefits. By the time the money arrived, Mr. Kottwitz had lost nearly 40 pounds. His first stop was an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Now back in an apartment, he said he was sharing his story in the hope that someone might read it and offer him a job.

“You think that someone would have seen this coming and been more prepared,” he said.


























在新加坡代理氧氣機的Air O2公司於2007年5月成立,售賣可攜帶的罐裝氧氣,裝有90%的氧氣和10%的氮氣。


Air O2公司的老闆林勝豐(47歲)受訪時說,他的顧客群當中,病人(如︰有肺部及呼吸道疾病者、哮喘病患、癌症患者等)、儲在急救箱供緊急救援之用,以及一般的顧客,各佔三分之一。







● 喝太多酒會缺氧, 可以吸入氧氣,避免酒醒後頭痛。
● 汽車內氧氣不夠,駕駛的人如果吸上幾口氧氣,可能會更加精神抖擻、專注開車。
● 加入香精的純氧氣,人們在乘坐長途班機後,吸上10分鐘,會覺得比較精神。



為了減少煙霾入侵對新加坡環境的影響,新加坡政府與私人企業近年來都在積極協助占碑省預防與控制火災。新加坡環境及水源部2007年起在占碑省的麻洛占碑(Maruo Jambi)啟動耗資100萬元的抗煙計劃,目前已完成7個項目中的6個。






























































Is It Worth It?

The Difficult Case for War in Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan has been nearly invisible to the American public since its initial combat phase ended in early 2002, but it has rapidly come once again into view. Indeed, the war is now poised to become perhaps the most controversial and divisive issue in U.S. defense policy.

Managing this war will pose difficult problems both in Afghanistan and here at home. The strategic case for waging war is stronger than that for disengaging, but not by much: The war is a close call on the merits. The stakes for the United States are largely indirect; it will be an expensive war to wage; like most wars, its outcome is uncertain; even success is unlikely to yield a modern, prosperous Switzerland of the Hindu Kush; and as a counterinsurgency campaign its conduct is likely to increase losses and violence in the short term in exchange for a chance at stability in the longer term.

But failure is not inevitable. The U.S. military is now a far more capable counterinsurgency force than the Soviets who lost to the mujaheddin in the 1980s; the Obama Administration is committed to reforming a corrupt government in Kabul that the Bush Administration mostly accepted; and perhaps most important, the United States has the advantage of a deeply flawed enemy in the Taliban. The stakes, moreover, are important even though indirect: Failure could have grave consequences for the United States.

On balance, then, reinforcement is a better bet than withdrawal. But neither option is unassailable, and if presented with all costs and benefits appended, neither looks very appealing—and that will make for very contentious politics in the United States.

A war effort that is costly, risky and worth waging—but only barely so—will be hard to sustain politically; it would be just as hard to end. The Obama Administration wisely wants to avoid unrealistic overpromising or the hyping of threats, but for Afghanistan this means promising smaller benefits in exchange for greater exertions, yielding a net cost-benefit calculus perilously close to a wash. By ruling out clarion calls to great sacrifice for transcendent purpose, a sober approach to Afghanistan makes for a very hard sell and exposes the Administration to criticism from all sides. Yet disengagement, a weaker policy on the merits, courts blame, too, if circumstances in Afghanistan, abandoned to its fate, take a darker turn.

Public opinion is beginning to sour on the war, but for now most voters prefer reinforcement to withdrawal. As public attention shifts from Iraq, the domestic political salience of the Afghan war will grow, however, and public opinion could shift. Given that the rationale for war is such a close call, it will make for a daunting challenge in political management regardless of the Administration’s policy choice. There is no easy way out of Afghanistan, no clear light at either end of the tunnel, for President Obama.

Stakes, Costs and Prospects

Analytically, the merits of the Afghan war turn on three questions: What is really at stake? What will it cost to pursue those stakes? And what is the likelihood that the pursuit will succeed?

The Stakes: The United States has two primary national interests in this conflict: that Afghanistan never again become a haven for terrorism against the United States, and that chaos in Afghanistan not destabilize its neighbors, especially Pakistan. Neither interest can be dismissed, but both have limits as casus belli.

The first interest is the most discussed—and the weakest argument for waging the kind of war we are now waging. The United States invaded Afghanistan in the first place to destroy the al-Qaeda safe haven there—actions clearly justified by the 9/11 attacks. But al-Qaeda is no longer based in Afghanistan, nor has it been since early 2002. By all accounts, bin Laden and his core operation are now based across the border in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Taliban movement in Afghanistan is clearly linked with al-Qaeda and sympathetic to it, but there is little evidence of al-Qaeda infrastructure within Afghanistan today that could directly threaten the U.S. homeland. If the current Afghan government collapsed and were replaced with a neo-Taliban regime, or if the Taliban were able to secure political control over some major contiguous fraction of Afghan territory, then perhaps al-Qaeda could re-establish a real haven there.

But the risk that al-Qaeda might succeed in doing this isn’t much different than the same happening in a wide range of weak states throughout the world, from Yemen to Somalia to Djibouti to Eritrea to Sudan to the Philippines to Uzbekistan, or even parts of Latin America or southern Africa. And of course Iraq and Pakistan could soon host regimes willing to put the state’s resources behind al-Qaeda if their current leaderships collapse under pressure.

Many of these countries, especially Iraq and Pakistan, could offer al-Qaeda better havens than Afghanistan ever did. Iraq and Pakistan are richer and far better connected to the outside world than technologically primitive, landlocked Afghanistan. Iraq is an oil-rich Arab state in the very heart of the Middle East. Pakistan is a nuclear power. Afghanistan does enjoy an historical connection with al-Qaeda, is well known to bin Laden, and adjoins his current base in the FATA. Thus it is still important to deny al-Qaeda sanctuary on the Afghan side of the Durand Line. But the intrinsic importance of doing so is no greater than that of denying sanctuary in many other potential havens—and probably smaller than many. We clearly cannot afford to wage protracted warfare with multiple brigades of American ground forces simply to deny al-Qaeda access to every possible safe haven. We would run out of brigades long before bin Laden ran out of prospective sanctuaries.

The more important U.S. interest is indirect: to prevent chaos in Afghanistan from destabilizing Pakistan. With a population of 173 million (five times Afghanistan’s), a GDP of more than $160 billion (more than ten times Afghanistan’s) and a functional nuclear arsenal of perhaps twenty to fifty warheads, Pakistan is a much more dangerous prospective state sanctuary for al-Qaeda.

Furthermore, the likelihood of government collapse in Pakistan, which would enable the establishment of such a sanctuary, may be in the same ballpark as Afghanistan, at least in the medium to long term. Pakistan is already at war with internal Islamist insurgents allied to al-Qaeda, and that war is not going well. Should the Pakistani insurgency succeed in collapsing the state or even just in toppling the current civilian government, the risk of nuclear weapons falling into al-Qaeda’s hands would rise sharply. In fact, given the difficulties terrorists face in acquiring usable nuclear weapons, Pakistani state collapse may be the likeliest scenario leading to a nuclear-armed al-Qaeda.

Pakistani state collapse, moreover, is a danger over which the United States has only limited influence. We have uneven and historically fraught relations with the Pakistani military and intelligence services, and our ties with the civilian government of the moment can be no more efficacious than that government’s own sway over the country. The United States is too unpopular with the Pakistani public to have any meaningful prospect of deploying major ground forces there to assist the government in counterinsurgency. U.S. air strikes can harass insurgents and terrorists within Pakistan, but the inevitable collateral damage arouses harsh public opposition that could itself threaten the weak government’s stability. U.S. aid is easily (and routinely) diverted to purposes other than countering Islamist insurgents, such as the maintenance of military counterweights to India, graft and patronage, or even support for Islamist groups seen by Pakistani authorities as potential allies against India. U.S. assistance to Pakistan can—and should—be made conditional on progress in countering insurgents, but if these conditions are too harsh, Pakistan might reject the terms, thus removing our leverage in the process. Demanding conditions that the Pakistani government ultimately accepts but cannot reasonably fulfill only sets the stage for recrimination and misunderstanding.

If we cannot reliably influence Pakistan for the better, we should at least heed the Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm. With so little actual leverage, we cannot afford to make the problem any worse than it already is. And failure in Afghanistan would make the problem in Pakistan much harder.

The Taliban are a transnational Pashtun movement active on both sides of the Durand Line and are closely associated with other Pakistani insurgents. They constitute an important threat to the regime in Islamabad in rough proportion to the regime’s inherent weaknesses (which are many and varied). If the Taliban regained control of the Afghan state, their ability to use the state’s resources to destabilize the secular government in Pakistan would increase the risk of state collapse there. Analysts have made much of the threat that Pakistani Taliban base camps pose to the stability of the government in Kabul, but the danger works both ways: Instability in Afghanistan also poses a serious threat to the secular civilian government in Pakistan. This is the single greatest U.S. interest in Afghanistan: to prevent it from aggravating Pakistan’s internal problems and magnifying the danger of an al-Qaeda nuclear-armed sanctuary there.

These stakes are important, to be sure, but they do not merit an infinitely high price tag. Afghanistan’s influence over Pakistan’s future is important, but it is also incomplete and indirect. A Taliban Afghanistan would make a Pakistani collapse more likely, but it would not guarantee it. Nor does success in Afghanistan guarantee success in Pakistan: There is a chance that we could struggle our way to stability in Afghanistan at great cost and sacrifice, only to see Pakistan collapse anyway under the weight of its own elite misjudgments and deep internal divisions.

The Cost: What will it cost to defeat the Taliban? No one really knows. War is an uncertain business. But it is very hard to succeed at counterinsurgency (COIN) on the cheap. Current U.S. Army doctrine is clear on this point:

[M]aintaining security in an unstable environment requires vast resources, whether host nation, U.S., or multinational. In contrast, a small number of highly motivated insurgents with simple weapons, good operations security, and even limited mobility can undermine security over a large area. Thus, successful COIN operations often require a high ratio of security forces to the protected population. For that reason, protracted COIN operations are hard to sustain. The effort requires a firm political will and substantial patience by the government, its people, and the countries providing support.1

In fact, the doctrinal norm for troop requirements in COIN is around one security provider per fifty civilians. Applied to the population of Afghanistan, this would mean about 650,000 trained soldiers and police. If one assumes that only half the country requires active counterinsurgency operations (the south and east at the present time), this still implies a need for about 300,000 counterinsurgents.

Ideally, most of these forces would be indigenous Afghans, but there is reason to doubt that the Afghan government will ever be able to afford the necessary number of troops. If any significant fraction of this total must be American or NATO-based, then the resources needed would be very large in relation to total force availability.

The commitment could also be very long; successful counterinsurgency campaigns commonly last ten to 15 years or more.2 And, at least initially, casualties could be heavy. An extrapolation from the 2007 experience in Iraq could imply more than fifty U.S. fatalities per month during active pacification.3

Prospects of Success: In general, the historical rate of great power success in COIN is not encouraging—around 25 percent.4 And some important features of Afghanistan today are enough to give anyone pause. Orthodox COIN theory puts host-government legitimacy at the heart of success and failure, yet the Karzai government is widely seen as corrupt (even by local standards), inept, inefficient and en route to losing the support of the population. Ultimate economic and political development prospects are constrained by Afghanistan’s forbidding geography, lack of infrastructure and political history. The Taliban enjoy a cross-border sanctuary in the FATA that the Pakistani government seems unwilling or unable to eliminate. Violence is up, perceptions of security are down, casualties are increasing, and the Taliban enjoys freedom of movement, access to the population and financial support from a thriving drug trade.

Worse perhaps, we can affect only some of these challenges directly. We can increase security by deploying more troops, we can bolster the economy to a degree with U.S. economic aid, we can put some pressure on poppy production, and we can pressure Karzai to reform. But only the Afghans can create a legitimate government, and only the Pakistanis can shut down the safe havens in the FATA. We can influence Afghanistan and Pakistan to a much greater degree than we have so far, but we cannot guarantee reform ourselves. To date, neither ally seems ready to do what it takes.

This does not make failure inevitable, however. Great powers’ poor track record in COIN is due partly to the inherent difficulty of the undertaking but also to poor strategic choices. We can learn from experience, and we can change strategies and methods. Indeed, the U.S. military has learned a great deal about COIN in recent years. The new Army-Marine counterinsurgency doctrine is the product of a nearly unprecedented degree of internal debate, external vetting, historical analysis and assessment of recent experience.

The new Administration, moreover, seems determined to address one of the Afghan effort’s most important remaining shortcomings. The new doctrine assumes a close alignment of interests between the United States and its host government: The manual assumes that our role is to enable the host government to realize its own best interest by making itself into a legitimate defender of all its citizens’ well-being. If this is indeed what the host wants, U.S. aid will bring improvement in a direct, unproblematic way—and this is largely what the Bush Administration assumed in providing aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan with few strings attached. But if local leaders put self-interest ahead of public interest and rank currying favor with local elites above economic development or broad political legitimacy, then unconditional aid will often be misdirected and governing legitimacy sacrificed in favor of short-term personal expediency. Many see Hamid Karzai and Pervez Musharraf as precisely the kind of leaders who put their own tenure first and real legitimacy second. Such problems lead some students of counterinsurgency to emphasize the need for conditionality in aid in order to encourage behavior that broadens a host government’s legitimacy and weakens the insurgency. The Obama Administration has made it clear that it intends to combine bigger carrots with real sticks by withdrawing aid should recipients fail to adopt needed reforms. This is an important step forward.

The forces implementing COIN doctrine are also much improved over their Vietnam-era predecessors—and even over their immediate predecessors in Iraq in 2003–04. The U.S. military of 2009 has become uncommonly proficient at counterinsurgency, combining stronger doctrine with extensive COIN combat experience, systematic training and resources that dwarf most historical antecedents. More should be done to improve U.S. COIN capability, but we are now vastly better at this than, for example, the Soviets were in the 1980s, and much more proficient than most historical great power counterinsurgents have been.

Perhaps most important, we are blessed in Afghanistan with deeply flawed enemies. Afghans remember what life was like under Taliban rule, and few want to return to their brand of medieval theocracy. Of course, these preferences are secondary to the need for security, and often to the desire for basic services such as courts free of corruption or police who enforce the laws without first demanding bribes. But because most Afghans oppose Taliban rule, we enjoy a strong presumption in favor of the government, as long as that government provides at least basic services competently.

The Taliban are also far from a unified opposition group. Contrast them with the Viet Cong of 1964, for example, a force in which a common ideology bound the leadership together and linked it to its fighters. The neo-Taliban of 2009 are a much more divided coalition of often fractious and independent actors. There is a hard core of committed Islamist ideologues centered on Mullah Omar and based in Quetta, but much of the Taliban’s actual combat strength consists of an array of warlords and other factions who often side with the Taliban for reasons of profit, prestige or convenience. Depending on the circumstances, they may not follow orders from the leadership in Quetta. We often lament the challenges to unity of effort flowing from a divided NATO command structure, but the Taliban face difficulties on this score at least as severe as ours and potentially much worse. No NATO member would ever switch sides and fight for the Taliban, but one or more component factions of the Taliban might well leave the alliance for the government side. This makes it difficult for the Taliban to mount large-scale, coordinated offensives of the kind needed to conquer a defended city, for example.

In addition, the Taliban face major constraints in extending their influence beyond their ethnic base in southern and eastern Afghanistan. They are a Pashtun movement, but Pashtuns make up less than 45 percent of Afghanistan’s population overall and constitute only a small fraction of the population in the north and west, where the Taliban have very little popular following.5 The Afghanistan war is mainly about ideology, not ethnicity (the government is itself run in large measure by Pashtuns such as Hamid Karzai). Nevertheless, the Taliban’s narrow ethnic base makes it hard for them to conquer the north and west of the country. It acts as a limit on their expansion in the near term.

Taking all this into account, advocates for withdrawal from Afghanistan certainly have a case. The stakes are not limitless, the costs of pursuing them are high, and there is no guarantee that even a high-cost counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan will succeed. But success is possible all the same, given our strengths and our opponents’ limitations. And failure could have potentially serious consequences for U.S. security.

The Taliban’s weaknesses make it hard for them to overthrow a U.S.-supported government while large Western military forces defend it. But without those Western troops, the Afghan state would offer a much easier target. Even with more than 50,000 Western troops in its defense, the Karzai government has proven unable to contain Taliban influence and prevent insurgents from expanding their presence. If abandoned to its fate the government would almost surely fare much worse. Nor would an orphaned Karzai regime be in any position to negotiate a compromise settlement that could deny the Taliban full control. With outright victory in their grasp, it is hard to see why the Taliban would settle for anything less than a complete restoration.

A Taliban restoration, as noted, could restore to al-Qaeda a sanctuary for attacking the United States. And even if a Taliban 2.0 regime vetoed al-Qaeda attacks on the United States, it would almost certainly provide Pashtun militants and their allies in Pakistan a massive launching pad for efforts to destabilize the regime in Islamabad. Even without a haven in Afghanistan, Pakistani insurgents might ultimately topple the government, but that threat clearly grows with the additional resources of an openly sympathetic state across the Durand Line. And this raises the specter of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into al-Qaeda’s hands in Pakistan.

The danger of a nuclear al-Qaeda should not be exaggerated, however. For a U.S. withdrawal to lead to that result would require a networked chain of multiple events: a Taliban restoration in Kabul, a collapse of secular government in Islamabad, and a loss of control over the Pakistani nuclear arsenal (or deliberate transfer of weapons by sympathetic Pakistanis). These events are far from certain, and the compound probability of all of them happening is inherently lower than the odds of any one step alone. But a U.S. withdrawal would increase all the probabilities at each stage, and the consequences for U.S. security if the chain did play itself out could be severe. During the Cold War, the United States devoted vast resources to diminishing an already-small risk that the USSR would launch a nuclear attack on America. Today, the odds of U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan yielding an al-Qaeda nuclear weapon next door in Pakistan may be relatively low, but the low risk of a grave result has been judged intolerable in the past and perhaps ought to be again. On balance, the gravity of the risks involved in withdrawal narrowly make a renewed effort in Afghanistan the least-bad option we have.

U.S. Politics and Afghanistan

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign promised to de-emphasize Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan. At the time, his Afghan hawkishness drew little opposition. The dovish wing of the Democratic Party feared they might hand John McCain the presidency if they undermined support for their nominee. Republicans saw the Iraq war and the Afghan war as important on the merits and also as Republican political legacies, discouraging opposition to either war.

Today the political landscape is different. The Obama Administration put its stamp on Afghanistan policy by boosting troop levels and contrasting this approach with Bush’s COIN-lite methods there. But by putting his seal on the current strategy, Obama has freed Republicans to criticize the conduct of a war that will now be waged with a distinctively Democratic strategy and led by a new commanding general. At the same time, some left-leaning Democrats, increasingly frustrated with the Administration’s centrism on other issues, see escalation in Afghanistan as a further demotion of the progressive agenda they expected Obama to push forward.

Meanwhile, the American public, which has focused mostly on Iraq for the past six years, has begun to rediscover Afghanistan—and it is uncomfortable with what it sees. A March 17, 2009 USA Today/Gallup poll, for example, found that 42 percent of those polled believed it was a mistake for the United States to send troops to Afghanistan, up from 30 percent in February and just 6 percent in January 2002. The percentage of those saying the war is going well dropped to 38 percent in March from 44 percent just two months earlier.6

For now, the public still supports both the war and the Obama Administration’s approach to it: A February 20–22 Gallup poll found 65 percent of respondents favoring the President’s decision to send an additional 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, with only 17 percent favoring a total withdrawal. But that support is fragile. Indeed, a nascent Afghan antiwar movement is already visible, and it includes both Democrats and Republicans. It is small now, but if history is any guide, it will grow as losses do, which they surely will. Even a successful counterinsurgency campaign looks bad in the early going. Classical COIN trades higher losses early on for lower casualties later, which will make the coming year in Afghanistan a hard one, regardless of the strategy’s ultimate merits. Many of the announced reinforcements will be used to clear areas now held by the Taliban and hold them against counterattack, both of which will increase near-term casualty rates. As the U.S. troop count increases, so will the violence, and many will associate the former with the latter. Expect the calls for withdrawal to grow apace with the body count.

The coming Afghanistan debate is unlikely to get as vitriolic as the one over in Iraq in 2006–07. That affair erupted from a potent mix of partisanship and anger at perceived deceit, and so is unlikely to recur. But the political problems the new antiwar movement will pose for Obama could actually be harder to overcome than those the Iraq opposition posed for Bush. After all, Bush was able to circle the wagons, rally his base, and push an unpopular position through Congress by holding the Republican Party together, thereby forcing congressional Democrats to either unite behind a different approach to Iraq or acquiesce in Republican policies. Democrats chose the latter, giving President Bush the freedom to conduct the war as he wished.

Obama, by contrast, heads a Democratic Party that is already divided on the Afghan war and likely to grow more so over time. He also faces a series of domestic crises that will require him to spend political capital in order to win support for his governing agenda. Republicans have shown little willingness to cooperate on anything else, and the Administration’s new ownership of the Afghanistan war gives the GOP another opportunity to retreat into opposition as the news from the front gets worse. Obama could face a situation in which a bipartisan antiwar coalition threatens the majority he will need to maintain funding for an increasingly unpopular war. His ability to impose party discipline could be limited by competing priorities, depending in part on how long and how deep the economic crisis turns out to be.

These challenges will likely get harder over time. If U.S. forces reach a positive military turning point in the Afghan campaign soon enough, political opposition in the United States will wither, as it mostly has with regard to Iraq since late 2007. But if the conflict proves as long and arduous as many counterinsurgencies have, votes on many budgets over several years will be needed to bring this war to a successful conclusion. These votes will take place against the backdrop of mounting casualties, increasing costs and growing pressure to restrain Federal budgets in the face of unprecedented deficits. The result could be a slow bleeding of support as a protracted COIN campaign goes through its inevitable darkest-before-the-dawn increase in casualties and violence.

Even if the Afghan war were an unambiguous necessity, the political challenge of holding a congressional coalition together through a long period of apparent gloom would be hard enough. But a war whose merits skirt the margin of being worthwhile makes this harder still, especially for an Administration that seeks to be restrained and realistic about expectations in Afghanistan. Moreover, the strongest part of the Administration’s case for war, the link between Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, is ultimately indirect. The link is real, but with Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and with the strategic importance of Afghanistan lying chiefly in its effect on its neighbor, a candid, realistic appraisal of Afghanistan’s stakes for the United States requires both modesty and the articulation of a more complicated causal chain than is normal in wartime appeals for U.S. public support. This is an honest leader’s nightmare and his speechwriter’s greatest challenge.

However, reversing policy and disengaging would be no easier for Obama. It would be the wrong course on the merits. Politically, it would commit the Administration to a policy now supported by only 17 percent of the electorate. It would play into the traditional Republican narrative of Democratic weakness on defense, facilitate widespread if ill-founded Republican accusations of the Administration’s leftist radicalism, and risk alienating moderate Democrats in battleground districts whose support the President will need on other issues. However bad the news may look if the United States fights on, withdrawal would probably mean a Karzai collapse and a Taliban victory, an outcome that would flood American TV screens with nightmarish imagery.

Withdrawal would also gamble the Democratic Party’s future—not to mention the nation’s—on the hope that the worst potential consequences of withdrawal and collapse can be averted safely. If the United States pulls out, the Karzai government falls, the Taliban establishes an Afghan state haven, Pakistan collapses and a Pakistani nuclear weapon falls into bin Laden’s hands, then a decision to walk away from Afghanistan would be seen as one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of the modern era. Unlikely as this chain of events may be, to withdraw from Afghanistan while success is still possible is to accept this gamble voluntarily. It is to stake potentially enormous consequences on a decision that need not have been taken. Therein lies the dilemma: Neither course, staying or leaving, is politically easy or strategically safe.

The best policy, therefore, is to defend an expensive, risky, potentially unpopular war with an argument that is sound but ultimately indirect and a close call on the merits. And this will need to be done by the leader of a divided party in the face of rising antiwar sentiment and a host of competing demands, political and financial. Barack Obama is a perhaps uniquely skilled political communicator, and his policy for Afghanistan is the right one. But even the right policy for Afghanistan is going to be a very hard sell indeed.

Gaza Children SPEAK UP

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Mr. President, we have a problem

On this week's 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, President Obama praised the pioneering American astronauts and recalled his own childhood memories in Hawaii of NASA capsules splashing down in the Pacific.

But Houston, we have a problem. The president actually lived in Indonesia in 1969.

Obama met with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin in the Oval Office July 20 to commemorate the historic landing.

He praised the men for their "heroism, calm under pressure" and "grace."

"I think that all of us recall the moment in which mankind finally was untethered from this planet and was able to explore the stars; the moment in which we had one of our own step on the moon and leave that imprint that is there to this day," the president said.

During his speech with the Apollo 11 crew, Obama told the astronauts:

The country continues to draw inspiration from what you've done. I should note, just personally, I grew up in Hawaii, as many of you know, and I still recall sitting on my grandfather's shoulders when those capsules would land in the middle of the Pacific and they'd get brought back and we'd go out and we'd pretend like they could see us as we were waving at folks coming home. And I remember waving American flags and my grandfather telling me that the Apollo mission was an example of how Americans can do anything they put their minds to.

The following is a White House video of his speech:

However, Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971, with his mother and stepfather – and not with his grandfather and grandmother, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, in Hawaii.

Despite several statements made by the president about his childhood years in Jakarta, Obama's own White House biography begins with his alleged birth in Hawaii Aug. 4, 1961, and makes no mention of Indonesia.

It was not until Obama turned 10 that he moved to Honolulu to live with his grandparents.

The White House declined to respond to WND's request for clarification concerning Obama's account of being in Hawaii during the event.

The Apollo 11 splashdown took place 1,440 nautical miles east of Wake Island and 210 nautical miles south of Johnston Atoll on July 24, 1969 – just before Obama's eighth birthday.

By Chelsea Schilling

The US Has No Business Being in the Murder Business

The new CIA director, Leon Panetta, has just informed the US Congress he canceled a secret operation to assassinate al-Qaida leaders. Panetta said the campaign was authorized soon after 9/11 by the Bush White House, but had not yet become operational in 2009.

I respect Panetta, but his claim is not credible. The US has been trying to kill al-Qaida personnel (real and imagined) since the Clinton administration. These efforts continue today under President Barack Obama.

Does Panetta mean that CIA and its masters in the White House sat on their hands and delayed this CIA project to kill senior al-Qaida cadres for eight long years? Sounds unbelievable. It also sounds illegal.

Claims by outraged Congressional Democrats that VP Dick Cheney hid from them details of CIA’s proposed assassination campaign also ring hollow. Either they were blind, deaf and dumb, or hopelessly incompetent. More likely, the legislators did not want to see what was in front of their noses.

The CIA and Pentagon have been in the assassination business since the early 1950’s, using American hit teams or third parties. For one graphic example, in 1985, the CIA organized an attempt to assassinate Lebanon’s leading Shia cleric, Mohammed Fadlallah, using a truck bomb. The attack failed to blow up Fadlallah, but killed 83 civilians and wounded 240.

In 1975 I was approached to join the Congressional Church Committee investigating CIA’s attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, and, later, Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem. The Church Committee turned up a snake pit of illegalities and gangster-style behavior.

Add to America’s hit list Gamal Abdel Nasser, Saddam Hussein, Afghanistan’s Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Iraq’s Abdel Karim el-Kassem, Chile’s Marxist leaders and, very likely, in conjunction with Israel, Yasser Arafat.

Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi led me by the hand through the ruins of his private quarters in Tripoli, showing me where a 2,000-lb US bomb hit his bedroom, killing his infant daughter.

Today, in spite of downing civilian airliners in the past, he is chummy with the US and EU.

Most Pakistanis believe, rightly or wrongly, the US played a role in the assassination of President Zia ul-Haq. However, recent claims by a highly questionable Washington blogger that the US killed its favorite Pakistani, Benazir Bhutto, are attention-seeking lies.

To quote Stalin’s favorite saying, "No man. No problem."

Assassination was outlawed in the US in 1976, but that did not stop attempts by its last three administrations to emulate Israel’s ruthless Mossad in the "targeted killing" of enemies. The Clinton and Bush administration, and now the Obama White House, sidestepped American law by saying the US was at war, and thus legally killing "enemy combatants." But Congress has never declared war.

Washington is buzzing about a supposed secret death squad run by Vice President Dick Cheney and his protégé, the new US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. This fire-breathing general led the Pentagon’s super secret Special Operations Command which has become a major rival to CIA in the business of "wet affairs" (as the KGB used to call assassination) and covert raids.

Americans are now being deluged by sordid scandals from the Bush years about torture, kidnapping, brutal secret prisons, brainwashing, and mass surveillance of American’s phones, e-mail, banking and even its libraries.

The latest outrage: in 2001, as I previously reported, US Special Forces oversaw the murder at Dasht-i-Leili, Afghanistan, of thousands of captured Taliban fighters by Uzbek forces of the Communist warlord, Rashid Dostam.

CIA was paying Dostam, a notorious war criminal from the 1980’s, millions to fight Taliban. Dostam is poised to become vice president of the US-installed government of Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. Bush hushed up this major war crime.

America is hardly alone in trying to rub out enemies or those who thwart its designs. Britain’s MI-6 and France’s SDECE were notorious for sending out assassins. The late chief of SDECE told me he had been ordered by President Francois Mitterand to kill Libya’s Khadaffi. Israel’s death squads are feared around the globe.

History shows that state-directed murder is more often than not counterproductive and inevitably runs out of control, disgracing nations and organizations that practice it. More important, democracies have no business being in the business of murder.

But US assassins are still at work. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, US drones are killing Pashtun tribesmen almost daily. Over 90% are civilians, not local angry tribesmen or Taliban. Americans have a curious notion that killing people from the air is not murder or even a crime but somehow clean.

US Predator attacks are illegal and violate US and international law. Pakistan’s government, against which no war has been declared, is not even asked permission or warned of the attacks.

Dropping 2,000-lb bombs on apartment buildings in Gaza or Predator raids on Pakistan’s tribal territory are as much murder as exploding car bombs or suicide bombers.

by Eric Margolis

Florida congressman Alan Grayson laughs in Ben Bernanke's face - priceless!

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Ron Paul interview Bloomberg 21/07/09

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How the banks have manipulated the price of gold Fannie and Freddie my lips are sealed

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According to the BBC, the government of Israel is ordering its embassies around the world to use a photograph from 1941 which shows the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in a meeting with Adolf Hitler.

Israel is using the photo to imply that Palestinians are Nazis andf more specifically, that Israel has a right to demolish the Shepherd Hotel. Israel's position is that they have a right to demolish the Shepherd Hotel because it was once owned by the Mufti, who was buddy-buddy with Hitler.

But this is a dangerous allusion to engage in!

Here is a photo of Hitler with Britain's Neville Chamberlain. Does this photo give Israel the right to demolish Parliament?

Here is a photo of Hitler with the head of IBM. Does this photo give Israel the right to demolish IBM?

Here is a photo of a group of young Jews from Betar ... wearing Nazi uniforms. Does this photo give Israel the right to kill ... Jews?

Does this next photo make Richard Nixon a rock star? Or Elvis a lying crook? No?

Even for Israel, using that Hitler picture is pretty damned low.

We Now Have A Total Gangster Government

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Morgan Stanley sets aside 72% of revenue to pay bonuses

Morgan Stanley is setting aside a huge sum to pay out bonuses despite posting its third consecutive quarterly loss and admitting it is disappointed with key departments.

The US bank's latest results show it is allocating $3.9bn (£2.36bn) for paying out to staff, 72% of its net revenues. That dwarfs the percentage of revenue set aside by arch rival Goldman Sachs, where workers are on track for large bonuses after record results last week.

Morgan Stanley extinguished the tentative flames of optimism among US banks today when it posted a loss of $159m for April to June and said it was not satisfied with its performance in fixed income trading and in asset management.

News of the bank's loss unsettled traders on Wall Street, whose view of the banking sector's prospects was brightened last week by Goldman's surge in profits and further upbeat news from JP Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America.

Goldman said last week that it was dedicating 49% of its revenue to paying its staff, amounting to a compensation fund of $6.65bn.

Further reading of Morgan Stanley's results showed its compensation pot was not only much bigger as a percentage of net revenues of $5.4bn, but that it had jumped 26% from $3.1bn a year ago.

"It was a very good quarter to be a Morgan Stanley employee," said analyst Brad Hintz at Sanford C Bernstein & Co. "I'm not so sure it was so good to be a Morgan Stanley shareholder."

Although big bonuses to bankers are arousing controversy in the wake of the credit crunch, bumper payouts seem here to stay as firms continue to battle to attract the most talented staff.

The hefty bonus pot at Morgan Stanley echoes its comments that it needs to woo more top performers to its trading floors.

John Mack, chairman and chief executive, said that it was one way the loss-making bank was "taking steps to deliver better results" in its underperforming departments.

"These initiatives include hiring to add key trading and investment management talent," he said.

The bank was hit in the latest quarter by a charge related to repaying government loans known as Tarp. The disappointing performance from Morgan Stanley was accompanied by downbeat news from San Francisco-based Wells Fargo and tempered optimism about a recovery in the financial sector.

Botched Surgery Costs Airman His Legs, Possibly His Job

In new developments, FOX40 News has learned a doctor-in-training was performing a gallbladder surgery when something went medically wrong, leading to the double-amputation of a military cadet.

Former Israeli Minister - "It's a Trick, We Always Use It, calling people anti Semitic"

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U.S. Based Revolution Muslim Website Spreading Messages of Hate

NEW YORK, N.Y. — On any given day, log on to and a host of startling images appear:

— The Statue of Liberty, with an ax blade cutting through her side;

— Video mocking the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl, entitled "Daniel Pearl I am Happy Your Dead :) ";

— Video of a puppet show lampooning U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq;

— The latest speech from Sheikh Abdullah Faisal, an extremist Muslim cleric convicted in the UK and later deported for soliciting the murder of non-Muslims.

Even more surprising is that isn't being maintained in some remote safe house in Pakistan. Instead, Yousef al-Khattab, the Web site creator, runs it from his home in the New York City Borough of Queens.

And, because al-Khattab enjoys the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, all the authorities can do is watch.

Formerly known as Joseph Cohen, al-Khattab is an American-born Jew who converted to Islam after attending an Orthodox Rabbinical school, which he later described as a “racist cult.”

The 39-year-old New York taxi driver launched with the mission of “preserving Islamic culture,” “calling people to the oneness of God” and asking them to “support the beloved Sheik Abdullah Faisal, who’s preaching the religion of Islam and serving as a spiritual guide.”

In 2003 Faisal was convicted in the U.K. for spreading messages of racial hatred and urging his followers to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners. In sermon recordings played at his trial, Faisal called on young, impressionable Muslims to use chemical weapons to “exterminate unbelievers” and “cut the throat of the Kaffars [nonbelievers] with [a] machete.”

Authorities believe Faisal’s sermons have influenced 2005 London transport bomber Germaine Lindsay and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, who attended mosques where Faisal preached.

At times, al-Khattab's postings are farcical, such as a picture of him holding the book "Nuclear Jihad" with a wry smile on his face. Other messages call for radical Muslim rule worldwide.

Al-Khattab claims the Sept. 11 terror attacks were an “inside job,” and he blames U.S. foreign policy for spawning the terrorism that carried out the attacks.

He calls Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and beheaded in 2002 by Islamic extremists in Pakistan, “a convicted spy.”

“I could care less about Daniel Pearl,” al-Khattab said in an interview with “I’m happy to see that he’s gone.”

Click here to view

The content changes constantly. One reason is that the fast flow of information allows messages to spread through cyberspace quickly. Another, terrorism analysts say, is to make it difficult for law enforcement to monitor the site.

Despite his radical anti-Western views, al-Khattab says he does not support terrorism of any kind.

Yet, claims to be the official site of “North American representatives” for Sheikh Faisal, and it appears dedicated to spreading his radical doctrine.

He says Faisal “never said to kill innocent people” and was unjustly imprisoned. He says the real terror organizations are the U.S. Army, the CIA, and the FBI — and the National Coast Guard, “to a lesser extent.”

According to RevolutionMuslim, Faisal — who was deported to his native Jamaica in 2007 — is now receiving donations solicited on the site, including money for a new laptop and DVD burner to spread his message.

It's not illegal to post these messages or collect money for Faisal, but it would be if Faisal were designated a terrorist by the U.S. government. He currently is not listed on any government terror list; a Department of Justice spokesman could not confirm or deny if Faisal is being investigated for any terror related activity.

RevolutionMuslim may look amateurish when compared with other extremist Web sites, but it is no less of a threat, says Mia Bloom, political science professor at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

“It may lead people who become radicalized by it to turn to other, more dangerous Web sites,” such as those run by terrorist organizations, she said.

Bloom characterized al-Khattab’s message as “narrow” and “misinformed” and said he is attempting to “proselytize or radicalize people who share some of these same ideas.”

“[He] has obviously been duped or is duping others because that’s not what Islam preaches,” she said.

On his site al-Khattab appears to condemn the very democracy that guarantees him the freedom to express himself — a freedom he cites in a disclaimer on his homepage:

“We hereby declare and make absolute public declaration that operates under the first amendment right to freedom of religion and expression and that in no way, shape, or form do we call for war against the U.S. government or adhere to the enemies of the United States elsewhere.”

Under the law FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said it is difficult to bring criminal charges against the operators of Web sites like unless specific threats are made against an individual or individuals.

Kolko while not speaking directly about RevolutionMuslim said radical sites like these are not often prosecuted.

"It's usually a First Amendment right if they don't cross the threshold of making any threats," said Kolko. "There's nothing we should or could do."

“Until the rhetoric reaches the point in which it’s no longer protected speech under the first amendment, it’s hard to stop it,” said security expert, Harvey Kushner.