Friday, March 27, 2009

Hezbollah uses Mexican drug routes into U.S.

Not exactly news but certainly underscores the urgent need to secure the borders- north and south..

From Washington Times:

Hezbollah is using the same southern narcotics routes that Mexican drug kingpins do to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, reaping money to finance its operations and threatening U.S. national security, current and former U.S. law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism officials say.

The Iran-backed
Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America's tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S.
Hezbollah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels," said Michael Braun, who just retired as assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Church moved for muslims

Is hasn't happened here..yet...

From the Austrian Times:

Church leaders are spending 100,000 GBP moving a chapel half a mile - so it doesn't offend Muslims.The Orthodox church was built on the site of a derelict mosque in Divic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and is being taken away to improve relations with local Muslim worshippers. (more)

Joint NGO Statement on Danger of U.N. “Defamation of Religions” Campaign

From EuropeNews:

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations,

Deeply concerned by the pervasive and mounting campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to produce U.N. resolutions, declarations, and world conferences that propagate the concept of “defamation of religions,” a concept having no basis in domestic or international law, and which would alter the very meaning of human rights, which protect individuals from harm, but not beliefs from critical inquiry;

Deeply concerned by the attempt to misuse the U.N. to legitimize blasphemy laws, thereby restricting freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press;
Deeply concerned that “defamation of religions” resolutions may be used in certain countries to silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters, and other independent voices;
Alarmed by the resolution on “defamation of religions” recently tabled at the current 10th session of the UN Human Rights Council;

Alarmed by the draft resolution on freedom of expression circulated by Egypt, whose amendments seek to restrict, not promote, protections for free speech;

Alarmed by the recently-announced initiative of the U.N. “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to amend the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by adding a protocol on “defamation of religions”;

Alarmed by provisions in the latest draft outcome document of the Durban Review Conference that, through coded language and veiled references, endorse and encourage these anti-democratic initiatives;

1. Call upon all governments to oppose the “defamation of religions” resolution currently tabled at the UN Human Rights Council, and the objectionable provisions of the freedom of expression resolution;

2. Call upon all governments to resist the efforts of the “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to alter the ICERD;

3. Call upon all governments not to accept or legitimize a Durban Review Conference outcome that directly or indirectly supports the “defamation of religions” campaign at the expense of basic freedoms and individual human rights. (more)

'Obama's war'

From Politico:

President Barack Obama plans to commit to sending 4,200 more troops and hundreds more civilians to Afghanistan in a speech at the White House on Friday morning, and also to embrace a new system of benchmarks to measure progress. “He’s gone all in,” said an official briefed on the plan. “This is Obama’s war. He’s pushed all the chips to the center of the table.” ...

Here are the elements Obama plans to announce:
  • Military: The additional troops will help “provide capability for the Afghan government and military until they’re able to do it themselves,” an official said.
  • Benchmarks: The president will embrace the notion of measuring progress. “We’re not going to pursue a policy indefinitely if it’s not working,” an official said. “We need to be able to judge it.”
  • Accountability: With all this new money going into the war, the administration will fund more inspector-general-type accountability programs to ensure the money is efficiently and effectively spent.
  • Civilian side: A significant increase in civilian capacity — “civic engagement” — is planned. Afghanistan may need more experts on rule of law to enhance the judicial system. The country needs more police trainers, agriculture experts, veterinarians and experts on water systems. “You have to have a bigger and better and less corrupt police force,” an official said. “We will apply more help and resources to the bottom-up government effort — provincial and district governments. We want more of a connection between governance and the people, so they can see the results of the governance and an alternative to the Taliban.”
  • Pakistan: The U.S. will continue to work with Pakistan and help them realize that the terrorist threat to the U.S. is as much a threat to them. “We’ve got to help them develop the capacity to deal with it, which is difficult because they have issues with us being there and on the ground,” an official said. “That’s how you really develop their capacity.”
  • Financial: The president will endorse an amendment by Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) that calls for additional foreign aid money for Pakistan, with strings attached with the goal of reducing terrorism.
  • “Hearts and minds”: The administration recognizes the need to win the support of the people of Afghanistan. (more)


Rahm Emanuel's profitable stint at mortgage giant

Hypocrisy (alternately spelled hypocricy in American English), is acting in a manner contradictory to one's professed beliefs and feelings, or conversely, expressing false beliefs and opinions in order to conceal one's real feelings or motives. (wikipedia)

Short Freddie Mac stay made him at least $320,000

From the Chicago Tribune:

Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.

One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort.As gatekeeper to Obama, Emanuel now plays a critical role in addressing the nation's mortgage woes and fulfilling the administration's pledge to impose responsibility on the financial world.

Emanuel's Freddie Mac involvement has been a prominent point on his political résumé, and his healthy payday from the firm has been no secret either. What is less known, however, is how little he apparently did for his money and how he benefited from the kind of cozy ties between Washington and Wall Street that have fueled the nation's current economic mess.

New Global Currency Proposal: Good Diplomatic Theater but Bad Policy

From the Heritage:

Recently, both China and Russia have called for the replacement of the dollar as the international reserve currency of choice, suggesting use of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) instead. Don't rush to sell your greenbacks, however: The proposal has far more to do with the theater of international diplomacy than the workings of the world economy.

Even as he made the proposal, Chinese central banker Zhou Xiaochun acknowledged that it would require "extraordinary political vision and courage." That is diplomatic speak for "We know this is impossible." The fact that Zhou and his Russian counterpart in proposing the idea, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, placed the timeline for the change far in the future--30 years in the case of Kudrin--offers an additional strong clue that the proposal is politically motivated rather than intended to address a real and pressing economic problem.

For both Zhou and Kudrin, an attack on the dollar just before the G-20 economic summit is a great theatrical device with which to express displeasure at U.S. dominance of the international financial system. It is also a marker of their unhappiness with the ineffective U.S. approach to restoring world growth and protecting international trade and financial flows, sending a clear signal that they have no intention of rubber-stamping U.S. proposals at the summit. (more)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Witness of Notre Dame

The following is a letter I sent to, members of the USCCB, and others connected with Notre Dame.

Dear Brothers in Christ,

I realize that you may readily dismiss this email for several reasons. First, you are inundated with emails about the invitation to President Obama to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame and to receive an honorary law degree. For some of you, this inundation simply adds to the flood of emails you receive on a regular basis about other, more mundane matters, and it will be easy to disregard one from someone you do not know.

Second, I am not a Notre Dame alumnus. Neither my undergraduate nor graduate degrees were awarded me from South Bend.

Lastly, I am a Protestant.

Given these second and third points, you may well wonder why I would bother to write, yet I offer that it is precisely because of them that I do so.

Although my degrees in Classics are from Indiana University and The University of Texas, I must tell you that Notre Dame has always stood forth as a beacon of higher learning, higher not only in the traditional sense of undergraduate and graduate training, but higher also in its commitments as a Christian university. As surely as the gridiron of Knute Rockne beckoned a young Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger with its storied past and inspiring vision of what might be, so the halls of many of your academic departments have stood as guiding lights to Christian academics. One need only think of your own Alvin Plantinga's "Advice to Christian Philosophers," a clarion call to meaningful, faithful, distinctly Christian academic work that has inspired a small army of Christian scholars. Notre Dame means something, even to those who have never attended its classes. Notre Dame has been a symbol of what a Christian academic institution can and should be.

Similarly, the Roman Catholic Church and its institutions are voices of importance and, dare I as a Protestant say, of authority. Many of us in the fractured and splintered Protestant world find our hearts beating just a bit stronger when a Catholic brother or sister in Christ has the courage, backed by the substantial authority of Church teaching, to proclaim to the world that X is right and Y is wrong. We non-Catholics need the Catholic Church to remain true to its foundations and to its historical teachings. If nothing else, Protestants need the Catholic Church to remain firm and fixed, else we have nothing sure against which to protest! In all seriousness, we Protestants, who often struggle with issues of eccesial identity, would have no identity at all were it not for Rome.

In short, what Notre Dame does as a representative institution of the Roman Catholic Church has far greater and broader consequences than solely for its current students and faculty, its alumni, or even its extended Catholic family. What Notre Dame does speaks to an inconceivably wide audience.

Therefore, I add my name to those who question why Notre Dame would extend such a speaking platform and honorary degree to President Obama, whose early days in the White House alone have strongly suggested that his professional, political actions are at odds with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Whether or not one agrees or disagrees with President Obama's political position or the teaching of the Church on a variety of social issues is irrelevant. It must strike anyone, no matter their own position, as inconsistent for a Roman Catholic University to lend such a leader its stage. An atheist could see that it would be inconsistent for an Islamic institution to open the bully pulpit to an orthodox Christian speaker. Such an event would only make sense if either the institution were giving clear signal that it was moving in the direction of the speaker whose views were known previously to be at odds with its own, or that the speaker was moving in the direction of the views of the institution.

Should a university invite diversity of thought? Of course. Should it encourage conversation with those who oppose its views? Without question. And this is all the more so for a Christian university, since any university founded on the One Who has proclaimed Himself to be the truth (John 14:6) need never fear honest intellectual inquiry and debate. Yet that is not what is taking place at Notre Dame's commencement, unless the proceedings have changed to take on the form of a round table discussion with open dialogue between the speaker and certain respondents.

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., once put it like this. "Tell me what you honor and I will tell you what you are." It is my fervent hope that Notre Dame will prove to be in its public actions what it has been for so many, a Christian institution of higher learning.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On Campus: The Pro-Palestinians' Real Agenda

From Hudson NY

During a recent visit to several university campuses in the U.S., I discovered that there is more sympathy for Hamas there than there is in Ramallah.

Listening to some students and professors on these campuses, for a moment I thought I was sitting opposite a Hamas spokesman or a would-be-suicide bomber.

I was told, for instance, that Israel has no right to exist, that Israel’s “apartheid system” is worse than the one that existed in South Africa and that Operation Cast Lead was launched only because Hamas was beginning to show signs that it was interested in making peace and not because of the rockets that the Islamic movement was launching at Israeli communities.

I was also told that top Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for masterminding terror attacks against Israeli civilians, was thrown behind bars simply because he was trying to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Furthermore, I was told that all the talk about financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority was “Zionist propaganda” and that Yasser Arafat had done wonderful things for his people, including the establishment of schools, hospitals and universities.

The good news is that these remarks were made only by a minority of people on the campuses who describe themselves as “pro-Palestinian,” although the overwhelming majority of them are not Palestinians or even Arabs or Muslims.

The bad news is that these groups of hard-line activists/thugs are trying to intimidate anyone who dares to say something that they don’t like to hear. ...

...What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the “occupation” as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel. ...(more)

Sen. Dodd’s Wife Was AIG Director

Npt what I'd call a particularly "surprise" headline:
From Judicial Watch:

The senator responsible for the legislative changes that allowed executives of a bailed-out company to get millions of dollars in bonuses has received lucrative donations from the firm and his wife has strong financial ties to it.

No wonder Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd created a loophole in last month’s $787 billion stimulus bill to allow insurance giant American International Group (AIG) to keep its controversial bonuses. Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, slipped a last-minute exemption that permitted the financially ruined AIG to issue $165 million in bonuses after the government rescued it with $170 billion in taxpayer assistance.

The veteran Democrat lawmaker initially lied about his role in the scandal, but subsequently admitted it because the loophole had his paw prints all over it. This week a political news publication is shedding more light on the matter by revealing Dodd’s deep financial ties to AIG.

It turns out that AIG is one of Dodd’s top campaign contributors ($300,000 in the last decade) and his wife, Jackie Dodd, was for years on the board of directors of an AIG company based in Bermuda. During her final year on the board, she served on the powerful audit and investment committees. (more)

Federal Appeals Court To Get ACLU, ACORN Judge

From Judicial Watch:

President Barack Obama’s first judicial nomination worked for a radical leftist community group under federal investigation and received a “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association when Bill Clinton assigned him to Indiana’s federal district court.

David Hamilton, a federal district judge for 14 years, has been selected to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, the last stop before the Supreme Court for cases from Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. If confirmed by Congress, Hamilton would fill the vacancy created when Judge Kenneth Ripple took senior status in September.

When Clinton nominated Hamilton to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in 1994, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary rated him “not qualified.” The committee reversed its own rating after Obama’s nomination, so as of this month, the ABA claims Hamilton is “well qualified.”

Judge Hamilton has other skeletons in his closet. He worked as a fundraiser for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the corrupt nonprofit best known for conducting fraudulent voter registration drives around the country and pressuring banks to give minorities loans they can’t afford. (more)

A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine...and a Morning After Pill

A federal court in New York has ruled that the FDA must make the so-called "morning after pill" available over the counter to 17-year olds. It is currently available only to those who are 18 and older.

According to the article, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the lawsuit against the FDA, said, "The message is clear -- the FDA should put medical science first and leave politics at the lab door. We are encouraged that the agency, now under new leadership, will take that message to heart."

I was going to add my own comment, but decided that the article speaks for itself.