A thoughtful compilation and analysis of some important, but underreported and under-researched news stories, with particular focus on keeping the People informed about all Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.
-----The 'Civil Flag' -- Forgotten Flag, or Flag of Fraud and Fiction?
-----Status of the 'Fair Tax Act of 2005' (H.R. 25; S 25)
Weights & Measures:
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Monday, January 31, 2005
Eminent domain takes aim at life's work: Man's business to be taken to make way for a 'Media Box' Story dated 31 January 2005
Jim Day, the owner of Royal Auto Repair in St. Louis just paid off his mortgage on the business last year. Now he has been informed that he must give up his business and property "to make way for something called a "Media Box."" Since he is not willing to sell, the city tyrants have said that they are willing to use eminent domain to condemn the property. The area where Mr. Day's business is located has been target for redevelopment by the city. The organization in charge "is Grand Center Inc., a nonprofit organization headed by former Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr. The redevelopment plan passed in 2002 by the Board of Aldermen names Grand Center as "master developer," giving the agency broad and almost unilateral powers to control land use. . . Grand Center [of which Schoemehl is the CEO] can approve or reject building designs, dispense up to $80 million in tax incentives and acquire land by eminent domain." That's nice. The tyrants of St. Louis have made one of their cronies, now a private citizen, the effective king of that part of town.
Day is being offered less than what his business is worth, but his choice is to take it, or fight it in court. "In October 2003, Schoemehl offered Day $125,000 for his land. Day rejected it. Two months later, Schoemehl cut the offer to $67,500. That is $12,800 less than the city's official appraisal." It's also likely less than Day could make in 4 months running his business. Schoemehl is currently involved in several lawsuits over the tactics he uses to acquire land, tactics considered to be "heavy-handed and bullying." In federal court, a group of property owners have charged "that Grand Center has wrongfully threatened property owners with eminent domain "in an effort to get them to sell at a distressed price, sometimes offering only $1, which itself carries an ominous implication.""
Are you wondering what a "Media Box" is? Grand Center and others connected with the project don't want to talk about it. Apparently, "it's a building that will hold a design studio and apartments or condominiums. . . 'Media Box' is really the working title for the design studio piece of it." And it was like pulling teeth to get that much information out of them. That's real nice.
Hopefully, the Supreme Court will rule in favor of property owners in Kelo v. New London at the end of February and then we can start putting people like Schoemehl in prison. If not, don't be surprised if one day your property is stolen to make way for something you've never heard of.
---------Grand Center, Inc. (314-533-1884; 634 N. Grand Boulevard St. Louis, MO 63103)
---------St. Louis, Missouri _____________________________________________
Rush Limbaugh Criticizes Government for Non-Enforcement of Immigration Law 31 January 2005
Today on his show, Rush said, (and I am paraphrasing) the federal government should do something to enforce our immigration laws. He pointed out that the federal government is willing to put people in jail for violating other laws, why do they let people who aren't even citizens break the law with impunity? "We have all sorts of prosecutors day in and day out trying to enforce all sorts of laws. . . but this one [our immigration laws]," Limbaugh said. Has Rush been reading my web sites? I have been making this exact same point for a long time now. In any case, it's odd to hear Limbaugh talk about something of actual substance. I've not been listening lately because he seems blind to Bush's actions that hurt the American people. If I want propaganda, or other non-essential fluff, I'll go to the RNC or DNC web sites. _____________________________________________
UN report stops short of labelling Darfur 'genocide' Story dated 31 January 2005
"The violence [committed by, or with the blessing of the tyrants of Sudan] has driven about 1.8 million people from their homes. Many are living in refugee camps." Most of these are Christians and other non-Muslims, who also tend to be of a different ethnic group than Muslims (if the cultural patterns in the Sudan are anything like Nigeria). But it's not genocide. The UN said so. I guess there is no slave trade going on in the Sudan, either. Can't wait to see the UN report on that one. Remember that this is the same UN that has decided to ignore China's not-subtle-at-all statements that they would make war upon and conquer a neighboring sovereign nation. _____________________________________________
Media Reporting on the slaughter of a NJ Coptic family colored by pro-Islam bias Story dated 31 January 2005
Consider the facts. The father was a Coptic Christian who engaged in energetic debates with Muslims online. His daughter was just as outspoken. They both have tried to convince Muslims to become Christian. The father received death threats for this from Islamists. "Islamic law, the Sharia, has traditionally made it a capital offense both for a Muslim to leave Islam, and for a non-Muslim to attempt to convert a Muslim." And there has been at least one report that "an imam in Jersey City declared this Christian family's blood "halal," (i.e., licit to shed), because of their proselytizing activities among Muslims." There are reports that nothing of value was taken -- all the jewelry was still in the house.
The media and the investigators refuse to suggest, even in the face of all this evidence, that the murder may have been an act of Islamic jihad. Preposterous, you say? Okay, substitute 'Coptic' for 'Black' or 'Jewish' in each news story, and likewise substitute 'Muslim' and 'Islam' for 'white supremist' and 'white supremacy'. What do you suppose the media and the investigators would be speculating about then?
It might not be so much a pro-Muslim bias as a politically correct need not to be seen as anti-Muslim. Of course, since Muslims are not white Christians, the media, if they speculated that the murder was an act of Islamic jihad, would be branded as anti-Muslim even if the evidence that it was an act of jihad were irrefutable.
"Investigators in Jersey City have yet to announce the motive for the murder of the Armanious family. But if it turns out that the murder or murders were religiously-motivated Muslims, with whom will the media sympathize: those grieving for the victims or those who attend the same hate-filled mosques as the murderers? Is there any doubt?"
---------Massacre of NJ Coptic Family Shatters Religious Harmony: Speculation about the motive divides Egyptian Christians and Muslims in N.J. _____________________________________________
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Bush Refuses to Increase Number of Border Agents Despite Need for More Personnel Story dated 31 January 2005
Michael W. Cutler, a retired INS senior agent, said "Just last week, the State Department issued a traveler's warning about escalating violence in the northern regions of Mexico, including incidents of kidnapping and murder. . . These crimes are being committed on our southern doorstep, many of them against our own agents. It's time they got a little help." The Bush administration refuses to carry out its duty under Article II sec. 3 of the Constitution, which requires the President to execute the law authorizing 10,000 new Border Patrol agents over the next several years. "President Bush is expected to seek an increase of only about 200 agents for the new fiscal year, according to law-enforcement authorities and others, significantly short of the 2,000 per year authorized for each of the next five years in the recently passed intelligence overhaul bill." But that's okay, he has an (R) next to his name, so everything he does must be the right thing. Dream on. He's a politician and politicians are like snakes -- they bite. _____________________________________________
Kelo v. New London, Eminent Domain: Do You Think It's Okay for the City To Give Your Land to a Developer for 'Increased Tax Revenue'? Story dated 30 January 2005
At issue: "whether a municipality can take someone's property through eminent domain and hand it over to developers in the name of economic development." Is giving land taken from a private landholder to a private developer a 'public use' for eminent domain purposes? Governments across the nation argue that the increased tax revenue and the economic benefit is a public use. Of course, it isn't their land that 's being taken and given to wealthy, politically influential land developers. In my opinion, if the Supreme Court rules against the property owners in this case, we can kiss our liberty good by for good. If this precedent stands, any government will be able to take anyone's property for any reason. That violates the spirit of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which was written to secure our rights against government tyranny. Might I remind you that the government is supposed to work for us. They don't have the right to take our stuff arbitrarily. Unfortunately, there aren't many judges left who realize this (of course, their royal judicial highnesses have come to enjoy the autocratic power they wield; why would they want to upset the status quo?). _____________________________________________
German Government Enables Brothel Owners to Coerce Unemployed Women into Prostitution Story dated 30 January 2005
"Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners -- who must pay tax and employee health insurance -- were granted access to official databases of jobseekers. . . Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job -- including in the sex industry -- or lose her unemployment benefit. . . The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars." Too difficult to distinguish form bars? What kind of bars do they have in Germany? Or are German politicians just stupid like most of ours are? An unemployed information technology professional, who is unidentified to protect her privacy, "turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin [and] faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year. . . She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman. . . realise that she was calling a brothel." When she "looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law", and that, in fact, the Brothel could sue them if she turned down their job offer and they continued to pay her benefits.
Well, that's nice. Germany is now forcing women to work in the sex industry. Are we going to continue to treat them as a constitutional republic, or are we going to see them more as a repressive tyranny? Of course, they're nowhere near as bad as China or Islamic countries. I'll bet this won't even be a blip on the radar as far as Germany's fitness for leadership in the European Union is concerned. _____________________________________________
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Russia runs more than 100 known spies under official cover in the U.S. Story dated 30 January 2005
"[A]lthough the cold war is long over, Russia is fielding an army of spooks in the U.S. that is at least equal in number to the one deployed by the old, much larger Soviet Union. . . Officials say the Russians are after secrets about American military technology and hardware, dual-use technology such as the latest lasers." One Russian spy, apprehended after purchasing "sophisticated computer components in the U.S. to send to Russia through Ireland stands to be charged in mid-February with "unlawful export of 'defense articles.'"" This is just great. "Russia has indicated that it may sell advanced weaponry to China [a belligerent power with imperialist designs on Taiwan and some Japanese territory], including strategic bombers that could pose a threat to U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific." Now they are spying on us and stealing technology. Of course, we probably spy on them too. And I am told that the United States spies on British citizens while the U.K. spies on British citizens with each power trading the information it gathers with the other. But you don't care, do you? You want to see who won American Idol, of see what's happening the Michael Jackson.
---------Russia Hints at Willingness to Sell Advanced Bombers to China _____________________________________________
Friday, January 28, 2005
Misappropriation of Your Social Security Nos. Can Ruin Your Credit and Lead to IRS Harassment, IRS and credit bureaus know, but do nothing Story dated 29 January 2005
"During 2002. . . 9 million people paid taxes with mismatched names and Social Security Numbers." Most of these "represent illegal immigrants using a stolen or manufactured Social Security number at the workplace." This is a common problem. Even more perplexing than the problem itself is the fact that the government and credit industry (who profit from such identity theft) either by design or apathy keep consumers like you or me from even knowing that our SSN has been misappropriated until it is far too late. By too late, I mean that, by the time you find out, you are being harassed by creditors or by the tyrannical IRS for debts that you allegedly owe. Debts that you have no knowledge of because you did not incur them. Even more disturbing, both credit bureaus and the IRS know that your number has been misappropriated long before you do and they make no effort to inform you. "James Huse Jr., former inspector general of the Social Security Administration, said it is unlikely the agency will ever inform potential victims." "A spokesman for the Social Security Administration said the agency simply couldn't disclose the information to consumers because doing so would run afoul of federal law." The arcane Internal Revenue code forbids people from seeing if "anyone else has reported earnings under their Social Security number." That's nice. The IRS has no trouble garnishing your wages, putting a lien on your property, seizing your bank account, and threatening to send you to federal prison, but they are afraid of violating federal law if they tell you of the misuse of your SSN. Credit bureaus also keep quiet because of 'privacy concerns'. These people are pathetic. They are content to stay quiet as long as they are making money from the deal, but as soon as the identity theft incurs debts and disappears, they want their pound of flesh from you. To me this sounds more like willful omission with intent to defraud consumers. Credit bureau and IRS employees that participate in such omissions ought to be sent to prison. _____________________________________________
Thursday, January 27, 2005
International Press Attempts to Portray China's Stance on Taiwan as 'Softening' Story dated 28 January 2005
"China softens tone on issue of Taiwan talks" reads the headline. 'Great', I think as I click on the link to see the story, 'maybe China has acquired an understanding of what basic human rights are.' No such luck. The headline by Jim Yardley and Chris Buckley of the New York Times is, in my opinion, a blatant attempt to mislead the reader. China refuses to recognize Taiwanese independence. How is this a softer stance? In defense of the authors, despite the irresponsible title, their article admits that China's recent statements that seem to "soften China's usual harsh line against Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian" are actually a "rhetorical shift that seemed more about tone than substance." All in all, a fair article guys. Watch the headlines though. People who just skim the headlines will think that China is softening its stance on Taiwan, which it isn't. "China still will not recognize Taiwanese independence." And their promise to crush Taiwan militarily if they make a formal statement presumably still stands. _____________________________________________
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Jacques Chirac of France proposes a world tax; Tony Blair endorses the idea Story dated 27 January 2005
"French President Jacques Chirac yesterday suggested that governments impose a tax on international capital flows, including financial transactions and plane tickets, to raise $10 billion a year for aid. Finance ministers meeting in London next week will discuss the matter. . . Chirac also proposed taxing cash flows to nations that practice banking secrecy, including Switzerland and Luxembourg, as a way to compensate for 'world tax evasion.'" These socialist countries can't stand it when other countries cut their taxes. They can't keep their taxes high and remain competitive if we lower our tax rate. The very concept of a world tax conflicts with Article I Section 8 clause 1 of the Constitution of these United States. It states that "Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States." [emphasis added] It does not say that an international body shall have the power to tax, nor does it allow taxes collected to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the world. If such a tax is instituted, and someone tries to make me pay it, you will find me arguing the constitutionality of this tax before the Supreme Court. I highly recommend that you contact your senators and tell them to not even consider approving such a tax. And here's another solution: we wouldn't have to worry about this at all if we had the FairTax.
---------How to Contact Congress _____________________________________________
Kelo v. New London: Eminent domain abuses before Supreme Court; New guidelines suggested Column dated 26 January 2005
A case is coming before the Supreme Court at the end of February all Americans should have their eye on. For those of you who are unaware of the epidemic of eminent domain abuse in this country, let me explain. The Constitution permits eminent domain. Article of Amendment V of the Bill of Rights (the purpose of which was to protect the rights of the people against government tyranny) states that private property shall not be taken for public use, without just compensation." More and more, local governments have gotten the idea into their tyrannical heads that 'public use' can include transferring the property to another private (non-public) party. The excuse they give when they take someone's home or small business is that the current owner isn't paying as much taxes as a new commercial real estate development would generate. Plus, if a shopping center is put in, there will be more jobs. Despite not being publicly owned, such a development is (in the minds of these little tin dictators) a 'public use'. I disagree in the strongest terms. A public road is a public use. Seizing property from one private person and giving it to another private person is not a public use. Yet, this sort of taking has been going on all over the country for years.
Finally, we are getting a Supreme Court ruling on the subject. The town of New London, Connecticut has decided that it ought to be able to kick some people out of their homes to make way for a new (privately owned) commercial park. This new use for the properties will generate much more tax revenue for the city than they ever got from the homeowners. In addition, the development will generate more jobs and thus help the city's economy. The tyrants of New London think that this counts as a public use. Since the public benefits, they think they can take anyone's property they choose (I'm sure FDR had the same position when he ordered the incarceration all Japanese Americans [and the taking of their property] during WWII). Well, on 22 February, the case of Kelo v. New London will be heard before the Supreme Court; and the court will basically decide whether or not the Constitution protects your property from being seized by those who are richer and more politically powerful than you. And in showing what the President really thinks about the 'ownership society' he talked about in the campaign, the Bush Administration is considering filing a brief on behalf of the city of New London, and against the property owners in this case.
If we are going to continue to allow our servant governments to have the power of eminent domain, we ought to give them some strict guidelines, since they seem to have trouble understanding anything else. Steven Greenhut, author of Abuse of Power: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain, outlines some "sensible recommendations about what can be done to curb government's land-grabbing enthusiasms. They include: requiring that any condemning agency undertake a rigorous cost-benefit analysis before using eminent domain; providing pre-taking appraisals to property owners; ensuring judicial review of whether the taking is truly for a "public use"; making jury trials available in contested cases; and requiring full compensation for a defendant's legal fees."
Those are good, but I think we can solve the problem with some much simpler guidelines: 1.) 'Private ownership' and 'public use' shall be mutually exclusive terms in all eminent domain matters. 2.) Eminent domain powers shall not be exercised except for a public use. 3.) If the government can accomplish its stated purpose without using eminent domain, that government shall not use eminent domain. _____________________________________________
Kuwaiti slaughters his daughter in front of family, honor killings common in Islamic countries Story dated 26 January 2005
"Adnan Enezi. . . had just returned from the pilgrimage to Mecca." According to witnesses, he "bound and blindfolded his daughter, Haifa, knelt her down in front of her two brothers and sister and then cut her throat. Forensic tests showed Haifa was still a virgin, police sources said. Mr. Enezi is being questioned about the case." "The daily said that after cutting Haifa's throat the first time, he swapped the knife for one with a sharper blade as she bled and screamed in front of her siblings." This is one of the so-called 'honor killings' that happen all over the Middle East. Thousands of women are murdered in this way each year. In my opinion, any man who commits an 'honor murder' should be killed in the same way that he killed his victim. This behavior is not human, it's how beasts behave, and this man should be put down like the beast he emulates. _____________________________________________
"Jihadists" living in Oregon, FBI says Story dated 26 January 2005
"The FBI knows of "jihadists" who have trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and are now living in Oregon, the agency's Oregon chief said in an interview with The Associated Press yesterday." But they aren't gong to do anything about them because they aren't "an imminent threat" that the FBI knows of. That's nice, guys. . . keep locking up archaeologists for minor customs violations. Ignore the people who want to kill us. You people are really pathetic. Apparently the only thing you are any good at is organizing overwhelming assaults on Americans who don't actually intend to harm anyone. _____________________________________________
Arabs Snub U.N. Holocaust Reception Story dated 26 January 2005
"Arab U.N. diplomats decided to [visibly] snub a reception opening an exhibition to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps at U.N. headquarters." The only Arab nation in attendance was Jordan. I am told that because of the large number of Islamic nations in the U.N., no less than a third of the room was empty. Why we still grant recognition to nations that openly show anti-Semitism and openly repress their own people is beyond me. If we reward such behavior, we will just get more of it. _____________________________________________
Egyptian Newspaper Headline: UN Marks the "So-Called Holocaust" Story dated 26 January 2005
The headline says all there is to say about the substance of this issue. Does anyone remember when The Passion was about to open and someone found out that Mel Gibson's father was a Holocaust denier? I do. That was national front-page news and it spawned a lot of completely unfounded speculation about whether or not Mel Gibson was an anti-Semite and whether he had filmed the Passion to make Jews look bad (neither of which was remotely true). Now we have actual nations that officially deny the Holocaust in their major media, and there is barely a blip on the national radar. Oh, but they're not white Christians, they're Arab Muslims; they're allowed to be anti-Semitic -- silly me for forgetting. _____________________________________________
Bush Admits the Social Security Shortchanges Blacks Story dated 26 January 2005
Finally, someone is pointing this out and it's being published in the national media. However, no one will believe it since it's coming from an eevill Republican. But the fact is that blacks have shorter life spans on average than do whites. Poor black men have the shortest life spans of all. White women on average have the longest life spans, the richer ones living longer than most. When you die, your family does not get back what you paid into social security. Your share simply stays in the pot and gets paid out to the remaining survivors. What all of this means is that the way Social Security is set up, you have poor black men being exploited to support rich white women in their old age. If a private company were responsible for this scheme, they would be sued and possibly jailed. _____________________________________________
Europe puts fiery imams under new scrutiny Story dated 26 January 2005
"Sheik Omar al-Bakri, a 46-year-old Syrian-born cleric, has urged young Muslim men all over the world to support the Iraq insurgency on the front line of "the global jihad."" English authorities are considering whether they can deport him. I think there should be no question. He wants innocent people to be beheaded and they have to consider whether they can deport him. This is part of a problem all across Europe that was highlighted by the savage murder of Theo van Gogh. _____________________________________________
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Surveillance Video Catches TSA Thief, Wendy Swanson Story undated (originally posted 26 January 2005)
"Police released new surveillance video of a Spokane TSA Screener convicted of stealing [prescription] drugs out of passenger's luggage. Screener Wendy Swason's co-workers turned her in for swiping pain killers out of the bags she was supposed to be searching for explosives." This is unacceptable behavior. Anyone who would use their position of authority to steal from people or unjustly deprive them of liberty ought to be sent to jail. You have to understand my position. I am not anti-law enforcement. I am very supportive of our law-enforcement personnel when they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. However, when they make a mistake, or engage in malfeasance, I hold them to a much higher standard of behavior than I would an average citizen. This is because these people's action have legal consequences for private citizens that simply don't come into play in dealings among private citizens. If a criminal breaks into your house and threatens your family, you can shoot him. If a dirty cop breaks (forces his way in under color of authority) into your house and threatens your family, you can still shoot him, but you'll probably go to jail because of the special protections that law enforcement personnel are given. I don't mind these people having special privileges, but punishment for malfeasance ought to be proportionally higher. _____________________________________________
U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals Rules that Fat People Can Sue McDonalds for their own overeating Story dated 25 January 2005
Well, almost. The case that was thrown out for being stupid was improperly dismissed. In other words, it's still probably going to be thrown out on the basis of frivolity and stupidity, but the judge that originally dismissed the case accidentally violated civil procedure rules. Any lawyer that would file such a lawsuit ought to be shunned. I fail to see how someone who willingly stuffs himself full of fattening food for years can sue the restaurant when he gets diabetes. A little known study from the '70s discovered that you could actually survive and live quite healthfully if you were stranded at a McWendyKing, but the onus is on you to make sure you eat your food in the correct ratios. _____________________________________________
US thinks IBM-Lenovo deal might pose threats to national security Story dated 25 January 2005
You think? I was saying this very thing a month ago on my web site. Why the slow realization? "The deal between IBM and Lenovo, the leading Chinese PC maker could be disrupted by the US administration as the government plans to look into potential security problems posed by the $1.75 billion sale that would turn the Chinese company into a third-largest global personal computer producer." All I have to say is that if the sale happens, I will never buy another IBM product -- which is sad for me because I am a loyal IBM customer, but I will not spend my money to support a government that doesn't have even the vaguest inkling of what basic human rights are. "In the past, the US has blocked sales to Chinese firms on similar grounds. In 2003, Global Crossing failed to obtain approval to sell its telecommunications network to Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa." "The Chinese government has close ties with many companies there. The foreign investment committee must ensure U.S. national and economic security is not jeopardized." Finally, one of our reporters actually noticed that. We actually need to make a law requiring the nationalization of any business in the United States operated by a foreign military power, or by an active officer in a foreign military. I wonder what rank the CEO of Lenovo holds?
---------Lenovo abide with US regulations amid national security concerns
---------IBM-Lenovo Sale Hits Roadblock _____________________________________________
Taiwan Urges U.S. to Speak Against China Law Story dated 25 January 2005
"The proposed anti-secession law is seen by analysts as a Chinese effort to head off a formal declaration of independence by the self-governing democratic island of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a province." Quick history lesson. Japan legally controlled Taiwan until the end of WWII. Japan gave up control when military units of the Chinese Republic moved into the island to accept the surrender of Japanese Imperial forces. When the Communist tyrants seized control of mainland China, the Republican government escaped to Taiwan. Taiwan has never, I repeat never been under the control of the imperialist government currently occupying Beijing. Any declaration of independence would be an unnecessary restatement of the obvious -- to everyone but the schoolyard bullies in Beijing who can't stand the fact that people might actually want to do their own thing. "Senior U.S. officials privately describe the proposed law as a threat to regional peace but have said little in public." Well I should say so since we have a legal obligation to defend Taiwan if China attacks, as they are threatening to do. I believe the Chinese tyrants promised to "crush Taiwan with their military". I've said it before and I'll say it again, the free countries of the world need to stand up and tell China that imperialistic belligerence against free states will not be tolerated.
---------Taiwan May Call Referendum to Counter Chinese Law _____________________________________________
Monday, January 24, 2005
Taiwan Urges Japan To Play Leading Role To Ensure Regional Peace Story dated 25 January 2005
"Japan should play a more leading role in Asian affairs to help prevent mainland China from treading a policy line of adventurism, a Taiwan official said in Tokyo Tuesday." Pointing out that Beijing has a basic "ignorance of human rights," Lo Fu-chuan, president of the quasi-official Association of East Asian Relations, told Tokyo politicians that the ramifications of China's anti-secession law could include a destabilization of the entire region. "Should the "anti-secession law" be enacted, Lo said its target could include not only Taiwan but also the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands, which are known as the Senkakus in Japan. The island group is now under Japan's control, but both sides of the Taiwan Strait claim sovereignty over the island group." You may remember Beijing whining about Japan's defensive plans regarding certain islands claimed by both Japan and the totalitarian Chinese government. As you can see, it is China and not Japan who is doing the provoking here. _____________________________________________
'Security Conscious' Bush Administration Refuses to Secure United States Borders; President Violates Constitutional Duty Story dated 24 January 2005
Homeland Security Secretary Ridge "Scoffs" at Increased Border Security.
"As part of a sweeping intelligence bill passed in December, Congress called for nearly doubling the size of the Border Patrol by adding 10,000 agents over five years. The agency has about 11,000 agents; 90% work along the southern border with Mexico. But in an interview with USA TODAY, Ridge scoffed at the notion of adding so many agents and said it would be an inefficient use of precious homeland security dollars." He says that the 2,000 new agents for this year just aren't part of the budget.
Okay, let me get this straight. Congress passes a law that the President must execute ([The President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, Article II sec. 3 of the Constitution of these United States). Bush refuses to carry out the law and. . .? What happens? Rush? Boortz? Laura? Hannity? Local morning show guys? Fox News? NBC/CBS/ABC? CNN? Where are you guys on this? I do not need the head of the Department of Fatherland (oops, I mean Homeland) Security scoffing at the porous border with Mexico. The Congress of these United States passed a Constitutional law, pal. You need to be enforcing it, not scoffing at it. _____________________________________________
Bush Administration Fails to Respond to Regular Violations of U.S. Immigration Laws, Volunteers set to monitor Arizona border crossings Story dated 24 January 2005
"A retired California businessman has 240 volunteers ready for a 30-day aerial and ground surveillance campaign on the Arizona-Mexico border to highlight what he calls the government's failure to control illegal immigration." Called the 'Minuteman Project', these volunteers are slated to start at the beginning of April "doing the job Congress won't do." "[A]ll Minuteman Project volunteers underwent a screening process before they were accepted to weed out those "with bad intentions."" So we will hopefully not hear them smeared in the media as a haven for anti-Hispanic racists. However, if illegals attempt to injure these volunteers, I hope they will not be punished for defending themselves. _____________________________________________
Driver's Licenses As National ID? Story dated 24 January 2005
"A piece of the new National Intelligence Reform Act signed into law last week requires national standards for state licenses." That's fine. I've seen some pretty weird looking out of state drivers' licenses. I would have no idea if they were real of not (of course, I couldn't identify a forged license anyway unless it were badly done). "The standards, to be hammered out over the next 18 months by state and federal officials along with technology specialists and "interested parties," are raising concerns among privacy experts who see the move as the first step down the road to a national ID or centralized information on individuals." I am opposed to a centralized database on each citizen. There is too much opportunity for abuse. However, this law is not calling for any electronic chips, or biometrics (fingerprint or retina pattern -- which are easier to fake than you might think), or any centralized database. I am worried about the progression from a standard license to such things, but that is not a worry in the current law. What we as citizens need to do is make it clear to our leaders that we will not tolerate abuse of these standards by the government. You want to see something scary? Check out what it would be like to order a pizza under a national computerized ID database scheme.
"What several analysts question is why this standardizing IDs makes us more secure? "How does identification really relate to security?" asks Daniel Solove, a law professor at George Washington University and author of "The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age." "People just assume it [improves security] as if it was a fundamental truth." Sage considerations, indeed.
Subject Matter: Congress Law Police State Privacy Surveillance Society Tyranny _____________________________________________
Trial Opens Over Raid on Elian Gonzalez Involving Tyrannical use of Force by Armed Federal Bureaucrats Story dated 24 January 2005
Someone is finally trying to teach federal bureaucrats that they cannot go around harassing people. "13 neighbors and protesters are seeking up to $250,000 each, claiming that agents used excessive force during the armed raid." One of these armed bureaucrats doused a woman with tear gas; another had threatened her with a shotgun, while uttering profanity. I hope these men have to pay the full amount. It would also be nice if the person who ordered the raid were also liable under a respondeat superior liability theory, as would be the case if you or I ordered our security forces to harass other citizens. The plaintiffs contend, as part of the complaint, that many of the agents were prejudiced toward those of Cuban extraction and, as such, "intended all along to use excessive force."
---------Trauma case over Elian Gonzalez raid begins
---------ELIAN RAID: THE FACE OF TYRANNY, The Evolving Federal Police State
---------We're From the Government, We're Here to Help _____________________________________________
Russia will deliver oil to China Story dated 24 January 2005
"Russia will deliver oil to China, although the Russian government does not have direct commitments of the kind to Beijing, Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said in an interview published in the Monday issue of Vedomosti." I am concerned that Russia (and the United States, sadly enough) continues to deal with China considering that their government doesn't understand what human rights are and that it has a belligerent and imperialistic stance toward Taiwan. _____________________________________________
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Fight for Hubble's life resumes Story dated 24 January 2005
"A White House decision to cut funding for a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission and dump the observatory into a remote stretch of ocean waters at a future date is sure to incite debate in scientific, engineering, and policy making circles." This disappoints me. Hubble is an amazing resource. We ought not abandon it -- to do so would waste our resources. One of the reasons for the abandonment is because of the cost of repair. I predict that over the next 15 years, space flight will become much cheaper with the advent of conventional space planes after the fashion of 'Spaceship One'. If I could choose what my tax dollars specifically support, the space program would come right after defense and infrastructure.
Subject Matter: Astronomy Science Space Exploration _____________________________________________
Massacre of NJ Coptic Family Shatters Religious Harmony: Speculation about the motive divides Egyptian Christians and Muslims in N.J. Story dated 23 January 2005
"The victims -- Hossam Armanious, 47; Amal Garas, 37; and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, found bound and gagged, stabbed repeatedly in the neck and head -- were Copts, or members of the Coptic Orthodox Church." Sylvia was more mutilated than the others; she had a Coptic cross tattooed on her arm and that had been stabbed. Armanious had engaged in vociferous debates with Muslims over religion on a web forum. Some of the Muslims who posted at the site had threatened to hunt him down and kill him. There are conflicting reports that the house was looted, and the murders were connected to a robbery, and that nothing of value was taken -- all the jewelry was still in the house.
There are some other bits of information about this case that the media, and law enforcement officials, are ignoring. An Armanious "family friend has said that an imam in Jersey City declared this Christian family's blood "halal," (i.e., licit to shed), because of their proselytizing activities among Muslims. He has named -- by name -- a suspect in this crime, whose motive was religious and who has fled the country." "The Armanious family was outspoken in trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. Hossam Armanious vigorously spread his faith at PalTalk, and his 15-year-old daughter Sylvia displayed similar zeal at Dickinson High School. . . Islamic law, the Sharia, has traditionally made it a capital offense both for a Muslim to leave Islam, and for a non-Muslim to attempt to convert a Muslim. Many Muslims take such laws very seriously. The Theo van Gogh murder in the Netherlands indicates that at least some will not hesitate to enforce Sharia penalties even in the lands of the infidels." And not for the first time, I believe that, if this was an act of jihad, this incident is America's version of the Van Gogh murder. I hope it was just a robber, but it really looks like it wasn't; and if it wasn't, it points to a huge problem that could stretch across the United States if we don't start paying attention.
---------Copts & Robbers: More evidence that the massacre was religiously motivated _____________________________________________
US plans 'robot troops' for Iraq Story dated 23 January 2005
"The robot fighter has been named Swords, after the acronym for Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems. It is based on the Talon robot, which is widely used by the military to disarm bombs. A US officer who helped test the robot said it was a more accurate shot than the average soldier because it is mounted on a stable platform and takes aim electronically." "Eighteen of the 1m-high robots, equipped with cameras and operated by remote control, are going to Iraq this spring, the Associated Press reports." This is really neat; the whole point of military technology is to decrease the mortality rates of our own troops. However, when you start reading about SWORDS and AI (artificial intelligence) in the same story, be scared (think 'Terminators' and 'Cylons'). _____________________________________________
Friday, January 21, 2005
China-Japan frictions moving to military field Story dated 23 January 2005
I am posting this story because the China-Japan situation is something we need to keep an eye on. China has a proven history of claiming territory that is not its own. Just last year, a Chinese submarine entered Japanese territory. The Chinese claim it was unintentional, but I believe that it was a deliberate operation to test Japan's reactions. China Daily is the source of this article and as such, it has a very pro-China bias and, therefore, should be read with a shrewd eye. In summary, China is claiming that 'those sneaky Japanese' are behind all the tensions. China, we are to believe, has clean hands and would never instigate a military confrontation. Of course anyone who beleives this has never studied Tibet, nor are they watching the Taiwan situation. _____________________________________________
British Government Supports Sale of Arms to Imperialist China Story dated 21 January 2005
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland deliberately snubbed the United States of America and Japan when Jack Straw promised the tyrants of Beijing "that Britain will help to lift EU sanctions imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre." The United States and Japan object to anyone trading in arms with China. They have proven themselves to be belligerent and have imperialist designs on Taiwan and some islands that are part of Japan's territory. I'm sure Taiwan won't appreciate the UK's actions either. _____________________________________________
Thursday, January 20, 2005
CDC recommends preventive AIDS drugs for those exposed, or possibly exposed to virus Story dated 21 January 2005
"Health professionals applauded the federal government for including people exposed to the HIV virus through isolated episodes of unsafe sex or drug use among those recommended for emergency treatment, calling the new policy an overdue surprise from the Bush administration. Previously, federal health officials advised a preventative 28-day regimen of AIDS drugs only for health care workers accidentally exposed on the job. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its guidelines Thursday, saying rape victims, as well as some individuals who knowingly put themselves at risk, should receive the drug cocktail that can keep them from becoming infected with HIV."
Okay, what this is saying is that if you have the HIV virus, or if they think you could have been exposed to the virus (but they don't know you if have it), this new Bush Administration policy is recommending emergency treatment with the toxic AIDS drug cocktail. The article states that "[p]eople accidentally or incidentally exposed to the AIDS virus are usually given a three-drug combination that includes AZT and 3TC. Treatment should start no more than 72 hours after the exposure to the virus, and the drugs should be used for 28 days, according to the CDC." What the writers of this article fail to mention at all is that the AIDS cocktail is toxic. Jerome Zack, associate director of basic sciences for the UCLA AIDS Institute, states that, "[t]he current medications are quite toxic to the liver. There's also many problems with fat metabolism. For instance, you can get high cholesterol levels and things like that. So patients will often have to go off the medication within five years of starting treatment just because of toxicity."
Now, I don't know much about how drugs work, but when one ingests a toxic substance, does not one grow ill? How many so-called 'AIDS symptoms' could be attributed to the high toxicity to the AIDS cocktail? Let me tell you a short story. A source at a nearby hospital tells me of a patient who has AIDS symptoms. He does not have the HIV virus. However, he was cut when he was in the ER and they gave him the toxic AIDS cocktail as a preventative. That is when I get nervous when I hear 'Federal Policy' and 'AIDS Cocktail' in the same story. How long before this policy becomes mandatory? Believe it or not, your government does not necessarily know more about your health than you do. If I got HIV, I would likely not even consider the cocktail. Ingesting a toxic substance when your body is under attack is not my idea of a wise course of action.
---------Current AIDS Cocktail is Toxic, new research into creating a safer 'AIDS Sniper'
---------HIV patients find that the current drug treatments aren't necessarily the answer. _____________________________________________
Scientists identify a single 'master' gene that seems to turn on cancer-causing action of other errant genes Story dated 20 January 2005
"[T]he cancer-triggering gene [dubbed "Pokemon"] apparently instigates the misbehavior of other cancer-causing genes, leading to tumor formation. . . Dr. Carlos Cardon-Cardo, a molecular pathologist at the cancer center and a senior author of the research, defined Pokemon as an oncogene, which means it is capable of causing cancer. Dozens of oncogenes have been discovered over the past 25 years. But unlike the others, Cardon-Cardo said Pokemon has a governing role -- it is needed for other genes to function. Eliminate Pokemon, he said, and you stop the activity of other cancer-causing genes." This could be good news. 'Pokemon' is a common gene. Its commonness means that there is money to be made in developing gene treatments involving Pokemon. However, you have to remember that the cancer-treatment & research industry is a huge moneymaker in and of itself. Considering how many jobs will be lost if cancer is cured, one has to wonder if we can really expect a preventative measure to come of this research.
Subject Matter: Medicine Science _____________________________________________
Outright anti-Semitism is a fact of life these days in the poor suburbs where much of France's Muslim minority lives Story dated 20 January 2005
To France's credit, their government is actually starting to do something about anti-Semitism in its country. "After a slow response when this "new anti-Semitism" flared four years ago, France has made fighting prejudice against Jews into a national priority. Holocaust education in state schools now starts with pupils as young as nine years old. But even the best plans for teaching about the Nazi massacre of Jews can fall short when confronted with an Islamic identity spreading among a minority of France's five million Muslims." The only problem here is that Muslim pupils are less receptive to shedding anti-Semitic prejudices than other categories of pupils. _____________________________________________
Islam 'does not mean killing', says cleric Story dated 20 January 2005
This is possibly one of the most important stories in the world for Muslims and non-Muslims and I apologize for the delay in reporting it. "A leading Saudi cleric issued a plea today for Muslims not to heed calls to wage terror attacks in the name of Islam. Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Sudeis, the state-appointed preacher at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, told pilgrims in a sermon marking the feast of Eid al-Adha that scholars must preach moderation to confront militants, who were using "misguided and void" interpretations to justify violence." This sermon was given to the two and a half million Muslims who made the annual Hajj to Mecca. His words, echoing those of Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al Sheik, are being echoed in sentiments by other Muslim clerical and secular leaders. Looking at this optimistically, I am hoping that decent Muslims will now have the courage to speak out vociferously against extreme, violent sects of their religion -- just like Christians have no trouble speaking out against aggressively violent Christian groups (by the way, 'aggressive violence' and 'Christian' really ought to be mutually exclusive terms). Al-Sudeis is requesting Muslim scholars to confront violent rhetoric with scholarly refutation. I like it. If this movement takes hold, maybe Muslims worldwide will come to understand that no one wants to kill them and, in light of this understanding, they will ignore the jihadists who tell them that all non-Muslims mean them harm. _____________________________________________
Mars Rover's Meteorite Discovery Triggers Questions Story dated 20 January 2005
In all the excitement over Titan, I'll bet you'd forgotten that the Mars rovers 'Opportunity' and 'Spirit' were still roving. Opportunity has now discovered a fascinating meteorite on Mars. "The size of a basketball, the object is mostly made of iron and nickel, and is the first meteorite of any type ever identified on another planet." This is remarkable because the rock either fell recently, or has been buried until recently and thus has not had time to be oxidized by the Martian atmosphere. Or, it could mean that Mars' atmosphere is too cold and dry to oxidize anything in the past several hundred years. In any case, scientists had not expected to find meteorites like this one, so they now have some more information for their model of the Martian environment.
Subject Matter: Science Space Exploration _____________________________________________
Protesters Accuse Bush of 'Exterminating the Muslim Race' Story dated 20 January 2005
Protesters outside the "Black Tie and Boots" inaugural ball on Wednesday night accused Bush of "exterminating the Muslim race." Huh? That's right, protesters like 'Don' from Florida claim that there is something called the 'Muslim race' and that Bush is exterminating them. Well, Don from Florida, and the rest of the protesters making such claims can be dismissed as idiots. There is no such thing as a 'Muslim race'. Back in medieval Spain, they used to attribute a genetic property to religion, but I was under the impression that civilization had advanced intellectually since then. Let me make this very clear: there is no such thing as innate religion. Your religion is not a genetic condition that you inherit from your parents. Religious tendencies might be another thing altogether, but there is no genetic component whatsoever to the specific religion you subscribe to. I would just like to point out, if their idiocy doesn't warn you against believing anything these protesters say, their sympathies should. The anti-war types who are out there protesting at the inauguration have a history of dictators, communists, and other tyrannical types who like to steal from and murder people.
---------Anti-War Crowd Backs Notorious Dictators, Communists _____________________________________________
Michael Moore's Bodyguard Arrested on Airport Gun Charge Story dated 20 January 2005
Michael Moore, who is famous for mocking Americans who stand up for the right to keep and bear arms, apparently feels the need to have an armed bodyguard. This bodyguard has been arrested in New York for carrying an unlicensed handgun and taken to Queens central booking where he could be charged with a felony. While I am against such laws and am of the opinion that they violate the second amendment, I love to see these socialist totalitarian types get burned by their own hypocrisy. _____________________________________________
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Jimmy Carter linked to U.N. oil-for-food scam Story dated 20 January 2005
Carter has close ties to "Samir Vincent, who yesterday pleaded guilty to participating in numerous illegal activities as part of the U.N. scandal." Move America Forward will now be asking Carter to "provide a full accounting of his meetings and conversations" with this man. Now, before you say it is ridiculous to accuse an elder statesman like Carter of malfeasance, consider slightly different circumstances. Substitute Carter's name for Bush or Cheney and pretend that Samir Vincent is the president of an energy company (which he actually has been described as being). Given that combination, I would bet good money that the story would be front-page news nationwide. _____________________________________________
Bush Continues to Support UN "Law of The Sea" Treaty Story dated 19 January 2005
"What 'Law of the Sea' treaty?" you are probably asking. Yeah, that's a new one on me too. In a nutshell, it "would turn the oceans and their incomprehensible riches over to the world body." The U.N. would basically have direct control over 2/3 of the earth's surface. My simple answer is no. I am going to write my senators and tell them I don't support this. It will inhibit the operation of the U.S. Navy, which, along with the Air Force, is the first line of defense against tyranny abroad. I have no idea how this will impact U.S. territorial waters -- the article was unclear on whether or not this treaty covered only the High Seas, but even if it did, I would be opposed to it. I find Bush's support of the U.N., considering the organization is comprised of mostly rapacious tyrants, to be disturbing.
---------How to Contact Congress
News Politics News and Politics UN United Nations Law of the Sea Law of the Sea Treaty International Law Bush Geroge W. Bush President Bush President Geroge W. Bush Tyranny _____________________________________________
Bush Administration Supports Mexico's Pro Illegal Immigrant Stance Story dated 19 January 2005
The behavior of this administration is an insult to those who voted for him and the law that he just today swore an oath to uphold. Tom Ridge calls Mexico's Interior Secretary Santiago Creel his 'amigo'. "When Creel publicly DEMANDS that Americans allow unlimited [invasion] of our country by Mexico's unskilled, illiterate illegal aliens, Creel isn't MY 'amigo.' And upon hearing Creel make these demands, Tom Ridge endorses them with "He's my amigo?" And Tom Ridge heads the US Department of Homeland Security?" This is very disturbing to me. Bush need to do his sworn duty and uphold our immigration laws -- if he's not going to enforce our laws, how about something that will benefit us, like the tax laws? _____________________________________________
Leftist Financier, George Soros, Accused of Violating Federal Election Law Story dated 19 January 2005
The complaint "alleges that Soros failed to disclose a series of expenditures stemming from his October 2004 speaking tour to several swing states, where he called for the defeat of President Bush". I predict no jail time. Only Conservatives get serious scrutiny for violating elections laws. Or any law, for that matter. Just look at former Clinton national security adviser, Sandy Berger. That man stuffed classified documents in his socks and underwear 'by accident' and walked out of the national archives with them. He was caught on tape doing this and he has yet to be arrested. If it were me, I would probably already be in federal prison (not that that's a huge feat since you can go to federal prison and not actually do anything). _____________________________________________
China, Taiwan Bicker Over Invitation to Bush Inauguration Story dated 19 January 2005
Not content to repress merely their own people, the Chinese government tries to influence America as to who may and may not attend the Bush inauguration. Message to the People's Republic of China: grow up, you big babies. Taiwan is an independent state who you have never had legal authority over. "China's communist authorities consistently work to deny Taiwan diplomatic recognition. Most foreign governments comply with Beijing's demands that the self-governing island not be allowed to participate in international community and that its leaders be isolated." As such, they are expressing concern over Taiwan's presence at the inauguration, claiming that it is not clear that they were invited and, therefore, should not be allowed to attend. When are the republics of the world going to stand up with Taiwan and tell China that tyranny will not be tolerated? _____________________________________________
Russia Hints at Willingness to Sell Advanced Bombers to China Story dated 19 January 2005
"Russia has indicated that it may sell advanced weaponry to China, including strategic bombers that could pose a threat to U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific." That's nice, but ignore the implications to U.S. security for a moment. China has said in no uncertain terms that it plans to conquer Taiwan and "crush them militarily." Why is Russia escaping criticism for their plans to sell weapons to an avowed tyrannical, imperial power? _____________________________________________
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Titan: The New World; Cassini Discovers New Moons of Saturn Story dated 19 January 2005
This whole mission (Cassini-Huygens) is just plain neat. Note that this article references the fact that Cassini is nuclear powered without mentioning that they think it's going to kill us all. It seems they have matured a lot since 1997 -- or maybe not since the big money now is in reporting what went right with the mission. Cassini will be orbiting Saturn for the next four years. Huygens is providing the most interest at this time. Titan is the second largest moon in the Solar system (larger than Mercury) and it's atmosphere is too thick to see the surface. Like Earth, Titan's atmosphere is mostly nitrogen but it has a lot more methane than we do. One of the things that makes scientists so excited is that "a lot of the things that are going on in Titan now are very similar to what happened four-and-a-half billion years ago in the Earth's atmosphere." Cassini tried to look at the surface when it flew by last October, but it wasn't very successful. Now that Huygens has landed, it has found a spongy clay-like surface. "[I]n one high altitude image that was taken looking straight down, scientists believe that they can see channels of flowing liquid running perhaps downhill to an area that appears to be a beach and then dark sea beyond." That sea, scientists think, is liquid ethane or methane; "same. . . as the fuel in a gas grill."
In other news, to me, anyway, Cassini has discovered some new moons orbiting Saturn. This is actually older news, and nothing new to people who follow such things, but I've been busy with law school, so I didn't notice. "Cassini has discovered three new moons. Now Saturn has 34." That's a lot, but these moons don't hold a candle to Titan. When I first read about the moon in middle school, I never imagined that we'd land a spacecraft on it in my lifetime.
Subject Matter: Astronomy Science Space Exploration _____________________________________________
Report: Pro-Democracy Movement in Totalitarian North Korea Story dated 18 January 2005
Some potential good news for the Far East. "A human rights group claimed Tuesday that it has obtained video footage showing dissident activities in North Korea, with demands for freedom and democracy written over a poster of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il." Remember the removal of Kim Jong Il's portrait late last year? Hopefully, that and this are indicators that some real democratic reforms could be right around the corner. I'm sure Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea would be happy to welcome North Korea into the family of East Asian constitutional republics. It is unconfirmed at this time whether the video footage is genuine. _____________________________________________
Death of Purged Leader Prompts Fresh Calls for imperialist China to Democratize Story dated 18 January 2005
For many of you who are unaware, the totalitarian Chinese government is a belligerent imperialist power that is not above conquering territory when it can get away with it. Don't believe me? Ask Tibet. Talk to citizens of Taiwan which China claims as it's own province and has threatened repeatedly to conquer militarily. Maybe you are too young to remember when this 'wonderful, peaceful' (read 'not United States') government slaughtered students participating in a pro-democracy protest at Tiananmen Square. I was in elementary school, and I remember seeing the headlines like it was yesterday.
Anyhow, once upon a time, there was a Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party names Zhao Ziyang. Mr. Zhao actually thought that maybe it wasn't a good idea for the government to steal from and enslave its people, and to murder people who thought such actions were wrong. Mr. Zhao "was stripped of his post and purged after reacting sympathetically towards student pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, shortly before the authorities sent in the army to crush them." He has not been seen in public since; he has been under house arrest. "China noted the death in a terse report released by the official Xinhua news agency, which said that "Comrade Zhao Ziyang died of illness in a Beijing hospital Monday." . . . The dispatch made no reference to Zhao's former senior position, nor to the fact he had been under house arrest for the past 15 years. Beyond carrying the same brief Xinhua item, other Chinese media ignored his death."
Many of the economic reforms China has pushed through in the last 15 years are because of Mr. Zhao's influence on behalf of the Chinese people. News of his death has sparked a new interest in seeing liberal democratic reforms in China. This was a man who was under arrest for 15 years because he held the opinion that people should be free and that students should not be crushed by tanks. Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan and cabinet spokesman Chen Chi-mai of Taiwan have both issues statements of hope that China will finally begin to make progress in the areas of democracy and human rights.
Just a thought: It seems to me that the leftist media and intellectual elites that we have to put up with in the United States and Europe only care about political prisoners and other bad things when the U.K., the U.S., or other non-Canada English-speaking countries are responsible. Remember Nelson Mandela? Remember hearing reports of his ordeal as a political prisoner under the white government in South Africa? Of course you do. But I'll bet you've never heard of Zhao Ziyang until you read this article. _____________________________________________
Selective abortions to be outlawed in China? Story dated 18 January 2005
China only allows one child per family. Sons are more highly prized than girls in China, thus familys like to get the unborn child sexed and, if not a boy, abort it and try again. This has led to an imbalanced population with 20% more men than women. "[t]he government wishes to eliminate this imbalance and therefore his committee will "begin a review of the Penal Law to effectively prohibit the determination of the sex of the fetus." They are also looking into outlawing selective abortions. In my opinion, the Chinese government is just a bunch of cowards on this issue. They created this situation with their population restriction; they just refuse to admit it. At this point, the only effective remedy would be to completely remove the restrictions. Also they are not overpopulated -- well, not by Japanese standards. Japan is much more densely populated in China and their government is trying to encourage families to have more children. This is good news for me. I am of the opinion that gender imbalances in the population can create a warlike culture. Where women are a limited commodity, excess men have nothing to do except join up with other single men and engage in warlike behavior. China has a huge military and more men than women. A war would alleviate tension at home. That China is taking steps to correct the imbalance is an indication they may not be as belligerent as I had feared. However, it will still take 16 years minimum before the imbalance is fixed, and that's assuming the next generation of children has more women than men. _____________________________________________
New Jersey murders prompt Arab group condemnation Story dated 18 January 2005
For those of you not following this story, a family of four was slaughtered in New Jersey last week. They were found "bound, gagged and stabbed in the throats." It is reported that nothing of value was taken from the house and the father had received threats from Islamists that they would hunt him down and kill him. The most likely motive at this time, logically, is religious -- Islamic militants made threats against this man, a Coptic Christian. I think, if it turns out that Islamists were behind these murders, this could be America's 'Van Gogh murder' (you heard it here first). Several community Muslim leaders showed up at the funeral, but had to be escorted out by police in the face of an extremely hostile congregation. The investigating authorities claim that there is no convincing evidence that religion was the motive at this time.
Please note that there are conflicting reports in the media. Reuters reports that "[r]obbery was a suspected motive after police found the house was looted" and the New York Post reports that all the jewelry was in the house, the murderers "didn't take anything."
---------Tell me Islam, What is Peace? _____________________________________________
China declares that Taiwan independence advocates pose "a realistic threat" Story dated 18 January 2005
The rising superpower, China considers Taiwan, a liberal Republic and a much nicer place to live than China, to be a security threat. Taiwan has no reason to want to attack China unless, oh, say, China attacked them, like they've been threatening to do. China's belligerent imperialism continues to be ignored by the world community at large. I still support the idea of an East Asian Confederacy of Free States comprised of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Here's an analogy for you if you have trouble grasping what's going on. Imagine that Ireland built weapons systems that could strike Britain. Would Ireland be a security threat to Britain? The answer is 'no'; unless Britain were actively trying to annex Ireland, or if Ireland for some reason became Communist and, almost by definition, belligerent against all liberal republics. _____________________________________________
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Michael Savage Opposes People's Right to Stay Warm in the Winter 18 January 2005
Okay, that's not exactly true, but Michael Savage does support the abolishment of all wood fires in the United States. This annoyed me since a wood fire is how I keep warm in winter. I sit on several dozen wooded acres. Wood costs only the labor I put into gathering it. I am not affected by supply problems associated with oil and natural gas, and I am not dependent on my power being on all the time if I want to stay warm. We have used wood fires to keep warm since the beginning of time, and I am not about to stop now.
I do understand Savage's position -- he doesn't like the smell of wood-smoke and would like to do something about it. I don't like the smell of diesel and gasoline exhaust fumes and would not be displeased if I never had to smell them again. But Savage thinks that he ought to have the right to send government enforcers out to stop his neighbor from burning a fire in winter. This would not be unlike me demanding that government enforcers go out and stopping everyone from driving. Fuel exhaust is much more pervasive and poisonous than wood smoke, unless I am much mistaken, yet no one, not even Michael Savage, would suggest that we abolish automobiles (actually, I am not completely sure about that -- I am basing my opinion on the love he seems to have for his car).
I don't really understand his complaint about wood smoke, myself, but he describes his neighbor's chimney as smoking up the entire neighborhood, or some such thing. Maybe we have different definitions of 'smoke'. I define smoke as a thick cloud that obscures the vision, stings the eyes, and has a strong smell. Whenever someone near me is burning wood in their fireplace, often my only clue is the pleasant smell of burning wood that smells like winter to me. I mean, I suppose I could produce a lot of pungent smoke if I put moss or green leaves in my fireplace, but the point is I would have to work at it. Maybe Savage's neighbor is burning his trash in his fireplace -- now that would produce a lot of pungent smoke.
Michael Savage made two faulty comparisons on his show yesterday regarding wood-burning fireplaces. First, he claimed that allowing people to have wood fires would produce an environment like that of eighteenth center London. In saying this, Dr. Savage is either misinformed, or willfully attempting to mislead his audience. If he had studied Victorian London, he would know that they used coal to heat homes by that time. And let me tell you, a coal fire is much more polluting than a wood one, and I would agree with Savage if people wanted to burn coal. Second, he likened a wood fire to someone dumping oil in a lake. I would like to say that he is just mistaken, but a man of his intelligence really should know better. Oil does not dissipate immediately when dumped into a lake. Its effects are felt for a long time. Wood smoke does not hang in the air; it is only there while the fire is burning. Thus, the next day after you smell smoke, you would not smell it in the air if there were no fire (smelling smoke in material items is another matter altogether). Savage would have done much better to compare wood smoke fires to cigarette smoke as the situations are much more similar and thus the analogy would work better, but I still believe the automobile analogy is closer still since cheap transportation, like cheap and reliable heating in winter, are economic necessities. _____________________________________________
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Coptic Christian Slaughtered in New Jersey, Islamic Militants Suspected Story dated 16 January 2005
I would like to know why this story isn't getting more coverage. This could be our 'Van Gogh murder' and the national press is nearly silent on it (by 'nearly silent', I mean I have to exert effort to find the story). Here is the story. A Coptic Christian of Egyptian extraction and his family (a wife and two daughters) were savagely murdered in their New Jersey home sometime after Thursday evening of last week. The father was very outspoken about his religion and "engag[ed] in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site paltalk.com." He "had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site" who told him, "You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you." Now he's dead. Even the FBI has to admit that it has some likely suspects in this case, especially in light of what was found at the scene of the crime. "This is not a robbery," Fred Ayed, the deacon at St. George and St. Shenouda Church said. "We found all of the jewelry in the house. They didn't take anything." Sylvia, one of the daughters (and at least as outspoken as her father) was found horribly mutilated, "and stabbed... in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross." Religious hatred fits these circumstances as a motive and militant Islamists make likely suspects. Do your duty, F.B.I. -- or have you forgotten how after persecuting so many people who have harmed no one? _____________________________________________
Huygens Probe Successfully Touches Down on Titan. Anyone Remember Cassini and Plutonium? 15 January 2005
Yesterday, it went out over the newswires that the Huygens probe, an endeavor of the European Space Agency (ESA) touched down safely on Saturn's moon, Titan, and has proceeded to send back some stunning data. I am personally very excited about this since Titan, the only moon in the Solar System with an atmosphere, has always fascinated me. Apparently, Titan is so cold that it could have oceans and rivers of liquid methane. According to one expert who studied some of the images sent back, it looks like it also rains methane there and, in fact, it looked like it had rained the same day that the Huygens probe began its descent. To me, it's wonderful that we are able to study this phenomenon close up, and I am certainly grateful to the ESA for providing the world with such an experience via their Huygens probe. One question, though. Does anyone remember how the Huygens probe got to Titan? I do, but I didn't make the connection at first.
The news reports I hear rarely give the full name of the mission spacecraft, which is 'Cassini-Huygens'. That was also a new one on me. The news media has done a confusing job covering this mission. When I first heard that Huygens set down on Titan, and that it was a European probe, I was confused. The craft that was sent out to Saturn in the late 1990s was Cassini, highly reported as the plutonium-carrying harbinger of death, doom, and destruction that NASA launched. I remember its launch well, having first heard about it in Spring of 1997 when literature was distributed at my High School claiming that Cassini was going to kill us all, or some such nonsense. By the time the craft was launched, I was well into my first semester at college. We didn't die. The groups protesting the use of nuclear power in space, of which I'd never heard before 1997, claimed that there was a reasonable chance that death, doom, and destruction could result from an accident involving NASA's Cassini space vehicle, either at the launch, or in 1999 when it would pass by Earth again after having slingshotted around Venus. Never mind the fact that the Cassini-Huygens (the media didn't call it that back then) launch would "be the 24th time generators containing plutonium have been used in space exploration, and there has never been an accident."
The reason I'm telling you all this is because I want to point out something that I think is weird about the reporting. I told you I was confused when the news reported that 'Huygens' had landed on Titan. Back when I first heard about the craft, it was just 'Cassini'. Cassini, according to the news reports, was a NASA (American) project that used plutonium as a power source and could likely kill us. No one mentioned that the Cassini vehicle was a joint venture of NASA, the ESA, and Italy's ASI, or that the vehicle also carried the ESA's Huygens probe (hence the platform's full name of 'Cassini-Huygens').
Now that the exploration platform is safely away from Earth, it is called 'Cassini-Huygens' and the 'Cassini' part is barely mentioned at all. The media speaks admirably about the success of Huygens and the ESA, without a mention of the Cassini craft that NASA launched. It seems to me that NASA is getting all of the blame in the bad PR, and none of the credit in the good PR. Taking the 1997 and 2005 reporting together (and at their word), I would come away with the conclusion that NASA is bad and wants to kill us with plutonium, and that the ESA is good and wants to explore, and that there are two crafts in space named Cassini and Huygens, which may or may not be part of the same platform.
---------(Reuters) Titan Probe Drops Into 'Creme Brulee'-Like Surface (Sat Jan 15, 2005 08:30 AM ET)
---------(CNN) Much ado about Cassini's plutonium: Critics say launch could result in deadly disaster (October 10, 1997; Web posted at: 7:11 p.m. EDT)
---------(The Touchstone) THE CASSINI PLUTONIUM LAUNCH, OCT. 6, 1997(September/October 1997)
---------ESA Cassini-Huygens Site
---------ESA: More on Cassini-Huygens spacecraft
---------NASA JPL Cassini-Huygens Home
Subject Matter: Astronomy Media Bias Science Space Exploration _____________________________________________
Friday, January 14, 2005
Minimum Wage Proposal: How to raise the minimum wage and benefit private enterprise 15 January 2005
I have actually been mulling over this for a few days. I just have not had the opportunity to write it down until today. Last week on his show, nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Michael Savage said something very out of character for someone who is often dismissed as a right wing extremist. He announced that not only is he in favor of the minimum wage, but that he favors increasing it. The skinny of his monologue was that it is just not feasible to eke out more than a subsistence existence on minimum wage as it stands today. Even though minimum wage jobs are really meant to be entry-level, I recognize that many people simply don't advance beyond this level; this is why, while in theory I oppose the minimum wage, I am loath to support a repeal of minimum wage laws. Despite the fact that I believe that everyone has a responsibility to carry their own weight, that does not mean everyone can or will. Society is going to have to bear the cost of under-producers somehow, be it in increased crime, increased taxes for welfare, or the expense of disposing of the bodies of people who starved to death or otherwise died because they couldn't afford medical care.
Why not, then, as Michael Savage asks, raise the minimum wage? Well, the main reason I oppose raising the minimum wage at this time is that the tax structure in this country is already too oppressive of businesses. Raising the minimum wage significantly would drive more and more businesses offshore and encourage small businesses to make cuts in staff. I have never had to make out a payroll, so I don't know how expensive it actually is to hire an employee. I cannot, therefore, speak to the actual expenses of raising the minimum wage. What I can do, however, is point to the last presidential election.
One of the major issues during the election was the number of American companies relocating offshore. Companies do not incorporate outside of the United States because they don't like America; they do it because our tax structure is so oppressive that it is simply easier and far cheaper to do business elsewhere -- anyone who has had to fill out their own tax form knows what I am talking about. My proposal is to kill two birds with one stone. Call it a win-win compromise. Someone can introduce a bill in Congress that would raise the minimum wage to 8, 10, or even 12 dollars an hour, but such an increase would be conditional on the repeal of all taxes directly on the earnings of a business. Business would probably make more money, even with the minimum wage increase, and workers would have a lot more ready cash to pay for things like healthcare, dental, and automobile insurance. The only loser in the scenario would be government bureaucrats who think that they have a natural right to tax dollars. I think that the decrease in revenue wouldn't actually hurt the government since, with a higher minimum wage, more people will be able to cover their expenses without government assistance and, as such, the Federal government would likely be able to cut back on social spending.
Now, before the Republicans and Libertarians start assuming that I am some sort of socialist, let me explain my position. I used to think of minimum wage laws only from the employer's perspective, and from the position of a Libertarian purist (which I actually am less of than I thought). A Libertarian, or a 'free-market' Republican would say that minimum wage laws interfere with the ability of an employer and a potential employee to contract freely. After all, in the absence of such laws, a person could contract to work for $4.00/hr. if they so chose. And, a typical free-market type would ask, what's wrong with that? If an employer can get someone hired for $4.00/hr., then that is the price the market has set for that job. People who want more than $4.00/hr. for their labor, they would say, are being unrealistic. But are they unrealistic?
It is true that minimum wage laws are an extraneous force acting upon a business owner's negotiations with a worker, but no more so than the person willing to work for less (if that person were not there, the person who wanted to work for more would have the power to bargain for more). Think about it for a moment. A Libertarian will argue that because minimum wage laws interfere with the freedom we would have in a state of nature, they are unjust. But if you stop to consider it, in a state of nature you also have the freedom to murder and steal. No one complains about laws against these things. I will admit that I would be the first to point out that that analogy is almost ridiculous on its face -- but only almost. I mean, murder and theft are one thing, but minimum wage?
If you think about it, though, the lack of minimum wage laws that would allow the lowest priced worker to determine wages for all is like stealing. A majority of workers might not want to work for $4.00/hr., but they will if others do because that forces down the price that employers have to pay and the workers have no bargaining power. When employers bring in cheap labor, they take (steal, of you will) the bargaining power of the other people who are also willing to work, but only for wages above a certain amount. If your chattels are taken from you through coercive means, laws are there to protect you. Why, then, is it wrong for the workers to pass a law to protect the floor on their bargaining price?
Now, you could argue the same thing on behalf of the employers. If they can get the labor for cheaper, why shouldn't they? And isn't it unjust to put a gun to someone's head and order them to buy something more expensive than they want? Well, I think they certainly have a point. However, if labor gets cheap enough, the laboring class's lack of economic power would have a detrimental effect on society as a whole. Low wages are often accompanied by crime and poor health. Both of these things are a drain on society's resources. Imagine if no public restroom was ever cleaned or provided with soap just because some people demonstrated a willingness to use the facilities regardless of condition and without washing up afterward. Such a situation might have lower operating costs, but society would be dirtier as a result and the chances of disease spreading would go up.
Or consider this example of something that you probably have more experience with. If you have ever been to a hospital, you may have noticed that your bill is high. One of the reasons it is so high is that the hospital cannot turn down basic care to people who need it. This means that sometimes they have to treat people who cannot afford it. Since the hospital cannot stay open unless it at least breaks even, it has to charge more for the people who can pay. And the reason that many people cannot pay is because they make minimum wage. If you can make a company stop polluting the ground water because of the cost to you, why can you not pass a law to raise the minimum wage, which also affects you? Why should you have to pay a worker's hospital bill when you don't even know them? Only because the employer can't or won't pay the workers what they need to pay for their own care. It all goes back to cost. Is the societal cost of an action worth it? Generally, you want to respect the rights of every individual, but you also want to choose the policy that has the greatest aggregate benefit for society.
In the case of minimum wage, it is, in my opinion, impossible to raise it right now without driving more American businesses overseas. That would have too high a societal cost because it would result in increased unemployment, which is worse than low wages. If, however, we cut taxes to businesses completely, they would be able to afford to pay significantly higher wages and still turn a greater profit than they currently do. This would be very good for society, because greater profit potential would attract more jobs here despite the higher minimum wage and that would cause the economy to expand and more jobs to be created. The higher minimum wage would benefit society because workers could be more self-sufficient and there would be a lower incentive for crime -- both situations decreasing the operating cost of government. Thinking abstractly, as I sit here at my computer, this sounds like a win-win. I hope any Congresspersons who read this think so too.
As a post script, if you know anything about me, then you know that I am a supporter of the FairTax. The FairTax would necessarily eliminate all federal taxes on business -- something that the Democrats won't like at all. If I might make a humble suggestion to the Republican backers of the FairTax bill (H.R.25, S. 1493 [now S. 25]): offer an increase in the minimum wage as a compromise for the votes of the Democrats in support of the FairTax. Democrats and Republicans alike ought to go for this since they are all political animals up there and both sides would have to be crazy to pass up an opportunity to make each of their constituencies happy at the same time. A word of caution, though: this should not be seen as an open invitation to amend the FairTax bill. The sponsors should make it clear that this is a one time quid pro quo -- Republicans get the FairTax and the Democrats get higher minimum wage; the American people get both. I think it's a win-win-win. _____________________________________________
Institute of Medicine wants rules for vitamin supplements; also beware the Codex Alimentarius Commission -- WHO,U.N. Story dated 14 January 2005
Do you take vitamin supplements? I do. I have all my life, and I rarely get sick. The major medical attention I have ever had was for injuries. The Institute of Medicine has expressed concern over the reliability of supplements -- though in my opinion, their energies would be better spent investigating the poisons administered to us through prescription drugs. This organization has many concerns over the measurable effects of vitamin supplements. "The Federal Trade Commission has reported a flurry of unfounded or exaggerated claims for supplements, the IOM report notes. It calls on Congress and federal agencies to set standards for manufacturing quality." I suppose the anecdote I opened with was an 'unfounded claim'. I get very nervous when the government starts talking about helping us. Something tells me that the price I pay for vitamins is about to go up. While I agree with critics that that manufacturers should be required to report proven adverse events, and that they shouldn't make false or misleading claims about their product, I would prefer that the industry be left alone, thank you. I have been taking vitamins for 26 years and if I was going to suffer any adverse effects, I would have done so by now. Oh, sorry -- another 'unfounded claim'. I would urge that alternative medicine organizations form their own version of Underwriters Laboratories for vitamin supplements to ensure quality before the government sticks us with a sub-standard monstrosity of a bureaucracy that cost twice as much and gives half the quality. Maybe the National Health Federation could fill such a role, or be instrumental in the formation of such a quality-assurance laboratory.
Our domestic government is not the only danger to our medical freedom. Enter the Codex Alimentarius Commission. "[T]he Codex Alimentarius Commission is an international body establishing global trade standards for foods. Sponsored jointly by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it has various committees dealing with specific food issues." Scott Tips reports that "[t]he committee concerned with food supplements is the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses. . . This particular committee is important to you because it is establishing "guidelines" that will govern the international trade in vitamins and minerals. And, in my opinion, these euphemistically called "guidelines" will be used not only to exclude superior American dietary supplements from the European marketplace but they will also be used, either directly or by way of example, to stifle the domestic American market in supplements as well." If you want to read more about this, I have provided a link below. Certain people may attempt to say that the Codex is not going to be binding on the U.S., so we won't have to worry about requirements that we lower the potency of our vitamins. However, an "observer, who has covered many Codex meetings, has expressed her opinion that every WTO member country has signed mutual recognition agreements that require them to engage in a constant process of harmonization. As such, the United States and other countries will eventually be forced to harmonize to the Codex "guidelines." Thus, the question of whether the Guidelines are optional or not may be long-since answered."
Do what you like, but I am going to write my Congressman. After all, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty -- that's why I publish this web log
---------"A Meeting of Two" by Scott Tips
---------Don't let vitamins' potency be altered
---------How to Contact Congress _____________________________________________
Thursday, January 13, 2005
US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Approves Use of Foreign Precedents in Court Decisions Story dated 14 January 2005
"Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer jousting at the American University law school late Thursday afternoon over whether American jurists should look to foreign legal precedents when making their decisions." That this has to be debated at all is somewhat disturbing to me. Justices of the Supreme Court take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of these United States of America. Our Constitution is the end legal authority of our laws -- no law can go against it -- in theory (although in practice, I think courts need to be more discriminating when looking at what laws get passed). The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of Constitutionality -- meaning that they do not follow precedents of lower state courts. They either set precedents, or affirm them. This is why it is dangerous for the court to start looking at foreign opinions when interpreting our Constitution. According to this story, "Breyer, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice John Paul Stevens have buttressed their decisions in death penalty and gay rights cases with citations of what foreign, especially European, judges have ruled in similar cases," but "Breyer minimized the importance of his use of foreign precedents. He said he looked at foreign law simply to learn how judges overseas approach problems comparable to what he must face, a process he called "opening your eyes to things that are going on elsewhere."" Forgive my presumption, but it is highly inappropriate to interpret the United States Constitution with input from foreign countries. Courts in other countries are influenced by other cultures and traditions. How can anyone really think that it is okay to interpret our Constitution with precedents arising from other cultures? More and more Americans, it seems, are beginning to think that the court doesn't work for them anymore. Justice Breyer and his ilk prove these people right. I am just glad Justice Scalia is there to point out what Breyer is doing. _____________________________________________
Georgia Law Criminalizes Breach of Private Contract: Failure to neuter dog nets charges, Judge Rudy Horn signs warrants Story dated 13 January 2005
In an act of tyranny against a citizen who has deprived no one of life, liberty, or property, Rockdale County Magistrate Court Judge Rudy Horn signed an order that allowed Sheriff's officers (acting as regulatory enforcers), to arrest a private citizen who was unable to neuter her dog because it ran off. Apparently, the victim signed a paper when she adopted a dog from the Morgan County Humane Society agreeing to neuter the dog. She was unaware of the requirement at the time, but she had every intention to neuter her dog -- had it not run away ten days after she adopted it. The Morgan County Humane Society, under the direction of Pat Pedley filed a complaint against the victim. Pedley claims this was done after several reminder calls were made. The victim reports that she received no such call -- instead, she received a surprise announcement that she was to report to "Rockdale County Jail to turn herself in. There, according to standard practice, she was fingerprinted, searched and had her mug shot taken." The family had to spend their mortgage payment to get her out. It is insane that the victim can face criminal charges for simple breach of contract. I highly recommend that no one support or adopt from the Morgan County Humane Society. _____________________________________________
"If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."