Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Swiss banker on the financial crisis

Some typical European anti-Americanism here. Everyone's fault by mine.

Nevertheless, this is an important article on the state or and likely futures for the world economy

Amplify’d from www.upi.com
George C. Karlweis, the brain behind Banque Privee, owned by the late Edmond de Rothschild. His biggest claim to fame: George Soros and the launch of his Quantum Fund in 1969.

An original $100,000 stake in Soros' fund was worth $150 million by 1994. Between 1970 and 2000, the return was 3,365 percent (for 10 consecutive years it did 42.6 percent per year). In 1992, Soros bet billions against the British pound -- and broke the Bank of England ("Black Wednesday").

So the man behind Soros' original success is worth listening to today -- unafraid to speak his mind in retirement.

Bear Stearns got a Triple A rating shortly before it went under, ditto Fannie Mae. Lehman Brothers made A2 before the shipwreck. The subprime mortgage scandal had gone global in the fall of 2008 as the new chairman of the Fed said "the worst is now behind us." Today, America's credit cards are all maxed out.

Karlweis argues "it was a ridiculously low federal funds rate, reduced to 1 percent in the early 2000s, by former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, that opened the floodgates for subprime mortgages and the worst financial disaster ever, in 2007-08.

Read more at www.upi.com

Monday, April 25, 2011

Feds mine Facebook for info

Amplify’d from www.stltoday.com

DETROIT — Federal investigators in Detroit have
taken the rare step of obtaining search warrants that give them
access to Facebook accounts of suspected criminals.

The warrants let investigators view photographs, email
addresses, cell phone numbers, lists of friends who might double as
partners in crime, and see GPS locations that could help disprove

The trend raises privacy and evidentiary concerns in a rapidly
evolving digital age and illustrates the potential law-enforcement
value of social media, experts said.

Read more at www.stltoday.com

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nazis and German Catholics and

I published this article this evening

Amplify’d from www.digitaljournal.com
Four German clergy, 3 Catholic priests and one Lutheran minister were martyred ("beheaded in quick succession") on Nov. 10, 1943 by the Nazi regime. The Vatican plans to beatify the priests, but not the Lutheran.
The RNS article notes that this Nazi horror turned out to be seminal to the birth and healthy growth of Catholic-Lutheran ecumenism in Germany. The Vatican plan "is testing that ecumenical spirit, and has some religious leaders worried that the event could drive a wedge between the two communities."
German Catholic and Lutheran leaders and believers should not only to rise above the challenges presented by the pending June 25 ceremony, but to the contrary should seize this challenge as an opportunity to advance the cause of religious harmony and collaboration even further.
Read more at www.digitaljournal.com

Nazis and German Catholics and Lutherans

Nazis and German Catholics and Lutherans

An article about Christian martyrs in Nazi Germany, and Catholic-Lutheran relations

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mission Creep

Price per Hellfire missile: $68,000

Price per Predator: $4,000,000

Price per sortie: Defence analyst Francis Tusa and former Navy Sea Harrier commander Nigel "Sharkey" Ward have both estimated that such long-range sorties cost around £200,000 per aircraft per mission.

Amplify’d from www.wntp.com

President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed Predator drone aircraft in Libya to improve the precision of low-level attacks on ground targets, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

The first Predator mission since Obama's go-ahead was flown Thursday but the aircraft _ armed with Hellfire missiles _ turned back early due to poor weather conditions, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference with Gates.

Read more at www.wntp.com

Re-Tweeting (Not-So) Humble Promoters

Very fun! Enjoy the whole article in WSJ (it's brief)

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com
Harris Wittels
created a Twitter feed called Humblebrag, which compiles examples of the offense. For instance, after he won his Academy Award for "Toy Story 3," the director Lee Unkrich tweeted: "Just in case you think all this has gone to my head, within 36 hours of winning the Oscar, I was back home plunging a clogged toilet." That ended up on Humblebrag.

'Ugh. I just pocket dialed spokesperson for Pentagon.' —Greta Van Susteren

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is it possible to live with a clear conscience

Quora is a forum for questions and answers

Here is a response I gave to a member who asked:

Is it possible to live with a clear conscience in a modern industrial society?

Yes it is possible, but extremely difficult.

Attaining this status is done one decision at a time, thousands of times a day, every day, all day. Eventually it will need to be pursued even in sleep.

The continuous and uninterrupted stream of "choice" should not be seen nor felt as a burden, but rather as incessant opportunity.

The key is to know yourself as "author," and most importantly the author of "you." Who you are is what you have created in your relationship with the voice of your conscience.

Your conscience is a friend and a reliable guide. It is patient, forgiving, and faithful. It will never leave you nor abandon you.

Most people give the right of authorship to the random flux of circumstances. This is an error. Circumstances are merely the environment in which authorship unfolds.

Finally, (so as to avoid a major treatise) there is no such thing as a small or insignificant rejection or violation of conscience. Every yes to conscience counts, just as every rejection or violation of the voice of conscience counts.

A clear conscience is the sweetest of all things,and worth the battle. Don't compromise, don't cheat, don't shade, don't mislead. Be courageous. No threat should be seen as sufficiently terrifying, no opportunity should be seen as sufficiently enticing, that you would chose to violate or reject the voice of your conscience, even in the tiniest way.

If you can go this way, you will be as free as God.

Question on "the two state solution"

Quora is a forum for questions and answers

Here is my response to a member asking about the "two-state solution."

If the two state solution is dead, what is the future for Palestinians?

The Palestine Papers indicate that the Israeli government refused huge concessions. Does that mean that they believe they can inch the Palestinians out, one settlement at a time?

Answer Summary

The pursuit of two states is misguided to begin with

The problem is not technically that "the two-state solution is dead" so much as that the phrase is an oxymoron. Two states is not a solution.

It both disappoints, and confuses me that intelligent and well meaning people pursue this. The fact is obviously that even a most perfectly and seamlessly crafted and implemented "two-state" arrangement would solve next to nothing.

As best I can see, "a two-state solution" is something of a nickname for "a slightly smaller Israel, with a new hostile neighbor." Presently Israel is size X, and has as its neighbors, Lebanon, Syriah, Jordon, kind of somehow Saudi Arabia (a stone's skip or two across the puddle), and Egypt.

What is called "a two state solution," would make Israel size X minus, add a new "country" (Palestine?) into the geography, while doing flat zero to solve ANY of the deeply tragic difficulties and suffering born by all people trapped in this sad and complicated relationsip.

The solution the region needs is a growing integration; fewer and fewer boundaries, not more and more of them, ever more irremovable, cynically politicized, and grotesquely militarized.

The costly (in all ways) effort to establish "two states" no matter how on earth it could be designed still leaves the horrific reality that each side would continue with madness and zeal to desire and seek by all means treasure held by the other (family property, access to sacred sites and more)

Calcifying division, enmity, and distrust into political structures (that automatically implies military defense of the political) should never be bound in the same sentence with the sweet, liberating world solution.

More bonds, more trust, more rights, more freedoms, more understanding, greater integration, expanding cooperation characterize the essential impulse that should appear in sentences with the word solution.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Abraham Lincoln's Religious Beliefs

A theist and a rationalist

Amplify’d from www.pewforum.org

Lincoln's faith has long been an elusive topic for historians. He was never baptized, did not join a church and usually did not discuss his beliefs.

"In rare instances, he divulged his true feelings to one close friend, longtime confidant and law partner, William Herndon," said Nathan Raab, vice president of the Raab Collection. "He did believe in God, however difficult it might be to easily define those beliefs."

"Mr. Lincoln's religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist & a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary -- supernatural inspiration or revelation," wrote Herndon of the nation's 16th president.

"At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God."

Read more at www.pewforum.org

Google Exodus

Happy Passover

Egypt: Who Taught Us How To Revolt

Here is a quick, easy, and fascinating article on the Egypt revolution

Amplify’d from globalvoicesonline.org

Last February, Sheryl Stolberg of The New York Times wrote an article about the political science professor, Gene Sharp, whose ideas were credited by her as being an inspiration for the Egyptian revolution, as well as many other uprisings in the region.

From Dictatorship to Democracy

Few Americans have heard of Mr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution — most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.

Read more at globalvoicesonline.org

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bibles released in Malaysia

I published this article today.

It deals with tensions and resolution of the question whether one can use the term Allah in Malaysian Bible translations

Amplify’d from www.digitaljournal.com
New York
The government of Malaysia confirmed Saturday that the proposed 10-point solution has paved successfully the way for the release of the 35,100 Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia, which were impounded in Port Klang and Kuching.
While attracting relatively little attention worldwide, Malaysia has been wrestling with a matter of global significance now in its third year. Political tensions arose related to the question of permitting use of the term Allah in Bible translations. The issue is serious, and not easily solved.
Malaysia thus far staved off a potentially explosive outcome with only minor incidents of violence. Leaders have put forward a reconciliation proposal to meet these challenges peacefully.
Read more at www.digitaljournal.com

Bibles released in Malaysia

Bibles released in Malaysia

The government of Malaysia confirmed Saturday that the proposed 10-point solution has paved successfully the way for the release of the 35,100 Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia, which were impounded in Port Klang and Kuching.

While attracting relatively little attention worldwide, Malaysia has been wrestling with a matter of global significance now in its third year. Political tensions arose related to the question of permitting use of the term Allah in Bible translations. The issue is serious, and not easily solved.

Read more here

Thursday, April 7, 2011

NATO Fears War without End in Libya

Amplify’d from www.spiegel.de

The front in Libya is barely moving as the country remains split between rebels and Gadhafi's troops. The rebels are complaining of not receiving enough air support, but NATO is hardly in a position to ramp it up after the withdrawal of US fighter jets. The resulting stalemate underscores the lack of a clear strategy for the allies in Libya.

Rebel fighters in the town of Brega. Their leaders have demanded more air strikes from NATO.

Rebel fighters in the town of Brega. Their leaders have demanded more air strikes from NATO.

American warplanes had hardly left the skies over Libya when the remonstrations began. "NATO has let us down," said rebel military chief Abdul Fattah Younis. As the rebels retreated in the town of Brega in the face of a heavy onslaught by Gadhafi's troops, there were no NATO planes in sight.

Read more at www.spiegel.de

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Libyan Rebels: 'Nato Is Now Our Problem'

The United States in just a few days has already spent US$550 million on military operations alone. This does not include the humanitarian aids or some other logistics involved. The costs are expected to amount to US$40 million a month once NATO takes more control of the situation.

Amplify’d from news.sky.com

Libyan rebels have accused Nato of being too slow to act - and asked them to suspend operations unless they "do the job properly".

Rebel leader Abdel Fattah Younes has complained that the alliance takes hours to respond to events on the battlefield because of an overly bureaucratic process.

He claimed the alliance's inaction was allowing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces to advance and was letting them kill people in the rebel-held city of Misratah "every day".

He said: "Nato is moving very slowly, allowing Gaddafi forces to advance. Nato has become our problem."

Read more at news.sky.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fiasco in Libya: Fools at War

By Doug Badow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, in Huffington Post

Amplify’d from www.huffingtonpost.com

President Barack Obama's poll ratings for national security are falling. As they should. The war in Libya increasingly looks like America's next geopolitical train wreck.

Hope for a quick rebel victory is now a distant dream. Western officials are talking about a military stalemate with no political solution in sight. NATO governments face the possibility of a long war -- or "kinetic military action," in Obama administration parlance.

The Western powers wax eloquent about saving civilian lives even as they sustain rather than resolve a civil war. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismisses proposals to intervene in Syria with the claim that President Bashar Assad is a "reformer." The president averts his eyes from Bahrain, where the Sunni monarchy has crushed Shia democracy protestors with the aid of Saudi Arabian troops.

The administration wants to peacefully convince Iran and North Korea to eschew nuclear weapons. But the allies are bombing a country which voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons program.

This is a policy?

Read more at www.huffingtonpost.com

Trash in Sunnyside


A bin with its cups and paper ... and the front end of a taxi cab!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Libyan War update, April 4, 2011

Courtesy of Arnaud de Borchgrave

Amplify’d from www.upi.com
Gadhafi has regrouped his forces inside major towns on the road to Benghazi. They can't be bombed by French or other allied planes without inflicting major civilian casualties. Germany and Italy are against any bombing.

London says the NATO command structure (now globocop bifurcated between Afghanistan and Libya) is in charge while Paris plugs "a contact group of nations," names not specified. And the Arab League is rapidly growing disenchanted.

The Western coalition has deployed sufficient power to make sure Gadhafi cannot crush the revolt but not enough to remove him from power. Eventually one side is going to tire. The United States, Britain and France cannot afford to run up large war costs.

Gadhafi is sitting pretty with at least $70 million in cash and $7 billion in gold bullion -- enough to keep his troops and African mercenaries happy. All the signs spell stalemate.

The United States, Britain and France aren't prepared to wait indefinitely. In that case, boots on the ground will be needed. But domestic opinion in all three countries is against it.

Can't we arm and train the rebels in Benghazi to do the job with allied air power? Not as long as Gadhafi holds the cities. The loss of civilian life would turn the Arab world against the Western powers.

Read more at www.upi.com

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Iranian, anti-Israel arms trade

A quiet, non-dramatic, non-hysterical, non-ideological account of Israel's incessant need for vigilance, and incessant military efforts in the region

Amplify’d from www.jpost.com
After contacting the captain of
the ship by radio, the commandos climbed aboard and, encountering no resistance,
began a brief search of the cargo. They went to the “suspicious” containers, the
ones that were loaded at the Syrian port of Latakia and were slated to be
unloaded at the Egyptian port of Alexandria, according to the cargo
The Victoria followed by Navy speedboat
The commandos found the containers fitted with heavy locks,
unusual for shipments of lentils and cotton. Behind a row of sacks, they found
what they were looking for: crates of mortar shells, and then the real prize –
the C-704 anti-ship missiles.

The seizure of the Victoria was not
impressive for the quantity of arms found – the Francop cargo ship captured by
Israel in late 2009 was carrying 10 times more weaponry – but for the

The C-704 is an anti-ship missile made in China and used by
Iran, which calls it the Nasr. Like surface-to-air missiles, the C-704 is the
type of weapon that Israel fears could shift the balance of power in the region
and undermine its operational freedom.
But while the discovery is
impressive and was the result of major intelligence and operational efforts, it
is just another chapter in the larger covert war that Israel is waging against
Iran and its terror proxies throughout the Middle East, and joins a long list of
similar special operations that have taken place in recent years.

battle against Iranian arms shipments to Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas is extremely
complicated and involves unprecedented coordination between Israel and its
allies, primarily the United States.
Read more at www.jpost.com


Peace isn't just the absence of war

John Yemma is the editor of The Christian Science Monitor

Amplify’d from www.csmonitor.com

Peacebuilding is 10,000 small, practical things. Because young men without jobs and too much time on their hands are easily coaxed into fighting, peace builders have to work on creating jobs. Schools and health clinics help war-battered families mend. Professionally trained lawyers, judges, and administrators instill confidence that the system is not rigged to favor the few. Utilities and roads foster a sense of progress. Free and fair elections encourage people to feel they are the actual owners of their nation.

One other ingredient in peacebuilding is needed – addressing a community’s spiritual needs. Religion is often central to conflict. In the northern tier of sub-Saharan Africa, Muslims are in conflict with Christians. In the Balkans, it is Islam vs. Orthodox Christianity. In South Asia, Hindus confront Muslims. In the Gulf, the divide is Sunni and Shiite. Not so long ago in Northern Ireland, it was Catholics against Protestants.

Sure, each tradition has a penchant for excess – crusades, jihads, victimization, persecution. But each also has strands of forgiveness and tolerance. If there is a central truth amidst all these traditions, it has to be tolerance. People who work on peacebuilding look for aspects of different belief systems that emphasis that.

Read more at www.csmonitor.com

Days in Sunnyside

Spring Rain

Life in Sunnyside

For 75 straight years my husband has been too damned slow.

Maybe next year he'll finally change.

US silence on Syria - why?

Why the silence on Syria, since President Obama has already promised the people of the Middle East: “Wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States.’’

Amplify’d from www.csmonitor.com

The latest example is Syria, where protests against one of the most repressive regimes in the world are now in their third week – despite the killing of dozens of peaceful demonstrators. Friday’s protests – a “day of martyrs” – saw more violence by security forces in a number of cities.

What is rather sleepy is the Obama administration’s sense of moral outrage over these killings or its refusal to join calls by Syrians for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad and his repressive Baath party. The ruler of Damascus is, after all, already well branded as a regional facilitator of terrorists for Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

His strategy of intimidating protesters with violence is now clear. It reflects the tactics of his late father, who ended a rebellion in the city of Hama in 1982 by simply killing most of the 15,000 to 20,000 residents there.

Read more at www.csmonitor.com

Friday, April 1, 2011

Libya Fallout - Iran and Korean Nukes

Article headline:

Libya fallout: Why Iran, North Korea now less likely to drop nuclear ambitions

Amplify’d from www.csmonitor.com

It’s a pretty good bet that, as he sits in his fortified compound, Western airstrikes targeting his military, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi rues the day he heeded US pressures and gave up his nuclear weapons program.

And, more than a bet, it’s now a matter of record that Iranian leaders interpret Colonel Qaddafi’s plight as a lesson in why not to compromise with the US and other international powers on nuclear development. Their assumption is that, were Qaddafi still in possession of his nuclear and other WMD programs, the West would have thought twice before it attacked.

What that lesson virtually guarantees, though, is that while Iran’s nuclear program may have fallen off the front pages in the wake of Mideast turmoil and the Libyan conflict, the confrontation pitting Iran against the international community will eventually turn hotter than ever.

Read more at www.csmonitor.com