Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hermann Goering Psychiatric Evaluation Made Public After 65 Years

Douglas M. Kelley was given an unusual assignment for any psychiatrist, one in which he had to balance his role as an employee of the US government and a doctor to the top Nazi war criminal in custody. He spent months interviewing and evaluating Goering, developing a detailed picture of his personality and what drove him in his personal and professional life. For 65 years, Kelley’s family had kept the papers pertaining to the Goering evaluation under wraps. Like the infamous man he treated and evaluated, Kelley bit down on a cyanide capsule in what many believe was a drunken suicidal gesture that went horribly awry. This horrifying moment ended Kelley’s short life in 1958. Undoubtedly it took great courage for his family to reopen a book that had been closed for over 50 years.

Scientific American published an article by Jack El Hai, based on a detailed examination of Dr. Kelley’s contact with Hermann Goering. Contrary to popular conceptions prevalent at the time, he found Goering to be clinically normal. El Hai described Kelley’s opinion as follows.

“He believed that Goering and his cohorts were commonplace people and that their personalities “could be duplicated in any country of the world today.” In the years before and during World War II, the opportunity to obtain power led them to embrace a chilling political philosophy. In other words, the Holocaust and the war’s other heinous crimes were the products of healthy minds.”

From Pol Pot in Cambodia to the Interahamwe in Rwanda, it is clear that genocidal impulses are alive and well in the human race. Whatever morbid fascination we may have with dictators, it is clear that countless normal people act as enablers when a society decides to euthanise its collective conscience.

The Goering psychiatric evaluation is a fascinating study of a man and the effect that working with him had on the psychiatrist who treated him. Anyone who is interested not only in the psychological drives of leaders and how they influence society at large should find the opening of the Goering psychiatric evaluation to be fascinating reading.

Scientific American article on Douglas Kelley and Hermann Goering (short version) Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Phonics vs "Whole Word" Methods Of Learning To Read

     English stands apart among the major western languages, along with French because of its maddening departures from phonetic spelling. The silent "e" at the end of so many letters, silent "gh", "ph" that sounds like the letter "f" are among the features that make English spelling daunting to someone who is not a native speaker.

When I was a child, an educational fad swept public schools across the nation, of teaching "whole words". In this method of teaching, a student looks at a word and memorises it the same way a Chinese child would equate a character in Chinese with a word.  Of course, Chinese is not a phonetic language but a pictographic language. English, despite its numerous detours from common sense, remains phonetic at its core. Exceptions to the rules can be taught.

Using millions of American children in the "whole word" experiment was a disaster. Children taught under this method lagged behind children who learned the phonics system. I was blessed with parents who saw the folly of "whole word" reading and who put me in a private school that used the phonics method.

Fortunately, the battle against this harmful educational fad is still being fought. One of my fellow bloggers, Bruce D Price on is a writer, a poet and an advocate of phonics. He presents a persuasive case for phonics. Anyone who is sending children to school should familiarise themselves with this issue. I am providing some links for the benefit of my readers to educate themselves on this pressing issue, which has exacerbated the problems in our country of functional illiteracy and dysexia.

Bruce Price article on phonics and "whole word" teaching methods.


Here are some great Tom Lehrer videos that explore phonics

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, December 19, 2010

YouTube Shrink Wraps Pro Israel Videos

YouTube provides a forum to millions of people from around the world for everything from opinion to instruction, from entertainment to family videos. Understandably, they need a mechanism in place to remove material that is offensive, indecent or infringes upon copyright law. A lot of people vent their anger at each other. Serbs and Croats, Greeks and Turks as well as Democrats and Republicans diss and disagree with each other regularly. Sometimes it gets over the top, and YouTube removes the offending video. Other times, the video is deemed offensive enough that one has to log in as an adult and promise to absolve YouTube of any culpability for being offended. This is a needed protective mechanism, but one that can be misused.

Sometimes, it is not violence or sexual impropriety that gets a video quarantined, but the political sensitivities of a lobbying group. I have found two videos that were stirring in their presentation of the State of Israel as a law abiding and decent nation, faced with murderous opponents. There is one user on YouTube named puttingitmildly, who abides by any reasonable code of internet conduct in refraining from incitement, bigotry or obscenity.

Despite this, his video "I Am Israel" has been quarantined with TouTube's "offensive content" designation, which has been misused with regularity by Israel's opponents on YouTube. I viewed the entire video and found no racism, profanity or graphic depictions of violence. The video defended Israel and described the actions of its opponents in a manner that was well within any reasonable person's definition of reasonably conducted political debate.
In the interests of free speech, and because I support the message of both videos,  I have uploaded both "I am Israel and "I am Palestine" to my web site " I have also cross posted this article on Globe Tribune.Info.

I do not support racism, profanity or obscenity at all on my own web sites, and I find the videos well within the parameters I have established for reasonable political discourse. At some later date I may well focus on racist and bigoted videos that have yet to be flagged on YouTube. My hunch is that a lot of the censorship and moderating that is done on YouTube is done by tabulating the number of caomplaints rather than judging their actual merit. I do not believe that YouTube has an anti Israel bias. Unless Blogger gives me a hard time, I expect these videos to be up for a while. I thank blogger in advance for their accomodation.

I am Palestine

I am Israel

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Breaking The Wine Glass At A Jewish Wedding

 At a Jewish wedding, the ceremony is always concluded by the breaking of a wine glass, traditionally under the foot of the groom. The most common explanation for this is to remind those assembled at the wedding that even the times of our greatest joy are diminished by the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, the Holy Temple.

A friend of mine, Simcha Adelstein, heard a different explanation from his grandmother, Sosha bas Shimon, a woman who grew up in the Ukraine steeped in Jewish tradition.

According to Sosha bas Shimon, a critical thing to note in the breaking of a wine glass is that the break is permanent. A wine glass can not, practically speaking ever be reassembled. According to Sosha bas Shimon, breaking the wine glass is an expression of hope that the couple being married should have a marriage as irrevocably permanent as the broken state of a wine glass, that like the shattered goblet, that the marriage should likewise be permanent.

It is most natural to see the breaking of a useful object as something negative. This interpretation of a distinctive part of a Jewish wedding extracts a positive message, a message of hope. This approach to life, of seeing the good in what seems on the surface to be negative, is an approach that strengthens any relationship. It is certainly a desirable attitude with which to begin a marriage.

There is wisdom not only in books, but in the people whose lives are shaped by those books. My friend Simcha learned a valuable lesson from his grandmother, a lesson cloaked in a metaphor that lends added resonance to one of life's truths. I thank my friend reb Simcha for sharing the wisdom of his grandmother. May her memory be a blessing. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crash Tax Proposed To Pay For Emergency Services In NYC

      New Yorkers are seriously concerned about a proposed "Crash Tax" that will be levied effective July 1st in New York City. Under the measure anyone involved in a crash on the city streets can be sent a bill for emergency services. The Wall Street Journal describes the measure as follows.

"A vehicle fire or any other incident with injuries will cost $490. A vehicle fire without injuries will cost $415. And incidents without fire or injuries will cost $365.
These charges apply to every vehicle involved in the incident."

The measure will be enacted not by the City Council but by decree of the fire department. The Fire Department will have discretion at the scene of whether or not to bill people at the scene of an accident. The entire measure is being pushed through by administrative decree. An additional problem is that most New Yorkers do not have insurance that will cover ambulance fees levied by the city. Even those who do not have an accident are likely to pay increased insurance premiums.

According to the Wall Street Journal, some localities have banned the practice of fining people at the scene of an accident.

An additional unintended consequence of sending bills for accidents is that some people who need medical attention might leave the scene of an accident by common agreement in order to avoid being fined. If someone is suffering from a concussion or internal bleeding, this could have fatal consequences.

There is nothing wrong with fining people after due process and forwarding the proceeds to the Fire Department. What is being proposed with the "crash tax" is a denial of the rights of the people to due process and an attempt to bypass the legislature of the City of New York. The measure should be scrapped.

WSJ article Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Update On Globe Tribune.Info

    I have spent the last couple of days focusing on attempting to launch my new news site, Globe Tribune.Info. At the last minute, I managed to stop a launch of the site which would have been disastrously inappropriate to my needs. In the long run, it will save me money, but I did pay a cancellation fee. The technical end of running a web site is truly bewildering. Fortunately, I am getting some guidance. Once the site is up, I will be able to establish my focus, tone and priorities. Until the setup is done, I will be tied up in the end of running a news site that I least enjoy, which is the technical end of things.

Once I have my platform set up, I expect to be posting with much greater frequency, doing what I enjoy most, which is presenting news, world music and other matters of interest to me.


Although I try in my focus to be sensitive to the tastes of my readers, I still like to be at times recklessly indifferent to popular taste in my choice of topic. It is in this  spirit that I offer my readers some very nice music from Berdi & B, a musical group from Turkmenia.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Soldat Louis, Brittany and Celtic Music [Video and Audio Link With French and English Language Advisory]

  The part of France known as Brittany fascinates me. A significant number of people in Brittany speak Breton, which belongs to the Celtic family of languages, along with Irish and Scottish Gaelic. The language is continuing to be passed on, thankfully to a younger generation. A paradoxical effect of the institution of the European Union is that regional languages such as Catalan in Spain and France as well as Piedmontese in Northern Italy are making a comeback.

I heard a story about a farmer in Brittany who was proudly Breton, and wanted to give his children Celtic rather than French names. The French government had a law that required people in France to give their children French names from an approved list.

This stubborn farmer, who had 10 children refused to give his children French names. The government retaliated by refusing to give the farmer his monthly subsidy for each child. He took the French government to court.

After years, he was allowed to name his children according to Breton traditions and received every Franc of monthly subsidies for the years that the case dragged on in court. As an added bonus, he received interest on the payments that were withheld from him, his wife and family. I wish I could find this story in the news. I greatly admire those who are willing to go to impractical lengths to preserve their heritage. One of the things that the Jews in Egypt did was very similar. They named their children with Jewish rather than Egyptian names.

One of my favourite Breton singers is a group with a lead singer named Soldat Louis, which translates as "Private Louis". Some of his songs express solidarity with the Irish in Northern Ireland. Breton Flags are a common sight at his concerts. Some of his music falls under the genre of French drinking songs. A lot of the music sounds like Irish music, with bagpipes and a Celtic beat. I have not found any Soldat Louis songs in Breton. I am looking for music in Breton that would fit into the folk rock genre. I'm sure it is out there.

I found a song "Juste un gigue en do", which translates as "Just a jig in C". I ran it through Google translate, which provided a very sketchy translation which was very sketchy and incoherent. I could tell that it was laced with French profanity and expressed anger and cynicism about the government. It sounded like me when I'm blowing off steam about politics after a few shots of slivovitz and some beer chasers. There are some IRA songs that curse out the British that have a somewhat similar feel.

I grew up around Boston, where the Irish influence is strong. My thoughts often return to Ireland, Celts and Celtic heritage, especially when I read of Israel's independence struggle against the British. I hope my readers will appreciate the music I have presented today.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sexual Abuse Allegations Stun Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish Community


The latest news about Gershon Kranczer, 58,is not encouraging. According to the Daily News, Kranczer and his 20 year old son have fled to Israel on the heels of allegations that Kranczer has sexually abused four of his daughters, ranging in age from 8 to 20. The minor children in the Kranczer home have been removed by child welfare authorities. Investigations are under way to determine if additional children may have been involved in the alleged abuse.

At this point, no one has been found guilty. But if Kranczer and his son have fled to Israel, they should be returned to face justice. If they are guilty, they should face real jail time, and if they are innocent, the story of their exoneration should appear as prominently in the news as that of their arrest. Israel is meant to be a place of refuge from persecution and a place of welcome to Jews returning to their homeland. It is not meant to be a place of refuge for rapists and murderers.

Are Kranczer and some of his sons guilty of awful crimes? We don't know. Sadly enough, past abuse scandals in orthodox Jewish communities render such accusations thinkable. It would be good if we could be a light unto the nations by virtue of being free from sexual abuse. But if we have not reached that lofty level, it is at least possible to set an example by isolating and resolutely punishing such behavior.

We do not have a Sanhedrin that can rule in capital cases. We as Jews do not have a Jewish court system that addresses the full range of civil and criminal law. Our rabbinical courts are decentralised and struggle to deal equitably with civil and monetary matters.This being the case, there should be no hesitation in cooperating fully with the Israeli and US governments in extraditing alleged criminals who are accused of incest, rape, murder or other grave offenses.

Once someone is convicted, two things should be borne in mind.

1) The shame belongs not to the victim but to the perpetrator.

2) If someone brings a truthful accusation against a sex offender, it is not their responsibility for having besmirched someone's name, but the responsibility of the perpetrator.

We read about the crime of being "moises u mediach" of sinning and leading others to sin. Sexual abuse and other forms of abuse lead people to abandon Judaism. An abuser is as guilty of this as anyone who attempts to get a Jew to convert to another religion or otherwise abandon Judaism.

I don't know what happened in the Kranczer home. The courts will have to sort that question out. What I do know, is that abuse has happened often enough in our community to make the charges thinkable. By dealing seriously with allegations of sexual abuse, and exiling known perpetrators from our midst, we will take the first steps needed to correct this problem.

Daily News story on sex abuse allegations Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fond Thoughts Of Munkacs on Channukah


It is hard to look at the Chanuka lights without thinking of people. illuminated by souls, anchored to the wick of a body and yet drawn upward in a perpetual state of tension. "Nishmas adam, ner Hashem". The soul of man is the candle of G-d. Looking at the Chanuka candles draws me to such thoughts.

Part of my ancestry is Hungarian. Marriage has drawn Carpathia into one part of my familial orbit. Carpathia fascinates me. Its local language is a mix of Slavic and Hungarian. Although it currently is in the Ukraine, it has in the past been a part of Austria Hungary. Although its inhabitants are anchored in regional loyalties, it is their borders that have wandered around them.

Munkacs, known also as Munkatch and currently known as Mukachevo is in Carpathia. In Brooklyn and elsewhere are Munkatcher Chasidim. Living in Brooklyn, I had lost my feel for their connection to that town. Fortunately, there is precious video footage of Jews who lived in Munkacs before the war. The footage captures the feel of the Chasidim in the greater social context of a fairly large town in which lived secular Jews, Zionists and "Neolog" (reform) Jews. Many, if not most of the people who appeared in the videos did not survive the war. Although the people in the video come from different social and religious sections of society, I feel a connection to all of them. I have been to family gatherings that spanned the spectrum of religious affiliation and observance.

To me, all of the people in the video are like family to me. I am grateful that some footage remains of their lives on earth. Along with love, I feel an empty echo of the descendants they should have left whose chance at life ended when these people were murdered. It is this sadness, this love and yearning that is my master key to understanding other peoples who have faced genocide and mass murder in this century, from the Tutsi of Rwanda to the Africans of the Sudan who are murdered and enslaved under Arab apartheid. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the sparks of life in Munkacs and elsewhere that were extinguished and dispersed. The drive to kindle lights and lives in their memory is a powerful one.

I have left the room in which my Chanuka lights flicker to face my computer screen and kindle the flame of memory. May we all be blessed with peace and light in this season of Chanukah.

The pictures above were shot by Roman Vishniac in Poland. They show Jews who are hiding from the Endeks, a Nazi like group that was active in Poland before the German occupation of that country.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Obama's Own Cuban Missile Crisis


Back in 1962, when the Soviet Union wanted to station nukes in Cuba, the Kennedy administration blockaded Cuba to stop the transportation of nuclear weapons to Cuba. The crisis, which started in mid October 1962, was defused by the end of October of that year. Historians generally agree that the crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Today, it is not Castro's Cuba but the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez that presents a similar threat to peace in the Western hemisphere. In a story largely overlooked in the western news media, Germany's Die Welt reported last week that Venezuela has agreed to host a military base with medium range missiles that could reach the United States. The base would be staffed by Iranian missile specialists as well as members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

The base will also be a storage facility for Iranian weapons, which will as part of the cooperation agreement between Iran and Venezuela be made available to the Hugo Chavez government in case of an emergency.

Die Welt reported that the troubling arrangement is the fruition of a meeting and resolution of Supreme Security Council of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and religious leader Ali Khamenei a few months ago. Venezuela is a major repository of uranium reserves and therefore useful in circumventing efforts to deprive Iran of material for its nuclear program. Flights between the two countries take place , in a military section of Venezueala's international airport away from international scrutiny.

The United States government, of course views the close cooperation between Venezuela and Iran with alarm and concern. Despite this,the extensive military cooperation between the two countries continues unhindered, causing intense concern not only in the United States but among Venezuela's neighbours as well.


Following is the original article in Die Welt as well as its Google translation. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Child Robbed At Gunpoint In Crown Heights


    For the second time in about a week, a 10 year old kid has been robbed in Crown Heights. In the first case, which occurred on November 25, a boy was coming home from yeshiva and was approached by a man who was about 20 years of age who was riding a bicycle. The man asked the boy for the time and when the boy said he didn't have the time then demanded his knapsack. In the course of the incident, the man then fled on his bicycle with the boy's knapsack, running him over and causing some injuries as he did so.

The second incident was a good deal more serious. A 10 year old boy was grabbed from behind by an unidentified assailant in front of the laundromat in front of the laundromat at Troy Avenue and Crown Street. Crown Heights.Info described the incident as follows.

"The terrifying incident took place at around 4:15pm in front of the Laundromat on Crown street and Troy Avenue, where the boy was suddenly grabbed from behind and was told calmly “don’t scream, I have a gun…” and the mugger pressed a hard object into his back “…can you feel it?” paralyzed with fear the boy nodded, “hand over your phone, and then keep walking away calmly and do not yell, if you do I will shoot you.” And the mugger ran off."

This is the second crime against a minor in less than a week. Being threatened with a gun is a traumatising experience. Crown Heights.Info should be applauded for highlighting these incidents, because all too often, violent crimes in Crown Heights have been classified out of existence. How this gunpoint robbery and the earlier bicycle attack will be handled by police depends in good part on how they are classified. Too many Crown Heights residents have been stonewalled when attempting to simply get a complaint number for a crime committed against them. Too many times, crimes get "dumbed down" to minor offenses.

A possible solution to this would be for Crown Heights residents to register their complaints not only with police but to share the same information with a civilian, non governmental organization that would check police records to assure that the crime was recorded correctly and that the police report was not "lost" or misclassified as something trivial. This could be a function of a civilian patrol or a community group.

Crime hurts everyone here in our community. Despite the fact that the last two incidents were "black on white" does not negate the fact that many African Americans and Hispanics in our community have been victimised as well. The war on crime should bring us together, not set us against each other. No child in our community should fear walking to or from school. And that is why all of us who live in Crown Heights must take the  latest incidents seriously. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, November 26, 2010

Classic Banned German Cigarette Cartoon Ads

   In America, back in the days when we had cigarette ads on television, you could even find Fred Flintstone selling Winston cigarettes. How many people were conditioned from an early age to smoke by seeing their favourite cartoon hero lighting up a Winston? Banning those ads was a good idea.

In Germany, there was a cartoon character named "HB Mannchen" (Little HB man") who from 1957 to 1984 used to get into comically stressful situations and find relief with a cigarette. conveniently for the producers of HB cigarettes, it was always an HB cigarette that calmed the HB man down. "HB Mannchen" commercials ran from 1957 to 1984, although at the end of their run, they only appeared in movie theatres. They reinforced the idea that you reached for a cigarette to calm your nerves, a notion that makes sense only if you are addicted to nicotine.

The idea of using cartoons to push tobacco is awful. Despite that, these ads are classic. Advertising is a battle for the mind of the consumer, and I always enjoy seeing how such battles are waged. "HB Man is a classic of this genre. Here are a few of the ads.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Update On Globe Tribune.Info


  My new site, Globe Tribune.Info is being developed. Far from being an inactive or abandoned project, I am working actively on user friendly design with simple graphics. Unlike my past attempts at publishing, the content will be hosted on Globe Tribune.Info rather than having GlobeTribune.Info simply forward to the Blogger web site. The new site will look far more professional than the current page. Until the new site is fully operative, here is a link to the old site.

Click Here Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Iraqi Mandaean Survival Endangered By Dispersion


One of the casualties of the war in Iraq has been the presence of the Mandaean community in Iraq. The Mandaeans are a gnostic, monotheistic religion that venerates John the Baptist and prohibits circumcision. They are completely pacifist and do not accept converts. The only way to become a Mandaean is to be born to two Mandaean parents.

Mandaean faith is not only individual and familial but communal. They require running water for their weekly baptism rituals and access to Mandaean clergy. In the course of the war in Iraq and because of persecution in Iran, 60,000 Mandaeans have fled Iran and Iraq in recent years. Lack of education in their faith has resulted in the decline of Mandaeanism in exile. The older generation that grew up in Iraq fears that they may be the last generation to practice the faith.

Getting one nation to accept a bloc of refugees from one ethnic group is difficult. quotesVincent Cochetel, who represents the UN High Commisioner for refugees explained the problem as follows.

"It makes sense to keep them together, but no one nation can provide them with effective protection," said Cochetel, who represents the U.S. and the Caribbean for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. "Nations also have to take into consideration affordable housing available. That's just the social reality."

That may well be the case, but Mandaeans seem to be very good low risk candidates to accept as refugees. They are pacifists, they do not proselytise and have an attitude of extending charity to Mandaean and non Mandaean alike.

The largest community of Mandaeans in the US is the greater Boston area with about 450 of them.It would be good for the various countries that have taken in Mandaeans to work with the Mandaean leadership to at least settle groups of Mandaeans in close enough proximity that they can easily maintain regular contact. The Mandaeans have endured terrible trauma as a community since the start of the war in Iraq. It is not hard to understand their desire to survive as a community. We should try to work with them on this issue.

Photo by Max Becherer Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today's Jewish Song of The Day

The Abayaudaya are a group of Ugandans who started practicing Judaism as they understood it around 1919 under the leadership of Semei Kakungulu and evolved into a full fledged community that made contact with Jews elsewhere in the world. Eventually they went through a conversion under non orthodox supervision, creating divisive issues in Jewish law. Whatever those issues might be, they suffered terribly for their faith, enduring murderous attacks and forced conversions to Christianity and Islam. I admire them greatly for their steadfastness in faith. My Article back in 2009 cites source material about them. Click here to read about and listen to the Abayudaya.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Announcement To Readers About My New Web Site


  After almost 3 years of publishing Rudi Stettner and Magdeburger Joe, I am as enthusiastic as ever about writing, both on my own sites and elsewhere. The growth of and has been limited by my choice of names that sound more like personal blogs than like news sites. Additionally, I am not able to generate by myself the quantity and quality needed to pull in a larger readership.

I am in the process of creating a site that will have a name that will sound like and will in fact be a news and commentary site. In addition to my own articles, I will introduce my readership to news and opinions that I feel deserve more attention. I will NOT lift articles, but will introduce them and link over to them. I want to get paid for what I write, and I will assist others in doing so as well.

I am starting off on a shoestring budget, learning and making plenty of mistakes as I go along. I hope to grow by redesigning my site and getting more band width on an "as needed" basis. There is a lot to learn. I am not a technical person, but I have been forced to address technical questions as I get this new project off the ground.

Every site owner has his or her own priorities. My new site will be a mix of the popular, mainstream topics and some of my private interests, ranging from the serious to the frivolous. I like Quebec rock music, endangered languages and crazy looking exotic animals. I also worry about persecuted religious groups such as Coptic Christians and the Mandaeans. I could not care less about which drunken starlet barfed in the back of her limo or broke up withhis or her significant other. It's a big world out there. I have my priorities, and so will my new site. There are times when I like to be recklessly indifferent to popular tastes. On my own web site I will be free to be "offbeat" whenever I choose.

If there is one thing I learned from my communist days, it is that there is no such thing as "straight news, because the choice of news is itself a political statement. I try to be straight forward about my own biases, so readers can weigh my bias in evaluating my articles.

I don't even pretend to be open minded. My opinions have shifted at times with glacial slowness. Part of what has on rare occasion shifted my world view is getting trounced in debate and in personal experience. There is a constant tension and dialogue in my life between what I believe and what I see. This tension is what drives my writing.

I have a name picked out for my new site, as well as a url. The only reason I am not revealing either one is because the site is still under construction. By the end of the week, I hope to have the site up and running with graphics that are not laughably awful.I am looking forward to this new chapter in my professional life.

The ability of every human being to publish words that can be heard around the world is profoundly revolutionary. I have gotten hits from Kigali to Hanoi, from Santiago de Chile to China. Who could have imagined such a thing when I was a child? Like millions of people, I see a collective vision of the world that is projected into my living room that is distorted at best, and quite possibly harmful. In our time, I have the possibility to raise my voice in dissent. And that what I am doing.

. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Top 10 Famous Presidential Campaign Ads [Videos]

As we count down to 2012, it's a pleasure to look at old campaign ads from days gone by. Here are some of my favourites.

1. The Willie Horton ad ran in 1988 and compared George Bush the elder to Michael Dukakis. It featured a murderer who on furlough stabbed a man and raped his female companion. The Bush campaign was accused of subliminal racism.

2.Lyndon Johnson "Daisy Ad" in 1964. This ad claimed that Barry Goldwater would plungethe world into nuclear war. It showed a little girl counting daisies and a nuclear bomb going off. It was very jarring.

3. Nixon's "Checkers speech". When Richard Nixon was running for Vice President with Dwight David Eisenhower in 1952. Accused of political improprieties, Nixon gave a nationally televised speech in which he defended his integrity. Admitting to receiving a dog "Checkers" as a gift, he vowed to keep the dog. This part of the speech gave the speech,(lauded by some as brilliant and slammed by others as corny and manipulative)its name.

4.Kennedy 1960. This ad shows a different style than we are used to. The graphics and the 60 second song are totally unlike today's ads.

5.Eisenhower for President, 1952. An animated 1 minute commercial from the earliest days of television.

6.George Wallace ran for President in 1968 as an opponent of forced busing and a law and order candidate.

7. Jimmy Carter 1976. I never thought that anyone could bore me in 3o seconds. Hats off to Jimmy Carter for this rare achievement.

8. Barry Goldwater ran in 1964 on the slogan "In your heart, you know he's right. Johnson supporters shot back with "In your guts you know he's nuts. Cute. Goldwater was of course buried in a landslide by Johnson.

9. Anti Obama 2008. Sometimes you just have to attack your opponent. This ad, using Obama's "Yes We Can" slogan does a great job.

10. The following video quotes negative campaign statements back in the days before radio and television. It quotes iconic greats such as Thomas jefferson and John Adams. Our negative campaigns couldn't hold a candle to these guys. Priceless... Ah those were the days.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Barack Obama In Jakarta and Gaza: Lookin' For Love In all The Wrong Places

After the spanking the Democrats got at the polls, President Obama must have wanted to get as far away as possible from an electorate that just doesn't understand him. In Jakarta and in Gaza, the Muslim masses were reportedly far more appreciative of Obama than the American people seem to be.

The New York Post's Amir Taheri reports as follows on the state of hope for change and the hunger for a" final solution" to the "Jewish question" emanating from Obama's fan club in the Gaza Strip.

"Abu Hussain! Palestine loves you!!!" This slogan, in English, appears on a poster and other products produced by the Palestinian Hamas movement and put on sale in Gaza. Yesterday, it adorned the front pages of several leading Arab dailies. The "Abu Hussain" is President Obama. The poster pictures him wearing the signature Arab headgear, the kaffiyeh. That the most radical Palestinian faction has declared its love for the president may be bad news for the stalled Middle East peace talks, which Obama has promised to help restart before the end of the year."

The aim of Hamas is, a Palestinian state comprising what is now Israel and the Palestine Authority. They want an Islamic state of "Palestine" and subservient second class citizenship for any Jews allowed to remain within the borders of their proposed country. Their aims are clearly stated over their radio and television stations and eagerly ignored by the Europeans and the US State Department who practically plead for Hamas and Fatah to lie in English long enough for some sound bites on the evening news.

This Palestinian state is not awaited with fondness by the hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews living in Israel, who were forced to flee the homes they had lived in in Arab countries for centuries. These are people who are abundantly familiar with the lot of non Muslims in an Islamic state.It is virtually certain that President Obama will declare his undying love for Israel when he returns to the US. There are plenty of people left in America who will practically beg Obama to lie to them about his vision for Israel.

"Tell me you love me, even if you don't mean it". seems to be the plea of American Democrats who try with increasing difficulty to juggle their loyalty to Obama and their support for Israel. The charade is getting more difficult by the day.

Who understands Obama correctly? Do the Arabs of Gaza with "Abu Hussein Obama coffee mugs know something that Americans do not?? Is Obama playing Gaza's Arabs for fools? What will the Arabs living in the Palestine Authority demand as a concrete token of Obama's sincerity, and what violence will erupt when they lose patience with him?

The Turks and the British wanted the Holy Land to be the crown jewel of their respective empires. Many nations have come to the Holy Land and left defeated. Does Obama have a scheme? Does he have a dream? Or is he just a dreamer?

If I had to guess, I would say that the far off, visionary look in Obama's eyes is focused not on the future but on the soothing, numbing light of the teleprompter that seems to be his perpetual companion. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Democrats To Pelosi: "Step Aside!"

Nancy Pelosi has been asked in strong language to step aside and let someone else serve as Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, according to a letter obtained by Fox News, which reportedly read in part as follows.

Many of us want the chance to run again and reclaim the seats that we lost on Tuesday. With you as the leader of House Democrats, the hangover of 2010 stands no chance of subsiding. Many of us have run our last race but remain committed to our party; we want to help recruit successful candidates to run in our stead. Unfortunately, we fear that Republicans will further demonize you, and in so doing they will scare potential candidates out. The prospect of having to run against their own party leadership in addition to their Republican opponent is simply too daunting."

Unfortunately for the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi put a face on the Democratic Party that was easy to demonize. Her attitude was one of unsurpassed arrogance.

"Vote for the health care bill so you can find out what's in it." sounded like a three card monty game. She showed no respect for the good will and patriotism of her opponents. There are a lot of Democrats who want a living wage, a decent chance for working people of buying a home and a solid industrial base in the US who don't buy into abortion on demand, same sex marriage and a lot of other cultural baggage taken on by the Democrats.

I would like to see the Democratic Party that my parents supported, a party that would not plunge a religious Christian or an orthodox Jew into a crisis of faith about voting for it.

There is a real need for a Democratic Party that is pro civil rights without being pro affirmative action, a party that does not embrace a secular humanist agenda. Pelosi prsonifies the "We know what's good for you" attitude.

I voted straight Republican with no exceptions, yet I have grave reservations about the Republican party's empathy with working people. I am waiting for the Democratic Party to come to its senses. And I don't think that will happen unde Nancy Pelosi.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sex Switch Con Wants State To Foot Bills

Robert "Michelle" Kosilek, 61 is serving life in Prison in Massachusetts for murdering his wife, Cheryl, back in 1990. Since getting life in prison, he has decided that he is a changed man, or more pointedly, a changed woman. Miffed at the unsightliness of five o'clock shadow, Kosilek is suing the Department of Correction in Massachusetts to pay for electrolysis and a sex change operation. Kosilek has been chasing his dream of surgically attained womanhood since 10 years ago. UPI reports as follows on Kosilek's travails.

"Kosilek has been waiting 10 years for a decision on his sex-change suit and says in court filings he has attempted both suicide and self-castration in despair and "has informed the court that in her view the record is closed and she's ready for a decision," said Kosilek's attorney, Frances Cohen."

The prison authorities feel that their offer of regular makeovers and allowing twice a day shaving opportunities should suffice for Kosilek.

It's amazing that the court system in Massachusetts is wasting its time entertaining Kosilek's dreams of womanhood when he cut down the womanhood of his wife as cruelly as he did. Massachusetts would do far better to protect its prison population from rape and violence. This case is a foolish distraction from real problems in the prison system.

Kosilek should have his case thrown out of court and be charged the costs of his frivolous litigation. The prisons have a serious obligation to protect prisoners from harm and to safeguard their physical health. This should not include paying for sex change operations. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Facebook Threatening "Lamebook" With Legal Action

I never would have heard of Lamebook, which is a web site that culls the most ridiculous and funny Facebook entries for the entertainment of its readership. Angie Rentmeester of describes the dispute as follows.

On Lamebook users can submit the most ridiculous status updates and images from Facebook. On its website, the company wrote that it is “fending off threats of trademark infringement litigations from the multi-billion dollar giant by preemptively filing suit” in Texas.

To give you an example of the types of entries that are posted, consider the following.

I am Hungary.
Luisa: Maybe you should Czech the fridge.

Amanda: I am Russian to the kitchen.

Some entries are x rated and deal with relationships.

Then there is a religion section. One entry said "My uncle loved his neighbor and he got shot. Some of the other entries are closer to x rated.

Then it has a section for typos in which one woman said she was finished "raping her christmas presents.".

Douglaus had a "bowel full of candy" for Halloween. Yuck !!

Someone decided to go over Facebook and cull some humour from it. There are satires all the time. I have seen a takeoff of the Wall Street Journal and the Jewish Press. They were both funny, and nobody got sued. Scotch Tape and Xerox were originally brand names that became bona fide words in the English language. I think that Facebook should feel flattered that they are getting all the attention, get a life and get back to counting the big bucks they already have rolling in.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Restoring Sanity" Rally Brings On Stars To Boost Head Count

The "Restoring Sanity" rally may or may not have been larger than Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor" rally, which received absurdly low head counts reaching as low as 87,000. Despite the fact that Glenn Beck was the major personality, the theme of the rally alone drew possibly as many as 500,000 people. Now, the media is repeating the mantra "215,000 to 87,000. We won !

Not so fast. The National Park Service estimated the attendance at Glenn Beck's rally as being 300,000 to 350,000. The same National Park Service estimated "well over 200,000 for the "Restoring Sanity" rally, a figure tweeted by Brian Stelter of The New York Times.

Scott Baker of The Blaze asks a legitimate question.

"So if the National Parks Service “unofficial” estimate of over 200,000 for the “Sanity” rally was good enough for The Huffington Post, why wasn’t the National Parks Service “unofficial” estimate of 300,000 for Beck’s “Honor” rally not a fair comparison too? Guess it might change the obliteration."

That is a very good question. The only way you can come up with 215,000 vs 87,000 is by switching the source of your estimates. If you just stick with the National Park Service, you are left with "Restoring Sanity" sitting in a cloud of dust kicked up by Glenn Beck.

Additionally, Glenn Beck's star like up was exclusively conservative political stars. "Restoring Sanity" had a multitude of big names, as reported in CQ Politics, from "Guido Sarducci" to Ozzie Osbourne, Tony Bennett, John Legend and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There are probably plenty of people who showed up to see the stars. Had the lineup been political big names instead of entertainment personalities, the attendance figures would have been lower.

There are enough people to play three card monty with crowd estimates, to switch sources instead of using the same yardstick for both crowds. Will people buy this sleight of hand deception? The reporting on these two rallies,, and the dishonest comparison made between the two of them is the reason why millions of Americans are Googling their way out of buying a local paper. In addition to "restoring sanity", it will be a tall order to restoring newspaper circulation, because of the blatant bias displayed after the "Restoring Sanity" rally. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Fine Print Scam Run By

It pays to look at your bank statement. About a year and a half ago, my son ordered a book "The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary". from An option offered was a trial membership, which my son accepted. That got him a 5 dollar discount and free shipping. He was given 3 days to cancel the membership.

Rather than look at the fine print, my son assumed that the membership was a free or nominal charge book club membership, such as Barnes and Noble legitimately offers at $25.00 a year. It does not take too long to recoup the charge for such a membership.

My son ordered his scrabble dictionary, back in 2008. Since then, he has been charged $12.00 a month for 18 months by He has not purchased a single book from For his $5.00 discount on the book plus free shipping, he has paid $180.00. A woman named Christine told me after I read from the bank statement that she was "sorry I feel that way" about the illicit charges". She told me that she could cancel the membership, reverse 2 months of charges and refer my concerns to corporate headquarters for a possible third month refund.

I informed Christine that she was working for thieves and wished her success in finding honest employment. How many people out there are being charged an outrageous membership fee that they ignore? It is wise to look at any "free offer" or "trial membership". I once belonged to a CD club and just passively accepted the CD each month. Eventually, they went out of business. I have no beef with them. They gave me merchandise and were out front about what charges I incurred. If you are going to order discount books, go to

If you want to look for used books, go to Barnes and or and look up the book you want to buy. If used copies are available, there will be a link on the side of the page for the book you want that will refer you to a used book seller. These merchants have a reputation to uphold and will try to keep you happy. is not such a company. They prey on people who are ordering a book on line in a hurry and will check off on a free offer that is far from free.

If you have had any dealings with, you may want to check your bank or credit card statement. If you see anything you don't like, their number is 888 646 1662. I will continue to seek redress, but in the meantime will settle for the satisfaction of publicising the loathsome and sleazy activities of

Following are links with loads of complaints about HotBookSale.Com Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Appreciative Look At Les Cowboys Fringants

Every once in a while, I go looking for Quebec popular music. Like American English, Quebec French diverged from standard Parisian French in part because the immigrants to North America came from places in France where the spoken language differed from the "standard" French. Additionally, conditions in North America caused Quebec French to diverge from the French spoken in France.

Although I do not speak French, I recognize the importance of their contribution to English. Additionally, I feel a sense of "hemispheric solidarity with speakers of Quebec French.

Quebec popular music deserves a lot more popularity than it gets. Some of it, like Gaston Mandeville, sounds like American country rock music, reminding listeners that a large part of America, centering around Louisiana was once a French possession.

Les Cowboys Fringants, which translates as "The Frisky Cowboys" is a socially progressive Quebec rock group that is performs in a style known as Quebec neotraditional. They sing about social themes such as poverty, environmentalism, corporate exploitation and Quebec independence. They are proud of their Quebec heritage and deal with it in their music.

I listened to one of their songs, La Reine des Cowboys Fringants, which dealt with an old woman who had lost a child and fought her sadness by spending her life feeding the homeless. The other song "La Chene et Roseau" translates as "The Oak and the Reed" Its theme of bending with the wind and rising reminds me of Tanya Tucker's "Strong Enough To Bend", which of course needs no translation to English speaking listeners.

I have always felt claustrophobic confining my music list to the English language. Les cowboys Fringants and the entire genre of Quebec rock is one of the reasons why.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Thoughts On Tea Party vs. Conventional Wisdom

Today, a lot of Republican strategists had their easels kicked over and trampled by voters. Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Carl Palladino in New York and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire have all defied dismal predictions by the Republican establishment that they would never succeed.
In November, we will find out if the "moderate Republican" naysayers were correct.

In Delaware, Mike Castle was a pro abortion, pro gun control Republican who refuses to endorse Christine O'Donnell, his Tea Party opponent. To many people, if supporting abortion and gun control are the price to pay for a Republican victory, then what do we need a Republican party for?

There is a certain attitude towards political parties that they are like corporations vying for market share. A Republican like Lindsey Graham, who rubber stamped Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court does not seem to stand for any strictness in interpreting the Bill of Rights, market economics or anything else. The Republicans just gave him a job, as did, unfortunately the voters of South Carolina. It's a pity Graham is not running for reelection this year.

The people I respect are people who will rise or fall with something they believe in. Ronald Reagan fit that bill, as did Sarah Palin. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher stood on principle. Barack Obama, however I may disagree with him is at least staking out ideological territory.

If this election is a principled debate on our nation's future, then it will be an interesting spectacle indeed.

The New Yorker did an article about the billionaire Koch brothers backing the Tea Party movement. Such revelations don't surprise me. The Democrats have George Soros bankrolling a liberal agenda for America. It seems to be logical that a few billionaires might be picking up the tab for some mass movements. You need money and you need mass political support to put a movement in power. I'd like to know more about what some of the big donors are getting for their money.

A very simple question is being asked by the Tea Party. How do we pay for the government and services that we want? I used to hear from my grandmother about paying for a loaf of bread with a shopping bag full of money. Bad economics costs jobs, trashes the currency we trade in and creates social instability. Even Cuba is scaling back the role of government.

Yesterday, I got some rejection letters from health insurance. My wife has what amounts to a part time job fighting with these people. If I wormed out of supporting my children like my private health insurance worms out of paying my claims, I'd be in jail.

Anyone who wants to send their kids to a religious private school in America has to pay out of their own pocket. That wouldn't be so bad, but they also have to pay for public schools that are bloated and often inefficient.

I have to insure my vehicle in order to drive it. The government prescribes the minimum insurance I must have, and lets me shop for the best coverage. Why can't they do that with schools? They could tell me that my kid has to leave school with a basic set of skills, and that it's up to me to choose a service provider. Instead, there are government schools that I am strongly "encouraged" to choose for my children by telling me that any private alternative will come out of my own money.

I'd like to have the same true free choice with school that I have with auto insurance. There is no movement in that direction. Instead, the government now seems to be pushing health insurance into the same unwieldy framework of government supervision that has worked so poorly for the education of our children.

The Democrats like to criticise "big business". But the best "program" to pay for the needs of my family is a good paying job, or even a passably decent job. The nice thing about a job is that there are no political strings attached to it. I do my job well and vote on my own time for whom I please. Government benefits, on the other hand can be and are used to control voters. If I get food stamps, Medicaid or anything else, I will have to vote for someone who will keep the gravy train coming. There is no doubt that there is a link between political freedom and government benefits.

There is good reason to care if beef, grain and steel command a price that justifies their production. There is likewise as much reason to care if labour is priced fairly.

I do not view bosses and entrepreneurs as the enemy. I tend to view them as partners. I'd rather owe my boss a favour than owe one to the government. I am fearful of seeing the government do to medical care what they did to education. And voting in a government that will pass out "goodies" in exchange for my vote seems like a deal with the devil.

I don't know if the Tea Party is the answer. But they are asking some good questions.


The picture at the top of this article is of a German woman in the 1920's who found it cheaper to burn money than to buy firewood. I don't want to go there. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chinese Jews Of Kaifeng Welcome New Year

This is a story that warmed my heart. YNET News has reported that the Jewish community of Kaifeng, China has welcomed in the Jewish New Year with the following statement.

"From here in Kaifeng, China, we want to send our best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year to our brothers - the people of Israel,"

For years, people who study the Jewish diaspora reported with sadness that the Kaifeng Jewish community had all but assimilated and had lost all of its distinctive customs. Fortunately, the reports of the loss of Kaifeng's Jews to the Jewish nation have been proven not to be true. In recent years, the descendants of the Kaifeng community have been returning to Jewish observance and in some cases to Israel itself.

Where did the Chinese Jews come from? YNET notes as follows.

"The Jewish community of Kaifeng was founded in the 9th century, apparently by Jewish merchants from Persia or Iraq. The city's synagogue was built in 1163. At its height the community consisted of 5,000 Jews, many of whom were involved in Kaifeng's commerce.

All of Kaifeng's Jewish descendants belong to one of seven clans, each identifiable by its surname and family trees that stretch back for centuries."

It is a fortuitous blessing for the Jewish people to be so diverse in appearance and customs and to still share underlying similarities. When people see that you can share a faith and look totally dissimilar, it points to common denominators of humanity and a G-d given soul.

In returning to the Jewish people, the descendants of Kaifeng's Jewish community have added a great deal to the Jewish people in returning. The Rosh haShanah greetings from Kaifeng are tidings that gladden my heart. May G-d assist them and all Jews in returning to the Jewish people, land and law. And may idea of unity and diversity prove contagious to the entire world. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Gestures For Peace" In Israel Cost Lives

It has now come out that the four Jews killed near Hebron were killed because of "risks for peace" demanded by the Obama administration. WND reported as follows on the concessions that led up to the attacks.

"Today's deadly terror attack that killed four people took place on a road where the Israeli government removed staffed anti-terror checkpoints in line with requests from the Obama administration, WND has learned. As President Obama was preparing for a Washington summit with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Palestinian terrorists today carried out a shooting attack, killing two Jewish men and two women, one of whom was pregnant. "

The checkpoints never should have been dismantled. Additionally, it would be wise to build one more town for each person killed by the terrorists applauded by Hamas. That would be 4 new towns to commemorate the latest terror victims, plus one additional town in memory of the innocent unborn child.

There are conflicts where progress towards peace is glacially slow. For decades, China and Taiwan did not recognise each other's right to exist. The communists referred to Taiwan as "Taiwan Province" and the Taiwan government (dominated by mainlanders) referred to the "occupied mainland". Over the years, there were accommodations to practical necessity, even as the facade of non recognition was maintained by both sides. In the last decade, the 2 sides of the Taiwan Beijing have moved to open trading and agreements governing trade.

No one forced the Chinese and the Taiwanese to talk to each other. Mutual benefit and self interest pushed the 2 sides together.

Israel has taken the lion's share of the blame for the Palestinian refugees. About as many Jews fled Arab countries as Arabs who fled what is now Israel. Israel integrated the Arabs who remained behind in Israel, as well as the close to a million Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Israel's neighbours, however, kept the Arabs who fled what was once Palestine in refugee camps.

This stands in marked contrast to other nationalities that absorbed large numbers of refugees based on consanguinity. The following are some examples.

1. Greece and Turkey each had an exchange of populations which left Greece mostly Greek and Turkey with very few Greeks. It was brutal when it happened, but no one talks of returning Greeks or Turks to their old home towns. All those who fled their homes have been integrated into Greek or Turkish society.
2. Turkey absorbed thousands of ethnic Turks who were being persecuted in neighbouring Bulgaria by the communist government of Todor Zhivkov back in 1984.
3. Germany absorbed over 2 million ethnic Germans expelled by neighboring countries. All of these ethnic Germans, some of whom spoke little German, are now integrated into German life.

The principle under which each of these absorptions or exchanges were accomplished was "Jus Sanguinis, which is the idea that ancestral ties form a basis for citizenship of a nation. Indignation is reserved for Israel when it attempts to implement such citizenship laws that is never shown to other nations that invoke the same principles. In Egypt, Libya and other Arab countries, Jews were stripped of citizenship and property despite having ancestry in the countries from which they were expelled that went back centuries.

There are many claims and counterclaims that Jews and Muslims in the Middle East have against each other. A marathon talk in Washington will not even scratch the surface of such issues. There seems to be an almost insane egotism that seems to grip the world leaders as they try to sort out the problems of the Middle East. Far from pushing the warring parties to peace, this process pushes the Israelis and the Arabs to further bloodshed. What is worse, wars with far higher body counts, such as those in Sudan, The Congo and Sierra Leone are ignored as valuable time is wasted on the Middle East.

Most of the time, "peace" talks seem like a silly waste of time. "Gestures for peace" such as the removal of checkpoints that facilitated the murder of 4 Jews near Hebron, including a pregnant woman are not just foolhardy, but turn the "honest brokers" in Washington into accomplices to the murder of the 4 Jews killed in Hebron yesterday.

The "peace" talks in Washington are a sham. They are an egotistical exercise that is costing innocent lives. Arabs and Jews will make peace when they are left alone, as were the Chinese in Taiwan and on the mainland. Glacially slow progress can save and enhance lives. The deadly brew of egotism and impatience that has broken out in Washington will only cost more lives. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bloomberg's Support For Ground Zero Mosque: Follow The Money

Mike Bloomberg has been adamant in his support of the Ground Zero Mosque. Even at the cost of voter approval, he has stuck to an unpopular position that has cost him a lot of political support. Is he really devoted to a matter of principle? Should he be admired for going against the crowd? Or are other factors influencing his decision?

A little article in an English language newspaper from the United Arab Emirates sheds some light on Mayor Bloomberg's possible concerns that could influence his support for the Ground Zero Mosque.

The National reports that Bloomberg News will be more than doubling its office staff at its Dubai office in 2010 and 2011. The National reported as follows back in 2008 as follows.

"The company has had a presence in Dubai for a decade. The planned expansion would increase its staff from 25 to 40 by the end of the year, and to as many as 100 by the middle of next year, Mr Linnington said. The decision to expand was prompted by strong regional sales of its terminals, which provide financial news and data to bankers, traders, portfolio managers and corporations, as well as to other journalists."

Marketing financial news is of course an adjunct to doing business. And it looks like Bloomberg has plans to expand in business itself rather than just reporting on it. Max Linnington, director of Middle East operations for Bloomberg News reported as follows in The National.

"The company has also been developing an Islamic finance portal, which Mr Linnington said would be helped by having more people on the ground building relationships." Particularly since the meltdown of the western capitalist system, there has been an increasingly large focus on the virtues of Islamic finance," he said. "Today, there is no one single provider of information that caters to the Islamic finance market. So by Bloomberg being here, we are in the process of building out an Islamic finance product. We are very confident that we can build a product that meets the needs of the market right now."

Up until now, coverage of the Mosque debate has focused on Mayor Bloomberg's dogged adherence to an unpopular position. A look at his Middle Eastern business interests provide a lot of insight into what might be influencing his decisions as mayor.

A comprehensive discussion of the Ground Zero Mosque debate should include a discussion of where Mike Bloomberg's financial interests lie. We have listened to him preach to us and scold us for our supposed bigotry. Now it's time to ask some hard questions.

Mayor Bloomberg's publicity machine has made sure that all New Yorkers know that he only gets paid a dollar a year as mayor. That may well be all that he is paid. But is it all that he gets? Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Biased Regents Exams Slam Christians, Laud Muslims

The New York Post yesterday brought to light a controversy involving readings on Muslims and Christians that portrayed Christians as bigoted and repressive and conversely lauded Muslims as tolerant and cosmopolitan. The readings are as follows.

"Concerning Muslims:

* “Wherever they went, the Moslems [sic] brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.

* “Some of the finest centers of Moslem life were established in Spain. In Cordova, the streets were solidly paved, while at the same time in Paris people waded ankle-deep in mud after a rain. Cordovan public lamps lighted roads for as far as ten miles; yet seven hundred years later there was still not a single public lamp in London!”

Concerning Christians:

* “Idols, temples and other material evidences of paganism destroyed.”

* “Christian buildings often constructed on sites of destroyed native temples in order to symbolize and emphasize the substitution of one religion by the other.”

* “Indians supplied construction labor without receiving payment.”

* “In a converted community, services and fiestas were regularly held in the church building.”

Source: Based on information from Charles Gibson, Spain in America"

The Board of Regents was slammed for displaying a bias against Christianity and deference to Muslims.Looking at the readings, there is not a single word of falsehood in them. There was indeed a time when Muslim Turkey and Egypt were havens for Jews fleeing Christian persecution. There were regular forced conversions to Christianity from other faiths, as well as burnings of the Talmud and of works by Christians deemed to be heretics.

Conversely, there was indeed a time when science and learning flourished in Muslim lands and in which a legal framework for some religious freedom existed.

There is a major problem with the Regents readings. Christianity has a 2000 year history and Islam has a 1400 year history. The sun of tolerance has risen and set many times in both faiths. Today, the politically dominant sects of Christianity do not force their faiths on non believers. Conversely, religious freedom is faring very badly in most of the Islamic world today. Religions other than Islam are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Christians are officially second class citizens in Egypt. The Christian population in the Arab world has been dwindling in the last 50 years because of institutionalized discrimination against non Muslims.

There was a time when Muslim lands were havens of refuge for Jews, and where Christians and Jews enjoyed a comfortable inequality. It should be noted that the Muslim world was not uniform in its attitude towards human rights. The family of Moshe ben Maimon, (Maimonides) had to flee one Muslim jurisdiction where they were forced to convert to Islam to Egypt, where Maimonides became a physician to the king.

There are sects of Christianity that died out because their adherents were murdered and their writings were burned. The followers of Arius, an early Christian leader who rejected trinitarianism were wiped out. Huguenots and Waldensians fared little better 1000 years later, although remnants of each sect survived the harsh persecutions.

Sunni and Shiite Muslims are famous for their persecutions of each other in areas where one has political or numerical dominance over the other . And who can forget the Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are outcasts in Pakistan and elsewhere?

The New York Board of Regents seems to have cherry picked centuries of Muslim and Christian history to present Muslims in a positive light and Christians in a negative light. Both Muslims and western secularists make of Christianity a common enemy.

An honest look at the history of the world's faiths that have achieved regional political dominance would show that there are periods of repression and of freedom in the history of each. Students of history would do well to find in each faith the textual and theological foundations of intolerance and of inclusiveness.

Additionally, external cultural, social, economic and political factors should be sought that cause believers to seek validation for either repressive or inclusive attitudes towards those who do not share their faith. If someone has a holy book with words of peace and words of war, what moves them to accentuate one verse over another? The Global History exam readings put together by the Board of Regents leaves many of these questions unasked.

It seems that there are parameters of discussion in American and European academia that are every bit as strict as any religion's articles of faith. It is tempting to label secular humanism as a new religion or at the very least a new political and social orthodoxy. Many would question whether secular humanism is a religion at all as much it is a sort of consensus. If indeed, secular humanism is a religion, they haven't invited me to their church or taught me their secret handshake. Since they don't believe in a hereafter, they can't threaten me with hell. But they can dock me points on the Regents Exam. I think I'm getting scared already. Sphere: Related Content