Category Archives: book

70,000,000 Ready to Join Al Qaeda

Bin Laden and Zawahiri 

A Gallup poll released this week hasn’t received the attention that I believe it deserves.  On the bright side, 93% of the 50,000 Muslims polled condemn the 9/11 attacks. On the dark side, 7% support them. Since there are about one billion Muslims world-wide, that means about seventy million (one-fourth of the U.S. population) would like to see Western civilization replaced by a backward and uncivilized troop of Koran thumpers. 

The Executive Director of the Gallup Center of  Muslim Studies believes that politics, not religion, is the motivation behind the support for terror. From the Melbourne Herald: 

“Politics, not piety, differentiate moderates from radicals in the Islamic world.” The Director adds, “Terrorism sympathisers don’t hate our freedom. They want our freedom.” 

The respondents to the survey believe a lack of respect for Islam is the the biggest obstacle to better relations between Muslims and Westerners, Christians and Jews. The problem with their rationale appears every day in the news. Just this week, Iran instituted death as a penalty for apostacy. Today, terrorists in Mosul kidnapped the Chaldean Archbishop, and a Berlin art gallery was bullied into removing an art exhibit featuring the Kaaba in Mecca.  

If it’s not the religion it is the culture. Either way, it has to change. Christians don’t threaten violence, kidnap and blow up mentally disabled adults to achieve their goals. A healthy amount of Islamic introspection, not a heightened sympathy or respect for the religion of Mohammed, is the only hope for peace.   

The extremist Christian becomes a nun, priest or missionary. The radicalized Muslim joins al-Qaeda.

China Bans Mickey in Favor of 中国卡通

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They have really done it this time. China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has removed Mickey Mouse and all other foreign toons from Chinese TVs, “to create a conducive environment for innovation in Chinese cartoons.” Poor Donald wasn’t spared from China’s axe, either.

The measure extends a Mickey black-out, already in place for the afternoon. Apparently, it wasn’t working, so they needed to try something more drastic, deciding to go after the all important “dinner cartoon hours.” According to Italy’s Corriere della Sera, “the SAFT has also asked the television networks to maintain a ratio of 7 to 3 transmissions between Chinese cartoons and foreign cartoons.

Next thing you know, they’ll be going after knock-off Louis Vuittons, Harry Potter counterfeits, and illegally pirated Hollywood films and music. Oh no, wait. They

profit from those little endeavors.

Saudi Prince Threatens Terror Over Probe

Prince Bandar      Same Guy…    Prince Bandar

The UK bribery investigation of BAE, a defense and aerospace company, hasn’t received above-the-fold attention in the U.S. but maybe it should.  The British aerospace giant stands accused of bribing Saudi officials for the Al Yamamah contracts that have netted the company £43 billion or roughly $80 billion over the last twenty years.

 

At the center of the controversy is a familiar figure in American politics, Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. It’s believed that the Saudi Prince, now the head of the Saudi National Security Council, received £1 billion in bribes to secure orders for BAE.

 From The Guardian:

Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

 Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced “another 7/7” and the loss of “British lives on British streets” if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

 Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

The Saudis are notorious bribers or “donors” to American politicians. Ex CIA agent turned author Robert Baer reported extensively on the House of Sa’ud’s generosity as have many others.

$1 million to Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no” campaign

$500,000 to launch the Bush Scholarship Fund at Phillips Academy from Prince al-Walid (the infamous Prince whose $10 million was rejected by one irate New York mayor)

$23 million to the University of Arkansas’s new Center For Middle Eastern Studies

$10 million to the Clinton Presidential Library

$10 million to the George HW Bush Presidential Library

But by far the most disturbing donation by the House of Sa’ud, more specifically the cherubic Prince Bandar, was made by Bandar’s wife. In Sleeping with the Devil, Baer reports:

 Princess Haifa’s contribution to a Saudi who aided two of the September 11 hijackers added up to $130,000. Throw in $550,000 that a mysterious Saudi donated to a San Diego mosque that served as a forward base for the same two hijackers, and the money exceeds the roughly $500,000 the FBI estimates as the total cost of the 9/;111 attacks.

The Saudis have spent billions exporting an ideology aimed to preserve their strangle-hold on power by lobbying for the annihilation of the west. Unfortunately, the U.S hasn’t a card to play. The Wahabbis help finance our $3 trillion debt, fuel our SUVs, and even fund our Presidential libraries.

Criticism that Sticks

Headscarf

 

While living in Italy, at least early on, I bristled at the European accusation that we, the U.S., were always minding other countries’ affairs. Meddling. Interfering. But it didn’t take long before I realized they had a point. The long and growing list of examples of America’s nosing into other people’s business includes our recent push to gain EU membership for Turkey. Just last month after a meeting with the President of Turkey, Bush argued, “It’s in the interest of peace that Turkey be admitted into the EU.”

 

I wonder how Europeans, more specifically Germans, feel about Bush’s hyperbolic assertion. I certainly know how many Italians feel about the growing Islamic influence in Europe. I wrote about it extensively in my book, The Absentee Ballot. 

 

Speaking Tuesday before Turkish Parliament, Prime Minister Erdogan referred to Germany’s practice of assimilating Turkish immigrants into German society as a “crime against humanity,” after just last week proposing that Germany should begin creating Turkish language high-schools…in Germany.

Just three percent of the German population is of Turkish descent, yet the headscarf aficionado, with a straight face, is lobbying Germany for the creation of new high-schools, hiring teachers from Turkey and instructing students in Turkish. How outraged would we be if the Mexican President came to the United States and demanded Spanish only high-schools? Spanish speakers make up nine percent of the U.S. population. At least President Calderón, would have a better argument.

A journalist for the German newspaper Der Spiegel called the Turkish language high-school suggestion “a novel idea,” but I’m not sure the German population shares that multicultural outlook. Conservative politicians most certainly don’t. The governor of Bavaria Gunther Beckstein spoke to Germany’s N24 TV and had this to say (from Der Spiegel):

      “The task (for Turks) is to be good citizens in Germany, to learn German, to speak German in their families.”  Erdogan’s remarks are   “nationalistic” and “highly displeasing.”

Conservative German newspaper Die Walt opined:

“This is the message that will stick: The Germans don’t want integration; they want to rob the Turks of their Turkishness, of their culture. That is grist for the mill of the not especially small number of Turks or Turkish descendants who aren’t very interested in integrating and who try to blame the Germans for that.”

 “Integration also involves assimilation. A person who grows into another culture changes by doing so. He leaves much of the culture he descends from behind. He gives up the old to become someone new. It’s a beautiful, painful process. In the long run it makes no sense to refuse to accept that.”

Maybe it would be in America’s best interest for Turkey to gain EU membership, but would it really benefit our partners in NATO? Europeans, not Americans, are the ones forced to confront the radical change occurring within their societies. Setting cars ablaze, threatening newspapers, inciting hate at radical mosques and murdering artists don’t exactly reflect the enlightenment values of their adopted nations.  

When Europeans tell us to mind our own beeswax, well, maybe we should.

No Mercy!

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Under normal circumstances I would be inclined to feel pity for the industry that has slowed the global economy and impacted thousands of families. Of course I’m talking about the mortgage companies. But in light of recent experiences, it is truly difficult to feel much sympathy.

A week ago, my mother, a real estate broker, showed a pre-foreclosure property, a two-year old townhouse located in a new development popular with presale flippers in Orlando, Florida. Aside from the few holes in the wall and rotten food left in the refrigerator by an angry foreclosee, the buyers loved it. They liked it so much that they instructed my mom to make an offer.

She called the listing agent and advised him that her clients were ready to make an offer on the townhouse.

 “Oh, it’s not in foreclosure yet and the lawyers for the bank don’t get paid unless it goes into foreclosure,” the agent responded.

“So, it’s useless they make an offer?” she asked.

“Pretty much”

If that weren’t bad enough…My next door neighbors are in the process of remodeling and is seeking out around 50k to make the improvements. They are half-way through their 30 year mortgage and their credit rating is in the high 800s which is phenomenal. Dawn, the one assigned to research their options, spoke with numerous brokers and none seem excited to give a fixed loan for a second mortgage. Instead, they are all trying to convince her to settle for an adjustable rate which is of course the type of mortgage that has greatly contributed to the crisis. They’ve also advised her to spend any excess money on a flat-screen TV or furniture, instead of paying back part of the principle. “It’s good for the economy” one agent told her.

The industry doesn’t seem humbled at all. They appear as greedy and foolish as ever.

Did You Know …

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Around the world

France

Tuesday’s ruling of the European Court of Human Rights gave a sharp rebuke to a French court decision while simultaneously overturning their adoption legislation. The ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) took on the case of a French teacher who was denied permission to adopt based upon her homosexuality. Because French law allows single parent petitions, the court ruled that France had discriminated against the woman and awarded her 10,000 euros in punitive damages.

The lawyer for the teacher rejoiced in the decision in an interview with LeFigaro, “Now, France can no longer refuse approval of adoption to a single person because she is homosexual.”  I imagine, however, Europeans opposed to a European constitution and expansion of EU powers weren’t quite as enthusiastic.

Italy

 In Lombardia (the northern region of Milan and Como), the period of time a woman can obtain an abortion was shortened to 22 weeks and 3 days from 24 weeks

Everything is Relative

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From Michigan to Florida, voters are anxious about the direction of the U.S. economy and how the downturn will affect their pocketbook. Their anxiety is understandable, but a proper perspective might dampen their increasing negativity.

 From today’s Italian newspaper (with the help of Google translator), Il Corriere Della Sera According to ISTAT, 14.6% of Italian families (one in seven) say they have a hard time at the end of the month to pay their bills. One out of ten have difficulty with the most essential expenses: bills, heating, and medical treatment, while 4.2% of families in Corsica had problems, at least once, to stock their refrigerator. The Istat survey was in 2006.” 

Americans face tough times, but in looking around the world, even in Western Europe, they still sit top the figurative list of world’s luckiest populations.

The Quality of Color

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Oofah!

“In the Obama candidacy, there is a potentially history-making quality that we should reflect on. It is one that is especially relevant on the sensitive topic of race — because South Carolina and the South as a whole bear a heavier historical burden than the rest of our country on that front”

 Even more amazing than the quote is the party affiliation of the author. The Republican Governor of South Carolina penned the rather embarrassing op-ed in The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper.  Not only did Gov. Sanford insult South Carolinians by reminding them of their shameful past with respect to racism, but if you read between the lines, he’s saying an Obama vote is a vehicle for atonement. Kind of sad, really.  He goes on…. 

“Nonetheless, what is happening in the initial success of his candidacy should not escape us. Within many of our own lifetimes, a man who looked like Barack Obama had a difficult time even using the public restrooms in our state.”

 Maybe the premise of Shelby Steele’s book White Guilt is accurate. And maybe those who suggest that the discrepancy between the Iowa caucus vote and the New Hampshire primary vote have a point. Perhaps those white Iowans didn’t want to look un-hip, un-cool and even slightly racist. Nobody wanted to be the guy with his hands down when the Obama roll call came.  

Apparently, the most important qualification Senator Obama has is his color. And silly me, I thought we were past this.

Lost in Translation. Again.

Today on her show, one of my favorite radio hosts, Laura Ingraham, repeatedly pushed the idea that the world would love to see Barack Obama become President. She cited The Financial Times, the BBC, LeMonde and generic French and Italian newspapers. LeMonde is a communist newspaper so it doesn’t count, and even if it did, the only stories I found concerned Hillary staying on the offensive and a Barack biography. Obviously communists prefer Obama because he’s to the left of Hillary.  As for LeFigaro, the other major French newspaper, I found absolutely nothing to support her claim. I also checked every Italian newspapers. Nothing. One of Italy’s most prominent giornali, La Corriere, a left-leaning paper, even ran “Israel Afraid of Obama” and “Grandma of Obama prayed to Allah for him,” neither can be construed as positive for Obama.  La Repubblica ran an interview with Bill giving faulting the media for Hillary’s lackluster performances in the early states.

The world is simply reporting the news. Sure there’s a fascination about Obama because let’s face it, when is the last time a black politician made noise in Europe? The last one I can recall was Ayan Hirsi Ali and she was kicked out of the Netherlands.

Just because his picture is on foreign newspapers doesn’t signal a massive global wave of support for Barack. It just means they’re following the story and right now, he’s it. 

Hillary’s freefall; Is Barack the man to beat?

Living in Italy gave me an opportunity to learn about European politics, but it also gave me an education on American politics, only from their perspective, not The New York Times. For political geeks like me, election year entertainment is wall to wall TV coverage and site to site web reportage. But until I moved to Italy and had lived there for a while, I didn’t realize Europe’s level of interest in U.S. politics, and how significant American elections are and were abroad.

Headlining Italy’s Corriere della Sera is Hillary Clinton’s freefall from favored status. Another major Italian magazine, Panorama, calls Barack “the man to beat in New Hampshire.”  France’s Le Figaro leads with “Hillary Clinton in turmoil” and goes on to say (with Google translator’s help):

“The campaign of the former first lady, long time favorite of the Democratic primaries, seems mired in disarray. Officially, her staff ensures that the setback in Iowa hasn’t influenced its plans and that there is no need to change strategy. The emphasis is always on “experience” and to “swallow” the hope embodied by Barack Obama to the rank of perilous adventure”.

Germany’s Der Spiegel explores how populism and fears of a recession have factored into the success of Obama and Edwards—the angry crowd rouser who “speaks with rage” against the existence of  the “two Americas.”

I wonder though.

Are these European writers sympathetic to an electorate driven to the polls by 4% unemployment and $3 dollar gas? As mentioned in my book, The Absentee Ballot, as of last year, Italians were paying almost $6 per gallon for unleaded gas. European journalists and their readers suffer taxes, gas-prices and employment rates much higher than populism enthusiasts. American voters who are attracted to the message du jour see a nation filled with problems, while many others around the world see a paradise full of opportunities.  

 This election is closely followed, not just in the U.S, and is paramount, not only to the American people. It’ll be interesting to watch their reactions to Hillary’s fall, Obama’s rise and whichever Republican gets the nod.