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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Ongoing War Against the Middle East's Christians: Car Bomb Kills Copts Outside Church in Alexandria, Egypt

As reported by CNN (

"A car bomb outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt killed at least seven people and wounded at least 24 others early Saturday, Egyptian state media reported, citing unnamed security officials.

The car bomb exploded at 12:20 a.m. in front of the Church of Two Saints, where Coptic Christians were attending services, Egypt's Nile TV reported.

A nearby mosque was damaged and eight Muslims were among the injured, according to Egypt's MENA news service.

Egyptian officials are blaming foreign elements for the attack, MENA reported."

An isolated incident carried out by "foreign elements"? Rubbish. In fact, this latest incident is a repeat of a massacre which occurred at the beginning of 2010. As described by Adel Guindy, in an article entitled "Symbolic victims in a socially regressing egypt" (

"On January 6, 2010, at 11:30 p.m., gunshots were heard in Nag Hammadi, Egypt (a town situated 80 kilometers, or 50 miles, north of Luxor). The shooting was aimed at a group of Copts leaving church following the midnight Christmas Mass (which the Coptic Church celebrated on January 7, 2010, in accordance with the old Julian and Coptic calendars). Seven people were murdered, including a Muslim who happened to be in the vicinity. In addition, nine Copts were injured, one later succumbing to his wounds at the hospital. The victims were all 17 to 29 years old.

Had it not been for the bishop’s decision to begin mass earlier than usual and to finish well before the traditional hour of midnight, the number of victims could have been substantially higher. The bishop decided to hold mass early due to threats he had received in the days before Christmas regarding 'a special Christmas gift.' Though the State Security had been informed of these threats, no action was taken.

The following morning, Christmas Day, Copts gathered in front of the town’s hospital where the dead and wounded had been taken. Corpses were lying on the ground and the wounded were not being treated. The hospital and security personnel would not release bodies to be buried, and relatives complained of rude and provocative treatment by them. As the crowd soon grew to 2,000 people, the authorities decided to prevent the families from carrying on with the funeral procession at the nearby church and used tear gas, clubs, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd (wounding seven people), which began shouting anti-government slogans and throwing stones at the security forces and at the hospital facade. Once permitted to resume the funeral procession, Muslim onlookers began throwing stones at them."

Persecution of Egypt's Copts, who comprise some 10 percent of Egypt's total population of 80 million, is systematic and ongoing. According to the the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), there are "an average of four attacks against Copts every month; there have been 144 attacks nationwide over the past three years" ( The Egyptian government denies Copts the right to build churches or pray at home, and as also observed by EIPR, "the homes of some Copts, particularly in southern Egypt, were demolished or closed because the government suspected them of being clandestine churches". Copts are denied government and public posts and have difficulty obtaining employment in the judiciary, the army, the police, the media, and universities.

From a broader perspective, the persecution of Egypt's Copts is little different from the violence being perpetrated against Christians in Gaza (see: and Iraq (see:

When Obama visited Cairo at the beginning of his presidency, he never once mentioned the oppression of Egypt's Copts. Given Obama's refusal to honor his campaign pledge to recognize Armenian Genocide, I cannot imagine that Obama will dare broach the issue of oppression of the Middle East's Christian community anytime soon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Like a Thief in the Night, Obama Appoints Robert Ford Ambassador to Syria

Bypassing Senate confirmation and seeking to avoid public scrutiny by acting while many are on holiday, Obama has appointed Robert Ford as ambassador to Syria (see: There has been no ambassador to Syria following the involvement of Damascus in the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a friend of the West, in 2005.

The appointment comes at a time when the U.N. tribunal investigating the Hariri murder is preparing to announce its determination that Hezbollah, which doesn't dare act without Syrian approval, perpetrated the assassination. For the avoidance of doubt, Syria is deemed a "state sponsor of terrorism" by the U.S. State Department.

The message being conveyed by Obama: You can murder friends of the U.S., yet give it a few years, and all will be forgiven. Provide advanced Scud missiles to Hezbollah ( It doesn't bother Obama in the least. Begin building a nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance ( No need to fret.

Revolting? You bet!

In this manner, can Obama possibly wean Syria away from Iran? Not a chance. Obama is acting out of weakness, and all the Arab states are now wondering whether they should begin hedging their bets and mending fences with Tehran. Note the recent warming of Jordan, a long-time ally of the U.S., to Iran (see:

Has Obama been influenced by John Kerry's budding friendship with Syrian tyrant Assad, or, is this another display of Obama's closet radicalism? Either way, it portends no good in the volatile Middle East.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Asia 1" Convoy Heads for Gaza

As reported by Iran's Press TV on Thursday, a new "aid" convoy is headed for Gaza:

"The first Asian humanitarian convoy to break Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip by taking relief supplies to the coastal sliver has reached Lebanon.

Currently joined by activists of 15 different nationalities, the Asian People's Solidarity with Palestine convoy, also known as Asia 1, began its journey from India and traveled through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Syria before arriving in Lebanon.
The activists say they want to display solidarity with the Palestinian people in their resistance against Israel.

Tel Aviv has been enforcing an all-out land, aerial and naval blockade on the 1.5 million Palestinians in the enclave since mid-June 2007.

The mission has been welcomed by Khaled Mashaal, the political leader of the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, as well as Ramadan Abdullah, the leader of the Palestinian group of Islamic Jihad.

. . . .

A seven-member delegation of Iranian lawmakers joined the mission while it was in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The convoy plans to enter Gaza later in the month on the anniversary of the launch of the 22-day-long Israeli war on the enclave, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.

There are fears that the mission might be fiercely confronted by Israel's military, which killed nine Turkish activists aboard Freedom Flotilla, an Ankara-backed humanitarian convoy, on May 31.

However, an Indian activist with the mission told Press TV, 'We are completely non-violent. We do not have weapons.'

In case of an attack, 'We will face it with non-violence. We'll face it with a prayer in our hearts,' he added."

"An all-out land, aerial and naval blockade on the 1.5 million Palestinians in the enclave"? Peculiar how the article avoids reference to Gaza's common border with Egypt and the truckloads of goods entering Gaza each day from Israel. In 2009, 30,920 truckloads of food, construction materials and educational supplies entered Gaza from Israel, and after an Israeli Cabinet decision in June 2010, the capacity of the Kerem Shalom Crossing was doubled to allow 250 truckloads to enter Gaza Strip on a daily basis. As widely acknowledged, Gazan shops are now fully stocked with Israeli merchandise, which is even giving rise to complaints among Gazan manufacturers (see:

Even more absurd, this convoy is setting sail after Israel announced that it will allow increased exports from Gaza (see:

So what is the rationale for the "Asia 1" convoy?

Faced with declining popularity in Gaza and no longer making world headlines, Hamas has acted to "heat up" the border with Israel. A total of some 200 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at southern Israel from Gaza during all of 2010, and of these, 25 were fired at Israeli civilian targets over the course of a two-day period this past week (see: One Qassam rocket exploded next to a kindergarten in Ashkelon, wounding one child (,7340,L-4002195,00.html). Also, on December 6, an advanced Kornet anti-tank missile, smuggled into Gaza, was fired for the first time at an Israeli Merkava (see:

Will the "Asia 1" escapade pass uneventfully? Probably. However, regarding the Indian activist's "prayers in our hearts", a pity he does not contemplate:

- The ongoing attempts by Hamas to target Israeli civilians with missiles.
- The Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis.
- The ongoing murder, i.e. "honor killing", of women in Gaza (see:
- The ongoing murder of Hamas political opponents (
- The ongoing abuse of Christians in the Gaza Strip (see:
- Death threats against gays in Gaza (see:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Paris Pours Poison into a Seething Middle East Cauldron: 100 HOT Missiles Being Sent to Lebanon

There are times when I can only scratch my head and wonder who is responsible for a given miscreant act. The decision of France to supply the Lebanese army with 100 HOT anti-tank missiles falls within this domain. See:


Will the missiles remain in the hands of the Lebanese army?

Little chance of that. Paris is providing the missiles with no strings attached, and some, if not all, will make their way into the hands of Hezbollah and Iran.

Why is France supplying Lebanon with the missiles now, i.e. delivery by February?

Actually, the U.S. opened the door to this idiocy when Congress recently released $100 million in funding for the Lebanese army. (See: ) If the U.S. is supplying Lebanon with arms, Paris can hardly allow itself to be seen as withholding "aid" to a former French mandate.

Might the missiles be used by the Lebanese army to quell an attempted coup by Hezbollah?

Not a chance. The Lebanese army has a large Shiite contingent, i.e. has been infiltrated by Hezbollah, and would not stand a chance fighting against Hezbollah, which is better armed and trained.

What are the consequences of this delivery of missiles?

The Lebanese army will be annihilated during the course of future fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

Vive la France!

[I apologize to readers that comments are now being "moderated". Not long ago, a reader, sympathetic to Hezbollah, wrote to me in Arabic saying that I am a "son of a whore". Although I prefer to allow readers to vent their spleens, I still think there need be some modicum of courtesy for purposes of this blog.]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nano Retina's Bionic Retina Seeks to Restore Sight to Persons Suffering from Retinal Degenerative Diseases

In an earier blog entry (, I noted that I am privileged to work as a consultant for a small Israeli medical device company named Nano Retina, which is developing an ultra small bionic retina, incorporating nano-size components, designed to restore sight to those suffering from retinal degenerative diseases. Its 30-minute implant procedure requires local anesthesia, a small incision and “gluing” of the device to the damaged retina. Return of sight is anticipated to be instantaneous.

According to a recent article in The Economist entitled "Seeing into the future" (, a new retinal implant device, manufactured by a company named Second Sight, is soon to be granted clinical approval in Europe and will then go on sale. According to The Economist:

"The device, called the Argus II, is by no means a cure for blindness, says Robert Greenberg, the chief executive and co-founder of Second Sight, the company in Sylmar, California, that developed it. It is intended for use by people who have lost their sight as a result of retina-wasting diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, and like the earliest cochlear implants it is designed to provide only some basic sensory assistance. But despite its limitations all 30 of the people who have received the Argus II as part of clinical trials can, at the very least, now see changes in light levels and detect objects. This means that they can navigate around obstacles, find doorways, see parked or moving cars and look at someone’s head when talking to them. A handful of them can even read large print."

Although the Argus II is a marvelous achievement, Nano Retina is "setting its sights" considerably higher. The Nano Retina device is intended to allow persons blinded by retinal disease to read, watch TV and identify faces, and the company plans initial human clinical trials within several years. Moreover, as I observed in my earlier blog, the Nano Retina bionic retina is expected to work with the natural functionalities of the eye, including pupil dilation and eyeball movement, and will be powered wirelessly by a rechargeable, battery-operated mini-laser, situated on a pair of eyeglasses.

I can personally report that since Nano Retina was established in 2009, their team of international scientists has made rapid strides toward their artificial retina target. First elements of the system are ready, and several preclinical tests have already been performed, all in accordance with a rigorous time schedule.

See the following animation describing the Nano Retina project:

Truly, in my opinion, a miracle in the making . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Roger Cohen's Deluded "U.S. Illusions in Lebanon"

In his op-ed of today's date entitled "U.S. Illusions in Lebanon" (, Roger Cohen writes:

"For the United States to shun any contact with Hezbollah amounts to trying to play the Middle Eastern chess game without several pieces.

. . . .

My sense is the passage of time — as well as bungling and inconsistencies — has rendered justice impossible in the Hariri murder. Lebanese stability is precious and tenuous: It trumps justice delayed, flawed and foreign.

. . . .

Is anyone listening in D.C.? It’s time to drop either-or diplomacy to address a many-shaded reality."

In essence, Cohen is telling us that if Saad Hariri is willing to forgive the 2005 murder of his father, Rafik, by Hezbollah, the U.S. should also let bygones be bygones. Cohen, however, has a habit of forgetting to mention inconvenient facts.

In 1983, long before Cohen became a U.S. citizen, Hezbollah blew up the Beirut barracks housing the U.S. members of the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon, killing 220 Marines, 18 Navy sailors, and three Army soldiers. Attempts at rescuing survivors from the rubble were subsequently hindered by Hezbollah sniper fire.

Cohen also fails to mention the 1984 kidnap and murder of William Francis Buckley by Hezbollah. Buckley, buried in Arlington National Cemetery, was tortured to death by Hezbollah.

Also, no reference by Cohen to Hezbollah's bombing of the Jewish community center building in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 85 people and injured hundreds. Why should Roger sully his argument with such trivial details?

Cohen spent the better part of 2009 attempting to convince us that Iran is "not totalitarian", while ignoring Iran's brutal oppression of Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, women, homosexuals, dissidents and journalists, and never broaching Iran's support of genocide in Darfur. Now, in 2010, he would have the U.S. seek rapprochement with Tehran's hired Hezbollah thugs for the sake of a "many-shaded reality".

Forgive and forget? Sorry, Roger, not in this lifetime. I spent much of 1983 in Lebanon and will never forget the gruesome sight of Hezbollah's victims. Never!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The War in the Middle East: Obama Losing Jordan

There is an ongoing war in the Middle East between Iran and the U.S., which, as yet, has not involved guns and bullets. An ambitious Iran intent on regional hegemony, incessantly snorts in bellicose fashion as it attempts to intimidate its Arab neighbors into submission. Moreover, as was revealed by WikiLeaks and has been stated often in this blog, America's Arab allies - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - are all running scared, attempting to determine in whose favor the confrontation is trending, while occasionally suggesting that they are prepared to implement atomic development programs of their own.

Hesitant to confront Iran and belatedly limiting his opposition to sanctions that have been largely ignored by countries with their own agendas such as China and Turkey, Obama may soon watch as Jordan defects from the West. As reported by Jamal Halaby of the Associated Press:

"Jordan's King Abdullah II said Sunday he was seeking 'practical steps' to improve his frosty relations with Iran, a contrast to his regime's frequent criticism of Iran's policies.

The call came in a closed-door meeting with Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, director of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's office, Abdullah's Royal Court said in a statement.

Abdullah has been one of Iran's harshest critics in recent years, warning that its growing influence in the region could undermine him and other pro-American moderates.

The Royal Court statement said Abdullah accepted Ahmadinejad's invitation to visit Tehran soon, but no date was set.

. . . .

In U.S. cables released by WikiLeaks, U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stephen Beecroft quoted Jordanian officials describing Iran as an 'octopus' whose tentacles 'reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best laid plans of the West and regional moderates.'"

Obama is perceived by Jordan as a weakling prepared to sell out America's friends, and notwithstanding its hatred of the Iranian "Octopus", Jordan is now hedging its bets.

A real war with guns and bullets involving an Iranian proxy? Hezbollah is demanding that Lebanon ignore the forthcoming conclusions of the U.N. tribunal investigating the murder by Hezbollah of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (see:, and whether publication of the U.N.'s determinations leads to a coup d'état or civil war in Lebanon, or possibly a confrontation with Israel intended to distract the Arab street, is anyone's bet.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Obama's Middle East Policy: The Big Lie (I)

The revelations resulting from the publication of U.S. State Department documents by WikiLeaks as they pertain to the Middle East have proven an eye opener. Although some of what was disclosed by WikiLeaks has already been hinted at here, WikiLeaks has provided the hard evidence.

Among those leaders from the region with egg smeared all over their faces is Turkey's Prime Minister Erdoğan. As reported by Hürriyet Daily News, there have been allegations of eight secret bank accounts in Switzerland:

"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s financial assets and the way he made 'his fortune' were the subjects of two of the cables sent by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, documents leaked as part of a release late Sunday by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

'We have heard from two contacts that Erdoğan has eight accounts in Swiss banks; his explanations that his wealth comes from the wedding presents guests gave his son and that a Turkish businessman is paying the educational expenses of all four Erdoğan children in the U.S. purely altruistically are lame,' Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, wrote in a cable sent to Washington on Dec. 30, 2004.

Edelman, who has been outspoken in his criticism of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, argued that the widespread corruption would be an important factor that could degrade Erdoğan’s ability to run the country.

In a separate cable sent in July 2004, Edelman claimed that 'an anonymous source told [him] that Erdoğan and [the source] benefited directly from the award of the Tüpraş privatization to a consortium including a Russian partner.'”

If this is not enough, according to Der Spiegel the cables leaked by WikiLeaks warn of the tendencies and dependability of Ankara's policy makers:

"US diplomats have grave doubts about Turkey's dependability. Secret or confidential cables from the US Embassy in Ankara describe Islamist tendencies in the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The US diplomats' verdict on the NATO partner with the second biggest army in the alliance is devastating. The Turkish leadership is depicted as divided, and Erdogan's advisers, as well as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, are portrayed as having little understanding of politics beyond Ankara.

The Americans are also worried about Davutoglu's alleged neo-Ottoman visions. US diplomats quote one high-ranking government adviser as saying that Davutoglu would use his Islamist influence on Erdogan, describing him as 'exceptionally dangerous.' According to the US document, another adviser to the ruling AKP party remarked, probably ironically, that Turkey wanted 'to take back Andalusia and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683.'

The US diplomats write that many leading figures in the AKP were members of a Muslim fraternity and that Erdogan had appointed Islamist bankers to influential positions. He gets his information almost exclusively from newspapers with close links to Islamists, they reported. The prime minister, the cables continue, has surrounded himself with an 'iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors' and presents himself as the 'Tribune of Anatolia.'",1518,731590,00.html

In short, with friends like Turkey, who needs enemies, but this didn't stop Obama from embracing his friend Erdoğan at the recent G-20 summit in Seoul (observe the picture in Der Spiegel).

Note the special warmth that Obama reserves for the likes of Erdoğan, Chavez ( and Qaddafi ( You will never see him in a picture hugging with Netanyahu, although you will see him bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (

Erdoğan's response to the WikiLeaks disclosures? You guessed it: Blame it on Israel:

"Israel could have engineered the release of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents on WikiLeaks as a plot to corner Turkey on both domestic and foreign policy, according to a senior ruling party official.

'One has to look at which countries are pleased with these. Israel is very pleased. Israel has been making statements for days, even before the release of these documents,' Hüseyin Çelik, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the party’s spokesperson, told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.

. . . .

Though government officials like Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek avoided naming Israel in their public statements Wednesday, Çelik, a close aide to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, singled out the country with his comments Wednesday.

'Documents were released and they immediately said, ‘Israel will not suffer from this.’ How did they know that?' Çelik said.

Turkey and Israel have had bitter relations since the flotilla crisis, in which Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish and one American-Turkish citizen. 'Turkey, with its efficiency and foreign policy, has treaded on someone’s fields. The prime minister is known as a dominant leader not only in Turkey but also in the world,' Çelik told reporters.

Yasin Doğan, a columnist for the pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper, also named the Israeli lobby in the U.S. as the source of the cable leaks. 'Some people from the U.S. want to drive the [Barack] Obama administration in a different direction. They also want to adjust the relations of many governments with the U.S.,' he said in his article Wednesday. Doğan is the penname of Yasin Akdoğan, who is one of Erdoğan’s political advisors."

Obama wants to cuddle with a vain, self-serving Erdoğan, who is creating a special relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran while steering Turkey away from the West? The U.S is headed for an iceberg.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Obama No Longer Suffers from Mental Disorder

Obama no longer suffers from a mental disorder, and no, this is not from WikiLeaks.

In a recent article in The Weekly Standard entitled "American Narcissus", Jonathan V. Last writes:

"Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency."

Fortunately for Obama (and also Hillary), the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013) has eliminated five of the 10 personality disorders that are listed in the current edition, and narcissistic personality disorder is among the five.

The decision to eliminate narcissistic personality disorder ("N.P.D.") from the list, however, is causing no small amount of controversy. As noted in an article in The New York Times entitled "A Fate That Narcissists Will Hate: Being Ignored", Charles Zanor writes:

"One of the sharpest critics of the DSM committee on personality disorders is a Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. John Gunderson, an old lion in the field of personality disorders and the person who led the personality disorders committee for the current manual.

Asked what he thought about the elimination of narcissistic personality disorder, he said it showed how 'unenlightened' the personality disorders committee is.

'They have little appreciation for the damage they could be doing.' He said the diagnosis is important in terms of organizing and planning treatment."

Perhaps what Dr. Gunderson fails to take into account is that N.P.D. has reached epidemic proportions and that in today's world it has become the norm.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saad Hariri Travels to Tehran to Save Lebanon from Hezbollah

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Iran on Saturday (see: The reason for his visit? The U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 car bomb murder of his father, then Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, is soon to announce that Hezbollah stood behind the execution. Saad Hariri is concerned that the announcement might cause Hezbollah to attempt a coup d'état or alternatively provoke a war with Israel in order to distract public opinion. Given that Hezbollah is Iran's proxy in Lebanon and doesn't act without instructions from Tehran, Saad Hariri is hoping to convince Ahmadinejad ("the chimp" as he is known in Iran) to prevail upon Hezbollah not to act rashly.

Does this bring to mind a movie? It reminds me of a scene in "Goodfellas", when restaurant owner Sonny goes to mob boss Paulie to ask that Tommy, one of Paulie's underlings, stop terrorizing him. As an incentive, Sonny suggests to Paulie that he partner with him in the restaurant, and the following dialogue ensues:

Paulie: You know anything about this fucking restaurant business?
[Talking to Henry, the movie's protagonist and also an underling of Paulie]

Sonny: He knows everything about it. I mean he's in the joint 24 hours a day. I mean another fucking few minutes he could be a stool that's how often he's in there.

Henry: [narrating] Now the guy's got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy's gotta come up with Paulie's money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me.

In fact, the scene being played out in Tehran is far more tragic than that in "Goodfellas". Saad Hariri feels compelled to plead with those who ordered the murder of his father to control their hitmen. Now let's see the price Saad Hariri will have to pay (only disavowal of the U.N. indictment against Hezbollah?) and whether the deal will nevertheless cause Lebanon, like Sonny's restaurant in "Goodfellas", to go up in flames.

In retrospect, the decision this month of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee to release $100 million in military aid for the Lebanese army (see: in the hope that this might facilitate resistance to Hezbollah on the part of Saad Hariri is also proving futile. Unfortunately, Hariri has seen how "tough" Obama has gotten with the Islamic Republic of Iran and has made a calculated decision with whom he stands the best chance of survival.

Turkey's Erdogan to Receive Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights

No, this is no joke. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is traveling to Libya next week to receive the "Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights" next week. Previous recipients of the prize include Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

I don't know what's worse: that the author of the Lockerbie bombing, which killed all 243 passengers and 16 crew members on Pan Am Flight 103, is handing out human rights prizes, or, that the Prime Minister of Turkey has agreed to receive an award from this monster.

And just when I was beginning to think that there could be no prize more foolish than the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Obama . . . .

[Earlier this week, Erdogan was given a leadership prize by the Union of Arab Banks, while visiting Lebanon and engaging in veiled threats against Israel. Meanwhile, Armenians in Beirut - there are 150,000 Armenians living in Lebanon -rioted in response to Erdogan's visit. Perhaps Erdogan is indeed richly qualified to receive the Gaddafi prize.]

Roger Cohen Proven Wrong Again

As noted in my prior blog entry, in an online op-ed in yesterday's New York Times entitled "The Real Threat to America" (, Roger Cohen stated, "it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11."

Presumably Cohen, unlike many of his readers, is aware that "to contrive" means "to plan or plot", and it is dumbfounding that no one at The New York Times thought fit to rectify this error.

Be that as it may, a mere day has gone by, and the following Associated Press story is now appearing online in The New York Times:

"Undercover agents in a sting operation stopped a Somali-born teenager from blowing up a van full of explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland on Friday, federal authorities said.

. . . .

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton released federal court documents to The Associated Press and the Oregonian newspaper that show the sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in regular e-mail contact with an 'unindicted associate' in Pakistan's northwest, a frontier region where Al Qaida and Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents are strong.

. . . .

U.S. authorities have been struggling against a recent spate of terror plans by U.S. citizens or residents."

No plans or plots? Yeah, right.

Cohen said in his op-ed that "America is a nation of . . . risk-taking." Anyone still interested in boarding a flight without security checks?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Roger Cohen's "The Real Threat to America": Thanks, Roger, for Letting Us Know

In an online op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "The Real Threat to America" (, Roger Cohen would have us know, "it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11."

Roger seems to have a very short memory. Months after becoming a U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, was given $15,000 and five days of explosives training by the Taliban earlier this year in order to plant a car bomb not far from the The New York Times building in Manhattan. When sentenced by a federal court, Shahzad declared that Osama bin Laden "will be known as no less than Saladin of the 21st-century crusade". He further declared: "Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow."

Roger has also forgotten the attempts by al-Qaeda less than a month ago to send printer cartridges containing PETN, a highly powerful odorless military grade explosive, on flights to the U.S.

These two recent incidents are among those known to the public.

Cohen goes on to write: "America is a nation of . . . risk-taking." Notwithstanding Cohen's sensitivities involving full-body scanners, I think there are few Americans willing to take the risk of boarding a flight on which a determined enemy has hidden PETN.

Full-body scan or leave my family in an explosion at 30,000 feet? Sorry, Roger, if I choose life with the accompanying indignity.

[Query: Are op-eds at The New York Times subject to fact checks? Cohen's contention that "the enemy . . . has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11" left me stupefied. Perhaps he reached this conclusion after speaking with Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who not long ago went on record as saying that "al-Qaeda no longer poses a threat to the United States" (]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nicholas Kristof's "Bless the Orange Sweet Potato": Unfortunately No Warning About Vitamin A Toxicity

In his New York Times op-ed of today's date "Bless the Orange Sweet Potato" (, Nicholas Kristof observes the importance of vitamin A supplements for children in Africa: "Without enough vitamin A, small children often go blind or die."

Unfortunately, Kristof does not warn his New York Times readership that vitamin A taken in excessive amounts can be dangerous, and his readers in the U.S. and Europe should be careful before swallowing large quantities of vitamin A supplements.

Although vitamin A is important for various body functions, excess consumption of vitamin A can be toxic (hypervitaminosis A) and cause: nausea, jaundice, irritability, anorexia, vomiting, blurry vision, headaches, hair loss, muscle and abdominal pain and weakness, drowsiness and altered mental status. Chronic cases of excess vitamin A can result in dry skin, drying of the mucous membranes, fever, insomnia, fatigue, weight loss, bone fractures, anemia and diarrhea. Excess vitamin A can also adversely affect developing fetuses.

I have attempted to post a comment in response to Kristof's op-ed that details the above. In addition, I have asked The New York Times to provide an addendum to the op-ed as it appears online and also to provide a caveat in a future print edition.

Will The New York Times run the caveat, or might the dwindling circulation of the Gray Lady be further reduced as the result of vitamin A poisoning? Stay tuned . . .

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea and Obama: Pathological Bully Meets Doctrinaire Pacifist

How crazy are those North Koreans? Answer: No crazier than Obama.

Do you recall in March how the Cheonan, a 1,200-ton corvette, was sunk by a North Korean torpedo? According to the BBC:

"The patrol vessel, with 104 people aboard, sank after an unexplained explosion tore through its hull.

Several sailors also died, officials are quoted saying as divers prepared to return to the scene after daybreak.

South Korean officials played down earlier reports that it may have been the result of an attack by North Korea."

Oh, yes, the old unexplained explosion in the hull . . .

And now, try to remember Obama's personal response to this outrage? Whoops! That's right: Always anxious to avoid a potential confrontation, Obama didn't react. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps. Three months after the incident Obama did say that North Korea should be "held to account" for the sinking of the Cheonon, and, "There has [sic - he was speaking without a teleprompter] to be consequences for such irresponsible behaviour" ( Yet, was North Korea ever "held to account"? What exactly were the "consequences"?

Obama rode into office believing that North Korea and Iran were simply misunderstood. Show them kindness and radiate the charm that brought him into the Oval Office, and they, too, could be turned around.

Unfortunately, the world doesn't work on this basis.

Remember the bully from school who demanded your lunch money? If you stood up to him on day one, he subsequently pursued weaker quarry. Heck, you didn't even have to fight. But if you were foolish enough to believe that he was just a poor misunderstood child from a dysfunctional family and attempt to befriend him, you would be going hungry for the remainder of the year.

Obama, in his infinite wisdom, never learned this lesson. Quite the contrary: One of his first foreign policy moves was to seek rapprochement with Iran, and this has blown up in his face.

But imagine now if Obama continues to appease the Islamic Republic of Iran. What will happen when Iran, armed with atomic weapons, shells territory along its disputed border with Iraq in a manner akin to that of North Korea? Or when Iran demands dominion over Bahrain? Or when Iran threatens Saudi Arabia?

Far-fetched? Just wait.

Stuxnet Shuts Down the Iranian Centrifuges

Yesterday diplomats informed the Associated Press in Vienna that Iran had been forced to shut down thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, owing to the Stuxnet worm. Today, however, Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that no damage had been done to the Tehran's bid to become a nuclear power:

"Iran's nuclear chief said Tuesday that a malicious computer worm known as Stuxnet has not harmed the country's atomic program and accused the West of trying to sabotage it.

. . . .

Salehi said details about the virus became known only after Iran's 'enemies failed to achieve their goals.'

. . . .

'From more than a year ago, Westerners tried to implant the virus into our nuclear facilities in order to disrupt our activities but our young scientists stopped the virus at the very same spot they wanted to penetrate,' Salehi said in comments carried by state TV website."

Yet, as reported by this same Associated Press article:

"According to reports released by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranian uranium enrichment capacity has stagnated in recent years after initial rapid growth. Tehran has taken hundreds of centrifuges off line over the past 18 months, prompting speculation of technical problems.

At the Natanz enrichment facility in central Iran, the number of operating centrifuges declined from 4,920 in May 2009 to 3,772 in September 2010, the IAEA said."

Earlier this month, Ralph Langner, the German computer security expert who first reported that the Stuxnet worm was designed to attack Iran's enrichment plants and the Bushehr nuclear power plant, marveled at the technical prowess of the Stuxnet worm:

"Langner said that the portion of the worm that targeted Uranium enrichment plants manipulated the speeds of mechanical parts in the enrichment process, which would ultimately 'result in cracking the rotor, thereby destroying the centrifuge.'

. . . .

Praising the sophistication of the attack code, Langner said, 'it is obvious that several years of preparation went into the design of this attack.' Describing the technological advancement it represents, he compared it to 'the arrival of an F-35 fighter jet on a World War I battlefield.' He called the technology, 'much superior to anything ever seen before, and to what was assumed possible.'"

So do you believe Ali Akbar Salehi that no damage has been done to the Iranian nuclear effort, given the reputation of the Islamic Republic of Iran for honesty and morality?

Moreover, who do you think was responsible for sabotaging the Iranian nuclear effort? Although I don't have the answer, if you are among the cognoscente who read this blog, you are smart enough to figure this one out by yourself.

Will there be additional surprises awaiting this Iranian enterprise? Sadly, I have already expressed my regrets to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that I will not be able to attend the opening ceremony for the Bushehr power plant - if they ever decide they have removed all the bugs from the operational software - but will send Hugo Chavez in my stead, and when they press the button activating the reactor, I will be pleased to toast their success at a distance of several hundred miles from the meltdown.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Krugman's "There Will Be Blood"; In Case You Didn't Know, Paul, There Already Is Blood in Abundance

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "There Will Be Blood" (, Paul Krugman takes the position that Republicans have no interest in making America governable, unless they are doing the governing. Krugman expects Republicans to cooperate with Obama in increasing the limit to federal debt, extending unemployment benefits, and approving a strategic arms treaty.

All the while, Krugman ignores the other elephant in the room.

"There will be blood"? I have news for you, Paul, there already is blood, and no shortage of it. One of Obama's campaign promises was to end the war in Afghanistan. Later, as president, Obama promised Americans that he would withdraw U.S. troops in July 2011. Yesterday, we were told that NATO, i.e. the U.S., will not leave Afghanistan until 2014 (see:

The monetary cost to the U.S. for this futile misadventure, which every week also results in the tragic death and maiming of American soldiers and Afghan civilians: Some $6 billion per month.

Sorry, Mr. Krugman, this is now Obama's war, and there can be no semblance of a balanced budget or a return to U.S. economic growth until Obama puts an end to this folly, which is leading nowhere.

What It Takes to Be Published by Newsweek

Note some of the incomprehensible language contained in the following blog item, entitled "Anti-Defamation League Should Withdraw Award It Gave Rupert Murdoch", written by someone named Ben Adler and published by Newsweek in "The Gaggle" (

"Fox treats Palestinian and Israeli deaths unequally, and use propagandistic language, such as referring to suicide bombers as homicide bombers.

. . . .

The ADL was right to see opposition to anti-Semitism as inseparable from other forms of bigotry, and Zionism as not incompatible with a commitment to civil rights throughout the world."

Ben Adler, who tells us that Fox News has been disrespectful to "80-year-old Holocaust survivor George Soros" (poor, poor George) and has "fanned the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry" while also "encouraging homophobia, xenophobia, and anti-Latino racism", concludes his essay by stating:

"By decoupling support for Israel from the group's other supposed values, and prioritizing the former above the latter, the ADL is doing the Jewish people a disservice. It should take this opportunity to restore its integrity and credibility, before it's too late."

By what right does Adler (how old is he?) purport to speak on behalf of the Jewish people? When condemning the ADL, Adler of course forgets to mention, for example, the organization's recent condemnation of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef for "offensive and incendiary" comments (

I don't get angry easily, but have another look at Adler's contention that "Fox treats Palestinian and Israeli deaths unequally, and use propagandistic language, such as referring to suicide bombers as homicide bombers."

Am I missing something? Is Adler indeed suggesting that suicide bombers are anything other than demented ruthless killers of civilians? I am willing to bet that Adler has never witnessed a suicide bombing or its aftermath, or retrieved the severed limbs and heads of mothers and their children.

The only thing more offensive than this item by a would-be Jewish president (see: is the decision to publish it by Newsweek, which continues to flounder ethically and financially.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nicholas Kristof's "A Hedge Fund Republic?": Let's Raffle Off Tom Friedman's Home

In an op-ed entitled "A Hedge Fund Republic?" ( in today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof complains that the U.S. has become more rapacious than a banana republic and is now mostly owned by the richest one percent of the nation's populace. Kristof's epistle follows on the heels of Frank Rich's Sunday NYT op-ed, "Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?" (, in which Rich also deplores fiscal inequity in America.

Not to worry! JG, Caesarea has the solution!

As a first step to end this horrifying inequality, I propose that we raffle off the estate (as seen from above) of fellow NYT columnist Tom Friedman to the homeless. Personally, I think it will do any homeless person proud!

Are you homeless and wish to participate in the raffle? Obviously, I first need Tom's approval, but meanwhile you can send me your CV together with an essay of 500 words or less explaining why transfer of title over this estate to you will best remedy the disparity between rich and poor in the United States.

Where will Tom go? No problem. JG, Caesarea is sending him to live half the year with Nicholas Kristof, who shouldn't be troubled, given the time he spends traveling around the third world. The other half of the year will be spent by Friedman with Rich.

Given their compatible politics and similar social views, I am certain Friedman, Kristof and Rich will live happily ever after.

Or not.

"Alaska Speaks. Finally.": Gail Collins, Get Some Help. Seriously.

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Alaska Speaks. Finally." (, Gail Collins gloats over the Alaskan write-in victory of Senator Lisa Murkowski over Joe Miller of the Tea Party, who beat Murkowski in the Republican primary. Observing that Miller was Sarah Palin's pick and referring to "Bristol Palin’s continuing victories on 'Dancing With the Stars'", Collins concludes by noting with respect to Murkowski's victory:

"So not exactly a victory for oppressed womanhood. However, a definite defeat for Sarah Palin. Let’s take our little pleasures where we can get them."

Sarah Palin? Bristol Palin? Forgive me, Gail, if I acknowledge that I can go weeks and months without thinking about either of these persons. I must also own up to the fact that I have never seen "Dancing With the Stars", and if I am ever captured by Hezbollah, my worst nightmare is that they will tie me to a chair in front of a television and force me to watch this program. Yes, I'd rather be waterboarded.

But more to the point, I am worried about you, Gail.

One week ago, you began an op-ed with the ominous title "What Everything Means" and stated, "I can’t stop thinking about the elections" ( Today, you are telling us the we should "take our little pleasures where we can get them."

Gail, these are not "encouraging" signs. There should be much more to your life than Sarah Palin and her progeny, and many different avenues to attain happiness. Are you as depressed as your column indicates? If so, it's time to get some help. Seriously.

Open Letter to The New York Times: A "Minor" Question of Journalistic Ethics

Open Letter to the Editors of The New York Times

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Yesterday many of you were copied on an e-mail that I sent to the Public Editor of The New York Times, stating:

It is the purported policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way.” Yet, today we have Roger Cohen stating [in his op-ed "Madam Secretary's Middle East"]:

"'A bit of an epiphany,' in the words of one aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. 'We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,' this aide said. 'Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.'"

Maybe Roger would care to tell us the name of this anonymous "aide", who became so upset by the "brutality" of hillside settlements? Also, is this elegant prose truly a verbatim quote, or has it been "dressed up" for publication?

My response to the Cohen op-ed which posed these questions was of course not posted by your "moderators"; however, you can read the content of my comment at:

Query: Has the policy of The New York Times changed with respect to the use of anonymous sources? Is such use deemed ethical by The New York Times? I welcome your response.

I have received no response from the Public Editor, and as such, I ask each of you:

- What is the name of Hillary Clinton's anonymous "aide" who provided the quote highlighted by Cohen?

- Was this quote verbatim? (Although I am occasionally interviewed on television, I obviously have much to learn from this honey-tongued "aide", who is steeped in off-the-cuff linguistic style and who should be considered as a replacement for Robert Gibbs.)

- Has the policy of The New York Times changed with respect to the use of anonymous sources? Is it still the policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way”?
For the sake of good order, I would observe that I have contacted the U.S. State Department, and I have also asked them to provide me with the name of the "aide" who provided this quote. In addition, I asked the State Department to confirm that the quote attributed to this "aide" is indicative of the attitude of those surrounding Ms. Clinton and whether Ms. Clinton has indeed lost much of her sympathy for Israel, as alleged by Cohen.

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,

"Too Good to Check": Tom Friedman, Apologist for Obama

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Too Good to Check" (, Tom Friedman excoriates the right for "a story circulated around the Web on the eve of President Obama’s trip that it would cost U.S. taxpayers $200 million a day — about $2 billion for the entire trip."

Okay, I agree the entire trip cost less than $2 billion. In fact, my estimate in a prior blog entry, "Obama, Asia and "Animal House" Diplomacy" (, was that the 10-day trip would cost tens of millions of dollars, which I continue to believe is accurate.

But neither a leftist or a rightist, I would ask Friedman how much this trip did in fact cost U.S. taxpayers. Naturally, Friedman does not provide the answer.

I would also ask Friedman to specify the benefits of this Asian jaunt. Friedman is again silent.

And I would ask Friedman whether this "Road Trip" was but an attempt to flee the disastrous midterm elections, which were undeniably a national referendum on Obama's first two years in office. No comment from Friedman.

Thanks, Tom, for this profound partisan analysis.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Roger Cohen's Muddled "Madam Secretary's Middle East"

In a New York Times op-ed of today's date entitled "Madam Secretary's Middle East" (, Roger Cohen would have us believe that Hillary Clinton is gradually distancing herself from the warmth she expressed for Israel as a New York senator.

It is the purported policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way.” Yet, here we have Roger Cohen stating:

“'A bit of an epiphany,' in the words of one aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. 'We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,' this aide said. 'Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.'"

Maybe, Roger, you would care to tell us the name of this anonymous "aide", who became so upset by the "brutality" of the hillside settlements? Is this elegant prose truly a verbatim quote, or has it been "dressed up" for publication?

Maybe, Roger, if this anonymous "aide" were to witness the aftermath of an "honor killing" of a Palestinian woman, he/she would better understand the true meaning of brutality.

According to Cohen, "Clinton has been a darling of Israelis since she her early days as a senator for New York [sic]." Nice try, Roger. You seem to have forgotten that in November 1999, Hillary participated in a function inaugurating an American-funded health initiative in the West Bank, during which Suha Arafat claimed, "Our [Palestinian] people have been submitted to the daily and intensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children." Although the Palestinians later acknowledged that there was no basis for Suha Arafat's allegations, Hillary, who was sitting on the dais with Suha Arafat, embraced and kissed Suha.

No, I'm not saying that Hillary is pro-Palestinian. I'm also not saying that she is pro-Israeli. I am saying that my anonymous sources, who are far more reliable than those of Cohen, tell me that Hillary is 100% pro-Hillary.

[The New York Times refused to post the content of this blog entry in response to Cohen's op-ed. I sent an e-mail to the Public Editor of The New York Times with copies to all the various editors, asking whether Cohen's use of anonymous sources is in keeping with their journalistic standards. Thus far no response from any of them. In addition, I have contacted the U.S. State Department and asked if they are aware of any such conversation between Cohen and a Clinton aide, and if so, is Clinton in agreement with the views attributed to the aide. Stay tuned.]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bibi, Barack and The New York Times, the Official Organ of the Obama Administration

Let's examine the timeline:

October 29, 2010 -- His pre-election attempt to create the framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace having gone up in smoke, Obama stares failure in the face. Obama had invested much effort in pulling a rabbit out of a hat, including the much publicized summit in Washington, but now appears more of a foreign affairs diletente than ever. Although furious with Netanyahu for refusing a package of goodies intended to bribe Israel into extending the building moratorium for another three months, he conceals his personal wrath owing to the upcoming elections. By sheer coincidence, The New York Times publishes on this date an editorial, "Enough Game-Playing" (, which says that both the Palestinians and Israelis are responsible for the breakdown in talks, but places the onus on Netanyahu:

"President Obama made a very generous — too generous, we believe — offer to Israel, to get Mr. Netanyahu to extend the moratorium. It included additional security guarantees and more fighter planes, missile defense, satellites. Mr. Netanyahu still refused, insisting that the hard-line members of his coalition would never go along. He then added to the controversy by proposing that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

. . . .

Enough game-playing. Mr. Netanyahu should accept Mr. Obama’s offer and be ready to form a new governing coalition if some current members bolt."

Remarkable how the editorial board of The New York Times , from their ivory tower in Manhattan, was prepared to offer advice to the Israeli prime minister concerning the composition of his ruling coalition. Sheer hutzpah, or was there more to this than meets the eye?

November 5, 2010 -- Obama sets out on a 10-day journey to Asia, which includes visits to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. The "road trip", on the heels of the Democratic midterm election disaster, costs the American public tens of millions of dollars, but fails to yield tangible results. Obama's use of teleprompters for purposes of an address to the Indian congress is greeted with derision, and his failure to to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea, which had been considered a slam-dunk before he reached Seoul, raises eyebrows. Obama is growing increasingly desperate to dispell the aura of diplomatic naivete and bumbling that have come to characterize his administration. See:

November 11, 2010 -- Hillary meets with Netanyahu, and over the course of a six-hour meeting, the two, who admire one another, hammer out the guiding principles of a deal for a further construction moratorium in the West Bank. Bibi, however, must delicately convince his cabinet, so there is no announcement to the press. Given that Obama is still in the Far East, there is also a delay in briefing the U.S. president.

November 12, 2010 -- For the second time in less than two weeks and using the same language, The New York Times again lambastes Netanyahu in an editorial entitled "Politics Over Peace" (

"What Mr. Netanyahu does not seem to realize is that a peace deal with the Palestinians is not a favor to President Obama. It is vital to Israel’s long-term security. If he squanders this moment, the only ones who can celebrate are the extremists.

Both Palestinians and Israelis need to do more to salvage the negotiations. Mr. Netanyahu has refused President Obama’s request to extend a moratorium on construction in the Jewish settlements for a modest 60 days. Mr. Abbas has refused to meet until the building stops. Still, we think the burden is on Mr. Netanyahu to get things moving again. Resuming the moratorium will in no way harm Israel’s security or national interest.

The Obama administration deserves credit for not throwing up its hands. In her marathon session with Mr. Netanyahu, Mrs. Clinton plugged away on a package of generous (overly so, to our minds) incentives and security guarantees that might induce him to revive the moratorium and get back to the bargaining table."

Whereas in its prior editorial, the editorial board of The Times took it upon itself to counsel Netanyahu concerning the composition of his ruling coalition, now, in a fit of pique, the would-be omniscient editorial board declares that the moratorium "will in no way harm Israel’s security or national interest." Needless to say, the editorial board has not been notified by the Obama administration concerning the deal struck with Netanyahu.

November 13, 2010 -- Tom Friedman also has not learned of the deal from his friend, Obama, who is still in the Far East, and Friedman launches a savage attack against Netanyahu in a New York Times op-ed entitled "I Believe I Can Fly" (

"Well, first there’s Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who has been telling everyone how committed he is to peace with the Palestinians while refusing to halt settlement building as a prerequisite for negotiations. At a time when Israel already has 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, Bibi says he can’t possibly take another pause in building to test whether the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas — a man Israelis say is the best Palestinian security partner Israel has ever had — can forge a safe two-state deal for Israel. The U.S. is now basically trying to bribe Bibi to reverse his position. Maybe he will, but it’s unseemly to watch and doesn’t bode well. Rather than take the initiative and say to Arabs and Palestinians, 'You want a settlement freeze? Here it is, now let’s see what you’re ready to agree to,' Netanyahu toys with President Obama, makes Israel look like it wants land more than peace and risks never forging a West Bank deal — thereby permanently absorbing its 2.5 million Palestinians and eventually no longer having a Jewish majority. That’s the sudden stop at the end — unless the next war comes first. But, for now, Bibi seems to think he can fly."

A deal with Abbas is going to forestall a war between Israel and Hezbollah in the north? Get real, Friedman. Any such contention ignores Iranian aspirations for regional hegemony. Moreover, as has been acknowledged by Abbas, he is perfectly content to go without a deal:

"I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements. Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

In fact, Abbas and Fatah are now at a loss what to do with the Clinton-Netanyahu agreement. As reported by the Jerusalem Post:

"Palestinian Authority officials said on Sunday that they were 'surprised' [i.e. distraught - JG, Caesarea] to hear about the latest US proposal for a three-month settlement freeze in return for a package of incentives to Israel.

Some officials in Ramallah did not hide their disappointment with the 'sudden change' in US policy which, they explained, puts the PA in a difficult situation. However, they stopped short of rejecting the US offer in public."

Let's make one thing clear: this stillborn attempt at brokering a deal between Israelis and Palestinians currently has absolutely nothing to do with the best interests of Israelis and Palestinians. It also has absolutely nothing to do with derailing Iranian aspirations to achieve regional hegemony or to build an atomic bomb. Rather, it has everything to do with the monumental ego of President Obama, who knows nothing of the Middle East or the manner in which negotiations are conducted in this region of the world, but who is still attempting to prove his "Nobel worth" to an ever more dubious world.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Obama, Asia and "Animal House" Diplomacy

Those of you who read this blog know that I am addicted to movies. Often I will revisit an old movie that I enjoyed when I was younger to determine whether it still has the capacity to move me, evoke a tear, or elicit a chuckle. Although dated, "Animal House" is still relevant.

Toward the end of this venerable comedy, the brothers of Delta House are informed that owing to their deplorable conduct and low grade point averages, the fraternity, following a probation hearing, is being shut down. Their response to this crisis:

"Christ, Otter, this is ridiculous. What are we going to do?"

"Road trip!"

What does "Animal House" have to do with the Obama administration? Everything. I was present in the West Wing when it was announced that the Democrats had lost the House of Representatives in a landslide rout, and I was fortunate enough to overhear the following conversation:

"Christ, Obama, this is ridiculous. What are we going to do?"

"Road trip!"

And so Obama and Co., at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to long-suffering American taxpayers, set off on a ten-day, four-nation tour of the Far East, bringing the U.S. no tangible results. I should acknowledge, however, that Obama's introduction for the first time of a teleprompter into the Indian parliament while addressing this august body did cause amusement.

Indonesia was deemed a public relations success, but there was nothing concrete to show for the stopover, and needless to say, Obama failed to discuss human rights abuses perpetrated by this country.

In South Korea, Obama failed to sign a free trade agreement which had been considered a slam-dunk before he reached Seoul, and the G20 summit was characterized by discord and animosity.

Nothing good is expected in Japan.

But what the heck! Obama was in need of another vacation after being slapped in the face by voters around the nation. What could this inflated ego possibly do to escape their wrath?

Road trip!

Finally, Some US Leadership in the Middle East from . . . Hillary

With the approaching announcement of the findings of the U.N. tribunal concerning the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and concurrent threats of violence from Hezbollah leader Nasrallah against anyone seeking to arrest members of his organization ("We will cut the hand that reaches out for any one of them"), Hillary Clinton did not mince words in an interview with the Lebanon's An-Nahar:

"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said 'no one knows when and who the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will charge.'

'We must reiterate that no one knows what the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will do or who it will charge and when will it choose to act,' Clinton said in an interview published Friday by An-Nahar newspaper.

'Violence will not stop the work of the STL,' she said, adding that the U.S. will not bargain away its support for Lebanon.

'Hizbullah should realize that resorting to violence is incompatible with the interests of the whole of Lebanon, the interests of the Lebanese people, the interests of the region and the interests of the United States,' Clinton said.

She believed that 'Syrian behavior has not lived up to the level of our hopes and our expectations during the past twenty months.'

'Syria's performance has not lived up to its international obligations,' Clinton added.

She believed Syria 'is still able to choose another route and we hope it will do so,' stressing that U.S. dialogue with Damascus 'will not be at Lebanon's expense.'"

"No one knows who the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will charge"? Apparently Nasrallah knows, given the security breach which led to the discovery by the U.N. investigation team of Hezbollah's responsibility for the murder. See:

How refreshing that Hillary, unlike Obama, is willing to stand up to Damascus and Hezbollah. Also interesting are the pictures from her successful six-hour meeting on Thursday with Netanyahu. Once again, examine the body language ( These are two people who like one another.

And yes, I repeat, Hillary will be running against Obama in the 2012 primaries.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gail Collins' "What Everything Means": How Stupid Americans Forgot that Bush Destroyed the Economy

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "What Everything Means" (, Gail Collins acknowledges that she can't stop obsessing about the recent midterm elections. According to Collins, "This could mean that the public wants to forget all about the first eight years of the 21st century and just blame Barack Obama for wrecking the economy."

Sorry, Gail, but Americans aren't stupid, as you and several of your disappointed colleagues would now have us believe:

US unemployment, January 2009: 7.7%

US unemployment, October 2010: 9.6%

In fact, Americans haven't forgotten anything. Someone promised "Change", but didn't deliver. (Yeah, it's rough holding yourself out as a messiah these days.)

And whereas Collins "can't stop thinking about the elections," others can't stop thinking about finding a job.

If the circulation numbers of The New York Times continue to plummet, perhaps, in the not too distant future, Collins will be more empathetic to those "stupid" unemployed people and less concerned with Obama's flagging popularity ratings.

Her Hideousness, Catherine Ashton, Receives a "Very Important" Letter from Iran (II)

At the end of October, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton announced that the EU had received a letter from Saeed Jalili, the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, saying that Tehran is ready to restart negotiations with the P5+1 world powers over its nuclear program after November "in a place and on a date convenient to both sides." In Brussels at a summit of EU leaders, Ashton stated: "It's a very important development and we're now in touch with Iran to see if we can agree the time and the place which is possible." See:

On Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast stated that "under no condition will we discuss the issue of fuel swap in our meeting with the 5+1 group." See:

Ahmadinejad today further qualified the topics open for discussion with the 5+1 group:

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stressed the importance of holding talks on equal footing, saying the Islamic Republic will never talk about its absolute rights.

According to Press TV, President Ahmadinejad in an address to thousands of enthusiastic people of the central city of Qazvin on Wednesday said 'Iran is ready to hold talks on equal conditions to help settle ongoing problems; ease international concerns; and establish peace and security in the world.'"

What happened to Ashton's "very important development"? Does her inanity know any bounds?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who Is Still Reading The New York Times (II)?

I think it is again worth noting the most highly reader-recommended comment (264 recommendations) in response to Roger Cohen's op-ed, "An Unknown Soldier", in yesterday's New York Times ( The comment states in its entirety:

"Thank you for your thoughtful piece.
No country currently brings more death and destruction to the planet than America. Yet we are never satiated, and our fascination with the military machine only grows like some mythical beast. When our ex-president writes that he authorized torture, there isn't a murmur in the street. In the 1960's Americans were on the streets. Today we act like mindless sheep. No politician or preacher can change the trajectory, only the people can pull America back from the abyss. Why are we waiting to call for an end to endless war and unbridled greed?"

This comment, which expresses "unbridled" anger with the United States, was also "highlighted" by The New York Times, i.e. deemed among "A selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views." Not surprisingly, all of the "highlighted" comments, which purportedly "represent a range of views", are in agreement with Cohen.

The New York Times, hijacked and veering left off a cliff, long ago lost touch with its New York readership, and it is no wonder that its circulation is in steady decline.

This newspaper's losses are unsustainable. Although the end will not come soon, it is certainly within sight.

A pity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Roger Cohen's "An Unknown Soldier"

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "An Unknown Soldier" (, Roger Cohen describes his encounter with a severely wounded veteran, assures us that Iran is nowhere near building an atomic weapon, and concludes that a "third U.S war [with Iran] is inconceivable."

Yes, Roger, war is horrifying, and as a former combat soldier, I am haunted by the faces of those whom I have known, whose bodies were mutilated while seeking to serve their country and protect their loved ones.

Today, however, I am also haunted by the face of Ehsan Fattahian, a 26-year-old Kurdish activist, who was executed by hanging in Iran exactly one year ago. He was originally charged with "working with armed opposition groups" and sentenced by an Iranian Revolutionary Court in 2008 to 10 years in prison. Ehsan and his family vehemently denied the charges, but when he appealed the verdict, he was sentenced to death on the charge of "moharebeh", i.e. enemy of God.

Today, I am haunted by the face of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who is soon to be executed in Iran, but it is not certain whether she will be stoned to death in accordance with her original sentence or hanged. Ashtiani, 43 and a mother of two, initially was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, but owing to international protests, the Iranian government later convicted her of murdering her husband, although the man who killed her husband was identified and imprisoned. Ashtiani's son and attorney are in jail after being arrested last month, and her former lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has fled Iran.

Today, I am haunted by the faces of the seven Baha'i leaders - Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid Tizfahm and Mahvash Sabet - who were each sentenced to ten years of imprisonment by the Islamic Republic of Iran for alleged espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and "corruption on earth." Or more to the point, they were sentenced to prison for having the audacity to believe in the gentle teachings of a prophet who arrived on this earth after Mohammed.

And yes, I am also haunted by the faces of 16-year-old Mahmoud Asgari and 18-year-old Ayaz Marhoni, who were publicly hanged in Edalat ("Justice") Square in Mashhad, Iran in 2005 for homosexuality.

Roger, these are some of the persons you ignored in 2009, when you sought to convince us that "Iran is not totalitarian" and encouraged rapprochement with a regime that murders and tortures minorities, homosexuals, women, journalists and political dissidents.

Sure, war with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which we now know is complicit in the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, must be avoided if humanly possible. Yet, given your mistaken past analysis regarding the "benevolence" of Iran's leaders, given that you do not speak Farsi, and given that you are not a nuclear scientist, on what basis do you suggest to us that Iran is nowhere near building an atomic weapon and that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has even made the decision to build one?

And if you are yet again mistaken? . . .

Will U.N. Indictment of Hezbollah for Hariri Murder Set the Middle East Ablaze?

According to a Wall Street Journal article entitled "U.N. Indictments Near in Lebanon Killing", written by Jay Solomon and Margaret Coker, the U.N. tribunal investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will soon be indicting various members of Hezbollah, and it is feared that the findings could result in renewed fighting among Lebanese Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Druze:

"The United Nations-backed court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is moving to indict between two and six members of the militant group Hezbollah by year-end, according to people briefed on the tribunal's work, stoking fears of renewed sectarian strife in the Middle East country.

The U.S. has scrambled to bolster support for the tribunal and the pro-Western government of Lebanon in the face of threats of violence from Hezbollah if the indictments are handed down.

Among those being looked at in the U.N. probe, according to the people briefed on it, is Mustafa Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah military commander and brother-in-law of Imad Mugniyah, who was among the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most-wanted men before his death nearly three years ago.

Mr. Mugniyah is alleged by U.S. officials to have overseen a string of terrorist attacks against American interests in the 1980s, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 servicemen. Mr. Mugniyah, who was killed in a 2008 car bombing in Damascus, Syria, is also believed by U.N. investigators to have played a role, along with his brother-in-law, in the car bombing in downtown Beirut that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others, according to the people briefed on the probe.

The rising tensions inside Lebanon have significantly undercut the Obama administration's efforts to mend relations with Syria, among the suspects in Mr. Hariri's murder. The U.S. has coveted better ties with Damascus, both to stabilize Lebanon and underpin the broader Arab-Israeli peace process. Washington has also hoped to weaken Syria's military alliance with Iran.

In recent months, however, Syrian officials have called for the ending of the U.N. tribunal. And U.S. officials have publicly charged Damascus with transferring increasingly sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah."

However, renewing sectarian fighting within Lebanon is only one possible scenario. In order to divert the attention of the Arab street from the murder, Hezbollah might well seek to inflame the Israeli-Lebanese border. Thus, it is no accident that Israel is attempting to eliminate any excuse for renewed violence by announcing this weekend its plans for the unilateral evacuation of the northern part of Ghajar village, population 2,200, which is bisected by the Israeli-Lebanese border. See:

Also prepared, however, for any contingency, Israel has now decided that its new "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system will be kept in the center of the country and shipped to the south or the north in accordance with developments. See:

Obama's courting of Damascus by way of John Kerry as his special emissary? Demonstrably bootless, impotent and embarrassing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who Is Still Reading The New York Times? Can Online Advertising Save This Newspaper?

Who is still reading The New York Times? As evidenced by their dismal third quarter financial report, the picture remains grim. According to a recent article by Brett Pulley of Bloomberg:

"New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, posted third-quarter sales that fell short of analysts’ estimates as advertising and circulation revenue declined.

Third-quarter sales slid 2.7 percent to $554.3 million, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Analysts had predicted $558.8 million on average, according to a Bloomberg survey.

. . . .

Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson is trimming costs as revenue slumps. The company, faced with competition from News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, has posted a sales decline in 10 of the past 11 quarters. Readers are also increasingly seeking their news from the Web, where stories are updated more frequently."

Although it would appear that The New York Times is hoping to be saved by digital advertising, my belief is that this source of revenue will also ultimately be impacted by the newspaper's radical leftist content and policies, including tolerance of anti-Semitic readers' comments, which have alienated much of its New York area readership.

Wherein lies the core of The New York Times online readership? Examine content from two of the most popular readers' comments in response to a October 30 op-ed, entitled "Can the Dude Abide", by The Times's queen bee, Maureen Dowd (

"To put it succinctly, we liberals continue to speak English and mistakenly assume voters do the same. Wrong: voters speak Bumper Sticker. We need to swallow our pride and start speaking it as well, even as we continue to speak intelligently to those of our base who 'know the secret handshake.' We must immediately counter every loud and catchy lie with louder and catchier facts--and do so more often!!!!"

This comment, recommended by 1,039 New York Times readers, bespeaks the arrogance, condescension and elitism which have also come to characterize this newspaper's editorial line.

The second most popular comment:

"We should be careful not to abandon this president. Clearly, he must be one of the most intelligent, reflective, capable, and charismatic Americans ever to have held the office. Certainly a welcome surprise as our next president, and at a critical moment in our history. The redemptive grandness of his historical irony should not be forsaken. That a man, whose moment is inextricably linked to the heritage of America's quintissential story of radical oppression, became president at the uncertain and volatile peak of elite corporate political power (of both the Clinton and Bush presidencies, though I believe history will show Bush the far, far worse) is a poetic justice that we should not fail to court. Obama needs to be pushed to the left."

Observe the stereotypical denunciation of corporate America combined with the demand that Obama toe the leftist line. Not surprisingly, this comment, recommended 1,004 times, was also "highlighted" by The Times, i.e. deemed to be one of "the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views."

Sure, there is a place for publications representing all political views; however, given the radicalization of The New York Times, I believe that it cannot sustain its global overhead as it loses paying middle-of-the-road readership.

Will I pay to read Maureen Dowd, Roger Cohen, Frank Rich and friends? Not a chance. Nor do I believe that the more radical readership of The Times , if charged for "premium material", will be willing to reach into their pockets to subsidize this sinking ship, fast going the way of the Berkeley Barb.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hillary Rules Out Presidential Bid: Yeah, Right

Busy doing extremely important things for the Obama administration in that world hot spot New Zealand, Hillary Clinton ruled out a primary challenge, following the Democrat's debacle on Tuesday:

In New Zealand on Friday, Clinton told a pair of television interviewers that she won't run for president even in the aftermath of this week's congressional midterms that saw Republicans take control of the House and make big gains in the Senate. Some have suggested that Clinton should take advantage of President Barack Obama's unpopularity to make a new bid.

She said she is very happy doing what she is doing as America's top diplomat and would not be the first female president of the United States.

She told one interviewer that the United States "should be" ready to have a woman as commander in chief. Yet, when asked if that could be her, she answered: "Well not me, but it will be someone."

Asked by another interviewer if she would rule out a White House run in 2016 or before, she replied: "Oh yes, yes."

Of course, Hillary is known for never lying, particularly regarding tricky landings in Bosnia under sniper fire.

But how can we know Hillary is fibbing this time? Observe Bill Clinton's November 3 op-ed in The New York Times, "Finish Rabin's Work" ('s%20Work&st=cse), which is intended to evince friendship for Israel in the face of Obama's hostility. Mind you, the Clinton's have a binding agreement that bars Bill from interfering with Hillary's work, and this opinion piece was sanctioned in advance by Hillary, who is already seeking to court the alienated Jewish community in the U.S.

Look for her resignation as Secretary of State in early 2011.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani: Obama, Say Something!

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is soon to be executed in Iran, although it is not certain whether she will be stoned to death in accordance with her original sentence. According to CNN:

"Authorities in Tehran, Iran, have given the go-ahead to execute a woman who initially was sentenced to death by stoning, according to an activist working on her behalf.

However, what method will be used to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is unclear, said Mina Ahadi, spokeswoman for the International Committee Against Stoning. The execution could happen as soon as Wednesday, she said, citing information received from a source in Tabriz, Iran, who is close to Ashtiani's family.

Ashtiani initially was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The Iranian government later said she was also convicted of murdering her husband, but her lawyer and family dispute that.

. . . .

Ashtiani, 43 and a mother of two, drew international attention when she was sentenced to death by stoning. She concedes that she was convicted of adultery, as initially reported, but says she was acquitted of murder. 'The man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned, but he is not sentenced to death,' she said in August.

. . . .

Ashtiani's son and her attorney are still in jail after being arrested last month, Ahadi said. Also still detained are two German journalists.

. . . .

Ashtiani's other former lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, is being protected by European diplomats after he fled to Turkey from Iran."

Obama, it's time to say something! Your charm campaign aimed at Iran and the world's other leading tyrannies has failed miserably, and it's time to change course. Nothing has been or will be gained by appeasing Ahmadinejad and his henchmen in Tehran.

You've just received a slap in the face from the American electorate, and it's time to wake up to reality.

Speak up! Save a life, save the world!