Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Israel's settlements are legal

The British government has no authority to interfere with UN-guaranteed rights

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 17, 2009

What role, if any, does the present UK government see for itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East? Does it see itself as an honest broker, or has it already taken sides? Some developments over the past fortnight — which build on the lesson we must learn from the UK government’s refusal to condemn or even criticise the Goldstone report — do I think enable us to answer these important questions.

At the beginning of the month, feverish diplomatic to-ing and fro-ing in Brussels centred on a Swedish attempt to have EU member states endorse a resolution demanding the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. This proposal was defeated –- thanks to some impressive manoeuvring by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Instead, on December 8, EU Foreign Ministers announced their agreement that Jerusalem must become a “shared” capital.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was clearly annoyed that the Swedish draft had been killed off. But the British government was among the backers of the Swedish proposal and, within 48 hours of its defeat, presented Mr Abbas with a consolation prize. On December 10, the department for the environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) published new guidance to shops and supermarkets on the labelling of produce sold in the UK that originated from Judea and Samaria. Hitherto, such goods have been labelled as “Produce of the West Bank.” Henceforth, warned DEFRA, they should be branded either as “Palestinian Produce” or “Israeli Settlement Produce.”

A spokesman for UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband wasted no time in explaining that “this is emphatically not about calling for a boycott of Israel. We believe that would do nothing to advance the peace process. We oppose any such boycott of Israel. We believe consumers should be able to choose for themselves what produce they buy.” But, he added ominously: “we have been very clear, both in public and in private, that settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace.” And in an announcement (hilariously labelled “technical advice”) quite separate from its new guidance on labelling, DEFRA’s head, Hilary Benn, warned that UK food outlets would be committing a criminal offence if they labelled produce that originated in Judea and Samaria as “produce of Israel”.

This spiteful policy looks very much like a boycott invitation to me

Although it is being sold as nothing more than an aid to consumer choice, this spiteful policy looks very much like a boycott invitation to me.

My recommendation to the government of Israel is to take appropriate steps to frustrate the intentions of Messrs Miliband and Benn, and to refuse absolutely to label produce from Judea and Samaria other than as originating from Israel. This could perhaps be done by re-routing produce through distribution points within Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

But the success or failure of this latest boycott initiative is not my present concern. My present concern is with the assumption — virtually unchallenged in the media — that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal.

In — of all places — the excellent online journal of the Law Society of Scotland (September 14 2009), the distinguished Anglo-Canadian jurist, Professor Gerald Adler, considers this very assumption. In a painstaking analysis of Jewish claims stretching back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920 and the Palestine Mandate of 1922, Professor Adler demonstrates that Jews have a right to “close settlement” on the West Bank, and that this right was in fact specifically preserved, and carried forward on the demise of the League of Nations, through the deliberate wording of article 80 of the founding charter of its successor body, the United Nations organisation.

In his “technical advice”, Mr Benn is silent on these matters, preferring to dwell instead on the fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into occupied territory. But, quite apart from the fact that Israel has done no such thing (no Israeli is compelled to live in Judea or Samaria), Mr Benn needs to understand that the right to which Professor Adler draws attention pertains to Jews, not Israelis.

This is a right – granted by the League of Nations and guaranteed by the UN at its foundation – with which neither Mr Benn nor Mr Miliband (nor, incidentally, Mr Netanyahu) has the moral or legal authority to interfere.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Putting $829 billion into perspective

October 08, 2009

Grant Ellis
Forgetting inherent inaccuracies and the usual political nonsense, it's reported here that the CBO figures 10 years of the Baucus health care bill (ObamaCare) will cost $829 billion.

In an effort to put $829 billion in perspective, I thought a comparison to NASA's budget might do the trick. Conveniently located here I found every annual NASA budget going back to 1958.

Bottom line: From 1958-2009, NASA has been budgeted $433 billion dollars which equates to $824 billion dollars in constant 2007 (inflation adjusted) dollars.

How's that for perspective? In 51 years, NASA has spent $5 billion less (in 2007 dollars) than the forecasted 10-year cost of ObamaCare (in, I presume, 2009 dollars). Call it a wash.

One other statistic I found interesting: according to the referenced budget schedule, the 1958 budget of $89 million equates to $488 million in 2007 dollars. Think about that. In 49 years, our money has lost almost 82% of its original value. Looking at this in another way, if you hired on with NASA in 1958 at a salary of $8,900 per year and received a raise of 3.54% every year thereafter by 2007 you would be making $48,800 and your purchasing power would not have increased at all. That is what an inflationary monetary policy does. It provides the illusion of wealth while robbing you blind.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/10/putting_829_billion_into_persp.html at October 08, 2009 - 10:28:41 AM EDT

Monday, October 05, 2009

EPA: The Blob That Ate America

Alan Caruba

No single government agency has grown so big and fast as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – and no single agency threatens constitutionally guaranteed property rights and nationwide economic growth than the EPA.

It is the Blob that ate America.

Signed into law by Richard M. Nixon in 1970, the EPA has so consistently twisted the truth about the environment that its announcements must be dissected like a cadaver to find any verifiable facts.

This agency of the government is so brazen that it is currently trying to bully Congress, the seat of government, into passing the horrid Cap-and-Trade bill so that it might then regulate stationary sources that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year.

In its endless quest for more and more power over all aspects our lives, the EPA wants to rewrite the 1970 Clean Air Act to include so-called greenhouse gases. That is why its Senate sponsors have obligingly renamed it a “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act."

It is based entirely on the global warming hoax.

The EPA has been the spear point for the global warming hoax, the creation of many worldwide and domestic environmental groups that continue to lie, saying it is caused by humans. There is, however, NO global warming. The Earth has been into a cooling cycle for the past decade. The current cooling is predicted to last for decades to come.

The platform for the global warming hoax has been provided by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The EPA is justifying its latest power grab claiming that the regulation of greenhouse gases will avoid a global warming that is NOT happening.

The EPA has such a disdain for real science that it wants to declare greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), as “pollutants” when in fact CO2 has nothing to do with either warming or cooling.

The simple truth is that water vapor constitutes 95 percent of all so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and CO2 represents an infinitesimal 3.616 percent. Man-made CO2, whether generated by industry or just a backyard barbeque, is an even more miniscule 0.117 percent. CO2 molecules in the atmosphere are so diffuse as to render this gas unable to cause any climate change.

The EPA proposal reflects the effort of environmental organizations such as Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club to thwart the construction of any new plants to generate electricity. This is especially true of coal-fired plants that currently provide half of all the electricity used daily. Costly technology to capture and clean emissions is already in place wherever coal or other fuels are utilized.

All industrial activity is the ultimate target. What the nation’s industrial and manufacturing sector really generates are jobs, profits, stock dividends, and tax revenue.

The climate/energy bill has no basis in scientific fact. Despite a Supreme Court decision, CO2 can in no way be defined as a “pollutant.” CO2 is vital to all vegetation from backyard gardens to wheat fields to forests. Humans and other mammals exhale it. Vegetation absorbs and uses it. More CO2 would, in fact, mean more robust harvests and greater forest growth worldwide.

Simply put, the Clean Air Act was never intended to include greenhouse gases and that is the EPA’s dilemma as it seeks to do what it clearly was never intended to do.

The very idea that humans have any control over the climate is so absurd as to render the forthcoming UN climate conference little more than a gathering of liars and idiots.

The only good news is that Obama’s environmental czar, Carol Browner, now says that the cap-and-trade or pollution control act will not likely come to a vote until December. Then or ever, it would strangle economic growth in America at the same time such growth is taking place in the world’s emerging powers such as China and India.

While the rest of the world is encouraging industry to provide the jobs and revenue needed for their population, the United States President and Congress would hand the Greenhouse Gun to an EPA eager to pull the trigger on our own growth.

© Alan Caruba, October 2009

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. A business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Exclusive: Obama Throws America Under the Global Bus

Pam Meister

During the big UN brouhaha this week, we were treated to the usual nonsense by the usual suspects – Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi, and the standard America-haters. Perhaps the one good thing that came out of it was pointed out by a friend in an e-mail:

I did enjoy [Qaddafi’s] suggestion to move the UN to Beijing or Delhi in order to save him and others jet lag! It is the one thing on which I completely agreed with him. He even justified it by the savings in cost, security and hassles the U.S. would get from it. AND he had the decency to say that they owed the U.S. a "Thank You" for hosting the UN for the last 60 years.

Nice sentiment, but we never get thanks for anything. Still, I’m all for moving the UN out of New York and out of the U.S. Let them go to France or somewhere else where they’ll fit right in. And then, I’m all for getting the U.S. out of the UN. Why do we need to continue to pay the lion’s share of the dues for an organization that never hesitates to flaunt its anti-Americanism and do everything it can to stymie us? See how long that corrupt money pit lasts without us.

But this year, we were also treated to something Extra Special: the spectacle of our own duly elected president doing something that has never – to my knowledge – been done in the history of this nation: throw us under the bus to appease the globalists. Even Bill Clinton, liberal though he is, didn’t dare do something like that. But then, Clinton isn’t as half the ideologue Obama is.

If you thought his World Apology Tour™ was revolting, this speech probably made you reach for the barf bag. And just think: we have more than three more years of such Pepto- Bismol moments ahead of us! You know, Costco, BJ’s and other warehouse stores should consider selling barf bags in bulk – they’d make a mint.

Oh, wait, I’m sorry – capitalism is bad. Isn’t that what’s being taught to children in our schools now?

But back to Obama and his UN love fest. It was chock full of what I, um, lovingly refer to as “obamanations,” including this backhanded slap at George W. Bush:

I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. This has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for our collective inaction.

Nice. Bush can’t even enjoy his retirement without The One™ constantly “reminding” us how horrible he was. He continued:
Like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 - more than at any point in human history – the interests of nations and peoples are shared.

Cue rabid applause from the boobs at the UN. What a disgusting spectacle. And right here at home, too. It’s nice that we no longer have to travel far to hear about how awful we are. Good for the environment, too.

Why is it that everything Obama says has some sort of qualifier? “I will never apologize for defending my nation’s interests, BUT…” The “but” here could well refer to the fact that he’s authorized the State Department to hand over $400,000 to two foundations run by Qaddafi’s children. Andrew McCarthy provides the details:

$200,000 each for daughter Aisha and son Saif. Saif, you may recall, is the son who escorted the Lockerbie terrorist Abdel Baset al-Megrahi home to a hero's welcome in Libya after President Obama sternly "warned" Qaddafi that there was to be no hero's welcome.


Could somebody please tell this president that this is not just Annenberg Foundation cash he's passing out to his personal terrorist pals like Bill Ayers but American taxpayer dollars he's doling out to the terrorist tyrant behind the murder — in just that one incident — of 270 people, including 189 Americans.

How charitable of him, to share our taxpayer dollars with the children of a terror-supporting nut job! Those poor souls who were murdered over Lockerbie would understand if they could just witness the Hope and Change™ we have today. We’re all just one big, happy international family, aren’t we? Kumbaya, Joy to the World and all that rot.

And how, pray tell, is Obama defending his nation’s interests? By cutting defense spending as a way of trying to fool us that he’s trying to stop the deficit from ballooning even further? By handing Poland and the Czech Republic to Russia on a silver platter and undermining American security at the same time? By cutting Israel off at the knees? By tossing our economy down the garbage disposal and flipping the switch? And after having blathered for years about how Afghanistan is where we needed focus our efforts, that Iraq was just a distraction, now he’s “skeptical” about sending more troops there – at the urging of Gen. McChrystal – to end things there once and for all. Heaven forbid he offend MoveOn.org and their ilk. If I had to guess, I’d say that the only members of the military for whom he has any respect are the ones assigned to protect him.

I could go on, but I’m running out of those planet-polluting barf bags.

As Nile Gardiner noted over at the UK Telegraph:

Was this though Obama’s most naïve speech ever? It is a very strong candidate, but I think there is intense competition for that accolade. The president’s speeches in Cairo, Strasbourg and Prague would all vie for that title. Still, his address today will go down in history as one of the weakest major addresses by a US president on foreign policy in a generation, by a leader who seems embarrassed, even ashamed, by the power and greatness of his own country.

This was an exceedingly dull, poor speech that overwhelmingly failed to advance US interests on the world stage, or project American values and principles onto the rest of the globe. As Barack Obama will eventually discover, soft power will only get you so far when you have to confront and defeat brutal enemies that seek America’s destruction

And Steve Hayes of Fox News’ Special Report, made this observation about Obama’s UN speech:

Just think about the last sentence that we heard in the introduction there, "When you question the cause or character of my country, think about the concrete actions of the last nine months." Basically what President Obama is saying there, think about me when you think about the goodness or the greatness of the United States. I think that is an unbelievably arrogant thing to say, and, sadly, it wasn't the only thing that he said in the speech that was like that. I think the whole speech was filled with that.

Obama wants to see America reduced to mediocrity, but with one shining star: him. We can’t be better than any other nation because that’s just not nice or fair. We have too much, so we have to dial it back so that the other kids on the playground won’t feel left out. Never mind that much of what we have goes toward plenty of international aid. Will we be cutting back on that in this era of reduced expectations? And how about those date nights? Will they also be sacrificed for the good of the collective?

All that is right and good about America is about to be flushed down the toilet, with Obama as the Ty-D-Bol Man in his snazzy captain’s hat, whizzing about in his flashy motorboat, smiling and telling us that it’s “new and improved.”

“Mmm, mmm, mmm, Barack Hussein Obama. He said that we must lend a hand to make this country strong again.” That’s right, children, keep singing. It was plenty strong before, but now that the 98-pound weakling is in charge, all that’s going to change.

Change. Has a catchy ring to it, doesn’t it?

Pam Meister is the editor of FamilySecurityMatters.org.

Obama's Self-Worship

Mona Charen
Friday, September 25, 2009

President Obama's speech to the United Nations has been called naive and even "post-American." It was something else, as well: the most extravagant excursion into self-worship we have yet seen in an American leader.

Beware of politicians who claim to be "humbled by the responsibility the American people have placed upon me." It's a neon sign flashing the opposite. And sure enough, in almost the next sentence, the president allowed that "I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world." Really? The whole world pulses with hope and expectation because Obama is president? People in Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and Taipei have a spring in their step because an Illinois Democrat won the White House?

Well, yes, he says, but it's not "about me," rather it's a reflection of dissatisfaction with the "status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences and outpaced by our problems." Oh, yes, and everyone around the world was electrified by Obama's campaign slogan because these expectations "are also rooted in hope. The hope that real change is possible and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change."

Obama is, we are told, the smartest man to sit in the Oval in many a year. And yet he is capable of truly flabbergasting fatuities like this: "In this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future." You don't say? That's right up there with Warren Harding's declaration that "the future lies before us."

Obama announced that we no longer "have the luxury of indulging our differences to the exclusion of the work that we must do together. I have carried this message from London to Ankara, from Port of Spain to Moscow, from Accra to Cairo, and it is what I will speak about today." Note the personal pronoun. But what message has this evangelist carried to all these world capitals? That hope and change have been vouchsafed to the fallen world in the person of Barack Obama?

During last year's campaign, Michelle Obama and her defenders insisted that her statement "For the first time in my adult life I'm proud of my country" (for supporting her husband) was unfairly wrenched from its context. Maybe, though she said it more than once.

But Obama's indictment of the United States before the U.N. suggests identical sentiments. "I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust," the president said. And mostly it seems, those views were justified. America had acted "unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others." Addressing himself directly to America's critics, the president declared, "For those who question the character and cause of my nation…"

He could have mentioned the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, the billions spent on fighting AIDS in Africa, tsunami relief, the Green Revolution, defeating Nazism and Communism. Just for starters. But that's not what the president had in mind.

"…I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months. On my first day in office, I prohibited without exception or equivocation the use of torture by the United States of America. I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed." The audience, composed in part of regimes that pluck out the eyeballs of political enemies and hack off the hands of suspected thieves, applauded vigorously.

There are no limits to the good that can be achieved if the world will follow Obama's leadership. "Consider the course that we're on if we fail to confront the status quo: extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world; protracted conflicts that grind on and on; genocide; mass atrocities; more nations with nuclear weapons; melting ice caps and ravaged populations; persistent poverty and pandemic disease." Yes, that's humble all right. All of those evils can be avoided by the right leadership? The hubris is staggering.

Not that the solutions Obama proposes could, even if fully implemented in every detail, prevent those catastrophes. Arguably, his solutions would invite worse. He proposes, for example, not just to fight nuclear proliferation (on which he has so far achieved nothing), but also to rid the world of nuclear weapons. By promising this, he a) ratifies the arguments of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il that it is somehow unjust for some nations to have nuclear weapons and others not; and b) commits the United States to suicidal unilateral disarmament. If the U.S. did give up its nuclear weapons and by some miracle the other nuclear powers did as well, world peace would not dawn. The race to acquire those weapons by lesser powers would intensify, as their relative value would increase immeasurably.

Those are the kinds of cold realities Obama might grapple with, if he weren't so distracted by his looking glass.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

45% Of Doctors Would Consider Quitting If Congress Passes Health Care Overhaul

News Analysis by IBD | Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:30 PM PT

Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.

The poll contradicts the claims of not only the White House, but also doctors' own lobby — the powerful American Medical Association — both of which suggest the medical profession is behind the proposed overhaul.

It also calls into question whether an overhaul is even doable; 72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration's claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost.

The IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted by mail the past two weeks, with 1,376 practicing physicians chosen randomly throughout the country taking part. Responses are still coming in, and doctors' positions on related topics — including the impact of an overhaul on senior care, medical school applications and drug development — will be covered later in this series.

Major findings included:

• Two-thirds, or 65%, of doctors say they oppose the proposed government expansion plan. This contradicts the administration's claims that doctors are part of an "unprecedented coalition" supporting a medical overhaul.

It also differs with findings of a poll released Monday by National Public Radio that suggests a "majority of physicians want public and private insurance options," and clashes with media reports such as Tuesday's front-page story in the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Doctors Go For Obama's Reform."

Nowhere in the Times story does it say doctors as a whole back the overhaul. It says only that the AMA — the "association representing the nation's physicians" and what "many still regard as the country's premier lobbying force" — is "lobbying and advertising to win public support for President Obama's sweeping plan."

The AMA, in fact, represents approximately 18% of physicians and has been hit with a number of defections by members opposed to the AMA's support of Democrats' proposed health care overhaul.

• Four of nine doctors, or 45%, said they "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passes the plan the Democratic majority and White House have in mind.

More than 800,000 doctors were practicing in 2006, the government says. Projecting the poll's finding onto that population, 360,000 doctors would consider quitting.

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• More than seven in 10 doctors, or 71% — the most lopsided response in the poll — answered "no" when asked if they believed "the government can cover 47 million more people and that it will cost less money and the quality of care will be better."

This response is consistent with critics who complain that the administration and congressional Democrats have yet to explain how, even with the current number of physicians and nurses, they can cover more people and lower the cost at the same time.

The only way, the critics contend, is by rationing care — giving it to some and denying it to others. That cuts against another claim by plan supporters — that care would be better.

IBD/TIPP's finding that many doctors could leave the business suggests that such rationing could be more severe than even critics believe. Rationing is one of the drawbacks associated with government plans in countries such as Canada and the U.K. Stories about growing waiting lists for badly needed care, horror stories of care gone wrong, babies born on sidewalks, and even people dying as a result of care delayed or denied are rife.

In this country, the number of doctors is already lagging population growth.

From 2003 to 2006, the number of active physicians in the U.S. grew by just 0.8% a year, adding a total of 25,700 doctors.

Recent population growth has been 1% a year. Patients, in short, are already being added faster than physicians, creating a medical bottleneck.

The great concern is that, with increased mandates, lower pay and less freedom to practice, doctors could abandon medicine in droves, as the IBD/TIPP Poll suggests. Under the proposed medical overhaul, an additional 47 million people would have to be cared for — an 18% increase in patient loads, without an equivalent increase in doctors. The actual effect could be somewhat less because a significant share of the uninsured already get care.

Even so, the government vows to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from health care spending to pay for reform, which would encourage a flight from the profession.

The U.S. today has just 2.4 physicians per 1,000 population — below the median of 3.1 for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the official club of wealthy nations.

Adding millions of patients to physicians' caseloads would threaten to overwhelm the system. Medical gatekeepers would have to deny care to large numbers of people. That means care would have to be rationed.

"It's like giving everyone free bus passes, but there are only two buses," Dr. Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the Associated Press.

Hope for a surge in new doctors may be misplaced. A recent study from the Association of American Medical Colleges found steadily declining enrollment in medical schools since 1980.

The study found that, just with current patient demand, the U.S. will have 159,000 fewer doctors than it needs by 2025. Unless corrected, that would make some sort of medical rationing or long waiting lists almost mandatory.

Experiments at the state level show that an overhaul isn't likely to change much.

On Monday came word from the Massachusetts Medical Society — a group representing physicians in a state that has implemented an overhaul similar to that under consideration in Washington — that doctor shortages remain a growing problem.

Its 2009 Physician Workforce Study found that:

• The primary care specialties of family medicine and internal medicine are in short supply for a fourth straight year.

• The percentage of primary care practices closed to new patients is the highest ever recorded.

• Seven of 18 specialties — dermatology, neurology, urology, vascular surgery and (for the first time) obstetrics-gynecology, in addition to family and internal medicine — are in short supply.

• Recruitment and retention of physicians remains difficult, especially at community hospitals and with primary care.

A key reason for the doctor shortages, according to the study, is a "lingering poor practice environment in the state."

In 2006, Massachusetts passed its medical overhaul — minus a public option — similar to what's being proposed on a national scale now. It hasn't worked as expected. Costs are higher, with insurance premiums rising 22% faster than in the U.S. as a whole.

"Health spending in Massachusetts is higher than the United States on average and is growing at a faster rate," according to a recent report from the Urban Institute.

Other states with government-run or mandated health insurance systems, including Maine, Tennessee and Hawaii, have been forced to cut back services and coverage.

This experience has been repeated in other countries where a form of nationalized care is common. In particular, many nationalized health systems seem to have trouble finding enough doctors to meet demand.

In Britain, a lack of practicing physicians means the country has had to import thousands of foreign doctors to care for patients in the National Health Service.

"A third of (British) primary care trusts are flying in (general practitioners) from as far away as Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland" because of a doctor shortage, a recent story in the British Daily Mail noted.

British doctors, demoralized by long hours and burdensome rules, simply refuse to see patients at nights and weekends.

Likewise, Canadian physicians who have to deal with the stringent rules and income limits imposed by that country's national health plan have emigrated in droves to other countries, including the U.S.

Tomorrow: Why most doctors oppose the government's plan — in their own words.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hijab (The Headscarf)—Yes; The Burqa—No

By: Phyllis Chesler
Pajamas Media | Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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Banning the burqa in the West might be one way to ban Islamist fundamentalism and the barbaric subordination of girls and women in certain immigrant communities. For this reason, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and French Minister Fadela Amara have again called for this ban. Earlier today, French immigration Minister, Eric Besson, called the burqa “debased.”

I would hope that the French take their argument further. In the past, they have mainly cited security concerns: Burqa wearing women might be “racially” attacked or burqa wearers themselves might be terrorists or criminals who are planning to attack or rob civilians.

I would hope that the French also argue for such a ban on women’s rights/human rights grounds, as I have already proposed. Thus, clothing which completely covers the face and head in a way which muffles speech, hearing, and vision, which limits or prevents all human communication and identification, and which, in effect, functions like an isolation chamber is, by definition, a violation of human rights.

None of this applies to hijab, the Islamic headscarf, which has already been banned in France in school and which is the subject of protest and controversy across Europe.

With all due respect for the good intentions of the French, perhaps Western governments should not automatically or necessarily ban hijab for women; the matter is tricky and complicated for girls as we have seen, as city after city across Europe has discovered. Indeed, this is a complex and challenging matter.

Today, in Holland, in the very country that is putting the sober and very brave parliamentarian,Geert Wilders on trial for exercising his political free speech—another bright Dutch light, Trouw historian Tineke Bennema has called on “women who were born in the Netherlands to voluntarily put on a headscarf ‘out of solidarity’ with the hijab wearers.” You know, like the Danes allegedly once wore the yellow Jewish star.

Bennema: This is not the way to atone for all the Dutch Jews who were so cheerfully handed over to the Nazis.

One can argue that looking “different,” wearing clothing that represents only one religion may, indeed, arouse prejudice and fear and lead to ostracism, especially among children. Visually representing one’s religion in the public square may also interfere with one’s ability to be seen neutrally in a courtroom, (as a judge, a witness, a plaintiff), classroom, hospital, (as a nurse, doctor, or patient), office, etc. For this reason, an American judge told a priest to remove his clerical collar before testifying in a court case.

However, in order to ban hijab in an even-handed way, one would also have to ban the Catholic hijab worn by nuns, the Jewish headscarf worn by ultra-orthodox and Chasidic women, and the various Hindu and Sikh head coverings. Doing so might interfere with the separation of religion and state that many Western governments hold dear.

But there is another reason to consider not banning hijab for adults. I spent last week in Rome, at the International Conference on Violence Against Women, An Initiative of the Italian Presidency of the G 8. I am deeply grateful to the Italian government, specifically to the Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities, the Honorable (and beautiful) Maria Rosaria Carfagna for this opportunity. Here is where I spent time with a dynamic, truly amazing group of religious and secular Muslim feminists. Three wore hijab, two did not, and one wore it sometimes, but not always. Most agreed that headcovering is more of a custom than a religious commandment and that one can be a very good Muslim without it.

My point: They are all modern, eloquent, high achievers; smart, strong, strong-minded, pro-Western, pro-integration, and pro-women’s rights. They have won my heart and I view these Muslim feminists who are fifty years old or younger as the true descendents of Second Wave Western feminism. They, too, believe that women’s rights are universal, not culturally relative: They cannot understand why so many western feminists and academics are willing to sacrifice this principle. And, religious or not, they also believe in the importance of separating religion and state.

Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She has just published a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Ten Commandments According to Obama

After observing Obama on the campaign trail and during his first six months in office, we have concluded that our President lives and governs according to his own set of "Ten Commandments." They're certainly NOT the Ten Commandments you learned in Sunday School. In fact, many are the direct opposite! To prove that our conclusions are correct, you will find a link to source documentation for each commandment on the Patriot Update web site.
I. Thou shalt have no God in America, except for me. For we are no longer a Christian nation and, after all, I am the chosen One. (And like God, I do not have a birth certificate.) SOURCE
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, unless it is my face carved on Mt. Rushmore. SOURCE
III. Thou shalt not utter my middle name in vain (or in public). Only I can say Barack Hussein Obama. SOURCE
IV. Remember tax day, April 15th, to keep it holy. SOURCE
V. Honour thy father and thy mother until they are too old and sick to care for. They will cost our public-funded health-care system too much money. SOURCE
VI. Thou shalt not kill, unless you have an unwanted, unborn baby. For it would be an abomination to punish your daughter with a baby. SOURCE
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery if you are conservative or a Republican. Liberals and Democrats are hereby forgiven for all of their infidelity and immorality, but the careers of conservatives will be forever destroyed. SOURCE
VIII. Thou shalt not steal, until you've been elected to public office. Only then is it acceptable to take money from hard-working, successful citizens and give it to those who do not work, illegal immigrants, or those who do not have the motivation to better their own lives. SOURCE
IX. Thou shalt not discriminate against thy neighbor unless they are conservative, Caucasian, or Christian. SOURCE
X. Thou shalt not covet because it is simply unnecessary. I will place such a heavy tax burden on those that have achieved the American Dream that, by the end of my term as President, nobody will have any wealth or material goods left for you to covet. SOURCE

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Truth In Lending

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Behind The Meltdown: Many Americans are unaware of the causes of the greatest economic calamity of our lifetime. A new congressional report details how government politicized housing, wrecking the economy.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has released a report that every American should read.

The analysis details how powerful Democrats in Congress insisted that government-subsidized housing be geared to serve the purposes of social justice at the expense of sound lending.

Here are some highlights of Issa's blow-by-blow account:

• With an implicit subsidy to American homeowners in the form of reduced mortgage rates, Fannie Mae and its sister government sponsored enterprise, Freddie Mac, squeezed out their competition and cornered the secondary mortgage market. They took advantage of a $2.25 billion line of credit from the U.S. Treasury.

• Congress, by statute, allowed them to operate with much lower capital requirements than private-sector competitors. They "used their congressionally-granted advantages to leverage themselves in excess of 70-to-1."

• The two GSEs were the only publicly traded corporations exempt from SEC oversight. All their securities carried an implicit AAA rating regardless of the quality of the mortgages.

• The Department of Housing and Urban Development set quotas for GSE investment in affordable housing.

• Encouraged by an inaccurate 1992 Boston Federal Reserve Bank study charging racial discrimination in mortgage lending, the two GSEs were strongly pressured to "lower their underwriting standards, particularly on the size of down payments and the credit quality of borrowers."

• In 1992, Congress directed HUD to establish multiple quotas requiring mortgage quotes for low-income families.

• In 1995, the Clinton administration issued a National Homeownership Strategy, loosening Fannie and Freddie's lending standards and insisting that lenders "work collaboratively to reduce homebuyer downpayment requirements."

• The administration complained that in 1989 only 7% of mortgages had less than a 10% downpayment. By 1994, it wanted that raised to 29%.

• Reduced underwriting standards spread into the entire U.S. mortgage market to those at all income levels.

• A complete decoupling of home prices from Americans' income fed the growth of the housing bubble as borrowers made smaller down payments and took on higher debt.

• Wall Street firms specializing "in packaging and investing in the lowest-quality tranches of mortgage-backed securities, profited hugely from the increased volume that government affordable lending policies sparked."

• Wall Street firms, homebuilders and the GSEs used money, power and influence to block attempts at reform. Between 1998 and 2008, Fannie and Freddie spent over $176 million on lobbyists.

• In 2006, Freddie paid the largest fine in Federal Election Commission history for improperly using corporate resources to hold 85 fundraisers for congressmen, raising a total of $1.7 million.

As the Issa report points out, "the real tragedy of the government's affordable housing policy is the impact on average Americans, particularly those of modest means.

"Millions of these borrowers, who were supposed to have been helped by federal affordable housing policy, have now been forced into delinquency and foreclosure, destroying their asset base, their credit, and in some cases their families."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Over to you, Mr. Abbas

Jun. 14, 2009

For the two-and-a-half months since he was sworn in for the second time as prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu has been uncharacteristically quiet, making few speeches of substance and generally eschewing interviews. On Sunday night, at Bar-Ilan University, he reminded a local and international audience of his articulacy, with an address that will have pleased neither the Palestinians and the Arab world, nor the most ardent supporters of the settlement enterprise, nor the firm Israeli Left - but wasn't principally aimed at any of them.

His goal, rather, was simultaneously satisfying the Israeli consensus and the Obama administration, and in that, he is likely to have largely succeeded.

Notably speeding up his delivery when he got to the sections of his speech most unpalatable to the hard Right, he first vaguely committed his government to all previous international agreements, but then emphatically espoused the vision of a Palestinian state living at peace alongside Israel, precisely as the new American president would have wished, and reaffirmed that Israel would build no new settlements and take control of no more West Bank land.

His hawkish critics will accuse him of capitulation and of selling out. Netanyahu, after all, is the man who publicly declared in 2002 that a state for the Palestinians would spell the end of a state for the Jews.

But the speaker of 2009 set out two critical caveats. Israel, he made plain, could countenance Palestinian statehood only if, philosophically, the Palestinians publicly acknowledged Israel's essence as the homeland of the Jewish nation and, practically, if Palestine were demilitarized.

"We don't want missiles on our cities," he said simply. "We want peace."

And therefore, Palestine would have to be denied an army, the right to import arms, air sovereignty and the capacity to sign military treaties with the likes of Iran.

In a sense, this was a classic display of Netanyahu's longstanding insistence on reciprocity. You want Israel to support statehood for the Palestinians? he was saying to the Americans. Well, then, give me the guarantees that their independence will not come at the expense of ours.

The demand can hardly strike Washington as unreasonable, and by prefacing it with that support in principle for Obama's efforts to change our region for the better, Netanyahu at a nuanced stroke lobbed the peacemaking ball back into the Palestinian court. And he moved himself a long way, if not perhaps all the way, from Obama's list of unsavory "obstacles to progress," to the place where Israel need always belong, among the potential "facilitators of progress." Over to you, Mr. Abbas.

The prime minister's refusal to halt natural growth at existing settlements still leaves him in direct conflict with Washington. But Netanyahu will have privately explained to the Americans that meeting that restriction would not merely counter his own outlook, but also doom his government, and his Sunday night mention of the Gaza disengagement served as a timely reminder of Israel's demonstrable willingness to dismantle even entire settlement communities - albeit, in Netanyahu's view, for entirely misconceived reasons.

When Israelis went to the polls in February, many in the mainstream were torn between the conviction that maintaining a Jewish, democratic Israel would require separation from the Palestinians, and the sorry assessment that no such viable separation was possible given abiding Palestinian hostility to the very notion of our sovereign presence here.

Netanyahu's Sunday night address will have resonated with that Israeli middle ground. And it also corrected some of the lacunas in the Middle East vision expressed in the US president's June 4 "new beginning" overture to the Muslim world - most especially regarding Obama's misrepresentation of Israel's legitimacy as stemming from centuries of Jewish persecution culminating in the Holocaust.

A much anticipated speech, then, that probably achieved much of what Netanyahu hoped it would. But, of course, still only a speech. As Obama will doubtless now be saying to both sides, let's see some action.
This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371096254&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Zvi Hendel rejects blame on Gaza evacuees for pullout woes

Jun. 14, 2009

"The climate created by the government was to break the Gaza leadership and not to talk to us," former MK Zvi Hendel said Sunday, in testimony before the State Commission of Inquiry on the Handling by the Authorized Authorities of the Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria.

Hendel, who served as head of the Gaza Shore Regional Council in the early 1990s and was elected to the Knesset in 1996, was one of the most outspoken foes of the disengagement. He lived in the Gaza Strip settlement of Ganei Tal from 1977 until the unilateral withdrawal in August 2005.

Hendel told the members of the committee, retired Supreme Court Justice Eliahu Mazza, Shimon Ravid and Prof. Yedidya Stern, who have been holding hearings in Jerusalem, that he had asked to appear before the commission because he was stung by accusations leveled by Yonatan Bassi, the first head of the Disengagement Administration (Sela) at a commission hearing.

Bassi had charged that the reason the evacuees' resettlement program was taking so long was because the settler leadership had not known what it wanted and had refused to cooperate with the government before the withdrawal.

Hendel denied the charges.

He said he had regularly attended the meetings of the Knesset Finance Committee as it prepared the Evacuation-Compensation Law to deal with all the issues involved in the disengagement, including compensation for the Gaza residents.

Furthermore, he had been involved in the establishment of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, which supervised the legislative process on behalf of the settlers and participated in Knesset committee meetings dealing with the law.

Hendel charged that prime minister Ariel Sharon, who until then had been on close terms with him, cut off all contact and refused his requests to meet.

In contrast, during government negotiations with the Palestinians over the Gaza-Jericho First agreement ("Oslo I"), Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been very open to Hendel and arranged for the deputy chief of General Staff at the time, Amnon Shahak, to meet with him every Friday for an hour to discuss the negotiations.

Hendel also rejected Bassi's claim that the Gaza leaders did not know what they wanted. He said he had proposed allowing the entire population of Gush Katif to resettle as one community in the sand dunes between Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Hendel said he knew that the only way the settlers could be spared some of the emotional trauma of the withdrawal was by sticking together as a community.

But Bassi opposed the move and those ministers who originally supported it, changed their minds in accordance with the "climate" created by the government.

In the end, the project fell, said Hendel.

"The members of the community would have supported it but because of the government, it was not realized. Had the project been offered to the entire community, it would have worked."

Asked why he had refused to meet with Bassi in the period leading up to the withdrawal, Hendel retorted angrily, "The person who is about to be hanged does not negotiate with the hangman."

Hendel urged the commission to recommend changes in the Evacuation-Compensation Law that would improve the benefits given to the former Gaza residents.

"I would have expected the government to embrace the settlers," he said. "If it had done so, we would not be angry at Sela and the government. [But] the law was not meant to compensate the uprooted but to do the minimum, to finance the recreation of what had been destroyed.

"This is not 'compensation.' Compensation is what is given for the damages caused" to those who were forced to uproot themselves.
This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371097054&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull