"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."
Monday, January 31, 2005
Photo by Chip East/Reuters
A MetLife flag is pictured outside the MetLife building in New York, January 31, 2005. MetLife Inc. announced it would acquire Travelers Life & Annuity from Citigroup Inc. for $11.5 billion in cash and stock, a deal that will make it the largest individual life insurer in North America.
The transaction will make MetLife's already dominant position in the U.S. individual life insurance market even larger and make it No. 2 in the annuities market behind Hartford Life Insurance Co. For Citigroup, it is another step back from the concept of one-stop financial shopping -- combining insurance, brokerage and banking under one roof -- which it pioneered in the 1990s.
As part of the deal, MetLife will market its financial products through Citigroup for the next 10 years, including through Smith Barney retail brokerages and Citibank branches. Citigroup will receive $1 billion to $3 billion of the purchase price in MetLife stock and the remainder in cash, giving it an after-tax gain of about $2 billion subject to adjustments at closing.
I disagree with the last part of this statement. From what I am hearing from some of my friends who work at Primerica, Citigroup is concentrating on term Insurance instead of the traditional whole life insurance (buy term, invest the difference?). I guess I will have to wait for further news to come out. Either way, this is exciting. I almost feel like I am in the right place at the right time. Selah!
The Crusader for this one. It appears that the son of Kofi Annan has admitted to having "dealings" in the Oil-for-food program in Iraq.
THE son of the United Nations secretary-general has admitted he was involved in negotiations to sell millions of barrels of Iraqi oil under the auspices of Saddam Hussein.
Kojo Annan has told a close friend he became involved in negotiations to sell 2m barrels of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company in 2001. He is understood to be co-operating with UN investigators probing the discredited oil for food programme.
I can hear the calls for Kofi's resignation now...
But their is more to this story.
Several senior UN staff are alleged to have profited from the scheme, and the apparent connection between Kojo and the programme has become the subject of intense international scrutiny. Critics claim that Kofi faces a significant conflict of interest if Kojo sought to profit from the discredited scheme.
Potentially more serious is his connections with Hani Yamani, the son of Sheikh Yamani, the wealthy former Saudi oil minister who set up Opec. Kojo acted as a director for Hani Yamani’s company and was a close business associate. The pair represented the coming together of two of the world’s most influential families.
I give Kofi Annan 6-12 months. Any longer and it will prove that the U.N. is as unreliable as The Diplomad says it is (and they work with the U.N. too!). Selah!
Congressional Republicans, after three months of internal debate, launched a campaign over the weekend to try to convince constituents that rewriting the Social Security law would be cheaper and less risky than leaving it alone, while the White House opened a campaign to pressure six Senate Democrats to support the changes.
Bush will kick off the offensive by using his State of the Union address on Wednesday to build a sense of urgency, then will embark on a flurry of travel beginning with trips on Thursday and Friday to the home states of six senators that Republican strategists have targeted as possible supporters of a Social Security overhaul.
I look forward to this debate. It is time that we are liberated from this archaic communistic system that can not even fulfill it's original purpose. I don't know about you, but if you are depending upon Social Security for the future, you have my pity as a human being. Selah!
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Today was a great day! Not only did I finish my photo/audio journal but as a greater testimony to the greatness of all that love liberty, Iraq voted today! Yes their were some deaths (44 I think) but the majority went out and voted!
For those of you who bother to listen to the MSM (Main Stream Media) you may barely hear about it or will probably hear the "negative side" of the issue. For those of you interested in hearing from some Iraqi citizens in Iraq check out the story below!
I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".
No more confusion about what the people want, they have said their word and they said it loud and the world has got to respct and support the people's will. God bless your brave steps sons of Iraq and God bless the defenders of freedom. Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq.
Mohammed and Omar.
The two above are dentist's in Iraq and have captivated American (and foreign) audiences from around the world with their testimony on how things are going in Iraq (they even got to meet President Bush because of their web journal!) Here is another post by Ali (a brother of theirs) who gave his thoughts about the day!
I entered the school and the supervisors showed me the way to were I should vote. They and the ING guys were so polite and gentle. I cast my vote and got out, not in a rush at all. This is my Eid and I felt like a king walking in his own kingdom. I saw the same look of confidence and satisfaction in the eyes of all people I met. As I left one of the gurads said to me as he handed me back my cellular phone,"God bless you and your beloved ones. We don't know how to thank you. Please excuse any inconvinience on our part. We wish we didn't have to search you or limit your freedom. You are heroes" I was struck with surprise and felt ashamed. This man was risking his life all these hours in what has become the utmost target for all terrorists in Iraq and yet he's apologizing and calling us heroes. I thanked him back and told him that he and his comrads are the true heroes and that we can never be grateful enough for their services.
I'm still thrilled as I'm watching Iraqis vote allover Iraq through TV. Al Arabyia just reported that 6 thousand people in Fallujah have voted till now out of 60 thousands who have returned to their homes (total not voters). I listened to that and I felt enormous admiration and respect to those 6 thousand heroes. Things are difficult in Baghdad but it's still incomparable to Fallujah. I'm sure that the number will rise towards the end of the day.
I'm stil overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions that I don't know what to say more. The only things I can feel so strongly now are hope, excitement, pride and a strange internal peace. I have won my battle and I'm watching the whole Iraqis winning their battle too. I'll try to write to you later my friends.
A'ash Al Iraq, A'ashat America, A'ash Al Tahaluf. (Long live Iraq, long live America and long live the coalition)
It makes me want to cry out of joy. Selah!
Saturday, January 29, 2005
other site might take some time though (it will be my photo/audio blog--personal journal and all) which will be a "high speed thing" if you know what I mean! ;) Selah!
Mental note to self...watch the Iraqi elections tomorrow.
We are snowed in! And I live in the South too! So traffic is dead since all drivers are now officially "dangerous" (well, they don't have the equipment to get rid of the sleet/ice so driving might be suicide right now. Oh well...I'll have to rely upon the unreliable MSM for my media...either that or visit Instapundit for news. Selah!
Thursday, January 27, 2005
A week earlier, on January 20th, we marked the anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee Conference. In the course of that Conference, the top figures of the Nazi hierarchy formalized the Nazi plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Understanding the horrors of Auschwitz requires that one be aware of the premeditated mass-murder that was presented at Wannsee.
Highlighting these events has become particularly important as the press reports that '45% of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz' (Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2004. (source)
Auschwitz may be viewed as the symbol for the Holocaust, and the liberation of Auschwitz, which we are commemorating today, may be viewed as the symbol of defeating evil at its worst. In remembering Auschwitz, we should try to learn the lessons it teaches us concerning current trends and events, and to do so we should focus on the basic questions: How could it have happened and can it happen again?
A thorough analysis of “how could it have happened?” is given in Goldhagen’s book, “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” (see reference at article’s end). The essential point underscored by the author is that as a result of consistent, unrelenting anti-Jewish propaganda, the elimination of the Jews from German society was accepted as axiomatic, leaving open only two questions: when and how:
The German discourse in some sense had as its foundation the extremely widespread, virtually axiomatic notion that a 'Judenfrage,' a "Jewish Problem," existed. The term 'Judenfrage' presupposed and inhered within it a set of interrelated notions... Because of the Jews' presence, a serious problem existed in Germany. Responsibility for the problem lay with the Jews, not the Germans. As a consequence of these "facts," some fundamental change in the nature of Jews or in their position in Germany was necessary and urgent. Everyone who accepted the existence of a "Jewish Problem" - even those who were not passionately hostile to the Jews - subscribed to these notions…
This axiomatic belief in the existence of the "Jewish Problem," more or less promised an axiomatic belief in the need to "eliminate" Jewishness from Germany as the "problem's" only "solution…"
The toll of these decades of verbal, literary, institutionally organized, and political anti-Semitism was wearing down even those who, true to Enlightenment principles, had resisted the demonization of the Jews. The eliminationist mind-set was so prevalent that the inveterate anti-Semite and founder of the Pan-German League, Friedrich Lange, could with verity declaim the universal belief in the "Jewish Problem," rightly pointing out that the means to the "solution," and not the existence of the "problem" itself, was the only remaining subject of doubt and disagreement. [Goldhagen, pp.80-81; for a longer quotation, see Israpundit.
Chilling isn't it? The sad part about this is that despite this event happening over a generation ago, anti-semitism is still rampant throughout the world. (This post was part of a blog burst involving 70 websites).
At least I still have my other site which I think I will keep slightly fancy. Selah!
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
"Don't hide behind your office, Mr. Sneddon!" a top Jackson source challenged.
This might be an interesting case, more than O.J. Simpson was. Where's the popcorn?
"I also think that in an office my size it’s important for the lawyers to be able to see that the boss can still try a case, so that when people come to you and ask whether this or that should be done, they know that you’re not just a bench jockey and that you know what you’re talking about.”
Hopefully this case won't clog the media pipe lines. If that happens, I'll have to resort to getting Blog News via RSS. Selah!
Cheney's remark about being a trouble spot. One thing is certain. This won't be good for Iraq. Either way, Iran seems to be heckling both the U.S. and Israel by saying that they,
"do not have the courage to invade the Iranian nation, [because] the Revolutionary Guards are in very good state of readiness to response to threats." -General Yahya Rahim Safavi of Iran
In the words of our current President, "Bring It On!"
Daily Star Photo
More of Iranian official's brazenness below:
"The U.S. can not bring security to the Middle East by pushing Iran aside. And if they plan conspiracies, the Iranian nation and its leadership will stand against expansionism with firmness," he said.
"The unfounded claims of Israeli officials were made to deviate world attention from Israel's organized terror activities and efforts to further strengthen its nuclear power," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
"Israel's continued trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people on flimsy excuses cannot wipe out the roots of their struggle or weaken their resistance and they (the Palestinians) will eventually be vindicated," Asefi said. - Agencies
It is quickly becoming clear that war may be inevitable. May God above be with the future dead.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passes over the planet's south polar region in this artist's concept illustration. The orbiter's shallow radar experiment, one of six science instruments on board, is designed to probe the internal structure of Mars' polar ice caps, as well as to gather information planet-wide about underground layers of ice, rock and, perhaps, liquid water that might be accessible from the surface. Phobos, one of Mars' two moons, appears in the upper left corner of the illustration.
More from Space.com News:
Less than two years from now, MRO is tasked to start a series of global mapping, regional survey and targeted observations from a near-polar, low-altitude Mars orbit. It will fly closer to the martian surface than any other orbiter has ever gone.
MRO carries a large set of solar arrays and a huge high gain antenna. "It’s wonderful isn’t it," Graf said, pointing to the dish antenna that measures some 10-feet (3 meters) in diameter -- hardware that will enable the craft to pump out enormous streams of information back to Earth from Mars orbit.
That is good for scientists and photobloggers like me! Selah!
David Adame, AP/USA Today
Firefox, the free Internet browser that 19-year-old Blake Ross helped create two years ago, has been downloaded more than 19 million times.
Although I do not personally like Firefox it does have some advantages over IE, mainly the uploading speed, pop-up blocker (built in) and many hackers haven't written too many viruses to it. And it is getting more popular around the net.
The Firefox browser has been downloaded more than 20 million times and currently has a market share of at least 5 percent, according to industry estimates -- a figure that is likely to increase if leveraged with the Google brand name.
One has to wonder where Google is going with this though. Google's market has expanded well beyond it's "internet search engine" and now has several other features to add (such as Gmail, Orkut, Blogger and Hello). One thing is for sure though. If Google goes Firefox, this could be the end of the Gates empire. Selah!
Monday, January 24, 2005
Associated Press file photo
Terri Schiavo, right, gets a kiss from her mother, Mary Schindler, in this Aug. 11, 2001, image taken a from videotape and released by the Schindler family on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003.
Her dad does not seem to be too happy with this as I can imagine.
"It's judicial homicide. They want to murder her," her father, Robert Schindler, said Monday. "I have no idea what the next step will be. We're going to fight for her as much as we can fight for her. She deserves a chance."
Terri wrote no will whether or not if she was in this situation that her life could be terminated. Her husband contends his wife never wanted artificial support, but if Terry could talk, I wonder what she would say?
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Epic" which is good for a couple of laughs. Enjoy!
I stumbled across EPIC after reading this article.
Two current glimpses of the future include one that should be a little worrying for the old media empires. An eight-minute flash movie called Epic was created by staff at the Poynter Institute for journalism in Florida last year and has now been linked to and discussed by bloggers all over the world. The movie is a funny look back, supposedly from 2014, at the history of the web. As the years tick past 2004, the vision becomes chilling.
The ambition, technological dominance and deep pockets of one company — Google — cause it to rise inexorably. First comes the Google Grid, a vast file and content-sharing network that redefines the web. Then comes Googlezon, which brings together Google’s technical reach and the “social recommendations” of Amazon to create an unbeatable force in e-commerce. Finally, after Google wins a Supreme Court battle in 2011 with The New York Times, comes Epic, the Evolving Personalised Information Construct. Epic provides customised news and information for each consumer, some of it brilliant, most of it “narrow, shallow, sensationalist trivia”. By 2014, Epic rules the world. The New York Times has gone offline and become a “print- only newsletter for the elite and the elderly”. Surely not.
Pretty funny, don't you think?
A vehicle equipped with a snow plow passes a car covered in snow in Somerville, Massachusetts January 23, 2005. A powerful 'nor'easter' storm that earlier wrought havoc in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states battered coastal New England with hurricane-force gusts of wind and dumped more than 2 feet of snow on some areas.
Look at all that snow! It must feel good to live in a Red state!
BOSTON (Reuters) - Large parts of the Northeastern United States lay buried under several feet of snow on Sunday by a blizzard that severely curbed road and air travel and cut power to thousands of customers. A powerful "nor'easter" storm that earlier wrought havoc in the U.S. Midwest and mid-Atlantic states battered coastal New England with strong wind gusts and dumped more than 2 feet of snow on some areas. The storm's impact could be felt across the Atlantic as dozens of flights at London's Heathrow airport were canceled to and from New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. In all, U.S. carriers reported hundreds of flight cancellations.
Snow is removed from a sidewalk in Times Square as New York digs out of about a foot of snow, January 23, 2005. Wind and snow made travel difficult as many flights from the three New York airports were cancelled for a second day in a row.
Nature is "heck" (ha, I didn't curse!). Selah!
House Wives on Prozac" rocks about everything from the cradle to house work and is willing to give a few laughs along the way.
"I feel like what we do is remind people about their passion and that sense of importance and that sense of vitality," said Joy Rose, a 47-year-old mother of four who founded Housewives on Prozac in 1997. "Life is really short and it's important to live colorfully."
Check out their site along with "Frump," another punk mom band.
Bassist Lucy Galey, right, jams with guitarist Sue Ecklin for the all-women band Frump.
These bands make me laugh! Although one can debate whether or not to take them seriously, you have to give them credit for starting an "all mom band." Selah!
Explorer. According to "China View" 4.78% of internet surfers use Firefox, which is a gain of 0.88% while IE usage has declined 0.7%. Although I doubt this is enough to make Microsoft tremble, it does show that many users are becoming familiar with "open source" software and leaving "IE establishment." Although I personally don't like Firefox (it is limited in what it can view compared to IE) it is good to see someone other than Google fighting the MSN dynasty. Selah!
The popularity of open-source web browser Firefox is rising continuously at the expense of Microsoft's Internet Explorer(IE), a new study said Friday
More from the article.
As downloads continued to surge, measurement firms such as WebSideStory and Dutch market researcher OneStat began releasing data tracking Firefox gains and IE declines. In December, OneStat reported that IE's market share had slipped to 88.9 percent, a figure Microsoft disputed. Even though Microsoft maintains the dominance since defeating the Netscape Communicator browser in the mid-1990s, Firefox's snowballing popularity is well-marked.
WebSideStory said many people are not only downloading Firefox,they're sticking with it and using it. Firefox fans praise the new browser's automatic pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing features, but security has been one of the big points. Viruses and spyware are often aimed at IE because of its near-total market dominance, and Firefox's rising popularity may eventually attract the attention of malicious code writers trying to exploit security holes, IT experts predicted.
Although I do love the speed of Firefox in general (as well as the inability of pop ups to get through) one thing I do not enjoy about the new browser is the inability to see a website clearly (especially the fancier ones). I have had similar experiences in Safari, and although I love the applications, drifting away from IE is not something that I would see in the near future. Selah!
Saturday, January 22, 2005
At the same time, most of the current payroll tax would continue to fund traditional social security benefits to current retirees. This reform would strengthen opportunities to build wealth for millions of Americans, many of whom have few financial assets today.
Personal accounts also offer a surer way to prefund our obligation to pay future social security benefits. While lawmakers find it difficult to ‘save’ rather than spend social security surpluses (the excess of current payroll tax over current benefits), personal accounts would be off-limits to politicians.
Can somebody say Selah?
I like how the Economic Times goes further into this issue, removing some objections to Social Security reform.
To start, what are the objectives of social security reform? One obvious objective is to advance the President’s ownership society agenda. The transition costs to personal accounts will actually put social security on a firmer footing.
As long as future net obligations are reduced by prefunding social security benefits through personal accounts, the diversion of a portion of payroll taxes to personal accounts is akin to prepaying part of a mortgage.
Some critics argue that personal accounts would expose workers to too much risk, and administrative costs would fritter away account balances. But personal accounts could be invested in a mix of inflation-indexed Treasury bonds and broad stock portfolios to keep risk low over the long run. If investment choices are limited to bond and stock-index funds, administrative costs will be very low. The government could pay for such costs in the beginning.
I think I am seeing some good ideas on how Social Security can be reformed for the best interests of all. Whether you love him or hate him, the President is addressing a current issue and is attempting to provide viable solutions towards them. This is especially good since it gives me another reason not to leave the system. Selah!
Charles Schwab, the pioneer in discount stock trading, long has supported the idea of diverting a share of Social Security taxes into private investment accounts.
Schwab endorsed a book about the subject in 1999. His San Francisco-based company is helping to fund a group that is lobbying Congress for private accounts. He also has written newspaper op-ed pieces calling for more retirement savings options that would "reduce the dependence on government assistance."
Despite the fact of him publicly supporting reform that would potentially help millions of Americans, he has decided not to further comment on the issue. Where are the financial hero's when you need them? Are there any left? :(
It seems that the AFL-CIO (probably the largest liberal union force in America) is vehemetly opposed to the idea.
Powerful groups, including the AFL-CIO and AARP, have bashed the idea of privatization, saying it would shred the retirement safety net and leave more Americans at the mercy of market swings. The AFL-CIO in December sent letters to 46 major financial companies, asking them to renounce the concept of private Social Security accounts.
Facing that kind of reaction, "Most people in the (investment) business are keeping a very low profile," said Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Stanford Washington Research Group, a political-consulting firm. "They don't want to be identified as proponents, because of the potential backlash." Among Wall Street's largest firms - Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. - all declined to comment about the Social Security debate.
But their may be a way to put the financial services industry (whom many see as evil despite the fact that this industry creates wealth for many individuals) in "check" so to speak.
Individual contributions to these private accounts would be limited to $1,000 a year under a recommendation from a Bush-appointed commission in 2001. A key financial-industry concern is that, at least initially, the accounts may be too small to be profitable for most companies to manage, given the paperwork and investor hand-holding that could be required. "None of my members is salivating at the prospect of managing millions of small accounts," said Marc Lackritz, president of the New York-based Securities Industry Association, the brokerage business' chief trade group.
"Once everybody has these accounts, the incentive for Congress to regulate them would be very strong," said Derrick A. Max, executive director of Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, a Washington-based coalition set up by the National Association of Manufacturers to lobby for private accounts.
Although some Chief Exec's believe that Government regulation of these accounts (which can be slow and annoying but price to pay for a secure future) it would pay off in the long run as they would benefit the original contributor--the worker. And isn't that the most important thing of all? Selah!
According to the most recent projections of the Social Security trustees, dedicated payroll taxes will be insufficient to pay benefits as of 2018. At that point, the trust fund is expected to have accumulated more than $5 trillion in special treasury notes, representing what has been borrowed from Social Security surpluses over the years.
The problem with Social Security's finances is demography. In the 1950s, there were 16 workers for every retiree. Today there are slightly more than three, and the trend continues downward. The assumptions can be played with, which pushes the dates around. But under any realistic assumptions about the future, there will ultimately be too few workers to pay programmed Social Security benefits with existing tax rates.
It is me or am I the only one who sees the "light?" Why is their so much opposition to the President's plan? Is it because he may be right? If the left (along with some on the right) do not want to change their Social Security Scheme, let them keep it that way. As for those concerned with the future, give us the opportunity to invest our money. After all, isn't it our money to begin with?
Many argue that other options exist. True, but those options are either raise payroll taxes by 14 percent as well as cut younger workers benefits by 9 percent (source). Talk about someone getting the raw deal! Why don't they try presenting this idea to congress for themselves? How many senators and congress men (and women) would support an idea like that? Doesn't that sound absurd? Robb clearly spells out why that idea is "dumb."
The question is, why try to chase a deficit that demography dictates will expand for the foreseeable future? Given the current and expected ratio of workers to retirees, a system in which workers save for their own retirement over the course of their lifetimes simply makes more sense than one relying on an intergenerational transfer of wealth, in which today's workers pay the retirement benefits of today's retirees, in hopes that tomorrow's workers will do the same for them.
Under any scenario, Social Security benefits will have to be paid from sources other than payroll taxes for some period of time. Why not make such payments as part of a transition to a system that can sustain itself, rather than one that requires ever-larger fixes over time? And the sooner such a transition begins, the cheaper and quicker it will be.
It seems to me that the "Debt-o-crats" do not want to free us from their system. Rather than trying to find a solution that would not only potentially save the system but fulfill it's original obligations, they are trying to keep their pet project alive. What benefit is Social Security if it presently doesn't benefit people now and won't benefit those in the future? If you think that Social Security is not helping the general population of America, why don't you go to Wal-Mart and ask those elderly citizens why they are working still? Is it because they want to? Don't you think they would rather play with their grand kids? Democrats should take notice from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who according to Robb is "arguably his generation's greatest social democrat" in order to embrace the change and allow workers to put some of their earnings into an IRA in order for them to invest with.
Instead of regarding individual retirement accounts as a threat to, or a violation of, Social Security, he saw them as an extension and fulfillment of it - a way in which workingmen and women could not only improve their retirement income but also build up an estate. Upon his death in 2003, I suggested that if individual retirement accounts ever did become part of Social Security, they be named Moynihan Accounts in honor of his vision. (source)
Friday, January 21, 2005
Photo by Sgt. Kimberly Snow, USA
Government officials from Iraq's Diyala province gathered Jan. 18 to host Peace Day at the Diyala provincial government building in Baqubah
More from Defense America:
Haialy read a Fatwa "a religious order" during the meeting signed by a group of Sunni religious leaders of Diyala which reversed their position on upcoming elections, approving Sunni participation.
U.S. Army Col. Dana J.H. Pittard, 3rd Brigade Combat Team commander, also attended the event and addressed the gathering. "Sign the forms, talk to Iraqi security forces, and then be peaceful. That is all that is being asked of you," he said. "We are temporary guests in your great country, and we will leave when all is secure or when we are asked."
The event ended on a positive note when Pittard, as a symbol of goodwill, extended a peace offering in the form of a handshake to a local sheik with whom multinational forces have had strained relations. The sheik accepted and pledged to work together toward peace in Diyala
Looks like the Sunni's might be in this election after all, or at least the leadership. Selah!
Thursday, January 20, 2005
It seems that this speech was a declaration that America will seek democratic freedoms in lands that are denied them, and was a clear warning to the regimes of Iran, Syria and North Korea. It looks like we may be in for more wars in the future, but even if that is the case are we not freeing masses of individuals who have never tasted liberty before? Is it not worth the fight? I ask this to the cowards on the left (and a few on the right) who want to "pacify" the oppressive regimes world wide. I couldn't imagine anything more foolish.
Jan. 20: President Bush and Laura Bush walk with their daughter's as they head to a prayer service at St. John's Church.
Here are some excerpts from Bush's speech.
On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed. At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.
We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom. We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you. Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.
The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it." The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side. And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.
These are more of the interesting portions of the speech. The rest can be seen at the source link above. Selah!
Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters
President George W. Bush appears onstage with his wife Laura(L) at the Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball in Washington, January 19, 2005. The event is part of celebrations leading up to the inauguration of President Bush for his second term January 20.
I encourage all to watch this event and if you loathe him that much...that is what freedom of speech is for (try to be nice about it though). Here is a synopsis of the event.
At noon (1700 GMT), Bush will stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on a wintry day with a coat of snow on the ground before perhaps 100,000 people, put his hand on a Bible used for his 2001 inauguration and repeat the brief oath to uphold the Constitution administered by ailing Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
After a 21-gun salute, Bush is to give a lofty 17-minute speech that will promote liberty abroad and offer to work with Democrats stewing over their defeat in November and angered by an Iraq policy they consider flawed.
"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands," Bush will say, according to White House excerpts. "In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty."
Beautiful, isn't it? Selah!
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
An Iranian woman.
Photo from Voice of America
An Audio of the event can be found here. Here is what John the loser Kerry had to say:
"The fact is, Dr. Rice is one of the principal architects, implementers and defenders of a series of administration policies and choices that in my judgment have not made our country as secure as it ought to be in the aftermath of 9/11 and have alienated much of the world," said Senator Kerry.
But Senator George Allen, a Virginia Republican countered with these remarks about Condi (her name is too hard to spell):
"When you look at the totality of her record, her experience, her principle, I respectfully ask my colleagues to confirm President Bush's choice to be secretary of state," said Mr. Allen. "I think she will do our country proud."
Another sign that Bush is in power (and proud of it too). Condi should be Secretary of State (replacing Powell) this Thursday. The world can hardly wait (well, maybe half of America can hardly wait). Selah!
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
here. (if it doesn't load then click here and click on the red "video" word.
The Nkzone.org has an excellent synopsis/translation of the video. Here is a portion of what they posted.
The tape, which is the third to emerge from North Korea in two weeks, appears to be the first ever of an anti-government organization in North Korea. Those who made the tape would almost certainly have faced a firing squad had they been caught. Because the tape is 35 minutes long, we couldn't translate all of it, but we did translate three banners and one excerpt of a lengthy political discussion. The first banner, with the jerky images of black ink on beige paper, says:
Overthrow Kim Jong Il! Let's rise up, my fellow citizens, and throw out Kim Jong Il!
The second banner, which is written in red ink, says:
The deaths Kim Il Sung and Kim Young Un, who demanded liberalization, and the arrest of Jang Sung Hyok, were all the acts of Kim Jong Il. Why should we die of hunger and in rags? Where are you leading us? Let's fight and take back freedom and democracy!
Red ink is emotionally loaded in Korean culture; it signifies extreme anger. The third picture, posted above, says:
Kim Jong Il--Who are you? [illegible sentence] The people will throw you out of your position! We claim freedom and democracy! Reform and an open-door policy are the only way to live.
Both of the latter two posters are signed, "Young Comrades for Freedom." Finally, one excerpt of the political lecture translates very roughly as follows:
Kim Jong Il blames America for our depression and our bad economy. But think about the fact that if life under socialism compares this way to life in America, then which system is really more democratic?
If authentic, the tape would validate one of the foundational assumptions behind the North Korean Human Rights Act--that at least some of the North Korean people are deeply discontented with the regime and searching for ways to oppose and overthrow it. If the tape reflects the views of a fairly large percentage of the North Korean people, money appropriated to stir dissent could be money well spent. Such forthright advocacy for the overthrow of the regime suggests that it may indeed be possible to hasten its the extinction by supporting and empowering internal resistance.
Great posting! I couldn't improve upon it. Selah!
Hello. Here is a glimpse of what they had to say:
Hello is an application which does a couple of neat things. First, it allows you to easily publish your images to your blogger blog. In other words, if you have a blog on blogger (Also owned by Google), with a simple click or two in Hello you can publish your pictures.
Now here's the best part. You remember how I said at the beginning of the article that there has been lots of speculation on Google's future, now that the company has gone public? Well, Hello also has a chat feature. That means you can converse with your friends much like you do with MSN messenger or Yahoo! messenger. Google now has its own chat.
I am already testing it out. I don't think it is as advanced as Yahoo or MSN--at least not yet but I do expect them to surpass them in the near future.
Of course this one is very basic right now. You can't have group chats (or share pictures with a group) yet. But I am sure that over the coming months we could see Hello move more into the mainstream and start winning over some MSN or Yahoo! messenger users. But, the fact is, now that Google has entered the IM space, and provided they do expand the capabilities of Hello, I think you will see Hello become a contender in the space within a few months.
I guess the question now becomes, what are Google's plans? Will they work to expand Hello and make it a more mainstream alternative to MSN or Yahoo! messenger? Or will they leave it and move onto something else? I think they should work on expanding Hello into a good alternative chat program. There are many features which current IM programs don't have. Also if they hope to keep winning over users from MSN and Yahoo! then that is another way to do it - by continuing to offer alternatives to their products. I think Hello could be one of the first steps down this path.
Rob Sullivan, Production Manager of Searchengineposition.com
Monday, January 17, 2005
Gumen kidnapped a Catholic archbishop in Iraq's main northern city of Mosul
MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) - Gumen kidnapped a Catholic archbishop in Iraq's main northern city of Mosul in what the Vatican condemned as a "terrorist act" as persistent violence dogged the run-up to landmark January 30 elections.
Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, leader of Mosul's Syrian Catholic community, was seized by gunmen at around 5 pm (1400 GMT) as he was about to enter his car, local priest Father Faraj told AFP.
The kidnappers then tossed him into the trunk of their vehicle before speeding away, said the priest, who follows the rival Chaldean rite. The Chaldean patriarch in Baghdad, Emmanuel Delly, said Casmoussa "was abducted outside his home as he was returning from a pastoral visit in the diocese of Mosul. He was abducted and taken off in a car. We don't know who took him, nor the reason why," Delly told the missionary news agency Misna by telephone.
"We gave the news to the Vatican and now we are doing everything possible to trace him and we hope we can save him."
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls said the Holy See "condemns in the firmest manner this terrorist act and demands that Monsignor Casmoussa be rapidly returned safe and well to his ministry".
The motive of the abduction was not immediately clear but it came amid mounting sectarian violence in the run-up to this month's election. The home of the Chaldean patriarch was attacked late last year prompting condemnation from Pope John Paul II.
If this doesn't convince you that al-Zarqawi and his gang of thugs (aka terrorists not to be confused with insurgents) is evil, then nothing will. Selah!
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA/ESA/NASA/AP
PROBE'S-EYE VIEW: Huygens probe captured this 360-degree image of the surface of Titan as it drifted to a landing last week. The white streaks on the left could be ground fog; the center reveals a plateau. Scientists are debating the exact touchdown spot.
Titan is indeed a strange wonder and although economic value has yet to be determined, it still captivates the interest of many people (including myself).
According to Huygens's calculations, the probe sank six inches into the soil when it landed, suggesting a mushy mix - though scientists were not yet sure Monday if it landed in a light or a dark region.
EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY/NASA/AP
CLOSE-UP: This photo of Titan's surface shows objects the size of small rocks.
Part of the reason for caution is that scientists have never before seen a world like this. At minus 290 degrees F., hydrocarbons like methane and ethane can act they way water does on Earth, while water is frozen solid, as a rock. Calculations suggest that as much as half of Titan might be water ice, meaning that the light-toned Titan highlands could well be hills of ice.
It makes Titan an odd analogue of Earth. Although Titan is less than half the size of Earth, its atmosphere is some 10 times as high; the lowest clouds on Titan are higher than the highest clouds on Earth. Titan and Earth are also the only objects in the solar system with nitrogen-based atmospheres. It was of the reasons for Titan's allure - the sense that it is a colder version Earth before life formed. And Huygens has done nothing to dispel that. "It is living up to its billing," says Dr. Lunine. "Titan is an exciting place."
That's it for now. Hopefully more information will come about this world, as I am hungry to find out if this world is worth the effort of exploring. (Hey, we can't explore on an empty budget, we need a compelling financial reason to reach this world) Selah!
US special forces have been operating inside Iran, Hersh says
If operations were in Iran, it wouldn't surprise me. After all, the Mullah's (along with Syria) have been a thorn in our flesh for a while, and would be something the President would consider "eliminating."
But the BBC has more:
Hersch says reliable sources told him that the political masters in the Pentagon - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz - wanted to destroy Iran's military infrastructure. Pentagon spokesman Laurence DiRita said on Monday that Hersh's article did not do justice to the "global challenge" posed by the "Iranian regime's apparent nuclear ambitions and its demonstrated support for terrorist organizations."
Mr DiRita said the article was "so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed".
"Views and policies" ascribed by Hersh to several top US defense department officials were not accurate, he said.
So who do you believe? Frankly, I don't really know. Although this would be a good thing if legitimate (it would be a clear warning to the Mullah's that they are about to get spanked) I don't think the White House would ever admit something like this publicly. Unless another 9/11 happened that could be traced towards Tehran, then this accusation will have to sit in the halls of rumor-ville. Selah.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
THE PROS--1)Control. Under the current system, each generation of workers pays for the retirees ahead of it. With a private account, some of the money you put in would be there for you alone rather than fund someone else's golden years.
THE CONS--1)Risk. Getting a good return on your private account is up to you. If you make poor choices, you can lose money, and your nest egg will suffer. Invest too conservatively, and you will not be able to make up for the cuts in benefits.
Those were the first two reasons from each side of the debate. The rest are below
2)Better Returns. With Social Security, funds set aside for the future earn a minimal return over time, because the government invests them conservatively, in Treasury bonds. Investing in the stock and bond markets via private accounts could allow those dollars to grow faster.
3)Offset the Pain. Benefit cuts will probably be necessary to keep Social Security solvent as the number of retirees grows. The appeal of private accounts might persuade voters to accept the trade-off.
4)Encourage Savings. Private accounts reinforce a mind-set of saving. When you see a direct connection between what you put in now and how it can grow in the future, you may be motivated to save more elsewhere.
5)No New Taxes. The commission's plan, if adopted, avoids the unpleasant medicine of higher payroll taxes. Set at 12.4% of taxable wages, they already squeeze earners.
2)Debt. The costs of making the transition to a private-account system are estimated at up to $2 trillion. That burden will widen the government's already yawning budget deficit, and could put the economy at risk for higher interest rates.
3)Uncertainty. Private accounts on their own do nothing to solve Social Security's solvency challenge and may discourage people from supporting real solutions.
4)Undersaving. With private accounts in place, some people may be tempted to save less elsewhere. Americans' record of saving is not encouraging; two-thirds of retirees rely on Social Security as their primary income.
5)Delayed Reaction. By promising to preserve current benefits and funding the transition costs through borrowing, this plan shifts costs to future generations, who will have to pay off the debt.
So which side are you? As for me, I am for the changes. I have talked to a few individuals "getting up there" in age, and as far as I can tell unless you are wealthy the current system won't benefit you. Don't believe me? Ask the elderly folks at Wal-Mart why they're working there. Although WAL-MART is a great place to work and shop at our grand parents deserve something better in life than to continue working there.
As far as the arguments against the privatization of social security goes, I find them pretty much weak. Risk is a factor in any new thing we do. Columbus took risks to discover (or rediscover) America. Bush took risks fighting the war on terror in Iraq. There is risk with this option, but their is plenty of information (not to mention many companies in the financial services industry) who would help not only help their clients with information but could take on the "burden" of transferring or setting up accounts (as they do with many IRA's and Annuities).
The issue of whether Social Security would do anything to solve the "system" to me is not the case to me. The purpose of Social Security is to provide financial security for the future. If the system is not meeting these needs, a new one needs to replace it. What President Bush is doing is providing options for individuals, so it would be up to them how much they save using the system. The argument of "some" undersaving is dumb because that would be a small group of people who are probably not enlightened to the benefits of the system.
Of course their may be a debt for the future generation but if we do nothing the future generation will not have enough to live off of and will have to adopt the "work 'till you die" lifestyle that is not pleasant to too many people. If you doubt this ask your local senior citizen whether or not they want to continue to work instead of relax and reflect on the blessings of life.
It seems there seems to be a few people who are nervous about the change. If they are, let them choose not to invest and wait until the inevitable day when they realize that they don't have an option when it comes to working 9am to 5pm. As for me and the brave souls out there, let us risk our money on our own future so that we may reap whatever consequences (the good and the bad) that are out there. After all, isn't that what capitalism is all about?
Another world ... the orange hue of Titan
One could say that the surface is indeed alien. With orange rocks here and there (or is that ice?) it more resembles a desert rather than an "ocean."
At first glance it could be the view of a chilly seaside somewhere in our world. But another picture, showing an orange landscape under an eerie orange sky, proves these are no earthly scenes. "They are absolutely spectacular," Malcolm Walter, head of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University, said yesterday.
But Professor Walter said the flat dark area that looks like a sea was almost certainly bone dry. "It is a solid surface. It could be ice, covered in organic [carbon-based] chemistry - hydrocarbons ... Nothing else immediately comes to mind." Professor Walter said the hydocarbons may have formed a sort of "tar" from chemicals raining out of Titan's nitrogen and methane-rich atmosphere. "If it's tar it could be hard, like a road."
Well...so much for the "ocean of methane/ethane" theory that made this world worth billions of dollars (or euros for our semi-friends in Europe). I'm still awaiting analysis of whether or not there is money on that moon. Otherwise it will be as useless as going to Mars. Selah!
Friday, January 14, 2005
Anti Semitism in Europe already.
Pressure is growing on Prince Harry to make a personal and public apology for wearing a Nazi uniform, complete with swastika armband, to a fancy dress party.
Regardless of whether or not this stunt was tasteless, it has gotten the negative attention from Israel and those opposed to anti-semitism in general.
Earlier, Israel's foreign minister and the EU's foreign policy chief joined the throng of anti-fascist groups, Jewish human rights organizations and politicians who rounded on Prince Harry. Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom was among those who criticized him, describing the use of Nazi symbols as intolerable.
"I think anybody who tries to pass it off as bad taste must be made aware that this can encourage others to think that perhaps that period was not as bad as we teach the young generation in the free world," he said. EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana said: "It's not an appropriate thing to do."
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, one of the largest international Jewish human rights groups, urged him to visit Auschwitz death camp to see the full horrors of the Nazi regime.
Perhaps this is Harry's "Right of Passage," a way for him to become a man as some have gathered from his lastest fashion facade. Either way I hope he learns his lessons very quickly--the world is less forgiving for second blunders (especially stupid ones such as these). Selah!
An early image of Titan as captured by Huygens.
Photo by NASA/Reuters (Handout)
This is one of the first raw, or unprocessed, images from the European Space Agency's Huygens probe as it descended to Saturn's moon Titan January 14, 2005. The world got its first look at the surface of the Saturnian moon Titan when pictures from the European space probe Huygens showed a possibly rocky surface with 'drainage channels' for liquids.
"The European Space Agency deserves a tremendous amount of credit," said NASA's Al Diaz, NASA's associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, while appearing to hold back tears during one of many press briefings on the probes status today. "There will only be [one] first successful landing on Titan, and this was it."
"If it's not a sea, it appears to be a lake of tar-like material," said John Zarnecky, principal investigator for the Huygens' Surface Science Package, which is taking data from the surface of Titan. Zarnecky said the 350 images taken by Huygens of Titan's surface were only about half the anticipated photographic harvest researchers were expecting.
Huygens was originally expected to send more than 700 pictures taken during its 2.5-hour descent to the Titan surface, but one of the two communications channels on the satellite apparently malfunctioned, cutting by about half the number of images received by NASA's orbiting Cassini satellite and relayed to mission control here.
Despite the set back, this is a resounding success for NASA and the Euro clan. Ironic isn't it? The farther away we get from earth, the more we as people get along. Selah!
The Huygens probe began its lone journey to Titan on Christmas Day
More info from the News Scientists for the space freaks:
The Huygens probe is nearing Saturn's giant moon, Titan, and is ready to plummet headlong into its atmosphere. If all goes well, it will become the first man-made object to land on such a distant world.
Cameras will scan the surface and the skies, capturing highly detailed pictures of Titan's terrain, and two instruments will analyse the gases and particles in the atmosphere. Titan has been likened to a version of the early Earth in deep freeze, so the organic chemistry of its atmosphere could reveal something about the origins of life on Earth.
If the probe stays in contact after landing as hoped, another set of instruments will have a couple of hours to get to work on the surface - still an enigma to planetary scientists. A device protruding beneath the probe will measure the force of landing, revealing whether Huygens has hit hard icy ground, something soft and squashy, or even a lake of liquid hydrocarbons.
Whatever they find there, it should make an interesting story for the space geeks (of which I am one). If it does indeed have the methane lakes (something many scientists visualize) then it would become quite profitable. Can you say, "chi-ching!" Selah!
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Arutz Sheva Photo
Russia may supply Syria with an array of missiles that would place most Israeli cities, as well as civilian aircraft, within firing-range, according to a report today in a Russian newspaper.
Common sense dictates that such measures would not be profitable in the Middle East. Either Russia is setting up a confrontation between two major powers in the region (well, maybe semi-major for Syria) in order to regain entrance as a "major" power in the Middle East or they are totally oblivious to what is happening. Giving the Syrians the capabilities to hit Israel is only asking for another conflict, as the US is already engaged in Iraq and potentially Iran. But Israel is not letting this go quietly as they plan on calling on their "big brother" across the Atlantic for help. Jerusalem Post has more.
The US came out publicly on Wednesday against the sale and said Washington would consider sanctions against Russia if it went ahead with the deal. "We've seen the reports of the sale. US policy on this is very clear. We're against the sale of weaponry to Syria, against the sale of lethal military equipment to Syria, which is a state sponsor of terrorism. We think those kinds of sales are not appropriate. The Russians know about this policy.
Sources in Washington familiar with the discussions said Israel had raised the planned sale with American officials and expressed concern about it. It was not clear, however, when the matter was discussed or at what level. A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington, David Segal, said, "The reports [of the sale] are disturbing and of concern. We raise issues that have a strategic significance with the administration on an ongoing basis."
It shall be interesting to see how Russia, especially Putin responds to this. Despite his rage about Israel helping the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine (Israel sent them money) he will no doubt have very few excuses for explaining this to Washington. And that's a wrap! Selah!
A drawing of Deep Impact approaching Comet Tempel 1.
It appears that NASA is sending two space craft (dubbed Flyby and Impactor) with the sole purpose of one of the crafts to smash into a comet in order to gain secrets locked inside.
"All I can do now is worry and hope," said Deep impact principal investigator Michael A'Hearn, of the University of Maryland, during a telephone interview. "And then watch it go."
The comet being smashed into is Tempel 1 (an original name, heh?) which is thought to be a typical example of comets. Researchers hope that by doing so they will get a glimpse of the pristine material from the beginning of the formation of our Solar System. They may also hold a role in the future of space exploration.
And while they may have played a role in our beginnings, comets could one day be tapped by future human space explorers as a source for water, oxygen and hydrogen fuel for far-flung space missions, NASA researchers said.
"They could be the watering holes and fuel stations for future interplanetary exploration," Yeomans said.
Although few comets interest me that much (I see them as dirty snow balls) their role in space exploration makes them of greater value. The solar system is ripe with resources (if you know where to look) and "comet hopping" may be one way to get to more lucrative planetary systems such as Jupiter and Saturn (their moons that is). Mars may be a good testing ground for future colonies, but any investment on that rust ball of a planet would have to be temporary, as the weather on that planet can be severe. That's it for me, Selah!
Monday, January 10, 2005
Photo from Prensa.com
It seems that their is talk that Kofi might go. Although our friends the Brit's support him, time may not be in his favor. The Oil-for-Food program is rocking his world, as the new reports from Volcker's investigation are showing (and being reported by the media).
In April Mr Annan set up a committee chaired by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, to investigate the UN's performance.
This has now pinned a large dose of responsibility at the secretary-general's door by releasing 58 reports by the UN's auditors who identified a litany of misused funds. Much more seriously, the committee says these checks only dealt with "peripheral" aspects of the programme.
The vital core functions were ignored: the performance of UN headquarters was not audited, and there were no checks of Iraq's contracts to sell oil and buy humanitarian supplies. It is from these contracts that Iraq was able to skim off hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of illegal funds.
The committee implies that this was a failure by the UN bureaucracy, and therefore of Mr Annan. It now remains to be seen whether the Volcker committee, which is due to release a fuller interim report later this month, finds that UN officials were corrupt as well as incompetent.
Between 1997 and 2002, the UN oversaw the export of about $65 billion worth of Iraqi oil and the import of $46 billion worth of humanitarian and other civilian supplies.
In the same period, the US General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates, Saddam earned about $10 billion in illegal revenues. Only a fraction - $1.7 billion - was skimmed off the oil-for-food programme, while the rest was raised by oil smuggling or oil sales to neighboring countries.
The dumbest part about this is that these fraudulent behaviors could have been contained and/or scaled back if the U.N. had simply used proper scrutiny. This makes me sick to see U.S. tax dollars supporting an organization that is producing little "fruit" in the world. As much as I would like to see the U.S. leave this organization, that would not solve the issue. Rather, this reflects that we need to get involved more inside of the U.N. in order to establish proper guidelines. But as for the leadership inside, a purging needs to be in order. Selah.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Photo by Antony Njuguna/Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell(C) shakes hands with Sudan's First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha(L) as the Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang (R) looks on after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Nairobi, January 9, 2005. Sudan's government and southern rebels forged a comprehensive peace on Sunday ending Africa's longest-running civil war.
The ceremony took place in Nairobi in a sports stadium. Politicians were not the only ones celebrating the agreement though, as others took a more "festive" approach (Reuters--see source link).
Bare-chested warriors danced and turbaned heads bowed in prayer when Sudan's Islamic government and southern rebels sealed a comprehensive peace agreement on Sunday ending Africa's longest-running civil war.
At the signing ceremony in a Nairobi sports stadium, bare-chested Dinka warriors wearing leopardskin loincloths and white paint on their faces danced for thousands of banner-waving exiles and refugees who planned now to return home.
"If I had wings I would be flying," said Grace Datiro, 35, a southerner who has lived in Kenya for 14 years since war drove her from her home in Sudan's Equatoria region.
This agreement does exclude however the Dafur region where almost two years of fighting have created chaos for the inhabitants who dwell in that region. This agreement will not go well with Osama bin Laden as well as with other terrorist networks who have been hosted in this region. For their to be true peace Sudan will have to cut off all support towards terrorism otherwise we will be back to square one. Selah!
Saturday, January 08, 2005
This contract is important as it marks the milestone in a go or no go decision by NASA whether to proceed with servicing by robotic means or use people to do it. We'll see the arm put to good use and whether or not it will help the folks in the International Space Agency. But controversy still remains.
Not everyone is happy with the robots taking over.
The move to use robots to service the Hubble Space Telescope rather than spacewalking astronauts remains controversial.
Outgoing NASA Administrator, Sean OKeefe, has been steadfast in his decision not to risk astronaut lives conducting such a mission. OKeefe cancelled Hubble servicing via space shuttle attendants following the loss of shuttle Columbia and crew in early 2003.
However, a study performed by a special blue ribbon panel of the U.S. National Research Council recommended to NASA last month that the space agency should scrap plans to service the orbiting telescope robotically. The study group advised that a space shuttle crew could perform the work and doing so was the best option available.
But the proponents of the "robots in space" disagree.
Dan Friedmann, President and Chief Executive Officer of MDA, explained in a statement: The Hubble mission and our strategic participation in other space missions will demonstrate that robots can cost-effectively complete complex tasks in space, while working together with astronauts on the ground.
A statement from Canadian Space Agency (CSA) explains that a successful robotic servicing mission could prolong Hubbles life expectancy well beyond 2010. Without such a mission, the space observatory could fail as soon as 2007.
Through the Government of Canadas long-standing commitment and vision, we have earned a reputation for leadership and innovation in space robotics, an expertise that is second to none, added Marc Garneau, President of the CSA. NASAs recognition of the expertise of MDA is a source of pride for all Canadians, he concluded.
Either way it looks like a fight for jobs (human or machine) lies in the future. Who knows? Maybe the robots should do the work on Hubble. That would leave more time for Astronaunts to focus on more serious issues, such as exploration, solar technologies and golf! Selah!
Michael Newdow is filing a lawsuit again to remove God from the pledge. This time he is aided by eight "co-plaintiffs" who are either the parents filing on the behalf of their kids or are the parents themselves. Ironically, the plaintiff's have refused to identify themselves according to Newdow:
"...because of the potential adverse impacts of having your name on a case like this. That's why they are not named."
Despite the fact that 81% of Americans identify themselves with an organized religion (with 14-12% not associating with any organized belief) these misguided few who have an apparent hatred for God (and anything associated with Him) are using their best efforts to remove him from public view. Many of them claim that their rights are being trampled upon despite the fact that their is no official state religion in the country.
Although religion, whether it be Catholic inquisitions of the past or Islamic extremists in the present has brought about numerous casualties in the cause for faith, atheistic communism has taken over 100 million lives, far more than Nazism ever has. A society without God is more dangerous than a society with Him, as one present "eternal boundaries" while the other is determined by people who can be corrupted easily.
These lawsuits will probably actually make it before the Supreme Court which will probably set precedent against the Atheist's favor. If one does acknowledge the Creator's existence in America, that is fine by me. But to go to lengths to ban Him from public, now that is extreme. Selah!
Friday, January 07, 2005
"For everyone, it's a question of responsibility. At the current time, the security of our correspondents cannot be ensured."
His statement follows the recent kidnapping of 43-year-old Florence Aubenas who is a senior correspondent for the French daily Liberation. Ironically the Liberation is not leaving Iraq despite what Chirac had to say about the situation.
File photo of French journalist Florence Aubenas, missing in Baghdad since January 5. Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says it is not known yet whether Aubenas, who works for the Paris newspaper Liberation, and her interpreter have been kidnapped.
Despite the awful kidnapping of reporters (which according to Reuters is over 120) by terrorists (or "insurgents" for those who are liberal) one should remember that Iraq is not for the weak hearted. There are many bloggers who are taking risks in reporting such as Iraq the Model and if the French reporters want to abandon their duty inside of the "hot zone," then they in essence forfeit their responsibility towards their readers thus giving the terrorists a victory in Iraq. As Reporters without borders bests puts it:
...[although] Iraq remained "the world's most dangerous country for journalists", it was "essential that foreign media continue to cover the situation" there.
Hopefully the missing reporters whereabouts can be determined and my sympathies go towards her family and friends. Selah.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005, at Vienna's International Center.
The U.N. agency has been pressing Iran for several months now to inspect the military complex which has been used by the Iranian government to develop and produce ammunition, missiles and high explosives. China Daily goes on to report:
In leaks to media last year, U.S. intelligence officials said that a specially secured site on the Parchin complex, about 20 miles southeast of Tehran, may be used in research on nuclear arms, specifically in making high explosive components for use in such weapons.
The IAEA has not found any firm evidence to challenge Iranian assertions that its military is not involved nuclear activities.
But an IAEA report in October expressed concern about published intelligence and media reports "relating to dual use equipment and materials which have applications ... in the nuclear military area."
I don't seriously expect any thing to change with the regime in Iran. They are after nuclear weapons for one reason only: they desire to hold the "do not go to jail" card along with North Korea. Having a nuclear weapon nowadays seems to be the compelling reason for having lack of "international accountability." Hopefully the U.S. government will be able to do something about this situation before Israel does something about it. Selah!
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Apparently an Israeli company is donating a tsunami warning system free of charge. The device is not only high tech, but is able to spread the word probably faster than the one in the Pacific. These devices are about $170 a piece and are smaller than a shoe box can warn not only governments, but to private cell phones, pagers or dedicated receivers spreading the word more efficiently.
"The sensors determine the tremor's intensity as well as the height and speed of the waves above it," said Gitelis, of Avtipus Patents and Inventions Ltd., which specializes in sensors and communications devices.
The system can then analyze all the data and predict if and when a tsunami will come, where it will hit and how big its impact will be," he told Reuters.
"We're not doing this to make money," Gitelis said. "He want to help people. We plan to give our product to poor countries for free and we will not charge the countries that were affected by the disaster in Asia."
Ironic that a nation seen as an international threat to world peace can be so benevolent. Selah?
Middle East Online
34 were detained in connection with the unrest. First Published 2005-01-04, Last Updated 2005-01-04 17:06:15.
The protest happened on December 8th where Christians staged a sit-in at the compound in the main Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. Apparently when police encountered them rocks where thrown which resulted in the arrest of 35 members. The head of Egypt's Coptic Church (Pope Shenuda III) holed himself up in the desert monastery to protest the arrests of the Christians. A few days later Wafaa Constantine resurfaced and was later on quoted that, "She was born and would die a Christian."
The last of the detainees were released after posting bail at $50 each. Hopefully Egypt will become more tolerant of those of "differing" faiths and the latter end of Wafaa Constantine's statement will not have to happen. Selah!
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