Archive for May 17th, 2007

Senators, White House Reach Bipartisan Agreement on Immigration

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

And once again, the Republicans and President have ignored the wishes of their base.
UPDATE AT BOTTOM

WASHINGTON — Key senators and the White House reached agreement Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border.

The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S. A separate program would cover agricultural workers. New high-tech enforcement measures also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally.

The compromise came after weeks of painstaking closed-door negotiations that brought the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans together with President Bush’s Cabinet officers to produce a highly complex measure that carries heavy political consequences.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said he expects Bush to endorse the agreement.

The accord sets the stage for what promises to be a bruising battle next week in the Senate on one of Bush’s top non-war priorities.

The key breakthrough came when negotiators struck a bargain on a so-called “point system” that would for the first time prioritize immigrants’ education and skill level over family connections in deciding how to award green cards.

Original Link.

Michelle Malkin has more on this issue. Here are some quotes she has listed on her blog:

Excerpts from an e-mail bulletin by Roy Beck of NumbersUSA:
Although we don’t have the legislative language yet, here are the key components:

WE LOSE — by getting an immediate amnesty for nearly all 12-20 million illegal aliens who will get legal status for residence and jobs (with assurance of green cards no later than 13 years).

IN EXCHANGE FOR — we get mandatory workplace verification and a lot of extra enforcement (with a lot of typical Kennedy loopholes) to try to slow the flow of the next 12 million illegal aliens enticed by the amnesty;

WE LOSE — by getting a tripling of the rate of chain migration of extended family from around 250,000 a year to around 750,000 a year for about a decade;

IN EXCHANGE FOR — after about a decade, there should be no more chain migration (assuming that Kennedy doesn’t add it back in by then);

WE LOSE — by getting new flows of 400,000 temporary foreign workers each year, bringing their families and having anchor babies who will be given U.S. citizenship;

IN EXCHANGE FOR — at least the temporary workers are supposed to leave and not be able to apply for greencards and permanent residency.

WHY THE REPUBLICANS ARE STAMPEDING TO BACK THIS AMNESTY

The majority of Republican Senators last year voted against the S. 2611 amnesty that passed.

But at a noon meeting today with nearly all GOP Senators, Sen. Kyl outlined the amnesty agreement he had negotiated with Sen. Kennedy. Our sources say only about three Senators raised concerns. Most of the rest were saying things like, “If you think this is a good idea, John, I guess that should be good enough for us.”

Pres. Bush and staff have been brilliant in moving Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Martinez (R-Fla.) into a more secondary role and persuading conservative leader Kyl to lead the negotiations. Kyl is able to lead many Senators to follow him who would otherwise not support an amnesty of any kind.

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The office of Rep. Brian Bilbray e-mails succinct, informed opposition:
Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, released the following statement today following the announcement of a deal reached in the United States for a “comprehensive” illegal immigration reform bill:

“The ‘compromise’ announced today by Senator Kennedy will reward 12 million illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship – what part of illegal does the Senate not understand? Any plan that rewards illegal behavior is amnesty. You would think that the Senate would have learned their lesson after the 1986 amnesty debacle, but it looks like their idea of a ‘compromise’ is to repeat the failed policies of the past.”

In 1986, Congress passed and the President signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform and Control Act into law which granted amnesty overnight to more than three million illegal immigrants. The bill was passed with the promise of implementing border security and employer enforcement provisions that were never adopted.

Baby Moses in the Bulrushes – A Bible Story Mural

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the bulrushes (reeds) and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Exodus 2:1-10 (New International Version)

Developed as a request to provide another “nursery appropriate” mural, it is now in the entrance hallway leading to the nurseries at Central Baptist.

This mural would also be a great addition to the home nursery of that special little girl.”
-Doug Westbrook, Artist of “Baby Moses in the Bulrushes – A Bible Story Mural”

See Mr. Westbrook’s Bible Story Murals here.
Bible Story Murals
If your church is looking for a unique way to bring the Word of God to it’s children and young people, take a look at Doug Westbrook’s Bible Story Murals. Each wall sized mural is based on the hand painted originals Mr. Westbrook painted at Central Baptist Church in Houston, Texas and represents a different well known Bible story.
They are available on durable vinyl wallpaper for easy installation.

Hamas Trying to Drag Israel Into Gaza Fighting

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

No surprise here…

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) – A senior Israeli official on Wednesday accused Hamas of trying to prod Israel into a massive ground operation in the Gaza Strip to put an end to internal Palestinian fighting there. But Israel won’t take the bait, the official said.

Palestinians in Gaza had launched six rockets at Israel as of midday Wednesday, one of which hit a home and another a basketball court in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. No one was injured. But on Tuesday evening, Hamas claimed responsibility for injuring at least 18 people in similar rocket attacks.

In response, the Israeli Air Force on Wednesday carried out an aerial attack against what the army called a “Hamas terrorist command center” in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Palestinians reported more than 30 wounded in the air strike.

Original Link.

NY Times Downplays Islamic Role in Fort Dix Plot

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

The liberal media just will not admit that Islam is a threat to the citizens of the United States.

The director of a media watchdog organization thinks the New York Times has gone out of its way to downplay the role Islam played in the plot by six foreign-born Muslim men to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and other targets in the area.

Clay Waters, director of Times Watch, a division of the Media Research Center, is accusing the Times of “soft-pedaling” the Muslim beliefs of the men recently arrested on charges of plans to attack the New Jersey Army base. Waters cites an article by Times reporter Alan Feuer which stated: “It is unclear what role, if any, religion played in the attack Mr. Shnewer and the five other men are charged with planning.” Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 22, is the alleged ringleader of the group.

Waters says Feuer chose to ignore a videotape made by the suspects discussing killing soldiers in the name of Allah. Not only is Feuer a “liberal reporter,” says Waters, but “he seems pretty lazy too — because this thing about the Fort Dix tape of these people with the guns was not something he had to dig up. This was easily available, but he just didn’t bother to talk about it in his story.”

The major news outlets — except the Times, according to Waters — were all aware of the video and its contents, he says. “Everyone has heard about the tape that the Circuit City employee turned in where these guys, in the fundamentalist clothing, were saying [in Arabic] ‘God is great’ and shooting in the air,” he continues. “And it’s obviously clear that religion and radical Islam played a huge role in their terror plot — but the Times is being in denial. They’re pretending that it didn’t.”

The Times Watch leader contends the Times goes out of its way not to say anything bad about Islam. “They would never want to spread anything that would result in anti-Muslim backlash, so they soft-pedal the religion,” he states.

On the other hand, says Waters, the Times published a related article that was very sympathetic to the father of one of the suspects, whose pizza business was suffering because of the publicity over the terror plot.

Original Link

“Who Is Gouging Whom?” By: David Holcberg

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Last Wednesday 79 members of the House of Representatives introduced a bill instituting criminal and civil penalties on any corporation or individual found guilty of gasoline “price gouging.” But the real gouger driving up gasoline prices is not the private sector, it is our government.

To “gouge” means to extort, to take by force–something that oil companies and gas stations have no power to do. Unlike a government, which can forcibly take away its citizens’ money and dictate their behavior, an oil company can only make us an offer to buy its products, which we are free to reject.

Because sellers must gain the voluntary consent of buyers, and because the market allows freedom of competition, oil and gasoline prices are set, not by the whim of companies, but by economic factors such as supply and demand. If oil companies could set prices at will, surely they would have charged higher prices in the 1990s, when gasoline was under one dollar a gallon!

Because oil companies and gas stations cannot set their prices arbitrarily, they must make their profits by earning them–by efficiently producing something that we value and are eager to buy. In so doing, they assume great risks and expend enormous effort. Over the decades, oil companies have created a huge infrastructure to produce and distribute gasoline by investing hundreds of billions of dollars in prospecting, drilling, transporting, stocking and refining oil.

In the absence of political factors like the 1973 OPEC oil embargo or the Gulf Wars, the net effect of oil companies’ pursuit of profit has been to drive the price of oil and gasoline, not up, but down. The price of a gallon of gasoline (in 2006 dollars) fell from $3 in the early 1920’s to $2.50 in the 1940’s to $2 in the 1960’s to under $1.50 in the 1990’s. This downward trend is all the more impressive because it required the discovery and exploration of previously inaccessible sources of oil and because it persisted despite massive taxation and increased government regulation of the oil industry.

When we see the price of gasoline today, we should not accuse oil companies of gouging, but rather thank them that prices are not much higher.

The true culprit that we should condemn for driving up prices is the government, which has engaged–with popular support–in the gouging of both the producers and consumers of gasoline.

Federal and state governments have long viewed gasoline taxes as a cash cow. In 2003, for instance, when the average retail price for a gallon of gasoline was $1.56, federal and state taxes averaged about $0.40 a gallon–which amounts to a far higher tax rate, 34 percent, than we pay for almost any other product. (Contrary to popular belief, gasoline taxes do not just pay for the roads we drive on; less than 60% of the gas-tax-funded “Highway Trust Fund” goes toward highways.)

Along with high taxes, environmental regulations–justified in the name of protecting nature from human activity–have dramatically increased the production costs, and thus the price, of oil and gasoline.

Gas Prices

Link to Red Planet Cartoons.

The government, for example, has closed huge areas to oil drilling, including the uninhabited wilderness of ANWR and the out-of-sight waters over the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves. This of course significantly reduces the domestic supply of oil.

The government has also passed onerous environmental regulations that make it uneconomical for many old refineries to keep producing (50 out of 194 refineries were shut down from 1990 to 2004) and discourage new refineries from being built (no major refinery has been built in the last 30 years).

Regulations such as these push the surviving refineries to operate at almost full capacity, creating a situation where any significant reduction in the production of some refineries (e.g., from a hurricane) cannot be compensated by increased production in others. Exorbitant spikes in prices, which many attribute to oil companies’ “gouging,” are actually caused by government constraints.

If we want to stop the irrational forces that have been driving up the price of gasoline and our cost of living, we must demand that our elected officials eliminate the regulations and excessive taxes that restrict the producers of oil and gas. It’s past time to stop gouging oil companies–and ourselves.

David Holcberg is a media research specialist at the Ayn Rand Institute (www.AynRand.org) in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” Contact the writer at media@aynrand.org

Original Link.

Gouging

Link to Cox and Forkum.

Dobson Says ‘No Way’ to Rudy

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Conservatives have a tough choice ahead of them.

Family advocate James Dobson, widely considered an important GOP rainmaker, says he will not vote for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani under any circumstance in the upcoming presidential elections because of his positions on abortion, domestic partnerships for homosexual couples and other moral issues.

Dobson says today in an exclusive WND column, speaking strictly as a private citizen, “I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008.”

“It is an irrevocable decision,” said the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family. “If given a Hobson’s – Dobson’s? – choice between him and Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran – or if worse comes to worst – not vote for the first time in my adult life.”

Dobson said, “My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else.”

Original Link

Iran May Be One Year From Nukes

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Nuclear weapons in the hands of a madman are always a scary thing. The problem here is not just that Iran is producing nukes, it is that they are producing long range nuclear missiles and they are doing it at a much faster rate than previously expected. Obviously, they hate Jews and want to see Israel ‘wiped off the map’, but they hate the United States just as much. The US needs to take action in Iran to protect Israel as well as America.

One year from now, Iran could possess the means of producing a nuclear bomb – that was the chilling message delivered by Ambassador Dore Gold during an interview with Ynetnews Tuesday.

Gold, who has written numerous books on the Middle East, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), and has served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.

He was responding to a statement released Tuesday morning by the International Atomic Energy’s Director (IAEA), Mohamed El-Baradei, who said Iran had made massive progress in creating uranium enrichment centrifuges, so much so the world should consider it a ‘fact that Iran can enrich uranium independently.

Gold said the information revealed by El-Baradei undercut previous estimates of when Iran could weaponize its nuclear process.

He answered a number of questions submitted by Ynetnews readers, and said Iran was also busy developing ballistic missiles that can reach central and Western Europe.

“If all Iran wanted to do was destroy the State of Israel, it would simply invest in the 1300 kilometer range Shihab – 3 missile, which which it already has,” Gold said, adding that Iran was however developing North Korean missiles with far great ranges.

Gold, who recently published ‘The Fight For Jerusalem,’ also addressed some of the issues facing Israel’s capital city.

He described the argument which cited demography as a reason for handing over Palestinian suburbs of east Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority as “erroneous,” adding that such a move would encourage the Palestinians’ “true goal of gaining sovereignty over the Old City.”

Original Link

“Storm Clouds Over Israel” by Todd Strandberg

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

In my 20 years of end-time service, I’ve never seen Israel facing so many enemies at one time. Currently, the Jewish state has to keep an eye on four fronts. In Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has rockets aimed at Northern Israel. Syria has built up its force on its eastern border with Israel. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Hamas has been provoking Israel by firing mortars into Israel. Iran is probably the greatest threat. It is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and has called for Israel’s destruction.

What is now called the Second Lebanon War seems to be setting the stage for what may come in the near future. Last year’s battle between Hezbollah and the Israeli military is regarded to have been a disaster for Israel and a rare victory for her Arab foes.

The rethinking of the war has plunged Israel into political chaos. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is hanging by a thread. In Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, 120,000 demonstrators gathered to demand the Prime Minister’s resignation. Olmert’s own foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, has called for him to step down. Olmert has been very dismissive of any calls for him to resign. In an interview for Jerusalem Radio, he said, “Resigning is not a show of responsibility, it is a show of irresponsibility.”

To make matters worse for Olmert, it’s been revealed that he blamed his generals for the poor execution of the war. The Prime Minister told the Winograd Committee investigating the Second Lebanon War that he believes the Israel Defense Force “seriously let itself down” during the war. However, Olmert believes he made the “correct” decision to enter the conflict.

Israel’s enemies must be delirious with glee over how they’ve been able to fluster the mighty Israel military. I would all but guarantee that some Arab group will soon try its luck again.

For many years, Syria has refrained from any conflict with Israel. They had been crushed too many times in battle to risk messing with their Jewish neighbor. The example set by Hezbollah may motivate Syria into seeking its own glory against Israel. Damascus has been insistent on getting back the Golan Heights. With the Israeli government in such a weakened state, Syria may try use a surprise attack as leverage in forcing Israeli to return the land.

The Southern Lebanese border is the most likely flashpoint. Israel had hoped it would take Hezbollah several years to recover from the heavily bombing it suffered during last summer’s war. Unfortunately, Hezbollah has surprised everyone in its ability to quickly rebuild it arsenal of rockets. With Iran flooding armament into Lebanon, this terrorist group now has more arms than it did before the war. Some of its missiles are able to strike deep into Israel. According to one report, more than 100 of them have a range greater than 90 miles, enabling the heavily populated city of Tel Aviv to come under attack.

Military analysts have reached no consensus on when Israel and the U.S. might launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Russian military and British media have already set timelines for air strikes that have come and gone. Estimates on when Iran might be able to produce a bomb have ranged from one year to nearly a decade. With both Bush and Olmert entangled by political messes at home, it’s hard to imagine them having the willpower to conduct a daring raid against Iran. For what it’s worth, Vice President Dick Cheney has once again promised that the United States will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons.

There is the possibility that Olmert may try to turn his political fortunes around by giving land back to the Palestinians or the Syrians. European diplomats have been working on a series of peace plans. I think any such plan would only increase the chance for war. Because Islamic terrorists are constantly trying to fire rockets into Israel, there is a practical need for a buffer zone to keep Jewish settlements out of the range of small arms. If the Israeli army had remained in Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah would not have been able to fire 10,000 rockets into northern Israel.

What keeps driving the Arabs to attack Israel is a demonic hatred of the Jewish state. Satan knows that the only way for him to buy himself time is to remove God’s chosen people from the Promised Land. Because the Bible predicts that the Jews will not be removed once they are regathered, the devil is fighting a hopeless battle.

The next war might be called the Third Lebanon War. With the Arabs pressing forward with a false sense of confidence in their military strength, World War III might quickly become a more appropriate title.

Original Link.

Taliban to Pakistani Christians: “Convert or Die”

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

We all know the extents of evil the Taliban is capable of. True to form, they are now so well entrenched in Pakistan (our so-call “ally against terror”) that they can threaten villages to accept Islam or die.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Christians in a Pakistani town beset by pro-Taliban militants sought government protection Wednesday, the eve of a deadline for them to convert to Islam or face violence.

About 500 Pakistani Christians in Charsadda, a town in the North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, received letters earlier this month telling them to close their churches and convert by Thursday or be the target of “bomb explosions.”

Several Christians, a tiny minority in the predominantly Muslim country, have fled town and others are living in fear, community leaders said.

Some complained that police were not taking the threat seriously.

“Police say someone is joking with us by writing these letters,” Chaudhry Salim, a Charsadda Christian leader, said during a news conference in Islamabad. “They have deployed only two policemen at our churches … this is the kind of security we are getting now.”

Shahbaz Bhatti, a prominent Christian leader and head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, said the provincial government, which is controlled by a coalition of pro-Taliban religious parties, would bear blame for attacks after the deadline.

Bhatti also urged Muslim religious scholars to condemn the threats and said the federal government should take “concrete steps to provide protection” to Christians.

Asif Daudzai, a spokesman for the provincial government, asked Christians not to panic, saying authorities were doing all they could to ensure their protection.

“Christians are our brothers and sisters, and we will not allow any one to harm them,” he told The Associated Press.

Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other religious minorities make up about 3 percent of Pakistan’s 160 million residents.

Most live peacefully alongside the Muslim majority, although the groups have been targeted repeatedly in attacks blamed on extremists since the country allied itself with the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Islamic radicals trying to impose Taliban-style social edicts in northwestern Pakistan are growing bolder, bombing shops selling Western films, threatening barbers for trimming beards and warning hotels to remove televisions from guest rooms.

Minorities and secular opposition parties say the government is doing too little to counter the “Talibanization” of growing swaths of the country.

Original Link.

Pali Terrorist Thugs Continue to Kill Each Other Despite “Cease-Fire”

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Despite what the main stream media continues to call a “cease-fire”, the pali terrorist thugs continue to kill each other. Ever since they’ve been thwarted in killing innocent Israeli civilians, the pali terrorist haven’t had anywhere to direct they self-taught and ingrained hatred. So they’ve done the only thing they could. They’ve turned on each other.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gunfire erupted at a Hamas funeral procession in the southern Gaza Strip Thursday, killing two people and wounded 14 others, Palestinian medical officials said, despite a cease-fire being called Wednesday aimed at stopping a sudden rash of violence between Hamas and rival group Fatah.

The funeral in the southern town of Rafah was for two Hamas fighters killed during the latest wave of Palestinian factional violence.

Witnesses said members of the procession were firing their weapons into the air — a common practice at Palestinian funerals — when unknown assailants began shooting at them.

In local radio broadcasts, Fatah and Hamas officials accused each other of violating the latest cease-fire meant to halt this week’s factional fighting in Gaza.

Also a small number of Israeli tanks edged into the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, taking up positions near the border fence, the Israeli army said.

Military officials said the activity was “not out of the ordinary,” and there were no signs that the tanks planned to attack. The officials declined to discuss the purpose of the operation. But in recent months, the army has periodically moved several hundred yards (meters) into Gaza to search for bombs placed along the border.

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The infighting has left the Hamas-Fatah coalition government on the brink of collapse, and has threatened to drag Israel into the fray.

Presidential aide Saeb Erekat declined to say when the meeting would take place, and warned that the visit still could be called off if things deteriorated. “The plan is that he will go to Gaza. But there is a possibility he will not go,” he said.

Erekat said the talks would focus on Abbas’ plan to end the infighting and chaos that has plagued Gaza for months. “This is to preserve our social fabric, our society, our internal peace,” he said. “Without this, we’re doomed.”

A total of 22 people were killed on Wednesday, as gunfire and explosions raged across Gaza City in the most widespread fighting in nearly a year of clashes between Hamas and Fatah. A total of 46 people have been killed in this week’s fighting, according to Palestinian officials.

Raging street battles have turned the densely populated seaside city into a war zone, putting terrified civilians increasingly at risk. During the fighting, masked gunmen took over otherwise deserted streets, trapping frightening residents in their homes.

Early Thursday, gunmen were still manning roadblocks, and Fatah security forces were patrolling on six Russian-made armored personnel carriers with guns mounted on top. But there were no reports of fighting.

Electric workers tried to repair wires destroyed in the fighting to restore power, and residents flooded grocery stores in search of bread, bottled water, diapers and candles.

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The latest round of violence erupted Sunday after Abbas deployed thousands of police officers to halt a crime wave in Gaza without first consulting with Hamas.

The attacks have grown increasingly brazen, with Hamas ambushing a strategic Fatah training base and killing six bodyguards in an assassination attempt on a top Fatah security commander. The commander was not at home at the time and his family escaped harm.

Hamas also has targeted Israel, firing more than 70 rockets in an apparent attempt to drag Israel into the conflict and uniting the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Security Cabinet decided against large-scale reprisal late Wednesday, but authorized the army to step up attacks on Hamas rocket squads. Two Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets Wednesday killed five people, Palestinian officials said.

“We have had enough. Israel will take every defensive measure to stop these rocket attacks,” said Miri Eisin, Olmert’s spokeswoman, adding Israel would not allow itself to be dragged into internal Palestinian fighting. “We will not stand idly by.”

The army said five rockets landed Thursday in the southern border town of Sderot, lightly wounding two people. The working-class town has absorbed the vast majority of the thousands of rockets fired at Israel in recent years.

Original Link.