Monday, 20 August 2007

BUMPER STICKER SLOGAN ALERT

Ken Berwitz

This one is for anyone left who still believes john edwards and several other Democratic candidates who think the global war on terror is just a "bumper sticker slogan"  It was pulled from the Arabic middle east news agency, al bawaba:.

Report: Hizbullah trained Iraqi fighters
Posted: 20-08-2007 , 10:39 GMT

iraq resistanceLebanon's Hizbullah has trained Shiite fighters from Iraq in advanced guerrilla warfare tactics, according to Mehdi army fighters who have been confronting British forces in the south of the country. Members of Muqtada al-Sadr's militia told The Independent they had received instruction from from Hizbullah.

One Iraqi militiaman, named only as Abu Muhannad, said he had spent a month in Southern Lebanon. "I was one of the experienced fighters from the Mehdi army to go for training there," he said. "We learned how to take advantage of an armoured vehicle's weakness, and how to wait and kill the soldiers who try to escape."

The 39-year-old from Suwayrah, a city 40 km south of Baghdad was one of several fighters to confirm the links between the two groups.

Earlier this year, the US military said it had captured a Hizbullah fighter in southern Iraq who had been involved in the abduction and killing of American soldiers. Hizbullah has been denying the allegations.

.

You really have to be naive, or much more concerned about politics than the survival of western culture, to believe that there is no globalization of terrorism. 

Unfortunately, there are people who fit that description and they include a couple of presidential wannabes.  Lucky for us, the most "prominent" of this sorry bunch is the human oil slick john edwards, who is looking more and more like that category I use in survey research:  "all other".

Think of it as the research equivalent of "etc".


FOREIGN MANUFACTURERS AND DOMESTIC SAFETY

Ken Berwitz

From the Financial Times of London, we have this disquieting story:.

Poison pyjamas add to China export scares

By Geoff Dyer in Shanghai

Published: August 20 2007 19:56 | Last updated: August 20 2007 19:56

The safety problems affecting Chinese goods spread from toys to textiles on Monday as New Zealand said it would investigate allegations that imported childrens clothes contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

The government ordered the probe after scientists hired by a consumer watchdog programme discovered formaldehyde in Chinese clothes at levels of up to 900 times regarded as safe. Manufacturers sometimes apply formaldehyde to clothes to prevent mildew. It can cause skin rashes, irritation to the eyes and throat and allergic reactions.

The Warehouse, a New Zealand retailer, issued a recall at the weekend for childrens pyjamas made in China after two children were burned when their flannelette nightclothes caught fire.

The New Zealand investigation is the first time that the safety of Chinese clothes has been called into question; concerns have been raised over a series of Chinese products in recent months, including toys, food and toothpaste. Last week, Mattel said it was recalling 18.2m toys globally because of hazards such as the use of lead paint.

The latest concerns came as Li Changjiang, head of Chinas safety watchdog, claimed the product safety scares were a new trend of trade protectionism, and accused some governments of demonising Chinas products.

Hiscomments reflected Beijings anxiety over growing fears of Chinese exports in the US and Europe, but they were dismissed by Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade commissioner.

The allegation that European companies action against toxic Chinese goods is politically motivated and shows bias against China is totally false, said Mr Mandelson on Monday. As trade commissioner, I will not accept claims of toxicity being used as a pretext for protectionism.

Economists say the safety scandals have so far had limited impact on exports, in part as toys accounted for less than 1 per cent of overall exports last year, while foodstuffs made up 1.4 per cent.

Textiles and clothing made up more than 13 per cent of exports in the first half of the year.

The textile sector is a much more important part of Chinas exports so this will be more of a cause for concern for the authorities, said Mark Williams, an economist at Capital Economics in London. However, these cases are still a drop in the ocean in terms of Chinas overall trade. .

Is it just me, or is this telling us something about what happens when we drive our manufacturing sector out of existence with excessive wages/benefit demands, an incomprehensible labyrinth of regulations and an army of lawyers salivating at the throught of their next class action suit?

When do we wise up?  Ever?  Or is it too late already?

Personally I don't think it is.  I think that this outbreak of danger from foreign manufacturers (especially China) is something of a blessing in disguise. 

Why?  Because suddenly "Made In America" can have a meaning that it had many years ago and lost.  "Made In America" can again communicate a product of superior quality and  safety --- not to mention the fact that it is creates jobs for people in this country.

So, will we end our dependency on countries which manufacture products with huge question marks all over them?  Will we act to maunufacture domestic products that are not only safer but create employment for our fellow Americans at the same time?  The next few years will tell the tale.


POLLS POLLS POLLS

Ken Berwitz

Just a quick check on how President Bush and the Democratic congress are doing in the polls, using an average of the last half dozen according to www.pollingreport.com.

-President Bush averages 32%;

-The Democratic congress averages 24%.

Keep waiting for media to talk about how, while voters are generally dissasfied, they are appreciably less happy with the congress than President Bush.  And see if a couple speculate that this disparity may have something to do with how much better the war in Iraq is going.

Yep, keep waiting.......................


GUEST EDITORIAL: NEW YORK POST ON THE NEW JERSEY MASSACRE

Ken Berwitz

The New York Post - not the "paper of record" Times, but the New York Post - has it right about the horrible shooting of four young college or college-bound students in Newark two weeks ago.  Three are now in their graves.  The fourth is alive by virtue of nothing more or less than luck, since she was as much of a target as the others.

Sometimes tragedies like this are unstoppable.  No one can see them coming.  This is not one of them.  And the Post nails it.  Here is their editorial from yesterday's editions:.

JERSEY 'JUSTICE'

August 19, 2007 -- Almost as shocking as the execution-murders of three college students in Newark two weeks ago is the governmental - and moral - paralysis that has informed New Jersey's reaction to the crimes.

On Thursday, Gov. Jon Corzine and Newark Mayor Cory Booker proudly announced yet another crackdown on guns - even though the state already has some of the toughest gun-purchasing laws in the county.

But neither Corzine nor Booker has said nearly enough about the systemic failures that led to the slaughter.

Happily, state Senate President Richard Codey gets it.

He and Attorney General Anne Milgram have launched an investigation into the actions of the Essex County criminal-justice system in its dealings with suspected murderer Jose Larchira Carranza, an illegal alien, over the last 10 months.

So why is Corzine sitting around dumb as a doorknob? Why didn't he take the initiative?

Fixing the judicial system that per mitted a violent child molester to go free, allegedly to engineer the Newark murders, demands the immediate, undivided attention of the entire New Jersey governing establishment.

AG Milgram has a lot to look at:

* Carranza was first arrested on Oct. 1 after a bar fight and charged with aggravated assault and weapons possession (using a bottle on three men in the fight). The processing judge set bail at $50,000.

Three days later, Judge JoAnne Watson reduced bail to $20,000, with the consent of the Essex County prosecutor's office. After posting $2,000 cash bond, Carranza was set free that day.

* On Jan. 18, he was arrested on 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, 15 counts of child endangerment and five counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of five.

The same Judge Watson set bail at $200,000.

On Jan. 29, Superior Court Judge John Kennedy reduced bail to $150,000 with the consent of Essex Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Scott.

Carranza posted a $150,000 bond on Feb. 6 and was out the next day.

* On May 3, Carranza was arrested on six counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child, two counts of sexual assault on a four-year-old and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Judge Michael Ravin set bail at $300,000.

On May 17, Superior Court Judge Thomas Vena consolidated Carranza's two sexual-abuse cases - and lowered bail to $150,000.

As The Newark Star-Ledger reported, the vacationing Vena dropped by his chambers - with neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors present - to reduce and consolidate the bail.

Having already posted $150,000, Carranza walked without having to put up an additional dime.

Prosecutor Margarita Rivera claims she consented to reducing Carranza's bail to $300,000, not $150,000.

But that's irrelevant.

Through it all, neither Rivera nor Vena saw fit just to revoke bail on a violent felon dangerous to children and the broader community - and in the country illegally, besides.

Indeed, at no time did anyone check Carranza's immigration status.

Judge Vena - who finally saw fit to revoke Carranza's bail last week - may well be the luckiest jurist in the nation: The state senate confirmed him in June to a lifetime appointment.

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow claims that none of her prosecutors gave consent to lower bail in any of Carranza's appearances.

But the county assignment judge's office says the prosecutors did.

Who's lying?

Milgram needs to find out.

Subpoenas are called for - and detailed testimony under pain of perjury charges.

The case's high profile has sparked a flood of 20/20 hindsight and action. In addition to Milgram's probe, the state's chief justice has tasked a retired judge to review the bail decisions.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement finally placed a "detainer" on the illegal Carranza.

That means he's not going anywhere. - regardless of the trial outcome.

But that raises an entirely different set of issues.

Before the murders, Gov. Corzine requested that Attorney General Milgram draft guidelines for local police jurisdictions to work with federal authorities when dealing with illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

Those regulations are to be completed by the end of the month.

IT's an example of how bad things are across New Jersey that such official rules have to be drafted.

Basic common sense dictates that local cops automatically alert federal authorities if they have an illegal in custody on felony charges.

But Newark thinks differently.

Last October, a City Council resolution, passed 8-0, declared that the city won't inquire of an immigrant's status or deny an illegal any city services. This resolution has caused Newark to be deemed a so-called "sanctuary city."

At a Tuesday press conference, Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy deemed the immigration status of the perpetrators "irrelevant." Booker added, "It's no way the obligation of the city police department to be going around doing the work of [ICE]."

Wonder if the families of the three slain college students think Carranza's status is "irrelevant"?

In what world are McCarthy and Booker living?

When a violent crime has been committed, immigration status is damned "relevant" - if only because immigration charges can keep violent offenders off the streets in the face of New Jersey's ludicrous bail policies.

That's just common sense.

But, as is now evident, common sense is in short supply in the Garden State - and the consequences are tragic.

And deadly.

.

Sad to say, just as the traffic light finally is installed only after a child is hit at the intersection, so does "justice" (if there ever can be in this instance) react only after events such as the Jersey massacre.

Or at least I hope it will react.  Would I be surprised if, in a short time to allow for the public's attention span to run its course, corzine and the idiot judges who facilitated Carranzo at every turn will be perfectly willing to look the other way again?  To conduct business as usual? 

Not in the least.

In my opinion, Jon corzine's first year as governor is proving that he is far more adept at buying elections, boinking union heads who he then pays off handsomely, and recklessly speeding to PR events than he is at actually accomplishing anything -- unless you consider a 17% increase in the state sales tax (not 1%, but 17% - the 1% is a damn lie) an accomplishment. 

What does it take to force the corzines of the world, the idiot judges in question  - and, sadly, an awful lot of citizens as well - to THINK about the consequences of a state (and country) overrun with illegals, who know the justice system will not stop them from behaving illegally, even murderously?

I hope the senseless murders of four innocent young people will do it.  But you'll pardon me if I suspect it may not.


Feds pay $80,000 to couple who wore anti bush t shirt to bush rally

Feds pay $80,000 over anti-Bush T-shirts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --A couple arrested at a rally after refusing to cover T-shirts that bore anti-President Bush slogans settled their lawsuit against the federal government for $80,000, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday.

Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas, were handcuffed and removed from the July 4, 2004, rally at the state Capitol, where Bush gave a speech. A judge dismissed trespassing charges against them, and an order closing the case was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

"This settlement is a real victory not only for our clients but for the First Amendment," said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia. "As a result of the Ranks' courageous stand, public officials will think twice before they eject peaceful protesters from public events for exercising their right to dissent."

White House spokesman Blair Jones said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing.

"The parties understand that this settlement is a compromise of disputed claims to avoid the expenses and risks of litigation and is not an admission of fault, liability, or wrongful conduct," Jones said.

The front of the Ranks' homemade T-shirts bore the international symbol for "no" superimposed over the word "Bush." The back of Nicole Rank's T-shirt said "Love America, Hate Bush." On the back of Jeffery Rank's T-shirt was the message "Regime Change Starts at Home."

The ACLU said in a statement that a presidential advance manual makes it clear that the government tries to exclude dissenters from the president's appearances. "As a last resort," the manual says, "security should remove the demonstrators from the event."





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JOSEPH LIEBERMAN ON IRAQ'S SUPPLY OF SUICIDE BOMBERS

Ken Berwitz

I would say the odds are hugely against Joseph Lieberman, the senator from Connecticut, ever becoming a Republican.  His positions on most issues are too solidly Democratic (look him up on www.vote-smart.org and see for yourself). 

Sad to say, however, he has become something of a pariah in the Democratic party.  Why?  Because he a) supports our war effort in Iraq and b) has damn good reasons for doing so.  This is anathematic to Democratic leaders (if you can call them that) like harry reid, nancy pelosi and jim clymer.  This pathetic crew has put their party in the sorry position of needing a US defeat for political gain.

Literally, the better we do in Iraq, the worse it is for Demcrats.  And the worse we do in Iraq, the better it is for Democrats. 

This is why reid and pelosi declared our troop surge a failure, before it was even implemented.  If we succeed they look bad.  So they literally provide useful propaganda like that to our enemies because, politically, it benefits them too.  What a sorry, despicable position they have put the Democratic party in. 

Sorry enough so that - finally - a few Democrats can't take it anymore and are starting to march out of lockstep with their leadership (Carl Levin comes to mind, but there are others).   And that's not easy to do these days, as moveon.org exercises such dominion over reid, pelosi and the overall party.

What a sad state of affairs it is when members of a major party have to worry that there will be major political fallout if they say something positive about a war we are currently fighting!

In any event, here is Senator Lieberman's assessment of  the degree to which al-qaeda is facilitating the war in Iraq, their extensive use of suicide bombers, where most suicide bombers are coming from and what we should be doing about it.  It is must-reading, as you will see:.

Al Qaeda's Travel Agent
Damascus International Airport is a hub for terrorists.

BY JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
Monday, August 20, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The United States is at last making significant progress against al Qaeda in Iraq--but the road to victory now requires cutting off al Qaeda's road to Iraq through Damascus.

Thanks to Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, and the strength and skill of the American soldiers fighting there, al Qaeda in Iraq is now being routed from its former strongholds in Anbar and Diyala provinces. Many of Iraq's Sunni Arabs, meanwhile, are uniting with us against al Qaeda, alienated by the barbarism and brutality of their erstwhile allies.

As Gen. Petraeus recently said of al Qaeda in Iraq: "We have them off plan."

But defeating al Qaeda in Iraq requires not only that we continue pressing the offensive against its leadership and infrastructure inside the country. We must also aggressively target its links to "global" al Qaeda and close off the routes its foreign fighters are using to get into Iraq.

Recently declassified American intelligence reveals just how much al Qaeda in Iraq is dependent for its survival on the support it receives from the broader, global al Qaeda network, and how most of that support flows into Iraq through one country--Syria. Al Qaeda in Iraq is sustained by a transnational network of facilitators and human smugglers, who replenish its supply of suicide bombers--approximately 60 to 80 Islamist extremists, recruited every month from across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and sent to meet their al Qaeda handlers in Syria, from where they are taken to Iraq to blow themselves up to kill countless others.

Although small in number, these foreign fighters are a vital strategic asset to al Qaeda in Iraq, providing it with the essential human ammunition it needs to conduct high-visibility, mass-casualty suicide bombings, such as we saw last week in northern Iraq. In fact, the U.S. military estimates that between 80% and 90% of suicide attacks in Iraq are perpetrated by foreign fighters, making them the deadliest weapon in al Qaeda's war arsenal. Without them, al Qaeda in Iraq would be critically, perhaps even fatally, weakened.

That is why we now must focus on disrupting this flow of suicide bombers--and that means focusing on Syria, through which up to 80% of the Iraq-bound extremists transit. Indeed, even terrorists from countries that directly border Iraq travel by land via Syria to Iraq, instead of directly from their home countries, because of the permissive environment for terrorism that the Syrian government has fostered. Syria refuses to tighten its visa regime for individuals transiting its territory.

Coalition forces have spent considerable time and energy trying to tighten Syria's land border with Iraq against terrorist infiltration. But given the length and topography of that border, the success of these efforts is likely to remain uneven at best, particularly without the support of the Damascus regime.

Before al Qaeda's foreign fighters can make their way across the Syrian border into Iraq, however, they must first reach Syria--and the overwhelming majority does so, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, by flying into Damascus International Airport, making the airport the central hub of al Qaeda travel in the Middle East, and the most vulnerable chokepoint in al Qaeda's war against Iraq and the U.S. in Iraq.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad cannot seriously claim that he is incapable of exercising effective control over the main airport in his capital city. Syria is a police state, with sprawling domestic intelligence and security services. The notion that al Qaeda recruits are slipping into and through the Damascus airport unbeknownst to the local Mukhabarat is totally unbelievable.

This is not the first use of the Damascus airport by terrorists. It has long been the central transit point for Iranian weapons en route to Hezbollah, in violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions, as well as for al Qaeda operatives moving into and out of Lebanon.

Now the Damascus airport is the point of entry into Iraq for most of the suicide bombers who are killing innocent Iraqi citizens and American soldiers, and trying to break America's will in this war. It is therefore time to demand that the Syrian regime stop playing travel agent for al Qaeda in Iraq.

When Congress reconvenes next month, we should set aside whatever differences divide us on Iraq and send a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime, as we did last month to the Iranian regime, that the transit of al Qaeda suicide bombers through Syria on their way to Iraq is completely unacceptable, and it must stop.

We in the U.S. government should also begin developing a range of options to consider taking against Damascus International, unless the Syrian government takes appropriate action, and soon.

Responsible air carriers should be asked to stop flights into Damascus International, as long as it remains the main terminal of international terror. Despite its use by al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists, the airport continues to be serviced by many major non-U.S. carriers, including Alitalia, Air France, and British Airways.

Interrupting the flow of foreign fighters would mean countless fewer suicide bombings in Iraq, and countless fewer innocent people murdered by the barbaric enemy we are fighting there. At a time when the al Qaeda network in Iraq is already under heavy stress thanks to American and Iraqi military operations, closing off the supply line through which al Qaeda in Iraq is armed with its most deadly weapons--suicide bombers--would be devastating to the terrorists' cause.

Simply put, for the U.S. and our Iraqi allies, defeating al Qaeda in Iraq means locking shut Syria's "Open Door" policy to terrorists. It is past time for Syria to do so. .

Senator Lieberman makes a genuinely compelling case here, doesn't he?  Not only is his analysis highly persuasive, but it is also what most of us HOPE to be true:  i.e. that the USA is finding success in Iraq because of the surge, and if we stop Syria's pro-terrorist actions we can be even more successful.

Look, there are going to be major problems with Iraq every day.  That is the nature of a war per se and the nature of this region in particular.  But we can look at the half full glass, be happy about why it has that much in it and optimistic about filling it further, or look at the same glass as being half empty with a leak.

I don't begrudge some people's pessimism regarding the half full glass.  I could make both arguments myself. 

What I do begrudge is a political party whose leaders not only see the glass as half empty with a leak on the bottom, but are rooting for the leak.  And I hope you feel the same way.

 


BUMPER STICKER SLOGAN ALERT

Ken Berwitz

This one is for anyone left who still believes john edwards and several other Democratic candidates who think the global war on terror is just a "bumper sticker slogan"  It was pulled from the Arabic middle east news agency, al bawaba:.

Report: Hizbullah trained Iraqi fighters
Posted: 20-08-2007 , 10:39 GMT

iraq resistanceLebanon's Hizbullah has trained Shiite fighters from Iraq in advanced guerrilla warfare tactics, according to Mehdi army fighters who have been confronting British forces in the south of the country. Members of Muqtada al-Sadr's militia told The Independent they had received instruction from from Hizbullah.

One Iraqi militiaman, named only as Abu Muhannad, said he had spent a month in Southern Lebanon. "I was one of the experienced fighters from the Mehdi army to go for training there," he said. "We learned how to take advantage of an armoured vehicle's weakness, and how to wait and kill the soldiers who try to escape."

The 39-year-old from Suwayrah, a city 40 km south of Baghdad was one of several fighters to confirm the links between the two groups.

Earlier this year, the US military said it had captured a Hizbullah fighter in southern Iraq who had been involved in the abduction and killing of American soldiers. Hizbullah has been denying the allegations.

.

You really have to be naive, or much more concerned about politics than the survival of western culture, to believe that there is no globalization of terrorism. 

Unfortunately, there are people who fit that description and they include a couple of presidential wannabes.  Lucky for us, the most "prominent" of this sorry bunch is the human oil slick john edwards, who is looking more and more like that category I use in survey research:  "all other".

Think of it as the research equivalent of "etc".


THE DEFINITION OF CHUTZPAH

Ken Berwitz

If you ever wondered what the definition of "chutzpah" is, look no further than this article from Agence France-Presse. 

The bold print is mine, and it tells a story of self-inflicted misery -- the latest in an ongoing, never-ending series of self-inflicted misery created by palestinian Arabs in Gaza, as well as Judea and Samaria (the west bank). 

The article itself doesn't tell the whole story because, simply put, this is AFP reporting.  But more on that later.  Here is what they published:.

Gaza battles power cuts
Sakher Abu El Oun | Gaza City, Gaza Strip
20 August, 2007
 
Power cuts plagued the Gaza Strip anew on Monday as the European Union was reviewing whether to renew its financing of fuel deliveries for the impoverished territory's sole power plant.

Gaza City hummed with the sound of generators and candles disappeared off supermarket shelves as residents stocked up on supplies on the fourth day of intermittent power supplies in one of the world's most densely populated places.

"Our life is becoming more and more difficult," said Umm Jaber, a 40-year-old mother of six in Gaza City. "They've closed the borders, they've cut jobs. Today they've cut the electricity, tomorrow they'll cut the air for us."

The power cuts were the latest blow to hit the territory that has been effectively sealed off by Israel since the Islamist movement Hamas seized control two months ago, sparking fears of a humanitarian crisis.

They also marked the latest point of contention between the Western-shunned Islamists and the Western-backed Palestinian government in the occupied West Bank, as the two sides blamed each other for the cuts.

The power cuts began late on Friday, when Gaza's only power plant -- which according to the European Union provides between 25% and 30% of the territory's power -- shut down all but one of its generators because its diesel supplies dwindled after Israel shut the fuel border crossing on security concerns.

Israel reopened the crossing on Sunday, but diesel for the plant was not delivered because the EU -- which finances the supplies -- suspended payments out of "security concerns", forcing the plant to shut down completely.

"We are still assessing the situation" and hope to resume supplies either later on Monday or Tuesday, an EU spokesperson in Jerusalem said.

The power cuts have become a new source of tension between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's government in Ramallah.

"We warned for weeks that Gaza would fall into darkness if Hamas does not stop occupying the electricity company and does not stop holding on to millions of shekels that they collected from the people of Gaza," Information Minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters in Ramallah.

"The people in Gaza, in every home and every house, must go into the street and say to Hamas 'you are responsible for this crime'."


In Gaza, Hamas's parliamentary bloc said Abbas's government, headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, which it refuses to recognise, was to blame.

"President Abbas and the Fayyad government are responsible for this criminal cut in electricity," it said in a statement. "We call on people to protest against his act.

"We call on the European donors to reconsider their decision, which was made because of lies and political provocation by the government" in Ramallah, it said. "This decision is inhumane and could badly affect the Palestinian nation." -- AFP
.
 
Well, there is the article.  And with all too typical consistency, AFP has left out details which explain why this is happening: 
 
The fact that hamas, a terrorist organization specifically committed to destroying Israel and killing its Jews via jihad, violently took over Gaza two months ago is unmentioned.  There is only a passing reference to the fact that they "siezed control".  From whom?  They don't say. 
 
Must be those damn Jews.  Oops, wait, that can't be, since Israel evacuated Gaza entirely two years ago and there aren't any Jews there at all.  Now how do you suppose that didn't make it into the article? 
 
Then there is the fact - apparently too inconsequential to mention here - that Gaza and the west bank elected hamas to a majority status in their government.  That's right.  The palestinian Arabs living in Gaza gave majority parliamentary control to a terrorist organization specifically committed to destroying Israel and killing its Jews via jihad.  
 
Does Israel have reason to be worried about security issues emanating from Gaza?  Maybe enough to "seal off" the area and prevent Gazans from entering Israel?  You're kidding, right?
 
And that is before we talk about the 60 year history of hate and violence and destruction and death visited upon Israel from these same people. 
 
It is also before we talk about the fact that hamas, not content to have won a parliamentary majority in Gaza, decided that wasn't good enough and violently took over the entire territory.
 
And now there are people who don't want to FUND the palestinian arabs who did this?  Omigod, what's wrong with them?  Why are they so inhumane?
 
And Israel doesn't want to allow Gazans to enter the country to find work?  Work that doesn't exist in Gaza because the money that could be used to develop an infrastructure is instead being used for weapons to destroy the employers they seek?  Damn those Jews again.
 
You want Chutzpah?  There are two great examples.  One is the Gazans who complain about their own self-inficted misery.  The other is AFP, which excludes this fact when they write about it.


THE DEFINITION OF CHUTZPAH

Ken Berwitz

If you ever wondered what the definition of "chutzpah" is, look no further than this article from Agence France-Presse. 

The bold print is mine, and it tells a story of self-inflicted misery -- the latest in an ongoing, never-ending series of self-inflicted misery created by palestinian Arabs in Gaza, as well as Judea and Samaria (the west bank). 

The article itself doesn't tell the whole story because, simply put, this is AFP reporting.  But more on that later.  Here is what they published:.

Gaza battles power cuts
Sakher Abu El Oun | Gaza City, Gaza Strip
20 August, 2007
 
Power cuts plagued the Gaza Strip anew on Monday as the European Union was reviewing whether to renew its financing of fuel deliveries for the impoverished territory's sole power plant.

Gaza City hummed with the sound of generators and candles disappeared off supermarket shelves as residents stocked up on supplies on the fourth day of intermittent power supplies in one of the world's most densely populated places.

"Our life is becoming more and more difficult," said Umm Jaber, a 40-year-old mother of six in Gaza City. "They've closed the borders, they've cut jobs. Today they've cut the electricity, tomorrow they'll cut the air for us."

The power cuts were the latest blow to hit the territory that has been effectively sealed off by Israel since the Islamist movement Hamas seized control two months ago, sparking fears of a humanitarian crisis.

They also marked the latest point of contention between the Western-shunned Islamists and the Western-backed Palestinian government in the occupied West Bank, as the two sides blamed each other for the cuts.

The power cuts began late on Friday, when Gaza's only power plant -- which according to the European Union provides between 25% and 30% of the territory's power -- shut down all but one of its generators because its diesel supplies dwindled after Israel shut the fuel border crossing on security concerns.

Israel reopened the crossing on Sunday, but diesel for the plant was not delivered because the EU -- which finances the supplies -- suspended payments out of "security concerns", forcing the plant to shut down completely.

"We are still assessing the situation" and hope to resume supplies either later on Monday or Tuesday, an EU spokesperson in Jerusalem said.

The power cuts have become a new source of tension between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's government in Ramallah.

"We warned for weeks that Gaza would fall into darkness if Hamas does not stop occupying the electricity company and does not stop holding on to millions of shekels that they collected from the people of Gaza," Information Minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters in Ramallah.

"The people in Gaza, in every home and every house, must go into the street and say to Hamas 'you are responsible for this crime'."


In Gaza, Hamas's parliamentary bloc said Abbas's government, headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, which it refuses to recognise, was to blame.

"President Abbas and the Fayyad government are responsible for this criminal cut in electricity," it said in a statement. "We call on people to protest against his act.

"We call on the European donors to reconsider their decision, which was made because of lies and political provocation by the government" in Ramallah, it said. "This decision is inhumane and could badly affect the Palestinian nation." -- AFP
.
 
Well, there is the article.  And with all too typical consistency, AFP has left out details which explain why this is happening: 
 
The fact that hamas, a terrorist organization specifically committed to destroying Israel and killing its Jews via jihad, violently took over Gaza two months ago is unmentioned.  There is only a passing reference to the fact that they "siezed control".  From whom?  They don't say. 
 
Must be those damn Jews.  Oops, wait, that can't be, since Israel evacuated Gaza entirely two years ago and there aren't any Jews there at all.  Now how do you suppose that didn't make it into the article? 
 
Then there is the fact - apparently too inconsequential to mention here - that Gaza and the west bank elected hamas to a majority status in their government.  That's right.  The palestinian Arabs living in Gaza gave majority parliamentary control to a terrorist organization specifically committed to destroying Israel and killing its Jews via jihad.  
 
Does Israel have reason to be worried about security issues emanating from Gaza?  Maybe enough to "seal off" the area and prevent Gazans from entering Israel?  You're kidding, right?
 
And that is before we talk about the 60 year history of hate and violence and destruction and death visited upon Israel from these same people. 
 
It is also before we talk about the fact that hamas, not content to have won a parliamentary majority in Gaza, decided that wasn't good enough and violently took over the entire territory.
 
And now there are people who don't want to FUND the palestinian arabs who did this?  Omigod, what's wrong with them?  Why are they so inhumane?
 
And Israel doesn't want to allow Gazans to enter the country to find work?  Work that doesn't exist in Gaza because the money that could be used to develop an infrastructure is instead being used for weapons to destroy the employers they seek?  Damn those Jews again.
 
You want Chutzpah?  There are two great examples.  One is the Gazans who complain about their own self-inficted misery.  The other is AFP, which excludes this fact when they write about it.


GUEST EDITORIAL: NEW YORK POST ON THE NEW JERSEY MASSACRE

Ken Berwitz

The New York Post - not the "paper of record" Times, but the New York Post - has it right about the horrible shooting of four young college or college-bound students in Newark two weeks ago.  Three are now in their graves.  The fourth is alive by virtue of nothing more or less than luck, since she was as much of a target as the others.

Sometimes tragedies like this are unstoppable.  No one can see them coming.  This is not one of them.  And the Post nails it.  Here is their editorial from yesterday's editions:.

JERSEY 'JUSTICE'

August 19, 2007 -- Almost as shocking as the execution-murders of three college students in Newark two weeks ago is the governmental - and moral - paralysis that has informed New Jersey's reaction to the crimes.

On Thursday, Gov. Jon Corzine and Newark Mayor Cory Booker proudly announced yet another crackdown on guns - even though the state already has some of the toughest gun-purchasing laws in the county.

But neither Corzine nor Booker has said nearly enough about the systemic failures that led to the slaughter.

Happily, state Senate President Richard Codey gets it.

He and Attorney General Anne Milgram have launched an investigation into the actions of the Essex County criminal-justice system in its dealings with suspected murderer Jose Larchira Carranza, an illegal alien, over the last 10 months.

So why is Corzine sitting around dumb as a doorknob? Why didn't he take the initiative?

Fixing the judicial system that per mitted a violent child molester to go free, allegedly to engineer the Newark murders, demands the immediate, undivided attention of the entire New Jersey governing establishment.

AG Milgram has a lot to look at:

* Carranza was first arrested on Oct. 1 after a bar fight and charged with aggravated assault and weapons possession (using a bottle on three men in the fight). The processing judge set bail at $50,000.

Three days later, Judge JoAnne Watson reduced bail to $20,000, with the consent of the Essex County prosecutor's office. After posting $2,000 cash bond, Carranza was set free that day.

* On Jan. 18, he was arrested on 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, 15 counts of child endangerment and five counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of five.

The same Judge Watson set bail at $200,000.

On Jan. 29, Superior Court Judge John Kennedy reduced bail to $150,000 with the consent of Essex Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Scott.

Carranza posted a $150,000 bond on Feb. 6 and was out the next day.

* On May 3, Carranza was arrested on six counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child, two counts of sexual assault on a four-year-old and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Judge Michael Ravin set bail at $300,000.

On May 17, Superior Court Judge Thomas Vena consolidated Carranza's two sexual-abuse cases - and lowered bail to $150,000.

As The Newark Star-Ledger reported, the vacationing Vena dropped by his chambers - with neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors present - to reduce and consolidate the bail.

Having already posted $150,000, Carranza walked without having to put up an additional dime.

Prosecutor Margarita Rivera claims she consented to reducing Carranza's bail to $300,000, not $150,000.

But that's irrelevant.

Through it all, neither Rivera nor Vena saw fit just to revoke bail on a violent felon dangerous to children and the broader community - and in the country illegally, besides.

Indeed, at no time did anyone check Carranza's immigration status.

Judge Vena - who finally saw fit to revoke Carranza's bail last week - may well be the luckiest jurist in the nation: The state senate confirmed him in June to a lifetime appointment.

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow claims that none of her prosecutors gave consent to lower bail in any of Carranza's appearances.

But the county assignment judge's office says the prosecutors did.

Who's lying?

Milgram needs to find out.

Subpoenas are called for - and detailed testimony under pain of perjury charges.

The case's high profile has sparked a flood of 20/20 hindsight and action. In addition to Milgram's probe, the state's chief justice has tasked a retired judge to review the bail decisions.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement finally placed a "detainer" on the illegal Carranza.

That means he's not going anywhere. - regardless of the trial outcome.

But that raises an entirely different set of issues.

Before the murders, Gov. Corzine requested that Attorney General Milgram draft guidelines for local police jurisdictions to work with federal authorities when dealing with illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

Those regulations are to be completed by the end of the month.

IT's an example of how bad things are across New Jersey that such official rules have to be drafted.

Basic common sense dictates that local cops automatically alert federal authorities if they have an illegal in custody on felony charges.

But Newark thinks differently.

Last October, a City Council resolution, passed 8-0, declared that the city won't inquire of an immigrant's status or deny an illegal any city services. This resolution has caused Newark to be deemed a so-called "sanctuary city."

At a Tuesday press conference, Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy deemed the immigration status of the perpetrators "irrelevant." Booker added, "It's no way the obligation of the city police department to be going around doing the work of [ICE]."

Wonder if the families of the three slain college students think Carranza's status is "irrelevant"?

In what world are McCarthy and Booker living?

When a violent crime has been committed, immigration status is damned "relevant" - if only because immigration charges can keep violent offenders off the streets in the face of New Jersey's ludicrous bail policies.

That's just common sense.

But, as is now evident, common sense is in short supply in the Garden State - and the consequences are tragic.

And deadly.

.

Sad to say, just as the traffic light finally is installed only after a child is hit at the intersection, so does "justice" (if there ever can be in this instance) react only after events such as the Jersey massacre.

Or at least I hope it will react.  Would I be surprised if, in a short time to allow for the public's attention span to run its course, corzine and the idiot judges who facilitated Carranzo at every turn will be perfectly willing to look the other way again?  To conduct business as usual? 

Not in the least.

In my opinion, Jon corzine's first year as governor is proving that he is far more adept at buying elections, boinking union heads who he then pays off handsomely, and recklessly speeding to PR events than he is at actually accomplishing anything -- unless you consider a 17% increase in the state sales tax (not 1%, but 17% - the 1% is a damn lie) an accomplishment. 

What does it take to force the corzines of the world, the idiot judges in question  - and, sadly, an awful lot of citizens as well - to THINK about the consequences of a state (and country) overrun with illegals, who know the justice system will not stop them from behaving illegally, even murderously?

I hope the senseless murders of four innocent young people will do it.  But you'll pardon me if I suspect it may not.


JOSEPH LIEBERMAN ON IRAQ'S SUPPLY OF SUICIDE BOMBERS

Ken Berwitz

I would say the odds are hugely against Joseph Lieberman, the senator from Connecticut, ever becoming a Republican.  His positions on most issues are too solidly Democratic (look him up on www.vote-smart.org and see for yourself). 

Sad to say, however, he has become something of a pariah in the Democratic party.  Why?  Because he a) supports our war effort in Iraq and b) has damn good reasons for doing so.  This is anathematic to Democratic leaders (if you can call them that) like harry reid, nancy pelosi and jim clymer.  This pathetic crew has put their party in the sorry position of needing a US defeat for political gain.

Literally, the better we do in Iraq, the worse it is for Demcrats.  And the worse we do in Iraq, the better it is for Democrats. 

This is why reid and pelosi declared our troop surge a failure, before it was even implemented.  If we succeed they look bad.  So they literally provide useful propaganda like that to our enemies because, politically, it benefits them too.  What a sorry, despicable position they have put the Democratic party in. 

Sorry enough so that - finally - a few Democrats can't take it anymore and are starting to march out of lockstep with their leadership (Carl Levin comes to mind, but there are others).   And that's not easy to do these days, as moveon.org exercises such dominion over reid, pelosi and the overall party.

What a sad state of affairs it is when members of a major party have to worry that there will be major political fallout if they say something positive about a war we are currently fighting!

In any event, here is Senator Lieberman's assessment of  the degree to which al-qaeda is facilitating the war in Iraq, their extensive use of suicide bombers, where most suicide bombers are coming from and what we should be doing about it.  It is must-reading, as you will see:.

Al Qaeda's Travel Agent
Damascus International Airport is a hub for terrorists.

BY JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
Monday, August 20, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The United States is at last making significant progress against al Qaeda in Iraq--but the road to victory now requires cutting off al Qaeda's road to Iraq through Damascus.

Thanks to Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, and the strength and skill of the American soldiers fighting there, al Qaeda in Iraq is now being routed from its former strongholds in Anbar and Diyala provinces. Many of Iraq's Sunni Arabs, meanwhile, are uniting with us against al Qaeda, alienated by the barbarism and brutality of their erstwhile allies.

As Gen. Petraeus recently said of al Qaeda in Iraq: "We have them off plan."

But defeating al Qaeda in Iraq requires not only that we continue pressing the offensive against its leadership and infrastructure inside the country. We must also aggressively target its links to "global" al Qaeda and close off the routes its foreign fighters are using to get into Iraq.

Recently declassified American intelligence reveals just how much al Qaeda in Iraq is dependent for its survival on the support it receives from the broader, global al Qaeda network, and how most of that support flows into Iraq through one country--Syria. Al Qaeda in Iraq is sustained by a transnational network of facilitators and human smugglers, who replenish its supply of suicide bombers--approximately 60 to 80 Islamist extremists, recruited every month from across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and sent to meet their al Qaeda handlers in Syria, from where they are taken to Iraq to blow themselves up to kill countless others.

Although small in number, these foreign fighters are a vital strategic asset to al Qaeda in Iraq, providing it with the essential human ammunition it needs to conduct high-visibility, mass-casualty suicide bombings, such as we saw last week in northern Iraq. In fact, the U.S. military estimates that between 80% and 90% of suicide attacks in Iraq are perpetrated by foreign fighters, making them the deadliest weapon in al Qaeda's war arsenal. Without them, al Qaeda in Iraq would be critically, perhaps even fatally, weakened.

That is why we now must focus on disrupting this flow of suicide bombers--and that means focusing on Syria, through which up to 80% of the Iraq-bound extremists transit. Indeed, even terrorists from countries that directly border Iraq travel by land via Syria to Iraq, instead of directly from their home countries, because of the permissive environment for terrorism that the Syrian government has fostered. Syria refuses to tighten its visa regime for individuals transiting its territory.

Coalition forces have spent considerable time and energy trying to tighten Syria's land border with Iraq against terrorist infiltration. But given the length and topography of that border, the success of these efforts is likely to remain uneven at best, particularly without the support of the Damascus regime.

Before al Qaeda's foreign fighters can make their way across the Syrian border into Iraq, however, they must first reach Syria--and the overwhelming majority does so, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, by flying into Damascus International Airport, making the airport the central hub of al Qaeda travel in the Middle East, and the most vulnerable chokepoint in al Qaeda's war against Iraq and the U.S. in Iraq.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad cannot seriously claim that he is incapable of exercising effective control over the main airport in his capital city. Syria is a police state, with sprawling domestic intelligence and security services. The notion that al Qaeda recruits are slipping into and through the Damascus airport unbeknownst to the local Mukhabarat is totally unbelievable.

This is not the first use of the Damascus airport by terrorists. It has long been the central transit point for Iranian weapons en route to Hezbollah, in violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions, as well as for al Qaeda operatives moving into and out of Lebanon.

Now the Damascus airport is the point of entry into Iraq for most of the suicide bombers who are killing innocent Iraqi citizens and American soldiers, and trying to break America's will in this war. It is therefore time to demand that the Syrian regime stop playing travel agent for al Qaeda in Iraq.

When Congress reconvenes next month, we should set aside whatever differences divide us on Iraq and send a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime, as we did last month to the Iranian regime, that the transit of al Qaeda suicide bombers through Syria on their way to Iraq is completely unacceptable, and it must stop.

We in the U.S. government should also begin developing a range of options to consider taking against Damascus International, unless the Syrian government takes appropriate action, and soon.

Responsible air carriers should be asked to stop flights into Damascus International, as long as it remains the main terminal of international terror. Despite its use by al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists, the airport continues to be serviced by many major non-U.S. carriers, including Alitalia, Air France, and British Airways.

Interrupting the flow of foreign fighters would mean countless fewer suicide bombings in Iraq, and countless fewer innocent people murdered by the barbaric enemy we are fighting there. At a time when the al Qaeda network in Iraq is already under heavy stress thanks to American and Iraqi military operations, closing off the supply line through which al Qaeda in Iraq is armed with its most deadly weapons--suicide bombers--would be devastating to the terrorists' cause.

Simply put, for the U.S. and our Iraqi allies, defeating al Qaeda in Iraq means locking shut Syria's "Open Door" policy to terrorists. It is past time for Syria to do so. .

Senator Lieberman makes a genuinely compelling case here, doesn't he?  Not only is his analysis highly persuasive, but it is also what most of us HOPE to be true:  i.e. that the USA is finding success in Iraq because of the surge, and if we stop Syria's pro-terrorist actions we can be even more successful.

Look, there are going to be major problems with Iraq every day.  That is the nature of a war per se and the nature of this region in particular.  But we can look at the half full glass, be happy about why it has that much in it and optimistic about filling it further, or look at the same glass as being half empty with a leak.

I don't begrudge some people's pessimism regarding the half full glass.  I could make both arguments myself. 

What I do begrudge is a political party whose leaders not only see the glass as half empty with a leak on the bottom, but are rooting for the leak.  And I hope you feel the same way.

 


FOREIGN MANUFACTURERS AND DOMESTIC SAFETY

Ken Berwitz

From the Financial Times of London, we have this disquieting story:.

Poison pyjamas add to China export scares

By Geoff Dyer in Shanghai

Published: August 20 2007 19:56 | Last updated: August 20 2007 19:56

The safety problems affecting Chinese goods spread from toys to textiles on Monday as New Zealand said it would investigate allegations that imported childrens clothes contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

The government ordered the probe after scientists hired by a consumer watchdog programme discovered formaldehyde in Chinese clothes at levels of up to 900 times regarded as safe. Manufacturers sometimes apply formaldehyde to clothes to prevent mildew. It can cause skin rashes, irritation to the eyes and throat and allergic reactions.

The Warehouse, a New Zealand retailer, issued a recall at the weekend for childrens pyjamas made in China after two children were burned when their flannelette nightclothes caught fire.

The New Zealand investigation is the first time that the safety of Chinese clothes has been called into question; concerns have been raised over a series of Chinese products in recent months, including toys, food and toothpaste. Last week, Mattel said it was recalling 18.2m toys globally because of hazards such as the use of lead paint.

The latest concerns came as Li Changjiang, head of Chinas safety watchdog, claimed the product safety scares were a new trend of trade protectionism, and accused some governments of demonising Chinas products.

Hiscomments reflected Beijings anxiety over growing fears of Chinese exports in the US and Europe, but they were dismissed by Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade commissioner.

The allegation that European companies action against toxic Chinese goods is politically motivated and shows bias against China is totally false, said Mr Mandelson on Monday. As trade commissioner, I will not accept claims of toxicity being used as a pretext for protectionism.

Economists say the safety scandals have so far had limited impact on exports, in part as toys accounted for less than 1 per cent of overall exports last year, while foodstuffs made up 1.4 per cent.

Textiles and clothing made up more than 13 per cent of exports in the first half of the year.

The textile sector is a much more important part of Chinas exports so this will be more of a cause for concern for the authorities, said Mark Williams, an economist at Capital Economics in London. However, these cases are still a drop in the ocean in terms of Chinas overall trade. .

Is it just me, or is this telling us something about what happens when we drive our manufacturing sector out of existence with excessive wages/benefit demands, an incomprehensible labyrinth of regulations and an army of lawyers salivating at the throught of their next class action suit?

When do we wise up?  Ever?  Or is it too late already?

Personally I don't think it is.  I think that this outbreak of danger from foreign manufacturers (especially China) is something of a blessing in disguise. 

Why?  Because suddenly "Made In America" can have a meaning that it had many years ago and lost.  "Made In America" can again communicate a product of superior quality and  safety --- not to mention the fact that it is creates jobs for people in this country.

So, will we end our dependency on countries which manufacture products with huge question marks all over them?  Will we act to maunufacture domestic products that are not only safer but create employment for our fellow Americans at the same time?  The next few years will tell the tale.


Feds pay $80,000 to couple who wore anti bush t shirt to bush rally

Feds pay $80,000 over anti-Bush T-shirts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --A couple arrested at a rally after refusing to cover T-shirts that bore anti-President Bush slogans settled their lawsuit against the federal government for $80,000, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday.

Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas, were handcuffed and removed from the July 4, 2004, rally at the state Capitol, where Bush gave a speech. A judge dismissed trespassing charges against them, and an order closing the case was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

"This settlement is a real victory not only for our clients but for the First Amendment," said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia. "As a result of the Ranks' courageous stand, public officials will think twice before they eject peaceful protesters from public events for exercising their right to dissent."

White House spokesman Blair Jones said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing.

"The parties understand that this settlement is a compromise of disputed claims to avoid the expenses and risks of litigation and is not an admission of fault, liability, or wrongful conduct," Jones said.

The front of the Ranks' homemade T-shirts bore the international symbol for "no" superimposed over the word "Bush." The back of Nicole Rank's T-shirt said "Love America, Hate Bush." On the back of Jeffery Rank's T-shirt was the message "Regime Change Starts at Home."

The ACLU said in a statement that a presidential advance manual makes it clear that the government tries to exclude dissenters from the president's appearances. "As a last resort," the manual says, "security should remove the demonstrators from the event."





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POLLS POLLS POLLS

Ken Berwitz

Just a quick check on how President Bush and the Democratic congress are doing in the polls, using an average of the last half dozen according to www.pollingreport.com.

-President Bush averages 32%;

-The Democratic congress averages 24%.

Keep waiting for media to talk about how, while voters are generally dissasfied, they are appreciably less happy with the congress than President Bush.  And see if a couple speculate that this disparity may have something to do with how much better the war in Iraq is going.

Yep, keep waiting.......................


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