Friday, February 29, 2008

SLEEPWALKING INTO A NIGHTMARE! (Shades of Neville Chamberlain)

Sleepwalking Into a Nightmare

Speech by Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich delivered the following remarks to a Jewish National Fund meeting Nov. 15 at the Selig Center.

I just want to talk to you from the heart for a few minutes and share with you where I think we are.

I think it is very stark. I don't think it is yet desperate, but it is very stark. And if I had a title for today's talk, it would be sleepwalking into a nightmare. 'Cause that's what I think we're doing.

I gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute Sept. 10th at which I gave an alternative history of the last six years, because the more I thought about how much we're failing, the more I concluded you couldn't just nitpick individual places and talk about individual changes because it didn't capture the scale of the disaster. And I had been particularly impressed by a new book that came out called “Troublesome Young Men,” which is a study of the younger Conservatives who opposed appeasement in the 1930s and who took on Chamberlain. It's a very revealing book and a very powerful book because we tend to look backwards and we tend to overstate Churchill's role in that period. And we tend to understate what a serious and conscientious and thoughtful effort appeasement was and that it was the direct and deliberate policy of very powerful and very willful people. We tend to think of it as a psychological weakness, as though Chamberlain was somehow craven. He wasn't craven. Chamberlain had a very clear vision of the world, and he was very ruthless domestically. And they believed so deeply in avoiding war with Germany that as late as the spring of 1940, when they are six months or seven months into they war, they are dropping leaflets instead of bombs on the Rohr, and they are urging the British news media not to publish anti-German stories because they don't want to offend the German people. And you read this book, and it makes you want to weep because, interestingly, the younger Tories who were most opposed to appeasement were the combat veterans of World War I, who had lost all of their friends in the war but who understood that the failure of appeasement would result in a worse war and that the longer you lied about reality, the greater the disaster.

And they were severely punished and isolated by Chamberlain and the Conservative machine, and as I read that, I realized that that's really where we are today. Our current problem is tragic. You have an administration whose policy is inadequate being opposed by a political Left whose policy is worse, and you have nobody prepared to talk about the policy we need. Because we are told if you are for a strong America, you should back the Bush policy even if it's inadequate, and so you end up making an argument in favor of something that can't work. So your choice is to defend something which isn't working or to oppose it by being for an even weaker policy. So this is a catastrophe for this country and a catastrophe for freedom around the world. Because we have refused to be honest about the scale of the problem.

Let me work back. I'm going to get to Iran since that's the topic, but I'm going to get to it eventually.

Let me work back from Pakistan. The dictatorship in Pakistan has never had control over Wiziristan. Not for a day. So we've now spent six years since 9/11 with a sanctuary for al Qaeda and a sanctuary for the Taliban, and every time we pick up people in Great Britain who are terrorists, they were trained in Pakistan.

And our answer is to praise Musharraf because at least he's not as bad as the others. But the truth is Musharraf has not gotten control of terrorism in Pakistan. Musharraf doesn't have full control over his own government. The odds are even money we're going to drift into a disastrous dictatorship at some point in Pakistan. And while we worry about the Iranians acquiring a nuclear weapon, the Pakistanis already have 'em, So why would you feel secure in a world where you could presently have an Islamist dictatorship in Pakistan with a hundred-plus nuclear weapons? What's our grand strategy for that?

Then you look at Afghanistan. Here's a country that's small, poor, isolated, and in six years we have not been able to build roads, create economic opportunity, wean people off of growing drugs. A third of the GDP is from drugs. We haven't been able to end the sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan. And I know of no case historically where you defeat a guerrilla movement if it has a sanctuary. So the people who rely on the West are out-bribed by the criminals, outgunned by the criminals, and faced with a militant force across the border which practiced earlier defeating the Soviet empire and which has a time horizon of three or four generations. NATO has a time horizon of each quarter or at best a year, facing an opponent whose time horizon is literally three or four generations. It's a total mismatch.

Then you come to the direct threat to the United States, which is al Qaeda. Which, by the way, we just published polls. One of the sites I commend to you is Last Wednesday we posted six national surveys, $428,000 worth of data. We gave it away. I found myself in the unique position of calling Howard Dean to tell him I was giving him $400,000 worth of polling. We have given it away to both Democrats and Republicans. It is fundamentally different from the national news media. When asked the question "Do we have an obligation to defend the United States and her allies?" the answer is 85 percent yes. When asked a further question "Should we defeat our enemies?" – it's very strong language – the answer is 75% yes, 75 to 16.

The complaint about Iraq is a performance complaint, not a values complaint.

When asked whether or not al Qaeda is a threat, 89% of the country says yes. And they think you have to defeat it, you can't negotiate with it. So now let's look at al Qaeda and the rise of Islamist terrorism.

And let's be honest: What's the primary source of money for al Qaeda? It's you, re-circulated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy and to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy.

Now that's what a serious national strategy would look like, but that would require real change.

So then you look at Saudi Arabia. The fact that we tolerate a country saying no Christian and no Jew can go to Mecca, and we start with the presumption that that's true while they attack Israel for being a religious state is a sign of our timidity, our confusion, our cowardice that is stunning.

It's not complicated. We're inviting Saudi Arabia to come to Annapolis to talk about rights for Palestinians when nobody is saying, "Let's talk about rights for Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia. Let's talk about rights for women in Saudi Arabia."

So we accept this totally one-sided definition of the world in which our enemies can cheerfully lie on television every day, and we don't even have the nerve to insist on the truth. We pretend their lies are reasonable. This is a very fundamental problem. And if you look at who some of the largest owners of some of our largest banks are today, they're Saudis.

You keep pumping billions of dollars a year into countries like Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Russia, and you are presently going to have created people who oppose you who have lots of money. And they're then going to come back to your own country and finance, for example, Arab study institutes whose only requirement is that they never tell the truth. So you have all sorts of Ph.D.s who now show up quite cheerfully prepared to say whatever it is that makes their funders happy – in the name, of course, of academic freedom. So why wouldn't Columbia host a genocidal madman? It's just part of political correctness. I mean, Ahmadinejad may say terrible things, he may lock up students, he may kill journalists, he may say, "We should wipe out Israel," he may say, "We should defeat the United States," but after all, what has he done that's inappropriate? What has he done that wouldn't be repeated at a Hollywood cocktail party or a nice gathering in Europe?

And nobody says this is totally, utterly, absolutely unacceptable. Why is it that the number one threat in intelligence movies is the CIA?

I happened the other night to be watching an old movie, “To Live and Die in L.A.,” which is about counterfeiting. But the movie starts with a Secret Service agent who is defending Ronald Reagan in 1985, and the person he is defending Ronald Reagan from is a suicide bomber who is actually, overtly a Muslim fanatic. Now, six years after 9/11, you could not get that scene made in Hollywood today.

Just look at the movies. Why is it that the bad person is either a Right-wing crazed billionaire, or the CIA as a government agency? Go look at “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Or a movie like the one that George Clooney made, which was an absolute lie, in which it implied that if you were a reformist Arab prince, that probably the CIA would kill you. It's a total lie. We actually have SEALs protecting people all over the world. We actually risk American lives protecting reformers all over the world, and yet Hollywood can't bring itself to tell the truth, (a) because it's ideologically so opposed to the American government and the American military, and (b), because it's terrified that if it said something really openly, honestly true about Muslim terrorists, they might show up in Hollywood. And you might have somebody killed as the Dutch producer was killed.

And so we're living a life of cowardice, and in that life of cowardice we're sleepwalking into a nightmare.

And then you come to Iran. There's a terrific book. Mark Bowden is a remarkable writer who wrote “Black Hawk Down,” has enormous personal courage. He's a Philadelphia newspaper writer, actually got the money out of the Philadelphia newspaper to go to Somalia to interview the Somalian side of “Black Hawk Down.” It's a remarkable achievement. Tells a great story about getting to Somalia, paying lots of cash, having the local warlord protect him, and after about two weeks the warlord came to him and said, "You know, we've decided that we're very uncomfortable with you being here, and you should leave."

And so he goes to the hotel, where he is the only hard-currency guest, and says, "I've got to check out two weeks early because the warlord has told me that he no longer will protect me." And the hotel owner, who wants to keep his only hard-currency guest, says, "Well, why are you listening to him? He's not the government. There is no government." And Bowden says, "Well, what will I do?" And he says, "You hire a bigger warlord with more guns," which he did. But then he could only stay one week because he ran out of money.

But this is a guy with real courage. I mean, imagine trying to go out and be a journalist in that kind of world, OK? So Bowden came back and wrote “Guests of the Ayatollah,” which is the Iranian hostage of 1979, which he entitled, "The First Shots in Iran's War Against America." So in the Bowden worldview, the current Iranian dictatorship has been at war with the United States since 1979. Violated international law. Every conceivable tenet of international law was violated when they seized the American Embassy and they seized the diplomats. Killed Americans in Lebanon in the early '80s. Killed Americans at Khobar Towers in '95 and had the Clinton administration deliberately avoid revealing the information, as Louis Freeh, the director of the FBI, has said publicly, because they didn't want to have to confront the Iranian complicity.

And so you have an Iranian regime which is cited annually as the leading supporter of state terrorism in the world. Every year the State Department says that. It's an extraordinary act of lucidity on the part of an institution which seeks to avoid it as often as possible.

And you have Gen. Petraeus come to the U.S. Congress and say publicly in an open session, "The Iranians are waging a proxy war against Americans in Iraq."

I was so deeply offended by this, it's hard for me to express it without sounding irrational. I'm an Army brat. My dad served 27 years in the infantry. The idea that an American general would come to the American Congress, testify in public that our young men and women are being killed by Iran, and we have done nothing, I find absolutely abhorrent.

So I'm preparing to come and talk today. I got up this morning, and a friend had sent me yesterday's Jerusalem Post editorial, which if you haven't read, I recommend to you. It has, for example, the following quote: "On Monday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, 'The problem of the content of the document setting out joint principles for peace-making post-Annapolis has not been resolved. One of the more pressing problems is the Zionist regime's insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state. We will not agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined.' "

What truly bothers me is the shallowness and the sophistry of the Western governments, starting with our own. When a person says to you, "I don't recognize that you exist," you don't start a negotiation. The person says, "I literally do not recognize" and then lies to you. I mean the first thing you say to this guy is "Terrific. Let's go visit Mecca. Since clearly there's no other state except Israel that is based on religion, the fact that I happen to be Christian won't bother anybody." And then he'll say, "Well, that's different."

We tolerate this. We have created our own nightmare because we refuse to tell the truth. We refuse to tell the truth to our politicians. Our State Department refuses to tell the truth to the country. If the president of the United States, and again, we're now so bitterly partisan, we're so committed to red vs. blue hostility, that George W. Bush doesn't have the capacity to give an address from the Oval Office that has any meaning for half the country. And the anti-war Left is so strong in the Democratic primary that I think it's almost impossible for any Democratic presidential candidate to tell the truth about the situation.

And so the Republicans are isolated and trying to defend incompetence. The Democrats are isolated and trying to find a way to say, "I'm really for strength as long as I can have peace, but I'd really like to have peace, except I don't want to recognize these people who aren't very peaceful."

I just want to share with you, as a grandfather, as a citizen, as a historian, as somebody who was once speaker of the House, this is a serious national crisis. This is 1935 or 1936, and it's getting worse every year.

None of our enemies are confused. Our enemies don't get up each morning and go, "Oh, gosh, I think I'll have an existential crisis of identity in which I will try to think through whether or not we can be friends while you're killing me." Our enemies get up every morning and say, "We hate the West. We hate freedom." They would not allow a meeting with women in the room.

I was once interviewed by a BBC reporter, a nice young lady who was only about as anti-American as she had to be to keep her job. Since it was a live interview, I turned to her halfway through the interview and I said, "Do you like your job?" And it was summertime, and she's wearing a short-sleeve dress. And she said, "Well, yes." She was confused because I had just reversed roles. I said, "Well, then you should hope we win." She said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, if the enemy wins, you won't be allowed to be on television."

I don't know how to explain it any simpler than that.

Now what do we need?

We need first of all to recognize this is a real war. Our enemies are peaceful when they're weak, are ruthless when they're strong, demand mercy when they're losing, show no mercy when they're winning. They understand exactly what this is, and anybody who reads Sun Tzu will understand exactly what we're living through. This is a total war. One side is going to win. One side is going to lose. You'll be able to tell who won and who lost by who's still standing. Most of Islam is not in this war, but most of Islam isn't going to stop this war. They're just going to sit to one side and tell you how sorry they are that this happened. We had better design grand strategies that are radically bigger and radically tougher and radically more honest than anything currently going on, and that includes winning the argument in Europe, and it includes winning the argument in the rest of the world. And it includes being very clear, and I'll just give you one simple example because we're now muscle-bound by our own inability to talk honestly.

Iran produces 60% of its own gasoline. It produces lots of crude oil but only has one refinery. It imports 40% of its gasoline. The entire 60% is produced at one huge refinery.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan decided to break the Soviet empire. He was asked, “What's your vision of the Cold War?” He said, "Four words: We win; they lose." He was clearly seen by The New York Times as an out-of-touch, reactionary, right-wing cowboy from California who had no idea what was going on in the world. And 11 years later the Soviet Union disappeared, but obviously that had nothing to do with Reagan because that would have meant he was right. So it's just a random accident the Soviet Union disappeared.

Part of the war we waged on the Soviet Union involved their natural gas supply because we wanted to cut off their hard currency. The Soviets were desperate to get better equipment for their pipeline. We managed to sell them through third parties very, very sophisticated American pipeline equipment, which they were thrilled to buy and thought they had pulled off a huge coup. Now we weren't playing fair. We did not tell them that the equipment was designed to blow up. One day in 1982, there was an explosion in Siberia so large that the initial reflection on the satellites looked like there was a tactical nuclear weapon. One part of the White House was genuinely worried, and the other part of the White House had to calm them down. They said, "No, no, that's our equipment blowing up."

In the 28 years since the Iranians declared war on us, in the six years since 9/11, in the months since Gen. Petraeus publicly said they are killing young Americans, we have not been able to figure out how to take down one refinery. Covertly, quietly, without overt war. And we have not been able to figure out how to use the most powerful navy in the world to simply stop the tankers and say, "Look, you want to kill young Americans, you're going to walk to the battlefield, but you're not going to ride in the car because you're not going to have any gasoline."

We don't have to be stupid. The choice is not cowardice or total war. Reagan unlocked Poland without firing a shot in an alliance with the pope, with the labor unions and with the British. We have every possibility if we're prepared to be honest to shape the world. It'll be a very big project. It's much closer to World War II than it is to anything we've tried recently. It will require real effort, real intensity and real determination. We're either going to do it now, while we're still extraordinarily powerful, or we're going to do it later under much more desperate circumstances after we've lost several cities.

We had better take this seriously because we are not very many mistakes away from a second Holocaust. Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. Our enemies would like to get those weapons as soon as they can, and they promise to use them as soon as they can.

I suggest we defeat our enemies and create a different situation long before they have that power.

# #

Mr. Gingrich is the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and author of "Winning the Future".

Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of The Family Security Foundation, Inc.

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# #

Mr. Gingrich is the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Free Trade, Obama and The fall of Communism and the North American Free Trade Agreement

Barack Obama has come out against "free trucking"' which is the practice started under NAFTA (No American Factories Taking Applications) of allowing Mexican truck drivers to drive their freight straight to their destination in the U.S. , instead of the previous practice of transferring the cargo to American trucks. As a result of this practice, goods are driven on American highways at standards below those required of U.S. truckers.Additionally, their wages are far below those of American truck drivers.Mr. Obama has expressed concern during stops in blue collar areas over the loss of jobs under NAFTA.
This has been cited as a dangerous shift to the left by the Financial Times. This would be interesting to Patrick Buchanan, a conservative of long standing renown, whose opposition to NAFTA long predates the current election.
The drain of skilled American jobs south of the border and overseas has been greatly speeded up by NAFTA, with a ripple effect across the American economy.Additionally, the erosion of our national sovereignty through signing international treaties is a danger long cited by conservatives in our country. In my opinion, Obama has lent the prestige of his surging poll numbers to this topic long in need of discussion. The erosion of America's industrial base can no longer be swept under the carpet.
There remains an issue that prevents me from jumping on the Obama bandwagon, and that is national security. New York's recent political history provides a lesson in microcosm to the American electorate. When Rudolph Giuliani became mayor in 1994, he inherited a murder rate from his predecessors of over 2000 in a city of seven million. His administration started with quality of life crimes and kept the pressure on more serious crimes. The murder rate plummeted. The friendlier tax climate created during the Giuliani administration was only partly responsible for New York's economic resurgence. When the physical safety of New Yorkers became less of an issue, it attracted business to New York, to the point that we are now competitive with London as a financial centre. People do not want fear for their lives to be a factor in their business calculations.
The lesson for America from New York City is clear. You can not separate the issue of security from the goal of prosperity. Whether your adversary is a common thug or an international terrorist, the message you send to America's enemies is heard by big business.
I am glad that Obama has half of the picture. But it is still only half the picture.
Coppyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

Concerns over Obama’s shift to left

Financial Times
Concerns over Obama’s shift to left
By Edward Luce in San Antonio, Texas

Published: February 28 2008 21:33 | Last updated: February 28 2008 21:33

Until a few weeks ago Barack Obama’s economic platform was the most centrist of the three Democratic contenders remaining after John Edwards, the flag-bearer of the left, dropped out in late January.

Since Super Tuesday on February 5, that has changed. Scenting, perhaps, the chance of settling the nomination next week (when Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont go to the polls), Mr Obama has indulged in a bidding war with Hillary Clinton to see who can rail most strongly against globalisation.

Campaign veterans say much of the rhetoric can be discounted as classic primary season politicking that will be diluted when it comes to the general election. But sympathetic economists have expressed concern about proposals Mr Obama has unveiled in the past two weeks since campaigning began in earnest to woo the workers of Ohio.

Last week Mr Obama came out against “open trucking” with Mexico in which freight lorries would drive across the border instead of unloading on to American trucks. His new stance coincided with the endorsement of the Teamsters union, which is opposed to competition in road freight.

In addition to attacking the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Mr Obama says has cost the US “millions of jobs”, both candidates have alarmed America’s neighbours by threatening to opt out of Nafta.

“Threatening to repudiate international agreements would have serious foreign policy consequences which would undermine Mr Obama’s broader foreign policy goals,” says Susan Aaronson, professor at George Washington university and a former adviser to Bill Richardson, who dropped out of the race in January. “Some of this may be normal pandering for the primaries. But it has gone much further than expected.”

Mr Obama’s proposal to levy lower corporate tax on companies that reverse the offshoring of jobs has caused disquiet. “Patriot employers” was unveiled when Mr Obama had already become the favourite to secure the nomination. Some say it is unworkable.

“It just isn’t clear why the Obama campaign felt the need to bring this out now,” one Democratic economist says. “It might have political merits in the primaries but there are many more effective and less bureaucratic ways than this to incentivise the creation of new jobs.”

Mr Obama’s terminology has also raised eyebrows. “What he is effectively saying is that companies that offshore jobs are unpatriotic,” says Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics. “This is serious language.”

Tacking to the left on the economy would be vindicated in the eyes of many if Mr Obama won in either Ohio or Texas next Tuesday. But officials on John McCain’s Republican campaign believe Mr Obama has given them ammunition for the general election.

Mr McCain, whose core selling point is strength on national security, has been mocked for a self-confessed weak grasp of economics and for having suggested last month that spending cuts should be part of any fiscal stimulus package – a measure that would further depress growth.

But advisers to Mr McCain believe that Mr Obama would present a juicy target as nominee. “We see him as a classic liberal whose proposals come straight out of the 1970s,” says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior McCain adviser. “It is hard to understand his stance on trade. Access to the US market is a vital element of our foreign policy.”

Supporters of Mr Obama deny he is opposed to trade liberalisation and point to his recent vote in favour of the bilateral deal with Peru because it had agreed to incorporate labour and environmental standards. Critics say such arrangements could jeopardise Nafta.

Were he the Democratic nominee, one test of Mr Obama’s trade position could be the expiry in November of a deal that imposes quotas on China’s textile exports to the US. Mr McCain would recommend scrapping the quotas. Neither Mrs Clinton nor Mr Obama has expressed a view.

Another test would be on steel. “Would Mr Obama support shutting out Chinese steel imports where production didn’t conform to US carbon emissions standards?” Mr Hufbauer asks. “Ideas like this are in circulation. They sound good on the surface.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Fresh Look At Tobacco

In the latter part of the last century, George Washington Carver transformed the way we look at the peanut, finding hundreds of industrial and gastronomic uses for it through scientific research.
I believe the time has come to give tobacco the same treatment as the peanut once received in laboratories of Dr. Carver. The urgency is in some ways far greater. Tobacco as a cash crop is under attack from anti-smoking activists for sound medical reasons. Already, medical and agricultural uses have been discovered for tobacco. It might even be possible to find more benign and non carcinogenic ways of ingesting nicotine. It would seem that much could be gained from a utilitarian scientific look at tobacco. A significant percentage of the tobacco crop that is currently smoked might be put into medical, industrial and scientific applications. Genetic research opens additional possibilities for breeding additional useful varieties of this much maligned plant.
An additional possibility would be crop diversification, reaching into the field of ethno-botany. Ethno-botanists have already discovered medically useful plants in various corners of the world. The next logical step would be to match some of these plants to the climatic and soil conditions of tobacco producing regions. For centuries, food crops have been bred to thrive in areas where they originally could not grow. Pest resistance and other factors have also been bred into new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Crops that are well chosen to replace tobacco might even have a higher per acre dollar yield than tobacco, removing the main objection that could be raised to crop replacement.
The time has come to adapt to the public's awareness of the health risks of tobacco as it is currently used. The scientific knowledge exists to transform the adversarial relationship between the tobacco industry and the medical-scientific community. We have already wasted too much time. Let's get to work in the creative spirit of George Washington Carver.

Copyright 2008 By Magdeburger Joe


By Sean Henahan, Access Excellence

SAN DIEGO- Nicotine in tobacco form accounts for millions of deaths each year from cancer, emphysema and heart disease. Yet, in certain neurologic and psychiatric conditions, nicotine can have useful therapeutic effects, reported scientists at the inaugural conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

"Nicotine has long been a useful tool for researchers interested in probing the nervous system. Although the health risks associated with its intake via tobacco products has tended to tarnish society's view of nicotine, it is important to recognize that nicotine may have therapeutic potential with a number of disease states," noted Ovid Pomerleau, Ph.D., Director of the Behavioral Medicine Program, University of Michigan and President of the SRNT.

Nicotine is one of the most studied of all drugs. At the beginning of the century, the earliest research into neurotransmitters involved the effects of nicotine, indeed the first neurotransmitter receptor identified was the nicotine receptor. Nicotine mimics the actions of acetylcholine and has been shown to modulates many neurotransmitters.

In recent years there has been considerable research into the role of nicotine receptors in the central nervous system in human cognitive functioning. Initial investigations of the effect of nicotinic agents in both normal and diseased individuals has confirmed the importance of the integrity of these systems for normal cognitive functioning, he said.

There is now some intriguing new data suggesting that very low doses of nicotine can have dramatic effects in controlling the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome, a rare neurologic disorder characterized by physical tics and uncontrollable vocalizations which are often filled with obscenities.

Dr. Paul Sanberg of University of South Florida presented a series of case studies showing long-term control of tics, vocalizations and other symptoms following the use of a single nicotine patch. Interestingly, the patients with the most severe symptoms appear to benefit the most.

"Most patients with Tourette's syndrome are treated with a neuroleptic (anti-seizure) agent of some sort, and generally respond well to this approach. But there are a certain number of patients that are not as responsive to neuroleptics and need some further help. Our studies suggest that these patients may be helped by nicotine therapy. A double-blind study of daily patch use is now underway," he said.

There is now also some new data indicating that nicotine can normalize some of the psychophysiological deficits seen in patients with schizophrenia. This may explain the high prevalence of smoking among schizophrenics and could lead to novel therapeutic approaches, reported Robert Freedman, M.D., department of psychiatry, University of Colorado.

"Schizophrenia is among the most puzzling of mental disorders. There is no well-defined neuronal dysfunction and no specific Mendelian pattern of inheritance, although there is evidence of familial clustering. It has been very difficult to pin down what the biological dysfunction is in these patients," he noted.

Having observed that schizophrenics are extremely sensitive to sensory stimuli, Dr. Freedman conducted a series of electrophysiologic studies involving auditory evoked potentials. These studies revealed that, where normal volunteers can inhibit the EEG response to repeated tones, schizophrenics cannot. Further laboratory studies led Dr. Freedman to the conclusion that nicotine receptors were involved in this phenomenon.

"We did not set out to study nicotine, we set out to study schizophrenia. But anyone who spends anytime with schizophrenics soon realizes that they smoke a great deal. Indeed, a much higher percentage of schizophrenics, both male and female, are heavy smokers than in the general population, and they smoke the higher tar brands," said Freedman.

Dr. Freedman then studied the relatives of schizophrenics who were free of mental illness but who did have the evoked potential deficit. He found that having these volunteers chew nicotine gum normalized the EEG response. A subsequent study in schizophrenic patients who were smokers revealed that smoking cigarettes did produce a short term normalization of the EEG abnormality.

Nicotine per se does not appear to offer a useful approach to the treatment of schizophrenia because of the short term effect of the drug and the high risk side effect profile. However, the research does offer some new targets for drug development, and some encouraging work is already underway, he said.

It may be that schizophrenia may be the wrong disease to treat with nicotine, he added. Other forms of psychosis have different responses to cholinergic agents, particularly the manic and senile psychoses, he added.

There is also increasing clinical data supporting a potential role for nicotine in treatment of Alzheimer's disease, reported Paul Newhouse, M.D., University of Vermont College of Medicine.

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a loss of cholinergic neurons in the basal forebrain with an associated loss of nicotinic receptors. This vulnerable group of cells is critical both for the regulation of cerebral blood flow and cognitive performance. Clinical studies have shown that intravenous administration of nicotine to non-smoking Alzheimer's patients produces significant improvements in long-term recall and attention span, although increases in symptoms of anxiety and depression are also seen.

"We can demonstrate that loss of nicotinic receptors has functional consequences for cognitive processes and that nicotine agonists appear to provide improvements. This suggests that therapeutic stimulation with nicotinic agonists might have benefits, either in Alzheimer's disease, or in other dementias where nicotinic receptor loss has been observed.

"Where Alzheimer's disease is concerned, a small effect on cognitive function is a positive thing. Even the best cholinergic drugs now on the market produce quite small effects on cognitive function. No one pretends that nicotine agonists are likely to produce a cure for this disease, but I think they may form part of a therapeutic package," said Dr. Newhouse.

A number of Alzheimer's disease studies are currently underway evaluating the nicotine patch approach. In addition, research is underway to develop potential new nicotine agonist therapies targeted at specific nicotine receptor subtypes, with the goal of creating the beneficial effects seen with nicotine without the toxic side effects.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Introducing the Walter Duranty Awards for Aiding Tyrany

In 1932, Josef Stalin presided over one of the worst man made famines in world history. During the years 1932-1933, Ukrainian peasants, who were instrumental in making Ukraine the "breadbasket of Europe" were forced into a network of collective farms. They were completely stripped of all personal property, from agricultural implements to jewelry. They were left with no cushion against the displacement that would have occurred even during a well planned and consensual transition to collective farming.
The forced collectivisations were neither well planned nor consensual. They were strongly opposed by the Ukrainian farmers whose way of life was brutally disrupted. Anyone who attempted to hide personal property was liable to execution. The term for landed peasant "kulak", became a derisive epithet of the Stalinist regime to be hurled at the opponents of the new order. Deaths in this man made disaster were estimated to be between 2.5 and three million dead, with some estimates ranging far higher.
All this could have been expected to raise an international outcry. Fortunately for Stalin, and unfortunately for the people of Ukraine, Walter Duranty, the Moscow correspondent for the New York Times. Notoriously well fed by his Soviet hosts, Duranty filed glowing reports of the success of the collectivisation campaign. He was dismissive of reports of starvation that were far too widespread to ignore. Whether it was the opulence of his working conditions or twisted idealism, his reportage was a valuable instrument in the service of Stalin's regime. Indeed , he was widely criticised for being a mouthpiece for the Soviet Regime, even defending their show trials of alleged enemies of the state.
In 2008, there has been an economic meltdown in North Korea, resulting in famine conditions in this isolated country of twenty three million people. Estimates of deaths in this famine which plagued North Korea in the nineties as well as in this decade start at one million and go much higher. Indeed , the harsh economic conditions in that hermit kingdom have led to a surge of refugees into the part of communist China bordering North Korea. Video evidence smuggled out of North Korea gives vivid evidence of suffering far beyond the actual death toll.
It is in light of these two disasters, born of the same twisted ideology in different decades apart, that I view the recent visit of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea." (Say that with a straight face.) Without even addressing the Kim Jong Il regime's nuclear ambitions, their indifference to the suffering and death in their country is frightening.
It is in light of this that I present The Walter Duranty Coverup Award to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for their disgusting whitewash of Kim Jong Il, the hereditary successor (Dear Leader) to his far more cunning father. (Great Leader)I would like to give an award of equal value to the banquet and publicity they received in Pyongyang, but the meager budget of this website leaves me little to offer. As consolation, I offer a map of the best dumpsters in Brooklyn, from which may be retrieved food that is far more than millions of North Koreans ever see. Perhaps the Orchestra should go on a dumpster tour in honor of the unfed millions in North Korea.
On a less sarcastic note I suggest that The distinguished Orchestra donate the profits from their massive photo op to humanitarian organisations working to assist the poor in North Korea
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe
Please click on title to this post to view a video on conditions in North Korea. It is number three of a set of five, but it shows the North korea not seen by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Land Israel Is Asked To Give Away Is Paid For In Blood and Tears

When you drive down the east or west coast of the United States , there is a long pause between the outskirts of one city and the edge of the next. The signs showing the miles to the next major city show numbers that shrink all too slowly.
In Israel, by contrast, the cities follow each other in rapid succession. Names brought to my awareness through terrorist attacks flash by on the highway almost too fast to count. It can be said that the country Israelis are being asked to dismember is a sliver on the map right now, that would be suicidal to reduce further.
There is a myth propagated to delegitimise Israel that states that innocent Arabs are being made to pay for the displacement of European Jews who came to Israel. This deceitful version of history ignores the series of pogroms(farhud) and legal measures taken in Iraq, Syria and Egypt that stripped the Jews of Arab countries of property, safety and civil protection.
There was overt collaboration between Nazi Germany and Arab political leaders, the nadir of which was the visit of the grand mufti of Jerusalem to Auschwitz. Indeed, he asked that the Jews be killed in order that there be no chance of them coming to what was then Palestine.
There was no State of Israel in 1920, 1928 or 1936, all years of bloody pogroms in the Holy Land. There was no State of Israel during the pogroms in Arab countries that took place during World War Two.
The lies of Israel's enemies are a prelude to an intended genocide. They do not deserve to have land from which to launch yet more murderous attacks against Jews in the Holy Land.

copyright 2008 Magdeburger Joe
Please click on the title link. Additionally I offer a presentation from Harav Meir Kahane that gives eloquent voice to a truth that is in danger of being buried in our troubled times. Please click below for that presentation

Japan's untouchables still fighting discrimination from Taipei Times 8/1/2004

Sunday, Aug 01, 2004, Page 5

Nobuyuki Hishigaki need utter only a few words before his dialect betrays his Osakan roots. Like many of his peers, Hishigaki, a boyish-looking 39, joined his current employer straight after university. Marriage and children followed.

But there is an extraordinary side to his life. Since childhood, he has had to deal with name-calling, harassment and discrimination from people to whom he is ethnically identical.

Being treated as a second-class citizen is a fact of life for Hishigaki and tens of thousands of other buraku, members of a Japanese underclass labelled "untouchables" since the 17th century.

Considered vastly inferior to warriors, artisans, farmers and merchants, the buraku of feudal Japan were called eta (filth) or hinin (non-human). They were hired to slaughter animals, dig graves and work leather, thereby becoming tainted by their association with the impurities of death.

Many were forced to live in designated villages and abide by a special dress code. Their confinement meant they were easy targets for abuse. And the survival of many of those neighborhoods means the abuse has yet to end.

One of the better-known buraku communities is the Kuboyoshi district of southern Osaka, where Hishigaki works as a secretary at the local branch of the Buraku Liberation League.

The neighborhood was one of more than 4,000 buraku districts nationwide, with a total population of 892,000, according to the last government survey, conducted in 1993. League officials say that the number is closer to three million when buraku who have left their communities are included.

The Meiji rulers outlawed discrimination against the buraku in 1871, but mistrust and hostility continue. Private detectives sell lists of buraku to companies wishing to inquire into the backgrounds of job applicants. Hate mail is common, as are job applications summarily dismissed by employers.

The result is frustration, anger and countless blighted relationships. More than half of all marriages involving a buraku man or woman face opposition from the non-buraku partner's parents.

At university in Osaka, Hishigaki encountered graffiti warning other students of a buraku in their midst. A girlfriend who knew his ancestry suddenly split up with him. He was never given a reason, but knows that her parents were not pleased with her choice of boyfriend.

But the postwar period has also brought improvements to the lives of the buraku. Under a government plan launched in the late 1960s, slums were cleared and improvements made to education and welfare services. Buraku began to find work outside of their communities, and their children started to attend ordinary state schools. Marrying "outsiders" has gained wider acceptance.

Crucially, public figures, including the influential Liberal Democratic party politician Hiromu Nonaka, have acknowledged their buraku roots.

With anti-discrimination laws in place, Hishigaki believes the key to ridding Japan of lingering prejudice lies in a dialogue between buraku and their neighbors. "We have to work towards a day when a child can say he's buraku, and his friends will answer, 'So what?"' he says.

Faced with centuries of ignorance, that day may be some way off. In the meantime, Hishigaki says he will soon have some honest talking of his own to do with his two young children.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Kinder Gentler Soviet Style Election

In the bad old days, when Eastern Europe was firmly in the Soviet orbit, there would occasionally be elections, in which the Supreme Leader ran unopposed, with the words "yes" and "no" printed beneath the circles under his name.
The last time Enver Hoxha faced his electorate in Albania, he won something like 99.996 % of the vote. It can be safely assumed that the entire population of "no" voters in Communist Albania fit comfortably on the bus that had been chartered for them the day before the vote.
The problem with this approach is that it lacks credibility among citizens of western democracies, who look with suspicion at lopsided pluralities.
How does one fix an election with the sophisticated veneer of Chicago or New York and the secured results that could only be had in Pyongyang? Look no further than Israel!! Left of center is the Labour Party and Right of Center is the Likud. Each of them is flanked to the left and the right by smaller parties that make deals for a place in a governing coalition. It sounds like an Italian or French parliamentary election, but there is a crucial difference. After the election, the two major parties decide that there needs to be "national unity". What could be wrong with that?
So Labour and Likud form a "national unity" government. Whether you are a leftist who wants a socialist Israel to give away huge chunks of its territory, or a rightist who does not want to give up an inch of land, you each got the same thing. Each of your respective party's leaders alternates in the prime minister's seat and they split the cabinet posts. America is happy. Condoleeza Rice is happy. And there are no unsightly ballots with only one name at the top. Now that's progress!!!
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Israel News for Today

Israel News Daily 21/02/2008
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi foresees war in the near future

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said yesterday that he could not rule out the chance that Israel will face a military conflict in the near future. Speaking at a graduation ceremony at an officers' training school near Mitzpe Ramon in the south, Ashkenazi said, "There are dangers to our survival on the horizon and great challenges to Israeli security. The IDF needs to ensure a rapid victory in any conflict and I cannot guarantee that we won't need to act in the near future."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also attended the ceremony and used the opportunity to tell the new officers that the lessons from the Second Lebanon War had been learnt and that the army is more prepared at all levels. Olmert added that over the past year the political and military leaders had undergone a complex process to improve their decision making and preparedness for a conflict. "The State of Israel, in its 60th year, is a strong nation, with military might, a known deterrent force for all those who need to know, and a nation of the most impressive accomplishments. Secure in our strength and force, we now march on the path to peace and security," Olmert added.
Israel concerned that Europe may quit boycott against Hamas

Israel's European Union ambassador, Ran Koriel, recently told the Israeli Foreign Ministry of a possible change in EU policy towards Hamas and that Israel is facing mounting international pressure over its handling of the situation in Gaza. Koriel sent a telegram to the Foreign Ministry warning that a complete European policy change could be on the cards and may even include the recognition of Hamas by some European countries. "This activity is in keeping with the European culture espousing concern for humanitarian issues," Koriel wrote in the telegram. "It is even graver in view of the feeling in Europe that Israel and the Palestinians are not succeeding in changing the situation on the ground and not progressing in the peace talks."

Recently, Israel has been receiving strong signals from European and US officials who are frustrated over the lack of progress in the peace negotiations. Envoys of the Quartet to the Middle East met ten days ago and expressed their growing concerns. The meeting was attended by David Welch, Middle East aide to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, European Union peace envoy Mark Otte, UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry; and Russian envoy to the Middle East Sergei Yakovlev. During the meeting, Serry expressed the UN's concern with the humanitarian situation in Gaza and that "due to Israel's siege, even the UN's teams have difficulty entering and leaving Gaza to give aid."
Secretary General Ki-moon calls Ahmadinejad’s comments "intolerable and inexcusable"

Israel's ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday to discuss Iran's latest rhetoric against Israel. Ki-moon called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments labeling Israel a "dirty microbe" intolerable and inexcusable. In the hour long meeting, Gillerman said it was "outrageous for a member state to use racist, Nazi-like statements against another member state." Israel sent a letter to the Security Council in protest of the threats it received from Iran and also requested the meeting with the secretary general.

Gillerman told Ynetnews after the meeting that "The secretary-general was appalled by the Iranians' remarks, even before hearing Ahmadinejad's most recent statement." Gillerman was also referring to remarks made by Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Mohammad Ali Jafari who referred to Israel as "a cancerous bacteria".

The Israeli envoy used the opportunity with Ki-moon to discuss concerns over Hezbollah's rearmament in southern Lebanon and the issue of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
Media Summary

In the UK and International media today, the Guardian and the Times report on a document that shows how the UK Foreign Office successfully fought to keep secret any mention of Israel in the first draft of its Iraq weapons dossier in order not to damage Britain-Israel relations. The Guardian also carries a lead article on this finding. In addition, the paper runs an article by Middle East editor Ian Black on Israel's nuclear programme. In other news, BBC Online notes that Palestinian leader Yasser Abed Rabbo has said that the Palestinians should unilaterally declare a state if peace talks with Israel fail. The Financial Times reports on Egyptian involvement concerning the Rafah border crossing with Gaza. In other news, several papers note that Chelsea football manager and former Israeli national coach Avram Grant has been sent dozens of anti-Semitic emails and letters, including death threats, since becoming the manager.

In the Israeli press, all papers note that IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi addressed an officers' graduation ceremony yesterday and did not rule out the possibility of a war in the near future. Haaretz notes that Israel's ambassador to the EU, Ran Koriel, has warned the Foreign Ministry that European countries may break the boycott with Hamas and start to recognise the terrorist organisation. The Haaretz website notes the Guardian report on the UK Foreign Office's success in managing to conceal Israel in the 2002 Iraq dossier. The Jerusalem Post and Ynetnews report that Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman met yesterday with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the latest Iranian comments against Israel. Ki-moon called Iran's anti-Israel statements "intolerable and inexcusable". Ynetnews reports that residents of the southern town of Sderot affected by continuous rocket attacks from Gaza are moving their protest tent from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in order to raise awareness of their plight across the country.
Comment and Opinion
Condoning genocide
Jerusalem Post, (Jerusalem Post)

'Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any state or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community." - UN Secretary-General-designate Ban Ki-moon, December 14, 2006

The leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, Muhammad Ali Jafari, wrote to Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah this week: "The cancerous growth Israel will soon disappear... I am convinced that with every passing day Hizbullah's might is increasing and in the near future, we will witness the disappearance of this cancerous growth Israel by means of the Hizbullah fighters' radiation [therapy]."

Next, Iranian Armed Forces chief Maj.-Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi wrote to Nasrallah saying that "Lebanese and Palestinian combatants... [will] continue the struggle until the complete destruction of the Zionist regime and the liberation of the entire land of Palestine."

Not to be outdone, on Wednesday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a rally broadcast on state television, "World powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and have unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region." Speaking of the late Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mugniyeh, Ahmadinejad said, "They assassinate pure and pious people and then they celebrate it."

The silence from the nations of the world in the face of this blatant endorsement of terror and incitement to genocide is deafening, giving the lie to oceans of pious rhetoric.

Just weeks ago, for example, the UN noted the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, established in 2005 by a General Assembly resolution. Once again, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for "rededication" to "applying the lessons of the Holocaust to our lives."

Just what are those lessons? The late US Congressman Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, said what Ban should have said. Already too sick to attend the UN event, his daughter read his warning: "Just as an earlier dictator pledged to destroy the Jews of Europe, so a new one is threatening to destroy the Jewish state. It is the responsibility of the entire world community... to prevent another Holocaust, wherever it may occur, and to keep the memory of the killing of six million Jewish people alive as the State of Israel faces constant attacks, and must fight each day for its very survival."

This, indeed, is the obvious, yet unspoken lesson for today. Iran openly backs Hizbullah, openly hosts Hamas leaders and openly calls for Israel's destruction. Nor are these genocidal intentions "only" rhetorical. They are already being carried out in practice, in the form of daily missile attacks and other terrorist acts, ongoing weapons buildups and - topping it all off - through Iran's race to full nuclear weapons capability.

The stunning global silence in the face of incitement to and preparation for genocide testifies to a belief that all this is "just" Israel's problem - as if an existential threat to one small state is not of sufficient concern. Yet the eminent Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer, in a discussion paper on the UN Web site, explains why, once again, a threat to the Jewish people is also a global one.

'World War II... [was] initiated by Nazi Germany, largely for ideological reasons: one, the desire to rule Europe, and through it, the world, and thus achieve a global racial hierarchy... of the Aryan race on top, and everybody else under them... [Two,] they saw the Jews as the Satan that controlled all of Germany's enemies... It is no exaggeration to say that World War II, and the death of tens of millions, the destruction of countries and cultures, the torture and death of children and adults, was caused in part by hatred against Jews,' he wrote."
Israel's weapons - a diplomatic no-go area
Ian Black, (Guardian)

"Nuclear weapons are seen as the last resort of Israel's security, the so-called "Samson option" to be used in desperation - like the biblical character who died with his enemies when he brought down the temple on the heads of the Philistines.

Developed secretly from 1956 after France built a nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev desert, the weapons were seen by Israel's first generation of leaders as designed to prevent a second Holocaust - an argument that was translated into a formidable arsenal outside any international controls. Seymour Hersh, the American writer, has reported that the words "Never Again" were welded, in English and Hebrew, on to the first Israeli nuclear warhead. Apocryphal or not, the story hints at the thinking behind the programme.

Israel, unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the 1970 agreement which allows countries to develop civilian nuclear power in exchange for forgoing weapons. These are supposed to be the preserve of the five permanent members of the UN security council. In recent years India, Pakistan and North Korea have swelled the ranks of the weapons states, but unlike them Israel has never come out of the nuclear closet, preferring a policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity - keeping its enemies guessing.

Israel's official line has always been that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East. But fears about the nuclear ambitions of Iran - led by a Holocaust-denying President Ahmadinejad - have reinforced domestic support (and perhaps international tolerance) for retaining its arsenal. In diplomatic terms, this has long been a no-go area for the US, Britain and others.

The closest it has come to using a nuclear weapon was in October 1973, when Egypt and Syria caught Israel by surprise and caused it heavy losses in the first days of the Yom Kippur war. By the mid-1980s when whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona reactor, gave his sensational inside story to the Sunday Times, the expert assessment was that Israel had up to 200 nuclear warheads and the ability to "deliver" them by plane, missile and submarine. If true, that makes a country of 7 million people the world's fifth or sixth ranking nuclear power.

In 1991, when Saddam launched his Scud missiles at Israel, there were fears he might be able to hit the heavily-guarded Dimona reactor. This month there were jitters when a Palestinian suicide bomber struck a shopping centre in the town.

In September Israeli warplanes launched a raid on northern Syria on a site rumoured to have been a nuclear reactor. The attack was variously interpreted as being designed to restore Israel's deterrent capability and to send a signal to Iran about what could happen if it did pursue a nuclear weapons programme."

Quotes of the Day
Israeli European Union Ambassador Ran Koriel (Haaretz)

This activity is in keeping with the European culture espousing concern for humanitarian issues. It is even graver in view of the feeling in Europe that Israel and the Palestinians are not succeeding in changing the situation on the ground and not progressing in the peace talks.

Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman (Ynetnews)

The secretary-general was appalled by the Iranians' remarks, even before hearing Ahmadinejad's most recent statement.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (Jerusalem Post)

There are dangers to our survival on the horizon and great challenges to Israeli security. The IDF needs to ensure a rapid victory in any conflict and I cannot guarantee that we won't need to act in the near future.

Heed Your Enemy

Josef Stalin Quotes

America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.

One death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are a statistic.

Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.

If the opposition (citizen) disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

India's Miscarriage of Justice The Saul Itzhayek Story

The stort of Saul Itzhayek is a disturbing one. Crossing the border from Nepal to India, it was determined that his visa had expired. What was should have been viewed as a technical offense was instead turned into a "violation of India's sovereignty". A failure to be forthcoming with a bribe was a clear component in this judicial travesty, as is made clear in the article that follows this one.
The Canadian government has been extremely lackadaisical in their response to the flagrant abuse of one of her citizens.
The Indian government is sending a very clear message to foreign visitors. You'd better pay bribes when you're shaken down. If some local honcho wants his cut of India's economic upsurge, we're not going to get in the way.
It would seem wise for anyone planning to visit India to perhaps consider Nepal or Thailand instead. Additionally, this miscarriage of justice should be taken as a warning to those considering doing business with India that there are safer places to do business right now than India.
The Canadian government should send a clear indication of their displeasure by issuing a travel advisory to those planning to travel to India concerning the dangerous corruption and avarice rampant in its judicial system.

India Should Free Saul Itzhayek Now !!!! (from

I'm 'destroyed,' says Canadian imprisoned in India
CTV News ^ | 29 Jan 2008 | Paul Workman

Posted on 01/30/2008 4:11:11 AM PST by BGHater

MOTIHARI, India -- The city of Motihari shows off the worst of India. The streets are a dirty, noisy mess of people and animals, cars and rickshaws, litter, sewage and poverty. It's a heaving frontier town, in the state of Bihar, which has the distinction as India's poorest, most backward, and most lawless.
Just the same, Motihari has some history. The British writer, George Orwell was born here in 1903 (his father worked for the Indian Civil Service) and this is where Mahatma Gandhi began his "satyagraha" in 1917, his resistance to British rule, better known to Indians as the "Quest for Truth."
And Motihari is where a lonely Canadian businessman from Montreal now sits in a crowded, filthy prison, and still can't understand how he got there. His crime: entering India without a proper visa. His sentence: three years.
Saul Itzhayek is not alone, of course. He's surrounded by 1,500 other prisoners, including thieves, rapists, murderers, drug dealers and kidnappers. But he is the jail's one and only foreign inmate - ever.
When I met him in the superintendent's office, he was wearing a red T-shirt and light sweat pants. I wasn't allowed to videotape an interview, or even take his picture, and for the hour we were together, there was always one or two guards listening to our conversation.
"What are they gaining by keeping me here?" he asks. "That's one of the things that disturbs me the most."
"I'm just really heartbroken, and I want to go home."
Itzhayek has been there eight months now and has lost about 30 kilograms. Still, he seemed in good health physically. He's been separated from the rest of the prison population and has at least been allowed to buy and cook his own food.
Psychologically...well that's another matter. He's angry, tormented, and despondent.
"They've completely destroyed me inside. Financially they've killed me, and I miss my family like crazy."
For anybody who travels, his story is frightening and alarming.
'I've done nothing wrong'
Itzhayek was in Nepal on a business trip and sent a driver into India to pick up a money transfer. The Indian police stopped the driver at the border, and in turn asked Itzhayek to come into India and explain what was going on. He knew he didn't have a valid visa, but says the police offered him safe passage. When he arrived in the country, he was questioned and then charged with "violating India's sovereignty."
In a sworn statement, Itzhayek says the police demanded a bribe. He offered them 50,000 rupees, which is about $1,200, but says they wanted 500,000 rupees, and wouldn't give him time to raise the money. "Now, or forget it."
So, no bribe, no release, and ultimately - three years in prison.
"I know they're all corrupt here," he says, bitterly. "I've told them they can check my file. I've done nothing wrong in 42 years. I have two kids, and all I want to do is go home."
In all the time he's been in prison, Itzhayek has had three Canadian consular visits, and is extremely resentful and critical of the support he's received from his own government.
"They don't want to help you. You're on your own. That's what they told me."
"If this was Stephen Harper's son, I'm sure he'd be out in 24 hours."
The Canadian High Commissioner to India, David Malone, takes great exception to the criticism, and says consular officials "have been making non-stop representations on his behalf, whenever the opportunity arises."
"We're doing our best and trying very hard for Mr. Itzhayek," he told me, "But I don't want to belittle the suffering he and his family are going through, which I appreciate and respect."
Malone says India takes its border security very seriously, as well as the independence of the justice system, and that's what makes diplomatic efforts very delicate and tricky in this case: How to persuade, but not offend. How to speed things up, but not interfere.
"All of that being said, three years seems to us excessive and this is one of the issues we've been raising with the Indian government. Surely this is a very heavy sentence for a visa violation," Malone said.
The High Commissioner is a consummate diplomat. When I ask him if this is a simple case of corruption, of the police trying to shake down a Canadian with money, he answers very ... well, very diplomatically.
"There is in India a degree of corruption that is widely publicized here, the government itself discusses it. Whether that's at play in this case or not, and how, I simply don't know. But I have taken note of Mr. Itzhayek's claims."
The Itzhayek family has now engaged a very prominent Indian lawyer, who is working on a number of legal appeals, and has also approached the Indian government about a pardon. But one thing is certain: India will not be rushed or bullied into a decision.
So for now, and who knows for how much longer, Itzhayek will remain behind the high pink walls of Motihari prison, trying to survive his nightmare. He's read the Qur'an and the New Testament, the only books available in English, and says he's tough. "Not many people would be able to do this."
Even the prison superintendent is sympathetic.

"Saul is a good man," he told me. "He is not a criminal."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bioethics of Human Cloning

I have reprinted the article in the following post concerning bioethics of human cloning. Although this is an obscure and remote topic, the article forcefully ,makes the point that science can not operate in an ethical vacuum
The Lubavitcher Rebbe made the important point that the technical evolution we have witnessed in our time must be matched by moral advancement. The former chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits of Great Britain, was renowned as a trailblazer in the field of bioethics. Science bereft of moral guidance is unthinkable. The first television station in the world opened in Nazi Germany in 1935. Believers in a caring G-d do not want scientific acrobatics. They want science and technology in service to a humanity that is morally worthy of them.

The Ethics of Human Cloning by Kamaru Zzaman

Submitted by: Kamaru Zzaman reprinted from (Ground Report)
January 14, 2008

Human Cloning and Its Social Impacts

Can anybody imagine himself as a cloned man, a nameless and faceless identity having no parental credential in this world? It is very simple that such a peripheral identity will never be commensurable with the existing societal norms and sentiments. Human life is such that it always bears some parental and communal identity to assert itself as the successor of life and true representative of genealogical linearity. As such, sexual birth or for that matter biological birth is the abiding force for asserting one's identity.
There has always been something fishy in scientific exploration into the possibility of human cloning. Though so far there has not been any such concrete claim as cloned human embryos been grown into fetal stage or beyond but the first claim by Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk in 2004 of creation of stem cells from cloned human embryo proved to be utterly false and simply hoax. But who says that it is beyond reach or whether in some foreseeable future cloned human beings will invade this planet?
In 1997 a human cloning company Clonaid was founded with a sham philosophical conviction pertaining to Raelian sect of achieving immortality as the first step. On Dec. 27, 2002, Clonaid's chief executive Brigitte Boisselier made a stupendous claim that it had successfully cloned human baby Eve who was claimed to have lasted for more than a year. But they could never establish their claim on a strong ground, so the claim went begging.
Though Clonaid's claim went begging, it sparked serious repercussion due to wide media coverage all over the world and it created debates of ethical dimensions among the various cross sections of the people. It was reported that Florida attorney Bernard Siegel tried to move the court for appointing a special guardian to take care of Eve so that Eve might not be treated as a laboratory guinea pig. But ultimately he came to the conclusion that the Clonaid project was a sham. On the other hand,the scientific community condemned Clonaid for premature experimentation with human embryos with the caveat that such acts result in a high risk of malformations and fetal deaths as happened in animal cloning.
Not only that, in 1997 scientists at the Roslin Institute of Scotland created a furor of sorts when they cloned a mammal sheep named Dolly. Since then the scientists continued to extend their experimentation to other species like cow, buffalo, horse and rhesus monkey. In this process, stem cells having the potential to replicate in myriad cells and tissues are harvested from cloned from cloned animal embryos. So, it seems that the days are not that far when scientists will virtually claim the reproduction of human beings from cloned human embryos.
The Clonaid project opened a Pandora's Box for the scientific community who are engaged in human cloning. On the one hand, it is its practical viability and on the other hand, it is its ethical compatibility associated with human sentiment which is of great concern so far as the societal norms are concerned. The medical professionals have voiced concerns that the cloned individuals are very much prone to biological damage due to the inherent unreliability of their origins. Moreover, a substantial amount of expenses has to be coughed up for cloning a human life.
Apart from its practical viability, the upholders of religious views have raised strong feelings against this practice from ethical points of views. They say that human cloning violate God's will on the natural course of human birth which sets in motion at the decisive moments of conception when the sperm and ovum unite and in this sense it is invariably meddling with sacredness of basic formation of life. Harvesting cells for embryonic cloning is nothing but tantamount to live human experimentation and contrary to godly beliefs of human way of life.
It will not be out of place to remember the Biblical episode of genesis of women. The believers say that Eve was a clone of Adam via Genesis as Lord God made a woman out of the part he had from the primordial man. But whatever it is, it is more of a metaphor of man and woman being a counterpart of each other and is in no way to detract us from the ethical view-points of human cloning. The believers apart, even our common beliefs cannot take it lying down the fact that a human life cloned (not conceived) in vitro fertilisation which is strongly offensive to our long-cherished sentiments.
Catholic priest Father Sanders has remarked, "Cloning would only produce humanoids or androids - soulless replicas of human beings that could be used as slaves." Rev. Demetri Demophlos, Greek Orthodox Pastor and Geneticist, too, has spoken strongly against the creation of soulless replicas with a slant that "humans are supposed to be created by acts of love between two people, not through manipulation of cells in acts that are ultimately about self-love." So, love is the prime mover of conception and creation of human beings in this world.
Where there is no love lost between two people, there is no chance of a human child being born into this world and the child is always the cynosure of parental care and beauty. But who will take care of a cloned child and how will the parental love and affection be meted out to the cloned child? That is a million dollar question. Not only that, without having emotional attachments to the parental world, how can they be integrated into the human society? They will at best spill over the categories of 'outsiders' - rootless, loveless, soulless humanoids or androids calculatedly thrown into the vortex of hot and happening world.
Already more than 50 countries have legislated bans on human cloning. UN has recently voiced concern over the human cloning issue with strong emphasis on global embargo. Japan based United Nations' University's Institutes of Advanced Studies said in report that a legally binding global ban on work to create human clone with freedom for therapy would have enormous political repercussions. The rector of the institute AH Zakri said, "Whichever path the international community chooses, it will need to act soon - either to prevent reproductive cloning or to defend the human rights of the cloned individuals."
Barrister Brendan Tobin of National University of Ireland said with respect to outlawing cloning that "If the failure to compromise continues, the world community must accept responsibility and ensure that any cloned individual receives full human rights protection...ensure that society treats clone with respect...and ensure that that they are protected against prejudice, abuse or discrimination."
But that is beating about the bush. An effort to negotiate the issue in an international convention two years ago failed on the ground of therapeutic cloning. The detractors protested against the unethical maneuver of the destruction of human embryos for stem cells. Though their demonstration against cloning was partly based on religious and moral grounds but they were mostly concerned of the facts that clones are most likely to sustain serious deformities and degenerative diseases.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obama's New Vulnerability from The Wall Street Journal

Obama's New Vulnerability
February 21, 2008; Page A17

In campaigns, there are sometimes moments when candidates shift ground, causing the race to change dramatically. Tuesday night was one of those moments.

Hammered for the 10th contest in a row, Hillary Clinton toughened her attacks on Barack Obama, saying he was unready to be commander in chief and unable to back his inspiring words with a record of action and leadership.
John McCain also took on Mr. Obama, with the Arizona senator declaring he would oppose "eloquent but empty calls for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people."
Mr. McCain, too, raised questions about Mr. Obama's fitness to be commander in chief. Mr. McCain pointed to Mr. Obama's unnecessary sabre-rattling at an ally (Pakistan) while appeasing our adversaries (Iran and Syria). Mr. McCain also made it clear that reining in spending, which is a McCain strength and an Obama weakness, would be a key issue.
Mr. Obama had not been so effectively criticized before. In the Democratic contest, John Edwards and Mrs. Clinton were unwilling to confront him directly or in a manner that hurt him. Mr. McCain was rightly preoccupied by his own primary. On Tuesday night, things changed.
Perhaps in response to criticisms that have been building in recent days, Mr. Obama pivoted Tuesday from his usual incantations. He dropped the pretense of being a candidate of inspiring but undescribed "post-partisan" change. Until now, Mr. Obama has been making appeals to the center, saying, for example, that we are not red or blue states, but the United States. But in his Houston speech, he used the opportunity of 45 (long) minutes on national TV to advocate a distinctly non-centrist, even proudly left-wing, agenda. By doing so, he opened himself to new and damaging contrasts and lines of criticism.
Mr. McCain can now question Mr. Obama's promise to change Washington by working across party lines. Mr. Obama hasn't worked across party lines since coming to town. Was he a member of the "Gang of 14" that tried to find common ground between the parties on judicial nominations? Was Mr. Obama part of the bipartisan leadership that tackled other thorny issues like energy, immigration or terrorist surveillance legislation? No. Mr. Obama has been one of the most dependably partisan votes in the Senate.
Mrs. Clinton can do much more to draw attention to Mr. Obama's lack of achievements. She can agree with Mr. Obama's statement Tuesday night that change is difficult to achieve on health care, energy, poverty, schools and immigration -- and then question his failure to provide any leadership on these or other major issues since his arrival in the Senate. His failure to act, advocate or lead on what he now claims are his priorities may be her last chance to make a winning argument.
Mr. McCain gets a chance to question Mr. Obama's declaration he won't be beholden to lobbyists and special interests. After Mr. Obama's laundry list of agenda items on Tuesday night, Mr. McCain can ask why, if Mr. Obama rejects the influence of lobbyists, has he not broken with any lobbyists from the left fringe of the Democratic Party? Why is he doing their bidding on a range of issues? Perhaps because he occupies the same liberal territory as they do.
The truth is that Mr. Obama is unwilling to challenge special interests if they represent the financial and political muscle of the Democratic left. He says yes to the lobbyists of the AFL-CIO when they demand card-check legislation to take away the right of workers to have a secret ballot in unionization efforts, or when they oppose trade deals. He won't break with trial lawyers, even when they demand the ability to sue telecom companies that make it possible for intelligence agencies to intercept communications between terrorists abroad. And he is now going out of his way to proclaim fidelity to the educational unions. This is a disappointment since he'd earlier indicated an openness to education reform. Mr. Obama backs their agenda down the line, even calling for an end to testing, which is the only way parents can know with confidence whether their children are learning and their schools working.
These stands represent not just policy vulnerabilities, but also a real danger to Mr. Obama's credibility and authenticity. He cannot proclaim his goal is the end of influence for lobbies if the only influences he seeks to end are lobbies of the center and the right.
Unlike Bill Clinton in 1992, Mr. Obama is completely unwilling to confront the left wing of the Democratic Party, no matter how outrageous its demands, no matter how out of touch it might be with the American people. And Tuesday night, in a key moment in this race, he dropped the pretense that his was a centrist agenda. His agenda is the agenda of the Democratic left.
In recent days, courtesy of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Mr. Obama has invoked the Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin Roosevelt to show the power of words. But there is a critical difference between Mr. Obama's rhetoric and that of Jefferson, King and FDR. In each instance, their words were used to advance large, specific purposes -- establishing a new nation based on inalienable rights; achieving equal rights and a color-blind society; giving people confidence to endure a Great Depression. For Mr. Obama, words are merely a means to hide a left-leaning agenda behind the cloak of centrist rhetoric. That garment has now been torn. As voters see what his agenda is, his opponents can now far more effectively question his authenticity, credibility, record and fitness to be leader of the free world.
The road to the presidency just got steeper for Barack Obama, and all because he pivoted on Tuesday night.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.