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Saturday, June 04, 2011


Vladimir Ashkenazy
Beethoven's Piano Concerto # 5 (Emperor): Rondo
pt 1


pt 2

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Islam’s Viral Stasis

Guest Commentary be Edward Cline:

Two recent, contrasting analyses of Islam – or rather, of the Islamic “mindset” that governs the behavior of Muslims – help to identify the problem with the ideology. One is “Why Muslim cultures lag behind,” by “Anti-Jihadist” on Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch. The second is by Daniel Greenfield on Sultan Knish, “Will Islam Destroy Itself?” Both articles discuss what can be described as Islam’s state of stasis, or moral, political, and cultural stagnation. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary best indicates the phenomenon:

Stasis: a: a state of static balance or equilibrium; stagnation b: a state or period of stability during which little or no evolutionary change in a lineage occurs
That Islam fosters stagnation in its adherents’ cultures is an observable given. Islam has not changed in any fundamental respect since its founding in the 7th century. It has simply been refined in its details and interpreted to govern all human action, regardless of race, region, or nation. Christianity and Judaism underwent changes that made them tolerant of secular, exo-religious values, such as freedom of speech. Men who saw no value in stagnation, who wished to exercise their minds and be free to act, waged a long and bloody conflict with religious and political authority in the West, and won. If the Church claimed it ruled men to save their immortal souls, men replied that their souls were not the Church’s to save.

Islam cannot cede such an argument. There are no doctrinaire loopholes in the system. It is all-encompassing, and allows no exceptions to its rule. To be “saved” by Islam is to submit to it without reason and in every particular. Your “soul” is Allah’s to save or to condemn.

Jihad Watch’s article lists several attributes prevalent in technologically and economically advanced Western and Westernized nations (the latter including India and Japan), but which are largely absent in any given islamic culture: an absence of personal responsibility, of innovation, of “devotion” to any idea or organization beyond family, tribe or clan, of equality of women and men in terms of politics and economics, of skilled labor, and of a “meritocracy.” Included in the list are a belief in magic and an obsession with conspiracies (against tribes, against Islam, and so on), but these will not be discussed here.

The Jihad Watch article is correct and well-intentioned, but woefully lacking itself in explaining why the West has surpassed Islam. Without establishing the broader context of why and how innovation, “devotion,” skilled labor and so on exist in the West but not in Muslim culture, the list seems wholly arbitrary. One could easily substitute “honesty,” “diet” or “education” for any of the others, or simply add them to the list.

“Innovation,” for example, requires not only the freedom to create and invent, but the desire to think. Capitalism fosters and rewards the freedom and the desire. Islam suffocates and punishes them. The article makes this odd statement about “meritocracy,” which is likely a euphemism for capitalism.

The West has thrived not only because they have learned to hold people responsible for their actions, but also they have learned to give out rewards based on individual achievement. Hence higher–performing individuals tend to be eventually in charge and reap the most rewards (in prestige, rank, money, etc.).
Who are “they” who are “giving out rewards” to individuals? And who are the “high-performing Individuals” who will eventually take charge and reap the most rewards? This could just as well be a description of a communist or fascist society, of the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Prestige, rank, and (legally looted) money are paramount values in collectivist societies, even in Islamic ones. If the author of the article is pro-capitalism, his choice of words is ill-considered.

Linked to the “meritocracy” issue, although the author treats it as a separate issue, is “personal responsibility,” which he attributes solely to political leaders.

Muslim leaders often lie to or deceive their own people, to subordinates, or to allies in order to advance their own personal agendas. Remember that most Muslim countries are a patchwork of tribes who barely tolerate one another in the best of times. Loyalty to one’s country as a whole is next to non-existent. So, the main objective of these leaders, whether at the top, middle or bottom, is to steal as much as they can, while they can, in order to enrich themselves and their families, clans or tribes—'national interest’ be damned.
But personal responsibility is also a private, non-political characteristic, as well. One can take responsibility for an accomplishment as well as for an error in thinking or a disaster. Western politicians, however, are as notorious for lying to and deceiving their constituents as are their Muslim counterparts (the modus operandi of the current occupant of the White House). They are indemnified against lawsuits no matter how disastrous and destructive their policies are, and insulated from their consequences with hefty salaries and generous packages of fringe benefits (all paid for by productive, responsible taxpayers). If their policies produce the opposite of what they intend, they will blame external forces beyond their control or anyone’s comprehension. They cultivate “patchworks” of special interests – lobbies, or “tribes, if you will – and will advocate and enact progressive laws, propose burdensome regulations, and append pork barrel programs to other bills that are in fundamental conflict with the “national interest,” regardless of their oaths of office to uphold and defend the Constitution. Barney Frank and Harry Reid are not shaking in their boots. There are never untoward repercussions for them – only for the electorate. They are no better than any Arab sheik, general, or dictator when it comes to venality and theft.

Again, the author of the article chose a poor example to demonstrate why the West differs from Islamic cultures. This is the trouble with purported conservative advocates of freedom, and that article exemplifies it: theirs is a disintegrated moral and political philosophy, akin to the asteroid belt that never coalesced into a planet. It is an itinerary of concretes that refer to ideas that just float in the space of their minds.

More to the point of how stuck in an insurmountable rut Islam is, Daniel Greenfield’s article more closely examines the issue.

Racial and religious doctrinal purity does not equal omnipotence. And Islamic expansionism is due to relearn the same lesson that World War II meted out to the aggressors. The Caliphate and Third Reich are the vision of maniacs and demagogues trying to turn back the clock to a mythical past. Building castles in the sand by a bloody shore.

The obsessive petrodollar construction projects of Dubai have something of Albert Speer about them. Huge tasteless buildings constructed to show the grandeur of a regime, even while revealing its lack of taste and creativity. And its underlying insecurity. The Nazis’, Communists’ and now Muslims’ obsession with constructing gargantuan inhuman structures reveal some of the insecurity behind the violence. Giant concrete and steel security blankets by vicious men terrified of their own mortality.
Built also to demonstrate an efficacy that is founded on the fallacy of force. Greenfield’s thesis is that Islam must expand or perish. It cannot be content to rule over mere dime-a-dozen believers. It must conquer, loot, plunder, rape and murder. Raymond Ibrahim of the Middle East Forum features a story about just how necessary force and conquest are to the Islamic mind.

On the one hand, Islam causes Muslims to be incurious and indifferent to life-affirming values. How many Muslim critics have written approvingly about a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, a Rachmaninoff concerto, an engineering marvel, or about an advance in medicine or technology? On the other hand, and at the same time, Islam encourages Muslims to be hostile to those values, hostile from an intractable envy, and envy that can morph into a desire to eradicate them.

Islam fosters cultural, political, and economic stagnation because individualism is an anathema to it. An absence of freedom of speech inculcates minds that lack any measure of intellectual vigor in any realm of human action, whether in politics, science, or art. If one fears to say what is on one’s mind, even to oneself, nothing will happen. One treads water in a brackish pond of the unassailable given. That is the condition of most Muslims, who are locked in a stasis of their own making. They are alive, but, for all practical purposes, they are dead. Their cognitive faculties have atrophied. They become interchangeable ciphers. (I always cite the analogy of The Borg from Star Trek.)

Their only assurance or guarantee that the universe is reliable and knowable is to submit to pointless rituals and to accept the word of their moral “superiors” (imams, mullahs). They become immune to reason. They are incapable of valuing anything beyond the concrete aspects of their creed; they develop a seething hostility and hatred for anyone or anything that contradicts their unchallenged, unquestioned assumptions. Woe to any Muslim who violates the arbitrary diktats of Mohammed. Thus the killings, stonings, hangings, and so on. They become super-sensitive to any criticism of their beliefs, because the criticism is not only a threat to them, but also because criticism implies a world-view that is possible beyond their warped metaphysics and epistemology. It is an existence they have surrendered. Muslims are not capable of starting anything like the American Revolution; the so-called “Arab Spring” is fundamentally a hankering for a friendlier despot.

Islam would indeed expire should it ever achieve the global caliphate its advocates boast is their end. Islam would act like a cancer; once it had debilitated and enveloped the host, it would perish with the host. That is because Islam is essentially a nihilist ideology. One can point to any Middle Eastern nation dominated by Islam and see a preview of a world governed by Islam – except that the ensuing and necessary poverty and misery would be global in nature, and not just regional. If there are skyscrapers in Dubai and some economic life in Egypt, it is only because a West exists that created those values. Emulation is not creativity. Like Soviet communism, it can only copy the achievements of the West, and poorly at that. If Islam denies men the right to think, to move, to challenge, to innovate, to risk, to live their own lives free from fear of retribution, then the reduction of men to thinking only about the next minute or next day, is all that can be achieved – or, universal destruction and a new dark age.

One of the virtues of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, is that, while it was written as a “prophetic satire,” it contains such a plentitude of truisms and perceptive observations that it is taken as a blueprint for successful totalitarianism. The world of Winston Smith, however, is impossible in reality. That is one of the bones I have to pick with the novel. As a feasible political stasis, the totalitarian state described by Orwell would not survive. It would not be industrial, or productive, or self-sustaining. One doesn’t choke off men’s capacity to think and act and expect them to continue producing steel, or medicine, or art.

But there is one particular feature of it that stands out and which would guarantee the short-lived existence of such a political establishment.

Much is made of “Newspeak,” the program devised by the totalitarians to stunt men’s minds by reducing the number of approved and politically-correct concepts available to men in their vocabulary, and in particular to the ruling Inner and Outer Party members. Its purpose is to render impossible any hint of rebellion, betrayal, or resistance within the Party. Such is Orwell’s respect for language that he even devotes an afterward to the subject. But if such a state were actually attained – with Party members communicating with each other by means of a deliberately emaciated lexicon of operative terms, they would be rendered helpless against the first men to reinvent the concepts. If all memory of standard concepts that we take for granted today was eradicated – nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, articles – and replaced with a suffocating, mind-stunting written and spoken jargon, no communication would be possible between the rulers and the ruled.

Likewise, Islam must adhere to the approved lexicon that appears in the Koran and Hadith (the alleged canonical “sayings” of Mohammad, much like Mao’s Little Red Book of quotations), or perish. It cannot adopt new terms without admitting a flood of concepts alien to its intent which would simply adulterate and dissolve the doctrine. It cannot even attempt to redefine its most belligerent and aggressive terms without reducing its already primitive doctrine to certifiable gibberish and “speaking in tongues.”

Any new terms must be Western terms, introduced to amend or qualify the brutish, criminal ones that characterize Islamic literature. Islam’s purists – the sheiks, the imams, the mullahs – can be likened to the Orwell’s Inner Party, which wields more power over rank-and-file Outer Party Muslims than it does over the infidels and dhimmis. They are the gimlet-eyed guardians of the Islamic lexicon as well as of the faith, for the purity of the faith depends wholly on the purity of its words. “It is written” is not merely a hubristic assertion of predestination; in Islamic metaphysics, Mohammad’s words are as real and unalterable as a rock. That is another cause of Islam’s viral stasis. And another reason why Islam cannot be reformed without killing it.

I agree with Greenfield that Islam must at some point disintegrate and self-destruct. But that may not happen until it has made too many inroads in a Western culture that denies its own exceptionalism, a culture that once upheld reason, individualism, and freedom as its distinctive and empowering virtues. Islam must first succeed in corrupting the spirit of its enemies before it rots itself. Islam is a parasite; it can make progress only by grace of the timidity of its adversaries and the mindless, obedient plain song of its billion-plus collective. It derives its strength from the weakness and cowardice and compromise of its enemies. If Islam succeeds in conquering the West, it can only die with it. The most rabid of its advocates know this. They are death worshippers. A Dark Age is the only cultural environment they will feel comfortable in.

Islam is otherwise impotent.

Crossposted at The Dougout
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Dodging a Bullet - Ohio University: "Intellectual Disgrace"

I applied to Ohio University's PhD program in American History with special emphasis on military history. They didn't accept me, nor did they give any reason. Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller visited OU a few days ago. They encountered a bunch of "intellectual" fascists bent on indoctrinating students into good, little dhimmis:
Joining us was our cinematographer, David Miles, who is an alumnus of Ohio University. But OU students and faculty were in no mood to discuss the issues our documentary raised: even before we arrived on campus, the student newspaper, The Post, ran a "review" of the film entitled "NYC mosque film inaccurate, bigoted." It was written by Brandon Kendhammer, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at OU. Kendhammer retailed libelous generalizations about us and about our work, without offering a single example of the inaccuracy and bigotry he purported to find in our film.
Indeed, Kendhammer couldn't have given an example of those things even if he had wanted to. Why not? Because he had not even seen the film. Got that? The Post ran a review of the film written by someone who could not have seen it.

With a fine Orwellian touch, Kendhammer claimed that we wished to undo America's legacy of religious freedom -- without explaining how opposing forces that would establish a law that institutionalizes discrimination against women and extinguishes the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience amounts to opposing religious freedom, while fronting for this repressive ideology presumably amounts to supporting that freedom.
Of course, the rest of the faculty and the university administration were MIA, and made no attempt to support or encourage genuine discussion.





Neither Jihadists nor academic "liberals" can tolerate freedom of speech or thought.

Crossposted at The Dougout
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Off Topic


Oh, I could tell you why the oceans reach the shore, I'd think of things never thunk before, and then I'd stop and think some more
Non Sequitur
Straw Man
Irrelevant Comment
Double Non Sequitur wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an Enigma
Useless Irony pointing at something that looks like nothing, but is really something ...  artificial... gotcha, didn't I?
Silly Existential Questions
Non Sequitur
Comment on an irrelevant comment pertaining to arcane subject matter only peripherally attached to another comment which completely missed the point
Self-congratulations
Strawman argument supports self-proclaimed victory
Crickets chirping
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Newsmax:



Key al Qaeda Operative Killed in Pakistan by U.S. Drone
Saturday, 04 Jun 2011 08:47 AM

ISLAMABAD, June 4 (Reuters) - Senior al Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri, regarded as one of the most dangerous militants in the world, was killed by a U.S. drone aircraft missile strike in Pakistan, an intelligence official and local media said on Saturday.

The death of the Pakistani militant was another intelligence coup for the United States after U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden in a town close to Islamabad on May 2.

"We are sure that he was killed. Now we are trying to retrieve the bodies," said the Pakistani intelligence official. "We want to get photographs of the bodies.

It is not the first time reports of Kashmiri's death have surfaced. He was reported to have been killed in a September 2009 strike by a U.S. drone aircraft.

Pakistani media said Kashmiri had been killed this time, citing the group that he heads that is allied with al Qaeda, Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI).

"We confirm that our Amir (leader) and commander in chief, Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, along with other companions, was martyred in an American drone strike on June 3, 2011, at 11:15 p.m.," Abu Hanzla Kashir, who identified himself as an HUJI spokesman, said in a statement faxed to a Pakistani television station.

"God willing ... America will very soon see our full revenge. Our only target is America."

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.

HUJI was behind the March 2006 suicide bombing of the U.S. consulate in Karachi which killed four people and wounded 48, the U.S. State Department said.

Other intelligence officials said earlier that late on Friday night, a remotely piloted U.S. drone aircraft fired three missiles at a militant centre in the village of Shwkainary in South Waziristan, killing a total of eight militants, including five of Kashmiri's supporters.

The Pakistani Taliban, which has strong ties to al Qaeda, said earlier that reports of Kashmiri's death were false.

The U.S. Department of State has labelled Kashmiri a "specially designated global terrorist", adding him to a list of high-profile militants.

In March of last year, the U.S. attorney's office quoted in a statement a Chicago taxi driver charged with sending money to Kashmiri as saying the Pakistani militant told him he "wanted to train operatives to conduct attacks in the United States".

The Pakistani media has speculated that Kashmiri was the mastermind of a militant siege of a Pakistani naval base last month which humiliated the Pakistani military.

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Four Dirty Secrets about Clean Energy


This article contains hard truths. I suggest everyone read and assimilate this information.


I use the word assimilate because I want everyone to understand that this is not a matter of simply reading, taking in information, and filing it with a bunch of other information. These are foundational truths of physical reality. If you want to participate in the adult world, you need to be able to understand the truth about how energy works.


I am not claiming that every word in the article below is absolute truth, like a new Torah, handed down to us by God. But, some ideas contained herein, are demonstrably provable, and they are, thus, irrefutable. For instance it is a provable fact that oil is a denser form of energy than is solar or wind power. And, it is a irrefutable fact that nuclear power is even denser.


These are real scientific Truths, dare I say, Inconvenient Truths. Whether you want to believe them or not, they stand, like the monolith in 2001, above you and beyond you. You can pick up a stick and beat it on the ground, you can throw rocks at the Monolith, you can shit in your hands and throw your shit at the Monolith, but the Monolith still stands there, erect beneath the sun.


Your fantasies will do nothing to rid the horizon of the Monolith.


That's reality.

From Fox Opinion:
For years, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has demanded that the U.S. and other industrialized countries cut carbon emissions to 20% of 1990 levels by 2050.

While most countries claim to support huge carbon caps, in practice they have resisted implementing them. The reason is simple: fossil fuels provide nearly 90% of the energy we use--the cheap, abundant fuel that powers modern farming, manufacturing, construction, transportation, and hospitals. The use of fossil fuels is directly correlated to quality and quantity of life, particularly through the generation of electricity ; in the past two decades, hundreds of millions of people have risen out of poverty because energy production has tripled in India and quadrupled in China, almost exclusively from carbon-based fuels. To drastically restrict carbon-based fuels, countries have conceded in practice, would be an economic disaster.

Now, the IPCC claims that the economics are on the side of drastic CO2 reductions. It recently announced that “Close to 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies…”

This announcement is the latest claim by a growing coalition of environmentalists, businessmen, politicians, journalists, and academics that we can ban our fossil fuels and have cheap energy, too--through the panacea of “clean energy”--energy with minimal carbon emissions or other impacts. Clean energy advocates claim that a “clean energy economy” will be far more prosperous than our current “dirty energy” economy. Coal, oil, and natural gas supplies are finite and therefore bound to get more and more expensive as they run out, they argue. By contrast, we have an essentially unlimited, free, never-ending supply of sun and wind available to use--“free forever,” as Al Gore puts it.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don’t cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home? We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses. And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of U.S. electricity demand.

o those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world.
By contrast, Gore says, there are “renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per- gallon gasoline.”

To severely cap carbon emissions, then, won’t be an economic disaster but an economic boon. And it’s not just Al Gore saying this: myriad investors (such as venture capitalist Vinod Khosla), businessmen (such as oil-turned-wind magnate T. Boone Pickens), journalists (such as New York Times superstar Thomas L. Friedman), and politicians (including President Barack Obama), are on board.

The president of the Environmentalist Defense Fund sums up the sentiment: “The winners of the race to reinvent energy will not only save the planet, but will also make megafortunes… fixing global warming won’t be a drain on the economy. On the contrary, it will unleash one of the greatest floods of new wealth in history.”

All that is required, he and others say, is for the government to enact the right “clean energy policy.” These policy proposals vary, but all agree on two things: the government must drastically cap carbon emissions (Al Gore wants a ban on carbon-generated electricity by 2018 ) and the government must extensively fund clean energy research and projects to “unleash one of the greatest floods of new wealth in history.”

But before you pull any levers at the voting booth, you should know that there are some dirty secrets about the campaign for “clean energy.”

Dirty Secret #1: If “clean energy” were actually cheaper than fossil fuels, it wouldn’t need a policy.

Al Gore claims that he knows of “renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline.” Then why doesn’t he go make a fortune on it by outcompeting gasoline-powered cars?

More broadly, if other sources of energy are so good, why must the government have a policy to support them and cripple their competitors? Wouldn’t the self-interest of utilities, of automakers, of factories make them more than eager to buy such fuels--and wouldn’t the self-interest of investors make them eager to put billions upon billions of dollars into these game-changing technologies? Energy is, after all, a multi-trillion dollar market in America alone. And if carbon-based fuels are as rapidly-depleting as we’re told, wouldn’t participants in the energy futures market be trying to make a killing by buying coal, oil, and gas contracts? And wouldn’t the rising prices of these fuels make it even easier for “clean energy” to compete?

Energy history is replete with examples of genuinely superior technologies outcompeting the status quo. Petroleum surpassed whale oil and several other now-forgotten products once it could provide the best light at the best price. Natural gas surpassed oil as a source of electricity generation for similar reasons. Can’t new sources of energy do the same?

“Clean energy” advocates often intimate that private investors and existing energy companies are too short-sighted to see the wondrous potential of their products. But this is far-fetched. Oil companies invest billions of dollars in research and development that will only pay off decades into the future. Can anyone doubt that with increasing worldwide demand for energy, they wouldn’t jump at the chance to add new sources of profitable energy to their portfolios? Or even if they are myopic, what about the enormous capital-allocating machine that is U.S. financial markets? Is Wall Street going to pass up on “one of the greatest new floods of wealth in history” by failing to make profitable investments?

But aren’t subsidies needed to correct some unfair advantage possessed by coal, oil, and natural gas? No. Solar and wind are the ones given an unfair advantage; per unit of energy produced, they already receive 90X more subsidies than oil and gas. And they have been subsidized for decades.

The one legitimate argument that energy investment in new technologies, including carbon-free ones, is too low is that heavy government taxation and environmental regulations drive many investors out of the energy sector. But “clean energy policies” such as cap-and-trade bills call for more taxes and regulations, not fewer.

The real reason why activists demand “clean energy policy” is simple: the “clean energy” sources they favor--especially solar and wind--are at present too expensive and unreliable to replace carbon-based fuels on a large scale. The only way activists can hope to have them adopted is to shove them down our throats.

Dirty Secret #2: Clean energy advocates want to force us to use solar, wind, and biofuels, even though there is no evidence these can power modern civilization.

For more than three decades, environmentalists have overwhelmingly favored replacing carbon-based fuels with “natural,” “renewable” energy coming directly from the sun--whether through direct sunlight (solar panels or solar thermal), wind (a product of currents created by the sun’s heat) or biofuels (plants nourished by the sun through photosynthesis.) They have generally opposed carbon-free nuclear energy and hydroelectric energy as unnecessary and insufficiently “green.”

They have acquired billions in taxpayer subsidies for solar, wind, and biofuels, in America and in “progressive” European countries. After three decades, the score is in. 86% of the world’s energy--the energy we use to make food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and everything else our livelihoods depend on--is produced by carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, natural gas). 6% is produced by hydroelectric power. 6% is produced by nuclear power.

Thus, 98% of the world’s power generation is regarded as unacceptable by environmentalists. All of 2%--an expensive 2%--is produced by solar, wind, and biofuels. And despite incessant claims that carbon-based fuels will run out, the amount of fossil fuel practically accessible to us has increased greatly as we have discovered new sources for fossil fuels (as well as non-fossil sources such as uranium and thorium)--and if businesses are free to keep exploring, there is no evidence this will stop anytime soon.

So why haven’t solar and wind triumphed? After all, isn’t Al Gore right that the sun gives us more energy than we could ever need, “free forever”?

No. The sun certainly gives off a lot of energy--but harnessing it is anything but free. To harness any form of energy requires land, labor, and equipment. And solar, wind, and biofuels require far, far more resources to harness than other methods of power generation.

One reason is energy density. Most practical energy sources pack a high concentration of energy into a small amount of space, meaning a smaller swath of resources is needed to harness it. Oil, for example, is so energy dense that a gallon of it can move a Hummer and a load of passengers over 10 miles. Uranium has one million times the energy density of oil (though it takes far more complex equipment to extract the energy).

By contrast, the sun’s energy is highly diluted by the time it reaches earth, and therefore it requires massive quantities of land, equipment, materials, manpower, and energy (provided by fossil fuels, incidentally) to concentrate into electric power.
A solar or wind farm takes on the order of 100 times the land, materials, and assembly energy to produce the same amount of kilowatt-hours as an equivalent nuclear or coal or natural gas plant --while a cornfield for ethanol requires 1,000 times the land to generate the same amount of energy, with so much energy required that the whole process loses energy by some estimates.
The cost of such resources is why solar and wind have been expensive, marginal energy sources for so long.

Another major problem with solar and wind is that they produce energy only intermittently--wind is extremely variable, disappearing throughout the day; solar varies with the weather and disappears altogether at night. Our whole modern power system requires reliable energy, energy that can be counted on.

Consequently, any solar or wind installation attempting to generate reliable energy needs a backup source of energy. One hypothetical way to do this is to build additional solar/wind capacity and try to store it. But since this just adds much more cost, and since no compact, cost-effective storage option exists (large, water-pumping hydroelectric facilities are an option in some locations), the default option is to build additional fossil fuel plants to back up solar and wind power.

A typical case is Texas, where Governor Rick Perry has heralded his state as an archetype of renewable wind-power. But according to those managing the power grids, only “8.7% of the installed wind capability can be counted on as dependable capacity during the peak demand period for the next year.” This means that the wind turbines are hardly doing anything constructive; the natural gas “backup” is doing all the work. Some studies say that the wind turbines only add to CO2 emissions, since natural gas plants are far less efficient and use more fuel when they must cycle to compensate for erratic wind power.

But, you might ask, aren’t there other types of carbon-free energy that are more practical? The answer is yes and no--there are promising types of carbon-free energy, but “clean energy policy” and its environmentalist leaders will always stop or slow them for being insufficiently “green.”

Dirty Secret #3: There are promising carbon-free energy sources--hydroelectric and nuclear--but “clean energy” policies oppose them as not “green” enough.

In 1975, a fledgling energy industry reported that its members were producing electricity at a total cost of less than half of what coal plants could. Better yet, this industry’s technology generated virtually no pollution and no CO2. Better yet still, this industry was in its relative infancy; thousands of scientists and engineers were brimming with ideas about how to make power-generation better, cheaper, more efficient.

If the environmentalist movement--the movement leading today’s “clean energy” campaign--was truly interested in maximum human progress, including making our surroundings maximally conducive to human life, it would have celebrated this industry: nuclear power. Instead, environmentalists effectively destroyed it with lies and propaganda--a tactic they are repeating with the earthquake-and-tsunami-stricken nuclear reactors in Japan.

Environmentalists have always claimed that their concern is safety. But the most reliable indication of a technology’s safety is how many deaths it has caused per unit of energy produced. In the capitalist world, nuclear power in its entire history has not led to a single death from meltdowns, radiation, or any of the allegedly intolerable dangers cited by nuclear critics. This does not mean that deaths are impossible, but as scientists have repeatedly shown, the worst-case scenario for a nuclear reactor is far better than, say, the ravages of a dam breaking or of a natural gas explosion.

In reality, all the “safety” objections come down to the Green premise that nuclear power is “unnatural” and therefore must be bad. Nuclear power is radioactive, they say--not mentioning that so is the sun, and that taking a walk, let alone an airplane ride, exposes you to far more radioactivity than does living next to a nuclear power plant. A nuclear plant could be bombed by terrorists, and bring about some sort of Hiroshima 2, they say--not mentioning that the type of uranium used in a nuclear plant and a nuclear bomb are completely different, and that the uranium in a plant can’t explode.

Nuclear power generates waste, they say--not mentioning that the amount of waste is thousands of times smaller than for any other practical source of energy, that it can be safely stored, and that there are many technologies for utilizing the waste to generate even more energy. Still, Greenpeace proclaims: “Greenpeace has always fought -- and will continue to fight - vigorously against nuclear power because it is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. The only solution is to halt the expansion of all nuclear power, and for the shutdown of existing plants.”

The practical result of all this hysteria was to make permission to build nuclear power plants nearly impossible to get, to impose an astronomical number of unnecessary “safety” requirements that served only to drive up price, and to make the whole process of building a plant a multi-decade affair.

Today, environmentalists say, with relish, that nuclear power can’t compete on the market--“Nuclear is dying of an incurable attack of market forces,” says solar-peddler Amory Lovins--even though before their intervention, it did compete, and was winning. Who knows how spectacularly it could produce cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy today--were it not for the opposition of those who claim to be concerned about carbon emissions?

Nuclear power is not an isolated target. Environmentalists have spent the last three decades shutting down as many hydroelectric dams as possible, despite hydro’s proven track record as a cheap, reliable source of carbon-free power (albeit one more limited than nuclear since there are only so many suitable river sites for hydropower).

The reason is this: environmentalism isn’t just about minimizing our carbon “footprint”--it’s about reducing any footprint on nature: on land, rivers, swamps, animals, bugs. Hydroelectric power, while it doesn’t emit CO2, dramatically changes the natural flow of the rivers where it is used. Nuclear power, in addition to requiring large industrial structures, deals in “unnatural” high-energy, radioactive materials and processes. Therefore, it is not, says Al Gore, “truly clean energy.”

Dirty Secret #4: The environmentalists behind clean energy policy are anti-energy.

If you think that there might be some form of practical “clean energy” that could appease the environmentalists--say, geothermal--you’re missing the point.
The whole environmentalist idea of a minimal “footprint” is fundamentally anti-energy. Mass-energy production requires making a substantial impact on nature--in diverted land, in power lines, in any byproducts or waste--and therefore environmentalists can always find something to object to. And this includes solar and wind.

For all the talk of “being green,” solar and wind require far greater amounts of land and materials-use than practical energy--their land “footprint” and resource usage is far larger. Huge, 400-foot tall wind-turbines with 150-foot blades and noise known to cause unbearable headaches a mile away do not exactly embody the environmentalist ideal of “living in harmony with nature.” Nor are tens or hundreds or thousands of square miles of solar panels. Nor are the enormous transmission lines necessary to bring energy from, say, Nevada to California. And so while environmentalists are happy to wax about solar and wind in the abstract while opposing existing power sources, once the shovels start hitting the ground, in practice they often oppose it.

Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the biggest opponent of Cape Wind , a windmill project off the coast of Nantucket.
Environmentalists were the first to object to a giant solar project in the Middle of the Mojave Desert in California.

But where are we supposed to get our energy? “Conservation,” environmentalists answer, which is code for “deprivation.” When pushed, the leaders of the movement admit that they think that humans need to live far more modestly, with perhaps a few solar panels on top of our homes (Amory Lovins attempts this, and has acknowledged agonizing over whether he could accommodate a dog for his daughter), that we need to do with a lot less, and that we need to reduce the world’s population.

As climate-change star Paul Ehrlich says: “Whatever problem you’re interested in, you’re not going to solve it unless you also solve the population problem. Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control.”

The Sierra Club advocates “development of adequate national and global policies to curb energy over-use and unnecessary economic growth.” This was written in 1974, when the energy-hungry computer revolution was brand-new. Had we listened to them, it wouldn’t have had the power to get off the ground. And they are no exception to this anti-development mentality: “Giving society cheap, abundant energy at this point,” says climate change star Paul Ehrlich, “would be the moral equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” Or, Amory Lovins: “If you ask me, it'd be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won't give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other.”

This is the mentality wielding influence over our energy future. Can one imagine any sort of energy that it would find favorable? Consider the prospect of geothermal energy, which would use heat from the inside of the earth’s crust. Al Gore claims to support this. To be used en masse, such energy (as yet unproven) would require drilling tens of thousands of feet deep. Given environmentalists’ opposition to offshore drilling, can anyone imagine they will actually support geothermal energy in practice?

Anyone who genuinely desires even better energy in the future than we enjoy today must cut all ties with the anti-development environmentalist movement and embrace industrial development.

Instead, the entire “clean energy” movement embraces environmentalists as allies. The Sierra Club, Ehrlich, and Lovins are all regular advisors to government on energy policy. While President Obama isn’t as extreme as they are, we can see their anti-nuclear agenda in his energy plan--which is focused on solar and wind, and includes a couple billion in loan guarantees to a single nuclear plant (this is notable only because the 2008 Democratic platform contained zero references to nuclear energy).

The same is true for “clean energy” advocates such as Thomas L. Friedman and Bill Gates; they advocate nuclear, but only half-heartedly, with infinite regulation. So, in practice “clean energy policy” will mean preserving the draconian controls on nuclear power, stunting its growth, while subsidizing the impractical fuels that environmentalists least object to.

The end result of this is pure destruction. This includes destruction of what “clean energy” is supposed to ensure: a livable climate. The number one precondition of a livable climate is industrial-scale energy. Loose talk of a “climate change catastrophe” evades the fact that industrial energy makes catastrophes non-catastrophic. In Africa, a drought can wipe out hundreds of thousands of lives thanks to that continent’s lack of capitalism and resultant lack of industrial energy. In America, we irrigate so well that deserts have become among the most desirable places to live (Southern California, Las Vegas).

Left free to discover and harness energy, human beings can adapt to changes in weather. Anyone who cares about the plight of the poor must recognize that what they desperately need is not a stagnant average global temperature but capitalism, including cheap, affordable fossil fuels now, and the freedom to find even better fuels later, unhampered by environmental hysteria.

If we want more, better, energy, we should be considering, not policies to control the energy economy, but policies to allow free markets and true competition (not government-rigged stuff). And let the best fuel win.

Alex Epstein is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on business issues. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
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Robert Spencer Confronts Left-Wing Extremists in Stuttgart

A brave and transcendent speech from Robert Spencer.

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China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills


From CNS:
China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury.


Treasury bills are securities that mature in one year or less that are sold by the U.S. Treasury Department to fund the nation’s debt.

Mainland Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bills are reported in column 9 of the Treasury report linked here.
Until October, the Chinese were generally making up for their decreasing holdings in Treasury bills by increasing their holdings of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, until October, China’s overall holdings of U.S. debt continued to increase.

Since October, however, China has also started to divest from longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, as reported by the Treasury Department, China’s ownership of the U.S. national debt has decreased in each of the last five months on record, including November, December, January, February and March.

Prior to the fall of 2008, acccording to Treasury Department data, Chinese ownership of short-term Treasury bills was modest, standing at only $19.8 billion in August of that year. But when President George W. Bush signed legislation to authorize a $700-billion bailout of the U.S. financial industry in October 2008 and President Barack Obama signed a $787-billion economic stimulus law in February 2009, Chinese ownership of short-term U.S. Treasury bills skyrocketed.

By December 2008, China owned $165.2 billion in U.S. Treasury bills, according to the Treasury Department. By March 2009, Chinese Treasury bill holdings were at $191.1 billion. By May 2009, Chinese holdings of Treasury bills were peaking at $210.4 billion.

However, China’s overall appetite for U.S. debt increased over a longer span than did its appetite for short-term U.S. Treasury bills.

In August 2008, before the bank bailout and the stimulus law, overall Chinese holdings of U.S. debt stood at $573.7 billion. That number continued to escalate past May 2009-- when China started to reduce its holdings in short-term Treasury bills--and ultimately peaked at $1.1753 trillion last October.

As of March 2011, overall Chinese holdings of U.S. debt had decreased to 1.1449 trillion.
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Muslim Group Offends Some Christians With Jesus Advertisements


From CNS:

“Jesus: A prophet of Islam” states the provocative tagline in a “public awareness” advertising campaign launched by a Muslim group in Australia’s largest city.

The group, calling itself Mypeace, says its aim is to inform, not offend – but offend it has, with one Catholic bishop calling the assertion about Jesus “a direct assault on Christian beliefs.”

Roadside billboards in the metropolitan Sydney area carry one of four simple slogans: “Jesus: A Prophet of Islam,” “Holy Qur’an: The Final Testament,” “Muhammad: Mercy to Mankind” and “Islam: Got Questions? Get Answers.”

Each banner invites people to get in touch by phone or online, for literature and a free copy of the Qur’an. Mypeace says the ads will stay up for four weeks, and later this year will be run on scores of public buses in the city.

One of the billboards featuring the Jesus slogan was vandalized a day after it was erected.

Mypeace says its aim is to “address the many misconceptions on Islam, to educate fellow Australians on Islam, invite them to ask any questions that they may have.”

Islamic awareness campaigns are not new, but the slogan referring to Jesus is causing a stir.  Muslims and interfaith advocates sometimes invoke Jesus to assert some sort of commonality with Christians, implying that Muslims, too, “believe in Jesus.”

But Muslims, and the Qur’an, deny the central Christian beliefs regarding Jesus – his divinity, crucifixion and resurrection.

Elsewhere on its Web site, Mypeace states that “the Qur’an … repeatedly reminds that Jesus was a human prophet sent by God, not part of God Himself.”

“In Australia with its Christian heritage a billboard carrying the statement ‘Jesus A prophet of Islam’ is provocative and offensive to Christians,” Julian Porteous, auxiliary bishop at the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, responded in an article.

“Central to Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is more than a prophet,” he said. “He is the Son of God. He is acclaimed Lord and Savior of humanity. This statement is a direct assault on Christian beliefs.”

Porteous said religions should not “set out to antagonize those with differing beliefs.”

“Dialogue between the religions can only take place when it is founded in mutual respect. It is not fostered by provocative statements.”

Porteous urged Mypeace to withdraw the ads.

Islamic doctrine holds that the 7th century Arabian Mohammed was the last in a long line of prophets of Islam stretching back to Adam, and including Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah, John the Baptist – and Jesus. (The “Got Questions?” ad in Sydney also describes Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed as “prophets of Islam”.)

Mypeace did not respond to queries.
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Gas-Only Cars Are Funding the Global Jihad and Preventing Our Economic Recovery

The Open Fuel Standard Act is a bill introduced into the House of Representatives early in May. The bill says that if you're going to sell a car that can burn gasoline, then it must be capable of burning methanol and ethanol as well. Cars would no longer be limited to burning gasoline only.

It's not a big change to the car. GM says it adds about $70 to the production cost of a car (and they ought to know because they've made more flex fuel cars than any other American car company).

Here's why this is a good idea: OPEC controls the price of oil. They deliberately raise and lower their collective production to lower or raise the world price of oil. They are such a large portion of the world market that their production alone can determine world prices.

Starting with the oil embargo in 1973, OPEC has been deliberately keeping oil prices high except where it was in their best interests to let it drop (in order to put competition out of business, for example).

Because the price of oil has been so high for so long, OPEC and the two leading nations of OPEC — Saudi Arabia and Iran — have been reaping unbelievable profits for over 35 years. And what have they been doing with all the largesse we've lavished on them? Readers of the IBA know the answer better than anyone.

The Open Fuel Standard would cut off OPEC. They would no longer be able to raise their prices because other fuels would step into the opening and take the money, and that money would be going to the free world, not to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and the rest of the enemies of the West. So one of two things would happen: Either the price of gasoline would have to come down, or OPEC goes out of business.

Either way it would relieve our economy of a burden it has been struggling under for decades, and it would drastically reduce the money going to Islamic dictatorships.

You know something most people don't know: The main reason orthodox Muslims have been able to build so many mosques and madrassas around the world (that preach fundamental Islam), the main reason they've been able to create powerful legal and lobbying organizations like CAIR, the main reason they have been able to infiltrate into our government, the main reason they have been able to change U.S. textbooks IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE MONEY TO DO IT.

Where do they get the money? We give it to them because we don't have a choice at the pump.

This is it. This is the nub, the core, the pivot point of the global jihad. This is the decisive point we've been looking for. If we focused all our forces on this single thing, we could neuter the global jihad. Fuel choice is the decisive point. We must get the Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 passed no matter what.

Right now, it is possible to pass this bill. But as Saudi money continues to infiltrate and influence American politics and media, there will soon come a time when we will find it impossible to pass such a bill. The window of opportunity will be closed. Our situation is urgent.

The first and most important thing you can do to pass this bill is to call your representative and urge her or him to co-sponsor the Open Fuel Standard Act. Or at least send an email via ACT! for America's CapWiz tool, which will take less than five minutes.

If you'd like to do more, you can stay informed about the progress of the bill and get information on how to help make it happen by subscribing to the Open Fuel Standard blog:

Enter your email address to subscribe to updates from OpenFuelStandard.org:

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Listen to the following ten minute talk below by Robert Zubrin, author of Energy Victory. He explains how oil prices have risen dramatically over the last ten years, the part OPEC has played in orchestrating that price hike (and what amounts to an enormous income tax on the world), and what we can do to free ourselves from OPEC's determination to hobble the American economy.

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Proof that S.F.’s circumcision ban Is anti-Semitic

From Zombie:
As you may have heard by now, San Francisco will be voting this November on whether or not to ban circumcision in the city.

Defenders of the measure say it’s all about “human rights” and “protecting babies” from unnecessary procedures.

But critics suspected there was something vaguely anti-Semitic about the whole proposal, since among Jews (and Muslims, as well) circumcising male babies is a religious duty, not just a mistaken medical procedure.
Ban proponents insisted their proposal had nothing to do with Jews — really, it’s all about the rights of children.

Well, any doubt that they were lying have now been dispelled, with the publication of new campaign literature for the upcoming circumcision ban. The campaign comic book, called “Foreskin Man,” after its baby-saving superhero, features a litany of evil Jews doing battle with blond Nordic saviors.

Yes, really.

(Oh, and did I mention the artist’s last name is Hess? A relative of Rudolph, perhaps?)

Below you will find a selection of images taken from Foreskin Man, the campaign brochure for San Francisco’s anti-circumcision ballot measure. You tell me: anti-Semitic or not?


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The Maccabeats video

This is the Maccabeats video the White House wants removed. I didn't actually watch it all yet so I don't know if the four more years chant is in here somewhere.

The video in the Jawa story below is not the video in question. It is this one, which was actually filmed at a White House event in May, posted, subsequently removed but still up on Youtube.

See the full story at The Blaze.




Thanks to Will for the heads up on this one.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

Power Station
Get It On

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Washington Times:

Bipartisan Congress rebuffs Obama on Libya mission

Crossing party lines to deliver a stunning rebuke to the commander in chief, the vast majority of the House voted Friday for resolutions telling President Obama he has broken the constitutional chain of authority by committing U.S. troops to the international military mission in Libya.

In two votes — on competing resolutions that amounted to legislative lectures of Mr. Obama — Congress escalated the brewing constitutional clash over whether he ignored the founding document’s grant of war powers by sending U.S. troops to aid in enforcing a no-fly zone and naval blockade of Libya.

The resolutions were non-binding, and only one of them passed, but taken together, roughly three-quarters of the House voted to put Mr. Obama on notice that he must explain himself or else face future consequences, possibly including having funds for the war cut off.

“He has a chance to get this right. If he doesn’t, Congress will exercise its constitutional authority and make it right,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner, the Ohio Republican who wrote the resolution that passed, 268-145, and sets a two-week deadline for the president to deliver the information the House is seeking.

Minutes after approving Mr. Boehner’s measure, the House defeated an even more strongly-worded resolution offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, that would have insisted the president begin a withdrawal of troops.

Most lawmakers said that was too rash at this point, and said they wanted to give Mr. Obama time to comply. Some also said immediate withdrawal would leave U.S. allies in the lurch.

The Kucinich resolution failed 148-265. In a telling signal, 87 Republicans voted for Mr. Kucinich’s resolution — more than the 61 Democrats that did.

Still, taken together, 324 members of Congress voted for one resolution or both resolutions, including 91 Democrats, or nearly half the caucus. The size of the votes signals overwhelming discontent with Mr. Obama’s handling of the constitutional issues surrounding the Libya fight.

Asked about the votes beforehand, the White House said it believes it is following the law by alerting Congress of its intentions regarding Libya, and called the resolutions “unnecessary and unhelpful.”

“We’ve continued to consult with Congress all along,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, pointing to briefings Mr. Obama and his top aides have given to members of Congress at various times before and during the deployment of troops.

But members of Congress said the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution require more than alerts about military action — they require congressional approval, which the White House has not sought.

The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress, but the power to manage the armed forces to the president. The War Powers Resolution, enacted in 1973, tries to bridge that gap by allowing the president to commit troops for up to 60 days, but requires him to seek congressional approval if he wants to extend the commitment beyond that period.

Mr. Obama’s only allies were top Democratic leaders, who said neither resolution was helpful as the president tries to aid U.S. allies’ efforts.

U.S. military action began March 19, as Mr. Obama committed U.S. forces to take the lead in setting up a no-fly zone to protect Libyan rebels fighting against the government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The U.S. eventually moved to a support role, and is currently aiding NATO, which is maintaining the no-fly zone.

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Thin Lizzy
The Boys Are Back In Town



Dancing in the Moonlight



Rosalie

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Why Muslim cultures lag behind - At FrontPage Magazine

I'm proud to announce that FrontPage Magazine has just published my first article, "Why Muslim cultures lag behind" at that esteemed site.  My sincere thanks to FrontPage Magazine's managing editor Jamie Glazov for supporting my work. I hope FrontPage is on everyone's daily 'to read' list.

I suppose I should also be thanking the Malaysian Government who, by blocking my first blog inside Malaysia back in November 2010, encouraged me to reach out to other sites.
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Jawa Report:

The One's
Censorship: The Jewish Video Obama Doesn't Want On the Web

Obama White House Tells Jewish Chorus to Take Down Their Pro-Obama Video , which they did..

Will Jews who voted for The One finally get a clue?

Tell me, what is the Jewish saying for get a clue Jew?

This is the group:


Why take down the video and notify a website which had hosted it on their website to remove the video, which they did?

I would have said screw you, this is a free country.

What, is Obama afraid his anti-Semitic leftist friends may see it?

Censorship. thy name is The One.

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sigh







Yahoo:

Employment growth slows sharply in May
By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Employers hired far fewer workers than expected in May and the jobless rate rose to 9.1 percent, raising concerns the economy might be stuck in a painful slow-growth mode.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 54,000 last month, the weakest reading since September, the Labor Department said on Friday. Private employment rose just 83,000, the least since last June, while government payrolls dropped 29,000.


Economists had expected payrolls to rise 150,000 and private hiring to increase 175,000. The government revised employment figures for March and April to show 39,000 fewer jobs created than previously estimated.

The job creation slowdown confirmed the economic weakness already flagged by other data from consumer spending to manufacturing, and it stoked fears the economy could be facing a more troubling stretch of weakness than had been thought.

"There are plenty of reasons to expect the third quarter will be better. But the question is now becoming how much better?," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Economists had pinned the economy's sluggishness largely on high energy prices, supply chain disruptions stemming from Japan's earthquake and tornadoes and flooding in U.S. Midwest and South. The department said it found "no clear impact" from weather on the jobs figures.

The employment report provides one of the best early reads on the health of the U.S. economy and it sets the tone for global financial markets.

U.S. stocks opened lower, while Treasury debt prices added to earlier gains and interest rate futures rose, signaling that traders believe mounting signs of economic weakness will lead the Federal Reserve to maintain an ultra-easy monetary policy.
The dollar fell against the yen and Swiss franc.

The sharp slowdown in job creation is troubling news for President Barack Obama, whose chances of re-election next year could hinge on the health of the economy.

RECESSION BOUND?

Economists said the report did not suggest the economy was heading into recession, but they said job growth could prove frustratingly slow.

"It is likely that this will be a soft patch in the coming months but overall it will probably be a soft patch rather than a double-dip recession or something worse," said Sean Incremona an economist at 4CAST in New York.

The data lent more fuel to talk about the need for the Fed to extend its asset purchasing program when it expires this month, but officials at the central bank have set a high bar for any further easing of monetary policy.

With the Obama administration and lawmakers discussing how best to trim the U.S. budget gap, the economy could be left to its own devices.

"The government changed our flat tire in 2008 and now we're driving around without a spare," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

High gasoline costs hurt consumer spending in the first quarter, restricting economic growth to a 1.8 percent annual pace after expanding at a 3.1 percent rate in the October-December period.

The economy has regained only a fraction of the more than 8 million jobs lost during the recession. Economists say payrolls growth above 300,000 a month is needed to make significant progress in shrinking the pool of 13.9 million unemployed Americans.

The rise in the unemployment rate from 9.0 percent in April reflected discouraged workers who had been inspired by the pick-up in hiring in April re-entering the labor market.

"There is so much slack in the labor market it's going to take a long time to get the unemployment rate down to between 6 and 7 percent. That's going to take years," said Stephen Bronars, a senior economist at Welch Consulting in Washington.

BROAD-BASED WEAKNESS

The employment report showed weakness across the board, with the private services sector adding 80,000 jobs last month after increasing payrolls by 213,000 in April.

Within the private services sector, leisure and hospitality fell, showing no boost from McDonald's recruitment of about 50,000 new staff in April, which was after the survey period for that month's payrolls. Spring is traditionally a strong hiring period for McDonald's.

Retail employment, which recorded its largest increase in 10 years in April, fell 8,500 last month. Manufacturing payrolls growth contracted 5,000 last month, the first decline since October, while construction employment rose 2,000.

The report showed the average work week steady at 34.4 hours and few signs of wage inflation, with average hourly earnings rising 6 cents.





update: half the jobs created were from McDonald's.

Which begs the question: Do you want fries with your McCovery?

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The Jawa Report:

Yemen protesters burnt alive, buried in mass graves

PROTEST CAMP STORMED, SET ABLAZE AT 3 AM

Over 250 at least were killed in Taiz, Yemen over the past four days. On May 29th, at 3 am, forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked Freedom Square in Taiz.

Water cannons filled with gasoline sprayed tents where protesters were sleeping. Thousands of protesters were camping in the Square since February demanding Saleh's immediate resignation. The tents were set ablaze and fleeing citizens shot by roof top snipers as they ran. Many were unable to escape the fires including the disabled and children as indicated by the photos linked below. The massive protest site was cleared after hours of carnage, with bulldozers scraping up the remains of tents and persons by the morning.

The protesters attempted to retake the square over the next days only to be shot point blank causing over one hundred additional fatalities.

MASS GRAVES

Reports are emerging that Saleh's forces again kidnapped severely wounded protesters and took corpses. The practice of body snatching was first reported in Aden February 25th.

Protesters killed by security forces were buried in a mass grave in Aden on February 27 a ranking Yemeni official confirmed today.

The grave site is on the eastern edge of the Salahu Deen military camp, near little Aden, and was first reported last week.

The official said 15 protesters were buried together in an unmarked single grave about eight meters long, speaking anonymously due to the high risk of government reprisal.

In May, Saleh's henchmen again captured critically wounded and the dead bodies dumping them in a mass grave chopped up in garbage barrels:

Sahwa Net, Sana'a- Medical sources at the Military Hospital in Sana'a have revealed that dozens of corpses of protesters who were killed by security forces were hidden by the Yemeni authorities in unknown places in an attempt to conceal evidence of crimes committed against peaceful demonstrators. The sources affirmed that the Central Security and the Republican Guard kidnapped dozens of the killed and wounded persons and escaped them. Security sources affirmed that the corpses of protesters were transferred from the Military Hospital's mortuary in framework of a security campaign to conceal evidence of murder crimes committed by security forces against peaceful protests...

A Yemeni human rights organization, Hood, revealed that dozens of protesters' bodies were taken into a cemetery at Artel area of the capital, Sana'a.

Hood further said that it received statements from medical sources saying that dozens of protesters corpses were taken to graves after the mid night on a Hilux, affirming that some residents of Artel area informed it, just after 12 hours of receiving those statements, that they found out a mass grave in which 15 bodies were buried.

HOOD, a leading and well respected human rights organization, reported that body parts were found in trash barrels in May likely of protesters disappeared in April:

Hood confirmed that it received information and testimonies written and documented about the central security forces and gunmen in civilian clothes attacking the demonstrators with live bullets, sharp weapons and poison gas on Saturday night 04/09/2011 in Zubairy Street and Ring Road, which led to the downfall of a number of dead and wounded.

Hood quoted witnesses saying that “Nearly 20 people were pulled to some personnel carriers and government vehicles transferred to an unknown destination and their injuries were at the head, neck, chest, abdomen and some of them had died.” Also, confirmed that it had received “certificates for a mass graves in the area of “ Bait Boss", body parts were found in trash barrels in that area, it is believed it belong to protesters who were arrested during the massacre of Kentucky Round in Sana’a. Attorney General has received a notification of this.”

The Saleh regime simultaneously engages in mass arrests as it steals corpses and kidnaps the wounded. Family members hope their missing relatives are "disappeared" in the dungeons of Yemeni prisons, as thousands are. Current reports indicate at least 500 were taken the night of May 30th, and it is unknown how many are dead in a mass grave.

The US is continuing to urge Saleh to accept a proposal to resign with a promise of immunity for his crimes. Yemen's opposition parties and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which sponsored the negotiations, have both withdrawn support for the deal. The US strongly supported Saleh since protests began as an important partner in counter-terror, and President Obama called Saleh a friend in a major speech on the Middle East in May. However Saleh's duplicity in dealing with al Qaeda is unparalleled, well documented and a clear threat to US national security.

Opposition parties and the protesters coalition have both pledged to continue cooperation with the United States in fighting al Qaeda after the fall of Saleh. Nonetheless, the policy and statements of the Obama administration remains limp and muted, an inexplicable response to the millions in Yemen seeking a civil, democratic state. It is the divisions containing US trained CT units, headed by Saleh's relatives, that are engaging in horrific crimes against Yemeni citizens, often with US supplied equipment including tear gas and vehicles.

PHOTOS

A large protest in Taiz February 21st rattled the Saleh regime. Thousands camped out in Freedom Square continuously until May 30 when the square was cleared by fire and bullets.

A protest march in Taiz May 6 affirmed solidarity with protesters in southern Yemen

For photos of the citizens burnt alive, click here (warning extremely graphic).

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Newsmax:

Yemen’s President Saleh Injured in Shelling as Battles Intensify
Friday, 03 Jun 2011 09:12 AM

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was injured when his palace was shelled, Al Arabiya television said, and explosions rocked the capital as government forces fought tribal fighters in Sana’a.

Saleh’s injuries were minor, Al Arabiya said. Mortars hit the house of Hamid al-Ahmar, a lawmaker and brother of opposition tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar. Flames and thick plumes of smoke rose over the Hadaa area of southern Sana’a near the presidential palace.

Fighting in Sana’a between Saleh’s security forces and supporters of al-Ahmar, leader of the Hashid, Yemen’s most influential tribe, entered a fifth day after the breakdown of a truce mediated by tribal leaders. Government supporters attacked protesters in the southern city of Taiz.

Hundreds of thousands of opposition members performed the Friday prayers at Sana’a’s Sixty Meter Street, where protesters chanted slogans of solidarity with the residents of Taiz where violence has also intensified. “Freedom for Taiz” and “the people want the trial of mass killers,” they shouted.

Saleh’s government has said rising social unrest threatens to strengthen al-Qaeda, a concern also expressed by the U.S. The group has sought to use Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, as a base from which to destabilize neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, and for attempted attacks on international targets including two U.S. synagogues last year.

The two sides have blamed each other for breaking a cease- fire that briefly halted three days of fighting last week.

The elite Republican Guards, led by Saleh’s son, police and armed men in plain clothes fired today on protesters in Taiz, Bushra al-Maktari, a protest organizer, said by telephone. More than 15,000 people marched in the city to condemn a government attack on anti-Saleh demonstrators that began May 29 and lasted until the early hours of May 30, she said. At least 21 people were killed in that crackdown.

There have been no pro-government rallies so far today in Sana’a or Taiz, despite calls for demonstrations to take place.

Scores of people have been killed since the conflict between Saleh’s loyalists and al-Ahmar’s men broke out last week. The violence followed Saleh’s refusal to sign a Western- backed accord brokered by Gulf countries requiring him to give up power within 30 days.

Saleh has asked Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to help organize a cease-fire, along with France, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allied countries, Senegal’s Communication Ministry said in a statement today. The two leaders spoke by phone yesterday, it said.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Saleh. “His presence remains a source of great conflict,” she said at the State Department June 1. “We cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way.”

President Barack Obama sent John Brennan, his top counterterrorism adviser, this week to meet with government officials in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both members of the Gulf Cooperation Council that sponsored the accord, to discuss options in Yemen.

“He’s obviously working with our allies in the region to see what can be done to persuade President Saleh to follow the agreement he made to sign the accord and to begin the transfer of power immediately,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in Washington.

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Al-Qaeda in Sinai
Posted by P. David Hornik

It started early this week when a “senior Egyptian security official” told the Egyptian-based Al-Hayyat TV channel that over 400 Al-Qaeda members had made their way into the Sinai Peninsula. They were said to be composed of Palestinians, Bedouins, and foreign Arabs, and Egyptian security forces were said to be pursuing them since they were “planning to carry out terror attacks in Egypt.”

The official told Al-Hayyat that they had already carried out “attacks against [Egyptian] security forces in the Sinai city of El Arish.”

The report seemed to gain credence on Monday when Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “Egypt is having a hard time realizing its sovereignty in Sinai. International terror organizations are stirring in Sinai and their presence is increasing due to Sinai’s connection to Gaza.”

Although Netanyahu left it vague, that “due to” can work both ways: terrorists in Sinai, particularly if intent on attacking Israel, can make their way into Gaza, and terrorists in Gaza—especially now that Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing—can make their way into Sinai.

Although it may have gotten a significant boost this week, the problem of Al-Qaeda and other global jihadist forces in Sinai is not new. Last February 5, a gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan was blown up in northern Sinai, and it was blown up again on April 27. The attacks are attributed to local Bedouins, global jihadists, or a collaboration between the two.

Last August, five rockets were fired from Sinai at the Israeli resort town of Eilat; one, the only one to cause damage, instead hit the adjacent Jordanian town of Aqaba, killing one and wounding five. Global jihadists were believed to be behind it. Another rocket, also probably fired from Sinai, had hit Aqaba in April without causing casualties.

Severe bombing attacks have also struck Egyptian targets in Sinai: in 2006, one in Dahab that killed at least 23; in 2005, one in Sharm el-Sheikh that killed 88; and a double bombing at the Taba and Ras al-Shitan resorts in 2004 that took at least 34 lives.

The mounting terror threat from Sinai puts Israel in a difficult dilemma. Under the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Israel withdrew from Sinai while Egypt agreed to leave it demilitarized, deploying only police and border guards there. But after the first gas-pipeline bombing last February 5, Israel—for the first time since the peace treaty’s signing—allowed Egypt to move military forces into the peninsula.

Though the two Egyptian battalions were supposed to put a lid on the growing anarchy, just days later, Israel turned down an Egyptian request to deploy additional forces, fearing “a complete breakdown of the peace treaty with Cairo.”

Upholding the peace treaty, then, means a growing presence for Al-Qaeda and other global terror in Sinai, without adequate Egyptian—or any other—forces to counter it. Derogating from the treaty means allowing Egypt—in the post-Mubarak era that has seen rising extremism there—back into the peninsula, which borders Gaza to the north and Israel itself to the south, and from which Egypt attacked Israel in 1948 and 1967.

Above all, the situation underlines the fragility of the peace-process paradigm, which has become axiomatic in international diplomacy and assumes that Israel can gain peace in return for territorial concessions.

As long as the Mubarak government—which, while violating almost all the other terms of the peace treaty, never militarily attacked Israel—ruled Egypt, it could be claimed that the paradigm was at least succeeding in the Egyptian case. Today, with Sinai becoming a terror haven that threatens both Egypt and Israel, and with Israel rightly judging that letting Egyptian forces enter it is even more dangerous, the days—1967 to 1979—when Israeli forces controlled Sinai can only be regarded with nostalgia.

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