Archive for July 20th, 2009

He Calls the Stars Each by Name

Monday, July 20th, 2009


He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.

Psalm 147:4-5 (New International Version)

Link to Image.

Forty Years Ago American Astronaut Neil Armstrong Made First Footprint on the Moon

Monday, July 20th, 2009

By Buzz Aldrin

Four decades ago this summer, I stood next to a colleague and helped set up some instruments on a distant place.

I walked slowly to deploy the devices, and together we worked to erect our flag atop a shiny silver pole with an extra bounce in my step. Amidst our work, we stopped to take a phone call from home.

My colleague was Neil Armstrong, the instruments lunar science, and the place was Tranquility Base on the surface of the moon. The call was from the president of the United States, and the whole world — literally — was listening in.

Neil and I, along with Mike Collins still in lunar orbit, had voyaged to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft, tiny when compared to today’s Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

We had accomplished a challenge made eight years before by President Kennedy, who made sending us to the moon a national goal to show the world what peaceful scientific discovery and exploration we could do when the entire nation pulled together.

The pictures we and our fellow lunar astronauts took of the moon and the Earth changed forever our concept of our place in the universe.

We saw the Earth as alone, fragile and in need of protecting and preserving. Those images helped give birth to the environmental movement.

The science taught us something about how planetary bodies are formed, how similar — and how different — they are.

But above all, voyaging to the moon was a demonstration of national political will and of the ability of our industrial system to create new technologies and capabilities, many of which are still being exploited today by commercial industry.

It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of that historic flight. But four decades later, it’s time we called the next generation to grander missions in space, to Mars and beyond. In that way, we can continue our journey.

Original Link.

Islamic Supremacist Group Holds First U.S. Conference

Monday, July 20th, 2009

A group committed to establishing an international Islamic empire and reportedly linked to Al Qaeda is stepping up its Western recruitment efforts by holding its first official conference in the U.S.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a global Sunni network with reported ties to confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda in Iraq’s onetime leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It has operated discreetly in the U.S. for decades.

Now, it is coming out of the shadows and openly hosting a July 19 conference entitled, “The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam,” at a posh Hilton hotel in a suburb of Chicago.

Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it does not engage in terrorism, and it is not recognized by the State Department as a known terror group.

But some terrorism experts say it may be even more dangerous than many groups that are on the terror list.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is one of the oldest, largest indoctrinating organizations for the ideology known as jihadism,” Walid Phares, director of the Future of Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told

Phares said that Hizb ut-Tahrir, rather than training members to carry out terrorist acts like Al Qaeda, focuses instead on indoctrinating youths between ages of 9 and 18 to absorb the ideology that calls for the formation of an empire — or “khilafah” — that will rule according to Islamic law and condones any means to achieve it, including militant jihad.

Hizb ut-Tahrir often says that its indoctrination “prepares the infantry” that groups like Al Qaeda take into battle, Phares said.

“It’s like a middle school that prepares them to be recruited by the high school, which is Al Qaeda,” he said. “One would compare them to Hitler youth. … It’s an extremely dangerous organization.”

Phares said Hizb ut-Tahrir has strongholds in Western countries, including Britain, France and Spain, and clearly is looking to strengthen its base in the U.S.

“The aim of this conference is to recruit within the Muslim community in America,” he said. “The Middle East governments go after them, but in the U.S. they are protected, so having a base here is going to help their cells around the world.”

Representatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir declined to comment when contacted by

Oren Segal, director of Islamic Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League, said the conference is cause for concern.

“While they’re not, for the most part, engaging in violent activities, and they publicly say that they’re against violence, there have been examples around the world where people who have spun off of this group have engaged in violent activity,” Segal told “That’s why they’re banned in several Arab and Central Asian countries, as well as Germany and Russia.”

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the group’s most famous alumni, New Statesman journalist Shiv Malik reported, citing intelligence sources. In addition to plotting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he also is implicated in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, the Bali nightclub bombings and the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Malik’s report, the public policy institute the Nixon Center and the counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation agree that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq until he was killed in June 2006, also was once a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

They say other former members include Asif Muhammad Hanif, a British man who blew himself up outside a bar in Tel Aviv, killing four people (including himself) and wounding more than 50; and Omar Bakri Mohammed, a radical cleric currently banned from Britain who praised the 9/11 attacks, raised funds for Hezbollah and Hamas and called for attacks on the Dublin airport because U.S. troops transfered there on their way to Iraq.

Segal said Hizb ut-Tahrir is becoming more active online in the U.S. — particularly on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace — and now it may be able to add a significant number of Americans to its ranks.

Original Link.

Freshman Dems Oppose Pelosi’s Tax Increase

Monday, July 20th, 2009

The cracks are forming in Nan’s “unstoppable” congress. For many congresspeople, the insanity must end.

Twenty-one freshman Democratic House members have signed a letter opposing their leadership’s plan to raise taxes to finance a healthcare overhaul.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) circulated the letter, saying that the income surtax on the wealthy would place an undue burden on small businesses, some of which pay taxes in the same way as an individual. The letter had 22 signers, all freshmen except for Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), who is in his second term.

“Especially in a recession, we need to make sure not to kill the goose that will lay the golden eggs of our recovery,” the letter said. “We are concerned that this will discourage entrepreneurial activity.”

Polis voted against the plan at the Education and Labor Committee markup Friday as a protest against the tax. But the letter itself did not threaten that its signers would vote against the bill. Instead, it asks for a different source of money to be found, and says more cost savings should be found so that less money is needed.

Freshman members, who are worried about the taxes and other controversial aspects of the bill, have had two meetings with leadership in recent days. On Friday, they went to the White House for a meeting with President Obama .

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has backed down slightly on the tax, saying it could be lowered if more cost savings could be found in the system. But she has said there will be some sort of tax on high-earners.

Original Link.

States Hit Hardest by Recession Get Least Stimulus Money

Monday, July 20th, 2009

The stimulus package that is saddling our kids with a monstrous debt, and to date, has not created or saved any jobs, now shows that the people who need the money the worst are the last to get it.

The stimulus bill “includes help for those hardest hit by our economic crisis,” President Obama promised when he signed the bill into law on Feb. 17. “As a whole, this plan will help poor and working Americans.”

But has analyzed data tracking how the stimulus money is being given out across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and it has found a perverse pattern: the states hardest hit by the recession received the least money. States with higher bankruptcy, foreclosure and unemployment rates got less money. And higher income states received more.

The transfers to the states having the least problems are large. Even after accounting for other factors, each $1,000 in a state’s per capita income means that the state got $21 more per capita in stimulus funds. With a spread of almost $38,000 in per-person income between the top and bottom states, this has a sizable impact. High-income states get considerably more stimulus money.

States with higher bankruptcy rates got a lot less, not more, money — roughly $86 less per person for each percentage point increase in the state’s bankruptcy rate. States with higher foreclosure rates were treated very similarly, losing $82 per person for each one percentage point more of the people suffering foreclosures.

Original Link.