Monday, March 31, 2008

Superdelegates in the Democratic Party, A European Precedent

Much has been made of the looming spectre of a Democratic convention which might be considered by many to be less than democratic. Super delegates, which comprise about 20% of the delegates needed to nominate a candidate for president, are usually elected government officials such as senators or governors belonging to the Democratic party.
Elected delegates usually represent tens of thousands of voters. They are bound to represent the candidates that they were elected to vote for. Super delegates are not pledged to any one candidate. They can be courted with persuasion, favours or contributions to their campaign. Defenders of this arrangement say that it is a counter balance to organised lobbying groups that might be out of step with the majority of Democratic Party registered voters.
I have agonised over the pros and cons of this arrangement. Is it truly democratic? My google research brought me to the German Democratic Republic, known in popular speech as the former East Germany. Their national legislature was known as the Volkskammer, which translates as "People's Chamber. Seventy percent of its approximately 650 members were elected by popular vote. The other thirty percent were chosen by trade unions, the Free German Youth organisation, the Democratic Women's Federation of Germany and other "people's" organisations.
This system of "Uber" delegates insured that the ideology upon which the German DEMOCRATIC Republic was founded would not be challenged by passing reactionary and anti DEMOCRATIC trends.
So now dear readers you can see that we can look to Europe for precedents and political guidance. If we want to guide the DEMOCRATIC party in the proper path, where would be a better place to look than the German DEMOCRATIC Republic? Since they are for the workers and peasants, lets take a page from them in political organisation as well. I for one feel much better knowing that the DEMOCRATIC party has such a worthy precedent as that established by the Volkskammer of the German DEMOCRATIC Republic.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe
P.S. For your listening pleasure I have put the East German national anthem,"Auferstanden Aus Ruinen" or Arisen from the Ruins at the head of this post. Its title expresses my hopes for a return of the Democratic party to its original values that I remember so well from the early 60's. video

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Your Shopping Dollars at Work. Walmart Sues Disabled Former Employee


Debbie Shank, a former Wal-mart employee became totally disabled in an automobile accident. She sued the trucking company that was involved in the crash. She received $470'000.00 as a lawsuit settlement. She lives in a nursing home. She is physically and mentally disabled. Wal-mart could have added a donation to the trust fund as a farewell gesture. What did they do? They sued Mrs Shank to recover the money laid out from the lawsuit settlement. Wal-mart has many opponents who question their role in American communities and their treatment of their employees. Such cruel treatment of a former employee is a descent to a level beneath imagining and beneath the most seething contempt that I can muster.
I have shopped at Walmart. It is a tempting environment in which to shop. I am ashamed that the profits made from my decision to shop there have gone to such an evil lawsuit as they have mounted against Debby Shank. I can never walk through Walmart's doors without being haunted by the image of Debby, her husband and family being hounded by this corporate giant with neither heart nor soul.
If the courts can find no grounds to bind Walmart to the most basic standards of human decency, then that leaves the shopping public as the last earthly court of judgment . Vote with your wallet. Why shop at Walmart when there are other corporate giants with a far better record of treating their employees? If Target, H and M , Caldors or any other competitor of Walmart wanted to shame Walmart, they could make a donation to Debby Shank's trust fund.
I will not be shopping at Walmart any time soon. I hope you will not shop there either.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

Brain-damaged woman at center of Wal-Mart suit (from CNN)

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/25/walmart.insurance.battle/ from CNN

JACKSON, Missouri (CNN) -- Debbie Shank breaks down in tears every time she's told that her 18-year-old son, Jeremy, was killed in Iraq.

Debbie Shank

Debbie Shank, 52, has severe brain damage after a traffic accident in May 2000.

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The 52-year-old mother of three attended her son's funeral, but she continues to ask how he's doing. When her family reminds her that he's dead, she weeps as if hearing the news for the first time.

Shank suffered severe brain damage after a traffic accident nearly eight years ago that robbed her of much of her short-term memory and left her in a wheelchair and living in a nursing home.

It was the beginning of a series of battles -- both personal and legal -- that loomed for Shank and her family. One of their biggest was with Wal-Mart's health plan.

Eight years ago, Shank was stocking shelves for the retail giant and signed up for Wal-Mart's health and benefits plan.

Two years after the accident, Shank and her husband, Jim, were awarded about $1 million in a lawsuit against the trucking company involved in the crash. After legal fees were paid, $417,000 was placed in a trust to pay for Debbie Shank's long-term care.

Wal-Mart had paid out about $470,000 for Shank's medical expenses and later sued for the same amount. However, the court ruled it can only recoup what is left in the family's trust.

The Shanks didn't notice in the fine print of Wal-Mart's health plan policy that the company has the right to recoup medical expenses if an employee collects damages in a lawsuit.

Don't Miss

The family's attorney, Maurice Graham, said he informed Wal-Mart about the settlement and believed the Shanks would be allowed to keep the money. Video Watch this couple's story »

"We assumed after three years, they [Wal-Mart] had made a decision to let Debbie Shank use this money for what it was intended to," Graham said.

The Shanks lost their suit to Wal-Mart. Last summer, the couple appealed the ruling -- but also lost it. One week later, their son was killed in Iraq.

"They are quite within their rights. But I just wonder if they need it that bad," Jim Shank said.

In 2007, the retail giant reported net sales in the third quarter of $90 billion.

Legal or not, CNN asked Wal-Mart why the company pursued the money.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley, who called Debbie Shank's case "unbelievably sad," replied in a statement: "Wal-Mart's plan is bound by very specific rules. ... We wish it could be more flexible in Mrs. Shank's case since her circumstances are clearly extraordinary, but this is done out of fairness to all associates who contribute to, and benefit from, the plan."

Jim Shank said he believes Wal-Mart should make an exception.

"My idea of a win-win is -- you keep the paperwork that says you won and let us keep the money so I can take care of my wife," he said.

The family's situation is so dire that last year Jim Shank divorced Debbie, so she could receive more money from Medicaid.

Jim Shank, 54, is recovering from prostate cancer, works two jobs and struggles to pay the bills. He's afraid he won't be able to send their youngest son to college and pay for his and Debbie's care.

"Who needs the money more? A disabled lady in a wheelchair with no future, whatsoever, or does Wal-Mart need $90 billion, plus $200,000?" he asked.

The family's attorney agrees.

"The recovery that Debbie Shank made was recovery for future lost earnings, for her pain and suffering," Graham said.

"She'll never be able to work again. Never have a relationship with her husband or children again. The damage she recovered was for much more than just medical expenses."

Graham said he believes Wal-Mart should be entitled to only about $100,000. Right now, about $277,000 remains in the trust -- far short of the $470,000 Wal-Mart wants back.

Refusing to give up the fight, the Shanks appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But just last week, the high court said it would not hear the case.

Graham said the Shanks have exhausted all their resources and there's nothing more they can do but go on with their lives.

us/intg_story/lft.180x150 --> For now, he said the family will figure out a way to get by and "do the best we can for Debbie."

"Luckily, she's oblivious to everything," he said. "We don't tell her
what's going on because it will just upset her.

Wal-Mart Sues Disabled Women to Recoup Medical Benefits

Wal-Mart Sues Disabled Women to Recoup Medical Benefits reprinted from http://greensboro.injuryboard.com/

When Debbie Shank began working as a stock clerk at Wal-Mart, she joined the company's health and benefits plan and paid her premiums as insurance against injury or illness.

In 2000, Shank's car was rammed by a semi, and she suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused her to be permanently disabled. Her insurance kicked in and paid promptly for her medical bills -- for which Shank's family was grateful. This once vibrant wife and mother now lives in a nursing home and suffers from short-term memory loss, violent mood swings and other effects of her TBI.

Shank's injuries and disability are tragedy enough for her family. But now they're also faced with a $400,000-plus lawsuit by Wal-Mart.

Why is Wal-Mart suing a disabled former employee?

It seems that there was a clause in Shank's health plan that requires her to repay her employer in the event that she received a judgment to cover her medical care.

After her accident, Shank and her family successfully sued the trucking company and won about $477,000. That money was put in a trust for her ongoing medical care, and only about $217,000 remains. Wal-Mart has laid claim to that money, and the company is also demanding hundreds of thousands more from the disabled woman.

The retail giant won a lawsuit against Shank and her family, and the money from the trust is now frozen pending appeals. Shank's family has hopes that the Supreme Court will review the case.

A Wal-Mark spokesman expressed the company's sadness about Shank's condition but said the company had to pursue repayment out of fairness to all participants in the health plan.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of this case through the appeals process and if Wal-Mart will change its position to protect its public image now that this travesty has gotten considerable publicity.

Shank's situation should also be a cautionary tale for workers. Many people may have health plans with similar provisions and payback clauses. But I'd bet that most are unaware of the financial consequences they could face if they ever need to collect those benefits.

Clearly, Shank's judgment and the Wal-Mart benefits payout combined weren't sufficient to pay for her old medical bills and ongoing nursing home care. Now, faced with the prospect of having to pay back more than $400,000 she doesn't have, what will happen to this woman?

Shank's husband, who remains committed to his wife, recently divorced her so she could qualify for additional government benefits. Yet another sad twist in a horrible tragedy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Federal Reserve Bank Steps from Sidelines For The First Time Since 1930


In a departure from long established prior practice, the Federal Reserve Bank has started to lend money to investment firms . Until now, it had only lent money to conventional banks. This escalated involvement of the Federal Reserve Bank in the financial sector is likely to create important precedents that will redefine its role in future difficulties. Loans are made by the Federal Reserve to prevent failures of financial institutions that would have a detrimental effect on large numbers of people.This is best illustrated by the old saying , "If you owe a million dollars to the bank, that's your problem. If you owe the bank a billion dollars, that's the bank's problem."
Collectively, American workers owe the banks billions and billions of dollars. A financial climate in which jobs are outsourced and the value of domestic labour is depressed with chaotically regulated immigration takes its cumulative toll on the nation's collective financial health. In agriculture and production of raw hmaterials, the government intervenes with tariffs and subsidies to prevent the erosion of commodity prices. The labour of the American worker must be recognised as a commodity of strategic worth to be protected. It is not only seasonal agricultural workers coming in on temporary visas, but computer programmers and other skilled workers are brought in to fill positions that were advertised with absurdly low salaries to show the "good faith" that is required before the government will issue a visa.
Any financial strategy that targets only banks and financial institutions is by definition incomplete. The problems of the American worker must be weighed and addressed in any solution to our current financial crisis.
Copyright 2008. By Magdeburger Joe
Please click on link below to read a background story from the Washington Post.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/27/AR2008032703662_pf.html

Saul Itzhayek Freed from Prison in India


After ten months of incarceration, Saul Itzhayek has was freed from prison in the Indian state of Bihar. For a simple visa infraction , he endured scorpions, rats and tainted water in an ordeal that caused his weight to drop by sixty five pounds.
Open demands for bribes from the local police made a mockery of any contention that he was simply stuck in a slow moving judicial system.
Prison riots and constant uncertainty over how much of his three year sentence he would have to serve took their psychological toll on Mr. Itzhayek, a resident of Montreal' Canada
"You know, you have hope and they take away your hope. It breaks you up every time," said Mr Itzhayek in a telephone interview ."You never think you're going to leave. Every time you go, they throw a roadblock in front of you."
Mr Itzhayek is expected to arrive in Montreal on Friday.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

Announcement To Readers



Rudistettner.com and Magdeburgerjoe.com are now two months old. I am attempting to keep current with providing for both sites a steady stream of interesting, eclectic content. I value your feedback.
The name of Magdeburger Chossid is going to change. The new name will be Magdeburger Joe (Also Known As Magdeburger Chossid). The former name has proven hard to spell. The new name will be more similar to the url as well as being easier to spell.
I am learning gradually the ABC's of composing web pages. I am attempting to make my pages quicker to load. I finally cleaned up the chaotic layout on the right side of both rudistettner.com and magdeburgerjoe.com.
I am attempting to network and promote my websites. Search engine optimisation and professional networking to promote my sites are two areas I am attempting to address. The bulk of my production falls on my lonely shoulders, using my limited resources. These things take time.
Finally, I am making a TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE offer to other web site owners who visit and enjoy my web sites. If you post one of my links on your website, either magdeburgerjoe.com or rudistettner.com, then I will post your web site link on the link list of BOTH of my websites. I will of course visit your site to see if the exchange is appropriate to the needs of my readers. If I can not approve a link reciprocation for whatever reason, I will in the interests of fairness let you know. I do not want to take your help without returning the favour.
It has been a pleasure reaching out to my readership. Knowing that someone , somewhere is seeing what I have written or presented inspires me to produce more. I thank you, my first visitors for coming to my site. I hope to continue to provide these sites for a long time to come.

Sincerely,
Magdeburger Joe

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Free Tibet !!!!!


Since the early 1950's, Communist China has occupied Tibet. The people have an identity, language and culture that is distinct from the other parts of China. Since taking over Tibet, they have tried to turn their takeover into a fait accompli by moving Chinese people into the region, thereby wedding themselves permanently to the occupied country. Their strategy is identical to the U.S.S.R's takeover of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in which ethnic Russians were encouraged to settle permanently in the Baltic republics . Latvia for example had in the late 1980's a 50% Russian population.
China seems to be crushing Tibetan independence in the same manner, with cultural and demographic dilution of the indigenous population.
There is one factor that lessens the likelihood of an American or European protest against Chinese aggression and the recent crackdown in Tibet . China has a massive trade surplus with the west. They hold billions of U.S. dollars in their banks. The dollar is fragile. No one wants to antagonise them. Under cover of lip service to Marxism, China maintains a docile work force that is put at the service of American and European capitalism. In the court of world opinion, they have gotten the best justice that money can buy.
Those who care about this situation should protest to their elected representatives. When you shop, try to purchase goods from countries that treat their ethnic minorities and workers better. You can only vote every so often, but you shop every day. Ask your retailers to carry goods that are not produced with exploited labour. It you buy shoes, they should be good for your feet AND the workers who produce them. You have power, and you should use it

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary and Bosnia: A Clarification


The recent flap over Hillary's trip to Bosnia has focused welcome attention to that troubled region. I will assume that Hillary is independent enough of her husband to reexamine America's policy in the region.
The damage inflicted by American aircraft on Serbian civilians should be scrutinised. Minimising civilian deaths in a conflict should be a goal in warfare. As a guideline to future engagements, the past should be studied
As bad as Slobodan Milosevic was, Franjo Tudjman remade the Croatian state into something very similar in tone to that of Serbian nationalists. Under Tudjman, the Ustasha Nazi Puppet state that existed from 1941 to 1945 got much more favourable treatment. Old Ustasha songs and other forms of Ustasha nostalgia became very common under Tudjman. Atrocities and expulsions of Serbs living in Croatia took place under his rule. A regional war crimes tribunal should have put some members of Croatia's government on trial as well.
Each Republic of the former Jugoslavia should have an article in its constitution protecting the rights of ethnic minorities belonging to neighboring republics. It should assure them of the right to maintain their language and culture in exchange for loyalty to the government.
America's worst mistake was banning the sale of arms to warring sides in Bosnia. Had we not followed this foolish policy, American involvement in the conflict could have been minimised. Particularly in a conflict such as Bosnia or Kosovo, a well armed minority facing equally well armed adversaries is far more likely to avoid bloodshed than a situation where one party is disarmed. Unfortunately in Bosnia and Kosovo the aid of Arab countries who gave the Bosnians and the Albanians means to defend themselves is likely to be remembered for a long time. America needs to buy goodwill when the opportunity presents itself. A policy that sounds good to an American or western European electorate such as banning arms sales to combatants often worsens regional conflicts. America's next president should follow a realistic foreign policy. Learning from Bill Clinton and America's mistakes in the Balkans can save lives in the future.

Copyright 2008 By Magdeburger Joe. Stamps at top of page were issued by the Ustasha Croatian puppet state during World War Two. They commemorate the fascist Croatian military and their contributions to the German war effort.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary in Bosnia


Hillary Clinton told a dramatic story about ducking gunfire on her landing at the airport in Bosnia. I would not bet my rent money on the veracity of Hill or Bill's recollections about anything, but Hillary's recollections of her Bosnia trip are understandably fuzzy. The trip was twelve years ago and I am sure that there were words of caution addressed to the American delegation of which she was a head. It is quite possible that her fears coloured her memories of the trip. Additionally, it should be noted that she was a "frequent flier" on behalf of her husband and the U.S. government.
There were legal questions faced by the Clintons during their time in office that should be reexamined at least for posterity.As an American of Balkan descent, I am grateful for the attention focused on the Balkan region as a result of her trip. Out of gratitude for that I will give her a pass on this trivial non-incident.

Monday, March 24, 2008

America's Conscience




One of the more shameful episodes in American history was the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War Two on the west coast of the United States. Although treated humanely according to the standards of prison camps, they were internees who were deprived of their freedom of movement. Many lost homes and businesses in the aftermath of their detention. The $12000.00 dollars given each detainee decades later by an act of Congress was a paltry sum that can only be considered to be a gesture.
Looking back at the war years, I can not help but note the grim treatment accorded Europeans who found themselves in lands under Japanese occupation. Massacres, slave labour, forced prostitution and expropriation of property are all part of a long list of complaints by Koreans, Chinese Europeans and others who found themselves classified as enemy aliens or simply inferior.
What is most noteworthy is the contrast between Japan's lack of acknowledgment of its war time behavior and America's relative candour in facing up to far less weightier transgressions. Our evolving concept of American identity with equality under law of all citizens is relatively new in world history. We have become demanding of ourselves as a nation. I find myself proud of our ability to feel shame.
Self criticism is good as long it is in the interest of preserving our values and way of life. When it degenerates into disparagement of the American system and political values, then it ceases to be useful.
Many countries are forced into the role of being national states, protecting members of their nationality dispersed around the world. Turkey performed this role admirably in the 1980's when the Bulgarian communist dictatorship under Todor Zhivkov began persecuting its Turkish minority, even banning the use of spoken Turkish and the use of Turkish names.
The U.S. has no core native ethnic group other than its native peoples. Our concept of nationality does not always transplant well to other countries with different demographics. This presents us with unique opportunities as a nation in promoting a universal citizenry with roots around the world.
We are sure to continue to make mistakes as we collectively write the history of our unique country. Yes we should have the courage to be self critical. But we should always remember that we are criticising ourselves to strengthen and improve our collective self.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Alan Lomax and Israel's Cultural Treasures

It is not often that you will read words of praise on this site for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Particularly today, during the crisis with the sinking U.S. dollar, a lot of economic changes made during his administration could use a critical examination.
One thing he got right was the WPA or Works Progress Administration, which was a program started under Roosevelt to get people back to work on projects for the public good. Many worked building rads and dams.Artists such as Ben Shahn were also employed with public funds.
One of the projects in the WPA was the collecting of folk recordings from around the United States, particularly the south by field workers who were driven by the realisation that America's folk heritage was dying with its elderly.
Israel is faced with a similar crisis. Streams of immigration have brought immigrants to Israel from around the world. Changing Jewish geography brought about by anti-semitism and aliyah has endangered some Jewish languages such as Ladino and Tat. Once isolated Jewish groups are marrying out of their communities. A new chapter in our history is being written but the old must not be forgotten.
When I hear that an elderly Yemenite or Moroccan Jew has passed away I think of the memories and wisdom that are buried with them. Israel should follow the lead of those like Alan Lomax, who recorded folk songs, stories and endangered dialects. I question whether space can be found in Israel's tight budget, but there are many philanthropists in America who could be approached by a project of this type.
Israel brings together Jews who were exiled to all over the world. We built a history and folkways during the exile. We owe it to future generations to preserve the varied streams feeding our collective memory. The time to act is now.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Note To My Readers






Top left picture is from Peternelj Konrad of Slovenia.
Left side second from top is by Ivan Andrasic of Croatia
Third from the top is Dusan Jevtovic of Serbia
Fourth from the top is Martin Jonas of Serbia




******************* ****************** ******************

As a gesture of longing for peace in the world I like to present art from regions that have been beset by conflict. In this spirit, I am presenting naive art from Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, which were blighted by warfare in the 1990s.
Magdeburgerjoe.com and Rudistettner.com continue to strive towards appreciating differences among peoples as well as recognising the universal dimensions of the human experience.
I see that visitors come to my website who might never meet each other on the street. I hope that all of the visitors to this site can one day visit each other's countries in times of peace.

Stand by Your Man


I've been reading all of the discomfiting revelations about Barack Obama's preacher, Reverend Wright. It bothers me that Barack is dumping his rev now that the Obama campaign is picking up steam. If Wrights beliefs are Obama's own, it's time to be straight up about it. I am very skeptical about a candidate who is so ready to repudiate his spiritual adviser. What are his real core beliefs? I am reluctant to support a candidate whose loyalty to his reverend is so fragile. Had fame not visited Obama, would he still think Wright is right?
The ability to stay the course with an unpopular position is a prerequisite to being president. America is much vilified in the forums of world opinion. I am looking for a candidate who will stand by America as well as his vision for America. I am still waiting. Obama is not the man.

Security Breached on Obama's Passport Data

Passport Photo by Artist John Ho Lee on the Flickr Website Reprinted under Creative Commons Copyright
According to a Washington Times article, passport data on Barack Obama was leaked to three State department employees who had accessed his passport data without authorisation. Two were fired and one person was "disciplined. The security breach was detected by an electronic tripwire, which notified investigators in the State department, who promptly launched an investigation.
It seems from reading the report that the Bush administration took the initiative in tracking down a threat to Barack Obama's privacy. The Bush administration is to be commended for guarding the privacy of their opponents.
It is reasonable to expect that the Obama campaign would thank the State department for guarding Barack Obama's privacy. Unfortunately, according to the Washington Times, "The Obama campaign denounced the accessing as "an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an Administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years."
In my opinion , the Bush Administration passed this test with flying colours. The announcement of the Obama campaign was unfair and not merited by the facts. They are trying to make hay out of astroturf. The Republicans have nothing to be ashamed of.
Please click on the title to this post to read the Washington Times article.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Never Again


Nie Wieder Krieg Never again war. Done in charcoal by Kathe Kollwitz in 1924. I found among my grandmother's belongings a book of artwork by Kathe Kollwitz given to my grandmother by her brother who was murdered by the Nazis. His inscription in the book addressed to my grandmother expressed the wish that never again should Europe know the horrors it experienced during the Great War from 1914-1918.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Racism in America Guard and Increase Our Imperfect Peace


Bigotry is a narcotic that is being pushed aggressively in different venues of America. When someone prods your collective memory with emotion steamrolling intellect, it can give you a quick high and leave you with a bad hangover. There are always scraps of truth tossed into the broth of deception that is served at the table of prejudice.
I am presenting a video from a Pastor Manning who has been dishing out racism with his own unique seasoning. Whatever your ethnicity, it is important to reflect on how priceless is the tolerance that we have in America , even with all of our faults.If you click on the title to this post, you will see Pastor Manning and his appeal to racism.

Below I have a link to a video dealing with partition in India in 1947. Credible estimates put casualties in this sorry chapter of Indo-Pakistani history at a million. If you speak to older people from the Indian subcontinent, all have memories of the strife in which so many lost their lives in an ethno-linguistic rift that assumed horrifying dimensions. http://youtube.com/watch?v=ub7l02oJADI&feature=related india 1947

Additionally , I am presenting a video linked below about the Rwanda genocide of 1994. The Hutu and Tutsi share a common language and similar racial background, perhaps as similar as Italians and Spaniards. Despite this, the plague of intercommunal strife forever scarred their small country of eight million.
In Brooklyn, I have met Pakistani, Indian and Rwandan immigrants and discussed with them how the study of their history defines my hopes for America. Our newest citizens have much to teach us. Let us guard the peace of our great country that has drawn them to our shores. http://youtube.com/watch?v=__kf7TljgGs&feature=related

Creative Commons Copyright 2008 on text only A Magdeburger Joe Editorial

The Second Amendment

Preliminary reports point to the happy news that the Supreme Court will interpret the second amendment to the Constitution as permitting private citizens to own firearms.In these times when civil liberties are under attack either due to considerations of national security or political correctness, it is encouraging that the Supreme Court is protecting this basic right.
Perhaps when New York City is admitted to the Union, then the second amendment and America's immigration laws will be the law of the Big Apple as well as the rest of the country. It is important to remember that when you vote in November for president, you will be voting for the person who makes appointments to the Supreme Court.Think about it.

A 1935 Song By Fats Waller

My father passed his fondness for the music of Fats Waller to me and my brother. Fats Waller was very popular in the 30's and forties . I hope there is a revival of interst in his music. Please click on the title to this post and see if you agree.

Dear American Readers Make Your Voice Count !!!

I just put up a link on the right hand side of my web page that is very user friendly. If any issue I cover on my website touches your heart, please click on the link at right that tells you to write or call your senator or representative. You can look up their websites, and quickly locate contact information.
The post following this one is a full text of a House of Representatives resolution that made it out of a committee that approved it for a general vote.On March 31, it will be voted on by the entire House of Representatives.
The resolution focuses on the Jews from Arab countries who were forced to flee Arab countries in 1948. Any just peace must include Arab Jews as well as Moslems in a just peace agreement.
A recurring theme on this site will be those whose religion, race or language puts them on the wrong side of a national border. For example, there are Coptic Christians in Egypt and Hindus in Pakistan who are often badly mistreated as well as the Karen rebels of Burma. I could of course go around the world and make a list of mistreated minorities. I hope you will not only return to my page, but go to the Senate-Congress link and write your Representative or Senator now and in the future.
Meanwhile write your Representative in the House of Representatives and ask them in the interest of fairness to support resolution 185.

House Resolution 185 Regarding Including Jewish Refugees in Middle East Negotiations

Go to Bill Status Page

You are viewing the following version of this bill:

Introduced in House: This is the original text of the bill as it was written by its sponsor and submitted to the House for consideration.

Text of Legislation

HRES 185 IH

110th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. RES. 185

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the creation of refugee populations in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf region as a result of human rights violations.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 16, 2007

Mr. NADLER (for himself, Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN, Mr. CROWLEY, and Mr. FERGUSON) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the creation of refugee populations in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf region as a result of human rights violations.

Whereas armed conflicts in the Middle East have created refugee populations numbering in the hundreds of thousands and comprised of peoples from many ethnic, religious, and national backgrounds;

Whereas Jews and other ethnic groups have lived mostly as minorities in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf region for more than 2,500 years, more than 1,000 years before the advent of Islam;

Whereas the United States has long voiced its concern about the mistreatment of minorities and the violation of human rights in the Middle East and elsewhere;

Whereas the United States continues to play a pivotal role in seeking an end to the conflict in the Middle East and to promoting a peace that will benefit all the peoples of the region;

Whereas a comprehensive peace in the region will require the resolution of all outstanding issues through bilateral and multilateral negotiations involving all concerned parties;

Whereas approximately 850,000 Jews have been displaced from Arab countries since the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948;

Whereas the United States has demonstrated interest and concern about the mistreatment, violation of rights, forced expulsion, and expropriation of assets of minority populations in general, and in particular, former Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries as evidenced, inter alia, by--

(1) the Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan on October 4, 1977, which states that `[a] solution of the problem of Arab refugees and Jewish refugees will be discussed in accordance with rules which should be agreed';

(2) after negotiating the Camp David Accords, the Framework for Peace in the Middle East, the statement by President Jimmy Carter in a press conference on October 27, 1977, that `Palestinians have rights . . . obviously there are Jewish refugees . . . they have the same rights as others do'; and

(3) in an interview after Camp David II in July 2000, at which the issue of Jewish refugees displaced from Arab lands was discussed, the statement by President Clinton that `There will have to be some sort of international fund set up for the refugees. There is, I think, some interest, interestingly enough, on both sides, in also having a fund which compensates the Israelis who were made refugees by the war, which occurred after the birth of the State of Israel. Israel is full of people, Jewish people, who lived in predominantly Arab countries who came to Israel because they were made refugees in their own land.';

Whereas the international definition of a refugee clearly applies to Jews who fled the persecution of Arab regimes, where a refugee is a person who `owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country' (the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees);

Whereas on January 29, 1957, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), determined that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were refugees that fell within the mandate of the UNHCR;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, calls for a `just settlement of the refugee problem' without distinction between Palestinian and Jewish refugees, and this is evidenced by--

(1) the Soviet Union's United Nations delegation attempt to restrict the `just settlement' mentioned in Resolution 242 solely to Palestinian refugees (S/8236, discussed by the Security Council at its 1382nd meeting of November 22, 1967, notably at paragraph 117, in the words of Ambassador Kouznetsov of the Soviet Union); this attempt failed, signifying the international community's intention of having the resolution address the rights of all Middle East refugees; and

(2) a statement by Justice Arthur Goldberg, the United States' Chief Delegate to the United Nations at that time, who was instrumental in drafting the unanimously adopted Resolution 242, where he has pointed out that `The resolution addresses the objective of `achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem'. This language presumably refers both to Arab and Jewish refugees, for about an equal number of each abandoned their homes as a result of the several wars.';

Whereas in his opening remarks before the January 28, 1992, organizational meeting for multilateral negotiations on the Middle East in Moscow, United States Secretary of State James Baker made no distinction between Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees in articulating the mission of the Refugee Working Group, stating that `[t]he refugee group will consider practical ways of improving the lot of people throughout the region who have been displaced from their homes';

Whereas the Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which refers in Phase III to an `agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue,' uses language that is equally applicable to all persons displaced as a result of the conflict in the Middle East;

Whereas Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians have affirmed that a comprehensive solution to the Middle East conflict will require a just solution to the plight of all `refugees';

Whereas the initiative to secure rights and redress for Jewish and other minorities who were forced to flee Arab countries does not conflict with the right of Palestinian refugees to claim redress;

Whereas the international community should be aware of the plight of Jews and other minority groups displaced from countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf;

Whereas an international campaign is proceeding in some 40 countries to record the history and legacy of Jewish refugees from Arab countries;

Whereas no just, comprehensive Middle East peace can be reached without addressing the uprooting of centuries-old Jewish communities in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf; and

Whereas it would be inappropriate and unjust for the United States to recognize rights for Palestinian refugees without recognizing equal rights for former Jewish, Christian, and other refugees from Arab countries: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That--

      (1) for any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement to be credible and enduring, the agreement must address and resolve all outstanding issues relating to the legitimate rights of all refugees in the Middle East, including Jews, Christians, and other populations displaced from countries in the region; and

      (2) the President should instruct the United States Representative to the United Nations and all United States representatives in bilateral and multilateral fora to--

        (A) use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to ensure that any resolutions relating to the issue of Middle East refugees, and which include a reference to the required resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue, must also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish, Christian, and other refugees from Arab countries; and

        (B) make clear that the United States Government supports the position that, as an integral part of any comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, the issue of refugees from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf must be resolved in a manner that includes recognition of the legitimate rights of and losses incurred by all refugees displaced from Arab countries including Jews, Christians, and other minority groups.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

FREE TZIVIA SARIEL!!!!! reprinted from Israeljustice.com


JEWISH GIRL IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT AFTER RABBINICAL COURT ORDERS IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Israeljustice.com

Date added: 3/15/2008

JERUSALEM -- In what was deemed an unprecedented move, an 18 year-old Jewish girl was sent to a rabbinical court in an attempt to convince her to cooperate with the secular Israeli judiciary in a criminal case.
Tzvia Sariel was taken to a hearing before a Jerusalem Rabbinical Court which declared her to be innocent of charges of assaulting an Arab and ordered her to be immediately freed. At that point, however, prison guards spirited Tzvia to a waiting van and she was returned to prison to continue her fourth month in jail.
"This was totally unexpected," Rabbi Chaim Richmond, one of four rabbinical judges said. "In our presence, the prison warden made a call and they were expected to take Tzvia back to a civil court to be released."
The hearing on March 14 was marked by uncertainty over legal procedure. Attorneys did not understand what role was given to the rabbinical court in a criminal case and whether the rabbis were granted any authority over the civil court judge who approved the procedure. Rabbinical courts are authorized to hear cases that concern marriage and divorce.
"There is a question of authorities," Shmuel Meidad, head of the Honeinu legal aid organization said.
Tzvia has been in prison for over three months on charges of assaulting Arabs brought by the army to the Jewish community of Elon Moreh in December 2007.
In a hearing on March 5, Tzvia was sent to jail for another month despite the chief prosecution witnesses testifying that she had not participated in any assault and requesting to withdraw their complaints against her.
Human rights activists assess that Tzvia remains in prison solely because she refuses to cooperate with authorities. She has refused to identify herself, retain an attorney or submit a defense.
On March 14, Netanya Magistrates Court Judge Smadar Kolander Abramovitch issued a decision that allowed prison authorities to bring Tzvia, manacled in handcuffs and leg irons, to appear before the Rabbinical Court for Matters of the People and the State, in what was deemed an attempt to have rabbis influence Tzvia to cooperate with civil authorities.
Instead, the rabbis held a hearing on her case and issued a decision advocating her immediate release.
"Every day and every hour that Tzvia Sariel spends behind bars is a wrongdoing to this girl," Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the court, said "Justice demands to release her immediately. It is a serious stain on the judiciary system in Israel. According to the Torah law of Israel, we are demanding her immediate release without conditions and to erase the indictment."
Honeinu later issued a statement adding that "the rabbinical court did not limit the refusal to recognize the authority of the civil court and that it is justified and dependant on the stamina of the young girl and her ability to withstand all the hardships in prison."
After the decision was announced, the rabbis, wrapped in tallitot or prayer shawls, immediately stood and recited the special prayers accepting the justice of the Almighty. Everyone in the courtroom followed in a loud chant to say the words, "Hear O' Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One," despite an attempt by prison guards to prevent supporters, including Ruth Sariel, Tzvia's mother, from entering the hearing. Flustered, Prison Warden Hila Boris left to call authorities, she later said, to ask authorities about Tzvia's release.
"I've never seen anything like this in my whole life," one of the accompanying prison guards said.
In the ensuing chaos, Boris removed Tzvia's leg irons and said that she was ordered to take her back to Ramle, the city where the Neve Tirza womens' prison is located. After a copy of the rabbinical's courts decision was faxed to prison authorities, attorney Hillel Weiss attained a verbal confirmation that Tzvia would be taken directly to the Ramle Magistrates Court where she would be summarily released before the Sabbath.
"I've been ordered to take her back to Ramle but she'll be home before Shabbat," Boris said.
Instead, she was returned to solitary confinement, the fourth time she has been harshly punished during her incarceration, and was not allowed to call home.
"She's back in solitary because we haven't heard from her," Ruth Sariel said. "The redemption does not come immediately."

http://www.israeljustice.com/ click this link for additional background

Religious Sect Fears Extinction in Iraq by Betsy Hiel from Pittsburgh Tribune Review


ERBIL, Iraq -- Humam Abdel Jabar sits on a bench in a friend's jewelry shop. Shoulders hunched, head down, he nervously plays with his fingers while recounting a tale of kidnapping and torture that is familiar to many Iraqis.

In April, "four armed men wearing face masks came at 8 o'clock at night and broke down the door of my house," the tall, dark-eyed man with a full moustache wearily recounts.

They shoved him into a car trunk and drove to a nearby house, then blindfolded and bound him.

Jabar stares at the floor. "They beat me and terrorized me. They used a water hose ... punched and pushed me."

He points to scars on his face and shoulders.

"They said, 'You are an infidel, and this is an Islamic state. Either you pay the jiziyah (a tax that Islamic governments once levied on non-Muslims) or it is hallal (religiously sanctioned) to kill you.' "

The kidnappers demanded that the goldsmith pay a $100,000 ransom.

"If you do not give us this, how would you like to be killed -- by shooting or beheading?" they asked him. "We will send your head back to your family in a bag."

Jabar, 42, belongs to the Mandaeans, a tiny religious sect that survived for 2,000 years in Iraq and Iran. Now scattered by Iraq's bloodshed, its leaders fear the sect will disappear.

Not Jews, Christians or Muslims, Mandaeans venerate John the Baptist in rituals revolving around water. Their religious leaders still speak a dialect of Aramaic that is closest to that of the Babylonian Talmud.

"They are one of a variety of groups that appeared around the same time as Christianity ... offering alternative interpretations -- in the case of the Mandaeans, one that scholars have identified as Gnostic," explains Nathaniel Deutsch, a Mandaean expert at Swarthmore College. "The Mandaeans are the one community ... that still survives from this period, and that is extraordinary." ....... Please click on title to this post to view full article.

Mandaean Human Rights


One of the most saddening reports to come out of Iraq is the story of the Mandaeans, a gnostic sect that existed at the time of the birth of Christianity and sheds interesting light on the milieu in which the Christian faith was born. Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq are denying this monotheistic sect even the limited protection of Dhimmi status, which would accord them religious freedom with subordinate status. They do not accept converts at all. They present no threat whatsoever to any other group in Iraq. I believe that they deserve priority in allocating American immigration resources.

Copyright 2008 Magdeburger Joe

http://youtube.com/watch?v=n4yLc9Y7UiU
Please click on the above link to learn more about the Mandaean crisis.

Munkatch Memories 1933


One of my favorite art books is "A Vanished World " by Roman Vishniac. It portrays Jewish life between the world wars. with a particular focus on Warsaw and Carpathia.
This video that I am presenting shows the whole religious spectrum of Jewish life in Munkacs . The descendants of Munkatch Chassidim live today in New York and Israel. My family is descended from some of the other groups like those seen in the video. I find myself scanning the crowd for their faces. Please click on the link below to view this amazing video.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=LP7pHzJCnGg

Monday, March 17, 2008

Arab Jews, an Interview with Nathan Weinstock


The following is a post about an interview with a repentant Trotskyist, who gave an extensive interview to Information Juive and presented in translation on the Point of No Return blog.
Being a former Trotskyist myself, the interview resonates a great deal. My family is connected by marriage, thank G-d to Jews from Yemen and Iraq. I deeply believe that the legitimacy of our claim to the Holy Land requires achdut (or achdus) between all Jews of whatever sub ethnicity.
I urge you to click on the title to this post to view this article. I intend to visit this site frequently in the future. I am very interested in Jews whose ancestry touches the shores of countries under Islamic rule. Point Of No Return addresses this facet of my interests well. It will henceforth be one of the permanent links on the right side of my web page

Unprecedented Honour!!!!! Moshe Feiglin Thanks British Government for Banning Him From Britain




Thursday, March 13, 2008

Moshe Feiglin Responds

25 Adar I, 5768
March 3, ‘08

To the British Government
Home Office
Border and Immigration Agency

Two months ago, I received a letter from your office in which you stated that I am not welcome in your country. As I was under the impression that the letter was a practical joke, I attempted to clarify its authenticity before I replied. Now that I have ascertained that the letter is indeed authentic, I wish to make a few points:

1. I did not request entry into Britain and I have no immediate plans to do so.

2. It would be proper to investigate the reasons for this strange initiative against a political figure in Israel. This initiative constitutes yet another example of European interference in Israel’s internal affairs.

3. Being that infamous terrorists such as Ibrahim Moussaui of the Hizbollah are actually most welcome in Britain, while I -- who have never harmed anyone - am not, I understand that your policy is to encourage and support terror.

4. As is clarified in your letter, the basis for your decision is material that I had written years ago citing the necessity to fight Arab terrorists and my analysis of the culture from which terror grows. Among other facts, you quote my article in which I wrote that "The Arab is not the son of the desert, but rather, its father."

For your information, that quote was taken directly from the book "The Desert Yesterday and Today" written by none other than British High Commissioner of Sinai, Sir Claude Jarvis in 1938.

5. Considering the moral depths to which your nation has sunk, I find your letter most complimentary. It is a great honor for me to join the illustrious list of former prime ministers of Israel, Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Shamir, who also received similar letters from your offices.

Sincerely,

Moshe Feiglin

The Falling Dollar


I am reading the same thing as everyone else about the falling dollar. We are shipping our jobs out of the country. Real wages are falling. Can anyone explain what other than promises backs a currency? U.S currency used to be backed by silver. If you had American money, there was a tangible commodity against which it could be measured. Additionally, the citizen of any country has the duty to support the government with tax dollars. Globalisation has had the effect of draining jobs and battering the value of wages. If workers are struggling, then corporations will struggle as well. Big business and workers need each other. a monetary policy that assigns a tangible value to currency and a meaningful value to work can lift America out of its current difficulties. Hope is a powerful tonic to a sagging stock market. The collective market behavior of American workers is as important a component of economic well being as anything on Wall Street .
Workers need hope too. What will be done?
Copyright 2008 Magdeburger Joe Please click on title to this story for MSNBC link

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nexhat Osmani, One of My Favorite Albanian Singers




When shopping for Turkish coffee in an Albanian grocery, I picked up a CD with this song. I like the way Albanian music reflects its geographical proximity to Greece and the former Yugoslavia as well as its time under Turkish rule. Albanian is a very soft sounding language. The s and sh sounds are very common. On a more personal note, Turkey, of which Albania was a province until 1912 sheltered Jews from the Spanish Inquisition. Later according to the ancient Albanian honour code of "besa" the Albanian people under King Zog and under fascist occupation sheltered and hid any Jew who made his or her way to Albanian soil. During a time when crimes against the Jewish people are committed in the name of Islam, I feel it is my duty to remember and retell the stirring story of Albania, a country that is 70% Muslim and their kindness to the Jewish people. When I present the music of this small country to my audience, it is an expression of my gratitude as well as my fondness for the music itself. I hope you enjoy this song.Please click on the title to this post to watch the video

Good News To My Readers !!!


The new address for this website is magdeburgerjoe.com. Out of respect to my readers, I have decided to get a web address that is simpler to type and remember. The old address will continue to function, and the name of the website remains unchanged, but it will be easier to reach this site. I look forward to your continued visits

Friday, March 14, 2008

Then and Now (Part One)


This is the first part of a presentation that compares Nazi propaganda with current Arab anti Jewish propaganda It on cartoons. Please click on the title to this post to view.

A Comparison of Nazi German and Arab anti Jewish Propaganda (Part Two)


This skillful and chilling comparison of Nazi and Arab anti Jewish Propaganda lays out chilling comparisons that are self explanatory when seen. Please click on the icon in this post to view.
Please click on the title to this post to view the video

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Other Blog

Magdeburger Chossid is my political blog. I have another blog which covers aspects of literature and popular culture on the world scene that I feel deserve more prominence in our society. Like Magdeburger Chossid, the posts on Rudistettner.blogspot.com are indexed.Check the site out by clicking on the title to this post

National Security and Imports.

America is dependent upon foreign countries for much of its oil. Iran had in the 1970's a solidly pro American government. Today it is vehemently anti American.We can not count on America's allies to remain stable and to maintain an alliance with us. we should be developing our own energy sources. Additionally, having foreign countries manufacturing components of our military equipment is fraught with danger. We can not count on our allies to guard the secrets of military technology entrusted to them. In the military sphere we should be manufacturing and developing our own equipment. The web of treaties into which America has entered that limit our national sovereignty could come back to haunt us. Who in the two major parties cares about these important questions?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Soviet German Friendship, One Boy,s Story Retold by Magdeburger Joe (with thanks to Rabbi L)

In 1939, there was a pause in the sworn enimnity between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that was to last two years. For the millions of communist party members in Europe and America along with their sympathisers, it was a time of bitter disillusionment that diminished the prestige of the communist movement.
The Treaty of Friendship resulted in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia being ceded to the Soviet Union. Poland was divided between the USSR and Nazi Germany. For a Jew, which side of the border you ended up on meant the difference between physical life and death. I am specific in stressing physical life because the communal and spiritual life of Jews under Soviet rule was driven underground.The simple transmission of Jewish heritage from parents to children became a furtive exercise subject to ostracism and legal sanction. Running a cheder, or Jewish school according to Torah principles was a criminal offense. Many Jews, among them many Lubavitcher chassidim paid with their lives for their efforts to sustain Jewish spiritual life.
A Rabbi who used to teach in my synagogue was seven years old in 1939. Although his family lived in German occupied Poland, they managed to flee to the Soviet half of Poland. Because my Rabbi was fleeing from Germany, which at that time was an ally of the USSR, he was at the age of seven deported with his family to Siberia as an enemy alien. This was a trip by train across twelve time zones. The entire width of the continental USA is four time zones. During his incarceration, his family's treasured library consisted of the book of Leviticus and the prayerbook for weekdays and sabbath bound into one volume along with rabbinic commentaries.Needless to say, it was contraband.
Several hundred people used to sleep in each of several barracks under circumstances that bore little resemblance to family life in peaceful times. You did not know if your neighbour was a police informant or a friend to be trusted. The stress of crowded conditions combined with the fear and distrust are hard to imagine today.
When night fell, huge rats used to run through the barracks. Rat bites were common. The bites carried with them infection that invariably led to death. Together with the fear of NKVD informants, the rat borne plague gnawed at the security of the internees already weakened by the rigours of travel and a harsh climate.
One day, my rabbi was out in front of his barracks playing. A strange, unkempt man spoke to him, his polished Russian contrasting with his rough appearance. He had been in Siberia since the end of the Soviet Civil War in 1921. He and his friends had fought the Communists, and was paying for his loyalties with decades of imprisonment in the bone chilling austerity of Siberian exile.
"You're all going to die." he told my Rabbi. "Everyone dies from the rat bites. There's only one thing you can do."
"What is that?" asked my rabbi
"The rats hate smoke". he answered. You need to keep a fire burning in the barracks all the time. The smoke will keep the rats away. Always keep the fire burning".
The man went back to his quarters where the White Russian Prisoners were interned. My rabbi went back to his barracks and to his family. He and a friend of his who was about ten years old took on the responsibility of kindling a fire in the barracks. One boy would collect stray wood scraps and small logs, and the other boy would kindle the fire. A smoky haze hung in the air of the barracks constantly When nights and then weeks passed with no rat bites and no sickness the true value of the boy's labour became apparent. Fires were maintained from then on. In the course of collecting wood, my rabbi met his father's study partner from happier times in yeshiva in prewar Poland. He was able to continue his Torah studies with his father's friend. My rabbi spoke years later with the warmest of gratitude to the man for keeping the fire of Torah burning in his heart.
When war broke out between the USSR and Nazi Germany in 1941, my Rabbi and his family were moved thousands of miles away yet again to Uzbekistan. Many died in those troubled times in the "safety" of the USSR from disease and starvation. Thank G-d, the prosperity he knows today as well as the joy of children and grandchildren following in his path of faith appear to me to be a reward for his years of faith under the harshest of conditions.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

New York's Political Woes by Magdeburger Joe

Looking back at the sordid woes of Governor Spitzer, I am far more concerned about his retaliation against State Assembly minority leader James Tedisco and his constituents back in October of last year. In what appeared to be an act of political payback, Governor Spitzer cut funding out of the budget for a medical clinic in Tedisco's district that served the poor. I expect many issues to come up in upcoming years about which New Yorkers may passionately differ. Governor Spitzer's "steamroller" style of political warfare does not make me eager to leap to his defense at this time. Whether it is from Governor Spitzer of his successor, New Yorkers deserve a far higher level of civility than exists at present. Back when Hillary's husband was president, I had to trash the daily paper before walking through my front door because of the steamy contents of the front pages. Oh well... Happy days are here again.

Spitzer Flashback( from timesunion.com)

Funding cut called political punishment
Tedisco claims Spitzer is penalizing Schenectady health clinic in GOP district


By RICK KARLIN, Capitol bureau
First published: Thursday, October 18, 2007

ALBANY -- A Schenectady health clinic for the poor may be the latest casualty in the escalating battle between Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Republican lawmakers.
Funding cuts have long been weapons of choice in the Capitol's partisan wars. But Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco said Spitzer has taken the art of political retaliation to a new level by cutting $100,000 from a health clinic for the poor in a Republican-held district in Schenectady.


"The governor has really stepped over the line," Tedisco said a day after learning that money he requested for the financially strapped Schenectady Free Health Clinic had been eliminated.

He said thousands of low-income Schenectady residents depend on the clinic's free care.

It is hardly the first time one of Albany's leaders has been accused of cutting funding for political reasons. Republican Gov. George Pataki infuriated Assembly Democrats in 1998 when he axed $1.6 billion of their spending and borrowing items. Over the past year, Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno's office has pulled back local grants for two Long Island and Westchester districts where Democrats seized longtime Republican seats.

The cut in Schenectady was just outside Tedisco's district in an area represented by one of his Republican colleagues, George Amedore Jr., who won a special election this summer.

It also came amid a high-profile battle over Spitzer's plan to allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses. Tedisco has emerged as the opposition's point man, appearing on national TV shows blasting the plan and calling the governor "Illegal Eliot."

Spitzer's cut also comes just days after the Times Union reported that Tedisco was researching a legislative proposal, which, if passed, could allow for a recall of the governor.

The driver's license plan, enacted by Spitzer last month, is the latest flash point between the governor and Republicans in the Legislature.

"This is payback," said Tedisco. "And this is governance with a vengeance."

Spitzer spokesman Jeffrey Gordon countered that Tedisco and other lawmakers knew the governor was changing the way local grants, known as member items, were allocated and they could have asked for the funding during the budget process but instead waited until August.

"They had ample opportunity to secure funding for this and they did not attempt to do so," Gordon said.

In past years, the health clinic got money from a discretionary fund controlled by the state health commissioner. But as part of what he said was an effort to make spending more transparent, Spitzer, who took office in January, did away with these multimillion-dollar pots of money controlled by agency heads and put them in the state budget as line items.

The governor said he would use money left over from 2006 to fund some requests from local lawmakers, which is what Tedisco sought in August, after he realized the clinic's traditional funding source no longer existed.

Even though the request came late in the year, Tedisco said, he was led to believe he'd get the money. As proof, he released a Sept. 6 e-mail from the governor's office to Tedisco stating that "we're prepared to process this project along with the other items."

The other items included additional grants requested by Tedisco, including $90,000 for a bicentennial celebration in Ballston Spa; $10,000 to buy boats for the Scotia Glenville Rowing Association; and $50,000 toward an elevator at the Italian American Heritage Association. None of the items, totaling $482,548, was approved for funding.
When he asked what happened, Tedisco's chief of staff, Bill Sherman, said Spitzer's Budget Director Paul Francis told him "that was the decision of this administration."

The health clinic operates on an annual budget of about $700,000, said Executive Director Bill Spolyar. Local retired doctors donate their services, and most of the expenses are for medication and malpractice insurance.

He wasn't familiar with the combative budget politics but said the clinic is starting to solicit charitable donations and still hoping the state funding will come through.

"We're hopeful that's going to happen," he said. Karlin can be reached at 454-5758 or by e-mail at rkarlin@timesunion.com. Capitol bureau reporter James M. Odato contributed to this story.

http://rotterdamny.info/m-1192701920/s-0/

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eliot Spitzer's Troubles

Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer's "honeymoon" in office could have been measured on a stopwatch. When most new governors are building alliances and building a reservoir of good will, Spitzer launched straight into a controversial plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens. To compound his folly, he arrogantly threatened to "steamroll" anyone who stood in the way of his ill conceived plan. If anyone had any doubts as to what "steamrolling" was, politically motivated investigations of Republican opponents and budget cuts in their legislative districts quickly put to rest any doubts about Governor Spitzer's intentions.
Spitzer came into office as a squeaky clean moral crusader. He should in practice be subject to the same restraints as he demands of his opponents. His latest difficulties are likely to embolden him if he should survive. For the good of New York, for the sake of its climate of political civility, Eliot Spitzer should resign.

IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDING FOR ELIOT SPITZER?

Republicans Set Deadline For Governor's Resignation
NEW YORK (CBS) ― If Gov. Eliot Spitzer opts to roll the dice and not resign, state Republican leadership may force him to go all-in and call for his impeachment from office, according to a state Assemblyman.

Sources told CBS 2 HD shortly after it was reported that the governor was linked to a prostitution ring that he would likely hand in his resignation, which could happen within the next 36 hours.

State Assemblyman James Tedisco (R-Schenectady) told CBS 2 HD that he spoke with Lt. Governor Paterson Monday evening and that the two discussed Paterson taking on a new role of leadership, leading Tedisco to believe that action was "forthcoming."

Tedisco said if Spitzer does not resign according to a deadline that's been imposed, state Republican leadership will call for impeachment proceedings to begin.

Spitzer, though, was clearly examining his legal options Monday night; a spokesman said the governor had retained the Manhattan law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, one of the nation's most prominent.

The news of Spitzer's alleged transgression set off one of the largest scandals in modern New York state political history.

During a news conference Monday afternoon, Spitzer, 48, apologized to his family and the public, but did not go as far as to explain why.

"I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong," he said in a brief statement. "I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself.

"I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family," he said alongside his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, who was visibly upset as he spoke.

The couple has three daughters together.

The announcement not only shook up New York's political infrastructure, but political pundits who took to heart Spitzer's promise that he'd keep corruption and scandal out of Albany were stunned to learn of the news.

"Eliot Spitzer was supposed to be the guy that refurbished the Democratic party and cleaned up Albany, so this is much more shocking than it would be for any other incumbent," political consultant Norman Adler told CBS 2 HD.

"I'm sure that more champagne is being filled in Albany today than in the last five years," he added.

Despite the expectations of a resignation, some experts say Spitzer should take the time to weigh his options before stepping down.

"This is one of the most intelligent, brightest elected officials in the region. You don't change governors of New York lightly, and I think it would be a mistake to act precipitously," political consultant Joseph Mercurio told CBS 2 HD.

"I think first things first, he has to resolve his relationship with his wife. He has to look to his rabbi and make personal decisions first," Mercurio said. "It's really initially up to him before the rest of us react."

CBS News confirmed that Spitzer was caught on federal wiretap, and was identified as "Client 9."

Sources told CBS 2 HD that the ring Spitzer was involved in was the high-profile "Emporers Club VIP," which was accused last week of offering prostitutes to wealthy clients, topping out at $5,500 an hour. Four people were arrested in the ring that was linked to cities in the U.S. as well as in Europe.

CBS 2 HD has obtained a copy of the wiretap transcript which allegedly has Spitzer asking a man named "Lewis" about a prostitute.

Part of the transcript reads:

Lewis said that "Kristen" would go directly to room 871.
Client 9 asked Lewis to remind him what "Kristen" looked like and Lewis said that she was American, petite, very pretty brunette, 5 feet 5 inches, and 105 pounds.
Client 9 said that she should go straight to 871, and if for any reason it did not work out, she should call Lewis.

According to the transcript, "Client 9" made it apparent to the service's agent that it wasn't the first time he'd used the service before. "Yup, same as in the past, no question about it," he said when referring to payment arrangements.

Later, the agent told "Kristen" that the client would "ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe -- you know -- I mean that ... very basic things. ... 'Kristen' responded: 'I have a way of dealing with that. ... I'd be like, listen dude, you really want the sex?' ... You know what I mean.'"

An official told the Associated Press that the New York governor met last month with at least one woman in a Washington hotel. The law enforcement official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The Web site of the Emperors Club VIP displays photographs of the prostitutes' bodies, with their faces hidden, along with hourly rates depending on whether the prostitutes were rated with various numbers of diamonds, with seven diamonds being the highest. The highest-ranked prostitutes cost $5,500 an hour, prosecutors said.

The case is being handled by prosecutors in the Public Corruption unit of U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia's office. Garcia spokeswoman Yusill Scribner said the office had no comment.

Spitzer has built his political legacy on stamping out corruption, including several headline-making battles with Wall Street while serving as attorney general. He stormed into the governor's office in 2006 with a historic share of the vote, vowing to continue his no-nonsense approach to fixing one of the nation's worst governments.

Time magazine had named him "Crusader of the Year" when he was attorney general and the tabloids proclaimed him "Eliot Ness."

But his stint as governor has been marred by several problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear Spitzer's main Republican nemesis.

Spitzer had been expected to testify to the state Public Integrity Commission he had created to answer for his role in the scandal, in which his aides are accused of misusing state police to compile travel records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno.

Spitzer had served two terms as attorney general where he pursued criminal and civil cases and cracked down on misconduct and conflicts of interests on Wall Street and in corporate America. He had previously been a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, handling organized crime and white-collar crime cases.

His cases as state attorney general included a few criminal prosecutions of prostitution rings and into tourism involving prostitutes.

In 2004, he was part of an investigation of an escort service in New York City that resulted in the arrest of 18 people on charges of promoting prostitution and related charges.

(© 2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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Free Robert Levinson !! reprinted from CNN

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- It has been a year since retired FBI agent Robert Levinson
Outside a restaurant whose owners know and miss Bob Levinson, a crowd gathered wearing yellow ribbons. They signed a petition that will be sent to Iran's Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appealing for the Iranian leader to help find their missing relative.

"The rally of hope is to let everyone know that we have not forgotten Bob, that we will continue to search for him and that we hope that anyone that might have information about him will get in touch with us ... and help us bring him home," Christine Levinson said. Watch an interview with Christine Levinson »

She urged anyone with information to contact the family at www.helpboblevinson.com.

Levinson worked 30 years for the FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and was employed as a private investigator at the time of his March 8, 2007, disappearance, the site says.

Levinson's family has said they think he might have been working on a cigarette-smuggling case when he flew to Kish in Iran from Dubai.

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But Sunday, his wife said she's not totally sure what he was doing in Iran.

"He may have met with someone there and the two may have been abducted and questioned," the Web site states. "Some reports suggest the other man was released but Levinson was not."

Levinson was last seen on Kish Island, off the coast of southern Iran.

Dawud Salahuddin, an American fugitive who lives in Iran, said last year that he met Levinson in a hotel on Kish Island on March 8, 2007.

Salahuddin says the meeting was an effort to put Levinson in touch with Iranian authorities to help the American investigate cigarette smuggling as part of his contract work for a tobacco company.

Known in Iran as Hassan Abdulrahman, Salahuddin is not believed to be a credible source of information about Levinson, senior U.S. administration officials have said.

Salahuddin was given refuge in Iran after admitting to killing a former pro-Western Iranian diplomat in Maryland in July 1980. He was on assignment from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's new regime when he killed Ali Akbar Tabatabai at his residence in Bethesda, according to Time magazine.

Shortly after admitting the killing in a 1995 interview with a reporter for the National Security News Agency, Salahuddin began working as a journalist for the Iranian government's news agency in Tehran in 1980. According to Time, Salahuddin was in Afghanistan during much of the mid- to late-'80s, fighting Soviet forces with mujahedeen fighters.

Salahuddin has repeatedly expressed a desire to return to the United States.

Salahuddin's account of his meeting with Levinson is that he was seized by plainclothes Iranian officials, who took him away from the room he shared with Levinson to question him about his Iranian passport.

When he was freed the following day, Salahuddin said, he was told by officials that Levinson had returned to Dubai.

Christine Levinson said a man purporting to be Salahuddin called her "right when he disappeared" and told her that he would be home in a few days.

Senior administration officials have said they suspect Iranian authorities seized Levinson, although they have no proof.

The State Department has sent several letters to the Iranian government seeking information about Levinson. The Iranian government continues to maintain it has no information about him.

Speaking last week at a daily briefing, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the United States is "baffled by the lack of support" from Iran on trying to locate Levinson.

"This isn't a political issue; this is an issue about an individual ... who went missing from Iran, a place where there are very close tabs kept on foreigners, and in a situation in which we certainly have concerns that a year has gone by and we have not heard from him," he said.

The United States has no diplomatic ties with Iran but sends messages through the Swiss Embassy. The United States will "continue to push them, but unfortunately, they hold the key here," Casey said.

In December, Christine Levinson traveled to Iran to seek information about her husband's disappearance and pressure the government on his case. While the Iranian government was polite and guaranteed the security of her family during their trip, she said, they provided no details on his whereabouts.

A hotel registration indicates Levinson checked in and out of a hotel on Kish Island on March 8-9 last year. Christine Levinson says she saw his signature. She was told he left in a cab.

She is especially worried about her husband's fate. He has high blood pressure and diabetes for which he takes medication, she said, adding that his medication was found in a hotel room in Dubai where he was staying before making what was to be a day trip to Kish Island.

In February, she hired an Iranian lawyer to "make sure the Iranian government does not forget about Bob."

"I know that [the attorney] can file the papers necessary to report that he's missing," she said, referring to her attorney. "And he can ask them to do things and go with them to look in prisons and jails.

"Whatever might be necessary."

Among those at Sunday's event: the head of the local FBI office, the county sheriff, and former federal agents and prosecutors who worked with Levinson at the DEA and FBI.

Daniel Levinson, who accompanied his mother to Iran last year, spoke with pride about his Dad, reading letters from Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Rep. Robert Wexler. In Farsi, the younger Levinson said, "The next time I go to Iran, I hope it will be to bring my father home."

Daniel's aunt Susan said he learned Farsi after his father disappeared.

Monday is Robert Levinson's 60th birthday. The family sang "Happy Birthday" in the parking lot.

Christine Levinson said that when she needs a lift, she phones her husband's voice mail and hears, "Hello, this is Bob Levinson. ... Please leave your name and the time of your call, and I'll get back to you. Take care, and have a nice day."


"In the moment when I listen, it makes me sad," she said. "But then it makes me keep going because I know I will hear him again in person."

"Each day, I get up and hope today will be the day that I'll bring him home," she said. "And if that doesn't happen and if I haven't gotten a phone call, I focus on what I'm going to do next to find him."