Archive for September, 2008


September 28, 2008

Revenge of gun owners

Jacob Sullum
Sunday, September 28, 2008


Last spring, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to arms, Democrats hoped the decision would neutralize the gun issue. Instead the ruling, by inviting debate over which kinds of gun control are constitutional, has made the issue more salient.

That’s bad news for Barack Obama, whom the National Rifle Association says “would be the most anti-gun president in American history.” The Democratic nominee pays lip service to Second Amendment rights while calling for “commonsense,” “reasonable” restrictions. But Mr. Obama’s sense of what is reasonable, while common among the left-liberal politicians and activists inside his comfort zone, may seem decidedly unreasonable to the pro-gun voters the NRA is trying to mobilize against him.

Since these voters made a decisive difference in the 2000 presidential election and arguably in 2004 as well, this is a threat Mr. Obama ignores at his peril. The NRA plans to spend $15 million urging voters in battleground states of the Midwest and Mountain West to “Defend Freedom” and “Defeat Obama.” Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is running radio spots in swing states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia that promise “Barack Obama and John McCain will both make sure we keep our guns.”

Although faults the NRA for distorting Mr. Obama’s record, every falsifiable claim in its TV spots has a factual basis. In one ad, a Virginia hunter complains that Mr. Obama supports “a huge new tax on my guns and ammo,” referring to a position Mr. Obama took in 1999. He adds the Illinois senator voted to “ban virtually all deer-hunting ammunition,”in his 2005 vote for a federal ban on rifle ammunition “designed or marketed as having armor-piercing capability,” phrasing that arguably covered deer-hunting ammunition.

Finally, the hunter complains Mr. Obama wants to ban shotguns and rifles used for hunting, alluding to his support for reinstating the federal “assault weapon” ban. That law arbitrarily prohibited firearms based mainly on cosmetic features that made them look scary to gun-naive politicians.

In another NRA ad, an Iraq war veteran from Wisconsin complains that “Barack Obama opposes my right to own a handgun for self-defense.” In a 1996 questionnaire, Mr. Obama’s state Senate campaign said he supported a handgun ban. Today Mr. Obama says was a mistake, but the questionnaire bears his handwriting, so he clearly saw it without changing the supposedly erroneous answer.

As a state legislator, Mr. Obama voted against a bill shielding people who use handguns for self-defense in their homes from prosecution for violating local gun registration rules. Most tellingly, he has repeatedly expressed support for local handgun bans such as the District of Columbia’s, which the Supreme Court overturned, and Chicago’s, which faces a constitutional challenge.

“What works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne,” Mr. Obama says. The line, meant to reassure gun owners, highlights his peculiar view that the extent of an American’s constitutional rights depends on where he lives.

The specifics of Mr. Obama’s views may turn out to be less important than the sense he’s an urban sophisticate unfamiliar with firearms and does not even understand the gun control laws he supports. In a 2004 debate, Mr. Obama explained the rationale for the “assault weapon” ban this way: “Unless you’re seeing a lot of deer out there wearing bullet-proof vests, then there is no purpose for many of the guns.” He thereby conflated the “assault weapon” and “armor-piercing bullet” issues, apparently not realizing that ordinary hunting ammunition can penetrate “bullet-proof vests.”

The NRA ads seek to reinforce the impression of Mr. Obama’s cluelessness. “Where is this guy from?” asks the hunter. “He’s probably never been hunting a day in his life.” Two of the ads allude to Mr. Obama’s notorious comment that working-class voters in Pennsylvania and the Midwest “get bitter” during hard economic times and “cling to guns or religion.” What will Mr. Obama cling to when voters question his commitment to the Second Amendment?


September 26, 2008

Stephen FlurryColumnist

9/15 and the Next Superpower

September 26, 2008 | From

America’s financial meltdown has awakened a beast in Europe.

Stephen Flurry

How significant that the United States has inflicted itself with a financial wound so grotesque and debilitating that it will never fully recover. “This is embarrassing for the United States of America,” Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Tuesday.

It’s so much more than an embarrassment. It’s a trumpet-blast signal—to the U.S. and the rest of the world—that America’s reign as the global economic superpower is now over.

“The world will never be the same again,”
Berlin’s finance minister told the German parliament yesterday. Given the financial muscle now being flexed in Europe and Asia, he said, “The U.S. will lose its status as the superpower of the global financial system.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said earlier in the week, “The sole remaining superpower has lost credibility.”

These are not doomsday prophecies predicting a future failure in the U.S. economy. It’s already ruined. The world knows it.

And how significant that European banks have been largely unaffected by the collapse of America’s economy. Spiegel attributes their stability to “more conservative banking practices” and applauds EU banks for having “steered clear of risky subprime-style mortgage lending.”

As Bundesbank President Axel Weber noted earlier this week, “The German financial system is stable and its resistance to adverse shocks has markedly improved in the past few years.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has appealed to America’s “friends” in Europe for assistance in bailing out the U.S.-led global financial system. “We are talking very aggressively with other countries around the world,” Paulson said on Sunday, “and encouraging them to do similar things, and I believe a number of them will.”

In fact, they will not. And here again, how significant that European states, particularly Germany, have resoundingly balked at America’s plea for help. “The world shouldn’t have to bear the burden for America’s lapses,” said Carsten Meier of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy

Joachim Poss, deputy parliamentary head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, said, “The Americans can’t make Germany accountable for their failure and their arrogance.”

“The U.S. is the origin and the clear focal point of the crisis,” Germany’s finance minister said in his parliamentary speech, adding that its sickening impact will spread “worldwide like a poisonous oil spill.”

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was uncharacteristically harsh in her criticism of America, saying Washington should have legislated tighter controls on the financial markets.

Similar sentiments were echoed in the European Parliament. “We should not forget that first and foremost this is an American crisis,” the head of the International Monetary Fund said this week. “Therefore the job of dealing with the crisis should be fulfilled first and foremost by the United States.”

It’s more than unwillingness on the part of EU members to help the ailing American economy to recover. In their disdainful rebuke of America’s reckless economic practices, some EU officials are practically gloating over America’s misfortune. “It’s a rare day,” the Los Angeles Times wrote last week,

when finance officials, leftist intellectuals and ordinary salespeople can agree on something. But the economic meltdown that wrought its wrath from Rome to Madrid to Berlin this week brought Europeans together in a harsh chorus of condemnation of the excess and disarray on Wall Street.

Yes, Europe is united in its self-righteous condemnation of the American economic model. And yet, how significant that among European Union states, the United Kingdom is the one nation being lumped together with the United States. That same Times article noted, “Among the European economies, it is Britain’s that most resembles America’s in its vulnerability.” As National Public Radio reported last week, “In Britain, many analysts expect the credit crunch to get worse. There are also fears that British companies unable to raise credit might be forced to close.”

But rather than sympathize with their fellow EU member, the Continent sees the UK not as an innocent victim of a global crisis but rather as part of the problem. In calling for strict regulations to be imposed on financial markets, Chancellor Merkel made a point of singling out Britain along with the United States in an interview with a Munich newspaper. Merkel blames Washington and London for stonewalling Germany’s attempt to bring greater transparency to the global financial system early in 2007.

The way Germany sees it, America is not the only problem—it’s the Anglo-Saxon economic system that needs to be scrapped.

The Alarming Pace of Prophetic Events

And why are these earthshaking events so incredibly significant? Because of what God prophesied long ago—and because of what we have been proclaiming now for more than half a century! As Herbert W. Armstrong wrote decades ago in The United States and Britain in Prophecy,

The most amazing fact of all history is this sudden skyrocketing from virtual obscurity of two nations to the most fabulous wealth and economic power ever possessed by any people. Britain became Great Britain—a gigantic, stupendously wealthy commonwealth of nations—the United States, the greatest nation of history.

And yet, even more amazing and unbelievably shocking than our breathtaking rise to economic powerhouses, he went on to write, are the “facts of the present—of how—and why—we are losing it faster than it came!”

God prophesied millennia ago that the United States and Britain—the modern-day recipients of the birthright blessings promised to ancient Israel’s descendants—would both fall together. This is why we have consistently said that Britain will soon be escorted out of the European Union.

Furthermore, using the Bible as our guide, we have often predicted that the collapse of the Anglo-Saxon monetary system would serve as a catalyst for the European superpower to quickly pull together economically, politically, religiously and militarily.

Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in October of 1985—before the Soviet Union collapsed, before the Iron Curtain was disassembled and before the two Germanys were united: “At the European Community’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, a very large staff is working for a single united European currency, one united military force and one economic structure. Do not discount the possibility that this resurrection of the medieval Holy Roman Empire may start by some arrangement to reunite East and West Germany first” (Plain Truth).

While there is some work yet to be done to unite the military force, for the most part, everything Mr. Armstrong said in 1985 (and much earlier than that) has happened! Now that prophesied union of European nations is ready to move ahead quickly, thanks to America’s financial collapse. As Mr. Armstrong also prophesied back in 1984, the failure of the U.S. banking industry “could suddenly result in triggering European nations to unite as a new world power.”

So when the German finance minister says America is losing its superpower status, that’s prophetically significant! And when the EU Economic and Monetary Affairs commissioner responds to the U.S. financial meltdown by calling for more supervision and strict control over the global economy and then insists, “We must move forward faster,” that is a momentous development!

Yet, even with these many jolting aftershocks from 9/15 triggering the EU’s rapid rise to superpower status, Europe still needs an over-arching religious influence to give it a unified sense of purpose and direction. Here again, as Mr. Armstrong wrote decades ago in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, so far, the European Union has been “unable to bring about full political union. This will be made possible by the ‘good offices’ of the Vatican, who alone can be the symbol of unity to which they can look.”

And so, isn’t it significant that even as the Western world was rocked by a devastating economic earthquake last week, Pope Benedict xvi called for more openness between religion and politics in Europe. As the New York Times reported last week, the Vatican “doesn’t want European law to be at odds with church teaching.” Benedict, the Times wrote, clearly has his sights set on Europe. “This pope,” according to the report, “is looking to reconquer Europe, if not in numbers, then at the political table.”

Electrifying stuff, prophetically speaking.

Could the feverish pace of prophetic events be moving any faster than it is right now? •


September 25, 2008

Is the world facing Thermobaric Terrorism?

By David Eshel – Defense Analyst

The not so distant threat could involve a new terrorist weapon: the Thermobaric bomb

Canadian defense scientists are leading an international effort to devise protection against new and more powerful terrorist explosives designed to flatten buildings and rupture people’s internal organs. This kind is of weapon, developed during the Cold War in the former Soviet Union, is known highly lethal in confined surroundings, such as underground tube systems and rail carriages.

According to Tom Burky, a leading explosives expert: ” Thermobaric bombs, which the U.S. military is striving to perfect, may also be emerging as a weapon of choice for terrorists”.

Termed “thermobaric,” the relatively new explosive belongs to a class of fuel-rich compositions that release energy over a longer period of time than standard explosives, thereby creating a long-duration pressure pulse when detonated in confined spaces.

Thermobaric explosives (TBXs) are mixtures of conventional explosives and specific additives, such as aluminum, that undergo combustion after the detonation reaction. This secondary combustion phenomenon leads to specific shape and propagation characteristics in the resulting highly lethal shock wave. The burning plasma clouds can penetrate even the smallest cracks, and when the slurry is completely consumed, the resulting vacuum causes a massive back-blast that crushes everything in the area.

There are already signs that terrorists are trying to create thermobaric weapons.

For instance, in 2002 a tanker truck was used in a suicide attack on a synagogue in Tunisia, thought to be the work of Al-Qaeda. Some experts believe the way the fuel tanks were rigged with explosives shows a knowledge of fuel-air explosive techniques.

Designs for a fuel-air device were also acquired by the CIA from three alleged IRA members on trial in Colombia. The three are said to have been developing the bomb in conjunction with the local guerrilla group. The bomb detonated by al-Qaeda operatives on the Indonesian island of Bali, used the same principles that are behind thermobaric explosives, say scientists with Defense Research and Development Canada. “We just learned about thermobaric explosives in the late ’80s when the Soviet Union was disintegrating,” said Stephen Murray, head of the threat assessment group at the defense agency’s Suffield, Alta., laboratories. “Those weapons later started showing up on the open market.”
Thermobaric Weapons

The weapons he referred to apply to a wide range of thermobaric devices, which were used by Russia in the Chechnya campaign of 1999. A US Marine Corps study, based on interviews with Russian officers and Chechens, concluded that they were capable of killing troops in bunkers and destroying buildings that hadn’t been reinforced. “Walls and surfaces do not necessarily shield victims,” notes a US training manual.

Among the latest additions is the Russian thermobaric grenade–brought out on 23 July 2001 by the Bazalt Research and Production Center.

Western countries are developing similar weapons. The US created a bazooka with a thermobaric warhead called the SMAW-NE for the war in Iraq. China recently unveiled its own version, and the UK is also reported to be working on one – although the defense ministry insists that it is merely an “enhanced blast weapon”. Such weapons are reported to have been used by US Special forces to rout out Taliban hiding in the Afghan Tora Bora mountain caves.

According to forensic experts, a Thermobaric explosive device is relatively easy to make. In fact, the materials to make a thermobaric bomb can be obtained without a license. And while an improvised bomb may differ from the military version, it can still have a devastating impact, said Burky.

Based on the knowledge published over the past years, in the so-called Terrorist Handbook, a notorious internet website, which depicts precise working instructions to bombmakers, it can be expected that in their search for more effective weapons in underground passages, tube and rail lines and other confined mass packed environments the terrorists will come up with more sophisticated measures.
Underground Transport Terrorism

Perhaps the most dangerous targets for Thermobaric terrorism are the big city underground networks, counter terrorist experts warn.

According to Alphus Hinds, head of secure risk at Interfleet “The underground rail system presents the terrorist with a composite choice of tactic and target permutations, from which a ‘kill matrix’ can be produced – that is an assessment of the likely number of casualties resulting from a particular combination of target and modus operandi”.

Hinds, who specializes in the assessment of asymmetric and novel threats with particular emphasis on non conventional terrorism knows what he is talking about.

Between 1998 and 2004, there have been over 185 separate terrorist attacks on heavy rail, metro subway systems and light rail systems worldwide. Terrorists have targeted the full spectrum of the rail transport environment, including trains, ticket halls, passenger stations, train depots, railway bridges, tracks and signaling, resulting in around 700 deaths and over 4,000 injuries with an accompanying economic loss totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

On 15 March, 2004 British Transport Police Deputy Chief Constable Andy Trotter emphasized no specific threat to the London Underground or rail system had been received, “The Met’s ongoing review of Tube security had been ‘thrown into stark relief by those awful incidents in Madrid’ he said, ‘We are throwing everything we’ve got at this because it is the number one challenge for us’.”

The two London Transport bombings only one year later clearly warned that it was not enough to impede terrorists from their gruesome task.
Training First Responders Against Themobaric IED

One area of concern, say counter insurgency experts, is the lack of adequate training available for first responders in how to identify and counter thermobaric weapons.

There are some federal agencies that have begun discussing thermobaric weapons related to terrorists, but the sensitive nature of the weapons has slowed the flow of information, warn counter terrorist officials.

Defending buildings against such an attack would be extremely difficult. The deadliest conventional car-bomb attacks have been those where the attacker succeeded in getting a vehicle packed with explosives very close to the target.

To prevent this, concrete barriers have been placed around many buildings regarded as potential targets. But the barriers would have to be much further away than at present to provide the same level of protection against fuel-air devices of a similar size.

Underground rail security and Emergency and law enforcement personnel should be instructed about safe standoff distances, how buildings might channel a thermobaric blast and how to defuse a bomb when they suspect its presence.

In simple but stark terms: The thermobaric bomb is just about the most vicious weapon you can imagine — igniting the air, sucking the oxygen out of an enclosed area, and creating a massive pressure wave crushing anything unfortunate enough to have lived through the conflagration.

Underground transportation officials, being exceeding vulnerable to this new threat should lose no time finding answers to forefend another mass terror tragedy to their passengers.


September 24, 2008

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Invest in Democrats

Published by Lindsay Renick Mayer on July 16, 2008 5:27 PM

The federal government recently announced that it will come to the rescue of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, two embattled mortgage buyers that for years have pursued a lobbying strategy to get lawmakers on their side. Both companies have poured money into lobbying and campaign contributions to federal candidates, parties and committees as a general tactic, but they’ve also directed those contributions strategically. In the 2006 election cycle, Fannie Mae was giving 53 percent of its total $1.3 million in contributions to Republicans, who controlled Congress at that time. This cycle, with Democrats in control, they’ve reversed course, giving the party 56 percent of their total $1.1 million in contributions. Similarly, Freddie Mac has given 53 percent of its $555,700 in contributions to Democrats this cycle, compared to the 44 percent it gave during 2006.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have also strategically given more contributions to lawmakers currently sitting on committees that primarily regulate their industry. Fifteen of the 25 lawmakers who have received the most from the two companies combined since the 1990 election sit on either the House Financial Services Committee; the Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee; or the Senate Finance Committee. The others have seats on the powerful Appropriations or Ways & Means committees, are members of the congressional leadership or have run for president. Sen.Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) chairman of the Senate banking committee, has received the most from Fannie and Freddie’s PACs and employees ($133,900 since 1989). Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) has received $65,500. Kanjorski chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs.

Top Recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Campaign Contributions, 1989-2008

Name Office Party/State Total
1. Dodd, Christopher J S D-CT
2. Kerry, John S D-MA
3. Obama, Barack S D-IL
4. Clinton, Hillary S D-NY
5. Kanjorski, Paul E H D-PA
6. Bennett, Robert F S R-UT
7. Johnson, Tim S D-SD
8. Conrad, Kent S D-ND
9. Davis, Tom H R-VA
10. Bond, Christopher S ‘Kit’ S R-MO
11. Bachus, Spencer H R-AL
12. Shelby, Richard C S R-AL
13. Emanuel, Rahm H D-IL
14. Reed, Jack S D-RI
15. Carper, Tom S D-DE
16. Frank, Barney H D-MA
17. Maloney, Carolyn B H D-NY
18. Bean, Melissa H D-IL
19. Blunt, Roy H R-MO
20. Pryce, Deborah H R-OH
21. Miller, Gary H R-CA
22. Pelosi, Nancy H D-CA
23. Reynolds, Tom H R-NY
24. Hoyer, Steny H H D-MD
25. Hooley, Darlene H D-OR

Includes contributions from PACs and individuals.
2008 cycle totals based on data downloaded from the
Federal Election Commission on June 30, 2008.


September 21, 2008

STOCK MARKET – “Magical Money Machine”.

It NEVER Reflects True Health of the Economy

Wall Street and its Stock Exchange; a rich man’s luxury

Originally it was designed to finance industry.

Lots of folks invested, to help America grow;


Now, too often, it’s become a gambler’s rodeo.

Today, the market’s up, then thousand-thirty nine,

How quickly we forget the Crash of ‘29

This ‘easy-buck’ assumption is purely self-delusion

Those figures up on the screen are nothing but illusion

Those numbers are supposed to show the health of industry

But, paper profits on a screen won’t feed a family.

Every other day, it seems, we see yet another expensively suited, somewhat subdued financial big-shot being hauled off to court or to jail.

How disgusting! These are among the “pillars of society: — the well-bred, intelligent, men and women, educated in our most venerable universities where, sandwiched between their classes in business administration, humanities and philosophy – – they picked up the basics of a more sinister skill – GREED.

These are all family men, with expensive homes in upscale communities, manicured lawns, lovely swimming pools with bars attached – – all lorded over by men and even women with SOILED SOULS!

Are these stock market manipulators, predators, and outright thieves good for our ailing economy? . . . NO!



September 21, 2008

Military Intelligence official: Iran underway to having nuclear bomb

Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz briefs cabinet on Iranian threat, Gaza ceasefire, talks concerning Gilad Shalit; says Tehran has third of what it needs to build bomb, UN Security Council failing to apply necessary pressure

Roni Sofer
Published: 09.21.08, 15:46 / Israel News

Head of the Military Intelligence Research Division, Brigadier-General Yossi Baidatz, warned Sunday that Iran is well underway to building a nuclear bomb.

In his brief to the cabinet, Baidatz said that the international community is not putting enough pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment program.

Ramon: Israel should reassess Gaza ceasefire / Roni Sofer
Intelligence brief on lull’s hold prompts vice premier to urge ministers to reevaluate current calm. ‘Hamas is breaching the agreement, acquiring more missiles and toughening stands on Shalit’s release,’ he says
Full story

“Iran is focusing its efforts in enriching uranium and improving the operational capabilities of its centrifuges. It is mastering the necessary technology and now has one-third of what it need to create a bomb.

“In view of the UN Security Council’s inability to enforce a fourth round of sanctions, Iran’s confidence is increasing and they now believe there is nothing the international community can do to stop them. Time is on Iran’s side,” he warned.

Tehran, continued Baidatz, is tightening its relations with Hizbullah, Syria and various Palestinian terror groups – all in an attempt to position itself as the lead radical force in the Middle East.

“The more moderate Arab states are not united in the wish to act against Iran,” he added.

The ties that bind

Baidatz then went on to address the situation on the northern front: “Syria is operating on two contradicting avenues – getting closer to the West on the one hand and giving way to new radicalism on the other,” he said.

“The recent Damascus summit, attend by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Qatari royalty, helped Syria position itself as a key player in regional processes, without paying any price thus far. Syria is willing to go forwards as far as the talks with Israel are concerned, but they are cautious – they’re worried that the Turkish avenue will close in light of the recent political developments in Israel.”

Syria, he added, “is funneling a great deal of weapons and ammunition to Lebanon, tightening its relations with Iran and fortifying its aerial and ground defenses, with Russia and Iran’s assistance. Damascus is trying to play off the recent events in Georgia to get its hands on advanced weapons systems.”

As for Hizbullah, Baidatz told the ministers the organization “is not gearing up for a conflict, but it will continue trying to target Israeli aircrafts and using the calm on the northern border to rearm.”

On matters relating to the southern front, the head of MI Research said that the relative clam achieved by the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was holding, despite the fact that the smaller militant groups were trying to target Israelis, mostly in the Sinai Peninsula.

Baidatz concluded his brief by giving the ministers and update on the negotiations held to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit: “Hamas’ is apparently aiming to toughen its stands on the release – a stand rooted in their belief that Shalit in a commodity increasing in value.

“Hamas is in no hurry to see this deal materialize,” he added, “which is why it has yet to re-launch the talks with Egyptian officials.”


September 10, 2008


Archive for Thursday, March 15, 2007

As a child, Obama crossed a cultural divide in Indonesia

By Paul Watson
March 15, 2007 in print edition A-1

As a boy in Indonesia, Barack Obama crisscrossed the religious divide. At the local primary school, he prayed in thanks to a Catholic saint. In the neighborhood mosque, he bowed to Allah.

Having a personal background in both Christianity and Islam might seem useful for an aspiring U.S. president in an age when Islamic nations and radical groups are key national security and foreign policy issues. But a connection with Islam is untrod territory for presidential politics.

Obama’s four years as a child in Indonesia underscore how dramatically his background differs from that of past presidential hopefuls, most of whom spent little, if any, time in other countries. No one knows how voters will react to a candidate with an early exposure to Islam, a religion that remains foreign to many Americans.

Obama’s campaign aides have emphasized his strong Christian beliefs and downplayed any Islamic connection. The candidate was raised “in a secular household in Indonesia by his stepfather and mother,” his chief spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said in a statement in January after false reports began circulating that Obama had attended a radical madrasa, or Koranic school, as a child.

“To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago,” Gibbs’ Jan. 24 statement said. In a statement to The Times on Wednesday, the campaign offered slightly different wording, saying: “Obama has never been a practicing Muslim.” The statement added that as a child, Obama had spent time in the neighborhood’s Islamic center.

His former Roman Catholic and Muslim teachers, along with two people who were identified by Obama’s grade-school teacher as childhood friends, say Obama was registered by his family as a Muslim at both of the schools he attended.

That registration meant that during the third and fourth grades, Obama learned about Islam for two hours each week in religion class.

The childhood friends say Obama sometimes went to Friday prayers at the local mosque. “We prayed but not really seriously, just following actions done by older people in the mosque. But as kids, we loved to meet our friends and went to the mosque together and played,” said Zulfin Adi, who describes himself as among Obama’s closest childhood friends.

The campaign’s national press secretary, Bill Burton, said Wednesday that the friends were recalling events “that are 40 years old and subject to four decades of other information.” Obama’s younger sister, Maya Soetoro, said in a statement released by the campaign that the family attended the mosque only “for big communal events,” not every Friday.

The sensitivity of Islam as a political issue was on display earlier this year with the false report that Obama had attended a radical madrasa here. The report, which appeared initially on a conservative-oriented online magazine and then on a Fox News program, attributed the news to opposition researchers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Both campaigns denied the story and accused conservative media outlets of trying to use the rumor to smear two Democratic hopefuls simultaneously.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic-majority country, has seen an upsurge of Islamic radicalism in the last few years. But during the 1960s, when Obama lived here, the country was known for a brand of Islam more open to the nonIslamic world than the austere versions preached in much of the Middle East. Even in the Mideast, political Islam was far less influential in the 1960s than it is today.

In his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” Obama briefly mentions Koranic study and describes his public school, which accepted students of all religions, as “a Muslim school.”

“In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies,” Obama wrote. “My mother wasn’t overly concerned. ‘Be respectful,’ she’d say. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I would close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and 30 brown children, muttering words.”

Obama was born in Honolulu. When he was 2, his father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., a Kenyan, and his Kansas-born mother, Ann Dunham, separated and later divorced. Dunham later married Lolo Soetoro, who was a Muslim. In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama lived from ages 6 to 10. People there knew him as Barry Soetoro.

Adi said he often visited the Soetoro family at their home, a small flat-roofed bungalow at 16 Haji Ramli St. Today, he runs an Internet cafe and purified water business from the same small Jakarta house where he grew up near Obama.

Theirs was a middle-class neighborhood, but Haji Ramli Street was a dirt lane where Obama used to wile away the hours kicking a soccer ball. In the long rainy season, it turned to thick, mucky soup; Obama and his friends wore plastic bags over their shoes to walk though it, said Adi, who at 46 is the same age as Obama.

Neighborhood Muslims worshiped in a nearby house, which has since been replaced by a larger mosque. Sometimes, when the muezzin sounded the call to prayer, Lolo and Barry would walk to the makeshift mosque together, Adi said.

“His mother often went to the church, but Barry was Muslim. He went to the mosque,” Adi said. “I remember him wearing a sarong.”

In her statement, Obama’s sister, who was born after the family moved to Indonesia, said: “My father saw Islam as a way to connect with the community. He never went to prayer services except for big communal events. I am absolutely certain that my father did not go to services every Friday. He was not religious.”

In 1968, Obama began first grade at St. Francis Assisi Foundation School, just around the corner from his home.

The Catholic elementary school had only opened the previous year and wanted to enroll as many students as possible, so it welcomed children of any religion, said Israella Dharmawan, 63, his first-grade teacher.

“At that time, Barry was also praying in a Catholic way, but Barry was Muslim,” Dharmawan said in Obama’s old classroom, where she still teaches 39 years later. “He was registered as a Muslim because his father, Lolo Soetoro, was Muslim.”

Like all pupils, Obama had to pray before and after each class, and cross himself in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Dharmawan said.

After St. Francis, Obama completed third and fourth grades in what is now called Model Primary School Menteng 1 in central Jakarta. Opened by Indonesia’s former Dutch colonial rulers, the public school screens for the best students with writing tests and interviews. Several of its students have gone on to join Indonesia’s elite.

Bugs have eaten Obama’s file in the school’s archive, said Vice Principal Hardi Priyono. But two of his teachers, former Vice Principal Tine Hahiyari and third-grade teacher Effendi, said they remember clearly that at this school too, he was registered as a Muslim, which determined what class he attended during weekly religion lessons.

“Muslim students were taught by a Muslim teacher, and Christian students were taught by a Christian teacher,” said Effendi, who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name.

Obama took few kids to his home, just members of an inner circle who were trusted to see his secret pets: crocodiles that lived in a concrete tub, about a foot-and-a-half deep and a yard long, surrounded by chicken wire. The biggest croc was almost as long as its home, recalled Adi.

Obama’s stepfather “was breeding crocodiles in his house,” he added. “Not many people knew about it. He only had one big crocodile, but they had many smaller ones.”

The family’s pets included a turtle as big as a cookie tin and an ape named Tata, which Obama’s stepfather brought from New Guinea. Soetoro worked for Mobil Oil and was a “chubby, and relaxed kind of guy,” Adi said.

Obama spent most his spare time hanging out with Adi and other friends at the home of Yunaldi Askiar, a classmate. They used to play a kind of fencing game using sticks, kick a ball up and down the narrow dirt lanes or go swimming in the river behind the school, said Askiar, 42, a car mechanic.

Obama was taller and better dressed than most kids in classes where shoes and socks were still luxuries, so he stood out from the start. As an African American, and the only foreigner, he suffered racial taunts and teasing but never turned to violence. “At first, everybody felt it was weird to have him here,” Dharmawan said. “But also they were curious about him, so wherever he went, the kids were following him.”

In “Dreams From My Father,” Obama describes coming home one day with an egg-sized lump on the side of his head because he had challenged an older boy.

The boy hit Obama with a rock, so his stepfather brought out two pairs of boxing gloves and sparred with him. “You want to keep moving, but always stay low – don’t give them a target,” he coached Obama.

Instead of using his fists, Obama gained respect – and friends – by using his imposing stature to protect weaker children against the strong, Dharmawan said.

Obama’s Indonesian teachers all said he was a leader at a young age. Fermina Katarina Sinaga, Obama’s third-grade teacher, didn’t have to quiet her pupils before class because Obama did it for her.

“When the kids lined up before entering the class, he would step forward and lead the whole class,” said Sinaga, 57. “He inspected the line, and he was acting like a teacher. I could see his sense of leadership back then.”

Sinaga asked her class to write an essay titled “My dream: What I want to be in the future.” Obama “wrote ‘I want to be a president,’ ” she said. During a later writing assignment on family, he wrote, “My father is my idol.”


September 9, 2008

« Disastrous sales numbers in the UK’s automotive sector affects English luxury car maker Aston Martin.

(Reuters/Darren Staples)

UK Car Sales Crash
September 8, 2008 | From

The list of evidence pointing to severe problems in the United Kingdom’s economy continues to grow. The latest news comes from the automotive sector. Consumers have jammed on the brakes and sales are skidding.

New car sales have crashed to the lowest level since 1966 as Britons cut back on making major purchases. Analysts say the disastrous sales numbers reflect the economic squeeze facing consumers and businesses. The number of registered fleets fell by 13.4 percent in August.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “August is one of the quietest months for the new car market, but this year it was the lowest since 1966 with only 63,225 registrations. The slowdown in the UK mirrors the difficult conditions being [experienced] across the main European markets.” According to Everitt, the number of new registrations will fall a further 10 percent by the end of the year.

The dismal plight of the automotive industry has analysts worried that the UK economy, which depends largely on consumer spending, could be in for severe trouble. Car sales falling to 1966 levels is just the latest example. Underscoring the severity of the decline is the fact that 42 years ago, the United Kingdom had 6 million fewer residents.

When consumer spending starts to contract, businesses follow suit, which results in job losses. If conditions persist, the economy runs the risk of entering a self-reinforcing cycle, where job losses fuel further consumption cutbacks and therefore place more stress on UK corporations.

With the economy slowing, all signs indicate the coming depression is going to be a big one.


September 8, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008
Obama’s Veep: The Perfect Accompaniment of Lies and Deceit

Barack Obama officially launched Democratic convention week with the selection of Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his vice-presidential running mate.

No matter who he picked, Obama would have received both praise and censure. With Biden, it’s clear that Obama’s deeply concerned about his lack of experience in foreign affairs. Biden, a member of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, has served in Washington for 35 years. The obvious hope is that Biden will provide ballast on international affairs, and he might help Obama negotiate the political attack culture that’s central to electoral battles.

I’m not sure I can add a whole lot of incisive analysis on Biden’s assets or liabilities. Lots of folks have already weighed in, and we’ll have a full week of near-exclusive focus on the Democratic Party, with all types of interesting analyses.

I can say that the first thing that always pops into my mind when Biden’s in the news is his disastrous plagiarism scandal from the 1988 presidential primaries.

Fortunately, Sigmund, Carl and Alfred have provided some nice links to refresh our memories of Biden’s ignominious debut in presidential politics. Here’s this, from the Washington Post:

Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., a U.S. senator from Delaware, was driven from the nomination battle after delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock. A barrage of subsidiary revelations by the press also contributed to Biden’s withdrawal: a serious plagiarism incident involving Biden during his law school years; the senator’s boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden’s speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians.

It turns out that the Biden’s Kinnock klepto-moment was not an isolated incident. Here’s more from Sigmund, Carl and Alfred:

In 1965 Biden plagiarized while writing a paper as a student at the Syracuse University Law School in a legal methods course which he failed because of that copied paper. Such “stressless scholarship” as it is euphemistically called has become all too common in the modern Internet era with countless cheatsites and “research services” offering to sell students papers on topics from A to Z.

Biden’s case demonstrates that student plagiarism is nothing new. Only the methods of cheating have changed. Today, cheating has gone digital with the proliferation of Internet based paper filing and distributions systems, but the principles—or lack thereof—are the same. And as the Biden case illustrates, getting caught for such academic dishonesty may have serious ramifications for one’s political career. Joe Biden’s failed bid for the Democratic ticket is a case in point.

“Stressless scholarship” may seem like a pretty good idea at the time that many students make that decision to ‘crib’, copy, or dowload a paper off the Internet, but in Biden’s case the plagiarism of his student days came back to haunt his bid for the democratic presidential nomination like a spectre from his past.

In an article entitled “Biden’s Belly Flop”, Newsweek printed Joe Biden’s yearbook picture from his college days and a copy of his law school transcripts with the big “F” in his transcripts circled. Biden was given a chance to repeat his legal methods course, and above the “F” his retake grade of 80% was eventually penciled in. Being a repeat offender when it came to plagiarism made things much, much worse for Biden than they might have been otherwise in his failed bid for the Democratic presidential ticket in 1987.

Senator Biden’s plagiarism of a speech by British Labor Party leader Neal Kinnock took place at a campaign stump at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. In closing his speech, Biden took Kinnock’s ideas and language as if they were his very own inspired thoughts, prefacing Kinnock’s ideas with the phrase “I started thinking as I was coming over here . . . “. Little did Biden suspect that video footage of this speech would be spliced together with footage of Kinnock’s speech in an “attack video” which would be distributed by members of the Dukakis campaign.

Making the headline news in the New York Times, and the evening news on TV, the video was a stab in the back for Biden by his democratic competitor, and although he insisted that “I’m in this race to stay. I’m in this race to win,” the resulting publicity surrounding his unacknowledged use of Neal Kinnock’s speech was what eventually forced him out of the race. Name recognition was no longer a problem for Biden, but not the kind of name recognition which would assist his campaign for the democratic presidential nomination. His name was now a byword for plagiarism. His situation became a classic example of plagiarism for high school teachers and college instructors across the nation lecturing on the evils of unacknowledged source use.

You know, “Biden” really is a “byword” for plagiarism. When the Delaware Senator ran for the Democratic nomination this year, the Kinnock controversy was always front and center for me – and that’s the case even though Biden appears as an otherwise good man.

But let me close with one more quote, from Tom Bevan at Real Clear Poliltics, who shares this passage on Biden’s character from Peggy Noonan:

The great thing about Joe Biden during the Alito hearings, the reason he is, to me, actually endearing, is that as he speaks, as he goes on and on and spins his long statements, hypotheticals, and free associations–as he demonstrates yet again, as he did in the Roberts hearings and even the Thomas hearings, that he is incapable of staying on the river of a thought, and is constantly lured down tributaries from which he can never quite work his way back–you can see him batting the little paddles of his mind against the weeds, trying desperately to return to the river but not remembering where it is, or where it was going. I love him. He’s human, like a garrulous uncle after a drink.

More on Biden, of course, will be forthcoming. Obama’s pick, for me, is a classic “birds of a feather” selection. Biden’s plagiarism is a perfect accompaniment for Obama’s presidential campaign of lies and deceit, seen now in the Illinios Senator’s abortion and Annenberg scandals.

It’s not a good sign, however, that Obama’s running-mate is already being attacked as “racist,” and that prominent left-wing bloggers are distressed at the pick, with one saying “I’m going to try and come around to believing I should vote for this ticket. It won’t be easy.”

Posted by Donald Douglas at 7:59 AM

Labels: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Election 2008


September 5, 2008

September 05, 2008

Why Obama’s “Community Organizer” Days Are a Joke

By Michelle Malkin

Rudy Giuliani had me in stitches during his red-meat keynote address at the GOP convention. I laughed out loud when Giuliani laughed out loud while noting Barack Obama’s deep experience as a “community organizer.” I laughed again when VP nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin cracked: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Team Obama was not amused. (Neither were the snarky left-wingers on cable TV who are now allergic to sarcasm.) They don’t get why we snicker when Obama dons his Community Organizer cape. Apparently, the jibes rendered Obama’s advisers sleepless. In a crack-of-dawn e-mail to Obama’s followers hours after Giuliani and Palin spoke, campaign manager David Plouffe attempted to gin up faux outrage (and, more importantly, donations) by claiming grave offense on the part of community organizers everywhere. Fumed Plouffe:

“Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack’s experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed. Let’s clarify something for them right now. Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.”

Let me clarify something. Nobody is mocking community organizers in church basements and community centers across the country working to improve their neighbors’ lives. What deserves ridicule is the notion that Obama’s brief stint as a South Side rabble-rouser for tax-subsidized, partisan nonprofits qualifies as executive experience you can believe in.

What deserves derision is “community organizing” that relies on a community of homeless people and ex-cons to organize for the purpose of registering dead people to vote, shaking down corporations and using the race card as a bludgeon.

As I’ve reported previously, Obama’s community organizing days involved training grievance-mongers from the far-left ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). The ACORN mob is infamous for its bully tactics (which they dub “direct actions”); Obama supporters have recounted his role in organizing an ambush on a government planning meeting about a landfill project opposed by Chicago’s minority lobbies.

With benefactors like Obama in office, ACORN has milked nearly four decades of government subsidies to prop up chapters that promote the welfare state and undermine the free market, as well as some that have been implicated in perpetuating illegal immigration and voter fraud. Since I last detailed ACORN’s illicit activities in this column in June (see “The ACORN Obama knows,” June 19, 2008), the group continues to garner scrutiny from law enforcement:

Last week, Milwaukee’s top election official announced plans to seek criminal investigations of 37 ACORN employees accused of offering gifts to sign up voters (including prepaid gas cards and restaurant cards) or falsifying driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers or other information on voter registration cards.

Last month, a New Mexico TV station reported on the child rapists, drug offenders and forgery convicts on ACORN’s payroll. In July, Pennsylvania investigators asked the public for help in locating a fugitive named Luis R. Torres-Serrano, who is accused “of submitting more than 100 fraudulent voter registration forms he collected on behalf of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now to county election officials.” Also in July, a massive, nearly $1 million embezzlement scheme by top ACORN officials was exposed.

ACORN’s political arm endorsed Obama in February and has ramped up efforts to register voters across the country. In the meantime, completely ignored by the mainstream commentariat and clean-election crusaders, the Obama campaign admitted failing to report $800,000 in campaign payments to ACORN. They were disguised as payments to a front group called “Citizen Services, Inc.” for “advance work.”

Jim Terry, an official from the Consumer Rights League, a watchdog group that monitors ACORN, noted: “ACORN has a long and sordid history of employing convoluted Enron-style accounting to illegally use taxpayer funds for their own political gain. Now it looks like ACORN is using the same type of convoluted accounting scheme for Obama’s political gain.” With a wave of his magic wand, Obama amended his FEC forms to change the “advance work” to “get-out-the-vote” work.

Now, don’t you dare challenge his commitment to following tax and election laws. And don’t you even think of entertaining the possibility that The One exploited a nonprofit supposedly focused on helping low-income people for political gain.

He was just “organizing” his “community.” Guffaw.

Copyright 2008, Creators Syndicate Inc.