Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What has Google done to its iGoogle layout?

This morning I saw an ugly black bar across the looked like Twitter, or something from Microsoft. Horrible, dark, and scary. Corporate and icky--someone I know pointed out the red indicator makes the colors on the bar red, black, and white...Verizon colors. YUCK!

I don't know how to get the old friendly, calm, sooting blue and white version of iGoogle back. It was relaxing to look at.

Not this new page. I hate it.

Is this the beginning of the end of Google?

If I had stock in the company, which I don't, I'd start selling...unless they fix it, as Coca-Cola did with New Coke.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ronald Kleijer's "Impressions of Uzbekistan"

I attended the opening of Dutch painter Ronald Kleijer's art show at the Studio H Gallery in Washington, DC last Friday, after someone I know saw a listing in the Washington Post Weekend section. He must be the only Dutch artist currently painting in Uzbekistan. And the show was very good! The Vermeer of Central Asia, perhaps? In any case, here's some video I took at the event, which gives sense of Kleijer's still-life, landscape, and portrait paintings:

There's an interview with Kleijer on the East City Art website, here.

Studio H Gallery is located at 408 H Street NE second floor Washington, DC 20002, phone: (202.468.5277). Hours by appointment. Website:

Sheldon Kimmel: Everything You Think You Know About US Agriculture Policy is Wrong

My buddy, Dr. Sheldon Kimmel, has just published an economic analysis of US Agriculture policy on SSRN. He says it is based on a false premise. The article is titled "The Illusion of Anticompetitive Behavior Created by 100 Years of Misleading Farm Statistics".
The share of U.S. consumer food-spending that farmers received (the “farm-share”) fell steadily from 48% in 1913 to only 20% by 2000, prompting repeated investigations into who might be to blame for that decline. Similar alarms come from the other standard measure of how markets treat farmers, the farm-retail, “price spread.” However, this paper explains the biases built into these measures: Both of these measures are distorted by purely nominal changes. This paper introduces a better measure of how markets have treated farmers, and shows that, if measured properly, the farm-share of total consumer food costs has been stable.

Eliyho Matz on the Legacy of Peter Bergson

Eliyho Matz sent this article for publication in anticipation of an upcoming July conference about Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook), to be held at Israel's Yad Vashem:
Crazy Bergson Boy
By: Eliyho Matz

In honor of Will Rogers, Jr., and other Gentiles who attempted to save Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
And a special thanks to Thomas Jefferson.

[In a future feature film about the Bergson Boys, there will be an opening scene in a classy New York City restaurant: On one side of the room will be seated Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, Claude Levi-Strauss, Isaiah Berlin, Benzion Netanyahu and some other prominent Jewish personalities.  Seated at the other side of the restaurant will be Will Rogers, Jr., Guy M. Gillette, Edwin Johnson, Andrew Somers, and some other Congressmen and Senators prominent in the 1940’s.  The group of Jews will be overheard discussing their overall personal achievements during WWII in science, philosophy, etc.  The Congressmen and Senators will be heard rehashing their frustrations concerning the pitfalls they encountered in their attempts to work together to save European Jews.  Suddenly Peter Bergson appears, entering into the restaurant with Marlon Brando, Ben Hecht, Kurt Weill, and Stella Adler.  The group of government gentlemen look up and obviously recognize and warmly greet Bergson and his entourage; the Jewish group displays only sketchy familiarity….Evidently, it’s all relative….]
​As years go by, recognition given to the Bergson Group’s activities in the United States during WWII has become increasingly ambivalent.  The leading character in this group is Hillel Kook, a.k.a. Peter Bergson, a Palestinian Jew growing up under British Mandate Palestine who left the religious life of the yeshivas in Jerusalem and became a founding member of the Irgun in Palestine.  Established as one of the Irgun leaders, Bergson’s activities carried him to Europe and culminated in the United States, where he not only became a leading spokesman for European Jews during the Holocaust, but where he also played a leading role in the creation of the new Israeli nation.

​Some episodes of Peter Bergson’s life have been highlighted by various historians and writers, whose writings have reflected perhaps amazement but more often confusion over his activities.  It is not surprising that such reactions would appear, especially because most of the time those who admired him, or those who admonished him, all seem to have had at best only a partial perspective of who he was.  I was fortunate to have worked closely with Peter Bergson during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s at his Institute of Mediterranean Affairs in New York City.  As we worked together to organize his papers and chronicle his thoughts, he spoke extensively of his activities, associations, dreams and frustrations.  Due to the upcoming conference at Yad Vashem scheduled for mid-July 2011, the theme of which is an examination of the activities of the Bergson Group during the Holocaust, I feel compelled to comment upon and clarify some issues concerning Bergson’s activities.  

To begin with, that such an event is happening at Yad Vashem at all is, in itself, some sort of a miracle. Several years ago the Wyman Institute presented a petition asking Yad Vashem to mention and exhibit some of Peter Bergson’s activities during the Holocaust.  Yad Vashem, the Israeli National Holocaust Memorial and its top leadership, refused to hear the plea [see my article “Not a Yad and Not a Shem”].  And now, a sudden shift.  The main speaker of the Yad Vashem conference will be Dr. David Wyman, a leading American historian of the Holocaust era, and the historian who has connected the dots to illustrate and prove that the political pressure that the Bergson Boys brought to bear during 1943 in the United States led to the establishment of the US governmental agency, the War Refugee Board.  

Dr. Wyman is the individual who introduced me to Peter Bergson.  However, what is confusing to me is Wyman’s lack of interest, as displayed in his writings, to confront the “other” issues that the Bergson Group dealt with, such as those surrounding “nationhood” and the political consequences of the work they did.  This reluctance on Wyman’s part was apparently due to his desire not to confront Jewish organizations about their passive and ineffective role in the Holocaust.  The fact that Wyman has now finally picked up the challenge to explain the Bergson phenomenon is, to me, not indicative of his overall understanding of the larger implications of some of their work, nor is he confrontational enough to bring the Bergson Group to the center stage of Holocaust historical writing.  The appearance of Wyman at the conference in Jerusalem is significant.  But, as I mentioned before, Wyman refuses to confront the totality of the Bergson Group’s activities as they extended past 1944 to the creation of the Israeli nation and to Bergson’s membership in the first Israeli Parliament; thus, for example, he offers no analysis of the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation [this is not Hebrew National, the kosher hot dog manufacturer, whose founders probably meant it to be Jewish and Kosher, and not National].  

The conference, if serious about doing any justice to the Bergson Group, is going to have to deal with the analysis of how the news of the Holocaust came to America.  The arrival of the news of the Holocaust has been debated, explored and is in totality a mess.  A few historians, like Walter Laqueur and Richard Breitman in their book Breaking the Silence [NY: Simon & Schuster, 1986], Richard Breitman and Alan M. Kraut in their article “Who Was the ‘Mysterious Messenger’?” [Commentary: October 1983], and David S. Wyman  in his own interpretation [The Abandonment of the Jews] have all emphasized the role played by Dr. Gerhardt Riegner, the World Jewish Congress representative in Switzerland, in transmitting a German messenger’s news to America.  I do not have the real answer as to the identity of the German sources.  However, I did see a copy of an affidavit that Paul Guggenheim, a Swiss Jewish professor of law, presented to American authorities in Switzerland in 1942 which indicates that the information on the mass killing of European Jewry came initially from a German official of the German Foreign Office, and an official of the Ministry of War.  This affidavit led me to believe that detailed information came to US representatives in Switzerland from various German informants; and at one time I wrote a short article, “The Mysterious Riegner,” to present this case.  While he was still alive, Riegner refused to give the name of his German source, which leaves us with more confusion than we need.  

​The simple facts are thus: the United States, at the start of WWII, did not have good Intelligence services.  FDR’s quick response to this Intelligence crisis led eventually to the establishment of the OSS and to the nomination of William (“Wild Bill”) Donovan as its Chief Operating Officer.  The lack of American experience in international spying led the Americans to ask the British to help out.  The British help was simultaneously a blessing and a curse; what is important to note is that some of the British Intelligence leadership were double agents and committed Communists, a situation that, not surprisingly, resulted in many disastrous consequences in Intelligence, and is especially where the Jewish Holocaust suffered severe casualties.  Some of these consequent frustrations can be found expressed in the book Intrepid’s Last Chance by William Stevenson [NY: Villard Books, 1983].  According to Stevenson, it was two Polish nationals, Jan Nowak and Jan Karski, who both brought the news of the massacre of European Jewry to the West.  “Jan Nowak went to the Public Record Office outside London long afterwards and was shocked to find that everything from Karski and himself with regards to the extermination of the Jews had been omitted” (p. 272).  Looking carefully at Intelligence issues during WWII, one discovers that some elements of the German leadership had been very shaken by Hitler’s wartime activities.  Based on facts understood today, I would speculate that these elements, once they discovered and fully understood the Holocaust massacres, comprehended quite well that this plan of the systematic murder of European Jewry would harm Germany in the future.  Therefore, as I mentioned above, they were willing to bring the terrible news to the West, especially to the Americans.  Switzerland was the ideal place for them to carry out their mission, and sure enough, a few German messengers did arrive there.  The Germans who endangered themselves knew exactly what they were doing.  Once the messages reached the West, it would have been proper for the Allied governments to react.  But this did not happen; the reason? -- Intelligence, Communist and other elements preferred the War to continue as long as it would help the Soviets.  The consequent damage done to the Americans as a result of their inability to grasp the import of the intelligence reports coming out of Germany was enormous, and of course no action was taken to save Jews.  The German elements willing to endanger their lives to topple the Hitler regime later failed again in July 1944.

​The news about the Holocaust became public in the United States at the end of 1942.  This led to a great deal of anxiety and anger in the American Jewish community.  Within two weeks, on December 8, 1942, at noontime, FDR met with the Jewish leadership in America in a meeting at the White House; this was, in fact, the only time during WWII that the President invited this group to meet with him.  A document I uncovered, written by Adolf Held, the President of the Jewish Labor Committee, that I published in Midstream [August/September 1980] is probably the most devastating piece of information we have about FDR and the massacre of European Jewry.   In it Held documents that by this early date, December 8, 1942, FDR and his administration are fully aware of the massacre, but that FDR has decided not to take any action in this regard, at least for awhile.  Wyman cites this document in his book The Abandonment of the Jews, but he fails to mention in his footnotes that it took me a few years to find it, and that I actually published this Held piece in an article four years before his book appeared.  This omission is not a matter of a footnote error.

Due to the commotion brought by the messages that appeared in the American newspapers in November 1942 and the news of the systematic mass killing of European Jewry, the Bergson Group immediately started shifting gears and moved from their project to establish a Jewish army, to a full-blown effort to convince the FDR administration to take action to save what was left of European Jewry.  Their activities have been documented by a few historians, of whom the leading one is Dr. David Wyman, but he is not alone.  Wyman is of the school that concluded that the Bergson Group’s political activities in the year 1943 led to the establishment of the War Refugee Board in January 1944.  This being so, the Bergson Group’s interest in saving European Jews did not, however, begin only in 1942/1943, nor did it end in 1944; rather, Bergson was involved in attempts to save Jews from 1935-1948.  The trauma of  November 1942, did not change his tempo or his ultimate goal to establish a Hebrew Republic (Israeli Republic) with a written constitution à la Thomas Jefferson as a model.  This is what most historians fail to recognize.  Bergson was probably the most tuned-in individual to come out of Palestine; over more than thirteen years he single-handedly reacted and promoted schemes to save Jews: The Committee for a Jewish Army, the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, and the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation, were all established by Bergson and were meant to give the Jews during WWII a political identity denied to them by the Nazis.  For the Nazis, for whom the “Jew” was worth only one thing, i.e., a ticket to Auschwitz, thus eliminated Jewish political identity altogether.  So for Bergson, this Nazi scheme fomented the critical need to reestablish and inform the free world of a political status for European Jewry.  Bergson believed that establishing a political status for Jews was a critical factor toward saving them.  A Hebrew Republic in Palestine, in spite of the world’s unwillingness to accept this idea, was for him the formula for achieving this sought for political status.  The current research on the Bergson Group’s activities is to-date very limited, but the totality of his activities is essential to grasp, not just what the Group did in 1943.

Another participant in this upcoming seminar at Yad Vashem will be Judith Baumel, whose book Between Ideology and Propaganda: The “Irgun” Delegation and the Origins of American-Jewish Right-Wing Militancy [Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1999; Hebrew] is totally confusing as well as misleading, analytically faulty, and absolutely ahistorical.  Dr. Wyman will thus have to face her and her theoretical nonsense, and I hope that there will not be an academic explosion at this conference!  Baumel does not accept Wyman’s conclusion that the political activity of the Bergson Group led to the creation of the War Refugee Board.  It should be noted that she is not alone in this stance among Israeli and American historians.  For example, Saul Friedlander, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945 [NY: Harper Perennial, 2008], also does not believe that to be the case.  But I believe that unprejudiced examination of the facts will support Wyman’s conclusion.  Many years ago, while I was a student of Dr. Wyman, and afterwards, I tried to explain the issue to Joel Carmichael, the editor of Midstream magazine and the son of Louis Lipsky, a well known Zionist leader.  As a result of this discussion, Carmichael published my article “Political Actions vs. Personal Relations” [April 1981], also concluding that it was not shtadlanut (Jewish begging) but rather the political action of the Bergson Group in 1943 that led the United States government to take some sort of a role in saving Jews. [In the Jewish prayerbook one repeats in the daily prayers “Thank G-d for not making me a woman.”  I would like to pray “Thank G-d for not making me an academic….”]

The reasons for my writing this article are many.  For me it is important to bring up and to highlight some of Bergson’s activities.  For a number of years at the end of the 1970’s and into the early 1980’s I spent many hours with Peter Bergson as well as Samuel Merlin and Yitshaq Ben-Ami (the father of Jeremy Ben-Ami of J-Street).  Throughout those years we shared lots of ideas and thought over many approaches as to  how to reclaim their place in history, and make their ideas and messages clear and relevant to the next generation.  One of the main issues that always came up in our conversations was the role of the non-Jews who helped the Bergson Group.  It is sort of interesting: it was the non-Jewish politicians who took a moral stand and decided to help.  For Bergson presented them with the powerful argument that if they did not take a moral stand, then they were like the Germans -- and they responded.  So it is important for me to develop some thoughts on the subject of the non-Jewish participants in the Bergson Group’s activities.  Here I would like to focus on one individual, an American Congressman, who was instrumental in helping to propel the Bergson Group’s response to the Holocaust in 1943.  Will Rogers, Jr., was the son of the famous American humorist Will Rogers, whose ancestors were Cherokee Indians and once commented that “’my ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower – they met the boat’” [P.J. O’Brien, Will Rogers, Ambassador of Good Will Prince of Wit and Wisdom (Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Co., 1935; p. 24)].  Will Rogers, Jr., who came to Congress in 1942, should be considered an American hero in the tradition of Sitting Bull, or better still, Crazy Horse.  He definitely inherited from his ancestors that spirit of freedom and stubbornness that helped the Bergson Group pursue its resolve to bring to the United States Congress via the House and the Senate a resolution to create an agency to save European Jews.  FDR did so eventually in 1944 particularly as a result of the pressure of Congress.  In honor of Will Rogers, Jr., and his ancestors, I suggest that we look at the project in the American West of the building of the huge monument to Crazy Horse.  In the spirit of Will Rogers and his ancestors, American Jews and Israelis should take this example of the Americans and erect such a large monument to Peter Bergson in New York, or in Tel Aviv, or in both.  

​WWII was over, and Bergson found himself more and more involved in the pursuit of his lifetime dream to bring about the creation of a Hebrew Republic (as called today the Israeli nation) in Palestine.  It took an enormous amount of political work as well as other grassroots and cultural work to bring about this goal, that his Group felt was worthy to achieve.  I would like to backtrack here and explore something about the Bergson Group that is sometimes overlooked.  In 1943 Bergson for the first time came to realize and tried to cement a few issues concerning Jews.  First he tried to alert the American people to the facts of what was going on in Europe while America was at war and the Jews were being massacred.  Toward this end, he staged a famous pageant “We Will Never Die,” written by the playwright Ben Hecht, in New York City as well as other cities around the US.  Later on, between July 20-25, 1943, in New York City, Bergson arranged The Emergency Conference to Save the Jewish People of Europe.  That conference led Bergson to believe that in order to convince the American government that it should take immediate action to save Jews, he would have to move his activities to Capital Hill and personally to lobby in Congress to push FDR to do something.  He was beginning to fear that the goal to create a state for Jews after the War was getting to be an impossibility, as the number of Jews was diminishing by the millions.  To help secure Jewish (Hebrew, Israeli) sovereignty in Palestine, he dispatched Arie Ben Eliezar to Palestine to revive the Irgun by appointing Menachem Begin to assume its leadership there.  It was only thereafter that Bergson realized the magnitude of his mistake in this appointment.  Menachem Begin, later the Israeli Prime Minister, was one of the biggest disasters that happened in Bergson’s decision-making; Begin caused him agony for the rest of his life, not only for his role in the Altalena incident, but for other issues as well.  We always used to kid around about Begin, seen in Israel as a demagogue, that his legacy would culminate in the famous argument in the Israeli Knesset between him and Sprinzak.  [When Sprinzak commented on the Roman orator Cicero, he used the Hebrew pronunciation “Kikero.” Begin responded that the name should be pronounced “Tzitzero.”  Sprinzak again repeated “Kikero,” and Begin finally deferred by saying, “All right Mr. Sprinkak!”]  Begin was earlier involved in the Altalena incident, the ship that the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation purchased with the help of American funds, part of which were amassed from a play written by Ben Hecht titled “A Flag is Born” and starring the young actor Marlon Brando.  According to Bergson, Begin’s behavior in this incident ruined his life.  [I plan to publish a short article on this subject in the near future.]  As for Begin’s achievement of peace with Egypt in the Camp David agreement, this milestone was mostly due to the involvement of Moshe Dayan.

In 1944, Bergson also proposed the importance of a government-in-exile embassy in Washington, DC., which he established in April 1944.  He asserted that the main reason for this embassy would be to ensure that those Jews who had lost their political identity during the War and were thus stateless could claim to be part of a Hebrew (Israeli) nation, proof of which was their embassy in Washington.  This for him was a critical symbol for the surviving remnant of European Jewry; the fact that Begin in Palestine and the American Jewish leadership did not grasp its significance did not detract from its purpose.  During 1944 and toward the end of WWII, Bergson formulated a written proposal articulating his belief that a Hebrew Republic (Israeli Republic) with a written constitution (like the American one) could be established immediately after the War.  The fact that an Israeli sovereign nation was established in 1948 was for Bergson a natural progression of events and one that he contributed a great deal to.  However, in the end, with the creation of the Israeli nation there emerged realities that terribly bothered Bergson.  First and foremost was the fact that the Israeli nation never wrote a constitution for the Israelis, thus depriving itself of becoming a modern nation.  In 1948 he predicted the terrible ramifications that this omission would cause.  The impact of this issue is more complex, as it became a constant source of agony for Bergson for the rest of his life.

To conclude, we wish the organizers of this conference good luck, even though we know for sure that the serious issues Bergson raised will not be discussed.  But it is a beginning, and let us hope that something good will come out of it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

An Indian Diplomat's Analysis of US-Afghan Tensions

M.K. Bhadrakumar, from Asia Times Online:
The Americans may be misreading that the discord with Karzai boils down to his perceived "rentier" mentality, and that through IMF pressure and offers of money, he could be persuaded. Washington may be making a grave miscalculation about the Afghan sense of honor.

It overlooks that slowly, steadily, the US is losing its monopoly of conflict resolution in Afghanistan and Karzai can no longer be kept away from networking with regional powers. Karzai's defiant stance on Saturday comes soon after his return to Kabul from attending the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Astana.

The SCO summit adopted a statement on Wednesday calling for an "independent, neutral" Afghanistan (read: free of foreign occupation). Nurusultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan, who hosted Karzai, put it on record, "It is possible that the SCO will assume responsibility for many issues in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of coalition forces in 2014."

Saturday also happened to be an extraordinary day with Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi arriving in Kabul - an unprecedented visit in the history of Afghan-Iranian relations - "to explore ways for the further expansion of ties between the two neighboring states". Vahidi's visit unmistakably represents a big snub to the Obama administration.

Vahidi waded straight into the post-2014 status of the US occupation of Afghanistan. He told Karzai, "Ensuring regional stability will be possible only by the collective efforts of regional countries and the withdrawal of foreign forces."

Meanwhile, Karzai has already initiated moves to hold a loya jirga (grand council) soon after Eid. As things stand, the likelihood of such a traditional tribal council approving permanent US/NATO military bases is remote. The Afghan people militate against foreign occupation of their country.

The American game plan was to muster enough support in the Afghan parliament for the strategic agreement. But a loya jirga is a different ball game altogether. In his remarks on Saturday, which were nationally telecast, Karzai said, "They [US-led NATO forces] are here for their own purposes, for their own goals, and they are using our soil for that." He is appealing to Afghan nationalism.

In sum, the Obama administration sees the conclusion of the strategic agreement with Karzai, direct US-Taliban talks and the drawdown of troops in July as inter-related vectors of a wholesome process where Washington will be in total command - ably assisted by London. Obama will find it a bitter pill to swallow to accept that Afghan laws will prevail over the conduct of his troops.
Karzai defiantly claims it is his prerogative to decide on the "surge" operations by NATO and US foreign forces. Karzai insists that reconciliation of the Taliban should be "Afghan-led" so that his leadership is not in jeopardy and he links the US long-term troop presence to preconditions so that the Americans will have to depend on him and learn to work under his leadership rather than vice versa.

He threatens to go to the Afghan people unless the US meets the preconditions. Karzai counts on a balancing role by the regional powers in the Afghan endgame. Interestingly, on Saturday, he slammed NATO's military intervention in Libya.

Mark Steyn on the Geert Wilders Case

From National Review Online:
Nevertheless, as in all these cases, the process is the punishment. The intent is to make it more and more difficult for apostates of the multiculti state to broaden the terms of political discourse. Very few Europeans would have had the stomach to go through what Wilders did — and the British Government’s refusal to permit a Dutch Member of Parliament to land at Heathrow testifies to how easily the craven squishes of the broader political culture fall into line.

And at the end the awkward fact remains: Geert Wilders lives under 24-hour armed guard because of explicit death threats made against him by the killer of Theo van Gogh and by other Muslims. Yet he’s the one who gets puts on trial.

That’s the Netherlands, 2011. Shameful.

Geert Wilders Defends Free Speech

In the Wall Street Journal Online:
Yesterday was a beautiful day for freedom of speech in the Netherlands. An Amsterdam court acquitted me of all charges of hate speech after a legal ordeal that lasted almost two years. The Dutch people learned that political debate has not been stifled in their country. They learned they are still allowed to speak critically about Islam, and that resistance against Islamization is not a crime.

I was brought to trial despite being an elected politician and the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament. I was not prosecuted for anything I did, but for what I said. My view on Islam is that it is not so much a religion as a totalitarian political ideology with religious elements. While there are many moderate Muslims, Islam's political ideology is radical and has global ambitions. I expressed these views in newspaper interviews, op-ed articles, and in my 2008 documentary, "Fitna."

I was dragged to court by leftist and Islamic organizations that were bent not only on silencing me but on stifling public debate. My accusers claimed that I deliberately "insulted" and "incited discrimination and hatred" against Muslims. The Dutch penal code states in its articles 137c and 137d that anyone who either "publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way that incites hatred against a group of people" or "in any way that insults a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their hetero- or homosexual inclination or their physical, psychological or mental handicap, will be punished."

I was dragged to court for statements that I made as a politician and which were meant to stimulate public debate in a country where public debate has stagnated for decades. Dutch political parties see themselves as guardians of a sterile status quo. I want our problems to be discussed. I believe that politicians have a public trust to further debates about important issues. I firmly believe that every public debate holds the prospect of enlightenment.

My views represent those of a growing number of Dutch voters, who have flocked to the Party for Freedom, or PVV. The PVV is the fastest-growing party in the country, expanding from one seat in the 150-seat House of Representatives in 2004, to nine seats in 2006 and 24 seats in 2010. My party's views, however, are so uncommon in the Netherlands that they are considered blasphemous by powerful elites who fear and resent discussion.

That's why I was taken to court, even though the public prosecutor saw no reason to prosecute me. "Freedom of expression fulfills an essential role in public debate in a democratic society," the prosecutors repeatedly said during my trial. "That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable."

The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where a court can force the public prosecutor to prosecute someone. In January 2009, three judges of the Amsterdam Appeals Court ordered my prosecution in a politically motivated verdict that focused on the content of the case. They implied that I was guilty. The case was subsequently referred to the Amsterdam Court of First Instance.

The judges who acquitted me yesterday already had a peremptory ruling from the appeals court on their desk. They decided, however, to follow the arguments of the public prosecutor, who during the trial had once again reiterated his position and had asked for a full acquittal.

Though I am obviously relieved by yesterday's decision, my thoughts go to people such as Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, Austrian human rights activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and others who have recently been convicted for criticizing Islam. They have not been as fortunate. In far too many Western countries, it is still impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam.

The biggest threat to our democracies is not political debate, nor is it public dissent. As the American judge Learned Hand once said in a speech: "That community is already in the process of dissolution . . . where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists to win or lose." It has been a tenet in European and American thinking that men are only free when they respect each other's freedom. If the courts can no longer guarantee this, then surely a community is in the process of dissolution.

Legislation such as articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Penal Code disgraces our democratic free societies. On the basis of such legislation, I was prevented from representing my million-and-a-half voters in parliament because I had to be in the courtroom for several days, sometimes up to three days per week, during the past year and a half. Such legislation should be abolished. It should be abolished in all Western countries where it exists—and replaced by First Amendment clauses.

Citizens should never allow themselves to be silenced. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mark Steyn: Too Big To Win

Steyn on America
Why can’t America win wars? It’s been two-thirds of a century since we saw (as President Obama vividly put it) “Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.” And, if that’s not quite how you remember it, forget the formal guest list, forget the long-form surrender certificate, and try to think of “winning” in a more basic sense.

The United States is currently fighting, to one degree or another, three wars. Iraq — the quagmire, the “bad” war, the invasion that launched a thousand Western anti-war demonstrations and official inquiries and anti-Bush plays and movies — is going least badly. For now. And making allowances for the fact that the principal geostrategic legacy of our genteel protectorate is that an avowed American enemy, Iran, was able vastly to increase its influence over the country on our dime.

Afghanistan? The “good war” is now “America’s longest war.” Our forces have been there longer than the Red Army was. The “hearts and minds” strategy is going so well that American troops are now being killed by the Afghans who know us best. Does being murdered by the soldiers and policemen you’ve spent years training even count as a “combat” death? Perhaps that’s why the U.S. media disdain to cover these killings: In April, at a meeting between Afghan border police and their U.S. trainers, an Afghan cop killed two American soldiers. Oh, well, wild country, once you get up near that Turkmen border. A few weeks later, back in Kabul, an Afghan military pilot killed eight American soldiers and a civilian contractor. On May 13, a NATO “mentoring team” sat down to lunch with Afghan police in Helmand when one of their protégés opened fire and killed two of them. “The actions of this individual do not reflect the overall actions of our Afghan partners,” said Maj. Gen. James B. Laster of the U.S. Marine Corps. “We remain committed to our partners and to our mission here.”

Libya? The good news is that we’ve vastly reduced the time it takes us to get quagmired. I believe the Libyan campaign is already in The Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest quagmire on record. In an inspired move, we’ve chosen to back the one Arab liberation movement incapable of knocking off the local strongman even when you lend them every NATO air force. But not to worry: President Obama, cooed an administration official to The New Yorker, is “leading from behind.” Indeed. What could be more impeccably multilateral than a coalition pantomime horse composed entirely of rear ends? Apparently it would be “illegal” to target Colonel Qaddafi, so our strategic objective is to kill him by accident. So far we’ve killed a son and a couple of grandkids. Maybe by the time you read this we’ll have added a maiden aunt or two to the trophy room. It’s not precisely clear why offing the old pock-skinned transvestite should be a priority of the U.S. right now, but let’s hope it happens soon, because otherwise there’ll be no way of telling when this “war” is “ended.”

According to partisan taste, one can blame the trio of current morasses on Bush or Obama, but in the bigger picture they’re part of a pattern of behavior that predates either man, stretching back through non-victories great and small — Somalia, Gulf War One, Vietnam, Korea. On the more conclusive side of the ledger, we have . . . well, lemme see: Grenada, 1983. And, given that that was a bit of post-colonial housekeeping Britain should have taken care of but declined to, one could argue that even that lone bright spot supports a broader narrative of Western enfeeblement. At any rate, America’s only unambiguous military triumph since 1945 is a small Caribbean island with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. For 43 percent of global military expenditure, that’s not much bang for the buck.

Inconclusive interventionism has consequences. Korea led to Norks with nukes. The downed helicopters in the Iranian desert led to mullahs with nukes. Gulf War One led to Gulf War Two. Somalia led to 9/11. Vietnam led to everything, in the sense that its trauma penetrated so deep into the American psyche that it corroded the ability to think clearly about war as a tool of national purpose.

For half a century, the Cold War provided a kind of cover. At the dawn of the so-called American era, Washington chose to downplay U.S. hegemony and instead created and funded transnational institutions in which the non-imperial superpower was so self-deprecating it artificially inflated everybody else’s status in a kind of geopolitical affirmative-action program. In the military sphere, this meant NATO. If the rap against the U.N. Security Council is that it’s the World War II victory parade preserved in aspic, NATO is the rubble of post-war Europe preserved as a situation room. In 1950, America had a unique dominance of the “free world” and it could afford to be generous, so it was: We had more money than we knew what to do with, so we absolved our allies of paying for their own defense.

But 1950 ended. The Continental economies recovered, Europe got wealthy, and so did Japan and later the Asian tigers. And in Washington nobody noticed: We continued to pay, garrisoning not remote colonies but some of the richest nations in history. Thanks to American defense welfare, NATO is a military alliance made up of allies that no longer have militaries. In the Cold War, that had a kind of logic: Europe was the designated battlefield, so, whether or not they had any tanks, they had, very literally, skin in the game. But the Cold War ended and NATO lingered on, evolving into a global Super Friends made up of folks who aren’t Super and don’t like each other terribly much. At the beginning of the Afghan campaign, Washington invested huge amounts of diplomatic effort trying to rouse its allies into the merest gestures of war-making: The 2004 NATO summit was hailed as a landmark success after the alliance’s 26 members agreed to commit an extra 600 troops and three helicopters. That averages out at 23.08 troops per country, plus almost a ninth of a helicopter apiece. Half a decade of quagmire later, Washington was investing even larger amounts of diplomatic effort failing to rouse its allies into the most perfunctory gestures of non-combat pantywaist transnationalism: We know that, under ever more refined rules of engagement, certain allies won’t go out at night, or in snow, or in provinces where there’s fighting going on, so, by the 2010 NATO confab, Robert Gates was reduced to complaining that the allies’ promised 450 “trainers” for the Afghan National Army had failed to materialize. Supposedly 46 nations are contributing to the allied effort in Afghanistan, so that would work out at ten “trainers” per country. Imagine if the energy expended in these ridiculous (and in some cases profoundly damaging) transnational fig leaves had been directed into more quaintly conventional channels — like, say, identifying America’s national interest and pursuing it.

The Cold War casts other shadows. In Korea, the U.S. forbore even to cut its enemy’s Chinese supply lines. You can’t win that way. But in the nuclear age, all-out war — war with real nations, with serious militaries — was too terrible to contemplate, so even in proxy squabbles in Third World backwaters the overriding concern was to tamp things down, even at the price of victory. And, by the time the Cold War ended, such thinking had become ingrained. A U.S.–Soviet nuclear standoff of mutual deterrence decayed into a unipolar world of U.S. auto-deterrence. Were it not for the brave passengers of Flight 93 and the vagaries of the Oval Office social calendar, the fourth plane on 9/11 might have succeeded in hitting the White House, decapitating the regime, leaving a smoking ruin in the heart of the capital and delivering the republic unto a Robert C. Byrd administration or some other whimsy of presidential succession. Yet, in allowing his toxic backwater to be used as the launch pad for the deadliest foreign assault on the U.S. mainland in two centuries, Mullah Omar either discounted the possibility of total devastating destruction against his country, or didn’t care.

If it was the former, he was surely right. After the battle of Omdurman, Hilaire Belloc offered a pithy summation of technological advantage:

Whatever happens
We have got
The Maxim gun
And they have not.

But suppose they know you’ll never use the Maxim gun? At a certain level, credible deterrence depends on a credible enemy. The Soviet Union disintegrated, but the surviving superpower’s instinct to de-escalate intensified: In Kirkuk as in Kandahar, every Lilliputian warlord quickly grasped that you could provoke the infidel Gulliver with relative impunity. Mutually Assured Destruction had curdled into Massively Applied Desultoriness.

Here I part company somewhat from my National Review colleagues who are concerned about inevitable cuts to the defense budget. Clearly, if one nation is responsible for near half the world’s military budget, a lot of others aren’t pulling their weight. The Pentagon outspends the Chinese, British, French, Russian, Japanese, German, Saudi, Indian, Italian, South Korean, Brazilian, Canadian, Australian, Spanish, Turkish, and Israeli militaries combined. So why doesn’t it feel like that?

Well, for exactly that reason: If you outspend every serious rival combined, you’re obviously something other than the soldiery of a conventional nation state. But what exactly? In the Nineties, the French liked to complain that “globalization” was a euphemism for “Americanization.” But one can just as easily invert the formulation: “Americanization” is a euphemism for “globalization,” in which the geopolitical sugar daddy is so busy picking up the tab for the global order he loses all sense of national interest. Just as Hollywood now makes films for the world, so the Pentagon now makes war for the world. Readers will be wearily familiar with the tendency of long-established pop-culture icons to go all transnational on us: Only the other week Superman took to the podium of the U.N. to renounce his U.S. citizenship on the grounds that “truth, justice, and the American way” no longer does it for him. My favorite in recent years was the attempted reinvention of good ol’ G.I. Joe as a Brussels-based multilateral acronym — the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. I believe they’re running the Libyan operation.

An army has to wage war on behalf of something real. For better or worse, “king and country” is real, and so, mostly for worse, are the tribal loyalties of Africa’s blood-drenched civil wars. But it’s hardly surprising that it’s difficult to win wars waged on behalf of something so chimerical as “the international community.” If you’re making war on behalf of an illusory concept, is it even possible to have war aims? What’s ours? “[We] are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people,” General Petraeus said in April. Somewhere generations of old-school imperialists are roaring their heads off, not least at the concept of “the Afghan people.” But when you’re the expeditionary force of the parliament of man, what else is there?

War is hell, but global “mentoring” is purgatory. In that respect, the belated dispatch of Osama bin Laden may be less strategically relevant than the near-simultaneous exposé by 60 Minutes of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea. This is the bestselling book the Pentagon gives to Afghan-bound officers, and whose celebrity author has met with our most senior commanders on multiple occasions. And it’s a crock. Nevertheless, it’s effected a profound cultural transformation — if only on us. “It’s remarkable,” an Indian diplomat chuckled to me a while back. “In Afghanistan, the Americans now drink more tea than the British. And they don’t even like it.” In 2009, remember, the Pentagon accounted for 43 percent of the planet’s military expenditures. At this rate, by 2012 they’ll account for 43 percent of the planet’s tea consumption.

Nation building in Afghanistan is the ne plus ultra of a fool’s errand. But even if one were so disposed, effective “nation building” is done in the national interest of the builder. The British rebuilt India in their own image, with a Westminster parliament, common law, and an English education system. In whose image are we building Afghanistan? Eight months after Petraeus announced his latest folly, the Afghan Local Police initiative, Oxfam reported that the newly formed ALP was a hotbed of torture and pederasty. Almost every Afghan institution is, of course. But for most of human history they’ve managed to practice both enthusiasms without international subvention. The U.S. taxpayer accepts wearily the burden of subsidy for Nevada’s cowboy poets and San Francisco’s mime companies, but, even by those generous standards of cultural preservation, it’s hard to see why he should be facilitating the traditional predilections of Pashtun men with an eye for the “dancing boys of Kandahar.”

Which brings us back to those Three Cups of Tea. So the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity is building schoolhouses in Afghanistan. Big deal. The problem, in Kandahar as in Kansas, is not the buildings but what’s being taught inside them — and we’ve no stomach for getting into that. So what’s the point of building better infrastructure for Afghanistan’s wretched tribal culture? What’s our interest in state-of-the-art backwardness?

Transnational do-gooding is political correctness on tour. It takes the relativist assumptions of the multiculti varsity and applies them geopolitically: The white man’s burden meets liberal guilt. No wealthy developed nation should have a national interest, because a national interest is a selfish interest. Afghanistan started out selfishly — a daringly original military campaign, brilliantly executed, to remove your enemies from power and kill as many of the bad guys as possible. Then America sobered up and gradually brought a freakish exception into compliance with the rule. In Libya as in Kosovo, war is legitimate only if you have no conceivable national interest in whatever conflict you’re fighting. The fact that you have no stake in it justifies your getting into it. The principal rationale is that there’s no rationale, and who could object to that? Applied globally, political correctness obliges us to forswear sovereignty. And, once you do that, then, as Country Joe and the Fish famously enquired, it’s one-two-three, what are we fighting for?

When you’re responsible for half the planet’s military spending, and 80 percent of its military R&D, certain things can be said with confidence: No one is going to get into a nuclear war with the United States, or a large-scale tank battle, or even a dogfight. You’re the Microsoft, the Standard Oil of conventional warfare: Were they interested in competing in this field, second-tier military powers would probably have filed an antitrust suit with the Department of Justice by now. When you’re the only guy in town with a tennis racket, don’t be surprised if no one wants to join you on center court — or that provocateurs look for other fields on which to play. In the early stages of this century’s wars, IEDs were detonated by cell phones and even garage-door openers. So the Pentagon jammed them. The enemy downgraded to more primitive detonators: You can’t jam string. Last year, it was reported that the Taliban had developed metal-free IEDs, which made them all but undetectable: Instead of two hacksaw blades and artillery shells, they began using graphite blades and ammonium nitrate. If you’ve got uniformed infantrymen and tanks and battleships and jet fighters, you’re too weak to take on the hyperpower. But, if you’ve got illiterate goatherds with string and hacksaws and fertilizer, you can tie him down for a decade. An IED is an “improvised” explosive device. Can we still improvise? Or does the planet’s most lavishly funded military assume it has the luxury of declining to adapt to the world it’s living in?

In the spring of 2003, on the deserted highway between the Jordanian border and the town of Rutba, I came across my first burnt-out Iraqi tank — a charred wreck shoved over to the shoulder. I parked, walked around it, and pondered the fate of the men inside. It seemed somehow pathetic that, facing invasion by the United States, these Iraqi conscripts had even bothered to climb in and point the thing to wherever they were heading when death rained down from the stars, or Diego Garcia, or Missouri. Yet even then I remembered the words of the great strategist of armored warfare, Basil Liddell Hart: “The destruction of the enemy’s armed forces is but a means — and not necessarily an inevitable or infallible one — to the attainment of the real objective.” The object of war, wrote Liddell Hart, is not to destroy the enemy’s tanks but to destroy his will.

Instead, America has fallen for the Thomas Friedman thesis, promulgated by the New York Times’ great thinker in January 2002: “For all the talk about the vaunted Afghan fighters, this was a war between the Jetsons and the Flintstones — and the Jetsons won and the Flintstones know it.”

But they didn’t. They didn’t know they were beaten. Because they weren’t. Because we hadn’t destroyed their will — as we did to the Germans and Japanese two-thirds of a century ago, and as we surely would not do if we were fighting World War II today. That’s not an argument for nuking or carpet bombing, so much as for cool clear-sightedness. Asked how he would react if the British army invaded Germany, Bismarck said he would dispatch the local police force to arrest them: a clever Teuton sneer at the modest size of Her Britannic Majesty’s forces. But that’s the point: The British accomplished much with little; at the height of empire, an insignificant number of Anglo-Celts controlled the entire Indian subcontinent. A confident culture can dominate far larger numbers of people, as England did for much of modern history. By contrast, in an era of Massively Applied Desultoriness, we spend a fortune going to war with one hand tied behind our back. The Forty-Three Percent Global Operating Industrial Military Complex isn’t too big to fail, but it is perhaps too big to win — as our enemies understand.

So on we stagger, with Cold War institutions, transnational sensibilities, politically correct solicitousness, fraudulent preening pseudo–nation building, expensive gizmos, little will, and no war aims . . . but real American lives. “These Colors Don’t Run,” says the T-shirt. But, bereft of national purpose, they bleed away to a grey blur on a distant horizon. Sixty-six years after V-J Day, the American way of war needs top-to-toe reinvention.

(from National Review)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

DOCUMENT OF THE WEEK: US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report on Afghan Aid Scandal

It's longer than the press coverage indicates, so here's a link to the PDF document: EVALUATING U.S. FOREIGN ASSISTANCE TO AFGHANISTAN. Read it and weep.

Bottom-line: USAID projects undermine the Afghan government. Quote:
...our resources can inadvertently raise local tensions, cause infighting among local groups, and exacerbate rent-seeking behavior among corrupt actors.

UPDATE: USAID has issued a pathetic response, here:
Corruption and A3: Corruption is of course a real concern for both on budget and off budget assistance. I launched the Accountable Assistance for Afghanistan (A3) initiative in the fall of 2010 to help ensure that the Agency is taking the necessary steps to limit the likelihood of assistance directly or inadvertently supporting malign groups or being diverted from their development purpose by extortion or corruption. As a result, USAID is implementing safeguards in four areas, two of which strengthen our pre-award processes and two that strengthen our post-award implementation.

A number of changes have been made that significantly improve contractor oversight. First, USAIDIAfghanistan now includes a subcontractor clause in new awards that permits USAID to restrict the number of subcontract tiers, requires the prime contractor to perform a certain percentage of the work, and prohibits subcontract "brokering" or "flipping", which is when a subcontractor passes the work to someone else and increases the risk for corruption.
Second, we are increasing our financial controls through a joint program with the USAID Inspector General to audit all locally incurred costs of program-funded implementing partners. Audits will be performed by internationally-accredited regionally based audit firms and checked by the Inspector General. Third, USAIDIAfghanistan is also increasing its Project Oversight through the establishment of On-Site Monitors (OSMs) in USAID field offices for project monitoring. Each USAID project will be assigned an OSM that will provide real time data to contract staff in Kabul on project performance and accountability.

Kabul Bank: USAID takes oversight of its awards seriously - at all levels. With regard to the well-documented crisis at Kabul Bank, USAID has terminated this part of the Deloitte contract in Afghanistan to ensure that our technical assistance is as effective as possible in light of changed and difficult conditions. Nevertheless, we do not believe that Deloitte, or USAID could have stopped the massive fraud that occurred at Kabul Bank. Deloitte, with USAID funds supported the Afghan Central Bank by providing trainers and experts to build the capacity of its Bank Supervision Unit. Oversight of the Afghan financial sector is conducted by Afghan authorities, and actual bank supervision is a sovereign function of the Afghan government. The fraud committed by Kabul Bank officers was a criminal act, deliberately concealed by major shareholders and senior bank management. While there was private speculation about possible financial difficulties at Kabul Bank based in part on the crash of the Dubai real estate market, all donors were essentially caught by surprise at the Kabul Bank collapse. Kabul Bank's shareholder/officers alleged frauds and self-dealing caused these massive losses and hid them from Central Bank examiners through fake documentation and obfuscating accounting techniques to hide this from the Central Bank and other authorities. The initial outline of this fraud and revelation of the unprecedented level of loss did not occur until the Chairman of the Board of Kabul Bank began talking with Central Bank Authorities in the summer of 201O.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Terrorism and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee by Carlos J. Bringuier

My Cuban-American documentary filmmaker friend, Agustin Blazquez, recently sent this interesting article to share with readers:
Terror, from the Fair Play for Cuba Committee to al-Qaeda

Around February 1960 a group composed of left wing sympathizers, convicted felons and useful idiots got together to organize a Committee showing to the American people that Fidel Castro was a democratic peaceful leader, not a Communist; that his revolution will not bring Communism to Cuba but liberty and economical progress to the Cuban people.

The person who started the movement was Alan Sagner who at the time was living in the Livingston area in NJ; Mr. Sagner contacted CBS newsman Robert Taber in order to initiate the Committee.

For the idiots it was a romantic idea to come out to help the new Robin Hood (Fidel Castro) as portrayed in the New York Times, CBS and the rest of the already infiltrated liberal press.
Joining Sagner and Taber were Waldo Frank, Truman Capote, another CBS newsman Richard Gibson, Carleton Beals and Robert F. Williams among others.

The apparent purpose of the FPCC was to bring out the truth about the peaceful and democratic Revolution directed a Fidel Castro. Important names were in the Committee even two respected CBS newsmen.

What Alan Sagner, Robert Taber and the others didn't mention was that the Committee was formed with $3,500 furnished by Raul Roa, Jr., son of the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations as testified by Dr. Charles A. Santos-Buch, MD to a Subcommittee of the US Congress on January 10, 1961.

Immediately the FPCC started branches in different cities of the US to raise money to help spread the truth about the peaceful Castro's Revolution. The FPCC started to infiltrate University Campuses and move ahead with their main objective: Destroy the US through Terrorism.

One of their most active chapters was located in Tampa, Florida. One of the Universities that they infiltrated was the University of South Florida also in Tampa.
The FPCC started organizing public demonstrations in several cities reaching sometimes thousands of demonstrators at certain places.

At the end of 1962, two of the members of the FPCC, by the last names of Suero and García got together with Roberto Santiesteban (an acquaintance of mine at Law School in Havana University) who at that moment was the chief aide to Carlos Lechuga, Cuba's United Nation Ambassador with a bizarre plan more criminal than the one carried on by al-Qaeda and Usama bin-Laden on September 11, 2001.

What those 2 members of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee was going to do was to massacre the people of New York during the Thanksgiving weekend of 1962. Their target was Macy's, Gimbel's, Manhattan Grand Central Station, the Statue of Liberty, Bloomingdale's. They were going to use 500 kilos of TNT the day after Thanksgiving and the death total would have surpassed the one at the two towers in 9-11.

Luckily John Edgar Hoover was alert and they were apprehended, the explosives confiscated and incarcerated. The Castro regime obtained the release of my acquaintance Roberto Santiesteban in a political exchange of prisoners.

Later on on November 22, 1963, another member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Lee Harvey Oswald carried on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy following orders of Dictator Fidel Castro.

What most people don't know is that Robert Taber, a CBS newsman at the time had spent month with Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra and he also spent sometime with the forces of Raúl Castro. His defenders claim that he was an honest newsman doing his job for CBS. What I have never seen published is the criminal record of Robert Taber, first Secretary of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and reporter of the Castro's newspaper "Revolución".

In the hearings of a Subcommittee of the Congress of the US I found:

"Taber, American citizen previously employed as writer by Columbia Broadcasting System, played leading role in organization during early 1960 of Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) pro-Castro propaganda front which has attracted support of substantial elements among U.S. liberals and which has also been infiltrated by Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party and by Communist Party (CP) U.S.A. In public testimony before Senate Internal Security Subcommittee SISS Dr. Charles Santos-Buch has admitted that he and Taber accepted $3,500 in cash to pay the cost of FPCC advertisement from a Cuban official in the United States, Raul Roa, Jr.

Taber left the United States in January 1961 and ha has been residing in Cuba since that time. It appears he is trying to avoid probability he would be subpoenaed to appear before SISS if he returns to this country, specially since SISS may contemplate perjury proceedings against him. In this regard, Taber testified before SISS in May 1960 at which time he denied any knowledge of Cuban Government support for FPCC.

Taber was arrested by State highway patrol in Findlay, Ohio, June 21, 1939, and pleaded guilty to armed robbery charges, auto larceny, and kidnapping. On September 27, 1939 he was sentenced to various prison terms ranging up to 30 years on various counts involved and he was subsequently paroled November 2, 1942, remaining on parole until November 22, 1949.

This is part of the history of the "distinguish" newsman from CBS Robert Taber. The one who contacted him to form the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Alan Sanger received a great distinction from a fellow traveler named Bill Clinton who as President of the United States appointed him to direct the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in charge of funding programming for National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting System receiving billions of dollars from US taxpayers.

Dictator Fidel Castro has to be a happy man.

Decades after Fidel Castro and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee showed to our enemies what could be done and how to do it, Usama bin-Laden and al-Qaeda follow the path opened by Dictator Castro.

They started organizing new Fair Plays for the Arab terrorists. They followed exactly Fidel groundwork.

They created among others:

1) The Holy Land Foundation (HLF)
2) Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
3) Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP)
4) Islamic Concern Project
5) World and Islamic Studies Enterprises (WISE)
6) Islamic Association for Palestine

A few days after 9/11, George W. Bush signed a executive order designating a number of charities as front groups for terrorism.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad most active cell was located in Tampa, Florida.

Islamic Committee for Palestine most active cell was located in Tampa, Florida.

The World and Islam Studies Enterprises most active cell was located in Tampa, Florida.

And we have to remember that the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had his most active cell in Tampa, Florida.

Dictator Fidel Castro showed Usama bin-Laden how to conduct terrorism against the United States. Usama bin-Laden is dead, Dictator Fidel Castro remains living in Cuba protected by those he wants to destroy.

June 4, 2011
Dr. Carlos J. Bringuier

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Fill In the Blanks by Jerry Weinberger - City Journal

Fill In the Blanks by Jerry Weinberger - City Journal
For the past decade or so, the dominant trend in education reform has been the rigorous use of standardized tests to measure student performance. I’m neither an economist nor a statistician, so I make no claim to know whether the elaborate systems of evaluation made fashionable first by President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and now by Race to the Top, President Obama’s education-grant competition, can be made to work. The recent discovery that New York’s math and reading scores were inflated by dumbed-down standards of proficiency, something now common under NCLB, gives good reason to be skeptical. But even if such a system could work, the real question would remain: Are the test-taking skills that it measures worth all that much?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Dog that Didn't Bark in the Night...

I've been thinking lately that the real story is that the establishment "news" media no longer seems to have much interest in news. Even the Wall Street Journal has been disappointingly devoid of either reportage or intelligent criticism, obsessed as its sadistic editors appear to be with publishing articles about torture--or lifestyle accessories. Informed debate seems to have been relegated to the last century, at least for the "chattering classes."

Take foreign policy. A reporting vacuum.

What's going on with the "Arab Spring?" Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc. How's it going, folks? Obama's policy working out OK? What about all those billions in aid we're promising--why? How's that going to help the US economy? Please explain.

Moving east, we have the Arab-Israeli dispute. That settled yet? Is the US going to force a Palestinian state on Israel on September 1st? How come this is scheduled for a vote, anyhow? Anyone think this might be a bad idea?

Move east a little farther--Iran v the Gulf States. Looking peachy? Or is there some trouble afoot? If so, why? Who's behind it? Oh, and why are we paying up to $5.00/gallon for gas at the pump? Isn't that hurting the "recovery?"

Speaking of the "recovery," why isn't the unemployment rate dropping? Why are President Obama's advisors "surprised?" Shouldn't he want to hire some advisors who can give proper advice?

Back to the map...further east we have Iraq--any news from there? And beyond that, Iran; ditto. And further east still, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the famous AfPak. How's it going? What's the forecast? More "surprises" in store?

BTW, if we were truly angry or surprised that Pakistan had been sheltering bin Laden, why are we mending fences instead of cutting relations? Please, explain, someone. Funny that no one in the media seems to be the slightest bit curious about what on its face is an irrational--or dishonest--policy here.

Let's not forget Russia, the biggest Eastern country, threatening the US over Syrian protests. What's that about? My onetime acquaintance Michael McFaul, a well-known academic/NGO/think-tank "democracy specialist" has been picked for Russian ambassador. Does that mean anything? I think it does, and not anything good. But what do I know? I'd like to read some intelligent critiques...but so far have seen nothing, not even on twitter.

Likewise, our relations with China seem opaque, to say the least. What's going on? What happened with the standoff over North Korea sinking that South Korean ship? Did we back down? Did they? Is China helping or hurting us?

The Japanese earthquake and nuclear meltdown have been tragic, but I haven't seen much discussion of the fact that TEPCO (rhymes with PEPCO) had General Electric reactors. What does that mean for US business in Asia? If we had bombed Japan again, would it have been worse?

And what is going on in Africa? Lots of civil strife, apparently, but over what? Is it oil? Is it a Muslim-Christian clash of civilizations? Is it the rise of China?

Likewise, no news from Latin America. What happened to that Mexican drug war? Is it over? Who won? And what is going on in Cuba? Or with Hugo Chavez? Or Brazil, Argentina, Chile? Inquiring minds want to know...

Finally, back in the good ol' USA. Is Sarah Palin running for President, or not? And if she runs, will she win? And if she wins, would it be as much a victory for women as the ascent of Jill Abramson to the top job at the New York Times?

If not, why not?

Maybe some newspaper or magazine will have some answers to some of these questions, someday. In the meantime, to try and follow what's going on in the world, I'll continue to look for news on the Drudge Report...

Document of the Week: Transforming Classification of Secret US Government Documents

Here's a link to a blog about declassification of secret US government documents: Transforming Classification. It's published by the Public Interest Declassification Board