Archive for January 3rd, 2007

Sheehan, Iraq War Protesters Break Up House Democrats’ Press Conference

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Hey Dems, look what you created. Guess you better figure out what to do with it now.

WASHINGTON — Iraq war protesters broke up a press conference by House Democrats on Wednesday with chants to bring American troops home from Iraq.

Chanting “de-escalate, investigate, troops home now,” the protesters disrupted a briefing aimed at outlining priority goals when Democrats take over the House and Senate on Thursday.

Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war activist and mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, led the group to Capitol Hill to warn Democrats that party activists expect them to end the war in Iraq and confront the White House on a change in Iraq strategy.

“We didn’t put you in power to work with the people that have been murdering hundreds of thousands of people since they have been in power,” Sheehan said. “We put you in power to be opposition to them finally and we’re the ones who put them in power.”

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., cut the press conference short when protests drowned out his voice through a dozen microphones set up to record his comments. Emanuel said Democrats would go back to the caucus room and return later.

Original Link.

Congressman to Take Oath Using Thomas Jefferson’s Quran

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

I could type for days and still not begin to cover how wrong this is.

CHICAGO – The first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, attacked for planning to use the Quran at his swearing-in instead of a Bible, will use a copy of the Muslim holy book once owned by Thomas Jefferson, an official said on Wednesday.

Representative-elect Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, requested the 18th century copy of the Quran for the unofficial part of his swearing in on Thursday, according to Mark Dimunation, chief of rare books and special collections at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Ellison, a Muslim convert who traces his U.S. ancestry to 1741, wanted a special copy of the book to use, Dimunation said, and approached the library for one.

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51 Priests in Same-Sex Relationships

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

The Bible says that preachers and teachers will be held to a higher level of accountability. These priests should repent before it’s too late.

A report claiming at least 51 priests are in same-sex civil partnerships will confront the Church of England at two major upcoming meetings.

The figures, which include four lesbian priests, come from a homosexual-rights group comprised of church members called Changing Attitude, the Times of London reported.

“Civil partnerships have helped to increase the stability of same-sex relationships and reduced the social exclusion to which lesbian and gay people are often subjected,” said the group’s director, Colin Coward.

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The Blasphemy Challenge

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

” First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” 2 Peter 3:3

With that five-second submission to YouTube, a 24-year-old who uses the name “menotsimple” has either condemned herself to an eternity of punishment in the afterlife or struck a courageous blow against superstition. She’s one of more than 400 mostly young people who have joined a campaign by the Web site BlasphemyChallenge.com to stake their souls against the existence of God. That, of course, is the ultimate no-win wager, as the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal calculated—it can’t be settled until you’re dead, and if you lose, you go to hell.

The Blasphemy Challenge is a joint project of filmmaker Brian Flemming, director of the antireligion documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There,” and Brian Sapient, cofounder of the atheist Web site RationalResponders.com. Their intent was to encourage atheists to come forward and put their souls on the line, showing others that you don’t have to be afraid of God. The particular form of the challenge was chosen because, by one interpretation, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, a part of the Christian Trinity, is the only sin that can never be forgiven. And once something you’ve said gets posted on YouTube, as any number of celebrities can attest, you never live it down.

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“U.S. Abandoning Israel?” by Hal Lindsey

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

The recommendations issued by the Iraq Study Group and the way they are being received suggest a U.S. shift in a new direction – in favor of the Muslims. I believe the factor that most influenced this change is the presence of co-chairmen James Baker and Lee Hamilton on the panel.

Their report accepts the Saudi contention that the conflicts in the Middle East are really the result of Israel not giving the Palestinians what they’re asking for.

You know, this would be humorous if it were not so serious. All Israel is asking for, in order to give the Palestinians what they want, is for them to stop attacking them.

And I believe it was Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s intention, before he had the tragic stroke, to withdraw from Gaza to demonstrate that statehood wouldn’t bring peace. And it hasn’t.

Instead, it brought an avalanche of highly trained terrorists with lethal weapons into Gaza and a non-stop barrage of outgoing missiles into civilian population centers in Israel.

I believe it may well have been Prime Minister Sharon’s plan to say, “Now in the light of that, why should we give them control over the West Bank and pull out and give them a state there when that didn’t bring peace in Gaza. So why do we expect it to bring peace in the West Bank?”

It forces the conclusion, and I’m sure that this was his strategic intention, that the Palestinians don’t want a Palestinian state beside Israel. They want a Palestinian state instead of Israel.

In Palestinian schools, children learn there is no such thing as a state of Israel. It’s just a “Zionist entity.” None of their maps show the existence of Israel. All of Israel is labeled “Palestine.”

So with the U.S. administration now actively pressing for Palestinian statehood, it is forcing Israel into an utterly indefensible position.

If we force Israel to accept a state dedicated to its destruction in its very heartland, it will find itself with no sanctuary.

With highly-trained terrorists armed with sophisticated weapons coming from the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the heartland of Israel is almost indefensible now.

The escalation of terror will grow exponentially, as it has grown in Gaza. I believe the United States needs to take very careful heed to what God said.

I believe God has blessed the United States, for reason, because of America’s unflagging support for Israel. But if we back away, then God’s promise to them will fall on us.

He said in Genesis 12:3, to the descendants of Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you, I will curse.”

Let’s all pray for wisdom for America’s leaders before America feels the weight of that curse.

Original Link.

Scholastic Joins Education Industry’s Campaign for Islam

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

This needs to be a wake-up call for parents.

The Junior Scholastic “news magazine” that is written for elementary students and used in thousands of public schools across the United States has published an article promoting “madrassa” school life for American children who are Muslims, much to the outrage of some parents.

“Remember way back in grade school and getting Junior Scholastic magazine in school? Well here is an example of what JS has devolved into. Force-feeding the barbaric propaganda of Islamic madrassas down the throats of my 7th and 4th graders. Disgusting,” a father wrote WND about the issue, published in November.

Scholastic spokeswoman Jennifer Slackman told WND there are very few topics the magazine will not cover if they are brought up in classrooms or coming up in current events.

The particular story, “Inside a Madrasa, U.S. kids talk about their daily lives at an Islamic school in Pakistan,” was written by Cassandra Nelson in view of “helping students learn about the world they live in. That world does include religion and a variety of cultures,” Slackman told WND.

However, WND has reported that Islamic factions now are taking part in the development and editing processes for textbooks in U.S. public schools, how some schools have required students to “become Muslim” and memorize the “Five Pillars of Islam” during their public school coursework, and how a man once arrested as a terror suspect for allegedly trying to transport $340,000 from a group tied to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi helped write the “Religious Expression in Public Schools” guidelines issued by President Clinton during his tenure in office.

“The article tells of Noor (now 15) who grew up in Atlanta, Ga. A ‘few’ years ago his family traveled to Pakistan on vacation with his father and just before heading back to the U.S. his father drops him in the Pakistani madrassa to rot for the last 3 years or so. … Where are the child advocacy lawyers when you need them!! Can these parents be brought up on charges?” the concerned parent wrote.

“The Junior Scholastic article then mentions this little lovely tidbit of information about the pursuit of knowledge. ‘I never planned on reading or memorizing the Koran’ Noor tells JS (Junior Scholastic). ‘I wanted to go to school in America and become something big. But now I’ve missed so much school [back home], I will never be able to catch up,'” the parent said.

The article talks about how female students follow “strict codes of behavior and dress,” and it lists a “typical day” at the school, which runs from a 4:30 a.m. wakeup call to an 11 p.m. bedtime, and includes time for morning prayers, lessons from the Quran, classes on Islamic law, classes on memorization of the Quran, classes on Islamic history, midday prayers, afternoon prayers, evening prayers, late-evening prayers, and more lessons from the Quran.

“Sharia (Islamic religious law) and democracy cannot coexist in the same space and time,” the concerned parent wrote. “The PC mentality is going to cost us a lot of U.S. lives, probably ultimately to the point that we’ll lose one of our cities to a jihadist nuclear weapon of some sort.”

As far as this promotion in U.S. public schools? “All religions are equally valid. Uh-huh, yeah right. Let’s have a show of hands of people who want their daughter to be subjected to a Sharia-following Muslim husband,” he said. “Sharia-endorsing mosques and their members in the U.S. should be ostracized and blackballed like communists during the ’50s.”

The article minimizes the admitted use of such schools to train youth in a hatred of Christianity and the West, quoting a 15-year-old student from Chicago that, “We learn about mercy and love here. You won’t find any hate.”

This even though the Quran contains instructions to “behead” infidels and accept them only if they follow Islam.

“There is no terrorism in Islam. Anyone who commits violent attacks in the name of Islam is wrong. Most Muslims want a world that is peaceful, in which there is no terrorism and people live together without fighting. We want a world where the teachings of Allah [God] are followed – a world in which people are modest in attitude and appearances,” the magazine quotes Mohammad Yusef saying.

The Junior Scholastic article was accompanied by an available online teacher’s edition showing how to promote the study of the madrassa: “We hope readers will enjoy this visit to a foreign school – which begins with a headmaster’s wake-up calls at 4:30 a.m.,” wrote Suzanne McCabe, editor at Scholastic.

The magazine’s goals are to have students in U.S. public schools “describe a typical school day” at the madrassa and references additional materials including a text titled, “Ten Things to Know about Islam.”

It also has a crossword puzzle teaching children the “Muslims’ name for God” and the rules of the religious schools. And another proposed project has students compare their own lives and schools to those of the madrassa students.

The concerned parent said he would agree with John Lewis, an assistant professor of history at Ashland University, who said America needs to destroy Islam as a political influence.

Lewis presented his arguments at the Ayn Rand Institute’s OCON conference “The Jihad Against the West” in Boston in October. In an article in The Objective Standard, he elaborated:

He said the terrorist attacks on the U.S. came from foreign governments that “have sponsored such attacks for years” and were motivated by “a militaristic, religious-political ideology that values war as a demonstration of loyalty to a deity, demands obedience to its spokesmen, and imposes its edicts over millions of people.”

“Thousands of individuals, indoctrinated as youths, are eager to engage in suicide attacks,” he wrote. “The enemy’s children and soldiers memorize words such as these: The battlefield is where our army displays its true character, conquering whenever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in combat, in order to spread our deity’s reign far and wide, so that the enemy may look up in awe to his august virtues.'”

He said that the children are taught from the Quran such mandates as: “[F]ight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war; but if they repent, and practice our way, then accept them. …”

He wrote that a strong offense doesn’t create new enemies; it defeats existing foes, and “all-out force against fanatical killers is both practical and moral.”

He said the conflict between Islam and Christian is not a clash between civilizations, “it is a clash between civilization and barbarism. Until civilized people assert themselves with a depth of moral confidence exceeding that projected by those who submit to the ‘will of Allah,’ America will remain permanently on the defensive, in a state of moral dhimmitude, and the war will continue to its logical conclusion: a mushroom cloud over America.”

The concerned parent told WND that Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, who has told militant Islamics that if they don’t agree with the freedoms basic to Australia, they should leave, “seems to be the only intelligent leader of the free world. Why don’t we loan him our military for a few months?”

A recent report in the Irish Times also noted that Colin Powell, who was secretary of state in 2004 when he made the statement, called madrassas breeding grounds for “fundamentalists and terrorists.” Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had questioned: “Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?”

Earlier, WND reported that The American Textbook Council found that textbooks for children in U.S. public schools these days reflect “the interplay of determined Islamic political activists, textbook editors, and multiculturally minded social studies curriculum planners.”

It has gone so far that correcting the situation now becomes a problem, because “educational publishers and educational organizations have bought into claims propounded by Islamists – and have themselves become agents of misinformation.”

That comes from Gilbert T. Sewall, who wrote the organization’s report on Islam and textbooks. And Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes even has repeatedly expressed concern about the “privileging of Islam in the United States” and warns the stakes go well beyond 7th-grade texts. His opinion of Houghton Mifflin’s “Across the Centuries”? Full of “apologetics.”

Sewall said his study showed world history textbooks “hold Islam and other non-Western civilizations to different standards than those that apply to the West” even while “Islamic pressure groups and their allies seek to suppress the critical analysis of Islam inside and outside classrooms.

“Textbook editors seem not to recognize that a school-related Islamic agenda in the U.S. uses multiculturalism as a device to guarantee a purely favorable and uncritical view of all things Muslim. At extremes, the report suggested, multiculturalism contributes to a form of peaceable cultural jihad meant to discredit or ‘problematize’ European civilization in favor of non-Western cultures,” he wrote.

Original Link.

“10 most underreported stories of 2006” from WorldNetDaily

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

1. Plans under way for North American Union: While most Americans consider their nation’s unsecured borders and the resulting flood of illegal immigrants to be among the country’s most dire problems, the U.S. government – inexplicably – is engaged in progressively de-emphasizing those borders while integrating the U.S., Mexico and Canada into a North American “superstate.”

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2. Wave of murders and other crimes by illegal aliens: Though most of the media don’t report it as such, and no government agencies are keeping tabs on it, there is an explosion of crime in the United States attributable to illegal aliens.

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3. Female teachers sexually preying on their students: In one of the most sensational stories of the year, WND documented dozens of cases of female teachers having sex with their underage students – both male and female.

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4. Mideast terror leaders favor Democrats: Recently, al-Qaida’s No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, spilled the beans about which U.S. political party the Islamic terrorists prefer to be running the show here in America – the Democrats. Addressing the Democrats, he said: “… you aren’t the ones who won the midterm elections, nor are the Republicans the ones who lost. Rather, the Mujahideen – the Muslim Ummah’s vanguard in Afghanistan and Iraq – are the ones who won, and the American forces and their Crusader allies are the ones who lost.”

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5. Manipulated war photos by major news outlets: Once again, in 2006 the blogging world played a vital truth-telling role, this time during the month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah. Even though Israel was attacked by Hezbollah – which daily fired rockets and mortars into Israel, killing and terrorizing civilians – world opinion turned strangely against Israel, as its incursion into Lebanon went on day after day. Widely published photographs by the world’s major international news services conveyed the horror of Israel’s “disproportionate response” to Hezbollah’s murderous attacks on Israeli men, women and children.

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6. New revelation showing that contrary to his claims, Sandy Berger deliberately hid classified documents: The bizarre spectacle of Bill Clinton’s National Security Adviser Sandy Berger receiving only a slap on the wrist for stealing classified documents and stuffing them in his clothes rated as one of the top 10 spiked stories for 2005. But a recent development in the case caused the story to shoot up the charts of the 2006 “spike” list as well.

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7. Iran leader’s apocalyptic end-times vision: While most of the reporting and analysis of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the U.N. focused on what he had to say about the West and specifically the U.S., his chilling closing remarks were lost on most listeners – and apparently all reporters as well.

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8. Two border agents face heavy prison time for injuring a drug smuggler they thought was armed: In one of the most disturbing stories of the year, two U.S. Border Patrol agents were sentenced to prison terms of 11 years and 12 years for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect in the buttocks as he fled across the U.S.-Mexico border.

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9. Mega-pastor Rick Warren praising Syria:
Like Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Middle East nations, Syria is well-known for persecuting Christians, and is officially acknowledged as such by everyone from private groups like Christian Freedom International to the U.S. government.

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10. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg snoozing for 15 minutes during oral arguments.
The world’s largest news organization, the Associated Press, gave it a two-sentence mention in the 16th paragraph of a story focusing on a political boundary case. Aside from Fox News which provided some coverage, very few in the media seemed to think a U.S. Supreme Court justice sleeping while hearing a case was newsworthy.

Original Link.

Mass. Citizens May Have Final Say on Homosexual Marriage

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

(CNSNews.com) – A state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman has cleared an important hurdle in Massachusetts — the only state where same-sex marriage is legal.

On Tuesday, the final day of the state’s 2006 constitutional convention, Massachusetts lawmakers approved the proposed amendment, moving it one step closer to a public vote.

The vote was 134 against the marriage amendment and 62 in favor. But it takes only 50 votes to move a citizen-initiated proposal forward.

To be included on the 2008 statewide ballot, the proposed constitutional amendment must also be approved by a second constitutional convention in 2007.

Until last week, people both for and against the proposed amendment thought it was dead.

But then, on Dec. 27, the highest court in Massachusetts ruled that state lawmakers had a constitutional duty to vote on proposed constitutional amendments rather than recessing without a vote, as they apparently planned to do.

That ruling gave supporters of traditional marriage the traction they needed to advance the marriage amendment.

Keep the people out of it

Homosexual advocacy groups are now lamenting what for them is a setback. They describe opposition to same-sex marriage as discriminatory and “anti-gay,” and they do no want the people of Massachusetts to have a say on the issue.

“A minority of legislators, emboldened by our opponents’ endless attacks, have voted to push this discriminatory amendment closer to a public vote,” said MassEquality campaign director Marc Solomon on Tuesday. “At MassEquality, we are disappointed, but not disheartened. We know that Massachusetts is moving in the right direction and tomorrow is a new day.”

Solomon noted that incoming Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, is a “strong supporter of equality,” and he also noted that “several more pro-equality legislators” were elected in November.

“We know that most Massachusetts voters want to move on to the more pressing issues facing the Commonwealth. And we know that there are thousands and thousands of supporters who are committed to ensuring that the rights of a few are never put to a public popularity ballot,” Solomon said.

He predicted that the “message of equality” will trump “fear and discrimination.”

Likewise, Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said he was disappointed that a minority of Massachusetts lawmakers has approved a “mean-spirited” constitutional amendment that would “end marriage equality” for same-sex couples in Massachusetts.

“It is always wrong to put the rights of a minority up for a popular vote and we are gratified that a strong majority of the Legislature voted against doing just that,” Foreman said in a statement.

“We stand with MassEquality and our other partners in Massachusetts, ready to work with them to defeat the amendment when it is next considered in the new legislative session. Marriage equality must and will be protected and preserved in Massachusetts,” Foreman said.

But groups that believe the people of Massachusetts — not the courts — should have the final say on same-sex marriage are celebrating Tuesday’s vote.

“Today’s victory is about restoring the integrity and authority of the people’s onstitutional right to petition their government,” said Kris Mineau, president, Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman of VoteOnMarriage.org.

“It says to the 170,000 citizens who signed the petitions for the right to vote on marriage that democracy still works in Massachusetts for those who are willing to take a stand for justice.”

The protection of marriage amendment was certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in December 2005, and it has awaited a legislative vote for a full year.

“Those in the legislature who sought to thwart the will and right of the people for the better part of a year conceded at the eleventh hour to the clear directive of the constitution,” Mineau concluded.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, about 8,500 same-sex couples have legally married in Massachusetts since May 2004.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalized homosexual marriage in November 2003, ruling that civil unions were not enough — that only f ull, equal marriage rights for homosexual couples would satisfy the state’s constitutional requirements.

The effort to change the commonwealth’s constitution began as soon as the court handed down its ruling.

Original Link.

Social Security Billions Could Go to Mexicans

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Social Security can’t support itself now, and yet they are willing to make an agreement to possibly pay benefits to illegal aliens? What kind of craziness is that?

An organization of retirees has announced the release, after three years of arguments and a Freedom of Information request, by the Social Security Administration of a copy of the first known public copy of the U.S.-Mexico Social Security Totalization Agreement.

The TREA Senior Citizens League said the document reveals what was expected, a huge threat to the future of Social Security, because any Mexican worker who has as little as 18 months of employment history in the United States could end up qualifying for some Social Security retirement benefits.

The organization of retirees, whose leaders have tried to convince Congress to prevent Social Security benefits from being awarded for work done by people in the United States illegally, said the exact financial impact cannot be calculated immediately, because the number of illegals working in the country isn’t clear.

But with estimates ranging to 20 million illegals in the country, even a portion of them qualifying for Social Security benefits could move the costs into the range of billions quickly.

An analysis of the plan by the Center for Immigration Studies noted that at the end of 2003, the Social Security System owed retirees and current workers benefits valued at $14 trillion, with assets of only $3.5 trillion.

“Ominously, these assets include not only the trust fund’s current reserves ($1.4 trillion), but also the present value of the taxes that current workers will pay for the rest of their working lives ($2.1 trillion),” the organization said.

The TREA organization, which represents more than 1.2 million people, said the government agreement between the United States and Mexico was signed in June 2004, and now is awaiting President Bush’s signature. Once that signature is in place, which can be done without a vote in Congress, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate would have only 60 days to disapprove it by voting to reject it.

“The Social Security Administration itself warns that Social Security is within decades of bankruptcy – yet, they seem to have no problem making agreements that hasten its demise,” said Ralph McCutchen, chairman of the league.

It’s not the first such agreement; the U.S. already has nearly two dozen other agreements with other nations. They are intended to eliminate dual taxation for people who work outside their country of origin. But the other agreements are with developed nations with economies similar to that of the U.S., the league said.

For example, a worker who turns 62 after 1990 generally needs 40 calendar quarters of coverage to receive retirement benefits. Under the cross-country agreements, workers can combine earnings from both countries in order to qualify for benefits in the U.S.

The agreements generally provide that workers need only 18 months of coverage in the U.S. to qualify.

However, the league said Mexico’s retirement system is “radically” different from other nations, the group said. “There, only 40 percent of the non-government workers participate in the system, as opposed to 96 percent of America’s non-government workers. Additionally, the U.S. system is progressive, meaning lower-income workers get back much more than they paid into the system. But in Mexico, workers get back only what they put in, plus interest.”

“I applaud the persistent efforts of TREA Senior Citizens League to try to get documents from the U.S. Government about the U.S.-Mexico Social Security totalization Agreement,” noted Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. “The American people are finally beginning to get some of the information regarding this Agreement that they have been seeking for so long.”

The CIS said the plan should not be approved it this form. “It represents a sell-out of American workers and their families,” the group’s analysis said. “Such a one-sided pact with its enormous financial risks should never have been negotiated in the first place.”

“It is unfortunate that the Commissioner of Social Security signed it despite the serious and specific concerns expressed in the GAO report and again in Congressional hearings in 2003. It would have been far better to pull the plug then rather than extend negotiations with Mexico, which now has every reason to believe the agreement will be accepted. We owe Mexico an apology for leading it on. But embarrassment over a diplomatic blunder should not get in the way of extricating ourselves from an agreement that is not in our national interest,” the analysis said.

The CIS said the circumstances could attract illegals to the U.S., while providing only marginal benefits to any U.S. workers or employers.

The retirees’ organization is made up of active senior citizens who are concerned about protecting their Social Security, Medicare and veteran or military retiree benefits.

It is working on changing the way Cost-of-Living Adjustments are made, obtaining reforms in the system for those people born in the “Notch” years of 1917-1926, and resolving threats to civilian or military work force retiree benefits.

The cost of Social Security is just one of the concerns being raised by those who oppose the “Premeditated Merger” of North America, a subject fully explored and explained in the newest issue of WND’s Whistleblower Magazine.

It also raises the issues of plans to scrap the dollar in favor of an “amero,” eliminate U.S. sovereignty, and create a “brave new world.”

The issue documents the 1,000 pages of government forms assembling a “shadow government” to operate, how NAFTA superhighways would facilitate the economic changes demanded by the revolutionary concepts and highlights revealing excerpts from the Council on Foreign Relations’ radical 59-page blueprint for “North American community.”

Original Link.

“A Sovereign Palestine? No Chance” by Paul Sheehan

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Three young brothers, Salam, 4, Ahmed, 7, and Osama, 9, were gunned down outside their school on the morning of December 11. They had just arrived by car when they and the driver died in a wild spray of gunfire. Four other schoolboys who happened to be nearby were wounded.

It was an assassination attempt, and it failed. The target was the boys’ father, Bala Ba’lousheh, but he wasn’t in the car. He was a senior Fatah official with the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence service in Gaza City, and his would-be assassins were almost certainly from Hamas, the rival Palestinian political party which won power in last year’s election. After the shootings, demonstrations erupted in the West Bank and Gaza. Within 48 hours, a prominent Hamas leader was shot to death in the Gaza Strip.

The level of conflict between the Palestinian parties simmers just below the level of civil war, even as the spoils keep shrinking. The open wound inspires strong reactions among millions of people around the world with no direct stake in the problem.

For the sake of reality, let’s put aside whatever views and prejudices you may hold on the Palestinian question. Put aside any animosity about grasping Jews or murderous Arabs. Put aside the Holocaust, and Muslim anti-Semitism. Put aside hopes and judgements. Simply look at what has happened on the ground. Stripped of all emotion and prejudice, right and wrong, one reality becomes clear: there is no chance of a sovereign, autonomous Palestinian state. Not within our lifetimes. No chance. None.

Not only won’t there be a sovereign Palestinian state, there can’t be.

It’s no longer viable. At every historic juncture since Israel was created in 1948, rhetoric has taken precedence over pragmatism in the Arab world. As a result, every one of these historic junctions has resulted, without exception, in material defeat for the Palestinians.

In 1948, roughly 700,000 Palestinian Arabs – the number remains contested and inexact – heeded calls from the Arab world and fled their homes in the newly proclaimed Israel. The result? The Palestinian position of 1948 now looks infinitely superior to the Palestinian position of today.

In 1967, Israel was invaded by its Arab neighbours in the Six Day War. The result? The Arabs lost control of the holy city of Jerusalem and the Palestinians went from Arab rule to Israeli control.

In 1982, after the Palestinians sparked a civil war in Lebanon, Israel invaded Lebanon and Jordan’s army attacked the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The result? The Palestinians were crushed in Lebanon and Jordan and Israel fortified its position in the West Bank.

In 1987, the first Palestinian intifada began at the instigation of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and suicide bombings came to Israeli life. It lasted almost five years. The result? Israel again fortified and expanded its positions and the West Bank was divided into military-controlled subdivisions.

In 2000, Arafat launched the second intifada, his response to Israel’s final offer in the Oslo peace accords. It lasted six years. The result? What the Palestinians were offered in 2000 is now impossible today, because Israel has since encircled Jerusalem with settlements housing 100,000 Jewish settlers. And Israel began building the Wall.

In 2006, Hezbollah attacked Israel, in the cause of Palestine, and Hamas and other militant elements fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, as political opposition was Islamicised. The result? Some 175 Israelis were killed by Hezbollah, for which Lebanon paid with more than 1500 dead, and Hezbollah lost its military control of southern Lebanon. It thus lost its strategic forward position for no strategic gain.

In the West Bank, the dividing fence and wall became a reality, effectively halting suicide bombings but also annexing more sections of the West Bank. Israeli military control became more intense. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 1065 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in 2006, while 23 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

Everyone I spoke to while visiting Israel recently hates the wall. One prominent Palestinian moderate, Khaled Abu Toameh, who once worked for the PLO and now writes for The Jerusalem Post, told me in Jerusalem: “The wall is a tragedy. The wall is bad. It is the direct result of Yasser Arafat’s intifada. It will become the wailing wall for both sides. I’m not optimistic. Not at all.”

A conspicuous critic of the wall is the former US president Jimmy Carter, who, in his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, writes: “An enormous imprisonment wall is now under construction, snaking through what is left of Palestine to encompass more and more land for Israeli settlers. In many ways, it is more oppressive than what blacks lived under in South Africa during apartheid.”

Compare this fenced-off community of today with 20 years ago, before the intifadas. The Palestinian workforce was integrated into the Israeli economy, with relatively free movement into Israel. Education and health systems were built, universities opened, local governments were functioning, corruption was minimal, and life expectancy had soared from 47 under Arab rule to 68. Then came Yasser Arafat and Fatah.

“Fatah is the mafia,” Abu Toameh told me. “It is responsible for most of the anarchy on the West Bank. Fatah is a monster.” Nor does he think much of Hamas, though he thinks it is much less corrupt, much more competent, and more pragmatic. He believes the West erred shockingly in trusting and subsiding Fatah and has now mishandled the transition to Hamas.

“But on the Muslim side, the message has always been ‘No’, and ‘No’, and ‘No’. They quote the Koran: God is on the side of the patient . . .

“And what is the West Bank now? It is six Arab cities, two refugee camps, 150 villages. A series of cantons, with no economic base. And Gaza? An awful place.”

And Israel? Through all the wars, terrorist bombings and threats of annihilation, and despite intense internal divisions, Israel has grown into a muscular economy of almost 7 million, with a per capita gross domestic product far higher than any Arab neighbours, including Saudi Arabia. The Jewish population has grown from 600,000 to 5.3 million, with a birthrate higher than those in Western Europe. Per capita, Israel has the most engineers and the most high-tech economy in the world.

Untold damage would be done to this economy if one anti-aircraft missile, fired from the West Bank, brought down an airliner flying out of the futuristic new Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel can’t afford to let this happen.

Sixty years of years of “No” has put an end to a sovereign Palestinian state, indefinitely. This pawn has been sacrificed in a much larger game.

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